TAROT : Pseudo - Paraphonic Waveshaper
Modulaire Maritime Tarot is a voltage controlled waveshaping module using different techniques to achieve complex waveforms and multilayered sound: Frequency synthesizer who, besides creating frequency multiplications/division, performs demodulation resulting in FM glissando effect, combined with separate stages of wave folding and rectification- this makes Tarot able to produce whole variety of new timbres due to creation of new harmonics. The shifting of those is induced and animated by offsets controlled from cv inputs. It has a built-in LFO to provide synchronized mouvement acting in phaser-like or, when set to higher rates, in chorus-like (or PWM) manners which can give some huge synth leads, pads or drones (this will especially be highlighted through the use of effects as reverbs and delays love those derivates of « moving » harmonics and transform them into lush soundscapes). Otherwise search for some hitting metal tones to create your industrial sounds & more.
Like in real Tarot there are many constellations to be explored, finding different characters within shuffling of its sonic deck of cards.
Details & use:
The module is rather easy to use once we observe the Crossfade control potentiometer on top. It goes to Rectifier side on the left: this is Voltage Controled Full Wave Rectifier, it has its Bias control pot and its offset attenuator of the CV1.
When the crossfader is turned to the right, you’re on the Wave Folder’s side. The wave folder has two separate although linked stages: first one controlled by potentiometer named Shape Shift and the second is Warp Range with its Symmetry Tune knob. The W. Range and Symmetry can be CV controlled (respectively CV2 and CV3) via dedicated attenuators. The two wave folders stages can be used separately like two different folders or combined as both can be turned off* (warp range knob is not a level but on 0 position it will be actually out of range thereby silent). Technically the difference between those two is that the first one (S. Shift ) uses classic op-amps and the second (W. Range + Symmetry) is more complex OTA (Operational Transconductance Amplifier) based. While the both are conceived on somewhat similar concepts, the first one is more rudimentary but non less efficient. When combined, the first one shifts the folds of the second (or their symmetry) giving additional layer, some different color, thickness or some bandpass-like behavior in some settings.
As they are linked, the CV 2 (of W.Range) may have incidence on the first one also even when used alone in the way when the attenuator of the CV2 is being turned up bringing present LFO in use- this will lead the second folder to enter the audible range (as the internal VCA of second folder opens depending of CV signal movement/ strength) by moving forward or backward the range (or pulling it out of range if the w. range knob is way down or barely above 0). This creates interesting irruptions & cuttings, producing hard pseudo phaser effect, if desired. If not, to just create more harmonized movement inside the range, keep more proportional ratio of CV and the W. Range control knob. To use exclusively the S. Shift fold stage keep the CV2 attenuator down or try it with some faster changing signal than LFO, like some oscillators waveform-this will give new timbre color.
The Shape shift folder stage can be further configured via jumper on the back of the module: when jumper is placed on position « 2 » it suits for more smooth interaction between those two folders while when set to « 4 » it’ll have a higher gain and produce more edged shapes from the middle position resulting in more aggressive and « metalized » tones.
Finally there is a Frequency Synthesizer section consisting of two frequency multipliers and one subdivision, referred as « High, Mid, Low ». The subdivision is not to be confound with sub-octave generator who’s often producing a simple square, the subdivision here (and multipliers) have their own particular « staircase » waveform. Those three frequencies adders works like volume levels.
Tracking knob is controlling stability of this frequency section and by manipulating it specific shaping ability will be engaged . It is in reality a variable resistor in the internal LowPass Filter path of the PLL (Phase Locked Loop): When set to « Fix » it stays on the stable route of functioning chain inside the configuration of PLL circuit. When moving to « slide » it starts to produce a FM ‘glissando’ effect at the beginning/change of the note.
The internal VCO will track approx. thru five octaves, above it’ll be put in difficulties to follow as well if you go too low with the octaves/oscillator’s pitch (unless used for some non-V/Oct purposes). The blue led (phase pulses lock) will start to indicate in that case, otherwise it stays illuminated.
The Frequency synthesizer section can be swapped via dedicated switch: on rectifier’s side or on the folding side of the crossfader. This facilitate fine mixing or blending between the circuits as almost all controls on Tarot acts like levels.
Tarot has a built-in triangle LFO « normaled » to all three CVs: when you stick some other CV source (S&H, envelope, some other oscillator’s waveform, etc.) in those CV inputs the normalisation will be broken.Yellow led indicates LFO’s rate. The LFO has its output also-this is very useful to sync internal Tarot’s modulations with some external module(s) like effects or, for exemple, send the LFO out to your oscillator’s FM input to introduce some minimal frequency modulation -this will give a very cool movement to shaped waves thus animated by the same LFO.
In terms of sound character Tarot has somewhat split personality: being able to produce some nice and even sweet timbres or leaning toward darker shades of sonic spectre by being cold and mechanical (Tarot is an undiscovered ‘80s synth-pop talent :) and it can also get nasty as distorsion notably when used with exponential VCAs, generating very agressive synth riffs!
Thanks to Tom Leclerc for a nice little demo with an ultra-compact setup
This is for the basic functioning of the module. Further extension of Tarot’s sonic palette can be obtained by injecting different oscillators waveforms in its CV inputs (including square) while, typically for wave shaping use, on module’s main input you’ll use tringle, sine or saw wave (or alike, mixed waveforms for ex.- other audio can be used to exploit it like effect).
You’ll notice that the circuits through the module responds differently to those waveforms (except frequency section who’ll transform anything from the input to its particular waveform) -in this regard Tarot can be considered as a quad wave shaping module and you’re invited to either explore many constellations of knob settings within a whole set of parameters- in order to discover new timbre possibilities or use just some of them separately, for particular use. However the care is taken to coherence in global sounding of Tarot. As the module may seem
« edgy » or sometimes « pulse oriented » except Rectify who’s there precisely to round off the overall timbre, therefore Tarot is not thought to just combine different kind of shapers that don’t have much to do together (than say it’s ‘experimental’ :) but rather admits to be connoted in certain restrain sound stage/style. Indeed, Tarot draws its inspiration from some observations of the vintage paraphonic machines architectures, although being finally pretty far sonically from those it keeps some traces of this initial ideas by being very Organ capable in its own ways. On the other hand, with its independent blocks structure it provides paths for separate sections explorations: for exemple if sine or triangle is employed on the input of the module coming from V/Oct controlled oscillator and you use an another oscillator (who is not conditioned by the same V/Oct) with any of its waveforms connected to CV1 of the Rectifier, you’ll get countless timbres/colors, ring mod-like results- by manipulating that oscillator’s pitch, then the amount of injected waveform in the CV (by Offset 1 attenuator) and rectifying it (by Rectify Bias knob). You can try the same with the other CV inputs with or without being combined with built-in LFO.
While doing this if you start to hear some human-like voices- you can ignore them, but they might be fortune telling !