Branches, a path to stereo bliss

I’ve been sitting here messing around with just three modules. Tides, Streams, and Branches. I tend to get a lot of questions about why in the world I am so fond of keeping branches in a 3u 84hp system. And sometimes, I’m not certain how to respond. But then, I get playing with things, and almost always there’s a time in the patch that I want to randomize, or split gate signals.

Here’s a trick I’ve really come to enjoy since getting a mixer (I can finally do stereo). I pair up two of my favorite Mutable Instruments modules, Branches and Streams. Here’s how to do it: (The picture above shows the patch)

  1. Set Streams to *red, vactrol mode (a struck vactrol emulation.)
  2. Split the output of your VCO into the two inputs of Streams. (Tiptop Audio’s Green Stackable is perfect for this job)
  3. Set the shape on each channel of Streams a bit differently. One channel as a short pluck, the other with a bit of ring.
  4. Run your gate signal into Branches, send the A/B outputs, each to a channel of Streams excite input.
  5. Output streams into two mixer channels. Give them a bit of panning to open the stereo field a bit (not excessively though.)

Now, run a sequence into your oscillator and listen to the variety and depth that Branches adds to the sequence. Obviously, you can go deeper, automating the probability of Branches.

What if you don’t have a Streams module? Maybe you have an Optomix, or even a pair of envelopes and a pair of VCA’s, you should be able to create a similar sort of patch and enjoy brave new world of Branches.

Hopefully this gives you an idea of the kind of simple, but beautiful depth that Branches can add to your patches. Here’s an example of this kind of patch I made a few days ago. Tides is the oscillator (it’s shape and slope are modulated lightly by Peaks), the rest is the Branches/Streams patch I described:


*How do I get to red vactrol mode on Streams? Good question. Hold down the Function Selector button for for a few seconds and the mode indicator light will change from green to red (or from red to green). Then just select vactrol emulation mode. Red vactrol mode simulates the kind of “strike” input you’d find on a Make Noise Optomix or LXD. Any input is now treated as a short gate/trigger. Isn’t Streams great!

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