Effin — a two-track, mixable, hocketing sequencer

Another in the “Monstrous Manual” series of sequencer patches, Effin is a two-track sequencer, but rather than just play back two different sequences, it allows you to mix between the sequences in various ways, using three output modes (the patch works for both CV and MIDI):

In mode 1 (sky): Sequencer 1 output reflects the top sequencer (also referred to as sequencer 1) on the first page of the patch. The mix sequencer output produces a mix between the top and bottom sequencer (also referred to as sequencer 2), based on the Mix control. This is done probabilistically, so while sometimes the output produces a note from the top or bottom sequencer, sometimes it produces nothing at all, introducing rests randomly. (If the mix is at .5 or 50%, then there is a 50% the top sequence’s note will play, and a 50% chance that the bottom sequencer’s note will play on that step… but there’s also a 25% — 50% x 50% — chance that neither will play.) In this mode, when the mix is set to 1.000 or 100%, then the mix output only outputs notes from the bottom sequencer, allowing it to act as an entirely independent sequence.

In mode 2 (purple): The operation is very similar, except that the mix output will always generate a trigger in time with the top sequencer. Notes from the bottom sequencer will still be mixed in, based on the Mix control setting, but this output mode results in a steady stream of notes that can deviate from the sequencer 1 output but keeps up with its output. This mode is useful because it can provide a voice that accompanies the first sequence, while providing deviations based on the Mix control to add spice.

In mode 3 (pink): A sort of randomized hocketing is produced. The Mix output only produces notes from the bottom sequencer (sequencer 2), again based on the Mix control for the likelihood of these notes being produced. However, notes are only produced from the sequencer 1 output -or- the mix sequencer output, not both. So, if a note is produced at the mix output, the sequencer 1 output is muted, creating a sort of back and forth between the two outputs (and therefore the two voices).

So, the first two modes work well to produce a sort of lead sequence (sequencer 1), with an accompaniment that sometimes deviates from it (mix sequencer). While the third mode produces a sort of call-and-response between the two voices, passing the melody between the two.

Let’s look at some crucial pages within the patch:

The CTRL (Control) page:

The top four rows are devoted to the sequencers. You can enter notes here by adjusting the value modules. The value modules will also light up as the sequences progresses.

Along the bottom row are controls for the sequences.

Each sequence has an independent control to adjust the Sequence Length; higher values produce more steps, lower values produce fewer steps.

Each sequence can be transposed independently. The transposition won’t take immediate effect — the patch assesses whether the output of the transposition control has been changed over the course of the two most recent runs through the sequence and only changes to the new transposition value when it remains the same over that period of time, which makes performative transposition much easier, I think, despite the lag, because you don’t get caught at “in between” stages.

Each sequence’s playback mode can be independently determined, using the UI buttons on this row:

Orange — forward
Yellow — reverse
Green — pendulum (forward and reverse)
Aqua — random

Finally, there is the mix control and the output mode selection, which have been discussed above.

Next, there is a page for QUANTIZERS and CLOCK DIVIDERS:

Each output has an independent quantizer, so you can introduce deviations between the outputs in this manner as well. It also makes dialing in the notes of the sequencers easier/freer, since you don’t have to worry about precision.

Each sequence has an independent clock divider. Differences in clock division along even divisions (x2, /3, etc.) can produce interesting rhythmic effects at the mix output, depending on the mode. Uneven divisions can produce some very peculiar rhythms at the mix output — perhaps a bit more jarring but also potentially more interesting. The clock dividers have a mechanism to reset their phase to the master clock (after an analysis period), which makes sure the two sequencers stay in lockstep with one another.

This page also features two additional controls. The MIX ATTENUVERTER can be used to attenuvert incoming CV at the Mix CV input. The TRIGGER EXTENSION control can be used if your target device is having some difficulty picking up the very brief triggers produced by ZOIA; the value can increase the length of these triggers up to 500 ms (which makes them gates, really, but small amounts can be useful if you’re encountering triggering issues at the target device).

There is a page for assigning MIDI OUTPUTS.

Keep in mind that the two outputs should, ideally, be assigned to separate channels. The default is channel 1 (sequencer 1) and channel 2 (mix sequencer).

There is also a very simple DEMO VOICE.

This is output through both the left and right outputs. The voice is a very very simple single-operator FM synth, but you can adjust its envelope or FM index, etc. if you please. Or ignore it or remove the voice for more CPU headroom. I think it sounds pleasant, but it’s mostly a relic of needing a means of testing the patch as it was developed.

The demo voice always reflects the mix output.

That’s the sort of user-oriented stuff in the patch.

CV control and user buttons:

CV inputs:

Clock — 0-10V input. Depending on your clock source, you may need to adjust the clock filter. The patch also accepts tap tempo and MIDI clock.

Mix — -5 to 5V input. There is a mix input attenuverter on the second page of the patch. Tip: square waves can make for interesting sources, since you can oscillate between the mix being set to output purely the top or bottom sequence, then modulate into some in-between state in a rhythmic pattern.

CV outputs:

Sequence 1 pitch — 0-10V transposed to C.

Sequence 1 triggers — 0-10V.

Mix sequence pitch — 0-10V transposed to C.

Mix sequence triggers — 0-10V.

User buttons:

Tap tempo — momentary, will be overriden by a clock signal from CV or MIDI

Reset — must be held until the sequences reset; the sequences will remain on their first step until released (kind of a bug, due to the nature of the sequencers, but I can also see it working as a feature)

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  • Category: Sequencer Synthesizer
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