Beholder — a monstrously generative sequencer

Beholder is a sequencer designed to take relatively simple sequences (up to 16 steps) and add a mess of generative features that allow you to transform and warp the original sequence. You can skip steps or get stuck on them. You can add interval modifiers that change the pitch, shifting up an octave or down a fifth, or even adding a random pitch change. The sequence can move forward or backward, and you can determine the likelihood it is to do either.

All that said, it also has some useful features aside from the generative shenanigans: you can step record via an onboard keyboard module (that can be transposed) or via MIDI; you can add rests and redo notes, pause the sequence and overdub; you can transpose the sequence and add swing to the clock. There are a lot of uses for the patch (I think) — from everyday sequencing with a fast input, to wild generative features that take the basic sequence and add whole new dimensions to it.

The patch outputs both CV and MIDI.

The patch does not produce sound, but it does pass stereo audio.

PROCEDURES:

RECORDING SEQUENCES:

On the FIRST PAGE,

If you are happy with your saved sequence and wish only to manipulate it, jump ahead to MANIPULATING SEQUENCES.

To record a new sequence, clear the existing buffer with the white CLEAR SEQUENCE button.

Now, press the red RECORD button.

Enter notes via the CHROMATIC KEYBOARD. You can change the octave using the OCTAVE UP and OCTAVE DOWN buttons located above E and C octava. You can use the TRANPOSE control above B to change the key of the keyboard and cause the keys to identify different notes, consistent with the key (which will technically change what notes the buttons and controls I just listed sit above, but you get the idea).

You can also enter notes via MIDI by pressing the MIDI button, found on the SECOND PAGE.

As you enter notes, you can insert rests using the orange REST button.

Also, as you enter notes, the value modules above the keyboard will represent the notes of the sequence, populating as you enter more notes.

If you make a mistake and want to redo a step, press the REDO STEP and enter a new note. NOTE: You cannot redo the last step, and you cannot use the redo step to remove a note from the end of a sequence; a new note must be entered for the patch to function correctly.

You can enter up to sixteen (16) notes and rests. When you have finished entering notes, press RECORD again. Your sequence should begin playing immediately.

Once the sequence is playing, you can change the sequence in two ways:

You can press the OVERDUB and enter new notes as the sequence plays. (This works, but not as great as I’d like.)

You can also edit individual notes using the NOTE value modules located above the keyboard, raising or lowering the pitch of individual notes. NOTE: There is no reset function for this editing mechanism, so any offsets applied will remain until the value module is returned to its original state (aka if you do this and your next sequence sounds weird, this is the reason why).

No recording mechanisms are found on subsequent pages.

MANIPULATING SEQUENCES:

On the FIRST PAGE,

TRANPOSITION

If you press the TRANSPOSE SEQUENCE button, you can transpose the sequence from the CHROMATIC KEYBOARD or an enternal MIDI controller (if MIDI is selected). The transposition will treat the first note in the sequence as its reference pitch. Example given: If your sequence begins with a D3, pressing a C3 will transpose it down 2 semitones.

On the SECOND PAGE (PLAYBACK CTRL),

TEMPO

If your sequence is not already receiving clock via MIDI or the CLOCK input, you can change the tempo by tapping the TAP TEMPO button.

You can apply positive or negative swing using the SWING control.

You can change the gate length of the sequence using the (you guessed it) GATE LENGTH control. Note: Extreme gate lengths (too short or too long) can cause the patch to malfunction.

PROBABILITIES

You can affect how likely the sequence is to advance from its present step by lowering the PROGRESS CHANCE control. At 0, the patch will play the same note, over and over again. At 1, the patch will play the notes as entered into the sequence. At points between, it may get hung up on a note, repeating it once or several times (the likelihood depends on the state of the control) before advancing.

You can affect how likely a gate is to play using the PLAY CHANCE control. Whether or not a gate is produced, the sequence will advance (barring the condition of the progress chance control).

You can affect what direction the sequence moves in and how often it changes direction.

By increasing the BACKWARDS CHANCE control, you can affect how likely the sequence is to move backwards, rather than forwards. At 0, the sequence advances forward only. At 1, it moves backwards only. At points in between, it may move forwards or backwards, producing a “drunk walk” sequence.

By decreasing the BACKWARDS CHANCE SAMPLE RATE, you change how often the BACKWARDS CHANCE probability is checked. At 1, the probability is checked every step. As the sample rate decreases, the probability is checked less often (although this control, itself, is probabilistic, so it is more accurate to say the backwards chance is less likely to be checked). At 0, the direction is locked in place and will not change, regardless of changes to the backwards chance probability.

Additionally, you can press the BACKWARDS button and the sequence will automatically begin moving backwards (unless it is, of course, already moving backwards).

You can affect how likely a step is to be played, either individually or globally, using the STEP CHANCE controls.

To differentiate these controls from the PLAY CHANCE control, when the play chance does not produce a gate, it does so on the current step of the sequence. Step chance, on the other hand, is the likelihood that a step is skipped over entirely. For instance, if you have a sequence A B C, and the step chance for B is low, the sequence will skip over B, producing a sequence of A C in succession.

NOTE: Regardless of the step chance, two successive steps (or more) cannot be skipped. If a step is skipped, the next step will play, regardless of its step chance. Additionally, the first and last note of a sequence cannot be skipped. (Well, they can, but it inserts a rest, which isn’t the same as the other conditions.)

The GLOBAL STEP CHANCE affects all steps uniformly. (Including the first and last step, see note above.) As the step chance decreases, the likelihood of skipping a step increases, although due to the limitations mentioned above, the likelihood cannot practically reduce below 50%.

Additionally, each step in the sequence has an individual STEP CHANCE control, which allows you to fine-tune the probability that a step will be skipped.

On the THIRD PAGE (INTERVALS QUANT),

You will find a PROBABILITY MIXER, which allows you to introduce different weighted likelihoods that one of four note INTERVALS will be applied. You can set the note interval above the control for its INTERVAL CHANCE. Additionally, there is a control to set the probability of NO CHANGE/no modifier being applied (the sequence will play the notes as entered). There is also an option for a RANDOM CHANGE, which introduces a note +/- one octave, randomly selected. Note: This option is disabled when the quantizer is turned off.

A note on “probability mixers.” The way that this works is that all of the chances are added together, then given a likelihood out of 100%. So, if NO CHANGE is set to 1, and the other four modifiers are set to .25, then there is a 50% chance that no change will occur, and a 12.5% chance that any of the four modifiers will be applied. (1 + .25 + .25 + .25 + .25 = 2, or 200%. So the values are divided by 2 to produce the appropriate weights out of 100%.)

Below the probability mixer is a QUANTIZER. There is also a button to turn the QUANTIZER on or disable it.

Finally,

Returning to the SECOND PAGE,

There is a RANDOM ORDER button. When RANDOM ORDER is applied, the PROGRESS CHANCE, BACKWARDS CHANCE, and STEP CHANCE controls are unavailable. The PLAY CHANCE and PROBABILITY MIXER controls remain active.

INPUTS:

The patch accepts clock over CV or MIDI.

CV —

There is also a PLAY input. When a trigger or gate is received at this input, playback will cease until a subsequent trigger is received.

There is also a RESET input. When a trigger or gate is received at this input, the sequence will reset to the first step.

OUTPUTS:

CV —

The PITCH sends CV over 0-10Vs, transposed to C.

The GATE output sends gates over 0-10Vs.

The CLOCK output sends clock over 0-10Vs.

MIDI —

The patch produces MIDI NOTES, GATES and CLOCK. The default channel is 1. The MIDI modules are found on the page labaled MIDI, if you want to change the channels used.

A note about the CLOCK: Because the processing required to generate the sequence introduces small, but cumulative, delays, it may be useful to use the CLOCK output as a new main clock, even if sending clock into ZOIA.

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  • Category: Sequencer
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