Beads beginners tutorial?

I’m wondering if it’s possible
that a video or short series of videos made by Mutable Instruments on Beads is in the pipeline?
Divkid’s guide is wonderful but there’s so much to learn with Beads I can’t quite get my head around.
I’ve found a few other videos but none cover the basics and all assume a fairly advanced understanding of modular and granular synths.

For example, when sequencing grains from an external sequencer, how does one stop Beads from outputting sound before the sequence begins? It constantly makes sound!

Basic tips and practically demonstrated advice on the many possibilities Beads is capable of, would be a hugely helpful and appreciated resource to beginner granular and modular synth users for years to come!

Divkids video really is one of the best things around for learning Beads. He has it broken into different sections, watch and replicate what he’s doing and you’ll be sure to get it.

You can stop Beads from playing by unlatching (ie turning off) the “Seed” button. When it’s not constantly lit, it will only play a grain when you manually press the button, or send a trigger into the “Seed” input. If you feed the clock for the sequencer also into “Seed” input, it will only make a sound every time the sequencer goes to the next step.

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I think Divkid’s video is excellent. I’ve watched it several times and tried to break down some of the functions he highlights but there’s content that he skims over and I’m left wondering, yes, but how!
Perhaps I’m being impatient and having Beads for only 1 week, I’m expecting to be more familiar with it then I am.

Thank you for your tip (answering my confusion in how to stop Beads from making noise) is an example as a new user, of not being able to figure that out from the manual and Divkid’s video.

I just think it’s a good idea to share knowledge and expertise so others can experiment and learn from it.

I am afraid I have zero of the skills required to make that. And that’s exactly why I commission DivKid to make the videos for me!

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Ah! Yes he is very good. I guess i just need to spend more time experimenting with Beads, referencing his video and the manual. I’m sure i’ll get there! Thank you for responding. Beads is a truly wonderfully designed module that i’m sure will spawn many years of creativity!

I don’t know if Red Means Recording has a Beads overview/demo video but you should check on his YouTube channel. He explains things so well and the patches he comes up with are amazing. I literally have purchased several modules / synths based entirely on videos that he’s covered. I like DivKid’s videos but he doesn’t always say what is plugged into what or what is controlling what so it makes it very hard to follow for someone who isn’t as familiar with modular, like myself.

To me, the best thing about Clouds and Beads is that they are so deep with potential. It seems a natural outcome that they will take quite some time to tame. For me this is a good thing because it keeps me coming back to discover new things. It is common for people to not gel with some modules and Clouds was definitely that kind of module for some people, but for others it fit with they way they make music.

I am happy to write-up some patch notes for you, but I’d first need to know: What type of music do you gravitate towards? What do you think you would like to do with Beads but are struggling to implement?

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I’m in the same boat, as in i’m relatively new to modular, and simple things to the initiated are difficult to comprehend having little experience and at the beginning of the modular learning curve.
There is a video by The Oysterhouse boys on You Tube on Beads which covers an overview of Beads which is helpful too.

Yeah i totally get that some modules work better for some and not others. I’ve had a Pulsar23 by Soma for a few months now and i’m constantly finding new ways to trigger and modulate it.
I’m totally new to granular synths and on discovering Clouds and the Instruo Lubadh, i was intrigued.
I opted for Beads and ordered it back in April and it arrived last week.

I’d appreciate it greatly if you were to write up some patch notes. My intended use of Beads is two-fold.
I write and produce music using electric and acoustic instruments, as well as having a small modular set up and a couple of semi-modular synths. I use the Squarp Pyramid for sequencing and ultimately track to Logic.
There’s a large atmospheric ambient strand to both my instrumental and somg-based compositions and for years i’ve looped my own parts played on pianos, synths or guitars and used fx to alter and change their pitch and tone.
Being able to sequence these ideas/parts using Beads as my recorder is my main aim. The process of adding audio into Beads and having full control of it’s processing via CV, being able to play around with pitched changes on a midi keyboard is where i’m mainly struggling to get to grips with.
If you have time to help me on that front, that would be amazing. Many thanks!

I’ve taken thIs quotes from the Clouds manual: “Clouds (Beads) rewards the freezing, fragmentation and dissolution of the unexpected instant, rather than the careful planning of what might very well not come.”

This 45 minute video shows a lot of examples with acoustic instruments:

This is a patch I set up yesterday:

1: Plaits - 2: Ripples - 3: Warps - 4: Rings - 5: Beads - 6: Overseer (with each module under 7:modulation).

You could set this up with a different modular than mine as such:

1: harmonically rich oscillator drone (could be a mix of more than one oscillator: modulated sound sources such as pwm, fm, am, sync, etc).

2: filter of your choice

3: effects which change over time. You could use a multiple of your filtered drone and send it to whatever effects you have eg: distortion, wavefolder, ring mod, chorus, delay, etc. these effects then could go into a sequential switch which you play one at a time or into say a four-channel vca mixer where each effected voice comes in and out at different times.

4: Rings if you have one. If not you could skip this. You could also maybe use a reverb where you manually change the parameters.

5: Beads. Input can be mono or stereo. I have it set fully wet so that you are only hearing the grains. Reverb and feedback to taste. Quality setting to taste, but the two longer settings are more likely to scatter the variety at the input. I have Time at noon and use heavy internal modulation (fully clockwise) to get maximum randomisation. Density is set to about 2 o’clock to create occassional random flurries of sound. Shape is set to an envelope shape I like which is then subtlety internally modulated. Something I like doing is setting Size to the minimum envelope length I want and then using interesting unipolar modulation to increase the length. For this patch the is probably the key ingredient. I have chosen not to modulate the Pitch in this patch. When I do I will either go ‘wild’ with unplanned internal modulation, or more regularly sequence the pitch in time to triggers I am sending the seed input with Density at noon. Alternatively, I set up Beads to fire a trigger with each grain (out of right output) and use this trigger to advance an external pitch sequencer. If it any time there is a tone that you like you can manually press freeze and have this stored in the buffer until you want to return to the more varied input signal again.

6: filtering after Beads is of course optional. I often use WMD overseer because it has stereo high pass and low pass filtering. The stereo operation maintains the interesting stereo panning of Beads. In this patch I did the post-Beads filtering manually.

7: Modulation. The key to this patch is that the input signal to Beads is constantly evolving and at the same time drastically changing. Therefore it is necessary to have quite a bit of interesting modulation to achieve these changes/evolutions. Of course use what you’ve got and experiment.

Obviously this all goes into a mixer, output, speakers etc… Because this patch was all about evolving ambience I put some external reverb over the top as a send effect.

If you’d like some other examples give me an idea of what you would like?

Have fun!

Apologies if you already know this, but nonetheless this is important starting information.

Firstly, a midi keyboard sends out midi messages and Eurorack does not respond to midi messages. At bare minimum you will need a midi to cv converter. This could be as a dedicated midi module (search modular grid under midi) or a keyboard with built in midi to cv such as the Arturia Keystep. There maybe other options.

You can send pitch cv to control any cv input parameter. If you are trying to effect the pitch of Beads’ grain output you would send the keyboard pitch cv to the Pitch input and have the attenuator fully clockwise. You can have the pitch knob set wherever you like. The pitch knob will transpose up or down to a maximum of -2 or +2 octaves. The keyboard will then sum with the pitch voltage you have set with the knob. Eg: if you play middle C this is 0 volts, so no transposition. If you play an octave above middle C on the keyboard the grain will play back an octave above where the knob is set. Playback will be at the same pitch when the Pitch knob is set to noon. The keyboard will then transpose up or down depending on what note you play.

Of course you will need to have some audio input. For this example lets say piano.This can be live or it can be Frozen into the buffer by tapping the Freeze button (this is probably the best starting point). Choose a buffer length on the quality setting. Set ip a microphone on the piano and plug this into Beads’ input. If it is not loud enough you may need yo amplify the signal. Play what you like with one hand and while playing press the Freeze button.

What you have now recorded into the buffer will stay there until you press Freeze again. You can trigger the grains internally by turning Density away from noon or trigger them however you like by sending a gate or trigger into the seed input. With a midi to cv converter it will send out the pitch (which is note information) and a gate (which is timing and duration information). You could send the keyboard gate to seed and pitch cv to Pitch and “play” the grains.

It is very important to modulate the Time parameter. You can use the internal modulation (turning the attenurandomizer) or modulate it however you want (random works well). If you don’t modulate this parameter you won’t achieve much!

By setting Beads in this way you can record whatever you want into the buffer and change its pitch and control the shape, length frequency of grains… this is a fun and powerful thing to do… but yet only one of a plethora of things that Beads can do.

Once you get a hang if this fully wet with Freeze engaged, it is worth while trying 50% wet and playing along at the same time. It is effectively like jamming along with yourself. Turn Freeze on and off whenever you like and experiment with externally sequencing the Pitch, Freeze, or any other of the parameters.

Hope this goes some way to describing what you were trying to do… if not let me know and I can clarify.

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Thank you so much! i’ll sit down tomorrow and patch this together with what i have and get back to you.

Have fun.

Here’s an easy way to think about the ‘grains’…

Imagine you recorded 10 seconds of piano playing onto a piece of tape. Now cut that piece of tape so that the start of the tape is the beginning note and the end of the tape is the last note you played. Let’s pretend that the 10 seconds of recording is one metre long and you have a person holding each end. Insert the tape playing head at the start of the piece of tape and turn the volume on your hifi stereo quickly up to maximum and then quickly down to minimum.

This is Beads equivalent of freezing 10 seconds of piano playing and playing the start of the buffer (Time fully CCW) a short Size and with the 2 o’clock shape. Now if you quickly turned the volume up more slowly this Size would be set higher on Beads. If you turned the volume up rapidly then down slowly the Shape would be at 11 o’clock. In this example you would always be playing the first note, but it’s fade-in and out and duration would change.

Now imagine that the people holding the two ends are pulling the tape backwards and forwards randomly, so that when you turn the volume up and down you’re not exactly sure which piano note (from the 10 seconds recorded) will play when you turn the volume up! This is what randomising the Time parameter does.

Beads can play lots of ‘grains’ simultaneously… this can create chord like tones. A common way of using Clouds/Beads is to sequence some notes that would work together in a chord structure. Less is more in this case… play too many notes and it can sound pretty average, just the right amount of notes 3-5 works for me and you get a bit of harmony! This can be plucked type notes or drone notes. Remember that if there are gaps of silences in the recording that Beads may ‘play back’ that silence, if that is the position the lay head is at when the volume goes up.

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