Orca - alternative firmware for white whale


If I could butt in… the grid is the primary interface for setting up orca, white whale and other sequences. The arc has its place, but if you’re looking at one or the other, you will get more use from the grid.


I know your absolutely right… I also came to that conclusion myself. :slight_smile:


So I made this a while ago and just found it again on my phone. My first jam with Orca:

Patch details? I can’t remember honestly. I know Mangrove is providing the main bass line and I believe the DPO and STO are providing the percussion hits. Its all there in the video if you want to dissect it but I can’t be of any help. What a great thing you’ve made here!


thanks for recording / posting it - it’s always great to see what people do with orca! hope this encourages others to post as well.

if anybody is interested in more examples i often post orca videos on instagram, here are some of the better ones:


Hi! Trying to decide between purchasing an Ansible (for Kria) or a White Whale (if one is found) for Orca. Might someone explain the differences between the two—Kria and Orca? Thanks!


I recommend watching the videos - Orca and Kria are so different to me that I would not know how to explain it.


Kria is a combination of several sequencing techniques. You could probably implement it on your own with a small handful of modules but the interface on Grids is far more appealing and engaging to me.

Orca is a different animal (sorry) altogether and was less configurable (to me) in a good way. Orca invited me to push more buttons as opposed to Kria where you can program very specific sequences if you wanted. Orca always surprised me - maybe that’s because I didn’t learn it well. I also liked that Orca could work with Arc - in a very limited way, albeit - but this is a welcomed perk.

Long story short, I have both and use both. Even though they don’t operate the same way, I’m not sure I could recommend the energy and $$$ of seeking out a WW just for Orca. Its very nice, indeed, but there’s so much to learn in Kria (and Ansible’s included apps in general) that most folks would be happy with just that. I have WW in one system and Ansible in another. Orca stays loaded on the WW module. Ansible gives you more flexibility and I would think its possible to port Orca to Ansible.


I was going to ask too if it is possible to port Orca to Ansible


I would also love to see Orca on Ansible.


Here’s the official word from November.


yep, that’s where i’m at at the moment - things change though, so we’ll see. i do need to work on a couple of other things first…


I’ve been having lots of fun sitting down and finally learning Orca tonight. Really great sequencer! I feel like I haven’t explored all the different scale modulations yet, but getting there.

One thing I would like to request, though not sure how to fit it into the UI (maybe a double-press on the dividers button?), is some kind of global clock divider/multiplier. So that I could easily switch the whole sequence into half or 2/3 time at the push of a button.

Another thing which would be nice: Being able to couple a CV change to a gate output. For example right now, if you set a gate output into gate mode, the CV values can still change while the gate is high, leading to pitch slides / changes while a note is playing. It would be great to have the option to lock the CV while the gate goes high.


Okay, one more request, now that I’ve dug into the rotate sequencers, it would be great if the clocks of those could be divided independently from the other clock divisions. I really like the scale shifts, but they happen way too quickly. It would be great to shift the scales every few “measures” for example.

Also, some way to reset the scale and weight rotations to their initial values… although I guess that can be done by saving presets first.

And one last one: it would be nice if double-tapping on phase, resets, or chance would clear those pages similarly to how it does with the rotation pages.


global clock div/mult - the latest version has this already actually! when you have an ext clock connected the clock knob selects div/mult (in the range of /8…1…*8). however there is a bug and i’m not entirely happy with that whole implementation. i’m working on a new implementation, and hoping to make it easily re-usable so that it can be added to any firmware, and the plan is to apply it to white whale first and orca next.

gate output on CV change - i see what you mean… need to think how to add it to the UI. i could add it as another trigger/gate mode, or just replace one of the 2 trigger modes (perhaps trigger on positive edge is not as useful?).

for rotate sequencers - agreed, just need to figure out a way to specify it without overcomplicating the UI. there is a workaround right now - you can use TT to rotate instead, and then you have complete freedom over how you trigger it. for resetting i think yeah, using presets is probably the easiest way to achieve that, imo it’s pretty fast and intuitive to use.

double-tapping phase/resets/chance - good idea, will add that!

glad to hear you’re enjoying it!


I was thinking more for the internal clock. So you can “shift gears” so to speak by slowing down / speeding up the entire sequencer at once. It’s a technique I really like to use, but I guess I can use the external clock when I want to do this.

I didn’t really mean gate output on a CV change. More of a “freeze CV while gate is high” so that the pitch doesn’t scan around.

yeah, I got into using presets a lot soon after posting that and it definitely works well for resetting. Using TT for the rotates would work nicely, if I had a TT :wink:

Thanks for putting this stuff under consideration, and for the great sequencer :slight_smile: I’m working on putting together a live set for a show later this month that will be played mostly via Orca :slight_smile:


one of the things i’m considering for clock div/mult is to also apply it when running on internal clock - this does seem like a useful function. once i get it working i’ll do a separate thread to get opinions on all the different options for clock div/mult and how they should be handled UI-wise.

ah, that’s quite different. this is a bit more problematic from the UI point of view - at the moment i can’t quite see how it could be added to the UI without making it too complicated. i could make you a one off version for now though if you needed this functionality for your performance. speaking of which - awesome! would love to see it - when/where are you performing?


Thanks, I will think about how this can be incorporated into the UI. I can probably do without it until I figure that out :slight_smile:

The performance will be on March 30th at the Red Gate. Just a short part of a larger show :slight_smile:


great - i should be able to make it!


Hello again. I’ve been away for a while, but I’m now trying to reacquaint myself with Orca and I’m really struggling with the scales. I don’t know what I’m doing. I read the wiki over and over again and I can’t seen to grasp the logic.
I see that there is a top row of preset scales which cannot be edited.
I see the row below are editable scales.
The bottom two rows are the same 16 scales chosen for CVA and/or CV B. But what are these scales? Are they empty until copied to?
I can edit a scale, I can copy that edited scale to a user scale, but I cannot seem to be sure that I won’t accidentally overwrite it. I just did this.

Would it be possible for a Scales 101 for Dummies? A video could be really helpful, I think.


when the scale page button is pressed the 4 bottom rows represent the following:

row 6 - shared scales
row 7 - scale for CV A
row 8 - scale for CV B```

let's forget about scale presets and shared scales for a second. each orca preset has 16 scales. no matter what you do CV A and CV B will always use one of these 16 scales. they're not empty by default - if i recall correctly they are prepopulated with the same notes as the scale presets. let's call them user scales.

the bottom 2 rows represent these 16 scales, there are 2 rows so that you can select different scales for CV A and B, but the same column in these 2 rows represents the same user scale. the one that is brighter is the currently selected scale (the one you touched last), and that's the scale that is open for editing when you go to the scale edit page.

now back to scale presets and shared scales, these are row 5 and 6 from the top respectively. whenever you press on one of these it will copy that scale into the currently selected user scale. these are not used by CV A and B at all (remember, it will always play from the 16 user scales), but selecting them simply copies them to whatever user scale is currently selected. 

scale presets are just that, a quick way to set your current user scale to one of the presets (ionian, dorian etc). the shared scales are like scale presets that you can overwrite with your own scales (and since these are shared by all orca presets you can use them to copy scales between presets). you can't edit shared scales like you would with user scales. the only way to update a shared scale is by copying a user scale into it. if you don't need to copy scales between presets you don't need to use these shared scales at all.

hopefully this clarifies things a bit! good timing actually - i'm planning to do some work on orca soon, and among other things i'd like to redo the scale page. orca grew quite quickly and organically as evidenced by this thread, and as a result the UI is pretty confusing in places, the scale page being the worst offender - currently it carries too many functions with too many button combinations. i think it should be separated into 2 or 3 pages really, which hopefully should address some of the confusion. i'd love to hear ideas on how to improve this area, and any other improvements i should consider.