The below exercises demonstrate how to create polyrhythms using the Five12 Vector Sequencer. There are other ways, but you can work those out yourself.
The below instructions lead you through setting up 2 PARTS and work through how to vary them to create polyrhythms.
- Set up two PARTS to trigger one percussion voice each.
- Make sure they are short notes so you can hear the spaces between everything.
- Configure PRESETS in the two PARTS as follows:
- Configure PART 1 as eight notes with hit one per step, and a LEN of 4.
- Configure PART 2 as eight notes with hit one per step, and a LEN of 8.
- Go to PART 1 and make sure MODE is MDV and dial RATE to 1/4 (default is 1/16th)
- Go to PART 2 and scroll MODE all the way to the right until you reach /1 and leave RATE as 1
- Hit RUN and you should hear sounds for each PART simultaneously.
If you have followed the above instructions correctly, then you have created two parts that achieve the same output as a basis to create a polyrhythm.
What are we hearing?
- In PART 1 which is set to MDV 1/4, each pulse (a single BPM count) is heard as a quarter note, so four notes make up one beat.
- In PART 2 each sound you hear is 1 step fraction of 1 pulse (where pulse is a BPM increment). So, 1 step/1 pulse
The point of the above was to show two different ways to configure the same thing and how they relate
Evolving what we have built
- We have created a 1/1 fraction for PART TWO
- The points of interest here right now are RESET, RATE and MODE.
- RESET is the beat count at which a RESET to STEP 1 will occur (assuming your START is 1)
- RATE is step quantity you are using, and is the below the line variable in your fraction (eg RATE is Y in a fraction that looks like X/Y).
- MODE is the number after the slash (eg MODE is X in the X/Y fraction).
- So you have X/Y, MODE/RATE, 1/1
- Let's double time it by changing Y to 2 so change MODE to /2. Now you are hearing MODE 2 over RATE 1 so 2/1
- Now change RATE to 2 and what you are hearing is 2/2 and it is back in sync with the PART ONE trigger again.
- You are hearing 2 notes played as equal halves of 2 pulses, so that would be 1 hit per pulse, sounding identical to 1/1.
And now... A polyrhthym
- Change MODE to /3 and keep RATE at 2
- You should now be hearing notes that are divisioins of two pulses into three equal steps
- So, you are hearing 3 steps over 2 pulses where MODE is /3, Rate is 2 and X/Y is 3/2
Armed with these basics (and preferably your significant feline), you are ready to experiment with the RATE, MODE and RESET variables. Don't forget about PART 1 though - have a play with the MDV settings there, as well as change it to fractional rates, just to get a feel for how it all works.
Using RESET correctly
If you are doing this and the pulse is not occuring as you would predict it could be due to the RESET variable. It can mess up your polyrhtym, but at times will do it in very musical ways. The best way to avoid RESET screwing you over is make sure the RESET value is the same as your RATE value. You could set it as ANYTHING else but unless it is a factor of your RATE value you will get occasional RESET commands executed which are in less predictable places and will create a cool kind of offset for your rhythm. It can be used in a very musical way if you get it right.