Drum track enhancement idea: variations

Originally posted in the “Replacing my Pyramid…” topic, but figured that discussion is more useful to Pyramid owners considering Hapax purchase without somebody’s crazy ideas that may never happen.

This is indeed a bit of a pain point. 8 lanes is technically enough for the average rhythm part itself, but if you consider fills and variations and the lack of note naming in non-drum tracks…

It’s particularly painful because things like the hi-hat eats three lanes or more. It’s just a single instrument! Just that it can produce different sounds depending on how it’s played. I think this would be neatly solvable if each lane supported variations: you could cram in all the hi-hat variations into a single lane, and the variants could be displayed with different colors on the grid lane (think, orange for open, cyan for closed). Variation changeable by holding the note and rotating an encoder I suppose. I might even add ride (think red) in there too because it’s unlikely to be used at the same time as hi-hat, at least in the music I make. I’d think this sort of arrangement would make it even easier “hear” the rhythm from the visual representation than it is now.

And of course that goes for everything else too: a snare lane could have basic snare, rim and brush variants. With two tom lanes, with multiple variants each, you could cover anything a drummer can physically play. Ditto with cymbals, etc.

The instrument definition would need a different approach to support this of course. There could be a separate section for named notes (which would also help the other cases), and then the drum lane section would just refer to those. Something like this, using basic GM drum kit as an example:

NULL:10:36 Kick
NULL:10:37 Side stick
NULL:10:38 Snare
NULL:10:42 Hihat closed
NULL:10:46 Hihat open
NULL:10:44 Hihat pedal

1: Kick
2: Snare, Side stick
3: Hihat closed, Hihat open, Hihat pedal

In this example all the notes are on the same channel and output, but with this kind of scheme you could end up with notes on different channels and outputs sharing the same lane. Dunno how much of an issue that would be.

FWIW, I intend to file this variation idea to Squarp through the official channel too, just want to see if there’s useful input from the forum first.


I’d rather just have more than 8 lanes available, so you can scroll up and down, just like poly tracks.


I too would prefer an additional 8 or 16 lanes as that would be more versatile/less limited to drums but I still like your idea.

Of course, adding more lanes and scrolling is the “obvious” and “traditional” answer, and I wont be complaining if they do just that. I just don’t find it a particularly good way to represent the instrument in question, so trying to think outside that box a bit.

To me it seems the Hapax approach is more about having everything immediately accessible on the grid rather than big numbers (of tracks, patterns etc). The extra dimension offered by pad colors is kinda unused in the current drum stepmode, and would visualize the variations nicely.

But having to set a different note for each step you add seems like a pita. Way easier and quicker to just add steps to different rows and scroll up and down.

But I get what you’re saying. Maybe a way to fold/unfold different rows into 1 row of different colors would be the best of both worlds?

So for example: you can create a “group” of notes. Then press some encoder or button combination to fold those rows into 1 single row with a different color for each note. Then you can unfold it again by pressing one of the pads of the row, so you can edit the steps again in separate rows.

You wouldn’t have to set a different note for each step, the only difference would be for the non-defaults. Eg, if hihat closed is the default value for hi-hat then entering that doesn’t differ from how it’s now, just then open and pedal variants. But okay, I see how entering notes can be (much) faster if they’re just separate rows to tab on - assuming they’re nearby.

From a slightly different angle: eight drum notes may be just about enough for a single song, but you’d really just want to setup the drum track of your sampler/synth once and for all and then just use it, instead of fiddling around to make some different drum available on a given song. So perhaps a more practical compromise would be having “arbitrary” number of notes scrollable as drum lanes, but have the ability to hide (a different kind of fold) unused lanes to make it more usable - the more common notes would again fit on the eight grid rows.

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