A Max4Live Sequencer Masterclass for Push 3 Integration

The Seqmod 1.1 by DiscreetDevices is a highly inventive step sequencer designed with the Ableton Push 3 Standalone in mind. This Max4Live device boasts significant functionality that makes it enterprisingly versatile, allowing users to realize intricate sequence designs that stimulate creativity and innovation in their music making process. You can access Seqmod via https://maxforlive.com/library/device/10419/seqmod.

What sets Seqmod apart is its distinctive sequencing process that utilises a cycle of eight pitches defined by four control dials. These pitch offsets, relative to a central ROOT pitch, provide real-time feedback as they cycle through the sequence. The inverse relationship between pitches 1 to 4 and pitches 5 to 8, using the ROOT as a central point, allows for complex and interesting sequences. This mechanism is responsive only to MIDI Note On signals and directional controls, ensuring that the intended sequences are not interrupted or distorted.

The controls provided by Seqmod are intuitively designed and remarkably interactive. They allow you to shape your sequences to align with your musical vision precisely. The 'SKIP' function creates sparse sequences by filtering out a selected number of incoming triggers, adding another layer of complexity to your rhythm. In contrast, the 'START' position can be used as a creative jump-off point, allowing you to identify the first step and set the direction for your sequence.

The 'LENGTH' control gives room for sequences shorter than eight steps, still considering the 'START' value. This flexibility enables the creation of sequences that perfectly tune with the musical setting regardless of its complexities. The 'DELAY' feature adds an interesting time component to the sequencing process; controlling the delay from the incoming trigger to the Note On generated by Seqmod can precisely time musical events.

Moreover, the 'DUR' lever lets you control note duration, and 'VEL' manipulates the velocities of the notes, giving each musical piece life and dynamism. A key feature, the 'RST' button, resets the sequence to the step defined by 'START'. This reset action is clearly displayed on the 'RST' button, changing the colour from grey to white, ensuring you always know where you are at in the sequence.

Unforgettably, the central midi pitch set by the 'ROOT' function gives you a tonal centre around which your sequences revolve. This central pitch than acts as a mother node to pitches 1 to 4 and 5 to 8, crafting a unique soundscape for each sequence.

The 'DIR' control offers various options for sequence direction—'FWD', 'BCK', 'F+B', 'ZIG8', and 'ZAG12' and the most spontaneous of them all, 'RANDOM. These directions dictate how your defined pitches are turned into notes and offer a fun and explorative way to interact with your music.

Seqmod's feature richness makes it one of the more engrossing step sequencers out there. From its engaging design to its helpful controls, this device holds all the necessary tools to create any sound, from melodic tunes to outlandish sequences. So when you adapt Seqmod 1.1 using a Push 3 in an Ableton Live 12.0.2 session, the range of sequences you can create is only limited by your creativity.

Example Usage

Let's explore how to create a simple, yet musical, sequence using the Seqmod 1.1 Max4Live device in Ableton Live, especially tailored for Push 3 users who are just getting started.

  1. Launch Ableton Live and insert a new MIDI track.
  2. Drag the Seqmod 1.1 device onto your MIDI track.
  3. Insert an instrument of your choice after the Seqmod device to generate sound.
  4. Now on your Push 3, go to the step sequencer mode and ensure Seqmod 1.1 is selected as the active device.

Begin setting up your sequence: - Turn ROOT dial to set the central pitch around which your sequence will be built. For a sequence in C minor, you might select C3 (MIDI note number 60) as your ROOT. - Use the first four dials to define the pitch offsets relative to ROOT for the first four steps. For example, set the first dial to +2 semitones to gain the pitch D, and the second dial to -3 semitones to gain the pitch A#. - Remember that pitches 5 to 8 are inversely related to pitches 1 to 4, centered around the ROOT.

Playing with sequence parameters: - Experiment with the LENGTH control to create shorter sequences. Try setting it to 4 steps for a quick, repeating pattern. - Adjust the DIR (Direction) control to change the way the sequence plays. Beginners can start with the FWD (Forward) option. - Set the DUR (Duration) to adjust how long each note is held. Begin with a moderate value to hear each note distinctly.

Triggering the sequence: - Record a MIDI clip with a single note (any note above C#-2) that is long enough to last for a few bars. - Play the MIDI clip. Each time the note is triggered, Seqmod will move one step forward in the sequence.

Experiment and discover: - To add variety, change the SKIP setting to ignore a certain number of incoming MIDI triggers, which can create interesting rhythmic variations. - Utilize the VEL (Velocity) control to give dynamic to your sequence. A lower setting will result in softer notes, whereas a higher value will make them louder.

Using the RESET function: - If you want to restart your sequence at any point, send a C-2 note to Seqmod. This is handy when you want to synchronize your sequence with other elements of your track.

Once you are happy with the sequence, you can explore the other direction options, like ZIG8 or RANDOM, to create more complex patterns, always observing the changes directly on your Push 3's display.

Remember to save your Live set, so you can return to your creation anytime. Now you're ready to incorporate Seqmod 1.1 into your productions, using your Push 3 to its full advantage.

Happy sequencing! 🎵

Today, let's delve into an intermediate level use case for Seqmod 1.1 by DiscreteDevices, which harnesses the capabilities of Push 3 alongside Ableton Live for an engaging sequencing experience.

First, ensure you have Seqmod 1.1 loaded onto a MIDI track within Ableton Live. Now, turn on your Push 3 device and enter into Note Mode. You should be able to see the Seqmod device on the Push display, allowing you to interact with the controls directly from the hardware.

Let's create a dynamic eight-step sequence that will interact with a new Drum Rack you've loaded on another track. Start by setting the ROOT pitch to C3, which will act as the central tone from which all other pitches will be derived. C3 will offer a mid-range starting point that merges well with various drum samples.

Manipulate the four dials [1&5], [2&6], [3&7], and [4&8] to create contrasting pitches. Set these to intervals that you find musically stimulating, keep in mind that pitches 5 through 8 will be the inversions of the first four, so choose intervals that will provide a sense of movement and excitement through their mirrored nature. For this exercise, try setting dial 1 to a minor third, 2 to a perfect fifth, 3 to a major seventh, and 4 to an octave.

For the DIR control, select the ZIG8 option to create a zigzagging motion through the sequence. This will give a lively rhythm, bouncing between the set intervals intriguingly as the sequence progresses.

Now, turn your attention to the MIDI clip that will trigger the Seqmod sequencer. Compose a simple one-bar clip in the MIDI track containing Seqmod, with a note put at each beat. Ensure the lowest pitch is C#-2 to effectively trigger the steps without resetting the sequence.

With the sequence in place, refine the rhythmic feel using the SKIP function to omit a certain number of incoming triggers. Set this to 2, so that every third trigger is played, creating a syncopated rhythm.

Tailor the LENGTH parameter to 6, to allow the sequence to play steps 1 through 6 before recycling, thus adding another layer of rhythmic complexity.

Adjust the DELAY control to around 50ms to introduce a slight stagger between the triggering note and the sequenced note, which helps create a groovy swing.

For the DUR setting, set note duration to about 200ms for a staccato effect, which will sound especially effective with percussion samples allowing enough space between the hits for clarity.

Finally, set the VEL control to about 100, giving your sequence a consistent velocity that will translate to a solid, even dynamic once it triggers the Drum Rack.

After all these settings are applied, trigger the MIDI clip. Watch as Seqmod 1.1 dynamically generates a sequence that complements the Drum Rack, turning a simple rhythmic idea into an elaborate percussive pattern that can serve as the backbone for an entire track.

This practical exercise not only harnesses the sequencing prowess of Seqmod 1.1 but also illustrates how seamlessly it integrates with Push 3, offering a tactile and visually intuitive approach to crafting sequences in Ableton Live.

Further Thoughts

Harnessing the power of Seqmod 1.1 with Push 3 offers a potent combination for creating dynamic sequences in your Ableton Live sets. Let's craft an intricate sequence by fully utilizing the directional capabilities of Seqmod, while mapping its controls to Push 3 for tactile manipulation.

Start by loading up a punchy bass synth sound to serve as the foundation of your sequence. Once Seqmod 1.1 is loaded onto the same track, dive into your Push 3 and ensure that you're in the User page to map Seqmod’s controls to the Push's encoders.

Now, set the Root to C1 - this will serve as the central pitch for your sequence. Using the encoders on Push 3, which you've mapped to Seqmod's 1&5, 2&6, 3&7, and 4&8 controls, create offset intervals of a minor third, perfect fifth, major seventh, and octave respectively for a harmonically rich palette.

Configure Seqmod’s length to 7 and direction to ZIG8, causing the sequence to move in a pattern of steps 1 > 5 > 2 > 6 > 3 > 7 > 4 > 8 > 3 > 7 > 2 > 6. This creates a sense of complexity and movement within your music.

To manipulate timing and give your sequence a unique groove, adjust the Delay control to introduce a slight stagger between steps, effectively creating a syncopated rhythm. By setting the Velocity (VEL) to a moderate value, you ensure dynamic variation, which gives the sequence a more organic feel.

Next, program a MIDI clip sending C1 notes at the desired tempo. Ensure the Clip is set to trigger on every beat to clock Seqmod properly. On your Push 3, assign a dedicated button to send C-2 notes to Seqmod, using it as a sequence reset.

Once you've crafted a sequence that sits nicely with your bass synth, copy the Seqmod device onto another track with a contrasting lead sound. This time, change the Root pitch and intervals slightly for sonic variation yet maintain the sequence's structure.

To perform live, utilize the SKIP function creatively. For example, set it live to temporarily mute parts of your sequence, alternating between dense musical phrases and sparser sections to build tension in your performance.

Finally, experiment with the DIR control in real-time. Shift the direction from FWD to RANDOM to introduce unpredictability, or from ZIG8 to F+B for an evolving soundscape that keeps your audience guessing.

Remember that with the START and LENGTH controls, you can vary the sequence on the fly, creating breakdowns or build-ups as your performance demands. The real-time visual feedback of pitches on Seqmod coupled with the tactile experience of Push 3 turns your live set into an adaptive, improvisational canvas.

This masterclass example accentuates the strengths of blending Seqmod 1.1's sequencing prowess with the expressive control of Push 3, demonstrating how these tools can transform a simple MIDI clip into an electrifying and ever-changing performance.