Perhaps the most unique facet of Husserl is its built-in intermodulation. The design is intuitive and flexible; generally, when you set a modulation, it occurs where you expect. Conversely, if you don’t want a modulation, you can stop it from happening.

For example, Husserl separates triggers and gates from pitch, velocity, and duration information. If you want one sequencer to trigger another, but not change the note pitch, you can leave the pitch modulation off. If you want a sequence to modulate another’s pitch, but not trigger it, you can set the pitch modulation without a trigger. And if you want a note to modulate the note which triggered it, you can do that too.

Delving into Triggers & Modulations

In Husserl, pattern steps can do more than simply trigger or gate another pattern step. Multiple patterns can also gate a clocked sequence polyphonically, or trigger entire fugues of chords running concurrently. Simultaneously, patterns can modulate each other without triggering them. To do so, Husserl internally handles notes from modulation and trigger sources differently, while providing a consistent and simple interface for both.

For example, if a trigger starts a fugue, and it also modulates the fugue’s pitch, then all the notes in the fugue are transposed by the trigger note’s pitch, but not by other notes from the same sequencer. Other notes from the same trigger source start other fugues, which are transposed separately. So, if the trigger sequence is C3, D3, E3, then triggers start consecutive fugues that differ in pitch from the previous one by an octave. The single-octave transposition from the trigger source then remains in place for all notes in the entire length of each fugue separately, even if the fugues overlap.

At the same time, other sequencers can modulate the fugue pitch but not trigger the fugue itself. In that case, the fugue sequencer samples the pitch from the modulation source each time a note plays, in every single sequence. It then applies that transposition to all fugue notes, no matter when or who triggered them, until it receives a different pitch from the modulation source. Now in writing, that is quite difficult to explain, and perhaps difficult to understand. But when the result is heard, it sounds intuitively correct.

Breezing through the Matrix

In terms of musical control, a matrix of over 1,000 pins interconnects 16 sequencers. But each sequencer's panel contains just its own 64 trigger and modulation sources, in a 16x4 grid divided into four quadrangles. That keeps the interface simple. There are no separate pins depending on whether modulations are from trigger sources or not. Husserl resolves what to do for each pin internally. And in the global panels, all the matrix pins are accessible in one unified view.

As sequencers fire their triggers, light rings on the pins indicate which are firing, dynamically. The matrix grid contains an enormous routing power, but is compact and after hearing the result of a few pin toggles, it's very easy to understand what it can do. So the complexity is contained, but totally accessible, and easy to see at a glance.

Expanding the Concepts

Husserl doesn't just have clock and fugue modes, but also layer and step modes. So, intermodulation can occur not only in fugues, but also in polyphonic layered and stepped sequences. How? In exactly the same way as for fugues. If pitch modulation is not turned on, then the trigger source advances the step, or gates the layer--but the trigger’s pitch does not affect the step or layer pitch. If pitch modulation is turned on for the trigger source, then the trigger source’s pitch applies to that step, or to that layer--but not to other steps or layers from the same sequencer. On the other hand, if a third sequencer is modulating pitch, but not triggering the step or layer, then the third sequencer’s pitch affects all notes on the triggered step or layer (until the third sequencer changes pitch, or the modulation is deactivated).

And just so, as for pitch modulation, so also for velocity and duration modulation. Internally, Husserl contains complex logic to discern and combine multiple modulations from different sequencer sources, and depending on whether they are triggers or not, puts them all together differently. But the interface is a simple button with a light ring, and the end result is an intuitive sound, exactly as one expects, within a single, simple, unified, integrated, prebuilt, and compact interface.

Mysterious Modulations

Modular designers are well familiar with the problems of timing and synchronization. In Husserl, the modularity is built in. Moreover, due to the embedded modulation matrix architecture, all notes can modulate all others--even notes which triggered them. That is a very difficult level of synchronization to achieve, even with dedicated hardware. But more importantly, it creates fascinating rhythms and melodies very quickly and easily, as it only takes a few clicks to build complex compound melodies from a few patterns.

In the above example, a fugue, modulated by other sequences, could modulate the pitch of the sequence which triggered it. By varying the tempo and timing of the fugue and other sequences, and muting a few modulation sources, this creates rich melodies which sound complex, yet not random. Our ears pick out the hidden ordered relationships between the notes, but obscured by unknown layers of patterns, we are uncertain exactly what the relationship actually is. And because of self modulation, and other enhancements in Husserl, it only takes a handful of patterns to make an intricate melody, in just a few clicks.

Magical Melodies

The effect is independent of music genre--the melody can be in a rock beat, or in a slow ambiance, or in a jazz piece, or in the slow movement of classical strings, or in a fast paced electronica trancescape; the same fascination results. With just three or four sequences, Husserl can make music which enchants composers, musicians, and audience alike. And there are 16 sequencers, and many other ways to massage the sound....so many possibilities open up with just the intermodulation alone....but Husserl does so much more! Sapphire provides the most powerful step sequencing abilities available in a single, unified instrument. It provides all the sophistication of a modular tool, but the modularity is already built into it. With just a few clicks, all the sequencers can trigger and change each other. And MIDI can also change and trigger all the sequencers in many different ways. There's nothing else quite like it.