Voltage Block Eurorack Sequencer

We have a TON of exciting news and developments coming very soon, but first, we begin our explorations into the Malekko Voltage Block…

Recently, we discussed the Varigate 8+ from Malekko which, when paired with its sister module Voltage Block, become one of the most powerful sequencing engines in Eurorack. But the Voltage Block is an essential tool, offering 8 independent sequencers of up to 16 steps, with clock division, direction, step glide, scaling and more per channel. For semi-modular owners considering deeper investment into Eurorack modules, Voltage Block is the perfect compliment for modules like the Mother 32 or 0-Coast (which I used in this video).

Sequences can be composed in a few different ways on the Voltage Block. One method is to simply move a channel slider up and down while the module is receiving a clock. The motion will be recorded on each step as it passes, repeating back as the sequence loops. This is particularly useful if you are using your sequencer as a CV modulation source, though you can discover some really interesting musical patterns this way as well.

Another way to sequence patterns is to hold a step button and move the slider to the desired voltage for that step. Follow this process through the steps, and you’ll have a more exact pattern than is achievable through the live sequence recording with the slider. Randomizing sequences can also be a great deal of fun, simply enable Shift mode and hit the RND button to generate random sequences. By selecting one of the 8 channel buttons in the first row of step buttons, the randomization can be limited to only one sequence.

The scale tool can be handy if you are using the Voltage Block to sequence melodic parts, constraining the sequence voltages to musical divisions of each volt. Enable the Scale mode, and use the channel slider to select one of the 16 scales and modes available.

We’ll have more with the Voltage Block in coming weeks… We also have some huge news coming very soon! Subscribe to our email list for more details!

Chord Organ Custom Eurorack Chord Generator

Chord Organ is the newest alternative firmware for the Music Thing Radio Music eurorack sample module. Developed by the inventor of the Radio Music, Tom Whitwell, Chord Organ ditches the original functionality. Instead, the new module mode uses customizable chord shapes to harmonize up to 8 internal oscillators in 4 available wave shapes, each resembling a different organ. The new functions are so cool, that Music Thing is offering a new DIY kit with a Chord Organ panel.

The Chord Organ converts all of the existing panel and CV controls to perform completely different tasks. The “station” or sample select knob and CV input control chord type or quality, while the start knob and CV set chord root position (also acting as a transpose or tuning knob). The module does not use 1v/oct tuning, however it does internally quantize for musical results. The reset button switches between banks of sine, square, sawtooth and dirty pulsewidth wave shapes (with the pulsewidth shape tuned an octave lower than the others). The reset trigger input has been repurposed as a trigger output, sending a trigger everytime the chord quality or tuning changes. The trigger output can be extremely musical. In the intro and outro to the video, the trigger output is patched to a channel on Maths, which then modulates the cutoff frequency of a filter, creating a nice stabby effect on the sawtooth waveform.

One of the coolest things about this firmware is the chord customization that is possible by simply editing a text file on the microSD card. The text file can include up to 16 different chords, each with up to 8 different chord tones. Producer/sound designer (and friend of VCL) James Bernard posted a number of great chord combinations, which can easily be pasted into the CHORDORGAN.TXT file.

1 [0,4,7,12,0] Major
2 [4,7,12,16,-5] Major inv 1
3 [7,12,16,-5,0] Major inv 2
4 [-12,-8,-5,0,4] Major inv 3
5 [-8,-5,0,4,7] Major inv 4
6 [-5,0,4,7,12] Major inv 5
7 [0,4,7,11,0] Major 7th
8 [4,7,11,0,16] Major 7th inv 2
9 [7,11,0,16,19] Major 7th inv 3
10 [-12,-8,-5,-1,0] Major 7th inv 4
11 [-8,-5,-1,0,4] Major 7th inv 5
12 [-8,4,7,11,23] Major 7th no root
13 [0,0,0,0,0] Root
14 [-24,-12,0,12,24] organ
15 [-8,-5,4,7,16] Major no root
16 [-12,0,0,12,24] 2 up 1 down octaves

He also posted the chords used in Tommib by Squarepusher…

1 [0,3,-14,-19] 1st
2 [-2,2,-14,-19] 2nd
3 [-2,5,-14,19] 3rd
4 [-2,3,-14,-19] 4th
5 [2,-14-17] 5th
6 [-2,-14,-17] 6th
7 [2,-14-17] 7th
8 [2,5,-14,-17] 8th
9 [0,9,-14,-21] 9th
10 [3,7,-14,-21] 10th
11 [3,10,-14,-21] 11th
12 [3,12,-14,-21] 12th
13 [5,14,-14,-22] 13th
14 [5,9,-14,-22] 14th
15 [5,10,-14,-22] 15th
16 [0,3,5,-14,-22] 16th

 

How are you generating complex chord sequences in your system? Tell us about it in the comments!

Generative Rhythms w/ Varigate 8+

The Malekko Varigate 8+ is a fantastic tool for creating complex rhythms and melodic sequences in a eurorack modular synth system. The module can also create morphing, generative patterns, based on external gates, or even using it’s own gate outputs including the end of sequence gate source.

With eight independent 16-step gate channels, the Varigate 8+ is designed to make it easy to sequence and perform multiple patterns from one source. One function that aids in generating morphing and random sequences is the random gate mode, which when enabled, will create random sequences based on a user defined probability amount. When combined with the end of sequence gate output built into the panel, the module can trigger itself to create generative patterns at the beginning of every bar.

Random gate mode can be enabled by holding the bank button and pressing the probability button, which should cause both to flash. In this mode, any gate sent to the RND input will cause the patterns to randomize or morph. While flashing, the module will wait for one of the 10 channel buttons along the bottom of the module to be pressed, setting the probability of pattern randomization. By selecting gate 1, random gate mode will only randomize patterns slightly. Ascending up the channel buttons, we increase the likelihood of randomization up to the CV 2 button, which sets the highest possible probability of randomization. (I’m not sure that it is actually 100% probability, so I hesitate to suggest that.)

Combining this function with any gate source can be enjoyable, but patching out from the end of sequence gate output back into the random gate input can yield some fun results. The end of sequence gate output sends a gate (you guessed it…) at the end of the sequence/beginning of the looping pattern. Outputs 1 thorugh 4 generate alternative drum maps, pre-programmed drum sequences mapping kick drum patterns to gate channel 1, snares to gate 2, closed hihats to gate 3 and open hihats to gate 4. Outs 5 through 8 output completely random patterns, by contrast.

I like starting from an empty preset, and letting the Varigate 8+ start creating random, generative patterns from thin air. When I find one I like, I can enter mute mode by hitting the mute button, then switch into random gate disable mode by hitting the save button while the mute key is flashing. Again, using the channel buttons below, I can disable certain channels from randomizing, locking them in when an interesting pattern is revealed.

Have some secrets to creating generative sequences and patterns? Share them with us in the comments!

Varigate 8+ Ways To Spice Up Your Modular Drums

The Varigate 8+ from Malekko Heavy Industry has quickly gained a reputation as a complex gate and pattern sequencer, pairing with the Voltage Block as a formidable modulation source. The module provides a number of methods to create a pattern, as well as adding depth and variation.

The Varigate 8+ is an 8 channel 16 step gate pattern sequencer, with two additional channels of CV sequencing and a boatload of additional features. Like the Varigate 4, gate, repeat and step delay can all be assigned per step, as well as assigned probability values for more generative patterns. Programming a sequence or group of patterns and saving the state into one of the 100 preset slots is easy, simply hold the save button and the gate channel button switch to save slots. Using the save functionality as a starting point, we can generate a pattern and save it as a return point. The pattern can be subtly or dramatically changed by hand, and then quickly recalled using the Recall button.

Entering track mode, we get even more control over each of the 8 gate channels, including clock division/multiplication, sequence length and sequence mode (or playback direction). Switching sequence mode, individual patterns can be thrown into reverse, pendulum (forward/reverse) for odd timed sequences or random. A quick recall of the saved state will return these settings and the patterns back to the original groove, making this a great tool for both complex rhythms as well as drum fills.

Rotate pattern mode is another interesting and fast method to get weird, pattern combinations and variations. By entering mute mode (hitting the mute button) we gain access to three independent functions according to the respective flashing bank, save and recall buttons: mute, randomization mute (disabling random gate mode on that channel) and rotate pattern mode. Hitting the recall button will enter rotate pattern mode, which allows any programmed sequences to be shifted to different gate outputs. By pressing the gate channel buttons along the bottom of the module, we can shift the patterns to different channels.

Random Gate mode takes things in another direction, allowing a external gate signal to trigger randomization in the patterns. This mode is accessed by pressing the bank and prob buttons, indicated by the flashing of these buttons. Upon entering this mode, the gate channel buttons switch function, now determining the amount of randomization of the patterns when a gate is received. Pressing the gate 1 button sets a low amount of randomization, ascending up to 100% randomization by pressing CV 2.

This mode also splits the first and last sets of 4 gate outputs, each performing different roles. In random gate mode, the first 4 outputs on the Varigate 8+ will randomize between different drum maps (pre-programmed drum pattern loops). Each gate will take the role of a certain drum in the kit, gate 1 acting as the kick, gate 2 as snare, and gates 3 and 4 as closed and open hihat patterns. Gate outputs 5 through 8 will produce actual randomized patterns, not tied to any drum map or existing pattern. Triggering randomization is as easy as sending a gate into the RND gate input… I was having fun using Pressure Points for this, though the Mikrophonie might be an interesting pairing as well.

We’ll have much more coverage of the Varigate 8+ and it’s partner in crime, the Voltage Block, in the coming weeks.

How are you getting complex patterns and drum fills from your module? Tell us about it in the comments!

Help SynthTech Make The Quad Morphing VCO

Synthesis Technology is in the midst of a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund their new E370 Quad Morphing VCO, reaching their stretch goal of $100,000 within 54 hours of launch. The module is a combination of functions from two existing Synthesis Technology modules, the popular E340 Morphing Terrarium and the E330 Multimode VCO. Borrowing from the feature sets of both, the Quad Morphing VCO aims to be “the most technically advanced Euro oscillator available.”

The Quad Morphing VCO will have four independent digital oscillators, which can be grouped in unison, pairs or controlled individually. Each VCO is designed to have coarse and fine tuning, exponential FM (though linear FM will be included at the stretch goal of $115,000) and “2 programmable modulation CVs and associated attenuator. The function of MOD A and MOD B are dependent on the VCO mode. For example, in Cloud Mode, MOD A is the ‘SPREAD’ and MOD B is the ‘CHAOS’ function of the E340.”

Each oscillator can be updated with wavetables created through a custom application, and stored (along with presets) on a micro SD card. A brilliant navigation screen is included for the minimal amount of menu hopping planned for the device. The screen will have menu pages for VCO control, tuning, four oscilloscopes, mixer, preset and SD card management.

The E370 is 54HP wide and has a depth behind the panel of 48mm (1.89in). It uses a 16-pin shrouded header (standard Euro power, the cable is included) and the target power consumption is +12V @155ma and -12V @40ma. The final power will be available once the project is funded and the module is running the code and the TFT backlight current is determined. About 35% of the current off +12V is determined by the setting of TFT brightness.

The Quad Morphing VCO is already funded, but let’s help Synthesis Technology get over their stretch goal so we can see this monster in all of it’s glory!