Arranger Tips


#1

I’ve had my OT for months and have JUST found the arranger.
Seeing as it doesn’t seem to be a hot topic on the forum (besides a few troubleshooting threads) I’d ask if any of you have tips/recommendations for how to use it?
I’ve only just played with it briefly but want to know what you’ve learned so far.


Creating song ot methodology
Octatrack arranger tutorials
#2

One example would be having several Arranger Rows with the same pattern but setting different lenght and/or start position. Will get you some small variations of the same pattern, instead of needing to ‘program’ them in other patterns. And of course, not to mention the control of how many times you may want things to get repeated.

Another example is to use the Arranger to Mute any each track whenever you want it, for building song dynamic/structure variations. But keep in mind that the Loop setting in playback-menu may lead to some unwanted sideeffects: if a track is in mute first, everything is fine. Unmute, everything is fine. But if you want the Arranger to mute again, the result depends on the Loop setting. If set to On and/or Auto it will just continue to sound, regardless of your Arranger attempts to try to mute again. Logical in a sense, but still it confuses you sometimes…

Another thing to keep in mind also is that the fader position overrides anything the Arranger does. The Arranger can let you select which patterns that will be in Scene A/B for each row, but the fader position will (in realtime) make the last call of which one you actually hear. Not only for the current pattern being played, but also for the nextcoming patterns (rows) if the fader is left untouched.

However, this fader override control can temporarily be ‘neutralized’ if you choose the same pattern to be in both Scene A/B. However, if you move the fader during this ‘neutralized’ pattern. But have not thought of what is controlled in the nextcoming rows (ie other patterns selected in Scene A/B) it might give you some unwanted/unexpected results. Due to the fact that you´ve actually forgot to place your fader in your ‘start’ position for that (nextcoming) row. Biggest issues regarding this IMHO, are if any of your track pitch are controlled by the fader.

Big fun to be had with the Arranger, still there is room for improvements IMHO.


#3

Aside from Scenes and Mutes, the Arranger is the only way you can automate BPM changes.

The biggest revelation for me was realising that you can enter Record Mode while an arrangement is playing - this opens up a world of creative possibilities!


#4

Mike, this is a great post.

If you feel comfortable saying something (with the understanding that you’re also an Elektron representative), what improvements would you like to see in song mode?

Personally, I’ve used song mode a lot on the MD and MNM (and recently started to explore it on the OT…the cumulative build from the other machines is great, and at least being able to set scenes per row is quite handy). I think I’m going to start making Elektron videos soon, and song mode is one of the first things I want to tackle, as I think it is underrepresented and a bit hard to grok from the manuals.

One thing I’d like to see across all machines (if it is at all possible) is for the BPMs set in rows to override external clock, so you could program in more fluid changes in song mode-say drop or increase the tempo in a pattern per row for fills. You can kind of get there by using multiple patterns with tempo multipliers, but you’re still dependent on whatever is received by the master. Probably my biggest issue with my gear is timing related, and it would be much more useful if I could send the master from the OT (at something like 138 bpm), but program a few rows on my MD to play at 75 bpm against the external clock…you could chop up a pattern on another device to play against the rest of the arrangement to get a jazzier feel, then resync on the next row that doesn’t have specific tempo settings. Probably an impossible pipe dream, but it would really free things up from the step sequencing paradigm, and it would ultimately be a lot more eloquent than making a bunch of patterns with different tempo multipliers/arp settings to get you close.


#5

@Accent

Funny/strange enough I seem to not remember all those thoughts clearly. But I remember when I sat down and used the OT and its Arranger quite much during a period that some things got uncovered regarding its possibilities/issues (among those were the points to be aware of mentioned in my former reply).

Admittedly, I haven´t really got into the Arranger for a while since drifting off in other direction and exploring some ideas/possibilities with external gear (Alesis DM Pro and/or Clavia (Nord) NM G2). But coming from a guitarist perspective there could be some live-friendly elements incorporated. Given that it´s technically possible of course, which I honestly don´t know of as I haven´t asked the R&D department… (yet)…


#6

…maybe a good point to enter here with the simple question…

how do you get out of the arrangermode again, without stopping and restarting the machine?

can i switch from live action to pre fixed arrangement and back in any fluent way…?


#7

I have a new thread going today, but this thread seems relevant, so I’m jumping on. How may I trigger the Arranger to start via MIDI? Is it possible besides via beat clock?


#8

I think it is, but first:

Please try to avoid mix of terms as it will be of less confusion for all.

As far as I´ve understand (haven´t tried SPP though):

[ul]
[li]Song Position Pointer (calculates the clock beats/ticks from start)[/li]
[li]Transport (controls Play, Stop, Continue)[/li]
[li]Midi Clock (sets the tempo for sync duties)[/li]
[/ul]

They are all using different messages. Where Transport and Clock (tempo) are easy to understand. As I´d like to understand it, none of the three listed above rules out the others function nor handles the task of the others.

So to start the Arranger = Transport (Start) message (I hope, can´t remember that I´ve tried to start the OT in Arranger mode).

And to have the correct tempo = Midi Clock messages (which you´ll see if looking in a midi monitor, i e MidiOX for PC)

As for the SPP, I haven´t ‘tried’ it. So I´m not sure of how OT handles that task. Or how much the user needs to set it up first (or if it is even required). Or if it just needs some specific settings in the other units the OT is syncing to…


#9

@Andrew Nast

I have no problems in starting the Arranger externally. When I press RUN on my NM G2 Engine editor, I can clearly see an MIDI Start message being transmitted (in MidiOX) and OT start playing the Arrangement.

However to switch to another row in Arranger and start from there, is not something I´m able to do with the gear I´m using right now. AFAIK.

But an idea that you could test:

If you have an song (timeline) in your DAW, I´m guessing you are able to set some cue points that when pressing something like Forward/Backward jumps instantly to that position?

Hopefully, in doing that jump your DAW perhaps transmits the SPP calculated from start (of the song/timeline). And equally the OT in receiving that sets the Arranger ready to start play from that position in your arrangement?


#10

I have this same question and can’t find the answer on google. Anyone know?


#11

Nevermind, just figured it out. Function+Pattern.


#12

You can use realtime clock start (FA) though easier is to just send note 33 on your auto channel (11 by default) see appendix C-1 in the back of the manual.


#13

Does anyone know of any way to set/recall jump points in an arranger?

That would probably be my number 1 request. I like to be able to arrange my various sections of a song and be able to jump between them preferrably using midi controllers, but if there were shortcuts on the OT that would also work. (like being able to use cue+(song point 1-16) like you would select a bank. Or forward/back through points using notes in a similar way to the track up/down method (note 68/69).

Failing that, I would love a way to be able to move through the arranger up/down with midi notes or cc. My workaround to the above is to set infinite loop points and then manually navigate down to the next section when i’m ready, but it’s pretty fiddly to do live if i’m also playing keys/singing/hitting pads/etc.


#14

In my solo performances I use an Octatrack and play live drums on a Roland SPD-SX and a kick drum pad. I’m busy with my hands while drumming and cannot control the Octratrack that much at the same time. For this kind of situation I find the arranger mode perfect. I run the Octatrack like a backing track but still being able to fiddle with the fader and knobs, when one of my hands is not hitting the pads. I like also, that I don’t have to push buttons to start a new track because I can prearrange the whole set including tempo changes in one arrangement.


#15

I’ve finally worked a bit with the arrangement mode and it’s really powerful and cool. I find it interesting not so much to create finished songs, but more to organize live performance material in a more structured way, creating looping chains of patterns, or variations of patterns, etc.

This said, I find it really cumbersome to have to switch back and forth between the normal and the arrangement mode, since while editing an arrangement you can’t edit any of the machine parameters or nor can you change trigs and locks. The non-editing arrangement mode is also a bit hard to use imho, while it lets you perform the arrangement with access to all machines, it does lack some of the useful info the edit-view of the arrangement provides.

So the big question is: how do you use the arrangement mode? Do you also feel it a bit annoying to have to switch back&forth? How do you deal with it, do you just plan everything ahead so you don’t have to go back to change parameters or trigs? Or is there some trick I should be aware of?


#16

Sorry I can’t answer your question directly, but I pattern chain quite a lot. I use pattern chaining more than the arranger. Although I should get into the arranger more.


#17

Arranger helps me playing my tracks with their original bpm.If you don’t want to write or memorize each tracks bpm arranger is your best friend :wink:


#18

Yes that’s one of the most useful things indeed! Though they could have thought about having at least per-bank tempos…
Well my question was less about “what can the arranger” do for me, and more about “how do you proceed when preparing a set with the arranger”. Do you make sure all your patters are finished before entereing the arranger or do you do a lot of back and forth, between editing parts/patters and the arranger?


#19

You can write other notes about the project in there too, like what you had connected - using REM statements.

There should be a notes screen per project, without the annoying character limit using REM lines in Arranger, but I make do with REMs. In fact, projects notes would be even better as a .txt file in the project folder which can be edited on PC/Mac (faster to type than OT character entry) but also accessible on the OT.

But I’m getting off topic. Arranger is great. It covers up a bit too much screen but such a good feature.


#20

Not really off topic.
Actually you can edit REM text on CF card arrangements files (arr01.strd for example), with a text editor such as NotePad++.