Elektron Sequencers VS Sequencing from DAW

A.K.A “Parameter Locks VS MIDI control of parameters”.

So, here’s my situation,

I don’t like Elektron Sequencers at all. (I’ve owned MD, MnM, Octatrack, Rytm, A4, and recently Digitakt and Digitone).
The reasons are :

  • i prefer graphical editing
  • they totally suck at non 4/4 music
  • they handle only 1 event per step
  • i make non-repetitive music, so 64 step patterns are way too short according to me
  • the brain of my production will remain the computer (Ableton Live mainly)

But, i am really in love with the concept of Parameter Locking. Which is, from my point of view, the only strength of Elektron sequencers.

i’m using Ableton Live for years and i love it. I feel so productive with it and i more or less achieve everything i have in mind since i’m quite good at patching in Max for Live.

I’ve tried to sequence notes and CCs from Live while live-recording, but the result is quite disappointing. It sounds well while playing, but the recorded parameters are kind of wrong.
So i’m thinking of re-creating this Parameter Locking concept with M4L devices that would basically sequence and control the hardware with Control Change Messages.

Would it be as tight as using the internal sequencer or would it “miss” or “delay” MIDI messages ? am i overlooking something, technically ?
Thanks for paying attention.

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that depends on your latency. with a good midiinterface your recorded controldata should be quite right… although i love the electron-sequencer because i am thousand times faster with it, especially when using grooves or of the grid beats (the paramter locks are exactly on the trig then… this can be tricky to reproduce in ableton)… in general you can google that. a lot of people are thinking of the electronstyle parameterlocking in live and i think there are already a lot of M4L-plugs to try…

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Thanks, to be honest, for now i only tried with the Digitone via USB. But i wouldn’t trust the Digitone too much as it has shown how buggy it is.
I don’t know of any M4L Digitone controller for now and i’m figuring out the MIDI mappings.

Do you have an iPad? There’s a midi clockable step sequencer called koushion that can sequence CCs per step. Chainable patterns and stuff. Basically p-locking

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Sorry, i forgot to share my conclusions :

it is impossible to replicate the parameter locks with CCs for the Digitone (and i guess for A4 as well). The reason is : it’s polyphonic !
When you p-lock a note, it p-locks only the current voice used by this note. That’s why it sounds so cool.
With MIDI CCs, you change the sound for all voices. The result is dramatically different when you have overlapping notes. Works for monophonic sounds, though.
So, well, i give up. Or try to use the Digitone sequencer that i dislike so much.

Does each voice not have its own midi channel?

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No, it doesn’t unless you are using something like BItWig, which can handle MPE stuff, like you get from a Roli Seaboard. MIDI is designed to be per-channel and the only thing you can really set per note is velocity. MPE actually wrecks MIDI because it uses a channel per note, which quickly sucks up all 16 channels.

Oh right, I figured each one would have its own midi channel like the A4

I’ve tried sequencing from a DAW. Just does not work for me - really hate having to use the mouse a lot.

To each his own

A4’s params that you access via midi CC’s are definitely per channel.
Does Push offer p-locks?

Yeah you could definitely do something in M4L, design the flow of MIDI too.
It’s been a while since I mucked around in M4L and Live, but I used to be addicted to it.
I guess my main question would be, how does this parameter locking work?
What do you do physically to make a parameter lock? Move the mouse, push a button?

Now that I think about it, why not just use the stock M4L sequencer to sequence parameters?
Or just use Live’s ability to draw CC values in a midi clip?
That is essentially parameter locking.

The problem is not p-locking from ableton per se. The problem are overlapping notes on a single (!) midi channel which gets both influenced by the actual cc value. Depending on your settings you can have multiple voices on a single midi channel even on the A4 and sending a cc value to this channel will influence both voices. When doing p-locking on the machine itself the locked parameter is bound to each note separately. This cannot be done with plain old standard midi (without MPE support).

And it cannot be done with Bitwig either. Bitwig supports MPE, but the elektron machines don’t support it.


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MPE could be a solution indeed but the hardware does not take it.
You must have access to each voice independently to make proper parameter locking. You can only do this internally, from the Digitone. Period.
The only workaround would be to load the same sound in the four tracks and use the Digitone as a “simple” synth with polyphony limited to 4 voices, accessing voices through differnt MIDI channels. Tricky with M4L since you can only output MIDI on one channel.

On the MDUW+ for instance, on the other hand, i don’t see any reason why it couldn’t work since each track has its own parameters. The only tricky thing is to hold parameter values until another note is played on the same track. This is what differs from just automating CCs from Live clips : you’d have to manually draw automation lines until the next note. That can be a pain.