Patch Up! A Workshop on Synthetic Sound and Modular Thought

deadline for submissions: 
January 25, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
York University, Toronto, Canada
contact email: 

Deadline Extended! Call for Participants


A Workshop on Synthetic Sound and Modular Thought

October 2-4, 2020

York University

Toronto, Canada

Since the 1960s, modular synthesis has offered musicians, composers, hobbyists, and listeners increasingly open-ended possibilities for the exploration of sound. In this sonic-technological culture, unconventional attitudes towards musical creation and performance have interfaced with the principles of electricity to reveal not only evolving modes of thinking with technology, but also distinct communities that emerge alongside them—as well as the social, political, and aesthetic conditions from which all of these arise. Inspired by the conceptual and practical dimensions of modular synthesis, Patch Up! is a workshop that aims to explicitly enact modular philosophies of connectivity with a scholarly sensibility, but in a way that is explicitly unbounded by academic formats. We thus invite musicians, users, module designers, as well as scholars to together explore the capacity of the act of “patching” for re-orienting our selves to science, technology, society, and the senses in the post-digital age. 

Participants are encouraged to reflect on the plurality of connections fostered through modular synthesis in any variety of format. Proposals may be for written papers, musical compositions, DIY activities, demonstrations, sonic happenings, etc. provided that the idea aspires to collaboration and accounts for the diversity of interests, orientations, and identities of all workshop participants. The workshop is to be organized around interactive and mutual engagement as opposed to the convention of reading or otherwise delivering content to a passive audience. Participants will integrate with each others’ work over a two-day period at York University, Toronto, Canada.

 Potential topics include:

  1. Historical and philosophical investigations into modular synthesis that emphasize the roles of ideology, power, race, and gender   
  2. Ethnographic/ethnomusicological studies of modular synth users and communities
  3. Circuit designs and patching techniques as non-linear paradigms of creativity and technology use
  4. Research/practice-based explorations in-between post-digital living and modular synthesis
  5. The modular synth as a counterpart to multi-use, screen-based digital media and its implications for creativity, innovation, and development
  6. Modular synthesis and its relationship to identity, self-expression, and obsession
  7. Technical explorations and presentations of programming, product development, new module ideas, prototypes etc.
  8. Performative, musical and/or artistic expressions of modular synthesis as a technology to think with and through
  9. Modular synthesis as material culture, including questions of consumerism and collection

Please send proposals of 200-300 words to  by January 25, 2020.

Workshop website:

Individuals of any background are welcome to apply.