Conventional songwriting strategies with organelle?

I confess, despite experiments and excursions into ambient, techno, chill beats etc - at my core I’m most interested in writing “songs” not “pieces”. The traditional kind, Verse-Chorus-MiddleEight kind of songs with lyrics. After all I came into music as a singer/songwriter/bands etc. Wanting to push the envelope a little has made me look out for new tools, new sounds and new workflow - and since spring(?) I’ve been an Organelle (mkI) owner.

Yet, so far I haven’t made much music with the Organelle. I guess, I don’t seem to find a way to incorporate it in my workflow. Or I haven’t had time enough to experiment. Still, I want to like it, and I appreciate the concept so I’m not ready to pass it on just yet.

So, I’d just thought I ask to hear if there are any other songwriting “traditionalists” out there. And I’d be curious to hear how/at what stage you use the Organelle in your process. Organelle is almost limitless in its possibilities and can take a new role with every patch. On the other hand, fast studio workflow often seem to lead to producers choosing one-trick-ponies (or devoting one machine for a specific task).

What’s your main use for Organelle? As an idea-generator, instrument or fx/processing? Or even stand-alone workstation?

Thanks! - and Merry Christmas!


I primarily use it during the idea generation stage right now. I use it to loop, process and mangle a guitar. Or while I’m on the couch and just feel like noodling I’ll bounce around between patches until something strikes me. But one place i could see using it frequently (though I have not yet) is as a drum machine for live performance / jams. A lot of the rhythm patches make it super quick and easy to toss together something complex and moving without having to do step sequencing.


I think I have a similar background to you, and songwriting is a big part of what I do.

I’m really a guitar player - and have found that the guitar is really my perfect songwriting tool. The organelle seems tricky to use in this manner - but i really like that it entirely takes me out of my guitar thinking habits. And even better, it can take the the guitar’s sonic possibilities and bend them through the mangling of samples.

I suppose generally - I love the more traditional writing style - but the organelle to me represents a vacation from that creative process. As such, I think it is best suited to use when I need to get out of a writing “rut”. I think the organelle offers something unique to each stage - inspiration, composing, music production/ effects, arranging/ instrumentation, etc.


Thanks for sharing! It’s fun to hear how others are using it.

And yes, right now I can see that Organelle might be best suited (for me) as a springboard for new ideas to take me in a direction I haven’t previously explored.

Any other songwriters? :wink:

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Welcome! I, too, come from a traditional songwriting background and got an Organelle-1/OG to push the envelope (about 2 years ago). I have a lot of thoughts and feelings on this, so bear with me :slight_smile:

Like others in this thread, the Organelle has primarily been an idea-generator. I’ve also used it as an instrument unto itself once in the studio, and several times on demos, but I do the same things with softsynths.

I think the reason the Organelle has been a means to an end rather than an end in itself for me comes down to two things:

  1. I’m a guitarist in my band, and I don’t have a keyboard stand or table as part of my current setup, nor do I want to add one. So if I find an effect I like on the Organelle, I chase down something similar in a guitar pedal, and if I build a cool loop or sound, I put it on my loop pedal or pass it to my drummer, who has a percussion pad sampler.

  2. I have limited time outside of work for music and art, and I’m not prioritizing learning pD. Anyone who really wanted to could probably play just the Organelle in a band, given its ultra-customizable nature, but I don’t want to spend time figuring it out.

[Update: Thanks to @Wannop for schooling me on presets!] These two issues combine in one major issue for me, which is the lack of saveable presets on Organelle patches…

The number one benefit of the Organelle for me has been its use as a sort of educational tool. Being able to freely download and try patches has let me mess with effects, digital synths, and sequencers that I otherwise wouldn’t have been likely to try, and forced me to seek out and read a bit about types of synthesis or other concepts I’d ignored or dismissed as “beyond me.” I have grown pretty attached to it as a result of this.


Preset Saving has been a basic function of the organelle since it’s release! You can save presets using (save) and (save new) in the main storage menu on the organelle. You can also set these saved presets as ‘favourites’ by adding them to the ‘favourites’ list. This makes them easy to find, but also instantly recallable by sending program change messages to the organelle by midi :slight_smile:


Hi, thanks for taking the time to write. I find it interesting and valuable to hear how others are using it. I can definitely relate to having limited time, and this restless hurry of mine is one reason for my frustration/lack of patience.

Having too little time/headspace to keep multiple workflows/processes active at the same time is a challenge. And since every Organelle patch is like a new instrument, information overload is possible everywhere. :grin: It makes sense to master one patch before I move on to the next perhaps.

Whoa! Thanks for this! I’ll give it a shot. I can’t believe I didn’t bother to do a bit more digging (or even ask here) lol. Welp.

also… the idea is that if you are using a USB stick , that its a complete setup.

you could have a USB stick(or sdcard) that is used for live performance, and another stick that is used for experimenting/studio work.
you just have to be organised with how you sync things from one stick to another.
( I personally sync/backup to my mac)

I should point out that what @Wannop is suggesting, will save the entire patch.
… this can be a bit painful with patches that use large samples. also if you are saving things like recordings, then these become ‘disconnected’.
(new patches that use the media folder, are slightly different in this regard)

also some patches, like Orac, have the ability to save presets internally - that behave more as you expect i.e. saving the parameter rather than the whole patch.


I actually had the USB stick idea in my original post, but edited it out when @Wannop pointed out the Favorites view (or reminded me about it…it does kind of ring a bell). This thread has definitely given me some food for thought.

@thetechnobear when you say the Save feature will save the entire patch, do you mean that it will overwrite the existing patch with, say, the new audio you sampled within the patch or whatever? Or that you’ll have a duplicate patch in your list? Or does it depend on using Save vs Save New? I haven’t tried it just yet…

Save new creates a new version, save overwrites

But what I’m meant is… save new will duplicate everything in the patch directory which for many patches includes all samples - so can use quite a bit of space up for large patches.

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I think that what misslead a lot of people (myself included) is/was the following sentence : “The Organelle can be anything” …

While the can be true (I am not saying it is)… It is NOT true at the moment… And I see at least two reasons for that:

Reason #1 : the core of the Organelle is open source… and eventhough in theory, open source in a wonderful concept, in practice, it’s another story… What I mean by that is that people contribute FOR FREE on their SPARE TIME…and there’s really no roadmap… Contributors do what they want and can do (and that’s fine…I am not blaming any of them).

Reason #2 : the core of the Organelle is Pure Data (and now Super Colider too)…and eventhough this is a nice “music programming language”, it also comes with its limitations and a learning curve that not everybody want to deal with when buying an instrument.

Most people are charmed by both the estetical aspect of the Organelle and also by the “it can be anything” sentence…and they end up frustrated and disappointed when they realize that this is not what they thought it was…

The Organelle is definately not a DAW or an instrument to build/create full songs… It is not an OP-1. This is why you wont see Youtube videos of people creating full sequenced/structured songs on an Organelle.
And this is not a standard synth either…
With all respect, what the Organelle is, in my opinion, is a nicely put together Raspberry Pi with a midi keyboard that requires you to learn and practice Pure Data for you to get the best out of it… So if you dont want to learn Pure Data, chances are, you will feel frustrated.

PS : I hope I havent hurt/offensed anyone. :wink:
Happy last weekend of the year :smiley:

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Nothing is an op-1 except an op-1!

Can organelle do similar things the op-1 - sure.
Can it do everything the op-1 can do - no
Can it do things the op-1 can’t do - yes

Is it marketed as an op-1 replacement - no,
Or a replacement daw - no.

This has been discussed many times on this forum, no one who does a bit of research before getting the organelle should be in any doubt about this.

Also there are lots of videos on YouTube of the organelle which portray the kind of patches available

look at any of the C&G videos and show me one that makes it look like an op-1 or even a conventional synth.
My impression is it’s portrayed as something a bit different, a bit quirky , experimental. - no?

I do think the organelle, (like most instruments) it’s a case of what you put in, is what you get out.

Btw: nothing includes a desktop computer can be ‘anything’ everything has constraints , both due to hardware but also the user/player skills.

To say people have been misled I think is just not true.

What I’ve noticed with things like organelle ( so Bela, axoloti, norns, rPI) - is its easy to see all the possibilities and start daydreaming of what you plan - then reality kicks in, we don’t have enough time, or it’s harder than we expect, needs more skills.

I’m guilty of this, Ive loads of projects.
But I don’t blame the hardware - I recognize I’ve got over ambitious, or lack time or perhaps motivation.
All perfectly natural - it happens:)


Understood! Thank you!

its easy to see all the possibilities and start daydreaming of what you plan - then reality kicks in, we don’t have enough time, or it’s harder than we expect, needs more skills.

I think this is a really important point! I’ve wondered if the organelle is “for me” since getting it, but I’ve never felt like I was misled. I got it knowing I was unlikely to use it to its full potential, but it was a bonus to me that there was a lot of room for me to grow with it if I dove in.

This is what I personally got out of this thread as a person who wants to write more conventionally-structured songs:

  1. I think limiting, or at least organizing, the limitless nature of the Organelle can be really useful for “getting things done.” To that end, I went through last night and added a “D_” before patches I’d use to design drums/percussion, “FX_” for patches that process outside audio, etc. As I find myself using patches more, I’ll use the Favorites view, and if I end up using the Organelle live, I’ll utilize a different USB.

  2. I really want some analog mono synth sounds ¯\(ツ)/¯ so I’m going to get an inexpensive analog piece of kit to use alongside/with the Organelle. (Suggestions welcome, but I am thinking about the Behringer MS-101, the Korg MS-20 Mini, Novation Bass Station II, or even the Volca Keys, which has convincing mono sounds with Unison and Octave modes).

Thanks to everyone here for the discussion!

Get the bass station or the 101 for the physical playability and fire it through some organelle effects/resampling :heart_eyes:


Yeah I like to use the organelle with other things… be that an octatrack for multitracking or the pyramid as a sequencer - it’s not that it cannot do similar functions as these , but the UI space is small ( 4 pots + display) so it helps to extend it.

alsohaving a few patches that I know (well) and like , to get you started and ideas flowing - limited choice. So I can just play - rather than preset browse :slight_smile:

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hi :wave:

i wanted to release something related for christmas but it’s not ready yet… as you said, it’s really hard and takes a lot of time to make big things, especially making conventionnal writing possible and enjoyable on this hardware, but i still have hope and i’ll try to release this kind of tape module soon, to be able to record/overdub multiple takes (one after another) to create “songs”.

here’s the work in progress :

P.S. if someone wants to work with me on this, would be a pleasure, could make a great community project i think… :v:


After my initial post I have had time to reflect over my wish to write it and what it is that still puzzles me about electronic tools/instruments compared to picking up a guitar.

It’s not all about the Organelle. For me personally, there’s something about being on the grid/midi clock, there’s some things about getting stuck in loops (four chord turnarounds etc) instead of doing ”clever progressions” :wink: modulating between keys etc – I just tend to do this less in the electronic domain it seems.

In many ways Tecnobear hits the nail on the head with identifying the conflict between Daydream and lack of time. What seems like an easy task to someone, might be incredibly complex to someone else, who just haven’t got the time ”to get it”.

Over at the lines-community I once discussed the need for ”flight hours” on any setup. I believe, pilots need to fly X hours every year to keep their certificate. And it seemed to me that to work fast and fluently I need flight hours. I can’t have to many possible setups and too many different machines, because I forget how they work and spend times googling/reading manuals instead of making music.

I have an Op-1, so no it’s not what I want Organelle to be. Rather I hope it will save me from going into modular or buying weird digital granular pedals etc. I might try an Empress Zoia at some point, or I might not.

I guess when it comes to this smorgasbord of possibilities that the Organelle is I better take the time to explore each patch - one at a time. Some patches are really quite complex and I find myself turning knobs in random without a clue, with parameters on ”multiple pages” etc.

My plan going forward is this. I will dedicate separate sessions for idea generation with the Organelle. Recording experiments and cutting up loops. To gather a lot of interesting starting points for future songs. Hopefully it can take me somewhere interesting!

Thanks for chiming in! /C


I definitely find it easier to finish songs when I record my organelle/electronic instruments/soft synths to a DAW in arrangment view, working on intro, verse, chorus, bridge sections as I go. Most of even the most sonically avante garde electronic producers still use these very traditional song structures in their songs.
Making Music is a really useful book (I have it on my phone and laptop thru Kindle) for finding new approaches to composing and finishing conventional and electronic tracks in any DAW (not just ableton). It has heaps of ideas in quickly readable sections with quite refreshing ideas for starting, developing and finishing tracks.

I also find the Disquiet Junto projects at very useful for more experimental ideas composing from unusual starting points or objectives. The guidelines are usually very strict which helps focus your objectives, then of course you’re free to transfer the idea into a more traditional song after yr done or tweak it to fit into one of your existing songs.

If anyone is interested in photography (off topic i know), The Photographer’s Playbook is amazing and is full of great ideas for photo walks and projects.

If guitar is your natural instrument, compose with guitar! Then add organelle and other stuff in later, if you want to eventually remove all traces of the original guitar parts you can i guess.

I have the same problem though mate. Good luck in the struggle shared by all musicians! :joy: