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Track patterns

I'm still not 100% sure on the MPC workflow. I know there are sequences and inside each are tracks and a song can be made from sequences (sections i.e. intro, verse, chorus).

But in many other software there is the concept of patterns, I can make variations of drum patterns and build them up and down as the track progresses, each stage i can pick the drum pattern and bass thats playing together at the moment, I want to mix and combine different drum pattern and different bass patterns to create the song.

For example I have a pattern drum1, drum2, drum3,..., bass1,bass2, bass3,... etc and I want to combine them as a track builds up and down. So there is drum "sequences" and bass "sequences" that could be combined into different sections as the track evolves, but in MPC there is only ONE sequence concept playing.

Do you guys have any tips on managing this?

I have thought of either:
1) bouncing to clips
2) having a load of sequences laying around the project that are just for building up progressions and variations of one element.
3) just copy tracks from previous sequences.
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  • Well yes basically that are your options. I ran into the same question, since i'm new to MPC as well. My findings are as follows (please note i'm learning too so anyone with more experience please add):

    1) Forget about clips (and even audio tracks) for now. Those are imo immature features that will definitely not help you build a song in the MPC.

    2) that's basically what you should do but the thing is you must build up all elements within those sequences. Not just a single element. I learned to see sequences as 'scenes' compared to ableton. Not patterns. So you need to select all patterns that will be playing within that scene. So for instance if only your bass would change in the next 'scene' that would mean you need to make 1 new sequence for that. But when both your bass and drum pattern would change change, that would also mean 1 more sequence (not two).

    3) And yes, the way to copy 'patterns' to different 'scenes' is to copy tracks to different sequences (although that is done from the sequence edit menu (pencil next to the sequence, then copy event). But think of copying tracks more as copying midi patterns. The instrument ("program") itself is a separate layer. You can, for instance have several tracks play the same instrument ("program"). That also means if you mute a track that means the program is muted (yes it's confusing) and none of those tracks that play that instrument ("program") is heard.

    Only.. the more i work with the MPC the more i tend to make longer sequences then I would in ableton. Like 32 bars long, even up to 64. I found it is very easy (on the X) to select a section of that sequence, loop that and work on that part. Also copying notes from the grid pattern and moving them around works fine too. You do have to move them manually after copying, but in general i can see i will get fast at that.

    It's more limited and more cumbersome then Ableton but doable. I am learning to work with it because i enjoy working an a dedicated machine that much better then on a pc. But time wille tell. Building a whole song in the MPC is quite a challenge.

    Also, make sure you reserve every track for a specific instrument. E.g. you can have track 1 play bass in sequence 1 and track two on sequence two , but would advise to keep it on the same track number. Because later on you might want to merge sequences in a long sequence and when your tracks don't 'line up' you will run into problems there.

    So in short my advice would be to try and think more in larger chunks then you are maybe used to. Think of several patterns within one sequence.

    I do hope however they will someday build a more intuitive way of building variations.
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  • Thanks for the advice, I have both the Live and the X, just adapting to the workflow, trying really hard to force myself. I too prefer dedicated hardware to spending my free time sitting at a computer as I'm doing that all day.

    Be interesting to know if MPC users want changes/enhancements in the workflow or think its perfect just the way it is, but not just for making a chopped hip hop beat, but for producing a track in any genre.
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  • Hey John,

    Thanks for posting!

    Great advice here from MeProd, I think that was a very succinct way to describe the workflow for the most part, though comparing Ableton's workflow to MPC's is a bit of an apples and oranges situation - they are simply different workflows.

    I do like the idea of thinking in chunks. Maybe think of the MPC workflow as a painting - You are working with a palette of colors (your programs and tracks) and using them to design elements (sequences) on your canvas (project) that will ultimately result in a painting (your song).

    The consistency of track order that MeProd mentioned is also important as it will definitely matter when you are ready to render your song. I think this knowledge base article will help you with that:

    MPC 101 - The MPC Workflow

    I hope that's helpful!

    Thanks again to MeProd for your response!
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