Pattern vs Burst
Context has an array of toggles along its x- and y-axis, each of which can be switched on or off by clicking on them.
The x-axis toggles are called the Pattern. The Pattern forms a traditional step sequencer which plays over a specific duration. The Pattern is extendable to any length, letting you house any sort of rhythm or melody.
The y-axis toggles form the Burst. These toggles all fire simultaneously at the end of the Pattern. You have a fine level of control over which of the Burst toggles will fire—it could be all, some, or none; they could also fire in a logical or a random order.
Every toggle in a Context represents an event which might occur during playback. These events are stored in a message database, and could represent several different things:
- Musical events: ie. the note “c#” or an instruction to hit a drum;
- Context events: ie. an instruction to start another Context, or modify it in some way;
- Any other message you like: It doesn’t have to be music! Context can control anything in PD.
Each Context object has over 130 parameters which control its behaviour, and these parameters are defined by a special set of commands, known at the Input Language. For instance, the x/y dimensions of Context, the toggles which are open, and the messages that it sends are all defined by commands. These commands can be defined on creation, or they can be sent to Context during its playback. This means that Context has the ability to control itself, offering a wealth of possibilities in generative music.
The messages that Context sends are interpreted by a second language, which evaluate custom formulas. This allows you to do things like send random numbers, scale them, and create patterns relative to some input. The Output language is infinitely customizable, adding a new layer of possibilities for generative composition.
As well as being a sequencer, each Context object is also an embedable timeline. You can place a special object [content] inside Context to play back an audio sample or envelope. These samples are movable and re-sizable, so you can arrange samples just as you would on a DAW timeine.
You can control a Context network using the Novation Launchpad. The launchpad has three main modes, macro, medium and micro, which are colour-coordinated with Context to give you immediate control. You can start or stop a Context, turn toggles on and off, and record information into it in real time, all using Launchpad buttons. This gives you must faster, finer control over Context than using a mouse and keyboard.
Besides [context], the Context library also contains lots of other useful objects. Learn about them here.