Korg SQ-1: A few cool tricks

I’ve had the SQ-1 for a while now. In fact, I now have two. There’s more fun in that little, black box than seems right. So, what kind of fun can you get up to with this bargain priced sequencer? All kinds…

Sometimes I like to absolutely blast it with an audio-rate clock. You tend to get some old-school, video-game sounds out of it when you do this. It always makes me think Pac-man for some reason. You’ll need an external clock source to do this (I like Tides myself). If you feed an envelope into Tides v/oct input you can have a normally fast paced sequence occasionally blasted into the stratosphere when the envelope hits. Audio-rate sequencing is not always the most musical sounding option, but it is truly a great sound-design tool when you’re ready to step outside the norm.

The SQ-1 ships, by default, with a setting I’d describe as “odd”. It’s set to x2 mode as standard. Each pulse of an external clock will advance the sequence one-two steps. I had a bit of fun with this today with my double SQ-1’s. The first provided the clock, the second in x2 mode was slaved to the first. And so, one oscillator played notes with a long envelope, while the second played two percussive strikes with each tick of the clock. This is a neat little trick, if you, like me, don’t have a clock divider/multiplier on hand.

Two-channel sequencing is great. Yeah, you can do the bland thing and run two sequences and two sets of gates to two oscillators and envelopes. But it can be a lot of fun to use the second channel to control another parameter of the sound to bring variety to the sequence.

When I use the second channel as described above, I like to make sure it differs from the main sequence by one step in length. This allows the little accents created to move around the sequence a little bit, so the same accent doesn’t always play with the same note. It’s a simple hack that brings more variety to the sequence.

Twist the big knob. Do it! You just changed how the sequence proceeds. Without changing the notes at the heart of the sequence, you brought a whole new variety to your work. It was really easy. But you felt it right? Versatility, and power, right there, on that one knob! It’s great how easily accessible the parameters are on this little guy. It’s a very playable sequencer. So, don’t let it sit there, unattended, with some stale sequence all session. PLAY IT!

Anyhow, these are some fun little things I enjoy doing with my SQ-1. Give them a shot, they might help bring some new possibilities to your sound.


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