An experimental drum sequencer exploring Tempo Modulation
Dilithium For Native Instruments Reaktor 6
Dilithium is an experimental drum and percussion sequencer for Native Instruments Reaktor 6 that allows you to explore Tempo modulation on a per track basis. Dilithium has its own Global Clock that can be used to synchronize and reset the track clocks. However you can still use the Reaktor standalone or DAW clock in plugin mode.
New in version 1.1:
Midi Clock Out - You can now send midi clock from the Dilithium global clock, or any track’s clock which might be modulating. This lets you modulate the tempo of external equipment the same way you can on any Dilithium track. This could be a tempo ramp, curve or hardcut.
8 Tracks are available in various modes:
All tracks can output midi and samples, while tracks 7 & 8 additionally offer Beat Looper and Audio Gate modes. Tracks 1 & 2 have dedicated overdrive. A midi only version of Dilithium is included to trigger external sound generators or samplers with minimal cpu.
Dilithium comes with snapshots that can be triggered with midi notes, program change or CC messages. Included snapshots are recalled with notes or messages 0-35.
All included media and snapshots were produced and sampled by the designer for demonstration purposes.
The A panel uses stacked macros with 8 track and 1 mixer button. Pressing these buttons shows the corresponding views. Global features are at the top including the global clock, parameters that affect the whole instrument, and trigger options.
Below the global area are track features including the sequencer gate and pitch tables, a multi-breakpoint curve editor for Tempo modulation, and parameters for looping the table, swing and midi out.
At the bottom is the sound generator for a particular track where you can select samples, loops or an audio input gate.
The Dilithium mixer brings all 8 tracks together and offers 2 send and insert effects with a limiter on the master output.
Most features are documented in the panel infos so it is helpful to turn them on from the menu /View/Show Info Hints.
A separate clock is included to give tap tempo, BPM in snapshots, and more control in general. Start by hitting a snapshot button and then the Play button in the Global Clock section. The SYNC button restarts the clock phase and tick counter and therefore zeros all tracks using sync buttons downstream. You can enable the tap tempo button and tap in tempo and sync using midi notes or cc...One key for tap tempo and another for sync. Both 2 3 4 both 2 3 4 sets tempo and sync with acoustic drums for example. Turning the Global Clock off simply bypasses to the Reaktor Standalone or plugin/DAW clock.
MIDI Clock Out
Selects source for midi clock out events. Select the Dilithium global clock if you want to send tempo changes on a snapshot basis. Select one of the track’s clocks to modulate clock out using that track’s clock envelope.
When using any of the track’s clocks to modulate the midi clock out, those element sequencers also send their respective sync reset events, which reset the receiving device to position zero. The SYNC button and parameter in each track sequencer determines the duration in beats before a reset and sync event is generated.
Set to OFF if using the Reaktor Clock and Transport.
Beat: Adjusts the kit left or right in time when using the standalone or DAW clock by one beat
Nudge: Like Beat, but adjusts kit position in 96th notes
Swing: Adjusts the swing parameters of all tracks
Swing Randomize: Adjusts the swing randomize amount of all tracks
Transpose Kit: Changes the pitch up or down of the whole kit
Random Transpose Kit: Randomly transposes all tracks
Kit Velocity: Adjusts all the track velocities
Randomize Kit Velocity: Randomizes all the sequencer gates. (pull down Kit velocity to make room)
Dilithium snapshots can be recalled using midi notes, panel buttons, program change or CC messages. You can set a low and high note limit on the snapshot trigger as well. When a snapshot is triggered, the track sequencers are reset and start from zero. Snapshots store all panel control values and recall the table data but be careful editing the tables because there is no undo.
Sequencer Rate: Sets the clock multiplier from whole to 64th notes
Sequencer Gate Table: 64 gate values in unipolar format
Sequencer Pitch Table: 64 pitch values in bipolar format
Loop Selector: Sets the right and left loop boundaries and shows the sequencer position. This works separately from the Syncloop value below and should be wider than syncloop if sync is enabled.
Tempo Meter: Shows changes to the incoming tempo
Copy / Paste: Quick copy and paste of sequencer gates and pitches
Reset: Zeroes the gates or pitches
Backward: Changes the sequencer direction
Sync: Enables track reset to incoming clock position
Syncloop: The number of beats of incoming clock until Sequencer and Tempo Envelope reset.
Nudge: Adjusts the track left or right in time relative to the incoming clock position in 96th notes
Shuffle: Sets the basis for swing on a particular note in a series. Typical swing is a delay on every other or odd note, or a shuffle value of 2. 1 is every note. A value of three puts swing on every third note.
Swing: Sets the Swing Ratio of the track. 1 is light swing, 2 is triple time, 3 is hard swing and 4 is the next note.
Swing Randomize: Randomizes the track swing
Note: Note number for midi out
Note Randomize: Randomize amount for the note
Velocity: adjusts the track gates and velocities
Random Velocity: Track velocity randomize amount
Midi Channel (midi out): Sets the midi channel for midi out
Tempo Envelope Editor: Multi-breakpoint editor for tempo modulation
Tempo Modulation Amount Coarse: Strong tempo modulation amount
Tempo Modulation Amount Fine: Small tempo modulation amount
Tempo Envelope Time Scale: Spread out or contract the tempo envelope in time
Track Mode: Sets sound generator described below
Sample: Select a sample to trigger.
Loop: Plays an audio loop when the sequencer restarts. Use the table for gating and pitch shifting.
Audio Gate: Use the sequencer gates to gate an incoming audio input.
Midi: Nothing. Just use the track parameters to set the note number and midi channel.
Notes on Tempo Modulation:
Less is more: Often small amounts of tempo modulation can be effective using only the fine amount controls.
Symmetric Envelope Shapes: Sine, Triangle, Ramp, Square. It is best to start with symmetric envelope shapes when modulating tempo. This is because they have equal duty above and below the mean tempo line for diverging from a tempo, having a balancing motion and then back to hit a 1.
Ensemble versus discrete tempi: Dilithium 1.0 is a phase 1 polyclock concept with a single star topology/algorithm for discrete tempo modulation and reset of sequencer tracks. Discrete track tempi allow for ensemble behavior and effects like human ensembles or drummers that is more realistic and interesting than puppet string changes to everything at once.
Emergent Time: Time can emerge from the collective phases of individual periodic systems which may be digital or physically acoustic (classical and quantum). Likewise, time in a drum machine emerges from individual track tempi that may be changing.
Tempo and Entropy: It is possible to balance entropy in music through tempo. Two different tempi may be complementary if complexity is conserved.
Designed by Jonathan Adams Leonard (2018)
Dilithium Demo 1: Recorded with Dilithium and SY66 for Reaktor.
Tour Beatz: Recorded in the upper front lounge of a tour bus enroute from Switzerland to Belgium and are snapshots directly from Dilthium.
Confuzion: Drums with midi version of Dilithium. Flute by Michael Higgins.
Picture: 2018 Justin McGrath