How To Control Your Modular Synth Like ‘The Lawnmower Man’

This video, via Voltage Control Lab, takes a look at controlling your modular synth like The Lawnmower Man – using a combination of gestural control, virtual reality and some patch cables.

The solution combines Leap Motion hand tracking with Ableton Live and Reaktor and a Eurorack modular synthesizer.

Here’s an example of the ‘Lawnmower Man’ style controller in action:

4 thoughts on “How To Control Your Modular Synth Like ‘The Lawnmower Man’

  1. smart idea…seems to work quite well.
    Reminds me of the KOMA Kommander which has 2 CV outs and 2 gate outs, price is nearly the same…
    The main difference is that you don´t need a computer, what i would prefer…

  2. the Leap Motion is not bad for synth control. I hooked it up only once, and it’s really interesting to control sounds with your hands in the air.

    However, it is of no use if one doesn’t know where to patch all these control outputs. This is actually the important part. You have to know what control destinations make sense, and which don’t make sense. Here’s some ideas for a meaningful patch:

    – use one y-axis (forward-backward) to control the speed of a clock. Use this clock to trigger envelopes or to ping LPG’s.
    – use another axis of your choice to mix different events or voices. Gives much more versatility than one single Theremin sound.
    – à propos Theremin. Maybe it’s better not to control the pitch directly with your hands.
    – instead, control the octave or a quantizer, with large room (range) for your left or right hand.
    – control the attack and decay of your envelopes.
    – control parameters that influence the timbre of the sound, like wavefolders, pulse width, VCO cutoff/resonance, and again take very good care of the ranges.
    – etc. etc.

    Generally, do yourself a favour and use this Leap Motion to your advantage, not to your disadvantage. Think about your patch, about what you want to do, before hooking up the LM. Define the ranges with much attention, so that you can use your hands without thinking about going too far. Use only few parameters that you can control with ease, instead of the maximum possible that you certainly cannot control.

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