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Improve The Arpeggiator.

Discussion in 'Feature Suggestions' started by AntSchmitt, Aug 28, 2017.

  1. AntSchmitt

    AntSchmitt New Member

    Maschine Studio's arpeggiator is useful, but not much more than those found on hardware synths of yesteryear - perhaps that's exactly the point, and I'm missing it - they were good enough...

    With ref to the Cthulhu post in this forum - I think there is a real desire using arpeggios in Maschine, especially considering the popularity of Maschine with those interested in EDM related music.

    Ideally we'd have a wider variety of patterns, styles and some randomisation options. I use Sonar (in fact had to go back to Sonar specifically to use it's arpeggios and timeline) and the variety and features found there, along with those in Cthulhu would be great if they could be implemented into Maschine!

    Many thanks,

    • Like Like x 2
  2. D-One

    D-One Moderator Moderator

    Hello @AntSchmitt, thanks for your suggestions.
    Anything else, in particular, you feel like is missing from the arpeggiator other than a wider variety of patterns, styles randomization options?
    Also, can you elaborate on "randomization options" and "Styles"?

  3. AntSchmitt

    AntSchmitt New Member

    Hi D-One,

    thanks for the reply -
    I've just realised that this has turned into a mammoth post, but I've tried to include all my own analysis of work-flow and rationale to justify my case that the arpeggiator is an important part of Maschine and great opportunity to develop the product in ways that other DAWS which lack Maschine's integration can therefore not achieve.

    Might be best to make a cup of tea and settle down for a while!

    Anyway, here's more info, ideas and observations relating to the Note Repeat / Arpeggiator - I hope they get people thinking:

    In terms of the number of patterns and styles, Sonar offers a lot more. To be honest, far more than I ever use, but they do cover a range of musical genres - many of which I assume would not usually be so useful for the typical Maschine user.

    See the screenshot at the bottom for an indication - you can see that despite the 01-15 and 16-32 naming on the menu, there are actually approx 60 'Arpesque' patterns alone, plus patterns covering playing styles for Bass, Guitar, Keyboard and Single notes. To give you an idea of the range of the preset patterns, the Keyboard section of the below menu contains a further five sub menus, whilst the Bass section offers patterns for Acoustic, Rock and Synth playing styles - so there must be in the region of 400 arp patterns altogether, covering a good variety of styles. In addition to the patterns there are then also the traditional 'Shapes' that we have in Maschine and find on synths. Finally, users have the ability to create (and store for re-use) their own patterns too, I suspect being able to re-use your own stored patterns is a workflow boost, it gets you working from a starting point within your genre more quickly.

    As said, this huge range of presets won't all be useful, it is arguably overkill territory for Maschine, but I think it demonstrates a desire for variety and 'something different' or 'new' when working - after all common Up/Down/Up-Down shapes are too repetitive for prolonged, unedited use in dance music. They are a starting point. Remember variety and starting point for later reference.

    To some extent I think this variety exists because Sonar, like Cubase is marketed at a wide range of users, but equally I think some users (and without any disrespect to anyone because I totally include myself in this statement) need material to work with as we're not that experienced or trained. I'm a hobbyist musician, a film-studies graduate and a teacher/teacher-mentor by profession. I don't have a lot of spare time and so anything that get's me started, and then can keep me creating because it doesn't break my workflow is great because I love trying to make music. I think Maschine and Sonar are brilliant for this. The Maschine Studio for keeping my hands and eyes on the hardware is brilliant, the VSTs and samples provided with Kontakt are amazing, the pattern based work-flow is a welcome alternative to a traditional timeline, but in terms of work-flow - there's this hole (or opportunity) that I've found in the Arpeggiator. Being interested in EDM (I hate that term..) I think it's an important opportunity as it's caused me to switch back to Sonar and therefore stopped my learning and work-flow development with Maschine. I suspect I'm not the only person who responds in this way, and certainly not the only Maschine user who likes an arpeggio/sequence.

    Randomisation: I seem to remember that Cthulhu has a setting (or several settings that work together) to determine the probability of a note being played, played at a different octave, or adjusted in other musically interesting ways - I might be imagining that last bit, but it all sounds like Cthulhu can lead to an unexpected moment of inspiration. I wish I could get that without having to point, click and drag, point, click and drag, point, click and drag.... We all know how fast Maschine can be to work with. Randomness is really interesting in the creative process, alongside predictability which is so important for listeners - that feeling when you know the track is building towards the drop, but the build or the drop has an unexpected element too - that works really well and leaves you with the impression that the musician is in someway above your thinking. Randomness & the unexpected vs predictability = Inspiration - another keyword to remember.

    Interface/Customisation: Some sort of interface built into the hardware that would take Maschine's integration and blend it with some Sonar, Cthulhu (and FM8 for that matter) style starting points, control, variation, flexibility and inspiration would be amazing.

    I like watching Deadmau5 working in Ableton in his studio, it's really interesting to see him creating and evolving his sequences from arpeggio starting points. I analyse quite closely - to try and understand his methodology and process. I notice that he constantly adjusts notes and durations, evolving his way through chord and key changes, but auditioning his changes every time. Ableton seems to have some sort of instant audition built in that lets you immediately hear the result of 'what you just did'. Sonar sort of has this but lacks the automatic and instant quality; I have to hit Shift + Space everytime I want to audition a change, after also using the mouse to re-select the notes I want to audition - not a work-flow killer, but certainly something that slows me down - moves my hands and eyes away from where I want them. I think the important thing to take from this anecdote is the work-flow style of making lots of small adjustments in order to evolve arpeggios into sequences, wanting to achieve that EDM style, but needing constant and automatic feedback. Feedback is essential for anyone who hasn't learnt music theory (like me, and I believe Deadmau5) and is effectively using their equipment to explore, because we don't already know if changing a note will create the musical effect we're searching for. Keywords here are evolve and feedback.

    It leads me into wondering how we could make adjustments on the fly to groups of notes before recording (after all with arpeggios we usually want to apply changes to several notes at once e.g. move all the notes on C3 up to D3 in the last half of the 8 bar sequence), rather than having to manually edit note by note in Step Mode after the recording, which is slow(er). A computer monitor is equally slow - trying to select certain notes in a pattern without selecting ones you don't want, getting it wrong, having to deselect them, zoom in, carefully re-select them, zoom back out to get the overview you want, move the notes, listen... sloooowww.....

    Actually I'm glad you responded to my post because it's made me combine all these observations about how we work, and the equipment available to do it. Without being big-headed I think people would find the following suggestion intuitive, and that it would fit NI's/Maschine's ideology, purpose, hardware and work-flow really well:

    What we really need is the ability to create, edit and evolve arpeggios in real time with the freedom to evolve them into extended sequences ala Deadmau5 (and many other successful artists). Elements of the existing Step Mode editing and Note Repeat functionality need to be combined, and have further functionality added. What would happen is this:

    We need an editing/creation screen on the hardware.
    We enter Note Repeat/Arp mode, then play the arpeggio using Maschine's pads or another MIDI controller, as normal.
    The arpeggio would begin playing, looping with or without other tracks in the current scene so that we get the desired feedback as we explore.
    The arpeggio would be visualised on the screen(s), just as midi data is in Step Mode, updating in real time as we edit or play in different notes/chords.
    As the arpeggio is looping, using Maschine's buttons and hardware knobs:
    • We can still select and adjust all the basic functions that we currently can on the hardware, e.g. Type/Rate/Unit... Our starting point.
    • A second editing page would be added allowing us to create/edit/evolve in greater depth.
    • On that second page, the first knob would define a length/focus range for editing, e.g. DIAL/1/2/4/6/8/12/16/24/32/48/64 bars. We might have a 16 bar pattern in the scene, but want to focus on editing/creating within blocks of four bars. The DIAL setting is explained later, in other settings though the dial would move the focus forwards/backwards to the next 1/2/4/8/etc bars of the pattern (as defined by the user).
    • The first knob, when used with the shift button, would select part of the preceding and subsequent bars - so that changes can be heard in context.
    • The second knob would be used to select a particular MIDI note (not event) from the defined range- imagine a 3 octave Up-Down pattern in the key of C - I could select all C2, C3 or C4 in those four bars - then use a fourth knob to raise or lower the midi note value of all those notes e.g. all C3s become D3s. So far I can quickly navigate a whole pattern, focus on selected areas and adjust notes, evolving my arpeggio starting point into an extended sequence.
    • The third knob (notice second and fourth knobs mentioned previously) would allow selection of not just all of the selected notes, but all/first/last/every other/every fourth/sixth/eighth and so on.. instead; so that only those notes in the selected key e.g. C3 would be edited when adjusting midi note. This allows some quick but finer evolution within patterns, retaining the overall repetitive predictability and harmony.
    • The fifth, sixth and seventh knobs would be used to adjust the duration, velocity and start time of the previously selected notes. Again these would affect which ever notes were selected - all/first/last etc... Holding shift would switch between adjusting in line with grid settings e.g. moving start times to the next eighth note, or with shift moving notes around freely of grid settings.
    • Perhaps the eighth knob would be used to set the probability of edits happening to add that touch of randomisation/inspiration, if it is wanted. The shift key here would set the extent of any adjustment - so 'will it happen?' and if so 'to what extent?' Enabling positive as well as negative values to the extent is what could provide the element of the unexpected - allowing notes to be moved more than desired.
    • So far all this is happening within a user-defined length for editing, however we may want to evolve our arpeggios outside of a defined duration: freely - at any point in the timeline. In this case an alternative editing mode would be useful. In this scenario, all the same editing functions would all be possible, however instead of defining a range (e.g. 4 bars) within which to work - the first knob's 'DIAL' setting would cause edits to be applied freely across the whole pattern, from where the playhead is currently positioned in the timeline. So if the playhead is positioned half-way through the second bar, and I want to adjust all/first/last etc... C3 notes to D3 from that point, that's where it would happen - this is more like Step Mode, but is still working with groups of selected notes, and an 'apply' button would be needed to implement changes with Maschine's main dial being used to move the playhead around.
    • In addition to all this some copy and move buttons would be useful. If we've made an edit to the first 4 bars of a 16 bar arpeggio, we might want to apply the edits to some or all of the remaining three 4 bar sections. Buttons enabling us to COPY TO NEXT/ALL/ALL SUBSEQUENT would certainly be quicker than using mouse and/or keyboard commands.The same for moving sections of arpeggios around - again if I'm editing a particular 4 bar section of a 16 bar pattern I might like to MOVE FORWARD/BACK/BEGINNING/END - I imagine the shift button would work well here to free buttons up for other purposes.

    I think this (as it's so focused on workflow, creation and integration) is very much NI territory, the Maschine hardware screens, knobs and buttons would be great for it. I've no idea if this sort of thing exists within the MPC or Ableton controller world, but I like to think the idea would be a nice advantage for NI.

    The cherry on the cake would be to have the software be intelligently aware of what users were trying to achieve, taking into account genre and have it offer up musical suggestions. Then there'd be a patentable and protected technology involved.

    Thanks for reading, all thoughts and critique welcomed.


    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
    • Like Like x 2
  4. D-One

    D-One Moderator Moderator

    Wow :eek: @AntSchmitt I wasn't expecting all that when asked you to elaborate. Well done, very comprehensive suggestion.
    Sounds like quite an undertaking to have such an advanced Arp in Maschine, i would love to be able to have all those options.

    You got my like and "+1" ;)
    Hopefully this thread gets attention.

    O BTW, I like watching Deadmau5's production live streams to and i don't even like EDM, his approach is indeed interesting. I recently watched his Masterclass and enjoyed it quite a bit.
  5. AntSchmitt

    AntSchmitt New Member

    Hi D-One,

    I keep wondering whether or not to watch the masterclass, glad to hear you enjoyed it.

    Yeah that post was loonng... That's English teachers for you... writing...

    Keep up the good work with the forum.


  6. CH7

    CH7 NI Product Owner

    Great idea for A.i - I have a feeling this is the ultimate buzz/future for EDM.
    A.i with of course the option to turn off the A.i, or parts of it. or A.i which is set up to teaks certain parameters.

    There's an app created/composed by Brian Eno called Reflections which shows a muse-like form for A.i in generative music. This is perhaps Maschine for say 5.0 or even 4.5 - but first NI need to attend to the basics, the foundations which must surely start with the options for A.i to analyse, and then control.


    https://m.youtube.com/results?q=brian eno reflections bbc click&sm=3

    You might also want to check out Enos's other app 'Bloom' also on youtube.

    Now that's an arpeggio generator.
    • Like Like x 1