Device Details


Name | Version: AL9 Melodic Paintbox 1.0
Author: alchemical9
Device Type: MIDI Effect
Description: AL9 Melodic Paintbox
Graphical Sequencer/Arpeggiator

Melodic Paintbox lets you draw your sequences instead of program them. Like a painting, the drawn sequence is an approximation that artistically represents a melody or musical phrase.

This sequencer is not about precise note-by-note sequences, it is about contours and shapes and not-quite-exact repetition. The "grid" model that most sequencers are built on is completely gone from this device.

The device achieves that by running a rhythmic clock against a hand-drawn line. The contour of the melody or sequence is independent of the rhythm, so the rhythm can interact with it freely and in many different ways.

Melodic Paintbox gives you a new way to create rhythms, completely different from how they are usually built (goodbye, grid!), leading to surprising, out-of-the-box rhythmic phrases that are easy to interact with and sculpt.

Take a look at the video overview:

Feature Set

• 4 independent tracks for pitch, velocity, control, and rhythm
• Each track has its own graphic space where the track's shape can be drawn
• The phrase length of each track can be set to even or uneven divisions or multiples of the bar
• Pitch track is filtered to a given key and scale or can be chromatic
• Arpeggiator mode so the pitch track note selection can be set according to MIDI input
• Rhythm track gives you a new graphical way to create rhythmic patterns
• Control track maps to any parameter or MIDI CC number
• Fully automatable and externally controllable for use in generative music
• 12 presets to remember your "paintings"

How to Use It

The sequencer is a Max for Live MIDI device that generates notes and controllers, typically placed before an instrument in a MIDI track.

On the left is the track selector, each track has a key color for its graphic interface. The 5th selection presents a graphical overview of all tracks.

The vertical column of 12 squares to the right of the track selector is the preset interface: shift-click to save a preset, click to recall it. Presets can also be recalled by clip envelopes or track automation.

Pitch Track

The pitch track determines which notes are played by the sequence. Select the pitch track and use the mouse to draw the shape of your sequence. In scale mode you can set the key and scale you want to use to limit which notes are played.

When you hit play on the transport, you will see the "scan" line moving across the space where you drew your line. As the scan line intersects the drawn line, notes are played based on the vertical position of that intersection.

The phrase length control determines the length of the phrase and the timing of the scan through the line you drew. The shorter the length, the faster the graphic is scanned. The whole graphic line is scanned once for every phrase.

Phrase length is set as a numerator over a denominator, with the denominator determining the unit and the numerator the number of units in the phrase. A "bar" is determined by the time signature in Live's main transport. This same interface is found on all tracks in the Melodic Paintbox, with each track having its own independent phrase length.

If you change the phrase length while it is running, the new scan speed doesn't kick in until the current scan is complete. This is to help keep things in sync.

When the transport is started, the drawing is traversed by the scan line, and notes are triggered by the rhythm track. You will see a white dot that flashes with each trigger, showing you which note was played. The dot shows the actual note played, so it won't always line up with the drawn line, as it is playing the closest note in the chosen scale.

Changing the phrase length of the pitch sequence changes the speed of the scan line, which will change which points on the drawn line are rhythmically intersected by the scan line.

The pitch track has selectors for the octave range that the graphic interface covers and a selector to set the base octave. These can be changed any time.

The pitch track also has a "shift" control that gives you a way to shift the drawn line to the right or left by 1/16th note. With this, you can change how the melodic line sits on the one.

The "Variance" control introduces a slight amount of randomness to the scan line speed, causing subtle-to-drastic variations in the sequence. This results in very organic-sounding variations because the underlying pattern defined by the drawn line is still determining which notes are played.

The pitch track has two modes: "Scale" and "Arp". Arp mode looks for a MIDI input to determine which notes can be played by the track. This works like a normal arpeggiator, but the movement and rhythm are controlled by the graphic interfaces of the Pitch and Rhythm tracks.

In Arp Hold mode, the notes played are latched and the pattern will continue to play when the keys are released. When a new set of notes is played, they will replace the notes that were latched in.

In Arp Gate mode, the pattern will only play as long as the keys are held.

The Rhythm Track

The rhythm track provides the rhythmic triggers for the sequence.

This works by letting a drawn line determine which clock division is used to play the phrase. As the intersection of the drawn line and the scan line moves to different divisions, that division will play according to the rule of the timing mode.

The rhythm track has its own length, so you can easily set up a repeating rhythmic motif that plays the melody determined by the pitch track.

Rhythms can be "straight" using multiples of 1.5 or 2 or "triplets" where multiples of 3 or 2 are used to determine the set of rhythmic divisions.

Rhythm Track Timing Mode

There are two timing modes to choose from, and the effect of each may differ a lot or a little, depending on the specific rhythmic shape.

In "Parallel" mode, each rhythmic division is running concurrently (all at the same time) while the drawn line as it is intersected by the scan line acts as a selector for which division is sending out triggers. These clock divisions all start at the same time when the transport is started.

In "Serial" mode, only one rhythmic division runs at a time, and the drawn line as it is intersected by the scan line determines which rhythmic division is started. If that intersection moves to a different division, that new division will start after the currently playing note finishes.

Mostly you will just have to experiment with this to determine which is best for what you want to create. Parallel mode tends to repeat on the bar (or every other bar) while Serial mode tends to be other words it doesn't necessarily repeat on the bar, but has its own cycle of repetition.

The difference between the timing modes will be most pronounced with the use of dotted or triplet divisions in your rhythms because you start to get uneven divisions of the bar.

In Serial mode, a new rhythmic division will not start until the previous one completes. This is most obvious with long divisions, such as half or whole notes: the new division will not begin playing until those long notes are done. If the scan line returns before that happens, you may not ever hear any other divisions. Long-period divisions work best with a phrase length that is longer than the divisions you're using.

In Parallel mode, when a new rhythmic division is selected by the scan line, it will begin playing on the next trigger of the new division. This means that a long division (such as a half or whole note) can have other notes begin playing before it is finished. A playing note will not be interrupted however, so if you have (for example) a whole note followed by eighth notes, the 8th notes will play over the whole note until the whole note is done.

Note Length and Swing

The rhythm track has a note length control that sets the note length as a percentage of the current division. This can range from a tiny blip to double the length of the note, giving you a note that overlaps the following note.

At 0%, all notes, no matter their length, will be triggered by a minimal 2ms trigger.

There is also a "Swing" control that will delay the offbeats according to the amount control. Swing can be based on 8th ♪ notes or 16th ♬ notes. Selecting Off returns the clock to metric timing.

Resync and Shift

The rhythm track has a button labeled "resync" that will cause all of the tracks to restart on the next bar. This can be helpful when editing the device tracks because this is how things will line up when the transport is started next time.

The shift control moves the drawn line to the right or left by 1/16th note. This is a lot of fun to play with, and can be really helpful if you're hearing a downbeat in your rhythm and you want it to line up with the one in the main transport.

Velocity Track

This track determines the note velocities using a hand-drawn line that is scanned according to the phrase length of the Velocity track. The value at the intersection of the drawn line and the scanned line when a note is triggered is the velocity of the note.

Control Track

This track provides a way to add additional dimension of variation to the sequence. As the drawn line is traversed by the scan line, a control signal is sent. This can go to a mapped parameter and/or to any MIDI CC number.

Overview Track

This track is nothing more than the graphic superposition of all tracks. It isn't something you can interact with, it just looks cool and shows you the whole "painting" that you've created.


Live Version Used: 11.3.25
Max Version Used: 8.6.2
Date Added: May 18 2024 03:34:48
Date Last Updated: No Updates
Downloads: 0

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License: Commercial
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Clever and comprehensive! I'm enjoying this very much.

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