Live Improvisation with the 101/102

I’ve been dreaming about getting into modular for years, and finally got the chance to get my first modules at the beginning of the year. My current sequencer is the Metropolis, but I’ve always been very interest in the ER101/102. The main purpose of my modular will eventually be to perform live, mostly improvisational type stuff. Does anyone have any videos or tips for using the 101/102 in that way?

My first thought was to get a second, more immediate, sequencer similar to the metropolis (but maybe smaller) and use that to get something going, then bring in the 101.

Any other ideas or suggestions?

1 Like

I haven’t performed live with the 102 as I’ve only recently got my copy. I’d love to hear more on this topic. My sense is the 101/2 takes some planning and practice but the power and possibilities are unparalleled. I’ve found the Addac manual gates/latches modules useful for playing with 102 groups and MN pressure points for 102 parts. I’m still looking for ways to make the latter more compact.

I have only ever played out with the ER-101/102 combo. I don’t know that I could do it without. Using parts with a fairly consistent reset signal basically means that you can never fall off the horse. You can go absolutely nuts (well, do it smartly) on a part and then get snapped back into place. Or make multiple copies of the same patterns, live modulate and then go back to the original. I also like using a channel to modulate pitch (quantized) on the ER-102’s slope section. Basically creating a subsequence. And then you can modulate that instead. A second sequencer would work great for this, too. I’d also highly recommend you look at the config.ini in detail to understand all the different modes and uses you can get out of the gates and CV inputs. I’ve decoupled mine so that I can get more options and just use either smart sequencing or external switches for the CV.

1 Like

Thanks for that, lots of good info and I can’t wait to get my 101/102 combo now!

How do you go about starting your sequencing for a set? Any tips for going from zero to something interesting quickly?

1 Like

Here’s a relatively simple starting point. I use a 24 PPQN clock in because of how easy it divides up…

Start a pattern that’s 8 1/8th notes (Step=12) with no gate and all the same note. Add gates to the rhythmic spots you want and change a couple of the notes so there’s some variation. I’d go for one on an odd number and one on an even number. Now put all the odd steps into group 1 and all the even steps into group 2. I’d tie group 1 to the X gate and group 2 to the Y gate. Modulate to your heart’s content, though I would probably avoid playing with step length unless you’re applying positive to one side and negative to the other (make the pattern swing).

I highly recommend using CV-B outputs because changing those can make a sequence sound entirely different. When using slope to modulate, if your goal is to stay relatively musical, I’d recommend setting pitch CV to be pre-lookup and step CV to be post-lookup. For a more advanced technique, you can use the slope inputs to modulate by step one measure/pattern at a time. Or whatever rhythm you’d like. It can also be fun to select a pattern or group (esp if your loop has multiple patterns) and hit the Invert and Rotate buttons while the sequence is running.

For live use, I typically have 10-20 parts setup so you can start on one and then move to the next. Bu the next can be the same base sequence in different sets of groups so the modulation options are different. It makes for something that sounds different but very cohesive and shares motifs.

On last comment, using scale masks if very helpful when modulating pitch. You can stay in a key. Hope this helps!

EDIT: In rereading your original purpose, I don’t know that this quite goes from zero to a patch or would make sense to create a live setting, so I apologize if that’s your true intent. However, this is really a framework to work with that you could always pull up as a template and build from.


Wow, that’s super helpful! Exactly what I was hoping for, thanks! That sounds like a great starting point, and from there I just need to play with it more to see what I like and what works. I’m starting to learn that performing live improvisation doesn’t have to be from a totally blank slate, having some framework to start with can be massively helpful.

Thanks again for the tips, you’ve been a tremendous help!