The History of "P-Locking"


Hello all, as you might know Elektron is renowned for their well integrated “parameter-locking” features, or maybe to be more general, we could call it something like “step based automation.”

I have become interested in trying to trace the lineage of this feature since it seems like the kind of thing that has only recently become convenient to achieve.

I have a hunch that the theoretical groundwork was laid by the Serge Touch Keyboard (TKB) which offers multiple voltage modulations per step, but my knowledge of synthesizer history is far from encyclopedic so I wanted to outsource a few suggestions.

I own an elektron monomachine and octatrack, which possibly represent the peak of this sort of functionality, but I am curious to understand the progression of the concept in general. How was it utilized from the infancy of analog synthesis to modern times. Where would you suggest I look to to do more research?

Thanks in advance.


This thread touches a little bit on how early Elektron interfaces were inspired by using trackers for demoscene music – that would be the most obvious antecedent to look into. You can also find primordial pre-Machinedrum parameter locking in the Yamaha RY30 and Nanoloop 1. I’m sure there are older examples though!


IMO the particular p-locking in Elektron instruments is making use of a very deep sequencer, which can address a huge amount of parameters. But at the end, it’s a sequencer at work.

Maybe that this could be a reading for you:


Random fact, the Sequential Circuits Drumtraks machine from 1984 could lock sample pitch per-step.


I remember way back in my day the Machinedrum didn’t have so-called “trigless trigs.” we could only lock parameters where a sound was being triggered. and we only had 32 steps and single-color led’s. and by god, we were happy to have it! :older_man:


you can turn “accent” on and off per step (if not per track) on an 808…