PreSonus Blog

Friday Tip of the Week: Patterns: Not Just for EDM

Some people see “Pattern” and think “step sequencing—not useful for anything other than EDM.” This tip shows how to use Patterns in a rock drum context to add humanized percussion easily and effectively.

First, let’s subject ourselves to a 16th-note pattern of shaker hits, which is the kind of sound that shows why people don’t like step sequencers. Someone who would use this in a musical context is either not a nice person, or perhaps a pharmaceutical company executive who wants to increase sales of headache remedies.


Let’s start improving matters by copying the shaker to two more pads, and creating some sonic variations.

One copy is transposed down two semitones, and has a shorter decay. The other is transposed down three semitones. All three have slightly different filter settings. By alternating the different sounds, we have something that’s better. Well, at least slightly better.

Let’s make it a lot better. We’ll make sure the original shaker sound hits at maximum velocity on every beat to establish a rhythm.

The second row uses a different shaker sound. Because this is a busier part, we’ll create some velocity variations.

Let’s also introduce some repeats so that two of the hits “stutter” a little bit.

However having repeats happen the same way every time doesn’t sound very realistic, and this is where the Pattern’s coolest feature (well, at least in my opinion) comes into play—Probability. The notes with repeats have a fairly low probability, so they’ll show up from time to time but not overstay their welcome. A few of the other notes have lower probability as well. Also, there’s some added swing—not only are Patterns not just for EDM, swing isn’t only for hip-hop.

Now we have a much more interesting shaker part.

If this is too inconsistent for you, it’s easy to make the velocity more similar, increase probabilities…whatever. And of course, we can create variations on these Patterns, make a few changes here and there, and have them sound similar yet different throughout the song.

Thankfully, Patterns don’t have to sound repetitive and boring…unless of course you want them to sound repetitive or boring. But that’s a whole other topic.

  • Craig Anderton

    Using Swing really helps with the groove. Even just a little bit makes a difference.

  • shadowmixx

    Has anyone here created an audio or YT video showcasing a Hip Hop (not Trap styled) track that was done with the patterns sections? I would love to hear or see it. I’m currently experimenting with patterns to get a natural sounding Hip Hop groove going.

  • Craig Anderton

    A “Time Offset” bar along with Velocity, Probability, and Repeat would be cool and probably not too difficult to implement. Although it wouldn’t allow each hit to have an offset, it would cover the basic need of leading or lagging. Meanwhile, you can create the Pattern and once it’s as desired, convert it to a Part and do any fine-tuning.

  • Sam Silk

    Unfortunately yes, you don’t have control over the velocity inside the “repeated copies” pool.

  • Sam Silk

    I agree. The ability to split any step into several “substeps” would be very nice. Then you could have control over every parameter of the faster steps. Another way would be the possibility to duplicate (copy paste) the pads on Impact so that you could have a sound with 1/16 steps on a pattern line and the same sound with 1/16t or 1/32… The repeat function doesn’t allow you to have the same sound playing various step length, and you can’t “mute” some of these “repetitions”: if you select 5 repetitions either, you must have all of the 5 repetitions playing, no control under the hood on these repetitions.

  • Sam Silk

    The pattern editor is just a huge improvement but this idea of humanizing the patterns could be pushed further with a control over the time position of each drum hit on the grid (see Geist or Motu BPM they use the MIDI “bars” below the pattern to control the exact position of each hit.

  • Martin Fendt

    Ok, noted thanks.

  • Craig Anderton

    The workaround is to convert a Pattern to a Part, and then make your variations to the repeat velocities. I realize that’s not the same as being able to change them while in Pattern mode, and you can’t convert the Part back into a Pattern, but it will allow you to add whatever velocity variations you want to the repeats.

  • Martin Fendt

    >> Actually I don’t think it sounded robotic in the audio examples, did it? <> Probability function bringing it in from time to time adds a useful variation <<
    But not in the repeat function — as I've been trying to explain.

  • Craig Anderton

    As someone who has one foot in EDM world and another in rock, I find Patterns useful for both. I hope that “traditional” recording folks can recognize the value of “beats”-oriented approaches, and vice-versa. To me, the strongest aspect of SO4 is that it accommodates both.

  • Craig Anderton

    Actually I don’t think it sounded robotic in the audio examples, did it? Remember, Patterns are also to help the EDM folks 🙂 And you can always transform the Pattern to MIDI and make your changes there. However you may not need to. The Probability function bringing it in from time to time adds a useful variation.

  • Marty The C

    About time someone did something to draw in the image line crowd. Thank you DEVS for creating this in Studio One 4.

  • Martin Fendt

    To be honest, from the videos I’ve seen, this repeat function sounds a bit robotic. I think it would be good to have some parametric velocity variation capability within those repeats — this could be implemented by extending the probability function to each triggered sample within each repeat, as well as having a variable velocity ramping capability within each repeat.
    And yet another suggestion: the ability to specify for the timebase of each line of a pattern to also go in alternating forward & reverse directions — to enhance the creative possibilities. Any chance?

  • Craig Anderton

    The repeat is more like a “stuttering” effect, so they all happen at the same velocity.

  • Martin Fendt

    Hi Craig, I’m currently on S1V3 Pro, and this pattern sequencer could be **the** reason for me to upgrade to S1v4 Pro.
    Question: When you have one orange square with a repeat number on — say a “5” on a hi-hat, must all of the five resultant sounds coming from that one orange square have to have exactly the same velocity? Or can each of the repeated samples from the one square have a discrete velocity probability associated with it too?

  • Craig Anderton

    Yes, IMHO they’re what make Patterns truly useful when you want humanized, non-boring parts. I’m starting to experiment with bass patterns as well, and these parameters can be just as useful although you’ll want to apply the variations sparinglyg. Also don’t forget you can have multiple variations for each Pattern…that helps too.

  • Rob Gray

    Good example of using repeat and probably to spice up ornamental sections with a bit of random variation!