Exploring the Nonlinear Circuits Snake Joke: A CMOS-based Euclidian Pattern & CV Generator by Tom Hirst

Within the diverse landscape of Eurorack modules, the Nonlinear Circuits Snake Joke holds a fascinating position due to its unique architecture and compelling feature set. Designed by Tom Hirst, this module condenses powerful Euclidian rhythm generation and control voltage (CV) modulation within a minimalistic design based on three CMOS chips.

At the heart of the Snake Joke, you'll find a CMOS-based Euclidian trigger, gate, and CV generator. This encapsulates the fundamental function of the module – providing even distribution of triggers over a span of 16 steps. But what does that mean in terms of music creation? Simply put, it opens up a world of thought-provoking rhythmic constructions. With just a flip of the onboard switches or an input of external signals, you can manipulate how many triggers per step, spawning complex, eclectic patterns once connected in your rack.

Adding a unique twist to your sessions, the Snake Joke also allows users to patch in gates of a divided down clock signal (or anything else) for on-the-fly pattern switching. This inclusion adds a level of unpredictability to your sequences, fueling creativity and spontaneity within your compositions. Although the switching might occasionally produce off-kilter results, Hirst encourages the acceptance of the so-called awry patterns, postulating the artistic richness within these serendipitous moments.

Digging deeper into the module's functionality, the internal switching of the circuit delivers a set of compelling gate outputs named C1-4. While the Hit gate and Hit trigger serve as the main outs, all the generated triggers present intriguing outputs, each carrying a distinct flavour of the Snake Joke's unique rhythm generation.

The Snake Joke isn't just about rhythm; it also features CV output capabilities. This is achieved through a direct-to-analog resistor network taken from C1-4, covering a 0-5V range. This allows the module to interact with other components of your Eurorack system, opening up vast modulation possibilities and tying your sequences into broader soundscapes.

However, the Snake Joke isn't without its limitations. Compared to microprocessor-based Euclidian pattern generators, the Snake Joke is confined to 16-step patterns. This might appear restrictive initially, but Hirst asserts that the right use of the reset input and careful switch set up can counteract this. Moreover, the module's fluid pattern switching feature equips the Snake Joke with enough firepower to stand up against competing modules – ensuring it remains a potent tool for complex pattern generation.

The Nonlinear Circuits Snake Joke represents a compelling switch from the norm. It challenges end-users to approach rhythm composition differently, to focus on embracing spontaneity and unpredictability within their patterns. Furthermore, combined with its CV capabilities and adaptive characteristics, this Eurorack module becomes a powerful addition to any synth enthusiast's setup. Whether you’re a Eurorack veteran or just starting, the Snake Joke brings a fresh, dynamic approach to rhythm creation that's well worth checking out.

Example Usage

In practice, the Snake Joke module offers a versatile approach to generating Euclidean patterns and CV signals. By utilizing the switches or external input signals to determine the number of triggers within a 16-step sequence, users can easily create dynamic rhythmic patterns. Experimenting with gate signals, including divided clock signals, adds an element of unpredictability to pattern generation, offering a creative twist to your compositions. The module's gate outputs (C1-4) provide a multitude of sonic possibilities, with the 'hit gate' and 'hit trigger' outputs serving as primary options for shaping your patterns.

Moreover, the CV functionality, derived from a simple D to A resistor network connected to C1-4, allows for modulation within a 0-5V range. Feel free to tweak the resistor values to tailor the CV output to your liking. While the module is fixed to 16-step patterns, the inclusion of a momentary reset switch and strategic switch configurations enables users to navigate this limitation effectively. This feature, coupled with the ability to alter patterns on the fly, positions the Snake Joke as a robust and intricate pattern generator for your Eurorack setup.

To use the Nonlinear Circuits Snake Joke Eurorack module effectively, start by setting the switches to define how many triggers you want over a 16-step sequence. Experiment with patching in external gate signals to switch between patterns dynamically. If the patterns seem off when switching mid-cycle, try using the momentary reset switch to recalibrate. Explore the gate outputs and experiment with the CV output, which covers a 0-5V range and can be adjusted by tweaking the resistors. While the module is fixed to 16-step patterns, utilizing the reset input and switch configurations can help overcome this limitation. Embrace the spontaneity of the module's functionality, as the unexpected patterns can lead to creative outcomes. Experiment, play around, and let the Snake Joke module inspire innovative rhythm and pattern generation in your modular setup.

Further Thoughts

In practice, the Nonlinear Circuits Snake Joke module offers a plethora of creative possibilities due to its CMOS-based Euclidean pattern and CV generation capabilities. Thanks to the ingenious design by Tom Hirst, the module's core logic and processing are condensed into just three CMOS chips, showcasing a remarkable feat of engineering efficiency. By leveraging the intuitive switches or input signals to override them, users can easily dictate the distribution of triggers within a 16-step sequence, with the module striving to evenly space them out for rhythmic diversity.

A fascinating aspect of the Snake Joke module is its responsiveness to external gate signals, allowing for seamless pattern transitions on the fly. While sudden pattern changes might introduce delightful unpredictability, a gentle nudge of the momentary reset switch can swiftly realign the sequence if needed. The gate outputs (C1-4) extracted from the internal circuitry offer a wealth of rhythmic variations, complementing the main gate and trigger outputs to enrich your sonic explorations.

Moreover, the built-in CV functionality adds a layer of expressive depth to your sequences, courtesy of a straightforward D to A resistor network derived from C1-4. Adjusting the resistor values empowers users to fine-tune the CV output within the 0-5V range, tailoring it to suit their musical preferences. While the module's fixed 16-step pattern might seem limiting compared to processor-driven Euclidean generators, strategic employment of the reset input and adept switch configurations can effectively circumvent this constraint, unleashing a realm of intricate and evolving patterns.

By embracing the dynamic nature of the Snake Joke module and embracing the occasional deviations in pattern behavior, users can tap into its full potential as a versatile and captivating pattern generator in their Eurorack setup. Explore the rhythmic possibilities offered by this unique module and elevate your music production to new heights of creativity and innovation.

Learn more about the Nonlinear Circuits Snake Joke module: https://www.nonlinearcircuits.com/modules/p/snakejoke