Film composer Junkie XL explains the theories, principles and techniques necessary to master these crazy machines.
For the uninitiated, huge modular synth setups can be seriously overwhelming: racks and racks of niche modules with complex circuit paths and weird names loom above you, all flashing chaotically with nothing indicating where you should begin or end. For most, taming a modular synth is equal parts a technical obsession and a dark art beyond the ken of the average musician’s capabilities.
It’s fortunate for us, then, that people like Tom Holkenborg (a.k.a. Junkie XL) are taking the time to explain what exactly is going on under the hood of these amazing machines. The Dutch-born film composer of celebrated films like Mad Max: Fury Road and The Dark Night Rises boasts one of the most insane modular walls you are likely to ever see. He is equally generous in trying to explain to aspiring producers and composers how to use the synth and the principles behind them. In his weekly tutorial series, the musician posts live improvised performances, lessons on gating or wave-shaping and even theories behind film composition.
In his most recent tutorial, Holkenborg goes back to the basics and explains how to use step sequencers in a modular set up. As you will see in this extensive 30-minute video, a sequencer can be used in ways that go far beyond simply making melodies. Watch it in full below and scroll further to see fellow synth experts Blawan and Kangding Ray discuss the modular renaissance with EB.tv.