MIDI control over patterns

What is the problem?

MIDI control over patterns is very important in complex setups, when player is trying to automate things, making his/her devices “speak” with each other. It’s especially important for live performances when player often doesn’t even have a spare second or free hands while playing a keyboard, a guitar or whatnot. Still, there’s a need to switch from one musical part to another or introduce some movement in play’s arrangement, but the device isn’t capable of “listening” to external gear when you want to navigate the grid.

What do you want to achieve?

For example, there are high chances you’d want to switch to a next/previous pattern in a row/column (going up/down/left/right) and have a PC message for each pattern (8 × 16 = 128, so we it’s the perfect match to use it with PC). Such ability is also the must for multi-instrumentalists of all sorts, if your hands are busy and you want your arrangement to progress.

Also, it’s important to have different set of CC messages for an immediate switch, so the tracks could continue their play in the middle of their sequences, so a player could add a spark any time without waiting for another bar.

And, last but not least, the possibility to get back to a previously played pattern shouldn’t be forgotten (also both delayed and immediate). There’re many reasons player might want to do this, but if we’re sticking to multi-instrumental example, player could just program his MIDI controller to switch to some pattern on a footswitch press and get back to the previous pattern on release.

@Mitch said:

Maybe a CC could nudge the pattern to the left or the right as mentioned?

It would be great! And, I guess, it also would be great to have messages to navigate up and down too, in those cases when a pattern progression is non-linear from left to right and has its own variations. Just for example, instead of muting some tracks manually, it could be a pattern on the next row, only with this one tweak in it.
While asking for diagonal switches would be a non-usable insane, stacking switches for the next bar could be immensely useful too (like sending double “right” or something to jump over some progression parts).

I like a menu option for PC change: “Immediate” or “End of Sequence” OR hold down shift when sending PC changes to do immediate changes.

Even though, at first, any implementation would be a really, really great to have, having this hidden in the menu would force player to stick only to only one way of switching until he or she dives into menu again while both options, “immediate” and “end of sequence” may be very usable during performance at the same time. If it’s okay and not too hard to duplicate CC value just with this difference, purely for the sake of convenience, then it would be a real pleasure to control. As for the menu option, it could override the action for one of them, so user won’t have a need to reprogram controller/setup differently for each live session (like CC1 0-127: “end of sequence switch (default) or immediate” and CC2 0-127: “immediate”). Having shift button could have a use too, but if it’s possible to implement a feature without it, it may be more convenient for some. For example, if we talk about footswitches here, player must seat to use both feet this way.

Play also needs a setting for the MIDI channel it receives PC messages from.


Are there any workarounds?


Any links to related discussions?

Ticket: NKT-CFLMG-902
Midi control over variatons
Midi control over FXs/perform


Thank you for contributing this wish! I can’t speak about its technical feasibility, but let me suggest some changes to make it easier to discuss and, eventually, vote.

  • Remove the details that are specific about you and/or change first person sentences, to turn a personal wish into a community wish. Your own experience is very important to understand better the wish, but you can add it as a comment, separate from the wish.
  • There are many good reasons to control patterns etc via MIDI. Being a multi-instrumentalist live performer is one of them but not the only one. Someone might be interested in sequencing crazy stuff from i.e. a DAW, etc. I suggest to put the multi-instrumentalist use case as an example but not as the reason.
  • Is it just me, or the level of detail makes the wish confusing? One possibility would be to focus the wish on the basic request: MIDI control over patterns/variations/performance-FXs. It is already a big stretch because each of these three modes behaves differently and has many questions that will need to be resolved. Then, if the draft is approved, it gets votes and Polyend decides to give it a shot, they will probably have to start with a partial implementation because full control of the three modes via MIDI and hands-free won’t be easy to implement. :slight_smile:

Hey, good points! I’ve edited it a bit, check it out. I left some technical notes untouched, just in case, but they should be easy to understand anyways.

Great suggestions but I think this might be better broken up into at least 2-3 wishes?

  1. MIDI Control over Patterns via program change.
    I think Program changes make the most sense to use for pattern changes on the Play. and the number of patterns perfectly corresponds to the number of PC changes(128).
    PC 0-127 change to the corresponding pattern on the Play. Maybe a CC could nudge the pattern to the left or the right as mentioned?
    I like a menu option for PC change: “Immediate” or “End of Sequence” OR hold down shift when sending PC changes to do immediate changes.
    Play also needs a setting for the MIDI channel it receives PC messages from.

Piotr mentioned trying to get this done in another thread and I think this would likely be the first thing to be implemented. More votes for it would help I think.

  1. MIDI Control over Performance Effects

  2. MIDI control over variations

Also from a development perspective I would assume taking bites out of this would be more feasible than launching complete midi controll all at once.

hey, thanks for your answer! I’ve edited the post, take a look, please. maybe it’s not the best practice to use quotes there, but I just thought it would be easier to grasp the idea in just one place. I’ve also cut the parts regarding FXs and variations for now (will post them separately).

Cannot change the headline for some reason.

(Discourse’s default software permissions to prevent potential self-vandalism from new users. It’s a thing. :slight_smile: Users sticking around can edit their own topic titles eventually.)

@here You can now vote for this wish. :slight_smile: Check the ranking of votes on #wishlist.

In lieu of a Tracker-like song mode on the Play, I would love to be able trigger patterns on Play from Tracker’s song mode via MIDI program changes.


I also need this on Play urgently. Otherwise i can’t use the Polyend Play live. Because of this problem I already thought about selling the Poly Play and replacing it with a Digitakt, which would be kind of a shame.

@jan, feel free to vote and have faith it can change something :crossed_fingers:

MIDI control over patterns for Play

(I just moved the two comments above from Listen to Program Change, to change patterns via Midi because that wish is about Tracker and this one is about Play. Thank you @ambivalence for noticing.)

I was just writing my own wish, only to realise that this wish already exist. Please allow me to include my own take on a very similar wish below, instead of opening a new wish.

In the settings, include options for sending “Elektron style” Program Change MIDI messages for pattern change

What is the problem?

It’s painful to have a Polyend device as the master for orchestrating pattern changes for other devices.

What do you want to achieve?

I basically want to make it as easy to make devices play and advance a song together as it is to make Elektron devices play together.

Are there any workarounds?

Manually entering Program Change (PC) messages into patterns. But it tedious and some flexibility is lost this way.

Any links to related discussions?


Any references to other products?

(Probably) all Elektron devices. Maybe others.

Further explanation

I’m currently only the owner of a Play (well, technically not in this moment, as it’s in the mail for the upgrade), but I previously had a Tracker and had the same problem. So I’d consider this a wish for both Play and Tracker.

On Elektron devices, you can go into the MIDI settings and set channels for PC in/out. If you set the out channel to, say, channel 5 on what you use as the master device and similarly set the in channel on another device to 5, the master device is able to make the other device follow the pattern changes of the master. I consider this super neat, as I then know that what is in pattern X on every device will play together.

One of the (many!) things I love about the Play is the grid. Having the patterns visually available makes things a lot easier for me than having to remember that “the third chorus is on patterns B7-B8” on an Elektron device. And I really want to be able to make my Elektron devices (and others, for that matter) just follow the pattern changes of my Play.

I know I can put Program Change messages on a MIDI step in the Play sequencer.

One way that would seem obvious would be to just make a first MIDI step in pattern 1 send a PC message “1”, and first step in pattern 2 send a message “2”. But this doesn’t work, as the pattern has already started playing on the other device(s) and the change won’t happen until the pattern has played out. Resulting in everything else always being 1 pattern late. I even tried tweaking this with a negative microtiming for the PC step, but no luck.

I understand that I could then just add a PC message near the end of every pattern to trigger the pattern advancement. But that is a lot of tedious work. And if I’m moving patterns around, I need to remember to update which PC value to send.

I monitored the raw MIDI messages from an Elektron device in order to figure out what they do (I’ve attached a dump of this). It turns out that what they do is to send out a PC message for the next pattern about half a beat before the pattern change (at about 3.5 for a 4/4 pattern).

So my wish is to add new settings to Polyend devices that allows me to automatically send out PC messages matching pattern changes and set which MIDI channel to do this on.

elektron.zip (2.2 KB)

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There are a few different use-cases in here but figured I’d toss a +1 in for what is (IMO) the most minimal implementation: Please let Play+ respond to program change messages from upstream midi controllers by switching patterns. This would allow it to interoperate with arrange/song mode from other gear.
In point of fact, I registered for this forum specifically to post a troubleshooting question about this because I thought I must be doing something wrong that prevented it from working…

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When patternchaining isnt going to be improved upon, this is the next best thing.
Got my vote!