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ER-101 workflow share?

I’ve been working in the 101 for a while now, and really enjoying it. I wanted to know if anyone would be interested in sharing their workflow… I find that I am constantly having to go to either a piece of graph paper or similar to sketch out a sequence plan, then execute it in the 101 by essentially copying what I have, e.g. [track id][pattern 1][step 1 (note id), duration], [step 2 (note id), duration], etc. At the end of this, I can listen to my sequences and hear the beauty of the thing I’d sketched out on the paper, but it doesn’t necessarily feel intuitive, and the “sketch” is somehow separated from the process of using the module.

What do people generally do to make this a more intuitive process, and to stay in the 101 the whole time?



Sounds familiar, this type of composing is the way I did in the mid eighties.
Before Atari and Cubase…
I had to count when programming an 8 track sequencer.
1 bar was 8 steps mostly, Copy, Paste, in the end I got lost counting LOL
So when using a piece of paper and writing things down I could work a bit easier.
Same thing with the ER101, lots of counting when you want to make a composition the way it’s in your head instead of programming loose and see where it takes you.

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Two main different ways.

  1. create a load of steps (say 4, 8, 16 etc), all the same and then edit notes, lengths, durations etc, while it is playing.
  2. create 1 step, get it to do what i want, add a step and make that do it, and another step and so on.

In either scenario I don’t worry too much about length (in beats / bars etc) until I have something that I like, I then check the length and tweak it in if necessary to something that works better with other sources. I quite like the wonky length loops but it really depends on what else you have happening.

I really like the idea that with modular sequencers it is like you are moulding clay or doing sonic sculpture, rather than a more classical approach to composition. That being said I don’t think it really is that different, when you really think about it.

Another thing I love to do is, make a load of identical notes and then just get jiggy with the maths functions on the whole pattern, randomise and keep going until something good pops up, shorter length patterns tend to yield better results for me this way.


Thanks - yeah; I find that the paper works for me.

Thanks, this is the type of thing I am curious about and your fearlessness about it gives me hope that there are interesting areas to explore that go outside of traditional sequencers into, as you say, a sculptural territory.

w/r/t approaches: I want to think that it’s not that different, and certainly when I think about it it’s no different, but when it comes to the process of actually building a composition, I do think the process couldn’t be more different. I’m mainly comparing this to either a piano roll or a realtime note editor in which the sequence is quantized based on user input, etc.

For 4-6 voice polyphonic chords, here’s a workflow that works for me. I create 1 step per chord on tracks 1-3 using both CV-A and CV-B outputs. I then assign each step to a part on the ER-102 with the start, end , and reset to set to the same step. Now part 1 represents the first chord, part 2 the second, etc. Next I use track 4 on the 101 to sequence the part selection on the 102. I then have the option of using the gate outputs from tracks 1-3 or track 4 to trigger envelopes, etc.

I like this “modularizing your modular sequencer” approach because it’s much easier to set duration for each chord on track 4 then having to synchronize it individually on the other tracks.


using the 102 is cheating until I can afford one :joy:

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I still wish more people would step up to make videos featuring the ER-101/102 so we could see other ideas on workflow.


Yeah, that would be great! For me personally I have to resist the urge to spend my time talking about making music (via videos, forums, etc) instead of actually making music. Failing at that currently :slight_smile:

Just a few that pop up for me every now and then…

Divide and Conquer
Another possibility which is the complement of @iPassenger’s post, is to take advantage of those operations that do not change the (musical) length of a pattern (and therefore the track also).

  1. Choose your meter and PPQN. Suppose you decided to use 4/4 and 24PPQN.
  2. Whenever you create a new pattern always fill it with 4 steps each with duration and gate values of 24.
  3. Use the INSERT>SPLT function to split steps into smaller divisions.
  4. Use the hold DURATION + turn RIGHT KNOB to shift the boundaries between steps (aka shuffle, aka steal pulses from a neighboring step).
  5. Create longer notes exclusively by tying existing steps together (set GATE = DURATION+1).

Use musical scaffolding
Don’t work in silence. Set up one track (say track 4) with a basic looping pattern to give you a backing groove or even just a simple metronome with a down beat. Work in HOLD mode and incrementally COMMIT new content, using the backing track to confirm by ear whether you have everything lined up. This method makes for nice surprises when you make a mistake. The key to this method is to remove the scaffolding when you are done! This helps create a sense of wonder in the listener because with the scaffolding removed it is no longer clear how you came up with the relationships in the composition.

The previous method scales better with the ER-102 because you can set the RESET TO step and thus not have to wait until the end to hear your changes every time you COMMIT (assuming you are always adding new material to the end which is not necessary of course). The workaround for a standalone ER-101 is to designate one snapshot (the sandbox) for working out one pattern at a time. Then when you are ready, COPY/INSERT the pattern to the final snapshot that is holding your entire composition.


RE D&C: All great suggestions.

The scaffolding idea is a good one, and lends itself well into the realtime use cases I’m curious about. I don’t have much experience with sequencers like this aside from what I’ve built in my own software, and that wasn’t quite the same w/r/t editing implementations. I’d thought about the backbeat thing at first but wasn’t sure if it was really viable. I suppose you could create things off of an initial backbeat, and then update the backbeat when you are done to make the groove pop a bit more.

Sandboxing: I read about a technique like this w/ the HOLD mode in the manual, but I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it. It also seems like there are a lot of cases in which it is recommended that parts of patterns, patterns themselves, or snapshots are used as scratchpads for working out sequencing and/or ideas. Can you illuminate the difference between using the HOLD mode and this technique, as for what you would normally expect the user to do? I.E., which situations do you use one method vs. the other?

If I understand your question, I don’t think there is a difference. HOLD mode has multiple uses, one of which could be sandboxing. In other words, you can sandbox using the HOLD mode, or, you can sandbox using COPY/INSERT between snapshots, or, you can even sandbox using loop points.


I should also re-iterate, that the ER-101 is designed to consciously, blatantly and unabashedly leverage the user’s musical memory. :wink: Flexing your musical memory yields wonderful benefits for when playing live.

Warning, addendum and tangent follows:

One of my key influences to this idea of building an interface that explicity leverages a (non-trivial) skill that the user possesses is this work by Deb Roy on speech recognition:


It was the first time that I explicitly saw the value in not providing “too much” in the way of assistance to the user. The potential for becoming highly skilled when using Roy’s system is much much greater than for example a system that provides a full text transcript.


Have completely forgotten about SPLIT! Thanks :slight_smile:

Yes and again yes
Vids are always welcome.

How do people use loop points?

I understand that loop points define what portion of a snapshot is played, and that you can place an in point on one pattern, with an out point on another. But originally I had simply wanted to switch directly between pattern 1 and 2 in a given snapshot. The thing is - it seems that without loop points defined, I cannot get pattern 1 to simply loop. Instead, it moves to pattern 2.

  1. How does one accomplish this switching? e.g., how does one quickly shift from having the loop points defined for the entirety of pattern 1, then switch them to selecting the entirety of pattern 2?
  2. Is there a way to use hold mode for this?
  3. Can you define the amount of time that the ER-101 waits before switching between patterns (sort of like you would in Ableton with launching clips at a specific beat quantization/division)?

Thanks for any pointers!

What you’re describing is done perfectly using the ER102 ‘parts’ function - you can’t do it on a lone ER101.

The ‘hold’ function would let you change the loop points and then commit them and it would commit at the end of a pattern with your existing loop and new loop as long as they were both defined as discrete patterns & they were adjacent to each other. If you define loops that scan over several patterns it all breaks down I think.


I have updated my original question. I finally watched the (amazingly few available) videos of people using the er-101 live, and gathered some intuition about HOLD mode. I went back and consulted the manual, and sure enough, plain as day, there is some information in there regarding the setup of a change to the current pattern playing back (including the statement that this is not a traditional pattern sequencer). I am going to take some time to explore HOLD mode as a way to get at the functionality described, which I think is std practice w/ the 101.

It’s taken me a long time to wrap my head around this thing even though I’ve played shows with it.

I keep finding myself overwriting snapshots, because I find that once I re-patch to different oscillators (sometimes calibrated to different octaves/voicing), many of my original goals in the sequencing of snapshots don’t apply. Can anyone comment on that point? It seems that it would be silly to keep a bunch of snapshots around over time, but maybe there are very interesting use cases. One of those use cases (I would imagine) is having some pattern data that you like, and modifying it on the fly w/ HOLD mode and MATH ops.

Thanks all!

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hi does anyone know if I can perform “math” functions directly to a looped set of notes?

Not unless the looped set of stes is in some other group that you can apply the math transform to. If it is a pattern, you could apply the math transform to the pattern. Or you could add it to a group using the ER-102 and then apply the transform to the group. But afaik, loops do not meaningfully group a set of steps together - it’s just a marker at the beginning and end steps.