Song Mode In A Box?

The digis don’t have song mode. Sad. Here’s an idea that I’ve been kicking around for a while. I wonder if anyone has tried it?

I was going to reply to this thread, but I know I’d just get lost in the mayhem over there. I’m starting this thread to avoid arguments about whether song mode should exist or what other devices are better because they provide it.

So, anyway…

The Idea

Song Mode In A Box would be some software running on a computer (ideally on a dedicated piece of hardware. Maybe a raspberry pi. Maybe a microcontroller). It connects to the digibox via midi and has several modes of operation:

  1. It could play an editable sequence of patterns on the digit box by sending transport and pattern change events via midi. How does it know when to send the pattern change events? I guess it could receive clock/tempo from the digi and send the pattern changes at just the right time.

  2. It could be set to record the pattern changes (and I guess other events) from your performance on the digi. You could then modify them if desired and play them back as above.

  3. More?

Maybe this has already been done. Maybe it’s not possible. From what little I know, I think but should be possible.




I like this idea. A hyperfocused recorder/composer.

Hmm… maybe I’ll read my manual for once haha

That was the purpose when I bought the Polyend Tracker. I think it does almost all you mention.

Oh really? Somehow it feels like overkill to use the PT for this purpose, but if it works it works. I was imagining a small Norns-sized box…actually I wonder if one could write a Norns patch to do this?

@Uija did somethig simular:

I built a Songmode for the "Toys" :-P


Raspberry pi, pure data, not so hard to make.

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Pi with a reaper installation?

make your clip, send pattern change. Or record your performance - ok a display is needed. A portable display is to be had for 50-150€.

Just buy a second hand AR or A4 or OT MKI and send program changes to the rest of your machines. Also you will be having a very good new machine useful for a lot of other stuff.


I have an A4. :smile: I love it, but I also like the focus of composing / performing on the digi. Particularly the idea of recording a performance in midi form, tweaking it, playing it back and performing on top of it.

Then you need an Electribe EMX or ESX!!

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Oh shit that’s it! Haha and I even have a neotrellis around here somewhere! Going to check this out!

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What you get with the Tracker, in addition to the song mode, is Performance mode (I’ll let you google it if you don’t know). It works pretty well with MIDI (pattern playback tricks, MIDI pitch tricks, etc.). It helps you get out of the rigid structure of a song and go wild. It requires some preparation, practice and muscle memory, though.

I own and love the tracker. Song and performance mode are great. I like my Digitakt too though and am interested in finding a way to record and playback its changes as described above.

I’m not saying “I wish I had a box with song mode.” I’m saying that I wish I could have something like song mode specifically for the Digi boxes. This is an idea for how to do that.

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I’ve been struggling along similar lines and have come up with the following Supercollider utility pasted below. No extra libraries needed.

It listens to MIDI channel 16 for incoming note data, converts that to program change messages, and sends it back to the Takt.

The basic steps to use it are:

  • Select an unused MIDI track and set it to channel 16.
  • Place a trig where you want the program change message to be sent. I usually give the sequencer two steps notice.
  • P-lock the trig to note number 1. Set the velocity to the program number you want to change to.
  • Done.

The nice thing is that you can apply conditional trigs to the PC messages and you stay entirely within the device. The downside is you give up a MIDI track and you don’t really get a top level overview of your song. I’ve ended up stashing the program change info in velocity because if you tie it to the note itself you are often accidentally hitting the pad for the track and sending whatever your default note value is (i.e. changing the pattern to number 60).

The other nice feature is that if you want to focus on a single pattern or pause the progression of the chain on the fly you just mute the MIDI track.

//////////TAKT Pattern Switching, Don’t Call it Song Mode
//I suggest rebooting the interpreter if you make changes to the functions - did not include cleanup code
MIDIClient.init;{ arg i;
if (MIDIClient.sources[i].name == “Elektron Digitakt”) {
MIDIIn.connect(i, MIDIClient.sources[i]);
~dtuid = MIDIClient.sources[i].uid;
});{ |i|
if (MIDIClient.destinations[i].name == “Elektron Digitakt”) {
~dtmout = MIDIOut(i);
~dtmout.latency = 0;
~noteOn = { arg src, chan, num, vel;
if (~dtuid==src) {
if (chan == 15) { //got a program change event
"Received Takt Note: ".post; num.postln;
if (num == 1 ) {
~dtmout.program(15, vel-1);
vel.debug(“Sent Takt PC”);
MIDIIn.addFuncTo(\noteOn, ~noteOn);


I imagine you could do something like this with Bomes, so I imagine the BomeBox would work.

You’d basically set up a Bomes preset to send out pgm changes etc when certain midi data was received by whatever input you set up.

Bomes could solve a lot of problems - thanks for that! Do you know off the top of your head if you could do something like translating velocity to program change without too much trouble?

“Too much trouble” seems l impossible to answer, but yes, it excels at doing things like taking velocity and turning that into any other midi data


You’ll need the software license for midi translator, but definitely. That said, a midihib should work too, or even the retrokits rk002 smart cables.

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I have two Elektron boxes with song mode.

This thread is making me think about pairing a couple boxes. See what the fuss is about. I have literally never placed two Elektron boxes next to each other. MnM and MD in a dual stand, but it was … frustrating … I threw up my hands. A4+DN seems more fun. Or MD+one of the aforementioned.

I enjoy tracker music quite a bit so I don’t know why I’m not writing it :upside_down_face:

Anyway a song mode gadget for the poor, dirty-faced digis and models would be really great.


I wonder if the Retrokits RK-008 might be a good solution. :thinking: It might be a little pricey, but I dig its form factor.