Orca - alternative firmware for white whale


it’d be a pretty safe bet to say it’ll be quite some time before that happens!


I finally got around to installing Orca. Loving it so far :smile:

One thing I can’t seem to find, is there a way to get one of the triggers to fire when the pitch of a CV fires? Basically I’d like to use trigger 1 for an envelope of CV A and trigger 2 for an envelope of CV B


yeah, definitely! go to the settings page (will help to have this open: https://github.com/scanner-darkly/monome-mods/wiki/Orca#settings)

you can select settings for each trigger here, the confusing bit is - unlike CV settings rows here represent triggers, not tracks (easier to visualize if you think of the trigger outputs on the module), and for each trigger you select tracks horizontally, not vertically, like CV.

you also want to have AND and NOT logic off (so 3rd and 4th column unlit). this means that the trigger output will be fired whenever any of the selected tracks changes state. so if you want your trigger 1 to fire whenever CV A changes pitch just select the same tracks as CV A. hope this makes sense!

a neat trick to get 4 sequences with only 2 CV outs is to share a CV between 2 oscillators, but then shape their amplitudes with envelopes triggered by 2 different triggers, same for the other CV. and once you start playing with attack/decay values you get sequences that kinda flow into each other.

and try changing the trigger type (2nd column) for more variation, default is triggering on both positive and negative edge, but you can change that to positive only or gate.


Ah of course, that makes perfect sense… just OR the tracks which make up the given CV. I also didn’t catch on right away that the track / trigger matrix is transposed from the track / cv one.


been meaning to post about this - saw something and the name got my attention, and it turned out to be one of those awesome unexpected connections - it’s called Arca Musarithmica:

what is really striking is the similarities not just in the name, but some of the principles involved:

The arca is a box containing a set of wooden rods or slats (or “tariffa” as Kircher called them). Each slat contains a set of numbers, which correspond to notes in a scale or mode, as well as an assortment of rhythmic treatments for those notes."


Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! (sorry, 20 chars…)


Took delivery of WW and Arc 4 this morning. 11 hours later, my head is spinning but in the best possible way. What a fantastic instrument Orca is!
Moving from Grid programming and reset to Arc ‘jamming’ is very intuitive and I’m optimistic I might finally have found a portable live performance system.
I don’t suppose any time in the future we might be able to control modules with Grid AND Arc, would we? Short term the TT update and remote control of Orca should allow Arc control + triggered reset, etc, which would be necessary for me I think… hot swapping mid improv - I’m not keen on that idea…


lloyd, you know that @scanner_darkly has a tt beta firmware which already does orca remote control, right?
you’ll loose your tt presets when you flash it, but thought i’d let you know in any case.


I went looking for this yesterday, based on his comments it was clear that he must have it, but I couldn’t find it so I guess it isn’t public.
I’ll PM him and see if I can try it, thanks.
Just need to annotate my TT patches (most done already).


forgot to include it with the latest release, you can find the Orca supporting TT version here: https://github.com/scanner-darkly/monome-mods/releases/tag/v2.2

as @myecholalia mentioned, you will lose your current TT presets if you update (and it will not have the official presets either). the next official TT release will include Orca support, so if you want to at least keep the official presets you might want to wait for that.

always interested to hear feedback on how Orca feels from a live performance point of view - this aspect was important to me, so hopefully it works well!


on being able to use arc and grid simultaneously - this comes down to adding a code to support USB hubs. doable in theory but not something i would want to tackle… hopefully it’ll be possible at some point.

one possible solution in the meantime is using 2 modules, one with arc and one with grid and using TT as the communication / control centre.


some tips on using Orca with TT:

  • use preset reload command (II OR.RELOAD) in INIT script
  • reload is also useful when assigned to a trigger so you can tweak your sequence with arc and then have it come back to the original sequence when you reset
  • you can clock individual tracks via TT, but the main clock input will still advance all of the tracks (as it normally does) - this can be used for further variation, or if you just want individual clocks just insert a dummy cable into the clock input to disable the main clock
  • rotate/mutate features depend on the main clock though, so their sequencers won’t work if the main clock is disabled - you can rotate/mutate using TT commands however! so you could use something like ES to control that.


Great stuff.
Can’t wait to get started.


I don’t have a flash.command file for TT, but could I just take the orca one and edit it replacing ‘orca.hex’ with ‘teletype.hex’ and make sure they are in the same folder?
Seems logical…


yep! exactly. let me know if that works, if not i’ll upload the file.


Soldering. Grr. I thought the soldering to connect was in the past.
I’ll need to wait until the weekend to see my pal who solders.


OK. My pal Noah did the soldering and I’m up and running.
Very exciting.
I have (yet another) question for you -
Now that I seem to be happy working in a Grid and Arc centred system, I think I might be able to make a live set up which is quite small…
But I need polysynths sometimes, so I’m wondering if you think I might be able to work with Aleph and a synth and a sampler without my brain exploding? As you know, I am not a coder, but I have worked with some (I wrote a Macromedia (yes, that long ago) Flash website, once…).
Thanks again for all your help,


the aleph does not have a polysynth itself, and is currently limited to a single usb device. it might not be the most fitting move for your needs.

i’m working on something along the lines of what you’re asking for, but it’ll be a bit of time before i can realistically show anything.

glad you’re enjoying the system!


damn, all those hints lately are too exciting :smile:


Thanks for clarifying. Exciting times with all these new developments.