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quarta-feira, 25 de janeiro de 2017

Your Clavia Nord Modular G1 as a Drum Machine? - Part.1

Yesterday I got the idea of turning the Clavia Nord Modular G1 into a drum machine, but a drum machine in which I can change the pattern in realtime using the knobs available!

In the Clavia Nord Modular G2, it is really easy to create a programmable drum machine, since you have a set of 8 encoders / buttons per page that can control the different sequencer modules.
You can easily assign the encoder to the value, level or note of the sequencer, and the button is automatically assigned to the gate.
To make it really intuitive to program, the LEDs over the buttons indicate you which step is being played at a given time, so it is as good as a regular drum machine with a step sequencer!

Unfortunately, in the Clavia Nord Modular G1, you don't have any buttons to activate / deactivate a given step in your sequence...
You can surely use a knob for that task, but you only have 18 knobs you can assign, which is quite insufficient if you want to control several drum sounds with standard step sequencer modules...

Fortunately, there are other ways to get some control over your rhythmic pattern that don't require the use of a standard step sequencer module, and I'm gonna try to explore some of them in this post!

One of the things you can do is to process a clock signal and use the result of said processing to trigger the different drum sounds.
So, the first thing I tried was to divide the clock signal, which is pretty easy to do in the Clavia Nord Modular G1 since it has two clock divider modules available.
The module that is interesting for this task is the one that allows for the division of the clock to be changed in realtime (from 1 to 128), but there is another module that outputs 3 fixed divisions of the clock signal.
The only problem is that the range this module offers is way too wide, so if you don't want to be twisting your knob all the time to find the value you want for the division, you'll need to use a morphing scene, which allows you to shorten your range (I chose from 1 to 16, and it gives pretty nice results).

3DrumDiv, a simple drum machine using clock dividers as triggers!
In order to have good control over the drum sounds, I ended up choosing to use the amazing PercOsc module and mix three of them together, as shown in the photo of the patch I present above, 3DrumDiv.
This way you can assign most of the parameters to the knobs and have a pretty controllable drum machine, both in terms of pattern and in terms of sound!

3DrumDiv control panel. Most of everything fits in the control panel. Morphing groups control the division of the clock.

It is true that the patterns you obtain using clock dividers are not as interesting as the ones you'd obtain using a step sequencer, but when several of said patterns are playing at once, it is still possible to obtain very interesting patterns, as I think this 3DrumDiv patch shows.

If you think those patterns are a bit too boring and some randomness would be nice, you are lucky because there are lots of fun to be had with random modules in the Clavia Nord Modular G1!

If you like very experimental patterns, the RndPulsGen module is a great choice to generate triggers for your drum sounds!
This module generates random pulse triggering signals, and while the only parameter available is the density of said pulses, it is more than enough to create very interesting patterns, as I could check with this new patch, 3DrumDens!

Want something more random? Try to use the RndPulsGen module instead! It really gives life to the 3DrumDens patch!

Another option to obtain random triggers is to use a complex LFO or random generators and send those signals to a CompareLev module, which will then convert that signal into a trigger if it goes past a certain control value (that you can control with a knob).

Now with comparators to obtain a trigger from random signals, this is the 3DrumRnd patch!

In the previous patch, 3DrumRnd, I made use of the ClkRndGen module, which gives results pretty similar to a Sample & Hold module while needing only a trigger input to generate a random value.

The one thing you must keep in mind is that you won't necessarily get more triggers if you lower the control value in the CompareLev modules.
In fact, if you consider a pretty low value you'll end up having very few triggers, but those triggers will be quite long (which is not really relevant for drum sounds, but would be relevant if you were triggering a synth sound instead).

If that wasn't enough for you in terms of randomness, try making your triggering system a bit more complex by using a CompareAB module instead, so that your trigger signal depends on two sources instead!

However, this is something I'll talk in one of my next posts (or else I won't be able to post a new post today...)!
And since I ended up neglecting the use of LFOs as triggers, I'll definitely talk a bit more on that as well in that post!

But before I finish this post, and to get done with random generators, I should just mention that I found it unfortunate that the Clavia Nord Modular G1 doesn't seem to have the RndTrig module featured in the Clavia Nord Modular G2, and which I think would be amazing for this task!
With this module you are able to select the probability for which an incoming trigger signal is passed to the output (and you can even modulate said probability!).
I guess it should be possible to make something similar with the available modules, but that's again a task for another day ;)

So, what do I think so far about the Clavia Nord Modular G1 as a drum machine?

While I think you can obtain pretty interesting patterns using these methods to generate trigger signals, I end up feeling that there is something missing in these patterns, unless you are looking for very experimental patterns!

If that's not the case, I feel the patterns generated with the clock dividers end up being a bit static (despite I'm sure they can work in some cases), while the patterns obtained with random generators end up being too random...

Still, I need to try more things with LFOs and bring in the CompareAB module before I make a final review ;)

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to follow my blog, as I intend to complete this review in the next days ;)

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