TB-3 pattern creation & recall FAQ

This post is more for me to document what I’ve been doing, but maybe there’s some information people out there might find useful as well, so here’s my basic setup for getting pattern creation going on the TB-3. For reference, brackets around a button means to hold it, otherwise it’s a press only. I like to use lock mode which has a bit of a different workflow,  so I start with that, otherwise any pattern you are working on gets overwritten by default. When you use lock mode, just make sure to press REALTIME REC when switching between modes so that you don’t lose what you’ve been working on.  Someone on the internet also made this overlay which is helpful as well.

  1. Set up lock mode [optional] :
    1. PTN SELECT → [PTN SELECT] → VALUE
  2. Semi-randomize the notes pattern:
    1. [PTN SELECT] → SCATTER
  3. Set the number of steps 1-32:
    1. KEYBOARD → [STEP RECORD]VALUE
  4. Semi-randomize the accents, glides and octaves:
    1. [KEYBOARD] → SCATTER
  5. Transpose a pattern by half steps:
    1. KEYBOARD → PAD
  6. Change swing amount (0-50):
    1. [TEMPO] → VALUE
  7. Change to triplet timing:
    1. [STEP REC] → TEMPO

This is sort of how I get the creative juices going, create a few patterns, make variations of them, and then start modifying those. If you go ahead and choose 32 steps, this gives you more random phrases to choose from.

Additional Features

If you’d like to use the TB’s internal sequencer, there are some other features available to you. Unfortunately you can’t select patterns via midi, which is one reason I don’t use the internal sequencer. Here are some cool features of the TB-3:

  • Scatter modes (using internal patterns):
    • SCATTER  → VALUE
      1. SC1: repeater
      2. SC2: repeater 2
      3. SC3: reverse
      4. …slicing, gating, random seed, glitch
      5. SC8: HPF
  • Change pattern pitch in half steps (pattern playing):
    • STEP REC / REALTIME REC on
    •  [KEYBOARD] → VALUE
  • To save a sound to a user bank after editing:
    • [ENV MOD]  → VALUE, select U01-U15, then PLAY/PAUSE to verify
    • a sound can only be saved in KEYBOARD mode
  • midi modes (local off, local on, midi only):
    • [SCATTER]  → VALUE
      • if the panel isn’t responding, check this setting
  • Interrupt pattern and play glissando:
    • XY PLAY → PAD
  • Change global master tuning -7.0 → + 7.0 (pattern stopped):
    • turn off STEP REC / REALTIME REC
    • ENV MOD → [ENV MOD] → PAD
      • Unless you really need to do this for some reason, I would advise against it, as it is global. I went back and loaded some patches and everything was out of tune -2.8. 🙁
  • change the master tuning (on power-up):
    • [SCATTER] → power-on
    • [ENV MOD] → VALUE (430-450hz in 1Hz steps)
      • Another thing I would avoid messing with unless you really know what you’re doing, as it’s also global.
  • change key, C → B, chromatically:
    • [XY PLAY] → VALUE
    • This is just an easter egg that appears to do nothing, sequencer playing or not.
Problems to Iron out
  1. hung notes
    1. There is a problem I’m encountering with hung notes, but it seems that a slide set but not turned off is causing them. I have been adding a 0 value slide (CC102) to the end of phrases that exhibit this issue, and so far so good, it appears to address the problem.
  2. when sequence is played back from external sequencer, it is not always accurate
    1. It seems that most of the time sequences play back properly from an external sequencer, but occasionally there are differences which I can’t really figure out. As far as my hardware sequencer is concerned, it seems to record the same loop different ways. For example, accents and slides may be a tick or two after the note, but it’s not consistent so it’s hard to fix if it doesn’t seem to record correctly. Even copying/pasting working phrases to non-working areas doesn’t seem to fix it. I have read that transcribing patterns for external sequencing from this machine and machines like it presents problems, and different people use different methods to address them.
    2. There are still some situations where notes hang or slides aren’t reproduced the same as on the internal TB-3 sequencer, but the best thing to do is to record your sequence externally and play it back and see if it plays back satisfactorily close to what plays on the internal sequencer.
  3. restarts necessary
    1. Sometimes for whatever reason the TB-3 doesn’t seem to respond properly to new information, with stuck notes continuing even when playing from the keyboard and there are no external sequences playing. To this point, the only fix is to restart the machine. It could be overload of sysex information or incomplete handling on the part of the TB-3. Sometimes they occur when I have them in a loop, so I always try to remember to unplug the output cable if I’m not using it. I haven’t tried any of this using USB midi, but the CTRLR plugin I use can update its values, so there should be no issues there.
  4. sound only loads properly when patch is changed or parameters are re-sent 
    1. The full sound doesn’t always seem to be loaded correctly using my parameter recall method and I seem to have better success on some than others. Some of them return nearly all the right values but one or two are missing. For example, I recalled one patch and after some investigation I found that the main problem was that the delay was set to stereo and I have moved the module to a mono input, so either it wasn’t saving properly or it was just not playing properly because it was formerly in stereo.
      1. Note to self here: Every parameter on the synthesizer is mono EXCEPT the stereo delay 1 & 2, if set to stereo mode.

Part of these issues may be because I’m still perfecting my technique and it seems like the patches created more recently don’t have as many issues. For example, I discovered that an easier way to trigger the TB-3 to send it’s sequencer values than one I had detailed in an earlier blog is to only send it clock when I wish to record its output., then switch back to no midi clock when I play back the pattern so that the TB’s internal sequencer isn’t triggered. I have identical user presets on my MOTU micro express that I can switch between that makes this pretty easy (just have to remember to update both presets if I make any changes).

I have also recently added more space between the sysex calls in case any data was being cut off, as it was in some earlier iterations of my midi parameter request sequence. Interestingly I think the CTRLR panel sends all the sysex parameters simultaneously, so it could be possible to do it that way from say Ableton, but i don’t currently use Ableton.

And finally, I have reached a pretty good stage of the live setup which I hope will be stable for a while. I’ve learned that I can keep the level of the TB-3 steady and just adjust the preamps on the TB-3 channel and save them to snapshots, so that if a patch is great but a little low or high in volume, I don’t have to alter the oscillator levels or whatever else is causing the sound directly. This has been a really fun machine to sound design on and now I use it in almost every track!

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