Sequencers - holding you back? propping you up?

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josaka
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Sequencers - holding you back? propping you up?

Post by josaka » Sat Jul 29, 2017 8:46 am

quite often I don't reach for any sequencer ..
I was wondering the true thoughts of people regarding the sequencer was.. obviously most people love them around here.. as do I..

but are they actually limiting your possibilities and tying you to a much more limited timing system than the dreaded computer..?

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Re: Sequencers - holding you back? propping you up?

Post by laxlaxlax » Sat Jul 29, 2017 8:56 am

You forgot option 3: playing with hands. :)

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Post by Flareless » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:59 am

I've started to look towards my computer in some cases for sequence data. I have 3 sequencers and really love using them all but some times it's easier or in some cases more flexible to use a computer to sequence certain aspects of a composition.

Lately I've been working my computer sequencer and some soft synths into my compositions. I know that's a filthy thought in this community and it was to me as well until more recently.

Then I sort of thought; well, it's music I'm trying to make. Multimedia art forms are not (IMHO) a bad thing. If mixing the gorgeousity of my modular with additional sounds or using external sources like my Mac or iPad sequencers to control the modular then why the hell not.

Some times I try to stay pure to the modular alone and do come up with outstanding stuff (at least I think it is - sometimes : ) but if I can supplement something that sounds great from the modular with something external, be it an external synth or soft synth then lately I've been more likely to go for it.
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Re: Sequencers - holding you back? propping you up?

Post by Dave Peck » Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:01 pm

laxlaxlax wrote:You forgot option 3: playing with hands. :)
Yup. I play the modular from a keyboard about 99% of the time. It's just way faster and more musically 'immediate'. Even if I want some type of 'sequency' part, I'm more likely to use a keyboard-controlled arpeggiator and still play the part from the keyboard, or use syncopated delays with a keyboard-played part, than to use a sequencer. For me, sequencers are just tedious to set up in a patch, even with a quantizer. By the time I get it set, the idea I started out with is now old and stale and I'm already thinking about some other musical idea.

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Post by ranix » Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:44 pm

I have a bunch of gate delays I can use with the sequencers, it's no problem. You can also mess with an external clock.

Try this: mix or AND or OR two square waves together and detune one slightly. Use this as the clock input for your sequencer. Mess with the tuning of one of them! It's awesome!!

and you can do even weirder stuff, as much weird stuff as you want

one thing I wish I had for sequencing that I don't have is a DC delay that I can use to exactly replicate gate or envelope signals with a time delay, to do really precise echo effects

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Post by KSS » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:22 pm

ranix wrote:one thing I wish I had for sequencing that I don't have is a DC delay that I can use to exactly replicate gate or envelope signals with a time delay, to do really precise echo effects
Just use your gate delays with additional EGs?? set each Eg to the precise envelope that stage of the echo requires. Vary the delays. Fun. Maybe add a seq Sw to select different EGs or gate Delay modules.

Alt. use a gate-trig delay, a VCEG and a sequencer or combination of sequencers to get 4-5 voltage outputs per step to apply to the VCEG. precision Echo city! VCEGs are a synth secret sauce.

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Post by MindMachine » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:46 pm

With my MU system I usually play a keyboard or use a Cyclodon sequencer as a manual programmer for easy chord settings (so I hit no wrong notes while busy elsewhere).

I'd say 90% keyboard and 10% sequence.

I'm getting a second Q960 this winter so that will change. :mrgreen:
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Post by Ramases » Sun Jul 30, 2017 4:35 am

I'm maybe in a bit of a minority in 5U land in that most of my patches are self-playing type ones and I went happily without any sequencer in my system for quite some time until very recently.

Sequencers as looped (or not) note generation devices don't interest me that much.

Sequencers used as patch preset/randomisation tools are much more interesting to me.

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Post by Klangzaun » Sun Jul 30, 2017 5:45 am

I am not performing live. For developing ideas/melodies/rhythms I love to use different sequencers (metropolis, Rene, Dark Time ...). I like to set skips, rests, turning knobs. Once I like what I am doing, I record it into my DAW.

For me the good old step sequencers are a worthful tool for my creativity.

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Re: Sequencers - holding you back? propping you up?

Post by dslocum » Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:16 pm

Dave Peck wrote:
laxlaxlax wrote:You forgot option 3: playing with hands. :)
Yup. I play the modular from a keyboard about 99% of the time. It's just way faster and more musically 'immediate'. Even if I want some type of 'sequency' part, I'm more likely to use a keyboard-controlled arpeggiator and still play the part from the keyboard, or use syncopated delays with a keyboard-played part, than to use a sequencer. For me, sequencers are just tedious to set up in a patch, even with a quantizer. By the time I get it set, the idea I started out with is now old and stale and I'm already thinking about some other musical idea.
As much as I enjoy a sequencer, I'm with you there Dave!
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Post by ranix » Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:52 pm

KSS wrote:
ranix wrote:one thing I wish I had for sequencing that I don't have is a DC delay that I can use to exactly replicate gate or envelope signals with a time delay, to do really precise echo effects
Just use your gate delays with additional EGs??
Not exact enough for me, there's a magic to this particular trick when you get the timing exactly right and dynamically change the gate length on the fly that's lost with this approach. Ideally I want to change the "master" sequence's gate length and have the "slave" sequence's length and other characteristics change by the exact same amount.
Alt. use a gate-trig delay, a VCEG and a sequencer or combination of sequencers to get 4-5 voltage outputs per step to apply to the VCEG. precision Echo city! VCEGs are a synth secret sauce.
Yeah this is a great technique but it gets complex quickly.

If I don't find a DC delay soon I'm probably going to make one. I might cheat and do a midi delay though (a device that exactly replicates the MIDI input it receives on its MIDI output, except with a time delay)

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Post by Squattamolie » Mon Jul 31, 2017 6:52 pm

I'm not sure if this is what you mean, but I recently found this on the FreeState FX site - he had two - I bought both - absolutely love 'em......

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Post by ranix » Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:32 pm

that indeed looks like it might be the secret sauce I am missing

I'll try to hunt down more info, thanks!

The killer feature I'm looking for is a module that can output a delayed signal with *the exact same widths* as the input signal, while varying the input signal's width.

i.e. the delayed pulse width will be exactly equal to the last non-delayed pulse's width, even if the non-delayed pulse width changes between the non-delayed pulse and the delayed pulse

so basically a delay except for CV and not audio

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Post by KSS » Mon Jul 31, 2017 11:04 pm

ranix wrote:The killer feature I'm looking for is a module that can output a delayed signal with *the exact same widths* as the input signal, while varying the input signal's width.

i.e. the delayed pulse width will be exactly equal to the last non-delayed pulse's width, even if the non-delayed pulse width changes between the non-delayed pulse and the delayed pulse

so basically a delay except for CV and not audio
Don't think of them as Envelopes. Think of them as timing devices with lumpy gate outputs.
Set a long attack on an eg or slew and feed your input pulse train to it. use an S/H in T/H mode to store the height in volts the attack reached before the input gate shut off. When the input pulse/gate goes off, the voltage of the attack is stored and is the analog of the input pulse width. This voltage can be massaged as necessary to feed a VCEG to re-create the lumpy gate equivalent to the input pulse or an actual envelope. your gate delays do their usual thing, and the T/H values are moved as needed. maybe using an asr or Seq Sw depending on length and rep rate of input pulses and output envelope timing.

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Post by KSS » Mon Jul 31, 2017 11:43 pm

Set up a Lag or EG and T/H per my last post. A gate/trigger delay feeds a second lag or simple AR or EG. Using a comparator with the T/H stored analog, this 2nd lag element eg can be made to exactly duplicate the length of the input pulse delayed by the Gate trigger amount.

Input pulse width becomes voltage via T/H. T/H voltage becomes comparator value. Gate delay initiates 2nd lag element. Comparator value reached by 2nd lag element duplicates input pulse width, delayed by gate delay amount. ok so far.

If input pulse width changes, then T/H voltage will also change. And you don't want that to change the current output width. So a seq sw or ASR comes in to flip between current and next output value. Since the T/H voltage is stored on falling gate/pulse you use the input's rising gate/pulse to step the seq sw.

Ken Stones ASR and a 962 might work well for this.

You haven't defined the relationship between in and out enough to give more detail. How many steps of memory are needed to prevent overlap is dependent on Input rate and width, delay time, and output EG Release times.

Even the simple code a PIC would need to do this digitally will require more formal description to create what you're looking for, I think.

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Post by ranix » Mon Jul 31, 2017 11:44 pm

KSS wrote:use an S/H in T/H mode to store the height in volts the attack reached before the input gate shut off
wow! That's an awesome idea! I'm going to do exactly that, right now

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Post by ranix » Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:19 am

nah, no good. Takes too much time and is too flaky. Needs to be a module
Even the simple code a PIC would need to do this digitally will require more formal description to create what you're looking for, I think.
I don't think so... "cv delay" or "dc coupled digital delay" pretty much covers it, I think that's enough of a description. It should replicate the input CV exactly with a time delay. I don't want to hijack the thread further though. I'll make one eventually

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Post by dslocum » Tue Aug 01, 2017 5:36 am

Just an idea, but perhaps a new creative use for an ASR (analog shift register)?
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Post by kindredlost » Tue Aug 01, 2017 8:10 am

dslocum wrote:Just an idea, but perhaps a new creative use for an ASR (analog shift register)?
Except the ASR is chained to a clock - either internal or external, so there is no control over the pulse width or length of the gate. Mostly an ASR is a series of unbroken voltages which change in round-robin fashion with no break or pause. 100% gate width and even if the clock or step length changes the entire index is affected, duration wise.

How about a normal AUDIO delay with a gate extractor like the Q118 Instrument Interface? Send the audio signal of the parent sound through the delay and into the envelope generator to derive the new kinder-gate. :hmm:

For the most part I see this as a way to lose notes or stomp on shorter duration notes with the longer duration ones. Maybe that is the goal or is okay for the phrase at hand but I don't see the point other than to mimic the original timing with a different timbre. Row-row-row your boat...

--Back to the discussion of sequencers - or not...

I guess I am all over the place and a mess. I use every thing (sequencers, arpeggiators and manual playing/transposing) even together at times. I generally work out an idea on a keyboard and translate it to the sequencer as an additional part or supporting bass line etc..
I also build a pattern or progression using the modular and a few sequencers which interact in ways I might not have anticipated. The magic of spontaneous creation comes from unexpected places some times.
I do this especially when I have a lack of interesting ideas or am confused at several different ideas which don't merge very well.

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Post by Plattform » Tue Aug 01, 2017 9:21 am

I've always found sequencers to be really mysterious and magic in term of results, the melody you get out of it, but also quite chaotic.

I always compose my tracks on a (shitty) digital piano, before I even create a session on Live or power on my synths, but now I'm interested in the Megacity sequencer from Analogue Solutions :

http://analoguesolutions.com/megacity/

It could be a new way to compose, find ideas, but it is not cheap, so I'm a bit afraid, some of you used it? or a similar one, what are your opinion about those big sequencers ?
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Post by addendum » Tue Aug 01, 2017 9:54 am

I don't own a 5U system but read this thread because I was interested if the cliché holds true that 5U users tend to use sequencers only for "Berlin style" linear note arrays (I don't dare say "melodies" or "riffs"). In that case I wouldn't bother, like some said here. But in other formats, sequencers of the same or smaller size than 5U ones can have features like non-linear stage selection inputs, built-in portamento option per step and so on. I feel that this makes them very useful for sound design, for complex, not necessarily rhythmical one-shot events, such as simulating explosions, vehicle starts, speech-like sequences of phonemes (think bird tweets, or "alien" utterances in sci fi films). And in that case it warrants the use of hardware over PC because sculpting those "events" by hand is different from drawing them with a mouse.
So, if that's of use to someone' and 5U doesn't offer it besides the occasional ultra-rare Cyndustries Milton module, maybe just start mixing formats? Or is that a sacrilege to the 5U community?

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Post by kindredlost » Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:45 pm

Good point concerning the size variant addendum but even the quintessential 960 has non-linear stage selection, with an external gate or trigger of course. It also has the ability to reset, skip and loop or one-shot if needed. Other than the Raymond Scott cyclical sequencer I think the 960 was the first step sequencer and was commercially available. It will do audio rate waveform stuff as well and is famous for clangorous, bizarre freaky stuff. Just listen to the beginning of "Phaedra" by TD to get an idea. I often use mine for non-pitch duties and parameter switching. The third row can be used for time variations to the step length and any of the three rows can be sent to a Voltage Controlled Slope VCS for slew control per step. The magic of modular!

The portamento per step thing was a feature of the Roland sequencer in the 100 series and 700 series and is quite old as well.

My point is the function of these step sequencers is not a domain of any one format. The ideas cross all the boundaries and come into play in different forms according to the designer who works in whatever format they choose.

The only one I have which does the controlled glide internally is the Metropolis, and yes - it is commonplace to mix formats, even for us in 5U. There could be a priesthood around here but I have never run into it or been converted. The temptation to stray (or fall off the wagon) into other formats is still quite natural regardless of my natural preference for 5U. Personally I've found find more zealots in other formats than in the "old world" of large format modular synthesis. Why? Who knows. Everything good urban legend is built on generalizations it seems.

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Post by alternating.bit » Tue Aug 01, 2017 3:40 pm

Without sequencers I'm dead. No music... apart from drone and experimental of course lol. Even my portable 22 cab has two sequencers in it. I like to use one sometimes to simply modulate a filter in steps but at the very least I need the gates!!!

Perhaps if I could actually play keyboards well then I'd feel differently but everything typically starts from the sequencer for me. I'm also rather rhythmically oriented.

As for gate delays... I've never really understood the appeal, as for when something sounds out of sync it drives me nuts. I do, however have a SWING feature, which is really nice. I use a FutureRetro "Swynx" unit as my incoming clock from a MIDI source and can adjust a swing setting which gives things an organic feel. Not quite the same as a glide feature, at least to my ears. (The "RST Clock" on the upper left below is a 1/4" output that goes into any modular clock input - so in essence, its a portable MIDI to Clock converter in addition to the swing feature!).

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Last edited by alternating.bit on Tue Aug 01, 2017 5:17 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Post by josaka » Tue Aug 01, 2017 3:42 pm

....a bit of honesty at least :) :)

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Post by alternating.bit » Tue Aug 01, 2017 3:44 pm

^ If you're referring to my post, I don't really see where there is room or reason to be dishonest. Unless you feel a sequencer is a crutch for people who don't know how to play keys. I don't see it that way at all... it's just another instrument and I'm a composer orchestrating it. I am a composer, not a keyboardist, never mind the fact that I own tons of keyboards lol.

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