Master Clocks & Reset

Master Clocks & Reset

While putting together a live performance case focused on creating percussion patterns, I ran head-first into a problem that has frustrated many Eurorack users: how to make sure all of your modules agree on where the downbeat is. In this video and article, I sort out what’s going on, and how I fixed it.

Sequencer

The most common type of sequencer you’re going to see in a modular synth contains a row of knobs (also known as steps or stages) that may each be set to output a different voltage. A sequencer then goes through steps one at a time. This is most often used to create repetitive musical lines where each note has the same duration, which is popular in trance-like forms of music as well as the classic Berlin School style (70s-era Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze; current Red Shift and Node). Click through for features to be aware of in a sequencer.

Clock

Usually refers to the main rhythmic pulse in a system. Often, the clock pulse is much faster than anything it might drive, such as a sequencer or LFO. The most common clock rate is 24 ppqn (pulses per quarter note), as is the case with MIDI clocks and DIN Sync. However, a trigger that drives a sequencer forward one note at a time may also be called the “clock” in a system. Indeed, there are modules that create divisions and multiplications of the main clock to generate new clock signals with a relationship to the main clock.

1 ppqn

The most common sequencer clock division forwards it one step (pulse) per quarter note. This is often the core sync pulse that is distributed in a modular system, and is either multiplied or divided to create other musical divisions.

Modular NAMM 2019: New Modules & Trends

Modular NAMM 2019: New Modules & Trends

For a variety of reasons, far fewer modular manufacturers chose to exhibit at NAMM this year. This meant it was possible to spend more time playing, talking about, and listening to the gear that was at the show. Here is a summary of what I saw, with a focus on interesting developments and stories: