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The stepper modulator in Massive is a great tool for getting creative with Native Instruments...

Massive Tutorials

Using Stepper creatively in Massive

The stepper modulator in Massive is a great tool for getting creative with Native Instruments Massive.

This tutorial looks at using Stepper to control pitch as well as controlling effects.

The sound we will be making is this
[audio:https://www.massivesynth.com/audio/seqc.mp3]

The Stepper modulator is my favorite modulator and tool within Massive. Not only can it be used to control the pitch of the OSC’s but it can also be assigned to effects to give a rhythmic quality or used to open and close an effect at certain points in a bar so you don’t have to draw in automation.

We’ll be using the Stepper to control:
– Pitch of an OSC
– Filter Cutoff
– Reverb as a creative effect

You can of course assign the stepper to anything , but for the purposes of this tutorial we’ll be sticking to these.

Setting up your DAW
Firstly set up a short 1 bar midi loop in your DAW and draw in your chord ( I like to use C minor somewhere down around C1). I do this rather than play the chord myself so i can tweak out the sounds and hear it ‘live’ rather than have to have one hand on my keyboard at all times. Just means i can concentrate on the sound design! So hit play and let your 1 bar loop play.

Setting up Massive

First up create a new patch (file > new patch)

Set OSC 1 to ‘Puls Saw – PWM’
pls-saw pos to 5 o’clock
Pulse width to 5 o’clock
Amp to 3 o’clock

Drag Modulator 8 (the last green one) to the box under the pitch of OSC 1 and drag to set it to 5.00. This means that the stepper set to 100% will only push the pitch up to 5 semitones above the note you play (in my case C).

It should look like this:

Oscilator 1 Native Instruments Massive

Filters

Now set your filer 1 to Lowpass 4
Cutoff to 7 o’clock
Res to 7 o’clock
Drag modulator 8 to the first box under the cutoof and drag up till the green ring goes to 12o’clock
I’ve also dragged Macro 2 to the cutoff and set it to the same as modulator 8, so we can open the filer like in the example at the beginning of the post!

It should look like this:

Native Instruments Massive

Shape the sound

Now set up ENV4 to
Attack – 7 o’clock
Attack Level to 5 o’clock
Decay to 12 o’clock and decay level to 1 o’clock
Release to 3 o’clock

It should look like this:

Native Instruments Massive

Add some grit!
If you haven’t already, check out my tutorial on Noise which covers why i add these effects in.

Set up INS 1 to P Shaper
Dry/wet to 5 o’clock
Drive to 12 o’clock

Set up INS 2 to bit crush
Dry/wet to 9 o’clock
Crush to 12 o’clock

They should look like this:

Native Instruments Massive

Effects
This is an interesting effect – i like to automate the dry/wet of the reverb.
If you automate it so that the sound starts of dry but as the sound progresses or at key points you open the reverb, you can get some real nice depth to the sounds.

Set up efx 1 to Reverb
Dry / wet to 11 o’clock and add Modulator 8 but drag it so the ring goes backwards to 7 o’clock
Size to 5 o’clock
Density to 12 o’clock
Colour to 7 o’clock

It should look like this:

Native Instruments Massive

Set up efx 2 to Chorus
Dry/wet to 8 o’clock
Rate, offset and depth to 12 o’clock

It should look like this:

Native Instruments Massive

Now lets add the stepper
So we’ve now added in the modulator to the various effects we want to mess with – but the modulator is not outputting and signal to any of the modules we have assigned them to.

Set up Modulator 8 (make sure you select stepper if it is not set to it)
Tip : For the pitch control you can set Snapper to ‘set to grid’ to ensure it’s a whole number that is output.

Select the sequence preset at the top left of the center window to ‘Power Chord’ or draw in your own automation.

Set the rate to 1 over 16

It should look like this:

Native Instruments Massive

Now play a note!
As you can hear the sound is now sequenced. The reverb is opening and closing with the sequences – as the notes go up the reverb opens further – so you get a great ‘depth’ to the higher notes but a dryer sound to the lower ones. Also the higher notes, the filter is more open than the lower notes!

Things to try
1) Try changing the 5 under the pitch of OSC1 to 12 – note what happens.
As you can see the second step of Stepper is open to full – as there is 12 steps vertically inside Stepper – if it’s set to open full (12 steps up) that will be 1 Octave up the note plays.
2) Change the ratio of Modulator 8 to 1 over 8 – note now the time it takes to play out the notes has doubled.
3) Try dragging modulator 8 to the release of envelope 4 and drag it so the ring goes backwards from 3 to 12.
Note now that the length of each note is now controlled by the stepper!
4) Try adding the modulator 8 to a few different settings!
5) set up another OSC and try adding in Modulator 7 (set to stepper) but with a different pattern or ratio!

Real example
You can hear this effect on my track ‘Low winter sun’ from 3 mins 06 the end of the track

Various synth lines come in and out the sequenced pitch/notes is Massive rather than being played or drawn into the DAW. Also note the reverb ducks and sucks – again controlled by the same method and also the filter is opening and shutting slightly too with the same effect!

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