Tipps for Electronic Duo


Do you have any tipps for making Electronic music with two people using grooveboxes?

I would like to hear how you operate. Everyone brings their prepped ideas? Jam the hell out?
How do you split groove and meledies? Technical issues? Post your ideas and advise - also the social things are welcome.


If people come and jam out in my studio… they usually dont bring their own grooveboxes, they use mine.
so they use whatever is on it at that point in time… this has mainly to do that my friends are usually guitarplayers or drummers or singers whatever… everybody a box, and lets groove… then again… you can consider this cheating as i have set it all up in the firstplace… In the past… (years ago) people would bring their own grooveboxes / drummachines… in that case
I made sure i had: A midi-out that only had clock on it… so we could just plug in their gear… turn midisync on… and it worked… and i made sure i had a mono and a stereo-channel free on my mixingboard… again… so i could just plug in their machines and go… its such a hassle to figure out cabling and midirouting when they arrive… so i just made sure i had something that “always worked”…
the other thing is… think like a band… 2 people… cool… 1 does bass and drums, other does synths and fx…
3 people… cool… 1 does drums and bass… 1 does melodies, 1 does pads and fx …
in other words… make space for everybody…


If people brings their own setup, could be fine to work in the mix way.
I mean one of the two (or more) begin to play few minutes to bring up some music (synth, rythm, bass) what ever he wanted while the other(s) listen. Then the second wil try to propose an evolution or counterpoint that fit to the first. So finaly with the two hardware setup you mix from one setup to the other with transition period that permit to play at the same time. As if it was a mix between two songs.
That’s my vision of jam when we are with friends.


Works best when each person has clearly defined duties IMO. Focusing on one or two machines each is good. If they’re deep like elektrons it’s best to restrain their functions.

I’ve played out with a friend a few times, he was in charge of beats and basslines from the rytm, I was making noise and self-generating blurps on the MS20 + FX. Slowly moving through the safety net of the patterns, we both had room to improvise and surprise each other.


Not sure :slight_smile:

When each player has is own duty, very often the jam turn to beef (à l’ancienne) with its intrinsic defaults.
When we listen the ones to the others we more efficiently obtain an electronic music session, with many variations. There must be a tempo master.
Real fun


Important - one person in charge of the mixer. Watch any European duo and more times than not one plays the mixer.
Jam til you catch a groove. Press save. Start over. Press save. Then work on transitions, improvising, listening and flow.
It’s like a marriage. In my experience, most fail. (Sorry) gotta listen and leave ego at the door and be supportive and safe.


talk to and listen to each other.

this, more than anything else, has kept my jam sessions fun and satisfying.

keep the dialogue going on both a verbal and musical level. tell your partners you plan to drop in a new top rhythm in 16 bars, or pull out your kick, or fade in a pad. count it in for them (“in 3… in 2…”) so they can plan to react appropriately when you do.

maintain eye contact. look around frequently for a vibe check. ask them if they think one sound or another of yours is working. if they think it isn’t, tell them you’ll replace it in X bars, or ask if they’ve got something they can try to replace it with. listen and tell them your impressions.

leave space for them to talk. it’s easy to fill up lots of sonic space with even one electronic instrument. if three people have three instruments each, you can quickly create a traffic jam rather than a jam session.

for long stretches, your contribution might be a single subtle monophonic line, or an occasional clap, or nothing at all. that’s ok. you’re not giving a speech, you’re having a conversation. sit out entirely for a few minutes and listen.

pump them up when you like something they do. if it inspires you to add something complementary, tell them you’ve got something to go with it that you’ll drop in 3… in 2…

this kind of approach helps you get to know each other musically and also perform with your gear in real time. bonus: i’ve noticed that audiences really respond well when they see electronic musicians communicating onstage … they see something happening they can relate to, so no one suspects you’re just up there checking your email. win-win for everybody.


Yes, that !


VERY interesting thread. Can’t wait to test these ideas…


If youre intrested, this is our output, just one simple track currently, after three sessions.

Used: RYTM, Avalon Baseline + some old simple rack synth from the 80ties.


Very interesting thread indeed, def something that touches me directly, since I have been trying to learn how to improve this as well for a while. I do have a duo with a friend, we started doing noise impro stuff and ended up doing something between IDM and wave. I don’t have much advice, but can tell you what we have been doing wrong. Often you can learn most from errors.

  • we def should talk/communicate more while playing. it’s easy to get lost in your own flow and stop listening to your mate’s sound, which will always result in a big sonic mess.
  • initially we didn’t have clear roles, we would do very similar things, both playing the same instruments (synths, drum machines) and that would result in very messy and overoaded stuff. we got smater with time and now I mainly take care of drums and some solos, and my partner does voice and bass. But I have the feeling it’s still a bit blurred on some tracks. In my experience the more you have clearly defined roles, the better the music, because it helps to focus.
  • A big problem, when doing improvised, or even only partially improvised music is that sometimes you don’t know if what you’re hearing is coming from you or from your bandmate. Commuication and clearly defined roles help in this regards a lot.
  • One tricky thing I found when playing in a duo (but I guess it applies to every group effort) is finding a stylistic direction which is both exciting and satisfying for both. If you don’t have that, you’ll loose the energy to carry on on the long run. This is something we’re still trying to optimize.
  • Another error we have done a lot is to have too much gear. We basically would bring along everything we would have needed to play solo, but when you’re in a duo, you need to leave some space for the other person to fill.
  • the next error is related to the above. Playing as if you’d do a solo, leaving no space for the other person to fill. Our first sets were almost like two people playing solos at the same time.
  • Everybody should focus on what he’s good at, and we def. have not done that for quite some time. Some people have great sense for melody and harmony, but suck at rhythm, or the other way around. It’s easy to want to do everything. Being in a duo or a band gives you the chance to do only what you are good at.

How do we work? We generally start with a rough idea of what we want to do. Then we jam it out, see if we come up with ideas worth keeping. Then I make some graphical representations of the structures we could use. You know things like: start bassline at 3min, then add this and then add this. We then play suing that as a sort of score and refine things gradually based on how that goes. That seems to work well, though – as previously mentioned – we need to kind of discuss more while do it.

Technical issues: it’s sometimes had to manage the volumes, a common problem is that somebody is way to loud or too silent. I totally agree with what other people said. One person should be in charge of the faders. Even better: find somebody to be your sound engineer… but I guess that’s a luxury. Friends of mine who have a 4-man band with lots of electronics started to always bring along their own sound engineer with their own PA system… and you could really tell the difference. So maybe you’ll want to be trio :slight_smile:

to put this in perspective… here’s a video: https://youtu.be/8uiMAql4W5U?t=13m26s or this one: https://youtu.be/qKa8qyV146U?t=30m35s


I constantly have to fend of my partner from fiddeling with his modular ^^ - yes it can do cool sounds, but it often overcrowds the mix, and needs a lot of attention to get it modulated properly. We are currently four persons, which makes it a bit harder. What helped us, is speaking about the arrangement - I.e and while recording i gave commands now you go louder - more modulation, now go down with volume.
I was controlling the rytm and monitored the bars in Abelton recording our output, i tried the 16 bars formula with changes every 30 seconds. It helpes to simplfiy your setup. I.e. each person one instrument. (Ok for a duo i would think two instruments are better.) Depends on expierience.
We tried also to work with a clock and hand signals With 4 peaple its maybe a bit harder, so everyone gets his share of attention.

Its tremendously fun, and cool to exchange tipps and tricks, and to have immeadeate feedback is also a cool plus.


Haha yes, I know this situation :slight_smile:


Hey all, reviving this thread as I find myself in a duo. However, this is for the time being a completely in-the-box project.

Initially I brought my Analog Four and we jammed live, but I found that sound design on-the-fly was too slow and that the Analog Four has virtually no usable presets I could use to quickly get an idea going (and anyway, flipping through presets during a jam does nothing to establish a good vibe). I’m not inclined to bring eurorack for reasons already covered in this thread. :nerd_face:

We settled on VSTs in Ableton and a more compositional—as opposed to jammed—approach. It’s been easier to get sounds we like without needing to set up and tear down the hardware. Of course this means only one person can really be seated in front of the iMac at a time.

  • We only work on the tracks when together. I think, since we have some taste differences, we’re both afraid that working independently would allow either of us to “go too far” with a track in a way the other person doesn’t like. Unfortunately this means it can be slow.
  • We initially found it hard to distribute “computer time” effectively. How to make it fair for each person?
  • We have tried to solve the problem of computer time by giving each person 20 minutes at the computer, with a five minute pause in between to discuss the results of the previous 20-minute interval. The problem here is that some ideas legitimately take more than 20 minutes to execute, and there is little incentive to work on the more precise aspects of production.

How do you think it’s best to approach a duo project that is 100% “in the box,” where there is no jam component to keep both people busy simultaneously?


Is that ear wax on your souncloud pic


This guy and me have an electronic duo. I try my best in the video discriptions to explain the technical side of things. In this video I explain it pretty thourough.

…Signal chain in this jam: Kajduckers Acuna is sending MIDI notes to the JD-XI, the JD-XI is sending MIDI to the Siel DK 600, the audio from the Siel and the JD-XI goes through the EHX 45000 then into the Octatrack input A/B (audio came in a little too hot here, hence the distorted clipping some times, my bad). Mikkel_Zen is playing the Octatrack, Analog Four and the Moogerfooger FreqBox. The Octatrack is sending MIDI clock and transport to the EHX 45000. The octatrack is also sending sine waves from the que output to the FreqBox and the FreqBox is sending its processed audio back to the Octatrack input D. The Octatrack main outputs is going through the Analog Four FX track. The Analog Four is sending various CV LFOs to the FREQ and WAVE expression inputs on the back of the FreqBox. With Overbridge and a computer, the Analog Four also works as an audio interface and is recording everything. In this setup, I only recorded the Analog Four main out. Yes, it all boiled down to a simple stereo track at the end.


record often… listen back together to get an idea of what’s good / bad / etc. *practice on your own, especially for more improvised styles of playing. develop ideas (patches, sounds, melodies etc.) to bring to the table, bounce ideas off of one another… sometimes one person can lay down a basic structure, or progression of ideas, and the other person can make complementary parts (and vice versa) - it’s nice to have an arrangement where anything goes, no concrete designations (for parts, instruments etc.), unless it’s necessary. ideally, each person brings something (idea-wise) to the table… don’t adhere to traditional band archetypes.


I’m playing in a duo at the moment.
I agree: division of labour is important, and not having too many instruments.
I play DT, mostly percussion and basslines.
He plays a Korg Microsampler and Nord Drum, mostly longer samples, chords and ambiences. There’s crossover, but we’ll mostly focus on those things. It really helps us to focus.

Also yes to talking a lot, telling your partner when you think it’s really sounding good and so forth.


Interesting thread and some great advices here!
I’m just trying to start my first electronic duo and I’d like to hear more of your preferred workflows.

I’m more on the drone/noise and minimal side and he’s more on the tecno/house side.
We’re planning to use principally a Digitakt and a Digitone (me) and a Volca Sample (him).