DivKid's Month Of Modular Issue #15 December 2016 - Page 8

This may mean the sequence won’t span the full scale range you had in mind. The second problem is the opposite: speeding up the LFO too much may mean the quantizer can’t keep up, leading to steps that don’t repeat all the time. (This, however, can be exploited to give some cool random variation to your sequence.) Finally, since frequency is a fairly ‘open-ended’ parameter – it will generally go as high or low as you want – there’s no natural “zero point” on the knob. It’s nice to have a sequence that you can manipulate, but return back to a starting point at various parts of the session, and that can be hard to dial in.

So what other tools do we have to give you some variation? Let’s look at a few.

• Rhythm. A neverending sequence of eighth notes is all well and good, but most sequences have some sort of rhythm going on. A separate step sequencer to trigger your synth voice can provide this rhythm. I use a Malekko Varigate 4, but a Trigger Riot or Korg SQ1 will also do the trick.

• Waveshape. Here is where something like Mutable Instruments’ Tides shines, with three independent knobs for controlling the shape. The endpoints of each knob serve as a natural ‘home’ points for starting and returning to a particular sequence. The Sheeps firmware with its wavetable makes it even more fun. But even outside of Tides many LFOs have some way of controlling the shape.

• Mixing waveforms. That is, combining a couple different waveforms from the same LFO using a mixer (with attenuators). Mixing in a pulse wave here is especially fun since you can modulate the duty cycle.

• Rectifiers and half-wave rectifiers. The top section of Mutable’s Kinks has both of these. The former will ensure a waveform is always positive by ‘bouncing’ the wave back when it goes lo, while the latter will instead output zero volts. Assuming your quantizer is set so that zero volts corresponds to the key of your song, this can be combined with an attenuate/offset module to make your melody hit the tonic more or less often.

• Multiple LFOs is of course always fun. Mix ‘em, ring mod ‘em, cross-modulate ‘em, whatever. Crossfading two LFOs can be especially nice as the endpoints each create potential starting points. Of particular note is the virtual crossfader in Roland’s AIRA modules. This crossfader also has an “invert” output which reverses the ratio of crossfading, so if your knob is set 25% LFO A and 75% LFO B, the invert output will do a 75/25 mix that can go to a second voice somewhere.

• Finally, there’s nothing saying you can’t bring in other sequencers into the bargain. Hooking, say, a Make Noise Pressure Points to the LFO’s frequency without actually running the Points (instead just activating steps manually) can give you four ‘presets’ to select from. You could also sum a much slower sequence with your LFO using a unity mixer, giving a melody that shifts up and down the register over time.

Finally, I’d be remiss without mentioning a pair of fantastic videos put together by mylarmelodies. These two don’t discuss the Melody Machine per se but focus on other ways of screwing with sequences. Essential viewing for sure!