I composed this track and performed it live while limiting myself to using three electronic instruments: Novation Circuit, PreenFM2, and a Moog Sub 37. Afterward I added a recording of a Tibetan tingsha bell that I captured using a matched pair of Rode NT5 condensers. The instruments were sequenced using the Squarp Pyramid, which might technically be considered a fourth instrument, but it is not a sound source.
I continually revisit dogmatic approaches to making electronic music and this approach in particular may yield some interesting results. The last collection I made like this was back in 2013 and can be found in the post Builders of the Fauxpocalypse: a Dogmatic Approach to Music Making.
Squarp’s Pyramid sequencer just got a new firmware update with the prestigious versioning of 1.0. I’ve had mine now for almost a year and have seen a slew of software updates during that time. The new features in 1.0 include a new LFO MIDI effect. These LFOs can be chained together creating all sorts of possibilities.
Last July I wrote an article titled, How Do You Do Your Live MIDI Sequencing? In the article I expressed my frustration with the ubiquity of step sequencers and lack of modern hardware sequencers that handle live recording and polyphony. In December, 2015 I became one of the lucky few to own a Pyramid sequencer by Squarp. Pyramid is an amazing instrument that does everything that has been lacking from most modern sequencers, plus an ever widening array of advanced features available as MIDI effects. It’s hard to contain my excitement about this machine! Squarp has been extremely communicative with their customers through email and their online forum. New releases have been frequent during its life cycle, and I expect many fantastic new features and advancements in the near future. Here’s a few of Pyramid’s current capabilities that I find exciting:
1. Live recording of polyphonic notes with velocity, pitch bend, channel pressure, mod wheel, and continuous controllers. Notes are recorded without quantization unless the Quantizer MIDI effect is applied to the track. What makes this exciting is that although polyphonic and un-quantized recording is common in software it’s rare in new hardware sequencers.
2. Simultaneous track lengths and time signatures are independent of each other. The track lengths are not limited to bars, but can be adjusted down to individual steps. For example, a five bar and three step phrase is possible. This feature allows for polyrhythmic sequencing which I’m very excited about.
3. Pyramid projects are saved on a standard removable SD card as a collection of MIDI files. Although there are plenty of editing features in Pyramid, if you need to for any reason, the files can be edited on a computer in your favorite DAW. You can also create or import MIDI files from elsewhere into a Pyramid project!
I’ll share some of the music I’ve been creating with this beast soon. I could (and will in future posts) go on about euclidean rhythms, step editing, sequencing tracks, chaining sequences, and CV/GATE i/o – all capabilities that Pyramid has, but for now take a look at this collection of tutorial videos that Squarp shared just yesterday: