•A quantizer to turn the LFO into an actual melody. Here, I’m pretty particular about what features I’d want. First, I strongly recommend you have a quantizer that will respond on a trigger – that is, it holds a pitch until it receives a trigger, then quantizes whatever its input. Without this you’ll also need a sample-and-hold (likely a digital one, since analog S&Hs tend to suffer from voltage droop). I’d also recommend one with either user-configurable scales, or at least something beyond straight minor or major. I’ve found that using a full minor scale for a random sequence is hard to sound “musical,” so I prefer to keep it to a triad, a pentatonic, or maybe a minor seventh. This narrows down the field quite a bit: the only examples I know of are the Disting, the ADDAC207, Sonic Potions’ Penrose, and probably the Doepfer A-156 as well if I’m reading its specs right.
•Finally, a synth voice that is fed the sequence and actually makes some noise. Duh.
So with the ingredients all in place, the patch itself is quite simple. The LFO goes through the attenuator/offset to the quantizer, and on to the synth voice’s pitch. Meanwhile the clock triggers the quantizer and voices gate, and the clock divider resets the LFO at an interval of your choosing. The patch is diagrammed below.
“That's It?” you object. “You wrote like 800 words for just that?” Well for now yes, that’s pretty much it. But try it out, with different frequencies for the LFO, and different scales. Try changing the frequency of the LFO every few bars to generate new melodies. (Note that the number of steps in the sequence is not affected by the LFO frequency; that's covered by the clock divider.) Play with the offset to move the sequence up and down (but staying in scale, since the offset is ahead of the quantizer). There’s quite a lot of variety in this little patch, even without tweaking the sound design or basic signal flow.
You may also want to take a look at this video I made a few months ago explaining this patch and some fun you can have with it - https://youtu.be/iUql7UC8Rns
I’ll leave it here for now. Next month we’ll take a somewhat deeper look at what’s going on with this patch, and use that knowledge to make some alterations and complications that may be handy in certain applications.
dumbledog is just some guy who isn’t much for techno but instead has a thing for quieter, Berlin School-type sequences like Tangerine Dream and Perge, as well as more abstract, ambient stuff such as Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. He has one short, “recorded-in-a-month” album available on Bandcamp (https://dumbledog.bandcamp.com) with another on the way,
hopefully this year or early next. Your best bet for contacting him is via Private Message on Muff Wigglers.