On the Clock: Dividers

Clocks don’t tend to be talked about too much. Which is both understandable and a shame. It’s understandable because, clocks are just timing signals, they really only keep time. And while that’s cool and handy, there’s not much more to say about it.

A clock divider is a very simple way to do more with your clock signal. It takes a single incoming clock and provides one or more divisions. For example if we have a 1/4 division, a divider will output one clock signal for every four from the source clock. HEY, STOP YAWNING! These things are super cool!

One of my great disappointments with my personal eurorack journey, is that it took me so long to get a clock divider. They tend to be relatively inexpensive, and the sheer power of having sequencers, envelopes and other events, being triggered at different, but related times is astounding. The simple truth, of these simple devices, is that they allow patches to change predictably over time. They really help to add movement to patch.

My clock divider of choice is the 4MS Rotating Clock Divider (RCD). If you go for one, I highly recommend the breakout module as a companion (get the kit and save $45 by spending a few minutes with wire-strippers and a soldering iron.) The great things about the RCD, are:

  1. It has gate and trigger modes. Most clock dividers also increase the length of the gates they output as the time between those gate signals increases. Larger divisions, longer gates. This isn’t intrinsically bad, but sometimes you want to maintain the length of the original gate or clock signal. Trigger mode gives proper divisions of time between signals, but maintains the length of the original gate on each division.
  2. It ROTATES! Shocker, I know. Sometimes rotation can sound bad and mess stuff up. But it can also sound great. It can bring some nice variation. I tend to prefer very slow modulation for this input, and attenuation may not hurt either. But, go crazy if you like, who knows what you might come up with. Don’t forget to try wiring it up to an offset generator for manual rotation!
  3. Multiple sets of divisions are available. It’s great to have options!

If you’re tired of your patches being the same boring series of bleeps, bloops and fart noises, over and over, a clock divider can set you free and expand your world! Clock dividers really pair up well with clocked random sources and S&H to create predictable movement with unpredictable results. But of course sequencers, envelopes, and switches pair up beautifully for more predictable change. Any which way, it’s all quite fantastic!

Bonus tip: Don’t forget that gate signals can be used as modulation sources (especially with attenuators or attenuverters). I love patching my RCD up directly to the CV inputs on Elements. And as a friendly reminder, there’s a discussion of using gates as modulation sources on the Divkid Patreon supporters Facebook group. Don’t forget to support your favorite content creators!


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Honorable Mentions
4MS Rotating Clock Divider
4MS RCD Breakout Kit