When I released the Darius Branching Sequencer a few months ago, it received a lot of interest… and a lot of feature requests.
Darius is a probabilistic 8-step sequencer where each node branches into two possible paths, creating repeating patterns that start similarly and resolve differently. It is very musical in practice, generating repetitive hypnotic melodies when used as V/Oct source, while also being useful as source of modulation.
It’s finally time for an update:
I thought I’d give myself a few months before revising it, to think it through, learn more about modular synthesis and C++, and see how people use Darius.
Here’s a few quick little beats I have thrown together while testing this update:
- The algorithm of the random number generator was improved. Unfortunately, this will break patches that relied on external seed input. Sorry for the inconvenience! I hope I’ll never need to break it again.
- There’s a LCD now! Grafted directly from Arcane, my fortune-telling module. It provides a lot of contextual information as you operate the knobs. The most interesting one is when you turn a Route knob: it gives you the relative and absolute probability to reach the next node up or down:
- The lit jacks are smarter now! When a node has 0% chance of being reached, its jack no longer lights up.
- You can select where to start the sequence now. The probabilities that lead up to the first step still apply!
- There’s a quantizer now! Darius provides a selection of 15 scales. Instead of adding every single scale and mode ever, making the knob difficult to operate, I focused on instant satisfaction presets that are not redundant: any scale that can be expressed as a mode of a different scale didn’t make the cut (with the exception of major/natural minor and pentatonic major/minor). If they’re not enough, you can use the External Scale input (more on that later).
- You can restrict the range of the CV knobs now. When quantized, you’ll see precisely what’s the minimum and maximum note. Protip: if the Min is higher than the Max, CV knobs operate flipped. You can use two Darii with the same settings, but the Min and Max inverted, to invert a melody!
- You can undo the Randomize buttons now! Click them willy-nilly.
- You won’t guess what the Slide knob does.
- There’s a few presets 'n resets for CV and Routes in the right-click menu now. By default, Darius routes are all 50/50, this results in a normal distribution, where the path is more likely to go to the center than to the sides. You can now use two different equal probability presets, where each of the 8 end nodes is as likely to be picked.
- There is experimental support for Portable Sequences now. When you copy a sequence, you copy one random possible path Darius could take (or the current path it will take if there is an external random seed). When you paste a sequence, you paste the sequence’s first 8 notes to each step, rather than each node: each node of a same step will receive the same note, for you to use as a new point of departure.
For more details, check out the revised documentation
Now, I mentioned external scales earlier: in a future version of my plugin, I will release a module that allows you to create custom scales for use in my collection. And I also edited Arcane to offer an external Scale output, so you can sync Darius to today’s fortune. But you don’t have to wait for me to release it! The way it’s encoded is pretty simple, to make creative patching easy: it’s a 12-channel polyphonic cable, where anything above 0V enables a step. For example, here’s how to craft the C Major Scale:
To accompany my next module release, I plan to record a beginner-friendly video explaining how my modules fit together. Until then, I hope this documentation will suffice, and maybe a resident Youtuber will want to cover the update.
With this update to Darius, I have laid the groundwork for more ambitious future updates, by creating many reusable components. Expect to see this LCD a lot, for example.
And I have decided to make public my plans for this collection of modules. It starts with a manifesto of sorts, then details many ideas I might implement. I make no promises and have no schedule for them, of course. Feel free to discuss any of my plans with me.
I hope you enjoy the update. Don’t hesitate to show me what you’re doing with it!
Oh, and before I conclude this thread…