Peter Edwards > Experimental performance sequencer Arduino shield

The Experimental Performance Sequencer Arduino Shield is a looping event sequencer. It gives the user extensive control over several parameters of multi-channel, synced and looped sequences but obscures those controls in such a way that discourages one’s desire for precise control and predictability.
I developed this piece with Marije Baalman at Steim in August 2011.

My goal is to give improvisational electronic musicians a means of creating complex sequences without pulling their focus from the performance. I like the idea of sequence programming and manipulation as part of the performance and essentially as an instrument and have tried to explore that through this piece.

Video can be viewed here.



There are two key features which define the character of this interface.
First is that the devices uses timing quantification and clock division to ensure that rhythmic synchronization is always maintained. This stable component is what every other, more experimental feature is built upon. Syncronized timing of channels as well as parameter changes allows the performer to liberally manipulate the sequence parameters without causing disruptive rhythm misalignment. This enables the performer to maintain focus on manipulation of the sequences as well as the device being sequenced.
Another defining feature is that there are no scrolling sequence status lights (common in most drum machines) and no digital readout to indicate settings.
I want to remove the static reference point (such as sequence preset or step numbers) and encourage the performer to focus on the current state of the sequence. The interface is inspired by my experience with modular synthesizers. The inability to record and call back presets allowed me to instead focus on the immediate presence and architecture of the sounds and signal flow.
Other important features include:
-Tap based sequence programming. This allows immediate and intuitive sequence entry.
-Discreet clock division for each channel. Each channel clock can be changed on the fly while staying in sync with the master clock.
-Multiple banks per channel rather than the more common global sequence presets. Allows more flexibility to introduce change into the musical soundscape gradually one channel at a time.

In order to interface the sequencer with my analog synth gear I used to following circuits:

 

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