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This week, we’re exploring the use of irregular or uneven time divisions and clock sources as a means to creating strange and interesting patterns and sequences. While clocks are often associated with even, steady divisions of time, if we only used steady and even clocks in our compositions, the music could get boring quickly.

Rather than using an LFO or clock generating module as a central clock source, we’re using one of the gate outputs the Korg SQ-1 sequencer. The gate output is routed to the 4ms Rotating Clock Divider and Make Noise Tempi, both of which manipulate clock signals in different ways. With all 16 steps turned on, we get a very predictable and steady clock. However, if we mute certain steps creating an irregular, broken pattern, the RCD and Tempi react by resting for the missing steps.

This becomes particularly interesting when we sync other clock based devices to these odd, broken sources. Sequences play at odd rates and drum patterns seem to deconstruct. Some modules react to these irregular clocks in unpredictable ways. This is a quick pathway to (potentially extreme) happy accidents. It’s also a way to take one musical shape or idea and distort it into something unexpected and different.

When using the SQ-1 for this purpose, the CV sequence outputs are left to be used for other purposes. Of course we could route them to control pitch on an oscillator… Or we could use each step CV value to change the rotation of the RCD or Tempi outputs. Another method for generating other distorted shapes.

How are you using irregular clocks in your modular system? Tell us about it in the comments!

Our next round of courses starts in a few weeks, including The Many Faces of Maths! Join us!!


Irregular Clocks – Pulse Tips

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