I've got the four bar blues

Usually I spend so much time making a glistening 16 - 64 step pattern that I’ve run out of steam to make a second pattern (second part of a song), and when I do I’m rarely satisfied with how it sounds.

I do my fair share of mutes/ctrl all/scenes/etc. with these single patterns and have managed to stretch several minutes out of 8 tracks, but I want to do a bit more composition. Like for the OT, I would like to use 4 patterns per scene, but end up disliking the second pattern and never getting around to the third.

Obviously that’s just my problem, but I’m interested to hear how people make a variety of sections of a song. Any box, it doesn’t matter (but I own the DT and OT). Thanks!


Copy your pattern, take stuff out, transpose notes, change sounds, add stuff - thats what I tend to do.


What I need to do is this without going so insane with the content of the new pattern. I’ll get real locked in doing this and go back to the first pattern and it’s in like, a whole different key!


Sounds to me that part of the answer is to learn to work faster and avoid ‘fatigue’.


I have a similar problem. I would say to spend less time on the first pattern before moving on to the second. Just get basic ideas down in the first pattern and move on before it gets so ingrained in your head that you can’t think of anything to move to. Then once you have a few patterns you can tweak them all in ways that work together to perfect the piece. The problem I always have is that my brain locks in on the first pattern and the fact that it is looping over and over makes it so that I can’t think of anything for it to do but loop. Very useful to have something in your head that you can try to approach.


I think you nailed my problem as well. perhaps the pattern becomes too precious and every addition seems to detract. Good call, thanks.


I would say maybe be more intentional with your changes. So instead of making a slightly different patter, maybe shoot for a break down, or bridge type of pattern. I too get stuck in loop mode from time to time. I mostly go for live sets so it’s not so bad for messing about and transitioning to a new track. Building a complete track with movements would require some more forethought and maybe that’s the direction to go.


I’ve been in the same situation as the OP, and tried to copy/paste/mutate patterns, but I always ended up with pattern mess, a Rubik’s Cube of patterns all over the place. A nightmare. I gave up and forced myself to admit that a DAW is the only space where I can compose the music I want, and not feel like I’m just trying to fit the limits of the sequencer.


Write a pattern.
Copy to next
Change one thing.
Copy to next.

Do this quickly. Dont spend time listening for stuff that isnt there.



the same thing happens to me, but I will copy and paste the patterns into another bank in the right order. It’s a bit of a pain, but helps get things organized. A method I don’t actually use but might start is having one bank as a sort of sketchpad where nothing is final, and then as variations of patterns come out that I like, copy and paste those to another bank.


I take it you use entire banks for single songs? This could be a good move for me. I fill up the RAM so fast with long samples I rarely even have one bank’s worth of usable patterns.

There’s a thread on HackerNews today about just this. One nerd suggested not even listening back to your first 4-bar loop once you have hit that feeling of “that’s nice”, and instead immediately moving on to the next one. Do a few, and THEN go back to trim, edit and arrange.

I regularly tell my kid that creativity has two modes: creation and editing. Creation is expansive, and it’s best when you “feel” rather than think; editing is reductive and detailed, and more think-y. Do them in distinctly separate sessions (even if it’s just a conscious mind-set switch; but could be a tea break, or a different day).

(I suck at following this advice BTW)


Well, do this on the OT and you’re in “Parts’” nightmare !
Also, it’s a pain if you want to insert new sections/patterns.


This rings so true.

I’ve been throwing a 20 minute little set together on my M:S this week for a gig tomorrow. Because I’ve only had about 3 hours to get everything down, I’ve not had time to think about things too deeply and get stuck in that rut.

I can’t say the results are going to be amazing, but it’s definitely been fun putting it together.


Usually half a bank is enough for a whole song for me. Depends on many factors though.
Static machines are your friend. Use them.

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A composer friend recommended this suggestion from design theory:


so start a new project and sample your first pattern that time, then load it up as pattern 2 in your other project. I bet you’re hitting a wall because it becomes complicated and abstract trying to remember where everything is. Bounce it down to simple audio, you don’t need access to all parameters at all time. If the two patterns don’t go together well now you know what you need to do for your next pattern. Make the middle piece. Rinse and repeat


There’s no “one size fits all” here but from my experience, I’ve found that I hit the x bar loop problem usually when I’ve not been doing music much or fairly sporadically. It’s like I find building a catchy enough loop fairly easy or not so challenging but developing progressions is the difficult part that, for me, usually comes with practice.

Don’t disagree with others suggestions though. Copying patterns and removing bits works a treat. I also like to copy just the drums only and build something different over them then change the drums to suit.

Edited to add that I find the above true from OT experience as well as with other devices/ITB

I’m fairly certain I’ll have a honeymoon period with the Syntakt when it comes where I’ll out a number of snazzy loops. I’m also certain that’ll I’ll need to persevere to get a proper song out of it but looking forward to the challenge. Willing to graft and work at it though


For DT : Start on pattern 5 or 6. Build on that pattern as you used too. You now have chorus 1 or 2. Copy to lower patterns leaving things out and when hitting pattern one strip out to intro. Let it rest for sometime. Listen back from 1 to 5 or 6 and build up more if needed to 7 and forth or build off if your initial pattern is what it needs to be… the top of the mountain as figure of speak.


…yup…biggest problem is always, no matter how many tracks u can fill with something, that u tend to fill/use them all up right from the get go and only then start to move on…

get the edges of a beat defined…add some sonic detail to that to give it some indidual detail and then copy that…to then only focus on a bassline…extract that sonic detail element a little further…then copy the pattern again and now start to create hihats…

copy that, fluctuate the hats a little, add another fling to that sonic detail element, give the kiks a first variation and add a first little twist to the bass line…than copy that one generation older pattern once again and do the same what u did to the latest one, only a little different…

copy those last two again and only now start to think of something lead like to comfort a dialog between that idea and that sonic element u established right at from the start…
it’s all the little changes that make the difference…
and once ur done with defining the lead element, start skipping back and drop some further details into the leftovers…
have a look around and pick ur favourite pattern, copy that, and start a nice fuk it all up with different track length, counts and measures…just to see what might happen…and copy that one last time… :wink:
and have a last flyover with various control all stuff for example…
and then start figuring out how to jam all that in various combos…

don’t be afraid of too many patterns…no matter which machine ur on, it’s always a good thing to end up with “only” one “song” per bank…
even if u think in live sets…hey, worst case is now “only” 16 different “songs”…but in real life, that’s pretty much an endless live set…