Using The Elektron Machinedrum As A 16-Voice Polysynth To Make Dark Ambient Music

Australian synthesist ascetik shared this live performance, which explores the possibilities of using the Elektron Machinedrum as a 16-voice polyphonic synthesizer.

Elektron’s gear is known for having deep options that reward, and arguably require, taking time to really learn the device inside and out. In this example, ascetik shows that there’s a lot of unexplored territory still in the Machinedrum, though Elektron retired the drum machine years ago.

Here’s what ascetik has to say about the performance:

“For this video I’m using the MegaCommand, which is an open source midi controller for the Machinedrum that unlocks full polyphony integration, as well as other modern sequencer updates, such as conditional trigs and micro timing. With this controller it’s no longer necessary to manually map each machine’s pitch as it’s all done automatically and you have full access to the entire note range available to every synth engine.

The MegaCommand also replicates the ‘ctrl all’ trick automatically without having to manually hold the function button while turning knobs, which means you can tweak a parameter while playing at the same time, something that would only be possible natively if you had three arms. This opens up a lot of live playing possibilities and really helps make the Machinedrum feel more like an actual poly synth.

And believe me, it is a poly synth. It’s a 16 voice poly synth in fact, with a uniquely gritty and lo-fi sound engine.

In this video I’m showcasing the FM Bass Drum engine, which is arguably one of the best bass drums on the whole machine, and rivals even the Analog Rytm for raw power and low end. You’d think a bass drum engine would be quite limited sonically, and you’d be wrong. On the Machinedrum it’s capable of melancholic pads, eery soundscapes, aggressive basses, soft mallets, gamelans and sounds that I don’t even know how to describe.”

15 thoughts on “Using The Elektron Machinedrum As A 16-Voice Polysynth To Make Dark Ambient Music

  1. A magnificent effort. Your combination of the Machinedrum and MegaCommand is creative and downright beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    1. agreed. and there are so many historic examples in electronic music of this which led to entire musical genres, like acid house from not using the tb-303 as acoustic bass replacement. very difficult to do nowadays where everything seems to have been done already.

    1. You build it yourself, or contract someone to build it for you. I and a group of others are planning to print a number of PCB´s to build our own megacommand units. If you are in Sweden, scandinavia or Europe you can contact me, in case you might want to add yourself to the group and get a PCB for yourself. Let me know if you´re interested. At the moment i / we are not planning to take orders to build for others, but it´s at least possible. If not, i or we might be able to help you find someone who does.

        1. Drop me a line, foo at gmx dot com and we´ll chat. Also you can find more info at the elektronauts forum if you search for “megacommand resurrection”; a huge thread by the developer with all info you need.

      1. I am very interested in getting such a pcb since I love the MD and would like to have expanded sonic capabilities on this beast. I live in Germany.

        How can we handle the build? From what I have read it looks very complicated.

        1. Not so difficult, it’s only through hole after all. But it takes a little knowledge to build and work to source the materials.

          You can contact me on the address above, i might be able to put you on the list. We still have a few spots left.

            1. Gotcha! I / we are adding more people to the order list until sunday the 31st of May so you europeans that want your megacommand, here´s your chance. I won´t be doing this again so don´t miss out..

  2. Still got a few PCBs left if someone wanna get a ready-built MegaCommandLive complete with case and all. Use the email a few posts above this.

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