KARMA 2: Rhythm group overview

Note: this independently contributed article has not yet been reviewed for accuracy by Karma-Lab.


This article is under construction. Pardon the dust.

Rough notes for now

It pays to make sure you really understand how the Rhythm group works because it's very common for the number of steps played in the patterns for the Index group, Cluster group, Duration group, Velocity group, CCs group, and WaveSeq group to be "locked" to the number of steps generated by the Rhythm Pattern in the Rhythm group. Any time you cannot figure out why the other listed groups are only stepping through part of their total defined pattern length, or are stepping through the end of their defined length and looping back to the first step in the pattern and playing a few more steps, then restarting the cycle all over again, the Rhythm group is the culprit for this behavior.


How the Rhythm Pattern length is affected by the Phase length

When a new Phase starts, the Rhythm Pattern for that Phase might start playing from first step of the Rhythm Pattern or it might continue from the step it ended on during the previous run-through of the same Phase. This behavior is controlled by the pr (Pattern Restart) row of the Phase Pattern in the Phase group.

How much of the Rhythm pattern will actually play out by the time the Phase ends is dependent on several factors we'll describe in a moment. Remember, a Phase always has a fixed length and will end when that length is reached. If the total Rhythm Pattern would run longer than that defined length of the Phase, the Rhythm Pattern will be cut short at the end of the Phase. Likewise, if the total Rhythm Pattern runs shorter than the defined length of the Phase, the Rhythm Pattern will play through its last step and then loop back to its start and play a few more steps until the end of the Phase is reached.

The number of Rhythm Events often differs in each play-through of the same Phase

The actual rhythm produced by all those highlighted cells in the pattern grid can be difficult to visualize from looking at the grid, especially since it is very common to have many Random Ties between some of the note values, which usually makes the rhythmic different on each play-through of the Rhythm Pattern within the Phase. For example, there might be ten Rhythm Events (ten notes of varying duration) in one play-through, sixteen Rhythm Events in the next play-through, 14 Rhythm Events in the next play-through, etc.

In other words, a Rhythm Pattern has a number of steps (columns) - up to 32 of them, but only a certain number of sequential steps may be programmed to be used (for example, the first 8 or 16 steps). Out of those Rhythm Pattern Steps, due to the inclusion of Random and Absolute Ties, differing numbers of Rhythm Events may be produced within the current Phase Pattern Step depending on how the cells in each of the Rhythm Pattern columns are programmed. This helps to explain why so many pattern grids that you're looking at in a GE don't seem to play through the full number of visible steps in the pattern grid, and even worse, they might sometimes play a different number of visible steps on each play-through of the same phase.

What is often happening in these cases is that the number of steps played in a pattern grid are matching the total number of "Rhythm Events" in this play-through of the phase (because every pattern grid can optionally be "locked" to the Rhythm Pattern, and it's musically useful to do this in many GEs). There is a parameter in many of the other groups named Pattern Advance Mode that allows that group's pattern grid to use the Rhythm Pattern's index to advance through the other pattern, thereby essentially locking that pattern to what the Rhythm Pattern is doing. For example, if the Rhythm Pattern ties two columns together and thereby skips a step, so can the Velocity Pattern, thereby keeping the relationship between the loud and soft velocities and their place within the overall phrase being generated. For example:

  • If the Phase is defined to use a 4/4 time signature as the length of the Phase, and if the corresponding Rhythm Pattern for that Phase is defined to play sixteen 16th notes without any ties, then there will be exactly 16 Rhythm Steps in the Phase (and other GE groups that are "locked" to the Rhythm Pattern will walk through 16 steps in their own pattern too, even if they have more. If they have less, the Rhythm Pattern Index will be wrapped around to stay within the shorter pattern).
  • But if the Rhythm Pattern is defined to play four quarter notes without any ties, then there will be exactly 4 Rhythm Steps in the Phase (and other GE groups that are "locked" to the Rhythm Pattern will walk through only 4 steps of their own pattern too).
  • Things can get really tricky when the Rhythm Pattern is using a mix of different note values and various absolute or random ties between some of those note values. Especially with the random ties occurring only some of the time, there might be a different number of Rhythm Steps in a phase every time the phase is played by the Phase Pattern!
      • Example One: The Rhythm Pattern is a row of sixteen 16th notes but there are also some random ties between these 16th notes. Assume that every other 16th note is tied to the previous 16th note by a random tie, so if all of the random ties are actually used during a run-through of the Rhythm Pattern, you effectively have eight 8th notes being played by the Rhythm Pattern. In this case, there will be exactly 8 Rhythm Steps in the Phase (and therefore other GE groups that are "locked" to the Rhythm Pattern will walk through 8 steps of their own pattern) - and, more importantly from a musical standpoint, they will also skip every other step in their own pattern's, the same way that the Rhythm Pattern does. Technically, the Rhythm Pattern's index is used to track the other locked patterns. What does this mean in a practical application? Say that you had a Velocity Pattern of {0 -20 -20 -20}, so that with a straight 16th note Rhythm Pattern the note on the quarter-note downbeat was louder, while the others were softer. If you then used the Random Ties in the above example to produce a string of 8th notes (Random Factor to -99), the following would result:
          • Velocity Pattern: Independent The Velocity Pattern moves through its values in a sequential fashion. You will always have a loud note followed by 3 softer notes, regardless of what the rhythm is. If only 13 Rhythm Events are generated, then only the first 13 sequential steps of the Velocity Pattern would be used. (Technically, this is a setting of Velocity: Advance Mode = Independent - 1 step per Rhythm Event.)
      • Velocity Pattern: Locked to Rhythm Pattern The note on the downbeat will still be loud, and all the others will be softer, even though some of the Rhythm Events will be missing. Whenever the Rhythm Pattern skips a step due to a tie, so does the Velocity Pattern. If only 13 Rhythm Events are generated in a Phase, only 13 steps of the Velocity Pattern will be used, but they will be the same 13 columns (indexes) as the Rhythm Pattern. (Technically, this is a setting of Velocity: Advance Mode = Lock (R) - Lock to Rhythm Pattern & Ties.)
  • Example Two: The Rhythm Pattern started out as a row of sixteen 16th notes and the corresponding Phase is defined as a 4/4 time signature, so the sixteen Rhythm Steps in the Phase fit the 4/4 time signature perfectly. Now assume that you've changed the first three of those 16th notes (the first three steps) in the pattern grid to be 8th notes instead. This sounds similar to Example One above, but it's actually quite different because what you now have are three 8th notes followed by thirteen 16th notes in the Rhythm Pattern. In this case, you have 16 Rhythm Steps, but the total length of all 16 steps is longer than will fit in a 4/4 time signature length for the phase. Only the first 13 steps of the Rhythm Pattern will fit the time signature (three 8th notes followed by ten 16th notes equals a full measure in 4/4 time), so the Rhythm pattern can only play through its 13th Rhythm Step before the Phase ends. Rhythm Steps 14, 15, and 16 are never played.

The point of all this is to illustrate that the total length of a Phase (defined in the Length Mode parameter of the Phase group) never changes from its defined value, but the total number of Rhythm Events can change quite drastically depending on how you define the Rhythm Pattern in the Rhythm group or depending on how many Random Ties are used in the Rhythm Pattern. This is important because in many GEs, you use the Rhythm Pattern to drive the steps in other GE groups, such as the Index or Cluster group. If there are only 6 Rhythm Steps in one play-through of a phase, and the Index group is locked to the Rhythm Pattern, then the Index group would also play only six steps of its Index Pattern during that entire Phase (but they would skip the same columns that the Rhythm Pattern skipped). If in the next play-through of that same Phase, there ends up being 13 Rhythm Steps, then the Index group would also play the corresponding 13 steps of its Index Pattern during that Phase. This results in a different number of note pitches played from the Note Series during the first play-through of the Phase versus the second play-through of that same Phase.

Yes, this is a lot to chew on for right now, but it is a common situation you'll see in many GEs and it can be confusing to figure out why a different total number of note pitches are being played in each run-through of the same Phase.

Add a "how randomization works" section similar to the format used in the Drums group, only talking about random ties instead of rests

More coming soon

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