Pittsburgh Modular Announces Lifeforms Percussion Sequencer


Pittsburgh Modular has introduced the Lifeforms Percussion Sequencer, a $349 four-channel programmable drum controller.

It’s designed to be the core of a Eurorack drum machine.  The Sequencer includes a percussion-tuned analog envelope and VCA for each channel. You can patch anything from a basic sine wave to processed noise sources through the Lifeforms Percussion Sequencer to create a unique drum machine.



  • 32 Step, 4 Channel Sequencer
  • 32 Sequence Non-Volatile Memory
  • 6 Adjustable Pattern Effects (Shift, Glitch, Density, Morph, Swing, Add/Drop)
  • 4 Percussion Tuned Analog Envelopes
  • 4 High Quality Analog VCAs
  • Seamlessly Switch Between Play and Record Modes
  • Live Performance and Step Recording Modes
  • Internal Tap Tempo or External Clock Source
  • Variable Sequence Length
  • Channel Mute

At the heart of the module is a 4 channel, 32 step beat sequencer designed for live performance. Create and store up to 32 sequences, using live performance or step mode recording, with pattern lengths varying from 1 to 32 steps. Patterns can be copy and pasted to easily create multiple versions of a beat.

The sequencer can be driven by an internal tap tempo or external clock source. A dedicated clock in/out jack syncs the sequencer with other modules.

Four Integrated Analog Envelopes and VCAs

The Lifeforms Percussion Sequencer uses an analog envelope and VCA built into each channel to shape any audio source into a percussive instrument. The envelopes are designed with a sharp attack and variable decay/release. The envelopes can also be used externally. A short envelope creates a trigger, while longer envelopes can be used as a modulation source.

6 Adjustable Pattern Effects

The Lifeforms Percussion Sequencer includes 6 unique pattern effects to expand the musical possibilities of traditional grid style beat programming.

Effects include everything from swing and beat shifters to glitch and generative algorithms, designed to manipulate the sequencer pattern. Each channel can run a unique instance of one pattern effect at a time. A master pattern effect channel is also available that affects all 4 channels of the sequencer.

The combination of the channel effect and the master effect allows for up to two effects at a time on each channel. Each effect has one parameter that can be adjusted to dial in the perfect response.

  • Shift Effect – Delays the trigger output of a channel by small divisions of the tempo. Use this effect to create half-step or stutter-step drum triggers. Effect knob controls the amount of channel shift. The range of shift is 1/8th to 7/8ths of a beat.
  • Glitch Effect – Probability based glitch effect that creates chaotic gates based on a cascading chance algorithm. The resulting patterns are always in sync with some division of the clock, allowing for stuttering but not disjointed patterns. The probability is set using the effect knob. The range of the glitch effect is minimal to absolute chaos.
  • Density Effect – Sets the number and timing of triggers created for each active step. The result can be anything from a doubling of the trigger to a rolling effect. The effect knob controls the trigger density.
  • Morph Effect – Create evolving patterns. The morph effect is a probability based algorithm that modifies an existing pattern by adding or removing active steps. The effect knob sets the probability that the pattern will morph.
  • Swing Effect – A classic drum machine effect meant to mimic the feel of a real drummer by shifting the timing of every other step. The effect knob controls the amount of swing.
  • Add/Drop Effect – Temporarily add or drop steps from a pattern. The results are similar to the morph effect but changes to the pattern are not compounded as the pattern plays allowing the resulting pattern to stay anchored to the original sequence. The effect knob sets the probability that a step will be modified.

The Lifeforms Percussion Sequencer is priced at US $349. See the Pittsburgh Modular site for more info.

21 thoughts on “Pittsburgh Modular Announces Lifeforms Percussion Sequencer

  1. Yeah, no sounds on Pittsburgh Modular’s web site. Anyone else frustrated when a company announces a new synth/sound-making device and then offers no examples of sounds? WTF — don’t waste my time. Common sense is if you officially introduce a new device that MAKES SOUNDS, you should INCLUDE EXAMPLES OF SOUNDS on your web page that discusses it. Otherwise, I’m left with the impression that this is vaporware — not real. Or that the company doesn’t really want to sell the hardware, and gets a kick from turning potential customers off. Unprofessional at best, or not ready for primetime at worst.

    1. Well, if Richard and Michael show it off at their live event in Burbank tomorrow, I’ll try and get some audio of what it can do for you.

      1. It might not make sounds but it certainly creates and alters rhythms. Including some demos of that output is certainly beneficial to the user thinking about purchasing.

        I had the same sort of issue when the KOMA Komplex was introduced. I wanted more demos but there were very few. Eventually a few more trickled out and I put my money down.

        My purchase of the Metropolis was definitely influenced by an audio demo.

        It just makes sense to showcase a module’s use whether regardless of purpose.

    2. Arduino-based. Touch-sensitive but not pressure-sensitive pads. Demo’d with a kickin’ four-on-the-floor groove with a crushed noise-square wave snare. Ships/available for sale in the US on the 30th of September.

      I’m sure the demo video and talk will be up on Perfect Circuit’s Facebook page soon enough. The work and craftsmanship that Richard and Michael put into the module showed very clearly in their demo. It was kind of a backdoor demo for the other PM modules as well–all the percussive parts were created by PM/Lifeforms modules and sounded great over the PA.

    3. I agree, I’ve looked all over the internet for a video of this thing in action, I mean, yeah, I could get in my car and drive an hour in Portland and check it out at Control Voltage, but I just don’t have time for that.

  2. Right – no sounds. 4 audio inputs, what ever you want here. It is pretty much a glorified sequencer.
    Remember, most companies tote the ‘anticipation/surprise/mystery factor’ at introduction!

  3. hang on ,so a full analogue drum sequencer .
    So i just need a cheap tip top 909 kick and the 808 kick and i’m half way to having a analogue drum machine ,i’m thinking this is better value than a tr-09 depending on exchange rates.

    real analogue kicks baby ,think about this .
    not only that you can decide ,maybe be just build the ultimate analogue kick machine that can layer your kicks like a software vst drum machine .

    1. – “layer your kicks like a software vst drum machine”
      You do realize that this can be achieved without VSTs or software, right?
      In fact, most samplers had this ability way back before VSTs even existed…

        1. Correct, but neither is a VST drum machine… I think you missed my point.
          My point was regarding the actual layering of sounds, not the sounds themselves.
          You were the one that compared the layering that you could potentially do with this unit to a ‘software VST drum machine’.
          I was just illustrating the fact that it was possible to layer drum sounds long before VSTs.

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