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Does Mimetic Digitalis need a quantizer?

This week on the blog we’re answering a commonly asked question: does the Mimetic Digitalis CV sequencer need an external quantizer when used for pitch sequencing? 

No, Mimetic Digitalis probably doesn’t need a quantizer

This is a pretty easy one to answer, but let’s get a bit more into the details. Mimetic Digitalis has an internal chromatic quantizer. If you press and turn the encoder, it will adjust its output in semitones. If you want to break out of the semitone quantization, simply turn the encoder without pressing down. And if you’ve fine-tuned a step but want to snap it back to the semitone scale, tap the encoder. All this means that Mimetic Digitalis can be a four-channel pitch sequencer all on its own, no extra modules required. 

In my patches, I use Mimetic Digitalis in a whole lot of ways. If I’m sequencing a single voice, I’ll often use one channel for pitch, and the other three channels for modulating parameters on the voice I’m using. I’ve also used all four channels for pitch, programming them as chords and addressing MD with another sequencer. Of course, MD can be used purely as a modulation source, too – it’s really whatever you want it to be… we’ve made a few blog posts on the subject.

 

Using an external quantizer with Mimetic Digitalis

If Mimetic Digitalis has an internal quantizer, would we ever want to use another quantization module with it? Maybe! Since MD’s internal quantizer only quantizes to the chromatic scale, it can be useful to add a more configurable quantizer later in the chain. Some users enjoy constraining their sequences to only play in a certain scale and key, and an external quantizer is a great way to do that. I sometimes use an Intellijel Scales with mine and type in custom scale patterns; this way I can have a single channel that only plays octaves and fifths, for example. 

Of course, a quantizer only handles the CV side of things: you’ll still need to tune your oscillator to your scale. Read up on the difference between quantization and tuning in our blog post on the subject

Using quantized CV for modulation

While we’re on the subject of quantization, there’s another question we get asked pretty often: can you use quantized CV for modulating non-pitch destinations? The answer is most definitely yes. In fact, any fixed-architecture synth with a filter-tracking setting is doing just this: the pitch of the note being played changes how much the filter is opened. Of course, this goes beyond filter cutoff in modular: any parameter with a CV input can be modulated by pitch CV. For instance, it can be used to change the amount of wavefolding on a particular note, or to change the pulse width of an oscillator to give some timbral variation. Quantized CV still gives a relatively large number of steps, so using a pitch sequencer purely for modulation works quite well, too. 

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