Creating Generative Music With The Conductive Labs NDLR

The latest Oscillator Sink video takes a look at the Conductive Labs NDLR polyphonic arpeggiator and using it to create generative music.

The NDLR is a four-track sequencer/arpeggiator. It has two sequenced arpeggiator channels, and chord player and drone channels. It lets you control up to 8 synths at once, and you can use a variety of modulation and control options to take chords and translate them into dynamic sequences.

‘Generative Music’ is a term, popularized by Brian Eno, to describe music generated by systems or processes that composers create. The composer creates the system or process, and it then generates the notes or sound.

See the Conductive Labs site for more info.

Video Summary:

“The NDLR can be a tricky device to classify. It is not a traditional sequencer, but it certainly does sequence. To call it an arpeggiator would be to undersell it significantly, but arpeggios are very much an intrinsic part of its DNA. It is obviously far away from a traditional midi controller but it offers hands on control over midi instruments.

So I think that maybe it’s better to think about the NDLR in terms of how it influences your relationship with your instruments. When you use a keyboard controller, you are playing the role of performer. When using a sequencer your job is more that of composer, with the sequencer then in charge of the actual performance.

With the NDLR you are more acting like a band leader during a jam. You set up a musical environment with rules, and as the performance happens, you direct the flow of the music with broad strokes; the details are left up to the performers jamming away inside the NDLR.

This blurring of the line between composer and performer really speaks to my interest in generative music so in this video, starting with a blank slate, I look at how you can use the NDLR to create generative music, taking an in-depth look at some features that I think are really cool when working in that kind of environment.”

11 thoughts on “Creating Generative Music With The Conductive Labs NDLR

    1. Referring to the Stephen Kay stuff? I’m a huge fan. I had an original karma and upgraded to a used M3 desktop. What an amazing system. I keep eyeing the NLDR but I’m a little more interested in the open ended approach of the Organelle and am learning pure data.

  1. The NDLR is great. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to integrate it into my setup, but I think it works best inbetween everything. Using a midi controller or sequencer to control it, with the NDLR in turn controlling all your synths.

    The buttons suck, I wish they were more rubbery like mpc pads. and I think it only has 8 user presets. Still, it’s an incredible value for the money.

    1. It’s horrible, isn’t it. I was pleasantly surprised that the video was slow-paced and thoughtful. I don’t like the ‘e-celeb’ branding that Youtube has fostered and appreciate that Synthtopia has never succumbed to it..

  2. All these freaky sequencers hitting the market .I think whoever’s makes a hardware version of cubase as it was on the Ataris will sweep the hardware market up.
    I see enough very limited step sequencers etc

  3. I backed this and got one. Thought it looked neat, but in practice, it just wasn’t very fun to use. not really enough inputs, and as others have mentioned the whole thing feels cheap.

  4. Since the first batch of The NDLR, we’ve continually upgraded the firmware and made improvements to the hardware. The latest versions have detented encoders to prevent the #1 complaint that it was too easy to inadvertently change a parameter when pressing the encoder switch. The #2 complaint was the tactile switches were too loud. So we changed the switches to a model (Omron) that has a softer resistance and is pretty quiet. The anodized aluminum case is definitely not cheap and fits in very well with vintage and modern synths. The NDLRs are for sale and in stock on our website as of July 2020.

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