Combining Drambo and MiRack

For those that are interested, I have uploaded to Patchstorage a combined MiRack Drambo patch, that sends Drambo waveforms to MiRack where they are converted to cv data, quantised to C Pentatonic and then are sent back to one of Drambo's instruments. You will need to be running both Drambo with an instance of MiRack so obviously Drambo needs to be standalone. Try moving the AB fader to change the scale. This probably could be done solely using Drambo, but I don't know how to constrain the notes to Pentatonic scales and it demostrates the power of combining these two amazing tools.

N.B. I've hard panned the lfo waveform and cv sequence into a stereo pair that directly flows into Mirack where they are separated into waveform and gate signals.



  • edited February 2021

    Try the quantize module in drambo

    If u select c# d# f# g# a#

    its pentatonic (or whatever u choose )

    there also is a cv to frequency converter ...

    If u want to switch between 2 scales u need two quantiszers ...

  • edited February 2021

    So there is a 16 input miRack option under the AU Processor category. Unfortunately only a stereo input is allowed currently. Hoping Drambo gets updated to allow multi bus / multi IO processors. That will be a dream come true for workflow between the two apps. Audio and cv across 16 channels, speaking both directions - insane possibilities.

  • @lala: Thanks for the reply. Re: Drambo's pitch cv quantiser - from what I can see I don't think it offers the flexibility or higher level functionality of the JW Modules Quantiser in Mirack/VCV. In the example I've posted the AB fader actually transposes the Pentatonic scale dynamically and I doubt that at present the one in Drambo can be made to perform similarly. Furthermore it's not clear what the Scale knob in the CV Quantiser does in Drambo - the help menu is blank and watching the output via the midi monitor suggests it does nothing.

    Anyway the central point of the patch is to act as a starting point for explorations into the inter-operability between these two great apps.

    One of the things that interested me was to see how the signals between the apps flowed - whether there was any noticeable latency or bandwidth hogging that would limit their (inter)operation. I was pleasantly surprised to see how smooth the signal flows are.

    Personally find patching to be more intuitive in MiRack than in Drambo - especially when it comes to troubleshooting cv signal flow. Drambo has unique constraints in terms of it's signal flow and the dev has adopted an interface design which while visually elegant, does not (in my opinion) match the immediate and clearer readability that VCV / MiRack's visual paradigm currently offers in this space. Maybe it's just the unfamiliarity...

    OTOH Drambo offers complex Elektron style sequencing / parameter locking etc that would be much harder to quickly achieve in VCV/MiRack - hence my interest in combining these apps...

    I would be interested to hear if anyone using an Apple M1 computer can run this combined patch...

  • @sambo what exactly would you need the CV quantizer to do? Just transposing dynamically or anything else?

    You might want to make use of the fact that adding 0.125 to a pitch signal will transpose it by exactly one octave, adding 0.125/12 will increase pitch by one semitone.

  • edited February 2021

    the functionality is there but you have to glue it together

    @rs2000 can give better advice on that than I can

    i don’t use miracks

    i hate the user interface, to me it’s all skeuomorphic pseudo real nonsense

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  • edited February 2021

    @rs2000: what exactly would you need the CV quantizer to do? Just transposing dynamically or anything else?

    @rs2000: Thanks for the reply - in this instance the JW Modules Quantiser in miRack isn’t just doing a straight linear transposition ( I totally understand that adding 0.125 to the signal would effect a simple semitone transpose) but is enabling a more musically particular set of transpositions within a specific tonal/modal space - i.e. minor Pentatonic in this instance. To be clear, within a minor pentatonic scale the note transposition differs from scale to scale as the attached image illustrates.

    It is my understanding that this is not something that would be trivial to create in Drambo, without resorting to some kind of lookup table.

    But I fear my central point may have been lost - this wasn’t intended as a ‘can Drambo do this’ posting, more it is a prompt to highlight the possibilities opened by exploring the inter-operative potential strengths of working within these program spaces.

    @Gravitas: from what I can ascertain the rotary knob in the Drambo cv Quantiser operates as combination of on/off switch and octave multiplier. i.e. at zero it’s off, above non-zero its on. Thereon it seems to expand the range of octaves that the quantised notes are output - this is very different to the functionality offered by the JW Modules Quantiser...

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  • @Gravitas: thanks for explaining further - can you point to any working examples? I've just looked at the help for Pitch - it says:

    'process pitch cv input so that the output is transposed to the selected overtone/undertone. The resulting frequencies are integer multiples of the input frequency.'

    None which makes any sense to me - but looks and sounds interesting...

    What are the other two modules you mentioned.?

  • This is what has ultimately caused me to abandon other virtual modular synths (exempting Drambo of course). Seems like they bring the worst part of physical modular hardware (spaghetti mess) right along with them.

    However I do like this use case of dropping MIRack inside Drambo and just using it for a component of the overall patch. E.g. like maybe you want a Texture synthesizer in your patch. It’s not bad to cable that up to an input and output. A lot more palatable than having to cable up everting in MI, for me, anyway.

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  • @Gravitas: you sir are gentlemen - and indeed as you suggest the new tagging system (which I really like) is what prevented me from locating the three pitch modules. That said after a brief exploration, without further detailed documentation, there seems little in the pitch ratio or pitch overtone modules that will assist in using Drambo as a means of usefully sculpting tonal melody in line with my earlier patching example.

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  • edited February 2021

    @sambo Drambo is made to build from rather atomic modules. It's great to have the option to include miRack but don't be surprised if your elaboration on an excellent use case of both will be taken as a challenge by some here to work out a Drambo only solution, that's how men tick 😁

    Drambo not only gives you rather simple modules but they're also very efficient and I can't repeat enough that you should not hesitate combining literally hundreds of them.

    In your example, if I understand correctly, that would be 12 CV quantizers selected by a 12-to-1 switch controlled by transposition amount. Yes, kind of a lookup table but you only need to set it up once for each preset.

    Pack everything into a MIDI rack and switch presets for different scales.

    @giku MIDI Rack feels sad because it hath no preset switching arrows yet 😥

  • And @sambo I get your point about preferring to patch inside miRack, following the classic modular approach but using modern modules that pack much more power into one module than Moog 55 operators could have dreamed of in the 70s.

    To me, where Drambo shines is when you hit the limits of an environment like miRack (or Audulus, while we're at it) when you spend more time looking for the right modules than "just connecting the dots" that you have in mind. I sometimes wake up with an idea for a synth or effect or sound in my head and after some practice, the first app I'll grab is Drambo because it's quick and it only has few limitations. Like capturing a song idea in Gadget versus Cubasis. Gadget is fast and provides you with just the tools to sketch your idea with different instruments that can be played on your iPhone. Later in the songwriting flow, you can go further and combine the many internal FX to do some kind of mastering too, although not a plug-and-play experience like in Cubasis (i.e. miRack 😉).

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  • You're very welcome @Gravitas 🤝

  • @rs2000 Just a suggestion. Couldn't you transpose (by semitones) the CV input to key of C, use the CV Quantizer with C min pentatonic, then transpose back? This would just subtract and add the same amount on each side of the quantizer. No need for 12 quantizers.

  • edited February 2021

    For sure the arrangement can be simplified in many cases like the above, 12 quantizers is the worst case in which you have different note distances between scale steps for every key.

  • @rs2000 & Gravitas - not at all - it was perhaps a little naive to think that my introducing another modular synth (mirack) into the Drambo environment, wouldn’t be seen as a challenge. :).

    Your replies were very helpful. As an exercise to check that I’m following the solution that Gravitas proposed I’ve taken his C Major Pentatonic layout and combined it with a 3:1 switching arrangement - see image below.

    This seems to work okay though of course it needs expanding.

    I also considered uncleDave’s suggestion but here I’ve run into a problem. While it looks easy enough - add 0.083 as an example of say a transposition to Db (ignore the quantise settings - I set it to pass through mode to test) and then subtract the same value after the quantise - I should get the sequence passing straight through. In fact in the example here I get a negative transposition of -7 semitones.

    Given I’m adding 0.083 before quantisation and then subtracting 0.083 I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong.

    Which takes me to my general concern about Drambo - while I appreciate its power, elegance and efficiency and the fact it aspires to be more than a form of modular audio - I do find myself frequently getting stuck - mainly I think because at times it behaves more like a modular programming language rather than a modular synth.

    Perhaps if it had more tracing options and a greater ability to see how the signal flow is running (I’ve asked for the ability to select from a larger range of custom node colourings just to make sure that A is connected to B as sometimes the limited size of Drambo’s nodal palette makes deciphering the signal flow difficult), I think it would help challenged souls such as myself to follow how the program operates.

    Perhaps there could be a debug window/mode for advanced users?

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  • edited February 2021

    Here's what I suggested to implement a scale in any key. The scale here is minor (Dorian) pentatonic.

    Here, the pitch module with no input generates a CV amount corresponding to the interval dialed in. That value is subtracted from the input note, transposing the scale played down to C. The transposed note is quantized to the scale, and transposed back by adding the same value. The osc proves it works. Note that the result is not transposed in the normal sense, you still need to play approximately the notes of the scale being used. Transposing just lets us use one quantizer for all scales. The shift shown of 3 semitones gives the familiar "all black notes" pentatonic.

    @sambo You need to subtract first, to transpose down to C, then add after, to get the desired effect.

  • Thanks uncleDave - will look at this later…

    Here’s my humble effort to create a revised version of my hoped for scale transposer. To start, let’s go back to basics.

    Firstly check what the CV Sequencer outputs. I’ve no idea what it does in terms of midi so I attach a midi monitor. It seems that the output signal from the CV Sequencer when fed through the Midi Note Gen goes from C2 - G8 = 80 semitones - (perhaps this information could be added to the CV Quantiser help menu). So in order to create an octave using the CV Sequencer that runs from C2 - B2, ( in order to explore the operation of the CV Quantiser), the output from the CV Sequencer needs to be divided by 80 or multiplied by 0.125.

    Here is the result:

    This seems to work ok (though its frustrating that the number module won’t display the third decimal point which creates some anxiety - also it’s frustrating that if a module is renamed it’s then not possible to see what it’s operation is without clicking it so that a floating menu appears on top - perhaps this behaviour could be changed somehow - afterall modular programming needs easy to trace commenting)

    Okay so next add in the CV Quantiser to the signal chain and set to Maj Pentatonic (C/D/E/G/A). Feed this into Ableton Live to check - yes it seems fine. So now I have tonal scale from C2 - B2 running through a C Maj Pentatonic quantiser.


    Next I think I will try uncleDave’s add/subtract suggestion to create a more general Maj Pentatonic transposer across the full octave. To do this say for Db, add a semitone transposition value (0.0125) ahead of the CV Quantiser and then subtract the same value after.

    Seems easy:

    Except now I get a B Maj Pentatonic downward transposition rather than a Db Maj Pentatonic. Not sure why. Sigh…

  • edited February 2021

    @sambo Please subtract first, to transpose down, add after to transpose back up. For example, user plays G in a G scale, subtract 7 semitones to get C, quantize C scale, add 7 semitones back to get G scale.

    Also, it's much easier to get the transpose interval from the Pitch module, instead of using tricky exact numerical values.

    I think the CV sequencer is meant to cover the full note range, in bipolar fashion, with CV=0 at C2 (Yamaha notation). CV=-0.5 gives C-2, or MIDI 0. This is the same as the note CV from the MIDI to CV module. It's not doing that just to frustrate you.

  • @uncleDave: thanks appreciate the guidance - yeah I am finding it a bit frustrating - I understand the logic (mostly) but find the specific details a bit challenging especially when it feels more like programming than patching... but I'd like to get better at it as I can see that Drambo has some unique possibilities especially in terms of composition.

    Also am now fully confused by the CV sequencer - I can't see how you'd get it to output a value less than zero - there doesn't seem to be a bipolar switch....

  • @uncleDave: genius - as you said swapping the order of the add and subtract operations was all that was needed - magic!

  • @giku - I really like the new tag menu but can we also have a full alphetical list of the all of the modules to help quickly find those tricky 'not in the folder you thought they were going to be in' ones.

    @giku - also would be great if Drambo could remember the last folder that it saved into - at present it reverts to saving in the Local: /Documents folder even after I've switched to a different folder for my project.

  • Sorry, I was wrong. It just generates CV values from 0 to 1. Interpretation as notes is left to the user. So, to get them down to one octave, you'd divide by 8. The reason you thought it stopped at G8 (not C9) is because G8 is MIDI 127, top of the range. But internally, we're not limited by MIDI; anything goes!

  • edited February 2021

    @giku - a couple of suggestions to assist users keeping track of their workings...

    Firstly an option to add notes to modules so that users can revisit projects and quickly understand how they were constructed..

    Secondly a floating 'trace' window to help users keep track of signal flows (of course you've already given us the midi monitor and the oscilloscope). Rapidly changing values would be an issue, which presumably is where the 'scope and the midi monitor stack come in but I think having a numerical display to precisely track the data could be a useful addition especially when trouble shooting...

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