Organelle Questions

Hello everyone! I’m a trumpet and piano player looking to make music in a portable piece of hardware that can make a full track on its own. This is going to be my first foray into electronic music hardware (but I have worked with DAWs before), and I’m excited! I am looking at getting an Organelle for this, but I have a few questions, and I could use a bit of advice:

  1. I know there are sequencers for the Organelle, but are they limited to only looping 16 (or something) steps? Can you make multiple 16 step sequences and combine them to make a longer loop (I think I’ve seen something like this in one of the Pocket Operators)
  2. In general, what would be the process of making a whole tune on the Organelle (suppose, a jazz backing track that I could improvise over with a lead synth); I assume Orac with sequencers and loopers (or maybe an external looper pedal)?
  3. I’ve looked into things like Axoloti, but I’m not really a programming/computer expert, so I kinda ruled that out. The only other thing I’ve seen that looks pretty good (and in a comparable price range), although very different, is the op-z. Any thoughts on that compared to Organelle?

Thanks for any knowledge and advice, I really appreciate it!

  1. There are several sequencers for the organelle and they have different behaviors. Seq 2 and the newer Seq 3 are not locked to steps but there is also no quantization internally, these sequences can be really long (I’m not sure what the limit is but I haven’t hit it yet). Seq 3 allows overdubbing and undo for the last recording. Other sequencers available are more playful. Polybeats, for example, lets you trigger different notes at different time signatures and you can get some really complex interweaving rhythms going.

  2. Other people might have some interesting ways of using the organelle for making tunes. I imagine there are several approaches. I’ve had the most luck with 2 methods:

    a) using Orac with Overloop at the end of my chain and overdubbing until I have a sloppy, but interesting, mess.
    b) Recording directly into a multitracker or DAW.

  3. My feelings about this are:
    Although it’s not difficult for the average user to get great sounds out of the organelle without any programming knowledge it is important to remember that it essentially is a housing for a computer running linux. It’s also open source and the patches are written by users with different focuses and ideas about the setup so from patch to patch the interface might be different and occasionally things might not work as expected. I say all this because I feel like I see users coming to the organelle thinking it will be an OPZ like experience and they get frustrated when they have to do things like edit text files on the SD card… it’s definitely not an OPZ. On the other hand the Organelle is open and exolving and getting more interesting with time. Check out the Orac 2 patch if you haven’t already since it’s a huge step forward for the Organelle and other open source music hardware.

Just so u know, I’m pretty sure you can go ahead and download the mother patch and run it on your PC with a controller, see if it’s the sorta thing you like.

I hate to say this sorta thing here, obviously, but I think you’d like an OP-1, for portability and playfulness - organelle comes up with better sounds for what it’s worth but sometimes she is a little reserved, not the easiest to dig stuff outta and def not something I’ve ever made a “full track” on… Definitely an amazing FX unit that carries around some helpful backing instruments and great sounds, but only once you’ve cultivated them and basically learned your way around

@Christopher and @uu8k
Thanks for your input! I think it is a big plus (compared to OPZ/OP-1) that the Organelle is open source and always growing! I would expect to have to put in some work to get everything running smoothly, but I think I will be up to the challenge if I do choose the Organelle (I’ve downloaded PD and I’m trying to learn as much as I can in general about how the Organelle works). Assuming I’ll be able to put in the work and learn to master it, do you think in the long run it would be a more powerful tool for what I’m trying to do than an OPZ/OP-1 (although I don’t think I will buy an OP-1: for that price I could get an Organelle AND an OPZ)? And do you have any other ideas/thoughts that you think might be good for me to know?

It really depends on what you’re trying to do! OPZ is a great sequencing tool from what I’ve read. It’s really powerful and tiny. There isn’t yet a very robust sequencer for the Organelle. That could change though!

Another thing to keep in mind is that there isn’t an internal battery for the organelle. See posts on this forum about buying a USB power brick and a 5v to 9v adapter cable. I have one and it’s great. I take my Organelle all over the place. I’d love to find a tiny stereo mic for it.

I saw the whole power brick thread: that sounds like a great idea! My main reason for wanting one of these machines is so that I can have something that I can pull out of a backpack and just jam out on the spot (even on a bus or something), because trumpet is not really practical for that. And I also love the idea of being able to create my own ‘band’ through looping or sequencing. I guess it sounds like either the Organelle or the OPZ could do that, but they just have very different user experiences, and I think that’s why I’m having trouble deciding. Also, are there any other machines you can think of that might be able to do that (that I’m not considering)?

The organelle is a very capable machine, which imho can be used to build full tracks inside one box in much the same way that you can build a full track on an MPC2Kxl, if you expect the same functionalities in a full powered DAW like Ableton then the organelle might not be for you. If however you are not afraid to experiment and invest time and effort writing your own patches then the organelle is, again imho, a very powerful machine where the sky (or rather the processingpower and your imagination) are the limit.

Thanks for your response, it’s good to know that I can make a full track on the Organelle! Do you think you could describe how you might go about doing this? I’m having trouble figuring out exactly what the process would be. Would the only way to do this be to use orac? If so, can you use any patches in orac, or only special patches built for orac?

I have one more question, if you don’t mind:
When you use Overloop at the end of an Orac chain, can you make a loop that is as long as you want (it seems like in the demos there are only short loops)? Actually, how does Overloop work in general (especially when combined with Orac); I’m a bit confused.

more information here: Critter & Guitari

Overloop loops can be fairly long. They also store as numbered .wav files that I can export and edit on the PC. You can loop something and play over it and record that as yet another loop. One of those things I hadn’t thought of using the organelle for and it turns out to be my favorite app.

Orac might be one way to do it since it allows you to run sequencers, synths fx and the likes in parallel, or you can write a custom patch that accommodates your specific needs and workflow. I went for the latter, since it also gives me a good incentive to study PD more thoroughly than just reproducing the many excellent tutorials that are found all over youtube. The everything in box approach will IMHO benefit a lot from an external controller since 25 wooden keys 4 potmeters and a encoder only get you that far when controlling the different parameters of your patch.