creating patterns

In this section you will find in-depth information on creation of patterns.

creating patterns in a tracker

In a tracker, music is created by defining patterns. A song is nothing more than a sequence of patterns. Each pattern has a fixed length, defined by its amount of rows. Each row represents a different moment in time; in Efflux, a single pattern lasts for a single measure, so each row is relative to a single measure. We refer to a row as a step.

Each row can contain an instruction, basically describing what should happen at that moment in time in your song. An instruction can consist of "play this note", "stopping playing note", or adding a parameter change modulation.

If - for instance - your pattern has 16 steps, each row will represent a 16th note within the measure. If you wish to create a note on the first, second, third and fourth beat of your measure, you would add them to rows 0, 4, 8 and 12.

 

A pattern also has columns. Each column represents a different channel, which in Efflux is equal to an unique instrument. By default, each musical instruction you write within a channel will be for the channels associated instrument.

Efflux has eight unique instruments, as such a single pattern can provide instructions for all the instruments at once.

(If you wish to create a very complex piece, you can also assign note instructions to a specific instrument, regardless of the channel that is currently selected)

example pattern content

This snapshot represents a series of instructions. In rows 0 and 2 a note (whose pitch is C3) is triggered. The note triggered in row 0 will play for 2 steps (as on row 2 - the third step - a new note is triggered, stopping the previously playing note). Both notes in the first column are played back by instrument 0 (indicated by the center numeral). The note triggered in the first row of the second column (D3) will be played by instrument 1.

The note triggered in row 2 will only play for a single step, as on the next row a "note off"- instruction is given, halting the notes playback.

The note triggered in row 4 also contains a parameter modulation (indicated by the text aligned to the right). The modulation "PU" is a pitch up instruction, its bend value is 50.

In row 5 there is no note being triggered, but a parameter modulation. In this case the volume will be set to a value of 50. The "G" indicates that the volume will glide to its new value (a gradual process that lasts a single pattern step in length). The modulation instruction in row 4 uses no glide, and thus acts instantaneously.

entering instructions using mouse / touch

To the left of the pattern editor you will find the icons displayed here. These allow you to specify an instruction for the currently selected step (you can select a step by clicking / tapping on a specific row inside a specific channel).

  • A: add a new note (opens popup)
  • B: stop playing a previously triggered note
  • C: add a parameter change (opens popup)
  • D: delete existing instruction
  • E: automate a glide between two parameter changes

entering instructions using the keyboard

When using a desktop / laptop computer with a keyboard, you can speed up your process by using shortcuts.

  • the "K"-key adds a note Off
  • the "BACKSPACE" and ""DELETE"-keys delete an existing instruction
  • the "ENTER"-key opens the parameter modulation editor
  • the "ctrl" + "ENTER"-keys opens the note entry editor
  • the "ctrl" + "G"-keys automate a parameter glide

It is however not recommended to use the editors for parameter modulation or note entry, but rather use keyboard shortcuts as it greatly improves your workflow (see following topics).

You can use the arrow keys to switch between rows (up / down), or to switch between the slots of the current event (left / right), if you press left / right from the outer slots of the current event, you will jump to the previous / next channel.

entering notes using the keyboard

To use your computers keyboard for quick note entry, first be sure to have selected the first slot within your events row.

You can now use the following keys:

 S D   G H J   L ;
Z X C V B N M , . /


and:

 2 3   5 6 7   9 0
Q W E R T Y U I O P


...which mimic the layout of a 1.5 octave piano keyboard. You can adjust the root octave by using the "[" (octave down) and "]" (octave up) keys for the lower keyboard and "-" and "+" for the higher keyboard.

entering notes using a MIDI controller

If you are using Google Chrome and have a MIDI controller (like a piano keyboard), you can enter notes directly by playing the controller.

In order to do so, first connect the controller using the settings-menu. By clicking the red circle in the sequencer transport, you can toggle the recording state.

When the sequencer is paused, playing a note will add it to the currently selected step, after which the next step will be selected. You can add notes in rapid succession using this method. Additionally, if the sequencer is playing, the note instructions will be recorded at the currently playing step.

When recording to a playing sequencer, keep in mind notes are quantized to the step resolution of the pattern (for instance: no 64th note flurries are possible in a 16 step pattern).

automating module parameters using your computers keyboard

 

In the image above you will see a typical row inside a patterns channel. This basically describes an event for the sequencer. An event can have multiple instructions, we can divide it in four columns / "slots":

 

  1. The note. This describes the note this row will play back, see entering notes on how to enter these.
  2. The instrument. This describes which instrument will synthesize the note. This defaults to the channels index.
  3. The module to automate. The letters describe an acronym for a module and its parameters to automate.
  4. The target value of the automation. This describes the value the module's parameter should have when the sequencer is playing back this event. Can be either a percentage or hexadecimal (see Settings).

automating module parameter changes

By automating the parameters of your instruments modules, you can create complex effects that add interest to your composition. You can view the details on using the parameter change popup or take the following notes if you are interested in the keyboard shortcuts:

By using left and right arrow keys you can switch between the slots within your event.

By using the glide automation icon/ctrl + G you can create a smooth transition for a module parameter. To do this, you create two parameter change events for the same module parameter within a pattern. Clicking the icon/using the shortcut will automatically generate all events necessary for a smooth glide between the parameter values.

 

If you have highlighted the instrument-slot you can use the numeric keys (0 to 7) to quickly select which instrument should play back the note.

If you have highlighted the module slot, you can use the character keys to select which module to automate (for instance pressing "F" twice will select "Filter Frequency", pressing "F" followed by "Q" will select "Filter Q" or you can repeatedly press "F" to step through all options starting with F. Pressing "G" will toggle the Glide mode for this instruction (will smoothly transition the modules current value to the target value).

If you have highlight the target value slot, you can directly enter the target value using your keyboard. If you are working with percentages you can enter any value from 0 to 99. If you are working with hexadecimals, you can enter any value from 00 to FF. You can toggle these modes in the Settings menu.

pattern operations

 

The pattern editor displayed above the track view provides the following functions:

  1. Clear the contents of the currently selected pattern
  2. Copy the contents of the currently selected pattern
  3. Paste previously copy pattern contents into the currently selected pattern
  4. Add a new pattern to the songs pattern list (appears after currently selected pattern)
  5. Delete the current pattern from the songs pattern list
  6. Change the pattern resolution (e.g. amount of steps within the patterns measure)
  7. Advanced pattern operations

advanced pattern operations

 

You can use this menu to do more advanced pattern cloning operations. "Copy pattern range" describes the pattern range you want to copy, enter the index of the start and end pattern here. "Copy channel range" describes what channels to copy (1-8 for all channels, or specify a custom range between these values). By specifying a pattern index in the "Insert after pattern" field you can paste your selection after given index. Existing content after this index is moved behind the pasted content.

keyboard selections

When using the keyboard, you can create selections based on subsets of the pattern.

By holding down shift, you are activating the selection mode. By clicking on a step, you will create a selection that spans from both the previously selected step and channel to the ones at the clicked position. By using the arrow keys you can expand / shrink your selection across channels (by moving left or right) and across steps (by moving up or down).

Using "ctrl + C" you can copy the current selection while by using "ctrl + X" you can cut the current selection. Using "ctrl + V" you can paste the selection.

When pasting, the selection will be pasted at the current step and channel position, so it is possible to paste patterns across step positions and instruments.

undo history

All pattern related operations are stored into a state history.

Using "ctrl + Z" will revert the pattern to its state prior to the last operation.

Using "ctrl + shift + Z" will restore a reverted state. Note: after performing a new operation after having undone a state, the redo history is cleared.

Note: on a Mac, you will also need to use the "ctrl"-key rather than the more common "Option"-key.