Create Brian Eno style generative music: 20 ideas and tools for Ableton, Eurorack, DAWless and VCV

“Generative Music” is a term coined by Brian Eno to describe music that is always different and changing, generated by a system but led by creative guidelines, rather than typical music which follows a set of predetermined notes intended to be played the same way every time.

This video includes 20 ideas and even more tools for creating generative music inspired by Brian Eno’s generative work. It’s focused on ideas rather than one platform, and covers eurorack, iOS, VCV and Ableton tools for creating generative and probability based music.


0:00 Defining Generative

1:05 Simple randomization – Ableton MIDI LFO Max4Live device

2:10 Scaling random pitch – Ableton Random and Scale MIDI effects

2:50 Pitch to modal chords – Harmonaig from Instruo, with arpeggiation by Quaid Megaslope and Boss Bow Tie from ALM playing Rings from Mutable Instruments

4:10 Scaling emotion – KeyStep Arpeggiator and Ableton Scaler playing Piano V2 from Arturia

5:20 LFO to melody – ADDAC506 cycling a generative AD LFO quantized by Harmonaig, into rings

7:00 Turing machines explained with Pigments by Arturia. Modules mentioned are Turing Machine by Music Thing Modular, Ornament and Crime, Marbles, Disting. Other software versions are a Max4Live Turing machine by Encoder Audio and one for Native Instrument’s Reaktor as well.

10:10 Turing to params – shown on Pigments by Arturia

11:15 Combining mod sources – MixVert8r from Voicas combining ADDAC 506 stochastic envelopes with an LFO from Hermod.

13:15 CV/Sequential switch – Boss Bow Tie from ALM receiving a combined LFO and stochastic envelope from ADDAC506 – see patch walk-through for more details.

13:40 Making modes count – Harmonaig from Instruo, NDLR from Conductive Labs, PolyPhase for the iPad

15:50 Rhythmic variation – NDLR from Conductive Labs

16:20 Adding the predictable – Marbles from Mutable Instruments and VCV Drum Kit from Autodafe , Step Divider from Ableton’s Probability pack.

17:40 BPM sync/clock div – VCV Clock divider from Synth Kit, Hermod from Squarp

18:25 Probability gates – Marbles from Mutable Instruments and Ableton Follow Actions

19:50 Merging sequences – Patterning iOS app, Ableton track MIDI assignment

21:35 Logic modules – Rene 2 from Make Noise feeding a Mixer. Logic gates also mentioned are Deopffer A-166 and Disting from Expert Sleepers

22:55 Making safe bets – Melodic Probabiliy from Ableton’s Probability pack

24:20 Omitting notes – Model:Samples from Elektron

24:40 Gate/event variation – MicroFreak from Arturia

25:45 VCV modules – NoteSeq from JW Modules, Gray Code from Squinky Labs, Generative from Amalgamated harmonics, and of course there are VCV versions of Marbles and Music Thing’s Turing Machine.

27:35 Eurorack patch walkthru – ADDAC506, Harmonaig from Instruo, Hermod from Quarp, PanMix from Happy Nerding, 248 VCA and LedRover from Voicas, QPAS and STO from Make Noise, Rings and Plaits from Mutable Instruments, MCO, Boss Bow Tie and Quaid Megaslope from ALM, Ornament and Crime, RackBrute 3U and 6U from Arturia

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