How do you all use random, chance, and accident?

I’d love to know how people here are using random, chance, and accident. It’d be good to get a broad discussion on how it is used in music, modular, other hardware, software and why not in any other area you care to share about. My frustration with feeling that I’m not using wogglebug to it’s full potential made me want to start a thread, but I’ve always thought about these things a lot in terms of visual production too.

“It’s really a continuous question of the fight between accident and criticism. Because what I call accident may give you some mark that seems to be more real, truer to the image than another one, but it’s only your critical sense that can select it.” Francis Bacon


cool thread! randomness is something i am so attached to both in my modular patches and in my life. going with the flow, letting things take their course.

as for modules, patches, pieces, etc… some of my favorite ways to use random sources are:

  • clock an LFO with a random pulse and use that LFO to control the advancing of a sequence
  • quantize random voltage to create melody that never really repeats but is always in tune (a la turing machine)
  • some kind of very slow random CV to advance a patch or introduce a new voice
  • just general clocking (but i always have one master clock, even something that the random is synched too, so everything sounds musical)

random CV is giving you… CV! so try using it for anything that you would use non random CV with. rhythms, melodies, commands, timbres, mixing, panning, filter, delay, etc etc

i like to think of randomness as natural, not so much as something unwieldy that i am unsure where to place. it can belong anywhere :slight_smile:


I rewatch this video a lot. It’s helped me a ton.

The single biggest takeaway from it for me was to find a place in your patch that knob twiddling produces something you like, then route cv signal through a vca, attach that signal to “the knob” then modulate the signal with ‘random’. Very prescriptive but it opened a door in my mind that’s led to way more satisfying patches and use of random (and soon teletype chaos!)

Also, I like to clock wogglebug to tame it a bit and I use the sample and hold button a lot to add some variations. Plus burst triggers to mix things up.


I like pieces that combine a small group of notes but allow the sequencing of them to evolve randomly. I use a pressure points for this quite a bit - patch a slow, semi-random clock pulse to it and quantize the output of the 4 notes. Turn the knobs gently after a while to get different tones or to take the piece “up” or “down”. Patch a slow moving LFO to the reset or direction inputs.

Although my favorite experiences with randomness, chance, and accident are when I get a brand new module that I have no idea how to operate. There’s always the initial patch that goes awry in a good way. Exciting for me but probably not a lot of fun to listen to or watch.


fun bit of patch: use AND logic to combine a random burst with a clock pulse to get a random gate that stays in sync with rest of the patch


I love using attenuated random cv to modulate parameters in a subtle way. Great thread. :slight_smile:


I don’t have much to contribute to this thread right now with my current lack of hardware resulting in pseudo-randomness and a much more controlled sense of chance and accident (thanks to the undo command and the ability to switch settings/presets at anytime).

This comment was really just intended to state my appreciation for your Francis Bacon quote, and adding another relevant favorite from him that I identify with:

“I believe in deeply ordered chaos.”

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Something I have done before that worked well was using a random source to CV the speed of an LFO, and then use the sine output of that to CV the speed of two clocks - one being controlled by the inverted sinewave - so that as one clock speeds up the other slows down. These then drive two different sequencers - that can either be used to run two separate melodic lines (done slowly gives a lovely drifitng effect), or can also be used to sum together and generate a semi-random sequence (especially effective with S&H or a triggered quantizer - run the clocks at a higher speed for this).


Oh - and the A149-1 RCV - really important to use the CV controls on that - to change the range of randomness. Similarly, using a random source through a VCA (controlled by envelope / LFO) and then through a S&H to grab snapshots. Both of these add a good bit of randomness but with a sense of control.

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I do that when adding vibrato - I add a tiny bit of CV control to the LFO so the speed of the vibrato varies a tiny bit. Stops it feeling too sterile, adds a bit of that magical uncertainty.


Does anyone use the “expert” Batumi firmware? Hows the random with that?

Yeah, attenuation is key, especially on wogglebug IMO, especially when you want wogglebug to control pitch. Wogglebug was one of my first modules, I really pictured it creating random sequences, but it took me a long time to figure out how to do that effectively. Attenuation was the first step. Now I use it almost exclusively for CV signal manipulation (although I guess pitch is a signal…anywho, you get what i mean.)

Random / unpredictability is a cornerstone (IMO) of modular composition / patching. Would love to hear from some laptop folks.

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Uh, basically, wake up in the morning?


I’ve found myself dragged ever further in to the world of aleatoric processes. Almost completely at times in fact. I welcome chance intervention, at the micro and at the macro level, along both horizontal and vertical axes. The modules I’ve gravitated to are richly rewarding in this vein–the NLC control-oriented modules are magisterial sources of randomness, car crashes, train wrecks, and all kinds of other delicious mayhem.

They can be tamed, and can produce incredibly subtle results as well.

For me, with modular, I’ve come to think of it as sculpting a sound piece rather than composing a piece of music. When I first set chisel to stone, I have no idea what’s going to happen. And once I begin to sense a shape emerging, I will end up surprised at how the “final result” (I.e., when I decide to go no further), is already miles away from that previously imagined shape.


I talk about Midivolve all the time. Not only does it do randomization, it also does mutation. Mutation is the notion of taking a static sequence and altering it subtly (probably using a drunk walk algorithm, I’m guessing) every N passes through the sequence.

And then, neither modular nor laptop, but the new Octatrack firmware has trig conditions that can include probability.

Back to laptops, lots of the monome apps include various random and/or probability based techniques. Lots of softsynths have parameter randomization. Most DAWs have ways of creating modulators that can be random in nature.


discovered that I really like the sound of ‘pseudo-random’ note gestures based on concurrent non-divisible sequences. E.g if you have a 5-long arpeggio pattern sequenced against a 3-long accent pattern it takes 15 quarter notes to repeat, super-impose 7-long octave pattern & the repeating sequence is now 105 beats long.

It feels like the listener-brain registers some kind of pattern, but you’d drive yourself crazy trying to actually memorise/recreate the effect on a ‘traditional’ instrument. Tools like tidal & kria are obviously designed to generate this kind of ‘random’.

I periodically wonder about techniques for ‘humanising’ for the mechanical rhythms in these type of sequences. It’d be interesting to sequence ‘groove micro-timing’ - maybe this is already a feature of tidal!?


How does chaos fit into all this? I realise it’s a specific thing mathematically, but in practice…?

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looks like this thread will be a good place to scavenge for teletype ideas…


Regarding chaos, I’d be curious to hear from folks who are into using feedback based approaches (rungler, etc). It’s an arrow I’ve been meaning to add to my quiver.

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Random, chance, and accident allows me to stay interested in my own music/sound art.

I am obsessed with the emotions and mental imprint felt/left by experiencing something for the first time.
One of the only ways I’ve found to feel this for myself, with work that I’m responsible for, is to introduce some level of unpredictability.

For me this usually starts with a couple/few looped tracks of differing length containing some sort of improvised instrument playing. If the two tracks are interesting enough and sound good together, then I’ll have a solid base of melodies and rhythms that ebb, flow, coalesce, and tense.


I think @shreeswifty has made some software runglers…

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