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Building A Traktor Step Sequencer With Remix Decks

Today we’ve got a video from one of the DJTT community’s superstar mappers, Ghztomash, showing off how the new Traktor 2.6.2 update allows for some very advanced mappings. Syncing up his DIY controller with a hardcoded sequencer in the firmware, he’s managed to create a Remix Deck workflow that could be very appealing to artists like Richie Hawtin and Chris Liebing. Watch the video and learn more after the jump!

FORGET SYNCING  ABLETON/MASCHINE + TRAKTOR

I have a need to tinker with every little sound and introduce new elements into existing tracks – while Ableton Live is great for this but I find Traktor much more convenient for DJing. While Traktor’s Remix Deck loops are good, they’re nothing compared to the movement and pure fun that can be created by punching in percussion rhythms in real time. That’s why the initial idea was to sync Ableton to Traktor and get the best of the two worlds.

Unfortunately I failed to find a good way to use my self-built controller as a step sequencer in Ableton (there are some great M4L patches and VST devices out there, just not what I had in mind). I decided to build-in the sequencer functionality directly in my controller  – which worked out great, but I realized that I don’t need Ableton for this, I could utilize Traktor’s Remix Decks. See it in action below:

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE VIDEO

In the video above, the Midi Fighter 3D is used to trigger some filler samples I have loaded in my Remix Deck D. The device I’m using as a mixer is another controller I am currently working on.

Next we see Digital Warrior – the controller running the step sequencer on Remix Decks C – where I have loaded one-shot samples. I have  sync and quantization off on this deck, since the step sequencer is MIDI-synced with the master clock and we want the samples to trigger instantly.

The knobs on Digital Warrior are mapped to the FX rack 3. You can see that three of buttons toggle the effects and one button instantly turns off all of the effects – this way I can create chains of effects for buildups and then disable them with just one finger, I also have mapped the slot FX enable buttons for each channel of the Remix Decks to choose which samples I want to leave dry.

DIGITAL WARRIOR?

Digital Warrior is a DIY MIDI controller I’ve built. Inspired by the Midi Fighter, Push, Maschine and the monome, I wanted to create a complementary light and compact controller/instrument that could be used for anything from finger drumming, to triggering effects, or even controlling decks.

It is built with the Teensy++ microcontroller for brains and consists of a 4×4 monome like button grid from SparkFun with white LEDs (wiring RGB LEDs would have been slightly more challenging but much more functional). On the right side are four rotary potentiometers and two push-button endless encoders that display their values for a moment as a graph on the button pad when twisted.

There’s also the  pushbutton LED and a shift button that allows us to switch between 8 banks and enable/disable the step sequencer and features like secondary CC and Note On messages inspired by our so loved Midi Fighter.

The step sequencer itself (when enabled) takes up two of the eight banks. One for the 16 channel selection, and one for the 16 steps of the selected channel. It’s a 16-channel 16-step sequencer, but that could be easily extended to 32 steps but using up one more bank. The sequencer is implemented by MIDI syncing the controller with the DAW. As it listens for clock MIDI messages, it counts them and determines the step, each new step it sends Note On messages for all of the 16 channels where they are enabled and Note Off messages for the previous step. Traktor was a bit capricious with my messaging system but it all worked out by inverting the controller range field. Also something fun I tried was to map the step sequencer to effects, so there is no limit to where this can be used.

Of course MIDI clock sync is not perfect and I have to press the MIDI sync button once in a while the step sequencer drifts off time. But I’m pretty sure we would all love to see this kind of features tightly integrated in Traktor, either if it’s Remix Decks and the F1, direct Maschine integration, or even better the ability to map our own favorite grid controllers.

Let me know what do you think below in the comments and what other features you would love to see in the next Traktor Update. Keep on hacking and experimenting!

Interested in the Digital Warrior? Keep an eye Ghztomash’s blog and DJTT – we’ll keep you updated and maybe have him do a complete build guide if folks are interested!

  • Pingback: Building A Traktor Step Sequencer With Remix Decks – DJ TechTools – All About DJs()

  • Tomash Ghz

    Now taking orders! http://digitalwarrior.co/

  • Andrew Ivan

    has anyone been able to get this on the spectra

  • Cesco

    Hi! Very interesting trick! I would like to use a step sequencer on traktor remix decks with my Xone K:2. It’s possible to do it with the last version of traktor?

  • Lee

    This is great! More than happy to start work on a MAX/M4L version of sequencer in a few weeks time if people are interested…. http://www.sigabort.co/m4l_lp

    • Tomash Ghz

      that’s great! if you could make a stand-alone max patch that would spit back midi values that are routed to Traktor you could use this with any controller!

  • DjSenSeiNyc

    I just finished mapping the remixDeck C to my maschinemikro.II. Took me a while only thing that i cant get the pads to light up as the music plays. Anytips?

  • audiomontana

    see my feature requests in traktor 3 forum circa 2008 2009

  • David De Garie-Lamanque

    now this is DJing as an art form! awesome performance and set-up!
    and it’s really cool how you make an awesome and entertaining tune out of a loop!

    • Tomash Ghz

      thank you for your kind words 🙂

  • Xian

    This is really awesome. I would love to see a blog with the development process you used to wire it up and design the casing and what not. The source code would be neat too.

  • psy/OPs

    man, that was awesome! I hope you’re using this to inject live-electronics in between tracks in your dj sets. Simply no reason not to when you have this level of control 🙂

    • Tomash Ghz

      yeah that was exactly the whole idea 🙂

  • Tomash Ghz

    Anybody interested just fill in this so I could easily keep track of it 🙂
    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1uBGWvPkV-t6FLkSSphTEMWnqjAiZ15ncWIHM-QVBsGY/viewform

  • Miguel Milheiro

    Awesome! If Richie Hawtin sees this, you will soon be hired by his label. The only problem is the entry test. They make you swim in a 1 meter square pool, hold your balance on top of a ballon and drink water (that’s the only thing I am not able to do:) Thanks for the video. Great skills.

    • Tomash Ghz

      ahahah, lets hope he does and I might manage the challenges 😉 but i better practice! glad you like it 🙂

  • Mekon

    Make it in PURE DATA(or max patch) so anyone with 16 buttons can have this, please

    • Tomash Ghz

      I’d love to but unfortunately I’m no good with pd or max

  • Fernando Midi

    You are a genius!

  • Roni

    Any idea how can i do that with my maschine?

    • Nude Photo Music

      Run Maschine stand-alone (not as a plugin) and route midi notes from it to Traktor. Map the notes to samples in a sample deck. Boom – same thing. You could use any piece of gear that sends midi notes out (MPC, electribe, groove box) to do it as well. The trick is to map the notes to the samples in traktor and sync the sequencer to traktor’s clock.

      • Tomash Ghz

        Couldn’t have said it better myself! 🙂

      • Roni

        Ok that’s good and all, but I’m a beginner. Is there a video or link on how i can do that? like a more specific step by step process? I’m not familiar with the terms yet too. I just heard about that since the update on traktor 2.6.2. PLEASE HELP A ROOKIE! Thanks for the help though!

        • danny

          Would love see a vid aint got a clue where to start would love a step sequencer with my remix decks..wish native instruments would do maschine integration 🙁

      • DJ_ForcedHand

        How bad would it be on performance to simply automate the MIDI clock sync every second or so?

  • AJ ORBIT

    <3

  • Manou

    yay! nice one! would love to by/build something similar :).. Are you going to share a buildlog or something like that? Also the code you´ve written would be awesome 😉

  • Eoghain

    This is so so so sick! Fair play man this just looks like so much fun to use and its brilliant idea.

  • Mad Zach

    too cool Tomash, so you built the step sequencer into the firmware on your controller?

    • Tomash Ghz

      Yes, at that moment it seemed like the most sensible thing to do. But I’m guessing this could also be done with some intermediate Max patch for just any controller.

  • Micha

    People like you should get employed with the big companies! Vids like this are a resume on itself!
    Love this stuff!

    • Tomash Ghz

      Thanks Micha! I’m really glad you guys enjoyed this!
      Then lets hope they see this 😉

  • Ewan Collins

    That Digital Warrior controller is sick.