How to fake a 73-beat track?

As an exercise, I’m trying to convince a Syntakt to play Steve Reich’s “Clapping Music,” a live performance of which you can see here:

This is a very simple piece of music. Two tracks, each one nothing but hand claps.

Track 1 is 12 beats long, with a pattern of xxx-xx-x-xx- each time through. It plays 84 times, for a total of 1008 beats.

You can think of Track 2 as being identical to Track 1, but it plays differently: Every 6 times through, it shifts by one beat until it has wrapped completely around to match Track 1 again. The total is still 1008 beats.

If it were possible to set an individual track to repeat after 73 beats, it would be easy: Just tell the first trig in the track not to play the 7th time through. But 73 is bigger than 64, so I can’t think of a way to manage this.

Of course, I could make each track repeat 5 times instead of 6–but that’s kind of cheating. In fact, in the original score, each voice repeated its 12-beat pattern 12 times, not 6.



I seen this the other day when looking at tutorials for digitone, digitakt etc… I’m not sure if it’ll be of help but can give it a try?

This is why we need song mode.

If you cut the tempo in half, you may be able to do things with retrigs for doubled notes and microtiming to move single notes where you want. It’s going to be a real nuisance.

[Edit: if the tempo is cut in half and notes doubled, track length would have an even number of notes. So that won’t work. Maybe go with the “radio edit” of fewer repetitions so you can squeeze into 64 steps.]

Maybe you could cheat and program this with retrigs (or clap loops with AHD+node)

The other possibility is that you do the track shift manually each time. It’s supposed to be an instrument, after all!


The first of these techniques fails because I want an odd number of beats. Therefore, doubling the length of each beat doesn’t work.

I think the second technique runs into the same problem.

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OK, I sort of manage to get 6 phrase on 54 steps
Retrig 1/24
Step 1: 1.88 (triple)
Step 4: 0.813 (double)
Step 6 : no retrig (single)
Step 8 (-1/32 on microtiming) : 0.813 (double)
This pattern is on 9 steps

Copy these 4 trigs and paste on Step 10, 19, 28, 37, 46, ends on trig 54

Set the pattern length to per track, infinite master length
Set this track length to 54.
Copy this track and paste to another, set the length to 55 (this is the place where my whole thing fails a bit…)

You should get close to what you’re aiming at.
Good luck for the fine tuning :wink:

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Here’s an easy solution: I also have a Digitakt. So I can put a single track on the Digitakt, another on the Syntakt, set the length of one of them to 72 and the other to 73, and synchronize them with MIDI…


I think that may be the only way to do it with the elektron sequencer … two machines

I had misunderstood what you told earlier…

This shifting doesn’t imply we add a silence every 12 repetition of the pattern (right shift): on the very first time the new pattern is played, the first note is skipped/eaten (left shift).

Looking at this sheet makes it a bit easier: there are 12 patterns, that need to be programmed each, and you have to repeat each 12 times.

You program Track 1 (length 12), copy to track 2.
Balance Track 1 on the Left and Track 2 on the right, maybe with slight different synthesis parameters.
Set the Pattern length to 12 and Master length to 144.
Copy this pattern, paste on the following, shift left track 2, save.
Repeat for each of the 12 patterns, and a 13th that is the same as Pattern 1.

Use a Pattern chain.

Here is the Syntakt project: just chain the 13 patterns.
Steve Reich - Clapping music.stprj (4.8 KB)

And here is the recording (127 bpm):


That’s what I thought.

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As a fan of this piece I’d also spotted the seeming issue of adding a gap rather than rotation. It struck me that it could be done in 2 groups of 3 so 36 per pattern. But that would necessitate 28 patterns in a chain which I figured was too many.

Hadn’t even considered Master Length as I’m not generally pre-arranging. But the tip from @LyingDalai is a good one. I will, however, do my own take to get the dynamics to taste.

If anybody knocks out Sextet using 6 x Syntakt I will give them my Syntakt*

* Where ‘will’ = ‘won’t’ :wink:

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Just as an aside, my Eurorack sequencer (Frap Tools Usta) has a feature that makes solving this puzzle much easier: a CV-controlled Stage Shift (pattern rotate) parameter for each track. It also has a Phase Shift parameter for continuous fine control, and each track can have an independent BPM adjustable to cents, so it can do various long-term phasing tricks. But it plus a percussion source and a powered case would cost as much as a Syntakt!

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Good point! I had actually realized that, but didn’t mention it, because I was pretty sure that there is no way to automate a shift. So I started out trying to figure out how to do the next best thing, and wound up getting lost in that blind alley instead.

I guess the right way to do it is simply to create 12 patterns, one for each possible shift.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a MIDI command to shift a given track, or some other way to automate it?

Yes indeed.
Provided by yours truly:


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IMO … it’s rather two sequencers in sync, each playing one track :wink: Should work with an OXI like machine … :thinking: … and OXI comes with 128 steps per pattern …

Might be hard to do this on an Elektron sequencer.

If you limit yourself to one pattern, yes.
If you load the file above in your Syntakt, no.

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It would be great, if we had the “manual rotate” function (FUNC + < >) as a sequencer “command”. This would give us many options to create very versatile looping patterns.

Could be an addition in the conditional trigs menu … like “rotate +1” or “rotate -1”, which would be effective for the next loop :wink:

On the model:cycles, I really enjoyed the MIDI CC on the Swing to fake this a little bit and play with the resulting phasing effect.

But yes, more power to the sequencer vs. smart UX is a balance I’d love Elektron to come up with ^^