Live sequencing with phrase mode and MIDI/OSC program change messages

As it seems like Duplex and GridPie are no longer maintained, I wanted to find a way to do live sequencing with no reliance on tools or scripts. What I came up with:

  • Create a single, looped pattern, representing a 4 or 8 bar block, with a single note-on right at the top of each track (one per instrument)
  • Create the actual sequences you want as 4 or 8 bar phrases within each instrument
  • Set all instruments to program mode in the phrase controls
  • In every instrument, include a “mute” phrase consisting of just a note off in every column

Press play, and use MIDI or OSC program change messages to change the active phrase for each instrument, and every time the pattern loops, all the currently active phrases will trigger, giving you live, synchronised sequence switching. Make sure you turn off autoseek inside each phrase, to stop it switching sequences mid-pattern as soon as you send a program change. Switch to the “mute pattern” for synchronised mutes; for instant mutes use OSC track mute messages or map MIDI CCs to the the track mute buttons (with Renoise in its default “soft mute” mode, this will mute by sending note off to all notes in a track, rather than immediately silencing it).

If you know how a Keystep sequencer works, the end result kind of behaves like that, just without pattern chaining abilities (you can only set the next active phrase, not queue up multiple phrases; though you could combine this technique with OSC pattern sequence messages if you want to get advanced).

I used TouchOSC on a Raspberry Pi to drive percussion and strings for this track using this technique. You can see it on screen in the second video (use chapters to skip to it).


Neat stuff!

I only did one thing live with Renoise. Now that you mention it, I should do more of that. I’m gonna try your approach.

How I previously approached it was by making a couple of different variations and put each in it’s own phrase and did that for each instrument/sound. Then I used the probability command to randomly switch between the variations. In the pattern editor I had different sections of the tune on each line. I had a bunch of sections set up like that. Mapped the triggering of those patterns to my midi keyboard. Also mapped some other controls. Took a while to set up but then I had a playable track.

This was the result. Audio only but it does have lots of flashing lights:

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Watching the setup explanation video now and I initially thought you were Mylarmelodies except with a more pleasant speaking cadence. :sweat_smile:

I like your hacked together compressor idea. As I said above, neat stuff!

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Thanks! Enjoyed your track too - even though I grew up using soundtrackers (the modular synth is only a year or two old, and this was my first attempt at live anything) I’ve never really got deep into sample chopping or heavy FX commands, so always love to hear people going wild with breakbeat type stuff.

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