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This is a trick used with sequencers where one stage of the sequence may be triggered quickly multiple times, rather than just once as you step to that stage. For example, the result may be a series of quarter notes, with a burst of four sixteenth notes appearing instead for one or more stages.

There are a few ways to patch a ratcheting sequence. In most cases, the step or stage number of the sequence is driven by a steady tempo; the trick is sending the burst of faster clocks to the gate input on the envelope generators. You can then send different clock divisions (such as quarter notes and sixteenth notes) to a sequential switch with the ability to step between those different inputs; then send the output of the switch to the envelope gate inputs. Another is to use a clock multiplier or divider that allows you to set the multiplication or division with an external control voltage, such as another row from the sequencer.

These patch ideas are demonstrated in the article linked to below; it includes a set of videos to show the patch in action:

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