Cenk Sayınlı (AKA “Mr. Dataline”) has a day job at Elektron, but he’s also a live electronic music performance master. The speed and skill with which he plays is phenominal. At NAMM 2019, I was able to convince him to walk us through what’s going on in his head as he does his thing, and the result is this video:

Here’s a short rundown of the ideas in this video:

  1. Load up a few basic sounds and…
  2. Record a beat live and unquantized for a human feel.
  3. Adjust micro-timing if necessary.
  4. Spice it up with step-sequenced sounds (“trigs”) and add ratchets (“re-trigs”).
  5. Add Chance on certain steps to keep it interesting. “Chance” means that specific steps will only trigger a certain percentage of the time.
  6. Add variance by pitching sounds (the bass or kick for example).
  7. Apply an LFO to hi-hat decay to avoid monotonous/boring hi-hats.
  8. Add per step variance by changing individual parameters on specific steps (“parameter locks” in Elektron-speak).
  9. Save often! Like what you have? Save your spot so you can get back to it.
  10. Now that you’ve saved your spot, feel free to experiment and mess things up either per track individually or on all tracks using a “control-all” function if your gear supports it.
  11. If you’ve gone too far, reload your saved pattern.
  12. Add distortion…
  13. If your gear supports it, vary track speed scales (half speed, double speed, or anything in between). That’s a different and interesting way of introducing variety to an existing set of tracks, but in a different way than just applying chance. If a track doesn’t sound right, bring it back in line…
  14. Apply chance to all the steps in all the tracks. This means that all the steps will skip beats here and there depending on the degree of chance, and is again, a quick and simple way to introduce variety.

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