Using octatrack for more linear (non loop based) stuff?

Hi all,

I’m currently using a setup involving a MK1 dark trinity (akeys not A4), a sub 37, Nord lead 4, external FX and an analog heat. I love using the elektron machines with the sequencers and plocks etc. I’m even finding I can get some nice progressions going on the A4 and sub 37 by transposing patterns on their respective sequencers.

However, I’d like to incorporate some lead playing from the Nord into my jams and need to find a way to get past the 4 bar limit. I know I can mess with track lengths to get past this, but that would also limit the number of trig’s in the sequencer as I understand it,so midi is out.

Could I record a long sample as audio from the Nord to the octatrack and sync it on the fly with the loops I already have going once the recording is finished?

Essentially I want to incorporate linear playing in my hardware jams without having to pause the sequencer, to try to break out of the “loopitis” which often seems to occur in hardware setups.

I know that the easy way around this would be to sync the machines with Ableton or something, but if I could keep it in hardware that would be great. I find the limitations really help me to get stuff done.

Many thanks in advance,


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Honestly trying to treat the octatrack as linear rather than loop based is working against its strengths. I would recommend using the arranger to build your track and then using your free hands to jam over the track live. Or you could record that whole play through if you jamming and put it on a static track with a one shot trig at the start of your song. The OT can break out of loopitis quite well if you add some polymetric elements by playing with independant track lengths. On top of that using conditional trigs can get extremely far from repetitive. Plus fills and one shot trigs, but it’s all very much programming your track rather than playing which I think is what you’re looking for. I recommend trying all of the above in combination and then playing over the top, I think you’ll find it quite satisfying and unrepetitive once it’s all done. It does take some set up time but it’s ultimately worth it. But to answer your question yes the octatrack can sync and playback long samples with ease, just make sure you use a good memory card that can keep up if you’re going to be doing it a lot.

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Never tried, but it should be possible to record in Arranger mode indeed.

A cheap linear companion :

MPC Live (or similar) does work better for linear material (e.g.backing tracks). If they implement audio streaming, it’ll be even better for that kind of thing.

My plan (or one of them) for playing live, is to combine MPC Live and OT, with MPC mostly doing backing (plus various other bits of kit).

Wow thanks for the replies everyone. This forum is awesome.

After thinking about it a agree with you guys. Trying to record a long improvised part on the octatrack is working against its strengths. I think I’ll flesh out the tracks on the machines first then improvise the lead in my daw afterwards.

It’s a curse of starting out being a keys player. Using the elektrons needs a different mindset. Less is more and all that.

I’m in a similar situation and will try hooking up the Mac and bounce a master stereo bus stem with all “structured” 4-bar music, arranged in Arranger. I’ll then add linear and overlapping layers on top of that, old school keyboard playing.

Not sure it’ll work but believe it will feel engaging :).

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I just had a two hour practice for a show tomorrow and there was hardly anything about it that wasn’t linear, I grabbed a few two bar loops in real time but they were just one note drones, and I had a four bar MIDI sequence with one trig on the first step playing an analog synth, and everything else was just playing with scenes controlling a bunch of filters in parallel on the same input, with delays at nearly full feedback with different delay times, so they built up into a sort of evolving, polyrhythmic drone, while the other half of the duo played eurorack stuff over it.

I use my OT for ‘non-linear’ music, if you will. I play a lot of ambient music and, for what I need, the Octatrack provides a great grounding for ‘generative’ patterns and async ‘loops’ (see: patterns with trigs in).

I rarely program anything serious, and just use LFOs and conditional trigs to mix up the sounds I’m using. It doesn’t have to be a pattern-driven, loop box if you don’t want it to be.

Hi, I’d suggest that you try triggering what you record from the Nord on the OT manually. I.e. staying in Track mode and use the rightmost 8 trig keys.

You’d still be able to have it played back on the grid if you set the Quantize Trig setting to anything other than Direct for the recorder buffer, if that’s what you’re after. And you can still loop the sample regardless of the 4-bar limit.

record your Synth in the DAW (make sure it is relatively tight to the tempo of your Hardware Setup and has a synchronized “start”), save the Recording, add it to the OT, load it into the Static Machine, place a Trigger on the first Step of the Pattern and set that Triggers Trig Condition to 1:8. Now your Sample is played back without Retriggering for exactly 8 Pattern Repeats. Switch to subsequent Patterns before that first Pattern repeated 8 Times and set no Triggers for the Track your long Sample is placed on - on the subsequent Patterns. That way your Sample is played back until the end - no matter how long it is. Thats as linear as you can get it i assume.

Alternatively: Do some massive preparation work by slicing the Sample up with the OT; then use tons of Trig Conditions on just a few patterns to arrange your recorded Notes/Chords in a way that they dont sound linear anymore. Involves much more work, but has the advantage that you can easily modify the Slices and add Variety out of existing material. Which is one of the OTs strengths imho.

[edit] before i forget it: Set the Trig Length to Infinity for the first method to work :wink:

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4 bar limit? OT tracks can play 32 bar sequences if you set the track length multiplier to 1/8 (I think that’s the lowest setting, haven’t used my OT in a couple months). I always set the pattern so you can set the individual track scale/multiplier settings, with master length set to INF with a pattern change setting of something like 16/32/64 steps.

Use the MAX record length settings with One2 so you can start and stop the recording manually (a foot controller can be very helpful), set a record quantize setting if desired, record your performance, play back in a track with the 1/8 multiplier (or some other setting) as described above, or skip that and use a one shot trig… oh yeah, and there are trig conditions now, so that would work too. You can record up to like, 6 minutes, which should be plenty for capturing a lead performance, I would guess.

OT might not be the most obvious choice for linear stuff, but it can still do it well, and with the possibility for some very interesting variations.


If your into using some long loops for your improvised parts that doesn’t go against the OT’s strengths…
You can have long loops running on a few tracks and also have other tracks running regular sequences, 64 steps or whatever…

I use pickups for making long loops live , 4 to 32 bars usually… They can record and immediately play back synced loops. Personally for leads I think audio loops are better than recording midi anyway…

You can also pre record either in OT or with something else and place longer loops on the sequencer using one-shots or conditional trigs with sample set to loop, or use track scale just for that track. If you start using many long samples they can be played from static tracks to save ram…

I wouldn’t be afraid of using 8-32 or even 64bar loops on the OT…

Oh, and I’ve been saying “loop” but it could just be a long one shot of your solo…

-You can also chain a bunch of patterns and live record midi into them, haven’t tried this though…

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