A Berlin School Experiment, With Blofeld & Specular Tempus

This video, via Lanthan O’Ide, captures a live performance of Back To The Unknown, described as ‘a Berlin School experiment’.

The term ‘Berlin School’ is used to group music in the tradition of the German electronic music of the 70’s & 80’s, especially Tangerine Dream & Klaus Schulze. In this case, O’Ide describes the track as a computer collaboration:

“I’ve written an experimental program that let’s my PC compose it’s own sequences and chord progressions, and even improvise a bit. The result is a Berlin School track, and I’m just tweaking knobs because I felt like doing so.”

Here’s what O’Ide shared about the technical details:

“How everything is wired:

BeatStep Pro ? (And then a miracle occurs) – Blofeld – Specular Tempus

The BSP does not actually do much, I’m just using its toggle buttons to start / stop sequences.

The Blofeld plays both the sequence and the pads, it’s running in multitimbral mode.

All the audio is routed through the Specular Tempus for some reverb.


How the computer came up with this:

At first, a sequence is generated at random, with the following rules:

1. The sequence is 8 steps long.
2. Every step is set at random either to an C#4, F#4, G#4, B4 or C#5.
3. A step must not be set to the same note as the previous or next step.

Then the sequence is played two times.

Afterwards, one of the 8 steps may be chosen at random and its note be changed.

Again, rule 2 and 3 have to be followed.

Then the sequence is again played two times, is changed again, and so on.

But where does the chord progression come from?

Well, it’s the same algorithm, but slightly different:

1. The sequence is 4 steps long.

2. The notes are not eighth notes as before, but last for 4 bars.

Then, these notes are given to my DIY chordizer, the “Arclight”, which uses them as root notes for full chords. And in the end, everything is sent to the Blofeld.

So yeah. You can get this experimental “Unknown” sequencer on my website.


By the way, the song may be in the key of C# minor, but the program was actually written in C++!”

4 thoughts on “A Berlin School Experiment, With Blofeld & Specular Tempus

  1. The random sequencer works perfectly in Ableton Live Lite. Thank you Lanthan O’Ide! If I may suggest, a future version with more steps (16, 32, 64) would be great.

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