Line6 has asked me to put together a refill for their “Expand Your Reason Rack” promotional offer which features free Reason 4 Refills. Originally a collection of Thor patches was planned, but I decided to focus on a theme, specifically, Thor’s Step Sequencer. The result is a motley collection of sounds and effects patches. Some of the patches are based on previous releases, however, most are completely new sounds. For more information on downloading the patch library, please visit the Line6 Expand Your Reason Rack Page - Link Removed 3/2009
Peff 033 - Thor Step Sequencer Systems Refill
The Thor Polysonic Synthesizer features a step sequencer that offers more features and versatility than Reason’s Matrix Pattern Sequencer. The patches in this refill demonstrate a variety of applications that range from the traditional note/gate pattern source, filter and amplifier gating systems, to complex modulation routings for special effects. Included in the Refill are 16 complete Thor synthesizer patchs, four Combinator Instruments that implement the Thor step sequencer, and two Combinator effects patches that rely on the Thor sequences. 50 pre-programmed step sequences are also included - these are configured in a Combinator to drive a sound from a secondary Thor synthesizer. Also, a granular synthesis Combinator is included with grain lookup driven by a Thor step sequencer.
Thor Sequence Patch List & Descriptions
Basic Thor Step Sequence.thor – A repeating tempo synchronous pattern that generates a monophonic synth riff.
Analog Mono Bass.thor – A repeating 1 measure sequence that triggers a monophonic analog square wave bass.
Ebba Pad.thor - A polyphonic ethereal pad sound with rhythmic overtones modulated by a repeating sequencer pattern.
Filtered Snare Roll.thor – A one-shot step sequence that generates a snare drum roll.
FM Glitch Pattern.thor - This polyphonic instrument uses a 32-step pendulum pattern to modulate chorus parameters to generate audio artifacts.
Gated Table Harmonics.thor – A gated organ type of sound that relies on a repeating step sequence to trigger envelopes in a rhythmic pattern.
Metronome.thor – A four-measure repeating step sequence that generates metronome clicks.
One Finger Choral Pad.thor – One Shot step sequence that triggers a series of notes to emit a chord.
Palme Tabel.thor – A polyphonic digital pad sound based on wavetable oscillators being modulated by a repeating step sequence.
Reason4.thor - A one shot sequence that modulates formant filters to make Thor say “Reason”. Based on the “I Am Thor” patch, the step sequence was modified to change the formant filter modulations.
Revenge Filters.thor – A true stereo polyphonic synth stab sound that is gated and modulated by a repeating step sequence pattern. The filter modulation patterns for the left and right channels are different to create a moving stereo sound.
Sine World.thor – a 13 step pendulum sequence generates a series of triplet events that modulate three sine wave oscillators to create a pattern driven FM bell tone.
Sine World [Deep].thor – similar to the previous patch in tone, however the step sequence rate is randomized generating unpredictable more organic results.
Thor Kick Snare & Hats.thor – Various parameters of the step sequencer are used to trigger levels and filters to create a rhythmic drum loop.
Thor Kick Snare & Hats Formant.thor – This sequence is similar to the previous patch and features the addition of a formant filter modulated by the step sequencer.
Verity Pad.thor – This is a polyphonic pad sound that uses the step sequencer to modulate filter and wavetable parameters to generate subtle rhythmic elements.
Thor Pattern Combinator
Included in the P033 Refill are 50 Thor Step-Sequence patches. These have no sound properties programmed and are only patterns. Naturally, you can program your own patches based on the step sequences, however these are designed to work in conjunction with another Thor synthesizer wrapped in a combinator. The step-sequencer is connected via cv cables to the second instance of Thor which has a synth patch loaded. The combinator filters out MIDI events and directs them only to the pattern sequencer which in turn sends note and gate cv impulses to the sound module.
With this configuration, you can quickly scan through different combinations of step-sequences and sounds. The pattern patches are saved in a unique directory, so by simply clicking on the patch browse arrows, you can scroll through different patterns. Only one synth patch assigned to the second Thor, so you must manually select patches. Mono lead types of sounds will work best since this configuration is monophonic in nature.
The patterns are named with a dual number system. The first two digit number indicates the number of steps while the second number is a patch number. For example, TPS 08-006 has eight steps, while TPS 16-001 is a 16 step pattern. These patches are assigned with MIDI trigger and transposition enabled, so when a key is received, the sequencer will trigger and the sequence will be transposed relative to the incoming note value.
Sequence Performance Combi
This Combinator patch contains four Thor sequenced patches: A synth riff, a bass line, a drum loop, and a chord generator/pad. The four synths are driven by a RPG-8 arpeggiator which is set to 1 bar steps. When a note is received, the RPG-8 triggers the step sequencers to start and all four devices will play a musical loop until the Hold Sequence button is disabled and a note off message is received.
Why run this through an arpeggiator? The answer is that this is designed to be a real-time performance/arrangement patch. Holding down several different keys will initiate an arpeggiator sequence that changes each measure. In turn this transposes the sequencer patterns every measure. The RPG-8 is set to “Manual” mode so the transpositions will follow the order of the notes received.
For example, play the following series of notes into the patch: C, D, G, F The subsequent result will be a four measure pattern that follows the pattern of C, D, G, and finally F. With this setup, you can quickly generate a chord progression phrase that loops until a new progression is received. You can switch to another device and play over the repeating loop or tweak parameters of the individual patches to create a performance.
Sequence Performance Combi Controls
Rotary 1 - 4 These control the individual levels of the sound modules.
Free Mode switches the arpeggiator off and note transposition is immediately passed through into each Thor sequence. With this feature off, the transposition only occurs at the beginning of each measure.
Hold Sequence will latch the incoming key sequence until a new sequence is received. Disabling this button will disable the latch and the sequence will stop playing when an incoming note is released.
Granular Sampler System
Keeping in line with the theme of this refill, I’ve taken the granular synthesis patch seen in the Computer Music Magazine article and modified it with a Thor Step Sequencer to drive the sample start position. This is a cool little modification since you can program the scan behavior of the patch. For those of you who have not seen the article, this patch uses the NN-19 as a tone generator. A series of pulses from an LFO trigger the sample to playback at a very high rate to the point where voice stealing shortens the duration of the sample to a small burst. Manipulation of the sample start parameter mimics the effect of scrolling through small segments of the sample - also referred to as grains. The sample start parameter is then modulated by an external cv source. In this particular patch, the source is switchable between the Malstrom Mod A, and the Thor Step Sequencer. There are 6 examples of these patches included in the Refill, and more are on the way.
The modulation sequences work in the same manner as the Thor Pattern Combinator. Click on the show devices button to open the combi rack and find the second Thor synthesizer named “Thor Pattern Modulator” - abbreviated as “THOR P_LATOR”. Change the pattern by clicking on the patch browse buttons, or selecting a different pattern from the contextual menu. The modulation pattern is programmed on the “Curve 1″ parameter, so if you want to create your own patterns, make sure the edit knob is assigned to this setting.
Granular Sampler System Controls
Sample Start - This rotary is the key to the effect of the Granular Sampler System. Normally it should remain at zero. You can tweak this, but remember that the grain modulations are scaled from the initial value of this knob.
Filter Freq - The audio signal from the patch is routed through a Thor Filter, and this controls the cutoff frequency. Filter Resonance is modulated by the Mod Wheel
Motion Rate - This control alters the modulation rate of both the Thor sequencer and Malstrom Modulator A in both free and tempo sync modes.
Window Rate - This controls the rate of pulses triggering the NN-19. Different harmonics can be generated by adjusting this parameter to higher values.
Mod A/Thor PTN - Switches the motion modulation source between the Malstrom Modulator A and the Thor Step Sequencer.
Low / Band Pass - Switches the filter type between a Low Pass or Band Pass filter.
Motion Sync - Switches the Malstrom and Thor Step Sequencer to tempo sync mode.
Stereo Windows - This changes the spread parameter on the NN-19. As each pulse is received, the output is panned to the opposite channel creating a stereo effect.
Modifying the Granular Sampler System
As a disclaimer, this isn’t a full featured granular synth system that you might find with other products. It is limited to one voice, and it takes a bit of tweaking to get all of the settings right, and the region of sample data is limited to the range of the sample start modulation. With that said, there is the one cool aspect of this patch: you can load your own samples into it.
The NN-19 Sampler is located at the top of the combinator sub-rack. Simply click on the sample browser and navigate to an audio file to load it into the patch. As previously mentioned, there is a limitation with the sample start control, so long samples and extremely short samples do not work well. Since this is a highly experimental patch to begin with, unexpected results are part of the magic.
Another modification is to change the modulation sources to one-shot mode. This is useful for percussion sounds. With the Thor step sequence, use the forward or reverse modulation patterns and switch the sequencer to 1 shot mode. On the Malstrom Modulator A, enable one-shot mode and change the curve to type 11 for a reverse position modulation or type 12 for a forward sweep.
My next refill library, I will have a whole array of different granular combi setups.