New Book, Modular Sound Synthesis On the Moon, Offers A Comprehensive Introduction To Eurorack Modular Synthesizers

One of the most common questions people new to synthesis ask is “What books offer a good introduction to modular synthesis?”

Until recently, the answer has been Welsh’s Synthesizer Cookbook or Electronic Music Systems, Techniques, And Controls By Allen Strange. While these are excellent resources, they predate the renaissance of modular synthesis and the explosion of affordable Eurorack systems. As a result, these and other classic tomes don’t offer the kind of concise and clear introduction to synthesis that meets the needs of today’s modular synthesists.

Fortunately, that’s starting to change, and an excellent example of this is a new book for Eurorack beginners, Modular Sound Synthesis On the Moon, by authors Tulpa Dusha (Anna Martinova) & Pete Johnston.  Martinova is a sound artist from the Netherlands and Johnston is sound designer/technician and composer from the UK.

Modular Sound Synthesis On the Moon is a deep, hands-on introduction to modular synthesis. The book is a project of Modular Moon, a modular synthesis school located in Amsterdam. The book presents the School’s curriculum in printed form. But, while the book originated as a teaching aid for the class, it’s been expanded to be a tool for learning synthesis, a reference book and a gorgeous general introduction to Euroack modular systems.

Modular Sound Synthesis On the Moon is thoughtfully organized, starting with an introduction to modular synthesis and Eurorack systems; moving on to exploring the sounds of modular systems and an in-depth look into standard modules; going deeper into techniques of control and types of synthesis; introducing recording and live performance; and looking at related topics, like synth DIY and building a personal modular system.

Throughout, the book is profusely and beautifully illustrated. Just about every two-page spread includes diagrams showing the building-blocks of synth patches, patch examples, photos of gear or electronic music inspired artwork:

Purchasers also have access to an online tool, The Platform, that expands on each chapter of the book with videos, patch examples and other materials.

At Modular Moon, the idea was that you’d use this book as a text along with a small Eurorack modular synthesizer, the ‘Given System’. The book provides an extensive set of patch diagrams that demonstrate various synthesis topics and techniques with this system.

To get the most out of this book, you’d want to have access to the system outlined in the book. Fortunately, the Given System is made up of many of the most common modules found in modular systems – VCO, VCA, VCF, ADSR EG, Sequencer, etc.

If you’re completely new to modulars, though, you may not have these modules in your system and it could easily be impractical to buy the modules featured in the book. It would be great if future editions of the book could be updated to offer an introduction to Eurorack that was less tied to a specific hardware system.

One option would be to provide some discussion about how the concepts underlying a Doepfer VCO, for example, can be generalized to just about any VCO.

Another option would be to provide a version of the Given System in VCV Rack form. Rack is free, open source and multi-platform, so it could be a great option for making the book’s examples accessible to just about anyone.

Modular Sound Synthesis On the Moon is one of the best introductions to modular synthesis and Eurorack systems that we’ve seen, especially if you can work along with the patch examples provided in the book, as was originally intended.

Pricing and Availability:

Modular Sound Synthesis On the Moon is available for €60.00 via Modular Moon. See the book site for details on shipping and handling fees, along with VAT, where relevant.

22 thoughts on “New Book, Modular Sound Synthesis On the Moon, Offers A Comprehensive Introduction To Eurorack Modular Synthesizers

  1. Looks like a really nice book. Shipping from the EU is kind of high – it would be great if they could find a US distributor. Maybe somebody like Perfect Circuit?

    1. I buy modules on a regular basis from Europe and the USA (Australia here). 25 Euro is relatively cheap shipping for a module let alone a book that’ll be about four times bigger. Your ‘Perfect Circuit’ charges about $50 USD to ship to me. 🙂

    2. There should not be any VAT charged on a book exported from the EU to a non-EU country. That’sa pretty steep overhead on top of the shipping (which itself is OK if not cheap)

      1. I bought a copy yesterday. The VAT doesn’t apply as I’m in Australia. It was removed automatically once I entered in my postal address.

    1. The VAT stuff you’ll see anytime you order from the EU.

      Not sure why they can’t roll the other costs into the price of the book, though. It does look a little confusing.

    2. What?? It’s all on the website:
      The item: 60 Euro
      21 % VAT tax: 12,6o Euro
      Sending TOTAL cost: 25 Euro
      It is 23€ without the track&trace code outside Europe, 9€ without track&trace within Europe.
      Registered (with track&trace) 18.30€ for sending outside Europe, 12,65€ inside Europe. All packages are sent by that scheme and the price is depending on post officer who suggests the most adequate form of send individually to every package.
      + 2,65€ per package

      Also, Modular Moon is a tiny, independent studio run by Anna, who is trying to make a livelihood teaching modular synthesis.

      “Push Turn Move” and “Patch and Tweak” are all about the same price.

  2. Nice well thought out book….Ridiculous pricing on this though …..with so much in print (hard and on the web) on the History, tips and tricks, etc of synthesis….let ones fingers do the walking…google away

    1. Have to disagree. It seems ridiculous that anyone would spend $3,000+ on a modular system and not be willing to spend a little money to actually understand what it inside and out.

      Maybe you know some resources that I don’t know about, but just about every Euro owner I know has fried a module by connecting it wrong and most Youtube Eurorack videos seem to be people ‘experimenting’ with their gear. It seems like the scene would benefit from people knowing a lot more about what they’re doing.

      Also, Euro power is still insane after 20 years.

      1. Like many folks, I fried a few modules when I first started out….20 years ago….just going to fast …..but after $300.00+ of fried boards ….I started reading more online (and there was enough literature on this) n contacting the places where I bought my cards from…They helped out immensely on supporting the brands they sold…

  3. I just bought this book. I sure hope this is better than Patch and Tweak, which is a beautiful book but I felt was more like a catalog or module-porn than an actual instructional book.

  4. The first synthesis book that really got me started was Power Tools for Synthesizer Programming, by Jim Aikin. No regrets whatsoever, since I am very familiar with his many articles for Keyboard and Electronic Musician magazines for many years. And it costs less than half of this new release. Perfect Circuit carries it, along with many others.

  5. Another modular craze cash grab. You can learn modular by playing with it, reading the manual or on the internet. YouTube has everything you need. Who are these people and what’s their authority to teach?

    1. Totally agree with your comment here! ‘Where’s/What’s their authority to teach’. Lots of good info to be obtained on YouTube n contacting places like Noisebug and Analoghaven on the west coast…..or Contact the manufactures/support sites of the gear you bought! Worldly amount of info to be had …let your fingers do the walking….

    2. Asks “what’s their authority to teach”, recommends getting your info from random Youtubers.

      Let’s fry another module and make some ‘experimental’ music!

      1. Well, first of all, you should know the basics of eurorack if you are going to get into eurorack. Nobody just wakes up one day with a 6U rack and starts frying modules because he has no idea how to use them.

        Second, how the hell do you fry a module by using it as intended? They all come with a printed or digital manual, better read that before using it, no?

        Third, I don’t need a €60 to teach me to plug a VCO in a VCF and then in a VCA.

    1. Because ‘modular’ is the ‘designer’s handbag’ of synthesizers and people assume that, if you can spend half your salary on a powered eurorack case without batting an eye, you can surely spend a few lunches and dinners on a book that tells you how sophisticated and elite the world of ‘modular’ is. Of course, they will do it under the pretext of “introducing everyone into the world of modular” or “unraveling the mysteries behind modular”.

      Either that or it really is the next electronic producer craze, which is not far from the truth if you have a look at all the major music publications and platforms. Good lord, just imagine all DJs stop playing records and do all -nighters on eurorack setups. I do hope it calms down soon, I’m already sick of all the “synth youtubers” doing 90% modular content.

  6. >Modular Sound Synthesis On the Moon
    r/modular is a top 2% group on Reddit by size.. It’s not a small niche luxury pasttime anymore; It’s a mainstream hobby.

  7. >Modular Sound Synthesis On the Moon
    r/modular is a top 2% group on Reddit by size.. It’s not a small niche luxury pasttime anymore; It’s a mainstream hobby.

    But yeah why are all these book not very deep? I think it’s because in any field there are WAY more beginners than advanced users. There are way more people who starting learning Japanese than people who make it to advanced level, so the market for the basic materials is 1-2 orders of magnitude larger.

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