Technique: Build up variants in one track

Hello folks,

Warning: long post.

Much electronic music makes use of build ups: rolling snares or claps, followed by cymbals or the well known filter sweep over white noise, followed by a big bassdrum boom…whatever…In this post I show you a way of combining serveral features of the ot so that several variants of build ups can be triggered with only a few button presses during performance. All variants live in one track.

Since putting this to work requires some understanding about the relation between samples, tracks, the master sequencer, one shot triggers and slices, I cover those as well. I will start with something simple and refine and expand further.

First things first:

The track that I am going to use for holding the build up is going to be track 4. I put a flex machine in it and assign a cymbal sample to the flex machine.

If the ot is in track mode, you can trigger the sample by pressing trigbutton 12. In track mode, the first 8 trigbuttons will trigger TRACKS, while the last 8 trigbuttons will trigger SAMPLES (or, strictly speaking, the flexmachine holding that sample).

Every time I hit trigbutton 12 the cymbal is played, that is: it is played immediately. Sometimes this is usefull, but not for what I want: I want that cymbal hit at the beginning of my pattern and want the ot to help me with overcoming the inadequacies of my own timing.

Therefore I dive into the sample edit menu: The last entry of the attributes page is what I need. I set the “quantized trig” parameter to pattern length. Now, every time I press trigbutton 12 the cymbal will not be triggered until the pattern reloops.

This is convienent: Say my pattern length is set to 64…I can hit trigbutton 12 any time during the loop, knowing that the cymbal will not hit…until the whole pattern reloops and the cymbal is triggered at the first step of the next loop. So if I press that triggbutton NOW I know that in the FUTURE the cymbal will hit and that it’ s timing is correct…

The first refinement is easy:

Instead of loading a cymbal, I load a sample which holds 8 samples of different cymbals and slice it. Put a random lfo on the slice number and every time the cymbal hits, you get one of the 8 variants at random. This brings things slightly more alive

At this point we have not done anything with the track yet. There are no triggers on it. The track is completely clean and once you start the sequener, you will see the red light moving through the steps, which are all empty…

Second refinement:

I Dive into the flexmachine sample list and load a couple of different snares/claps into several slots. After that, I put the ot in slot mode. I can now trigger those snare samples with the trig keys.

I start the sequencer and put it on live record.

I live record a build up by hitting those snare samples to taste. Refining or correcting errors can be done afterwards. In this case the build up takes 64 steps.

What we have now is easy: A track containing several hits of snares that form a build up while the flex machine on that track is still assigned to the cymbal sample. The problem we now have is that those stupid snares are heard every time the pattern plays. Therefore I dive into the pattern settings menu and set track 4 to “plays free”. I also set it to “one shot track”.

By doing so, the track does not play anymore as it is disconnected from the main sequencer. I can trigger the track by putting the ot in track mode and hitting trigbutton 4. Hitting that button will trigger the track…immediately which is not what I want. Again dive into the pattern settings menu and set “trig quantization” to “track length”.

At this point I am pretty much where I want: Two trigbuttons are important: Trigbutton 4 tiggers the track. The quantization guarantees that it will always do that at the beginning of the pattern. Trigbutton 12 will still hit my cymbal. Again: quantization takes care of the timing. During performance I can now:

-hit a simple cymbal (button 12)
-start a build up with snares followed by nothing (button 4)
-hit a cymbal followed by a build up with snares (button 4 and 12)
-start the build up followed the cymbal (again trig 4+12)
-etc. etc.

Third refinement:

Let’ s assume that in the last bar of my build up track, trigs 9 to 16 are all lit and all hit the snare…

I remove all the triggers on steps 10 to 16. On trig 9 I use parameter locks on the retrig parameter: set retrig to 8 and retrig time to 1. The track still sounds the way it did, but by using retriggering this way, all triggers on step 10 to 16 are not needed anymore. I mimicked triggering the snare on those steps by using the retrig parameter.

Why would I do this? Easy: to make room for someting else: I now put one shot trigs on step 10 to 16 and (sample)lock them to whatever I want on those steps, thus creating an extra variant.

Now, while performing I have several options:

-Hitting trigbuttons 4 and 12 give you the snare/cymbal combos in any way you want as described above.

-Arming track 4 (hit the yes button) arms the one shot triggers on track your build up track and gives you another variant.

So…during performance only three buttons are needed to come up with all kinds of variations of build ups…quantised and all in one track…

Add sliced samples and random lfo’ s to make it even more alive or hide some extra one shot triggers elsewhere in the track…oh, and your scenes are still free to add even more variety.



Great tutorial! Thanks for taking the time to type this out. As an ot novice there’s no way I’d be able to figure out all this stuff on my own.


Ahah you’re so miles above man.

You just unlocked me the slot playing, I had totally overlooked that ! Just spent two hours playing with this… :robot:
So. Much. Fun !

Now let’s get back to what you were saying…


i read the post slowly and with great interest, and only then did i notice the author. always enlightening when you swing by to drop knowledge, brother. :thup:

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Thanks for this!

I’ve been doing something similar but not as complex, this takes it to the next level! And explained really well too :slight_smile:

excellent tips and tutorial!!

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Can we have this pinned? :slight_smile:

Excellent. Thanks so much!

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thanks Merlin,

great reading again.

I would add another technique for track variation :

“Silent Trigs” = trigs that you pLock at VOL=0 (snares, sounds, whatever) and then have a scene where this track is forced to be amp VOL=MAX by a scene-lock, a kind of way to have partial mutes within a track (this, coupled with sample-pLock, is a great way to “share” a track for different instruments and be able to mute / unmute them even if within the same track :smiley: )

Your post got me interested in the SLOT recording mode… mmmhhhhhh, so much to love and live with the OT!!


Hi folks,

Slot recording is one of those simple features that make life on the ot easy. I use it a lot, for example for building percussion loops:

-Open the sample slot list and put several samples of conga’ s, bongo’ s, drums, shakers or whatever you need in it.

-Put the ot in slot mode, hit live record and start punching in those drums. I usually punch in only one or two drums that define the basic rhythmic feel of the loop…then:

-Hit [function]+[copy] to copy the track.

-Jam along and punch in more drums, turn those parameter knobs on the effects, etc. Create!

-If you screw up: paste back your saved track right on the spot by hitting [function]+[paste] and you are back to the original. This allows you to incrementally build a loop.

-Repeat the above as many times as needed:

-Hit the trigs, turn the knobs => copy the track => hit trigs, turn knobs => copy track or paste your last version in case of a screw up and try again.


-Use a track recorder to make a recording of the full loop.

-After the recording open the record setup menu.

-While in the record setup menu hit [function]+[edit]. A menu appears which allows you to burn the recording straight to the cf card and add it to the first free flex slot. The ot shows you at which slot the loop is added. Remember that number!

-Clear the track and clear your effects…this indeed is destructive.

-Assign the flex recorder to your loop which lives in the flex slot you just remembered.

-Put a trigger on step one to trigger the loop.

-Slice, add more effects, reverse, distort, crush it with some scenes…whatever:)



This is good stuff, thank you Merlin.


Awesome tutorial! Can you post an example of your technique for creating build-ups? I don’t have an OT (do want, but… life), but would love to hear how it works - also might be helpful for others wanting to use this method themselves.

Doesn’t the trig on step 10 cut off the retrigs from step 9? I thought only one sample could play at once on the track.

Correct, but since they’re one-shot trigs they won’t play except when you tell them to. So in this example, if you arm the track, those samples will play and cut off the retrigged snare. If you don’t arm the track, then the snare will retrig until the end of the bar.

This is brilliant stuff Merlin, thank you!


Ahh, I see. Thanks!

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Woah, Merlin’s post blew my mind!



Another example why the OT is such an incredible machine - the design allows so many different approaches of getting creative with it that even after YEARS of regular use, someone else may come up with another way of using it you never even thought about.

Thank you for revisiting this! This just opened up so many possibilities for performance and recording! :pray:t4: