Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Design Philosophy Behind the DRE4MTR4CK Eurorack Sequencer

Sequencers. It seems the market is inundated with these things. Not long ago your choices consisted of the MMT-8, an MPC, or one of Roland's MC series. And if you wanted CV and not MIDI, good luck finding a high-priced analog modular piece. Nowadays there's the Beatstep, SQ-1, and a flood of sequencers in the Eurorack market. Let's not forget about the Social Entropy Engine, that thing is absolutely fantastic. Why would anybody want to make another bloody sequencer?

It also seems everybody is also churning out Euro sequencer modules. I made a deal with myself not to design any Euro modules. That is, unless I had a compelling idea. An idea came along indeed, and it has consumed me. I've owned and used many of the MIDI sequencers mentioned above. They all come from a place of music composition, assembling songs together in very predefined manner. Ever since getting into Euro, this elusive thing of organic melody progression has been tugging at me. There are some interesting devices going this direction such as the Pressure Points. The Hologram Dream Sequence has been especially intriguing, the way it octave shifts incoming audio. There are Euro devices that quantize pitch cv, and devices which feature all manner of pitch scales. I've been wanting something more organic, intuitive, and could serve more VCOs at the same time.

Messing with this idea of organic melody progression, it had to have something more: Polyrhythmic. So many sequencers these days seemed chained to shuffling/swinging everything to a master clock. I wanted it to be able to serve multiple incoming clocks, and maybe times when I wanted none at all. This is where the idea for the DRE4MTR4CK is really coming from. A sequencer that has the freedom (flexibility) to be used in many different Euro module configurations.

And lastly, it had to be compact. Large modules that are case hogs are off-putting, that's my valuable rack real estate! So 10HP was the target, but the hardware couldn't fit. 12HP gives a little bit more breathing room for handling the buttons and data pot. Sure I thought it would be nice to have a display that would show the note values. But again, that would have become a bigger module, and I kind of like the idea of note programming being intuitive. Who cares what the note names are, I have a Beatstep Pro for that - so let the ear decide these things as you go.

Designing a module such as this has its challenges. Things happen when you are designing a module on your own, and building it with your own two hands. Just last week I thought the project was dead in the water. But I persevered once more. I have risked everything, all my cards are on the table. The DRE4MTR4CK has been my labor of love for over 2 months in the making. With hard work, persistence, and steady dedication the DRE4MTR4CK is now a reality. An organic melody progression sequencer, with polyrhythmic capability.

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