Are you still looking for the perfect sequencer, the one that allows you to effortlessly express any musical idea?
Here comes yet another gimmick module challenging you to integrate its way of thinking to your song instead.
Darius is a 8-step sequencer where each node branches into two possible paths, creating repeating patterns that start similarly and resolve differently. Takes a whole 32hp of space to fit all its knobs.
To get started immediately, patch in a clock to the Forward⯈ input, and push the Randomize CV button.
Patch the CV output to an oscillator, and listen what happens.
The module's LCD will help you figure out what's going on when you grope at the auspicuous-looking array of knobs.
Darius is comprised of 8 steps and 36 nodes. The first step has one node, the second step has two nodes, and so on.
Going Forward⯈ on all steps but the last can lead you to the node to the top-right of the current one, or that to the bottom-right, depending on the Route probability. On the last step, it leads back to the first one.
On each node, you will find these jacks and knobs:
If someone tells you they're painstakingly programming Darius manually, they're lying. Everyone justs uses the Randomize buttons a few hundred times until they come up with a masterpiece.
On the top-left of the module, you can control progress through the steps.
⯇Back, Up⯅, Down⯆, Forward⯈: Takes a step in the corresponding direction when it receives a gate or a trigger.
Stepping Up⯅ or Down⯆ advances a step in the corresponding direction, it's used to force the module to take a certain route, but can't be used to move within the same step. They move diagonally only.
Going ⯇Back remembers the path you've taken, and does nothing if you're already on the first step.
Step: The manual button below Forward⯈ works even if the module isn't running.
Run: Starts and stops accepting directional inputs.
Reset: Go back to the first node. After a reset, step signals are ignored for a millisecond. Doing that is a best practice to avoid a lot of problems.
Those step inputs are generally connected to the corresponding output of a clock, but anything that sends gates or triggers will work. Triggers are accepted polyphonically, which is useful for creative self-patching via a poly merge module.
Next to the step inputs are Step Range Knobs, to choose on which step to start and end the pattern, from 1 to 8 steps in total.
To the right of those knobs, the Randomize Buttons allow you to randomize CV and routes separately from other parameters. If you don't like the results, you can use
Edit > Undo.
If you send triggers to the directional inputs at the exact same time (that is, the exact same sample), only one will be accepted.
The priority, from most to least important, is Forward⯈ > Up⯅ > Down⯆ > ⯇Back.
If you want a different priority, you can patch logic gates with modules such as Count Modula's to do that. If the priorities aren't working as expected, do not forget that every single cable a signal travels through adds at least one sample of delay, so your triggers might not be actually simultaneous.
You just need the Forward⯈ input, really. Ignore the others, I just added them because some nerds wouldn't stop bothering me about it on Github.
Most knobs show you their value on the LCD. It's particularly useful for the CV knobs.
CV/Quantize Rocker Switch: Whether to output precise CV (best for modulation), or quantized V/OCT CV (Twelve-tone Equal Temperament only - the usual Western tuning system).
-5V~5V/0V~10V Rocker Switch: In CV mode, selects if the knobs output voltage from 0V to 10V, or -5V to 5V.
In quantized mode, removes 1 octave from the output.
Min Knob and Max Knob: Limit the CV output range. The words are only suggestions, if the Min is larger than the Max, it just flips in which direction the CV knobs operate.
Key Knob and Scale Knob: Select which notes to quantize to when in Quantize mode. The available scales are the same as in the QQQQ modules.
Poly External Scale: Accepts the scale in the Poly External Scale format, compatible with my other modules. You can use Darius as an arpeggiator by sending it a chord rather than a full scale!
Slide: The fun knob.
Global Gate: Passes through the gate or step inputs received on any of the directional inputs, or sends a short trig if operated via the manual Step button. It's useful if are controlling Darius using more than one directional input.
CV: The main output.
The plural of Darius is Darii.
On the bottom-right, next to my signature, are two inputs used to fix the random seed, if you want Darius to be a bit more deterministic. If this section makes no sense, it's entirely safe to ignore.
Random: When the input is not patched, or when it's receiving 0V, Darius flips the coin using its own random seed. But when it's receiving a seed, the coin flips become deterministic - it will take the same route every time, until the seed changes.
Try out alternating, every bar, sending it an arbitrary fixed voltage such as 4.58V then 0V, to create call-and-response phrases where the first part is always the same.
1st/All Rocker Switch: Decides whether to plan out the route on the first step, or whether to flip the coin at last moment.
In 1st mode, going back and forth repeatedly results in the same path (unless you alter the routes), until the first node is reached from step 8 (it won't refresh it if you reach the first node from stepping back). In effect, it acts as a sample and hold for the Random input at the exact moment the first node is left.
Via the right-click menu, you can load various presets for the CV and routes, and copy/paste Portable Sequences.
When you Copy a sequence, you copy one random possible path Darius could take (or the current path it will take if there is an external Random seed).
When you Paste a sequence, you paste its first 8 notes to each step, rather than each node: each node of a same step will receive the same note for you to use as a new point of departure.
After pasting, be sure to set the Min and Max knobs to the maximum range to obtain accurate data.
Darius is named after Taito's eponymous shoot-em-up arcade game series, known for its surreal visuals, its fish-themed enemies, its unique soundtracks, its multi-display arcade cabinets, and for allowing the player to select their route through the game via a branching map that inspired the module's main gimmick.
A silhouette of King Fossil adorns the module.
Darius has a simple panel, easily understood features, and can never be truly tamed - by design. It is meant to be easy to learn, surprising to use, and impossible to master. It can be used as a melody sequencer, an arpeggiator, a source of modulation, a drum sequencer, even as a worthless waveshaper.
Many of its apparent limitations can be overcome with a bit of creative patching.