Arpeggiators - I don't understand!

Hello, I’m finding the arpeggiator on the A4 a bit odd and I was hoping someone could put me right.

So far as I can tell the Arp. Setup (Function + arp.) basically sets up a small sequence, (SH-101 style) rather than a conventional arpeggiator pattern. I can set up a pattern of up to 16 notes, with each one of those 16 having it’s own pitch offset from the played (or triggered) note. So far so good. BUT this little group of 16 notes can only be played in the order in which it is programmed. It cannot be run backwards or forward-backward-forward or anything like that. Most of the parameters on the Arp. page have little or no effect on it. It can be transposed, by being triggered by notes with differing pitches.

If I use the “Notes 2, 3 and 4,” parameters to create a little 4 –note pattern then this CAN be run backwards, in several octaves etc, in the traditional manner. All good, but I only have the 4 notes to play with.

There is more to it than that, but my question is this:- have I missed something really fundamental or is that roughly how it’s supposed to be.

Many thanks.

You don’t want Function + ARP
Just hit the ARP Button Itself.

MOD Top left knob on the ARP page

Arp Modes - OFF / TRU / UP / DWN / CYC / SHF / RND

Followed by SPD

1-8 octaves

Then Len + legato ON OFF

Hello again - thanks very much for that. Thing is - if I play a chord on the mini-keyboard then it is arpeggiated in the normal manner and, as you say, the controls on that page work as expected. I suppose my point really is this:- is the arpeggiator really intended for use as a “live not recorded” tool for use with the mini-keyboard and not much else.

What I’d quite like to do is program some notes in the normal manner - i.e trigger a few steps - and have those note arpeggiated. But I suppose that, it being a monosynth, you can’t have several notes playing at the same time and that therefore there is no chord to arpeggiate!

So, I come back to the point that the only way - without using the "Notes 2, 3 and 4 parameters - to have a traditional arpeggiation is playing chords on the mini-keyboard (or MIDI, of course) and arpeggiating that. That’s how it seems to me at the moment. Am I missing something? I saw a few videos of people playing with the Arps and they didn’t seem to be playing chords on the keyboard but it was a bit hard to tell just what was going on, to be honest.I got the impression that they had arps running in the background - perhaps they were 4 note arps made with the note offsets.

Going back to the “Function+Arp” page:- it just seems odd that it should be considered an Arp at all, as it just seems like, as I say, a little SH-101 style transposable sequence. Either it’s a simple matter of terminology or, once again, I’m missing something…

Any thoughts much appreciated. Sorry to be so dumb.

Thanks very much, once again.

I think you got it quite right.

Let’s ignore the arp-sequencer for a moment…

you might have noticed the NO2, NO3 & NO4 parameters can be parameter-locked. So you can program 4-note chords with them. The odd thing here is that you cannot record p-locks into these parameters by holding a chord on the keyboard.

E.g. for a min7 chord, try setting them as follows:

NO2 = +3
NO3 = +7
NO4 = +10

So yeah, building chords with the arp is a bit awkward as you have to hold trig-buttons and carefully adjust the knobs…

If these 3 params are at their default (0) values, the arp just jumps in octaves, as defined by the RANGE parameter…

Now, the arp sequencer basically runs on top of the normal arp as a sort of modulator. The note offsets programmed with the NO2-4 parameters are the basis of the arp chord, and the sequence additionally adds/subtracts note values…

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Ahhhh…well, using that that principle I’m getting some nice things cropping up, thanks. I think my evening is now planned!

Thanks very much - most enlightening. You’d do very well to pick it up from the manual, don’t you think. If I was them I’d be going “Hey!! It does THIS!! Like THIS!! Press this and then that and then that!!” etc. Perhaps they did and I’m just a bit too stupid. Very possible…

What I have gathered thus far in accruing useful tips, even printing some out to add to my printed out A4 user manual, on prior and this forum, is VOID explains things from a musician’s view rather than the user manual’s leaning more like an engineer that spoke best English ended-up writing the A4 manual and if VOID were to put together an A4 User Manual that did not assume the A4 was a person’s second, third, et al, Elektron Instrument, rather than many of us it’s first; well, just saying, would GLADLY pay for it!

I am not still totally clear on the Arps but that explanation has me seeing things a bit more clearly.
You hit the nail on a ‘gray area’ that has had me perplexed with Arps and tracks and certainly steer me towards the light further:

We have Note Slides where we can do for instance, long evolving drones with wild modulation and even pitch. Aside from FX and CV Track we have four analog mono synth tracks.
Since the nature of mono synths is exactly that, for now, chords are made by say each track’s step would have to hit exactly at same time or even note slides as aforementioned drones.
Does this mean that the only way an Arp(s) could occur is when there’s available “Note Off” spaced segments within each track and same steps?
Please forgive my beginning journey traveling deeper down the A4 rabbit hole, but am I “overthinking” in that Arps and sequence steps/tracks are really two different animals as far as way A4 allows one to utilize them?
Thanks for your patience in advance!

as a new Elektron user myself, i have to concur about the comments regarding the tone of the manual, rather dry ! One nuance to exploring the two ‘sides’ of the arp is that (for me anyway, so far) the graphically sequenced pattern can be auditioned from the mini-kbd. The graphical pattern is overlayed on what you play on the kbd (eg if you play a 3 note triad and have a single step set (e.g. step 1 set at +13 , range 1 / up mode) in a 16 len pattern the note in the triad which is affected(jarringly) will alternate between 1,2 &3 as the underlying 3 count meets step one at different times … if you play a four note chord it will only affect the first note ) … now the intriguing No2,No3 & No4 were a mystery to me as i could not audition any change via kbd (the manual was no help at all!) … to date the only way i can hear these additional notes (as suggested above e.g.) was to record a held note into the sequencer (it’s fine if you do this by step seq method and lengthen the note) but if you do it in realtime the impact is not heard until the recorded note is “played” back, it is not heard whilst recording in - that makes no sense to me at all, you want to hear what you are about to record in surely !

I’d go as far as to say this was an oversight / bug, it certainly meant that figuring out how n2,n3&n4 params worked was tricky (until i had recorded in a long note) … who knows how all this may change if poly is configured !

fwiw as mentioned above, the n2-4 params can be plocked but not by a trigless lock, fair enough … shame the speed etc can’t be plocked !

Mmmm…I’ll have to digest all this stuff. So easy to get sidetracked on this thing! There’s definitely some useful sound making functionality there, which is the main thing of course, but the two facets of the Arpeggiator seem to be barely related, beyond the name really. I mean, sure - they can both be used at the same time and interact with one another in the same way that other elements can interact with one another but they don’t really seem like part of the same thing, you know.

I would be very interested to know if it all works as Elektron had envisaged. I think it would be really nice if the backward, forward etc.options worked on the graphically sequenced pattern, as Avantronica very helpfully calls them. (The screen reached with Fucntion+Arp, if I understand correctly). If it IS all planned, it’s a very odd plan.

Cheers, thanks again.

I just hope suggested added features currently missing are not simply purposefully imposed by thinking the “average user” should expect to get an Octatrack to do this and that because there IS a percentile of users that are not using A4 as a standalone instrument rather, to supplement current hardware synth set-ups and reason full midi out/in, being able to record dynamics into record mode would just make this an even more utilitarian instrument and would go as far to state give more incentive for people to purchase a second A4 perhaps. Many of us already have sampling end of things covered in whatever manner, limited or otherwise.
As mentioned in another thread, if my Quasimidi Polymorph can do all these things from 1999, albeit an all digital machine, but it’s still midi after all; these things should be possible with A4.

In my opinion, they should add the “note lock” feature from the monomachine to the A4, that way arpeggios would be really improved.

I can readily accept the lack of direction change on the main sequences, (although it is obviously something that’s been around for a long time on other products) - it’s not something offered or suggested and it’s not part of the Elektron approach. Fair enough BUT - the mini-sequence / arpeggio affair (Func+arp) seems like it’s supposed to have that facility but doesn’t. That’s what flummoxes / annoys me a bit. It would be really nice.

I’ve also had no joy with the arps and struggled with the manual. I’ll have to read these helpful posts carefully and see what happens :slight_smile: Thanks guys.

I’m sounding like a stuck record about Elektron manuals - Something Needs To Be Done! Functions in the OT (that everyone else seems to have mastered - I must be particularly dumb!) have me baffled. I just don’t understand the descriptions in the manual. Is there a secret network of Elektron owners giving each other 1:1 lessons so this arcane stuff is handed on?? I can hear them laughing at me :alien:

Yes. It was called Elektron-Users. Haha.
The arp on the a4 is missing some crucial stuff, but that doesn’t mean it’s not useful.
As I read all these comments, I can’t help but think a lot of people are just over thinking things. Just play with the thing for what it is. Spend the time to understand how it works and how it’s limitations can be pushed to their limits. Does it sound good? Yes? Keep going! No? KEEP GOING!
The a4 and all elektrons are just like any other piece of hardware. You have to dedicate to yourself to finding the hidden jems. They are actually probably much deeper than most other pieces, as the elektron “mentality” often forces you to think outside the box. . “Work around” is a term that all elektron users have to learn to understand and love. It’s what makes them fun.

Edit: agreed that the manuals are not the best, but , mayAbe you should go read the manual for a early-mid 90s roland piece. You’ll see elektrons manuals in a new light

Yes, I bought a D101 in 1988. The tearing of hair and gnashing of teeth!! Have to say the OS was bug-free though.

I find the best manuals are for American products.

Access-Music’s Virus manuals as well as the Waldorf gear manuals I have are quite complete. Dave Smith Instruments, whom I love their Mono Evolver Keyboard so much that I own two, well, the Evolver User Manual for the first model, the desktop evolver is written too, by an engineer and so cryptic that a user wrote 'Definitive Guide to the Evolver", which is from a musician’s mind and now considered the go-to manual.
Just a few examples and do not mistake me, as I really love the A4 and am learning it slowly but surely. However, NOT so much from the provided download of manual as it exists. no, through many hours of doing searches on the former forum where even there, some people were rather dismissive rather than helpful.
I challenge some experienced users to put together your knowledge in perhaps instructive videos in Groove 3 type format or written that makes things such as the arp, kit and sounds management as well as proper file management that works from a musician’s point of view.
Everybody is a beginner of something at some point. Many of us already have loads of synthesis knowledge and even sound design under our belts. Admittedly, the Elektron Way is very different than even The Spectralis or the Polymorph…that does not mean new users to A4 or any Elektron machines are daft nor lazy. To qualify this; the person whom I bought my A4 from also has the same aforementioned DEEP machines I have mentioned and he has a wall of modular gear. He decided to sell his A4 after 6 months because he found both the manual rather assuming one already understands Elektron Way, and was kind of ‘put off’ by former forum where he too was suggested to “just play it, and learn”…I am not one to give-up and love the sound enough to keep at it. However, future first owners of Elektron machines, namely A4 would benefit from a bit more descriptive tutorial-laced user manual. There’s obviously a reason same questions popping-up on this new forum as old forum by people new to the A4 and/or Elektron. It would be great for business as well. Rant over and back to the box.

@namnibor - fair points. i’m a new A4 and Elektron user and I found some of the stuff linked here …

… quite useful for getting up to speed

Thank you very much! First time ever coming across this!! You are a good soul!

@Namnibor - glad you’ve got a good Virus manual. Maybe it’s a recent machine and they’ve got their act together? I have the Virus C - about 10 years old - and the manual is terrible! It has this conversational style that’s quite unsuitable, doesn’t explain things in depth, and has no index. No index! Can you believe it?! It’s not even for the right version of the hardware it came with.

I agree it doesn’t help to be told ‘shut up and get on with it’. It’s evident from the posts in this forum that Elektron users are literate, intelligent people. However there’s obviously great variation in peoples’ aptitude for intuiting the deep functions in these wonderful machines. It would be hugely helpful if Elektron themselves took this seriously, employed technical writers and make a proper job of it.

cheers - you’re welcome, there’s actually a later 1.05 version of the guide pdf via this search of the old forum (and mention of producing a 1.06 version) …

Virus KB and KC–The KB manual is better than the KC, however, if you do not have a hard copy of the other really useful manual totally pertaining to all pre-Ti, you can download it from their site called “Programming Analog Synths”, by Howard Scarr, which is actually a great tutorial for all pre-Ti, and germane to instruments-A,B, or C.
There’s also Addendums to download for the C if you did not know.

MY brain is also sort of used t way the Polymorph and Spectralis sequencers work, which I realize there’s no ‘right nor wrong’ with creative freedom and an instrument’s implementation–my brain even fully understands how to use my Waldorf Q on-board POLY step sequencer that’s also multi timbre. Just a different way to learn here and needed time, practice, patience, and more practice.
Camaraderie amongst we new to Elektron and A4 will certainly help as well. Thanks!