Parasites

Disturbing hacks for Mutable Instruments modules

 

Frames Parasite

Frames Parasite is an alternative firmware for Frames. It adds the following main features to the module:

All features of the official firmware are left untouched and still accessible.

Download and install

Click on the button to download the latest stable version, ready to play to your module:

Download latest version (v1.21)

Once you downloaded the file, unzip it and follow the Firmware update procedure in the official manual.

Calibration

It is crucial to calibrate your module after updating. To calibrate, unplug all cables from Frames and hold the Del button while the module is powering up.

Donate

This firmware is entirely free, but it is the result of months of work; if want to support it, please consider donating, even a small amount, for the past and the upcoming efforts.


Documentation

For full documentation, please see the user manual of Frames. I present hereafter only the features added/modified. In particular, all features concerning keyframer mode (the main mode from the stock firmware) are intact. Quad sequencer and LFO modes have been slightly improved.

Mode-switching interface

Frames Parasite can be used in five different modes, each being a completely different function. To switch between modes, press the two buttons simultaneously. The frame knob blink quickly. Move one of the five knobs to select a feature:

Press any button to enter the selected mode.

Note: the keyframer and the two sequencer modes share the same data. This means that the keyframes you program will become sequences in the sequencer modes, and vice versa.

Autoplay keyframer submode

It is accessed in the mode-switching interface by turning the Frame knob all the way clockwise. The LED turns red.

In this mode, the big Frame knob does not scan through the animation; it is just used to select a frame. The Frame CV input determines the speed at which the animation is looped: at 0V, the animation is stalled; positive voltage plays the animation forward, the higher the voltage the higher the frequency; negative voltage plays the animation backwards.

Warning: Don't forget to calibrate the module after an update. Otherwise the autoplay speed will not exactly reach zero.
A couple demos:

Une vidéo publiée par @mqtthiqs le

Une vidéo publiée par @mqtthiqs le

Euclidean sequencer mode

This mode uses each channel of Frames as an independent Euclidean sequencer that emits triggers, envelopes or even fully enveloped and mixed sound, depending on the inputs and outputs.

Introduction to Euclidean rhythms

An Euclidean sequencer is a trigger sequencer that generates rhythms based on filling as evenly as possible n pulses on a pattern of length m (with m > n). It will distribute the notes equally, leaving as few "holes" as possible. The parameters to generate such a rhythm are Length (the total number m of steps of the sequence), Fill (n, the number of notes in the sequence), and Rotate (which shifts/rotates the whole sequence). For instance, if Length=8, Fill=5 and Rotate=0, you might get the pattern:

xx.xx.x.
If you then set Rotate to 1, the pattern gets shifted to the right:
.xx.xx.x

Function Description

To enter Euclidean sequencer mode, press the two buttons simultaneously, turn Knob 4 and press a button again.

Feed a steady clock to the Frame CV input, and turn the attenuverter all the way up. By default, the Length of the pattern is 16. Each Knob (1-4) controls the Fill, from 0 to the Length. The Frame knob controls the Rotation between the four channel. It will set the rotation of all channels and go through each possibility, so it will be quite sensitive to small changes.

Long-press on the Add button to set the Length parameter of each channel with Knob 1-4. It ranges from 1 to 16 steps. Exit the Length-setting mode by pressing any button.

By default, each time a step is activated, Frames emit a short trigger to the corresponding output. It is actually a short exponentially decaying envelope with very fast attack. Long-press on the Del button to change the shape of this envelope: Knob 1-4 will range from a short burst (CCW) to a long, decaying envelope (noon) to a triangle (CW).

Note: These shapes are borrowed from Streams.
Finally, the Fr.Step output and the keyframe LED output a complex combination of each channel's state; it can be used to modulate the incoming drum sounds or step a sequencer.

Patch Tip: Feed four oscillators set to different timbre and pitches to the four input of Frames. Set up Euclidean rhythms on the four channels, and set the envelopes to various values in the first half of the knobs. Monitor the Mix output. Voilà! Instant 4-voices drum machine.

Now take out one of the input set the +10V switch, and feed the output of this channel (which is now an envelope going from 10V ot 0V) to one parameter of an oscillator, for instance the DPO's Fold CV input.

Finally, take the Fr.Step output to the FM input of this oscillator, and adjust the FM attenuator. You'll get a two-notes sequence, varying each time the Euclidean patterns are modified.

Shift register sequencer mode

This mode is a generative, hands-on sequencer for generating complex melodic patterns, thanks to the idea of a shift register. It is similar to the Synthtech E102, but acts only on the recorded step sequence, and with some randomness, making it also related to Turing Machine and Branches.

Introduction

To enter Shift register sequencer mode, press the two buttons simultaneously, turn Knob 2 and press a button again., long-press on the Add button.

To explore it, program a pitch sequence by using Knob 1, the Frame knob and the Add/Del buttons as in Keyframer or Sequencer modes (but on Channel 1 only). Then, input a steady clock in the Frame CV input and turn the Modulation attenuator fully CW.

Put Knobs (2-4) and the Frame knob at noon. Now, feed the four channel outputs to your favorite oscillators' 1V/Oct, and let the Fr.Step output trigger your envelopes. You should hear your sequence from each oscillator, but each time shifted by one step. Turn Knob 4 CCW: the order of the notes in the sequence will be more and more randomized.

Now turn Knob 2 fully CW: the last 8 notes repeat in a loop: you just froze the sequence. Turn the Frame knob to adjust the length of this loop. Turn Knob 2 back down to 2 o'clock, and put Knob 3 to 2 o'clock. You just transformed your initial sequence into a complex net of arpeggios. Now slowly turn Knob 4 CW. The sequence will get more and more random. Finally, put Knob 2 and 3 around 10 o'clock: now most clock tick will be ignored randomly, making the sequencer step non-deterministically.

Function description

In this mode, only the sequence on Channel 1 is used. The other channels are ignored (but they are still in memory for when you exit the mode).

Knob 1 and the big Frame knob allow you to edit the sequence as usual.

Note: The VCAs that control the gain of each channels are a bit unstable: they are known to drift with temperature changes. Therefore, for tuned, melodic use, you should always use a quantizer, and/or reduce the range of the offset to reduce the possible drift. There is a jumper on the back of Frames that can be set to +5V instead of +10V. Alternatively, you can feed a constant reference voltage to the All input.
When the Modulation attenuator is CW, a trigger in the the Frame CV input will make the clock tick. At each clock tick, two independent events can happen: When either of these events occur, the Fr. Step ouput emits a short trigger.
Tip: With both clock divider knobs at mutually prime values (4 and 5 for instance), you will get interesting rhythms out of the Fr. Step output, perfect to trigger envelopes.

There are two last small twist. First, when Channel 4 is shifted back on channel 1, some "error" can occur in the copy. The amount of error is controlled by Knob 4: at noon and below, there is no error and the shift register repeats perfectly; fully CW, the value copied back to channel 1 is completely random.

Tip: With Knob 2 fully CW (no sequence step), and by turning randomness up and back down, you can capture little snippets of randomness, much like the Turing Machine.
Second, the sequence order can be shuffled with Knob 4. At noon and beyond, no shuffling appears and the sequence is played in order. Fully CCW, values of the sequence are completely random.

To sum up:

Preset memory

Frames Parasite proposes five memory slots to save the state of the module (the mode you are in, your programmed sequence, additional parameters) in persistent memory: the main slot that is loaded on startup, plus 4 user slots. The startup slot is associated to the Frame knob, and the 4 user slots to Knobs 1-4.

To save the current state of the module, press the Add button for more than 3s. The LEDs will indicate the current slot (no LEDs lit means the main slot). To change slot, turn the corresponding button. Press Add again to confirm, or Del to cancel the save.

To load a recorded state, press the Del button for more than 3s. Turn the knob corresponding to the memory slot. Turning the Frame knob will select clearing the current settings and resetting the module to its initial state. Press Del again to confirm, or Add to cancel the save.

Miscellaneous

Keyframer mode

Quad sequencer mode

Quad LFO mode

Changelog

Version Date Changes
v1.21 2016-01-31
  • Keyframe warparound: before the first frame and after the last frame, the big knob now interpolates between the first and the last frame.
  • Autoplay keyframer submode: plays the animation by itself, at a given rate (set by CV).
v1.1 2015-09-26 Euclidean sequencer:
  • Fixed click when envelopes were retriggered before the end of their course. Envelopes are now continuous.
  • Envelopes times have been tweaked (longer decays, shorter bursts at both ends).
  • Sequence length and envelope shape are now saved to pervasive storage and restored on load.
  • Fixed a bug that misaligned the channels when changing the length.
Shift Register sequencer:
  • Changed the knob response to exponential for all the random parameters. Makes it easier to dial in the center values.
v1.0 2015-08-14 New Euclidean sequencer mode, improved shift register sequencer mode, four preset memory, new user interface to switch mode.
v0.2 2015-03-23 New shift register sequencer mode, announced here.
v0.1 2015-03-21 Initial release featuring the sequencer sub-mode allowing to edit the values of the current step, announced here.