# Intense Tech with Defense Mech — Don’t Sleep on Z (feat. Hypnogram)

- Posted December 13th, 2018 by DEFENSE MECHANISM

Hello, I’m DEFENSE MECHANISM! Welcome back to Intense Tech, where we take an in-depth look at some of the features of LSDj to both help you level up your understanding and your skills as an artist!

In last month’s lesson, we looked at the wave synth. We’ll be detouring away from wave synthesis for a couple lessons, but we’ll return after we lay the groundwork for an exciting wave synth lesson! This month, we’ll take a look at the Z command for LSDj and explore how it can spice up your life!

Note: An earlier version of this post, written by Hypnogram appears at: https://hypnogrammusic.blogspot.com/2016/03/dontsleep-on-z-by-h-ypnogram.html (Used with permission – Thanks Noah!)

Like the LSDj Wave synth which we looked at in the last two tutorials, the perplexing Z command is often misunderstood. Let’s clear the matter up with some fun demonstrations of creative uses of the Z command. By the end of this lesson, you’ll be armed with a load of new techniques for adding some controlled chaos to your compositions!

To begin, let’s take to the LSDj manual (version 6+), to get at exactly what the Z command is:

Z: RandomiZe
The Z command repeats the last non-Z command, adding a random number to the original command value. The Z value controls the maximum value of each digit to be added.

Now, let’s get right into learning via example:

## Random Vibrato

For the first example, I’ll break things down step by step. On step 0, we have a note with a V00 command. Every other step afterwards, we have the same note with a Z03 command. Since the last non-Z command was V, each Z03 will act as another V command, applying one value out of four possible values: either V00 again, V01, V02, or V03. However, it will not add to or otherwise affect the previous Z command – so you can’t randomize a Z command itself.

## Random Duty Cycle

It may not entirely make sense at first how the Z command could apply to a case like pulse duty cycle, since the W command uses graphical values instead of numbers, but rest assured it works very well.

12.5% pulse width = 00
25% pulse width = 01
50% pulse width = 02
75% pulse width = 03

In this example. every Z03 command has the possibility of applying any possible duty cycle. However, since 25% and 75% effectively sound identical, it will provide more random variation in the sound if the Z command’s range is reduced by changing it to Z02, which will give us either 12.5%, 25%, or 50% with equal probability.

## Random Panning

The O command is another case where it isn’t obvious how the Z command works. O controls left/right output and can also be used to mute output from both channels entirely. It is therefore important when applying Z commands that you choose the initial value of the O command carefully.

OLR (both channels on) = 00
O__ (both channels off) = 01
OL_ (Left channel only) = 02
O_R (Right channel only) = 03

In this example, we are alternating between left-only and right-only panning. However, if we wanted to randomly choose between both channels on, left channel only, and right channel only, we would set our initial O command to OL_, then use successive Z02 commands.

In version 6, the Z command also works in tables, where it will randomize the last effect used in the table. Randomly alternating between OLR and O__ can be used on a table for an instrument with Automate=ON for a random gating effect, as shown here:

In this case and in the case of pulse duty cycle changes above, if the range of the Z command exceeds these 4 values, the value will be the remainder after the Z value is divided by 4. For example, if Z17 randomly applies the value of 17 to our P or O command, 17 divides into 4 4 times (16) while leaving a remainder of 1, so this Z command would apply the same effect as it would if it were applying the value of 01.

## Random Melody

Let’s note the second part of the LSDj manual’s description of the Z command, where it states that Z controls “the maximum value of each digit to be added.” This means that each digit of the Z command functions independently of the other.

Example:
Z02 adds one of 0, 1, 2 to the original value.
Z20 adds one of 0, 10, 20 to the original value.
Z22 adds one of 0, 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 22 to the original value.
Note: Randomize does not work with Hop, Groove and Delay commands at the moment.

This can be useful in cases where we want to randomize pitch, for instance using the F command. Fxy controls pulse finetune with the second digit y, and the first digit x controls the tuning for pulse channel 2. x represents how many semitones (half-steps) should be added to the current note. So by applying ZF0, we can randomize a melody, but only in pulse channel 2. Each Z command will add any note in between and including our current note to an octave plus a major third above it.

## Random Chords

In LSDj version 4, the digits in the Z commands were not independent of one another, which makes using Z with the C (Chord) command less useful, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some interesting sounds out of it. With the independence version 6 introduced, it’s possible to gain more control so that, for instance, chords can randomly alternate between major and minor. A minor chord is created with C37, and a major chord is created with C47. Therefore, if we use a C37 command and apply Z10, the Z command will apply either C37 or C47.

## Random Sweep

Our final example is a signature Hypnogram sound (listen at the 1:30 mark to hear it in context). It’s really fun and easy. Keep in mind that this lead sound will only work in Pulse channel 1 as it’s the only channel that features a hardware sweep.

These are just a few examples of what you can do with the Z command. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try to come up with your own! Until next time, this is DEFENSE MECHANISM signing off!