With the introduction of Eurorack to my studio, my various MIDI gear has been collecting dust (figuratively and literally). And while Eurorack is a joy to work with, there’s no denying that polyphony is not its strong suit.
These issues have been gnawing at me for a while, until I came across Conductive Labs’ The NDLR. Billed as “A MIDI Four-track, Sequenced Arpeggiator, Chord Player and Drone”, I like to think of this as a tool that bridges the gap between composing and performing, acting as a sort of interactive musical arranger. This is not a review of The NDLR- I’ll save that for once I have enough time with it to share my opinion.
Instead, I’d like to give you a high-level overview of how I’m integrating it into my Eurorack system in a somewhat unorthodox way.
The obvious implementation here would be to use the NDLR as the “brain” of a studio and do MIDI to CV conversion as necessary. But that would mean using The NDLR’s built-in sequencer and, frankly, I’m just not interested in traditional sequencing after tasting the sweet nectar of Eurorack sequencing madness.
So instead, I’m using Eurorack CV sequencers paired with a CV to MIDI converter (Befaco VCMC) to drive NDLR, which then generates four MIDI parts that can be sent to any MIDI gear including keyboard poly synths, DAW instruments, sampler, etc… Eventually I will probably add a MIDI to CV converter to the mix I we can bring things full-circle, i.e. CV sequence to MIDI to NDLR part, back to CV and into various Eurorack voices. Pretty wild stuff.
There are two ways to control The NDLR: via MIDI Control Change (CC) or via MIDI notes. I chose to use MIDI notes so when I output a C note on my sequencer, it can be used as a 1v/oct CV pitch source for my Euro modules as well as setting the corresponding chord on The NDLR. As long as the key and mode on the sequencer and The NDLR are the same, everything just works. There is a bit of setup involved on The NDLR and I’ll do a followup in more detail if folks are struggling.
There’s also one outstanding issue I haven’t figured out yet, which is how to change The NDLR’s Chord Types over MIDI. The implementation is a bit strange and seems to be tailored to keyboard use. I’ll have to play with this a bit more unless someone has a solution.