Cong Burn Strokes

Cong Burn Strokes: Phenomenal virtual Groovebox just got Plaits


Strokes started life as a cool Max for Live pattern device but now it’s a sampler, synthesizer and groovebox and 16 algorithms from Mutable Instruments Plaits.

Strokes 3.10

I remember writing about this when it hit version 2 a couple of years ago. It was able to push all sorts of triggers and modulation into Ableton Live. Since then, it’s grown into quite an extraordinary machine for pattern generation, manipulation and sound design, all wrapped up in a VST plugin. It can also run standalone on an iPad, turning it into a bit of a workstation.

It’s a bit complicated to explain, but I think a simple take would be that you have 4 sequencing channels that run on Euclidean step patterns. As a sound source, you can choose either a MIDI output or use the internal sampler or one of the Plaits oscillators. You’ve got sequencing, probability, logic and so on. It then gets a bit weird as you introduce channels 5-8, which are not under your direct control. Instead, they derive their content from what’s happening in the 4 channels you did set up. Cool eh?

The sampler engine came along in version 3 (I think) and gave Strokes its first voice. It’s relatively simple with start and end points, bit and sample rate reduction, a filter, envelope, reverb and delay. The synth option uses 8 melodic and 8 percussive algorithms from the Plaits. You get controls over four parameters and also a built-in filter, envelope and effects. It’s very neat.

All in all, what you get is a brilliantly experimental and generative network of sequencing, patterns and modulation, all fighting over your selected sound sources. You can play in here for hours, discovering combinations of sound and mixing sequences.

Strokes is very reasonably priced at £35 for the Windows or macOS plugin.