Monday, April 18, 2022

Serge Patch Quick Reference


[Post updated June 2022] I've assembled a rather large work-in-progress Serge Patch Quick Reference, and I'm pleased to share it here (permanently linked off to the right under Patching Tips).

I mined the notes and patch suggestions from various sources, including the old Yahoo! Serge group and the Quad Slope forum (many thanks to cebec for capturing them before they disappeared). Other sources include the original Egres site (no longer updated but archived here at Rex's suggestion), Ken Stone's Serge site, the current Serge Discord server (requires invite), as well as my own research and patch spelunking.

I started with John Papiewski's well-known "SSG Hijinx" wizardry write-ups from the old Egres site. As I went through his patch suggestions, I saw that many of the functions he described can be patched up on other Serge modules besides the SSG. The spreadsheet greatly expanded from there.

The result is a patching and function lookup tool for the Serge system. My aim has been to keep the details concise, but occasionally in the Notes I've provided more information, particularly to provide insights I've found nowhere else. I've also tried to keep these patches as "atomic" as possible, in that they aim to provide a very specific function using as few modules as possible. There are many cases where one must rely on supporting modules, which sometimes complicated deciding which function block to specify in column B, but in those cases I specified the function block I considered to be the focus of the patch.

The behaviors described in these patches are from my own direct observations using eyes, ears and oscilloscope. There are a couple exceptions. My Serge is currently comprised only of STS (Hartland) modules, so if you have a Serge from the 1970s or 1980s, or a modern DIY or non-STS system, you might get different results. Hopefully the information here will at least point you in the right direction.

Feel free to send questions, ideas for additions, corrections, etc. via the Comments.

ty hodson

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Serge Sonic Comparisons #1

While working with my Serge on a pretty cool bassline groove, I became curious to see what this particular patch would sound like on other synthesizers. And that reminded me that I've occasionally seen forum posts from people asking what the Serge sounds like compared to other synths (modular synths in particular). So, thought I, what a public service it would be if I could successfully demonstrate this patch on a few other common synths.

So I ran a whole bunch of cables to my patch bay so that I could route things from the Serge to a few other synths. My objective was to use only one oscillator for the sound source in each case, since that's all the Serge was using. And I wanted to keep the patching for each synth restricted to that synth as much as possible so as not to color the results. I had to cheat in a couple places since I only have so many delays available to me. And I had to borrow filters here and there, but in the latter case I only borrowed filters that were part of the same family as the synth I was working on. And finally, I wanted the Serge to control (or at least direct) the modulations on those other synths so that the sense of movement would match the sound of the Serge patch as closely as possible.

A couple things surprised me while attempting to do this. First, I was surprised at how easily I could get the core sound of the patch to sound right on other synths. It was the nuances that were trickiest to dial in, and I feel like the Dotcom came the closest overall. Secondly, I was surprised at how many filters it took on each of the other synths to emulate what the Serge was producing with only a VCFQ and the built-in filter on the Wilson Analog Delay.

But perhaps the reverse would be true if I had a great patch on another synth that I wanted to replicate with the Serge...

In any case, each time I came back to the Serge in all of my A/B'ing of sounds, I was really pleased with how singular it sounded compared to the others. And I don't think it's just this particular patch: the Serge is truly a special kind of beast.


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Detailed info pages for STS Serge modules

Much of the information presented here has been migrated from the "Serge Modular Spreadsheet" that I put together several years ago, and which continues to be hosted on James Maier's Carbon111's Serge Modular Index

I originally assembled that spreadsheet while researching the Serge to get my head around the various things it could do. After purchasing some Serge modules I moved on and only came back to the spreadsheet when I needed to look up detail on a particular function block. 

And that's actually my main motivation for migrating these module descriptions to this blog: so that I can view them on my phone while standing in front of my Serge, rather than walking back and forth to my laptop.

Most of the module descriptions here are culled from 1982/83 Serge catalogs, and while the wording can be a bit stilted at times, the descriptions are still quite informative. There are a few nods to the Carbon111 site in cases where there are no catalog descriptions for certain modules. I don't claim any ownership of that information. I simply pulled it together from various places for my own purposes and wanted to make it available to others.

This repository is by no means comprehensive. Suggestions or additions are welcome: you can nudge me in the comments section. I can't promise I'll keep this blog on the bleeding edge of STS Serge esoterica, but I'll do my best to keep it reasonably up to date.

Additionally, when I'm able to make time for it, I'll add my own module walkthroughs.

Interested in ordering Serge? Contact Rex Probe at Sound Transform Systems in Hartland, WI by phone at (262) 367-3030.