Small improvisation set up ideas

Yeah, that was really good. I’d love to know more about your method.

I started with a slowed down loop of the monotribe recorded on the microcosm
I faded in a basic beat on the monotribe and matched the beats the best I could in a hurry.
The microcosm provides stutters and variation to the beat as well as ambience
riding the filter on the microcosm fx gives it even more liveliness
I try and keep it moving and not get too attached to any beat or sequence
The monotribe synth sequencer is no thinky, it quantizes the rhythm and was set to overdub the entire recording.
I played it through my OB-4 and recorded it in my living room with a zoom f1n and shotgun mic
I then put it through my mastering chain in ableton


Can I ask you what you like about it? That would be really helpful for me

I heard it as “a jam” or “a sketch”. It didn’t sound “finished” to me. With that framing, it had an involving flow and nice sound design. The first time through I played it on laptop speakers whilst working: the initial drum pattern sounded good and the synths and ambiance evolved in a pleasing way. On second listen, through headphones, I hear more room noise which reinforced the “jam” vibe, along with the hand-synced loops. The multiple synth lines wriggle around each other in a nice way; you bring patterns in an out in a way that mostly held my attention; I particularly like the brittle, spiky kick and more washy “snare” in the original drum loop.


thank you for the feedback! it was definitely 90% improvised and a jam
I love that you hear it as multiple synth parts, but most of the time it is just the one monotribe track.
the initial loop sounds fantastic, and this is the monotribe being recorded and slowed down.
you can really hear the fizz and steam that way. :thinking: giving me ideas…
thanks again

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Same situation here: family, dayjob, lot‘s of stuff to do and almost no time for music…

I found a combination of an iPad and an OP-Z to be quite productive. It‘s only four items: The iPad, the OP-Z, camera connection kit to connect the two and headphones.

The iPad is running MiRack, an iOS-version of VCV-Rack. Having all the possibilities of modular is a bit overwhelming first. My solution was to build a very basic patch first, just to have more synth capabilities for the OP-Z, the I gradually extended it.

There‘s a few examples on the results in the improvised techno thread:

Maybe not the most brilliant stuff, but I definitely have fun. And the setup is completely mobile (battery powered and lightweight).

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Circuit Tracks + something else.

BOSS RC505 + soundsource(s)

Excellent advice. :point_up_2:t2:

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I just put together a pedalboard with a Norns, Polyend Tracker and a Zoia with a little mini mixer. All battery powered, insane amount of flexibility. I can move it around the house and stash it on a shelf when I’m done with it.


I would suggest to approach the issue from a different angle in addition to looking at specific equipment - think about how well you know yourself.

Improvisation from a blank slate is not an easy situation to get to, even with a traditional instrument. You have to get to know what you are doing and get there through practice and experimentation, often for a long time. I would approach an electronic instrument in a similar way.

Nothing in the electronic world is perfect for this in my experience, because you have to hit that balance between flexibility and immediacy. In addition to that, you have to rely on somebody else’s idea of that balance for you (unless you DIY it of course).

That’s why it’s probably best in the short run to just make do and get on with less than ideal pieces of gear in order to break through any possible mental barriers before looking at what may or may not do it for you.

In other words, improvisation is an attitude and can not be contained in a box. Imagine you had a very appreciative audience in front of you and you were forced to just come up with anything at all in the spur of the moment. Don’t worry about the quality and have fun with it.

Start there and you will learn in the long term what really works for you. Hopefully.


DN+OT+ one small effects box. Add in Launchpad for playing chords, if you like

iPad and Launchpad Pro MK3. If I could literally only have one setup, that would be the most versatile, portable, and jammable. I’m not saying there aren’t other more fun or cooler ideas, but if you have specific limitations, that would be my suggestion. Throw in a mic, USB hub, and small interface, and you have a portable recording rig, too!


I’m in the same situation (kids and all) and iPad with anything is great!

Sometimes I play the iPad alone on the couch with drambo + soft synth and effects (plenty to choose from!).

But I can plug it to my audio/midi interface (1 cable) and play it with the dfam (amazing for quick fun + CV out of drambo for more fun) and the typhoon (can be the synth of your choose).

So my vote goes to iPad + what ever synth you like


For those of you who included an OT in their favourite improv tools, how do you use it? What prep do you need to do? What role does it play in those small set-ups?

I love my DN for small, kill an hour setup. Add a SP-404 for easy sampling/resampling and it’s a killer combo.

Mixer, transitions, live remixing, beat juggling, some FX. Lately I’ve been realizing I don’t really enjoy managing samples very much, so I tend to prefer working with synths / drum machines. I’m certain that I’m under utilizing the OT, but it’s pretty great at this.

This holds me back with my OT, too.

I’ve downsized a lot recently, down to 3 pieces of gear for what I use most of the time (Tanzbar 2, Urano, iPad+AudioInterface). What I like about this setup is that I can take any one piece of the setup, jam on it by itself, and then add pieces from the larger setup. It has helped me allow ideas to flow.

Nord Micromodar + Octatrack is a nice and powerful little setup for improv.

I fill the NM with self running patches, some synced to external midi clock and some not. Knobs mapped to various parameters and CC’s sometimes setup for some parameters. I then slave this to the Octatrack and use multiple flex / pickup machines to grab the NM loops which Im manipulating with either the knobs or Octa midi tracks mapped to the CC’s. I then switch the NM patch and build up layers on the Octa. Can then mess these loops up in the usual Octatrack ways (scenes, conditional trigs etc).

I don’t usually have any idea what patch numbers on the NM are going to sound like when I call them up so there is adds to the improv nature. Using the cross fader to mask the NM output when changing the patch, and then slowly revealing what’s been loaded is part of the fun.