How can thinking in systems expand my understanding and use of modular synthesizers and visual programming environments?
Whenever you use a modular synth or a visual programming environment you are building a system, it is simply the nature of the tools. To disregard this systemic aspect would be something like playing guitar on a piano. There are strings, you can most certainly get somewhere, but to not mind the characteristics of the tool in use will likely be a disfavor to getting a deepened understanding. For a long time, I failed to connect with my modular synth because I only minded the microcharacteristics, the sounds, one at a time, and I exercised top-down control to generate musical structure. I was stuck in an unconnected state because I did not take the step back to thoroughly explore the macrocharacteristics, the actual design of networks that could generate structure on its own.
A thinking in systems has afforded me the framework to go for the good of the whole, to keep the focus on enhancing total system properties rather than individual parts. As a result, I have arrived at somethings greater than my will alone could produce. By designing and interacting with entangled audiovisual systems that share and exchange control signals, I have begun to have the conversations with my tools that I felt I was missing. The hows of this thinking are scattered around this exposition, and I encourage exploration, but here are a few aspects I will continue to discover:
Simple rules produce hard-to-predict outcome
Keep the systems tangible at start and focus on the connections. Find a core voltage. Explore and expand the network from the interconnections, seek emergence.
Systems can unfold all at once
They are non-linear, they can be connected in many directions simultaneously, embrace it. A composition can happen at any connection point in the network.
Get the beat
Your engagement calls for listening. Before you charge in to make things better, pay attention to the value of what’s already there. Look for the ways the system creates its own behavior.