Syntheogen Guide

Loops & Tracks

Updated March 27, 2014

Loops & loop elements

The most important musical structure in Syntheogen is the loop, a short passage that is repeated to make up parts of a song. Loops in Syntheogen are composed of loop elements, each of which references a track. Loop elements are comparable to the channels in an audio mixer, and each element's track acts as the input to that channel. Elements have distinct level and pan settings, along with mute and solo controls that allow them to be silenced or played in isolation. A loop may have many elements or none, though a loop with no elements will obviously produce no sound.

Loops are placed in series and repeated to construct songs. A loop may appear more than once in a given song; it may even be played in several different songs.

Parts diagram
SONG dialog SONG dialog LOOP MIX dialog LOOP MIX dialog LOOP STEPS dialog LOOP STEPS dialog TRACK SYNTH dialog TRACK EFFECTS dialog TRACK SYNTH dialog TRACK EFFECTS dialog

Tracks, patterns, & patches

A track in Syntheogen consists of a pattern and a patch.

A pattern is a fixed length containing a sequence of steps. Each step has a position in the pattern, a length, and a value that determines its pitch. The pattern is iterated as its track is played; when the pattern end is reached, if the track is still playing, it returns to the start of the pattern and begins again.

Just as sheet music has a key signature associating positions on the staff with particular notes, a pattern in Syntheogen contains scale information that associates step values with particular pitches. This information includes the scale tonic, which specifies the pattern's vertical position within the chromatic scale, and the scale type, which determines the pitch distance between pattern rows, and thus the tonality of the pattern. Changing the tonic transposes the entire pattern; changing the type modulates between major and minor keys, or between various modes. Syntheogen supports common scales like diatonic major and minor, pentatonic major and minor, and modes like Dorian and Mixolydian.

A patch is a collection of settings that determine the character of sounds produced by the track; these are divided into synthesis settings and effect settings. Synthesis settings control the initial generation of sounds; they include the general choice of synthesis method, whether subtractive or sampling, and the many detailed parameters used to configure that method. Effect settings determine how the generated sound is processed, if at all. The combined output of a loop can also be processed with effects, but loop effects are not considered to be part of any patch.

A given pattern cannot be separated from its corresponding patch; when a new track is created, however, pattern or patch data can be copied from existing tracks. Synthesis settings can also be copied between tracks after they are created, as can effects.

Just as loops can be reused in the same or different songs, tracks can be reused in different loops, which is helpful when building larger compositions. After associating a track with several loops, changing that track causes all referencing loops to change as well.

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