What are the benefits of a song mode?

I see it on every single thread about the Digitakt: song mode, song mode, song mode.

As someone who has never owned a hardware sequencers before, what actually IS a song mode?

Does it mean just chaining patterns and pressing play?

I use the Digitakt live and queueing up the next pattern works perfectly.

So, if you’re one of those people asking for it, why do you want it? What purpose does a song mode serve?


no song mode needed for me. If you want song mode might as well play your songs on iTunes


If its anything like octatracks arranger mode its just a way of arranging patterns to play after one another to save you the hassle of doing it

@vvv.x.vvv its far from useless, it gives you free time to do other things which will make your performance more interesting. lining up your next pattern by hand is hardly more of a ‘real’ performance than using song mode


Song mode (on Elektrons) is a list of patterns, basically. The different between that and pattern chaining is that you can specify more detail about how the patterns are played back - for example, you can set track mutes per ‘row’ of the arrangement, specify how much of the pattern is played back (number of steps), and loop sections either infinitely or for a certain number of times. You can also jump to a specified point.

A typical way of using it live is to set up looping sections and switch to a new section when you want. E.g. You can have a “verse” section of 2 patterns looping 3 times followed by a different pattern, which leads into a “chorus” section of 2 patterns looping, which jumps back to the verse loop, etc etc. So it’s not necessarily just pressing play and letting it do its thing until the end of the song, you can set yourself up with chained/looping sections.

On the older Elektrons like the MM and MD you couldn’t do on-the-fly pattern chaining so it’s more essential. It’s quite possible to use pattern chaining to play live, it all depends how much structure / control you want. Song mode just gives you more options.


I also use it to backup a track I like.
As you can program everything from mutes to pattern repeat, etc. you can get close to the track you’ve just played.

A pity you cannot record a “Song” while playing with mutes and pattern changes in live situation.
Would be really great to have the same live recording feeling with Song as you have with Patterns… I should submit a feature request in this regard !


Its a good way to create long term pattern variation with controlled fills


It’s also a good way to control several machines at the same time. Maybe you want to tweak one while letting the other run a predefined scheme.
You can still tweak a bit the machine while it’s running in Song mode, you just don’t have to remember the exact pattern that is following… I can see the interest of this.


To write song…


huge fan of song mode here, especially the layout of the silver boxes+OT…not such a fan of how the analog series does it due to no offsets/lengths.

anyhoo, i use the mnm to shoot the DT program changes to follow whatever patterns the mnm is on. while this works all dandy, the DT doesn’t trigger the correct song/pattern position.

for ex, if i trigger a pattern halfway thru on the mnm, the DT pattern triggers the beginning of the pattern instead of the halfway point of the pattern. a lil annoying, but other than that, all is well.

i really do hope that some sort of song mode is implemented at some point with the dt, but i’m not holding my breath.


I don’t use it myself, and won’t. It would feel less live to me.

As soon as you lock a structure it just blocks a lot of spontane improvisation that otherwise could happen. It’s of course my personal opinion, and I do see the use of a song mode and it freeing up some time to do other stuff, but you’re still locking down a structure that could otherwise grow in other ways each time you’d perform. Which is something I find interesting. I like the fact that I’m not re-playing a song I came up with, but I’m actually letting myself go with the flow in the moment. I rather compose a track into detail, and then export the essential stuff and just remix it live completely.


the analog series lend themselves more to improvisational play because you have things like direct jump/chain mode…but the silver boxes, it really makes them shine in what they can do.

Song mode would have helped simplify recording a little bit until Overbridge is enabled.

It’d be nice to create a song and have the Digitakt “play it back” a few times with just the isolated track(s) you want to record separately, instead of having to “perform” the song multiple times with just those tracks enabled.

Certainly not a deal breaker, and I prefer performing without song mode; but, again, would make some things easier.


Oh no, I didn’t mean it like it’s factual. I meant how it feels to me for the music I play live.
I actually play bass and guitar, so I understand why it would be useful ;).
For playing a techno set or other pure electronic music, I wouldn’t want to use it. Didn’t mean any offense and didn’t mean to be judgemental :wink:


I never really use song mode on Elektron gear, for me I find it a bit too fiddly, although it is very flexible this contributes to the fiddliness - a bit too much tooing and fro-ing with arrow keys and small LCD is too much for my patience, almost certainly I’m not being fair, but really I just prefer doing all the stuff song mode can do in realtime. Of course if you want to do more complex stuff then song mode is probably the way to go, I remember some things I did like were offsets, and the various row play flags like jump, hold and whatnot, so most likely if you are a patient user you can get some interesting stuff using song mode. I guess it all depends on your personal preferences, for me I don’t need it.

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Whether I’m playing an instrument live in a band, or tweaking programmed synths by myself, I’ve always been a fan of tightly structured songs, that have “loose improvisation” segments, segways, intros and outros.
For me, the arranger on the OT is just that.
You can go in and out of the “structure,” move to different locations, giving tracks the best of both worlds.
You can even re-arrange prefab arrangements, which is sort of like improvising to some degree.


Thanks for the reminder, I’ve been interested in the idea of jumping in and out of song mode/arranger to have certain defined structure that opens into improv zones, keep forgetting to explore that…

At first it’s kinda confusing and it’s easy to screw up what you intended to do.
However, if you practice at it a bit, it starts to feel more comfortable.
Sometimes I’ll accidentally stop a song, or restart from the beginning, and if you have lots of banks it might take a bit to get back to where you meant to be.
What I really like doing is making an arrangement on a bank that is set to “loop” on a pattern.
From there disengage song mode and improvise around, then start the arranger again and carefully navigate to where I want it to pick back up.


Off course you’d need some programming, but for my live techno set I have a lot of room for improvisation. Especially when it comes to structure and evolving of tracks. So it really depends on what genre you perform.

I wouldn’t have bought the digitakt if id play songs with guitar and vocals to be honest. Mpc live seems more the kind of solution for that of you want perform without a laptop. Or use a midi paddle board to switch patterns

I use song mode in combination with a looper
the last row of a song is a loop

I can mute all voices
and slowly mix/mute in a new song, selected from the songs in my project…

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In my case, I have no need for song mode. I like recording my performance live into a DAW so pattern chaining is all I need. Also, half the time I record without the sequencer.