donut and noisering and machinedrum

nightlife

This is basically part 3 in the series of doing stuff with the Noisering, the Hertz Donut, and the Plan B low pass gate. Go back and listen to that which is posted on 3 August and 5 August. This patch is essentially the same. The Noisering sends its random CV to the Hertz Donut, attenuated slightly. The Donut is in “Good” mode, and is connected to the Plan B Model 13 in “both” mode. The signal from the Donut is also attenuated somewhat, as it’s really easy to completely overdrive the Model 13. The envelope for the M13 is provided by Maths. Now the difference here is that the triggers for the whole thing are coming from a Machinedrum. The Machinedrum has a machine called GND IMP which is just a trigger pulse made for things like pre-MIDI drum machines and analog synths. I can sequence these triggers just like any other drum or sound on the MD. I have the track routed through external output F to the CLK IN of the Noisering. That triggers the random CV of the Noisering, and also sends through the clock out the trigger for the Maths envelope.

Now the interesting part here is in the first half of this track. You can hear kind of a little double trigger on each note. I couldn’t figure out what was going on here, thinking it was something happening with the Maths. But then realizing that the notes were changing between each of the little triggers on each beat, meaning that the Noisering was getting two triggers, I realized that the event was taking place on the Machinedrum, not the modular. I noticed that I had the wrong machine chosen for the Machinedrum. It was set to a ROM machine, which is meant for playing back samples, and not the IMP impulse machine. I don’t know — and I wish I’d checked — what the ROM machine was playing. I’m assuming that it had two distinct peaks, whatever it was, which created two triggers. In any case, it sounds great. Like it’s got this funky little swing going. At 1:04 you can hear it change back to single triggers as I swapped the machines out.

The track loops a lot with most of the change coming from the notes played by the Noisering. But closer to the end I’m punching in random steps on the Machinedrum’s sequencer, keeping everything quantized to 16th notes. (In case you want to try this at home, I’m using generic 1/4″ to 1/8″ mono cables I bought at Radio Shack for $5.99. Don’t forget to set the routing for whatever track you’re using for triggers to one of the four external outputs rather than the main output…)

a good Z8000 video

I’ve been planning to sit down and write a post about some of the new additions to my modular synth. One of these is the Z8000 sequencer by Tip Top Audio. It’s a matrix sequencer and while incredibly simple in concept and design, it’s incredibly rich and complex in practice and use. Just the two or so hours I’ve spent with it made my head spin, and I’ve been jotting down all sorts of patching ideas in my notebook when I’m away from the synth. One thing I’m really looking forward to working on is clocking the Z8000 with my Machinedrum’s triggers at different intervals and steps.
I acquired this sequencer with having seen only a couple of decent videos, and after reading a long thread on the Muffwiggler’s forum about it. Today I noticed a new video from Tip Top with Stretta putting the Z8000 through some paces, with a good explanation. Take a gander.

testing 142

I’m constantly figuring little things out about this synthesizer and I feel, in many ways, that in the five months I’ve had this modular thing I’ve learned more about synthesizers and sound than in the years and years previous working with software.

I recently added a Doepfer A142 to my system. This is a voltage controlled decay/gate. What it does is takes a trigger input, like from a LFO or in my case the MFB Seq02, and creates an envelope that consists of a very quick attack and a voltage-controlled and adjustable decay. What I was looking for was a way to create steps of different lengths from the sequencer to add some movement and, you know, funk. I could do this with my Model 10, but I like using the Model 10 so much that I figured I’d like to have something that is dedicated to sitting next to and serving the sequencer.

Soon after plugging it in, I started noticing that something wasn’t right with the A142. It didn’t have a “quick” decay, only a really muddy longish one. This was especially the case with manual control. When I plugged the CV in, I could get sharp clicky envelopes, but in manual they were anything but short even with the knob at 0. I discovered that on the PCB of the module there was a small trim pot, but I didn’t know what it did as the Doepfer site didn’t seem to refer to it.

So, as I do at times like this, I turned to the internets and started a thread at the Muffwiggler forum. I immediately got some help and much of it was quite thorough and technical. Just having others tell me that their A142’s work as expected at least narrowed it down to a problem with my particular module. One or two readers actually got deep into it and with this information I at least got the thing usable. The trimmer on the back adjusts the offset, which means that it adjusts the point at which the envelope starts getting longer. By turning it about a quarter-turn, it’s now set to where from 0 to 1, the envelope is about 1ms long. This is a good thing. A new problem begins at 1, because by 3 the envelope is more than 12 seconds. This in theory should take place at nearly a complete turn, like around 9 or 10. So the entire range of the envelope is now between 1 and 3, which means that very very small nudges to the knob result in very large changes to the length of steps from the sequencer. From incredibly staccato to very very legato.

To illustrate this, I made a video. It includes captions for clarity, but basically I set up a simple sequence in the Seq02 and make adjustments with the A142. You can see the minor little changes to the knob and hear the major adjustments to the step lengths. The advice from the forum was to solder a new resistor onto the PCB. I’ve been meaning to learn to solder…

i got a sequencer

I have sequencers running out my ears on my computer. I regularly use Numerology, Reaktor, Ableton and Volta to sequence soft synths and, lately, my modular via midi. However, a good part of the reason I’ve become sort of kind of obsessed with this modular business is the tactile control of buttons, switches and knobs.
To that end, I added a sequencer in the form of the MFB Seq02 last week. This thing is incredibly versatile for such a small thing. It can run twelve separate CV sequences of up to 32 steps each, or six CV and six trigger/gates. It’s got its own clock and it can be controlled by an outside clock as well.

I’ve not had much time this week to work with this thing, but today I set up a simple four note repeating sequence and just started patching. These are variations using pretty much the same four note patterns. Each track on the Seq02 can have one of either an A or B 8-step sequence, or both in a row. A three-way switch chooses which mode. So I just made two different four-note sequences, started the sequencer, and switched back and forth.

The sounds are coming from the A110 VCOs in various waveforms, and filtered at different times with the Model 12, the A120 VCF, and the A101-2 Low Pass Gate. The A101-2 is the thing that creates the plucky acoustic sounds. When you hear it you’ll know. I used MOTU’s Volta to send various trigger and step-sequences to both the Seq02 as a clock, and other modules for various modulations. I sometimes wanted various numbers of steps, where the Seq02 only allows one to choose steps on a global level. Meaning if I want one sequence of triggers to be four steps and another to be seven, I have to rely on the software.
The delay was added in Ableton because it sounds nice.

a little sequencing?

sequenced carbon

I have a feeling there will be more of this coming. I’m liking some of the results I get just driving along with sequencers. This is a Reaktor sequencer from the user library called Scale Step SEQ 16 and the synth is Carbon2. The changes are just noodling with various parameters of each.

This was used as a soundtrack for another little video, too. Taken from the roof of my car as a storm rolled in.

above the studio from Brian Biggs on Vimeo.

This is a grab of the sequencer. It’s by Eric Ahrens and is modeled after any number of analog step sequencers. You can find it at the NI user library here.