separate step time and separate gate time

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sleestack808
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separate step time and separate gate time

Post by sleestack808 » Thu Sep 26, 2019 3:48 am

Ive noticed some sequencers feature this. What does this mean exactly?

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Re: separate step time and separate gate time

Post by oldgearguy » Thu Sep 26, 2019 4:15 am

sleestack808 wrote:Ive noticed some sequencers feature this. What does this mean exactly?
Step time is the time the sequencer spends on each step (typically thought of as being associated with clock pulses, tempo, BPMs, etc). Gate time is how long the note stays on for that step.

So you can have a sequence running at 120 BPM (120 beats per quarter note) and if you change the gate time from very short to longer, the sound and feel of the sequence will change as every note that plays will 'stay on' longer.

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Post by Panason » Thu Sep 26, 2019 4:26 am

Some step sequencers let you input repeats on every step so you could have a step length of 1/4 and a bunch of 1/32s on a step, etc.

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Post by sleestack808 » Thu Sep 26, 2019 4:55 pm

Im not much of a math person. I still am having trouble. If you are using a mono synth, how can the two be separate?

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Post by sleestack808 » Thu Sep 26, 2019 4:57 pm

So a long step time with short gate time will create a rest?

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Post by oldgearguy » Thu Sep 26, 2019 5:58 pm

sleestack808 wrote:Im not much of a math person. I still am having trouble. If you are using a mono synth, how can the two be separate?
If your VCA envelope has sustain set to 0 and short attack and decay times, they are not separate.
Step time starts the envelope triggering. So every step, the envelopes trigger. If sustain is non-zero, gate time says for how long during that step to sustain. The longer the gate time, the more legato the result. All the pieces work together and by changing one thing, you can get a completely different feel to the sequence.

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Post by sleestack808 » Fri Sep 27, 2019 12:53 am

I still don't get it. Maybe another explanation. Sounds like gate is just sustain here.

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Post by dubonaire » Fri Sep 27, 2019 2:00 am

To make it a bit clearer on an ADSR envelope sustain control is not sustain time but sustain amplitude. Time to the end of sustain is determined by gate length.

See the image below. In that image if you were using a keyboard 'key pressed' will make the gate high and 'key released' will make the gate low. In a sequencer the gate is effectively doing programmed key pressing for you. The envelope wil reach the end of the sustain stage based on gate time and then will enter the release stage. Short gate time means a shorter note (although not necessarily if the shorter sustained note has a very long release time). That is independent of the tempo which is the frequency with which the gate may be opened again and again. At 120 BPM there is an event every 1/2 second, equal to a quarter note every 1/2 second in 4/4, but the gate may only be 1/4 second long. Alternately you could program a gate every second note and have a long gate which carries the note beyond a quarter note. So the note could look like a dotted crochet for example in notation.


A very short gate is similar to a trigger. A trigger is used to make an event happen on any device designed to be activitated by a trigger, but the length of the trigger is not intended to have any meaning. because Attack Decay envelopes don't incude a sustain stage they only need to be triggered. There is more to discuss but hope that helps.

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Post by sleestack808 » Fri Sep 27, 2019 7:33 pm

Im asking this because the mc-4 has separate gate and step time. Maybe in practice I can really understand this. Still hasn't sunk in. Maybe a metaphor. Just kidding.But the advantages of having them separate are lost on me.

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Post by Panason » Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:05 pm

You must use your ears, not your mind, to break through to a higher dimension of music.

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Post by dubonaire » Fri Sep 27, 2019 9:48 pm

sleestack808 wrote:Im asking this because the mc-4 has separate gate and step time. Maybe in practice I can really understand this. Still hasn't sunk in. Maybe a metaphor. Just kidding.But the advantages of having them separate are lost on me.
sleestack808 what is it about my post above that you don't understand?

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Post by oldgearguy » Sat Sep 28, 2019 2:48 am

sleestack808 wrote:Im asking this because the mc-4 has separate gate and step time. Maybe in practice I can really understand this. Still hasn't sunk in. Maybe a metaphor. Just kidding.But the advantages of having them separate are lost on me.
If the explanations above aren't helping, then I suggest downloading the MC-4 manual before you plunk down a lot of money for one (I see you in the WTB section). You may have some nostalgic view of the great music sequenced by the MC-4 or something, but if understanding gate time and step time are giving you difficulties, programming and editing a sequence on the MC-4 will be more mind-bending than learning FM synthesis via the FS1R front panel.

If you play with any step sequencer (even free ones on a computer) that offer gate time per step, it will be much easier for you to experiment and hear why it's a very useful feature. Without a gate time option, what you really have is a drum synth style trigger sequencer (i.e. - fire a note on for every step and let the envelope do whatever it does).

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Post by hinterlands303 » Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:18 pm

This video explains it pretty clearly. It's in reference to the Five12 Vector sequencer but it applies to any sequencer with both gate and step length parameters.


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Post by daveholiday » Sun Sep 29, 2019 8:05 am

In regards to the Roland sequencers that I have used...

Step time is based on what note you specify...1/8, 1/16, 18T....etc

When you select this note, each step will be based on this note per measure.

Gate time is how long the gate in each step will be on. Most of the more modern Roland sequencers usually present gate time as a percentage.

For example, lets say you have a step sequence based on 1/16 notes. You then select a gate time of 100% for each step. Each gate in that sequence will be on the entire allotted time of each step based on the tempo. If you then go back and set you gate time to 25%, each gate in that sequence will turn on at the start of each step, but turn off 25% of the way through the allotted time of each step based on the tempo.


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Post by sleestack808 » Tue Oct 01, 2019 6:49 pm

Thanks for the help. Yeah, I think using something in practice will help. We all learn differently. I hate the don't buy it unless you get it right away, advice. Its ok, Ill get it.

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Post by sleestack808 » Tue Oct 01, 2019 6:51 pm

hinterlands303 wrote:This video explains it pretty clearly. It's in reference to the Five12 Vector sequencer but it applies to any sequencer with both gate and step length parameters.

Great video, thank you

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Post by oldgearguy » Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:31 pm

sleestack808 wrote:Thanks for the help. Yeah, I think using something in practice will help. We all learn differently. I hate the don't buy it unless you get it right away, advice. Its ok, Ill get it.
That wasn't exactly what I meant. All I was saying (as a previous MC-4 owner) is that you should go into any expensive purchase with your eyes open, knowing what you are in for and the manual is a good place to start. The MC-4 editing is all about the math.

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Post by Bath House » Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:39 pm

sleestack808 wrote:Thanks for the help. Yeah, I think using something in practice will help. We all learn differently. I hate the don't buy it unless you get it right away, advice. Its ok, Ill get it.
I highly recommend trying out an MC-202 before buying an MC-4. They are the exact same sequencer, just 2 channels vs 4. I have both and while I love them, you should really understand the concept of separate step and gate time before trying to dive in.
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Post by sleestack808 » Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:15 pm

they both cost nearly the same and mc-4 are hard to come by, and Id rather get a sh-101.

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Post by sleestack808 » Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:19 pm

Yeah, I think I get it now. Patched to a mono synth in the normal way with an envelope , gate time is really sustain here,(and can vary in percentage thanks to separate step time) and can be multiplied or divided by the tempo in relation to how much gate time is set for each step.

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Post by dubonaire » Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:11 pm

sleestack808 wrote:Yeah, I think I get it now. Patched to a mono synth in the normal way with an envelope , gate time is really sustain here,(and can vary in percentage thanks to separate step time) and can be multiplied or divided by the tempo in relation to how much gate time is set for each step.
With an envelope with sustain, gate time sets sustain time. With an ADSR sustain time = gate time - attack and decay time.

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Post by sleestack808 » Wed Oct 02, 2019 3:19 pm

sure, makes sense.
I just had to download the mc-4 hack demo and it really cleared things up

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