The Accord Melisma
Eurorack Module
by SDS Digital & K

The Melisma brings an unexpected fluidness to MIDI.
If you've dreamed of integrating your synths with your modular system,
or secretly dreamed of manipulating MIDI in the most modular way possible,
the Melisma is just for you!


Introducing the Melisma!

One thing that escapes the realm of "easy" in modular arrangements is the production of chords. Patching for chords is both expensive (in the physical dimension way and cost-wise) and time consuming. The Melisma is a multi-tiered solution to creating chords as well as accompanying melody or bass line in a very simple way, without breaking the bank.

The Melisma can imitate a concert pianist,  a tech-heavy trance sequence, or ambient with a mission, the choice is yours!

How does it work?

First off, the Melisma outputs MIDI exclusively. So if you have a MIDI synth, GM player, or like to use a DAW along side your rack this is the module for you! If you are not into MIDI, it is certainly worth acquiring a MIDI2CV module (of which there are many to choose from) just to take advantage of the features of this module. We plan to offer a rear-patched MIDI2CV interface in the future that will include proprietary link capability as well as a MIDI merger.

Because the Melisma has 64 chords built-in you can patch as few as 2 jacks to begin playing these chords. All of the other jacks give musically precise control over the way the chord is played and allow an amazing amount of flexibility in the way a sequence or whole piece will sound. These chords can be from the main list, or one of the user programmable lists to fit your style of composition.

Seamlessly switch a chord progression into an Arpeggiation sequence, or manually control bursts of notes in different cadences with the Hold input. Any pulses entering the ACLK (arp clock) will trigger notes according to the type of Arp that is selected. (There are 8 popular types easily accessed as a primary function of the Arp button)
"Pulling apart" chords is musically coherent in just about all types of music and these 2 inputs will do that for you!

Melody or Bass line?
A special input, LHAND, lets you pulse a musically pleasing bass line that always follows the present chord playing according to musical rules that change from chord to chord. If an analog CV is used instead, LHAND will play the notes as the CV changes so a melody can be achieved. CV input can be quantized to the scale, making it easy to make accompanying melodies with even random or haphazard sequences, or true 1V/Oct chromatic scale.
With a random CV input the Melisma can intelligently use divisions of the ACLK input to quantize and limit melody note timing to prevent 100's of notes being triggered. Sequenced CV inputs will of course trigger melody notes on a change.
The really great part of using LHAND is that it can send notes on any MIDI channel so you could have piano chords with strings or a bass guitar.

LHAND above can be configured as  "Percussa", an accumulative note burst (via ACLK) for poly percussion

The Melisma has a pair of inputs that will take a standard chord to a new level. The Inversion and Expand inputs can shift the chord so the root (lowest) note becomes one of the notes in the chord, then spread the chord out into something that sounds completely different but is always harmonically agreeing with the original chord.

Chord Timing?
The Spread input, also known as Strum,  humanizes the way a chord is played, which is surprisingly easy to set up even with a simple LFO input. Spread is an exponential delay of note to note play from 0 to 2 seconds. This means notes from one chord can overlap another resulting in some very interesting transitions indeed!

The CC CV input and knob can be configured to send any MIDI CC, PC, AT, or pitch bend. in addition,12 assignable internal functions (Progression limits, reset, Spread modifiers, LHAND timing, Arp gate, Arp Type, and Select Bus) make the CC CV the most versatile jack on the panel.

Level Control?
With the velocity jack chord's notes levels can be changed via CV, with a maximum level setting or boost. The velocity also has 3 curves to choose from.

Note lengths?
The Gate input pulse width controls the lengths of all notes that follow in the chord or arpeggiation, and also loads new chords or roots (keys) so offers great control over the way a passage is played and allows the use of less defined analog CV inputs to experiment with new combinations of chords, roots, and progressions.

Progression Sequencing?
A unique feature of the Melisma makes use of the same Root and Chord Jacks when used with digital trigger signals. This type of input is detected and the jack switches over to progressions mode to play a pre-programmed sequence of chords and/or roots from a selected user progression list. As one input can be used this way while the other with analog CV, or both with different triggers, the possibilities become endless while still maintaining a degree of control. Also "Pauses" can be inserted that wait until the opposite progression hits a pause at which point they continue together. There is a CC CV function for CV control over start/end limits, and "windowing" a range. Progressions do not require a Gate input to play.

MIDI Clock?
If the pulses on the ACLK are equally timed and relatively stable, the Melisma will output a MIDI clock that is perfect for sync'ing up delays, FX, and even Arp's in the receiving hardware to keep everything in sync with your rack. This can of course be turned off.

Behind the panel is a LINK MIDI I/O that can connect to other modules or a panel MIDI breakout for Merging MIDI or remote manipulation of select Melisma features via any MIDI controller. Keyboard connect gives you remote Root note shifting while you play.

Yes, the Melisma supports true MPE (Low Zone) or converts any multi-channel GM Synth into exactly the same thing. MPE (Multi-dimensional Polyphonic Expression for long)  allows IMPRINT CC mode to place envelopes of any CC, AT, or Pitch Bend onto notes as they play

Arp Patterns?
As of V.1.4 the Melisma supports Arpeggio Patterns. 1-16 steps that mask steps that are not turned on. Up to 8 patterns can be stored for global use. This makes it easy to create rhythmic Arps that can be easily selected via it's own Quick-Box On-screen Button!

Select Bus?
The Melisma can be a master or slave or automatic on the PSU ribbon Select Bus. As a Master, changing from one PROGram preset to another will select presets on other modules, while as a slave will choose a Preset to load from the assigned Select Bus State/Preset#. As a master (or in Auto mode) High states on the HOLD input can change the selection on the bus for Arpeggiating. There is also a CV to Select Bus selection option.

Menu Diving?
There is no menu diving in the Melisma. The way this is accomplished is on-screen boxes that can be selected via the encoder knob to access a single level of settings for that particular box. This includes lists, parameters, limits, and options. A list of adjustments for some functions may open and are edited without leaving that screen by simple scrolling to it and selecting to adjust. Some parameters are directly adjustable while still on the main screen making the Melisma quick and intuitive to use. This was a primary consideration in the design very early on!

Why not just use a DAW?

The key feature of the Melisma is to be able to create sequences that sound great without manually plugging in notes and possibly destroying the inspiration because of the amount of time this takes. I myself have recorded the Melisma into a DAW for further enhancement or to easily compose a "hook" or main sequence to try new progression ideas.



   This is the "sneak-peak" video for the Melisma in it's early development. The prototype Melisma looks a bit different and now there are more functions and the Quick-Box order is different.
   This presentation steps you through many of the features, functions, and controls of the Melisma in a tutorial style.
   This video demonstrates the CV Chord User List and Chord and Root Progression Lists and how to select / set them.

Keep in mind the Lists look slightly different now! In the Root Progression list, on the right the present Chords are listed, and in the Chord Progression list, the Roots are shown to the right.

Pause symbols are also shown for each.


   Here's a video on the Select Bus interface in the Melisma.
It can be pretty useful (although this video doesn't cover "great applications") especially the HOLD switch.

Melisma can be master, slave, or run in automatic where becomes a slave if there's a master on the bus, but can be changed to master again by sending a state message from the Select Bus Quick-box.

   This is a video on CC CV internal functions, the ones that aren't MIDI controls..
There are 12 total + the 4 MIDI controllers
(CC, After touch, Pitch Bend, and Program Change)

These are:
Chord & Root Progression Lower & Upper limits, Range Windowing
LHAND_T time from 20-250mS
Arpeggiator Select (style / order)
Arpeggiator Gate length / pause (Relative to GATE input's duration)
Spread Modifier Data (Note Order, Swing, Randomize)
Select Bus (1-4 through 1-64)
Progressions Reset (CV input >0 to 4.9 volts)

   This tutorial covers the in's and outs of the Spread function, use, and it's modifiers.

  (Note order/Swing/Randomize)

Enabling or disabling the Spread Quantization is quickly done from the Spread Quick-Box button. Spread can quantize to the GATE, ACLK, Progressions, and LHAND timing, in any combination, making the rhythmic possibilities pretty much endless.

   This short tutorial video covers the Imprint mode for CC CV input.
It applies envelopes to each and every note (if that source is enabled to trigger env's) With MPE it becomes even more powerful as each channel / note can have it's own identical envelope of any CC, Pitch Bend, or After touch but at different times.

This Function can turn any GM synth into more of a poly-synth with envelopes on each note, much as a DAW synth may act. This of course depends on your synth but it's fun to explore the envelope-ing of various CC's the synth may recognize.

   This video tutorial covers the LINK MIDI input's remote control of various Melisma functions including Root "take-over" notes.

With a MIDI break-out panel (only uses 2 of the 4 LINK header pins) the capabilities (especially if performing with the Melisma) is augmented quite a bit!

Note - The 2 LINK input pins are optically isolated so there is no real danger in DIY-ing a little patch to a TRS or 5-pin MIDI jack's pin 4 & 5. See user guide for wiring info.


   This is the long-awaited Percussa tutorial video!

A single CV to LHAND can be used to play poly-drums with a rhythm defined by the ACLK input. Percussa mode can also be used as a strange way to produce chords!

   This video, which was going to be the last of a tutorial nature for the Melisma module, covers Progressions and pauses. Pauses turn a simple progression sequence into a more complex iteration based on rules of pause symbols inserted into the progression steps.

This video was supposed to also cover progression reset methods but it would have made this video too long so that will be the next (and final) tutorial!

This video is about a new addition for the upcoming V.1.4

There are 5 new MIDI CC remote controls! Root & Chord Progression windows, Inversion, Expand, and Gate override. This allows flexibility when using Melisma's LINK in from a MIDI breakout and desktop controller what-have-you.

This also frees up assigned MIDI CC jack to control other internal or external functions and enables footswitch control of the Gate (i.e. note stretching during progressions or direct control of chords playing during no gate or progressions)

Firmware V.1.4!

The long awaited version 1.4 has arrived and it adds some very nice features to the Melisma.

 Now you can add up to 30 chords of your own (on top of the 64 factory chords) via the chord editor or MIDI Learn feature via LINK input.

There's also a Global Arp Pattern set the is similar to most synth Arp pattern board. This Size can be varied from 1 to 16 steps and it plays nicely with V.1.3's Arp Size and End Note additions.

There's some other stuff to make the module more enjoyable so watch the video for those!

Firmware V.1.5!

Here we are 1 week later and already another update?

Some really great feature requests and ideas popped up a day after the previous release and to be honest were to cool to be hidden for long!

This somewhat laid-back video covers some of the new features in a basic way, but not reverse Spread or CC CV & LINK MIDI control of LHAND's Bass Octave. (Those weren't added yet!) so that'll be a future video.



Stay tuned for  more video here!


Please note that due to the Melisma being a MIDI controller essentially, these samples won't reflect the way your synth's sound! (of course)

This sample shows how MIDI remote (hand played) notes take over the Root transpose knob while still using a Root CV sequence. SOme of the Percussion is a pair of Disting MK4's and some (embellishments) are Melisma's Percussa mode.
This sample
was an experimental MIDI + CV connection from our upcoming Sequarallel module. Melisma is doing most of the work. I liked this patch so much I decided to use it as the intro for newer video tutorials.
Using MPE, CC CV Sample&Hold alternately with CC CV IMPRINT mode can yield some fine results. The GM synth is a yamaha V-drums and the CC CV is controlling pitch bend (1V/oct +/-12 mode) giving the the GM instruments a new sound! Melisma is all about newness.
Multi-dimensional Polyphonic Expression (MPE) from the Melisma can turn virtually any multi-channel GM synth into an MPE synth. True MPE zone messages are also sent. This sample has IMPRINT CC CV sending the same envelope to all notes. Because they are all on their own channels each envelope can play out without interference.
Even very early in the development of LHAND, it was a welcome addition to the Melisma's feature arsenal. The chord hits are simply defining scales for LHAND to follow. LHAND input is on a fast LFO and snapping to the 1/8th step duration of GATE input.
(as LHAND_T:GATE2 I believe)  
This experiment involved a Korg micro & GM Synth split from the Melisma, and a BSP sending MIDI to Melisma, which was merged on other than the control channel. Random Select-bus is selecting PROGrams in the Melisma. Most of the percussion is Melisma (before perfection!).
This was set up pretty randomly to see how long it could play before becoming monotonous...but that depends on one's mood!

The Melisma is now available (as of Jan. 16th 2020) and can be ordered by contacting me below.
As the Firmware, while extensively tested, is new and there may be improvements coming
in the form of firmware updates.
This can be achieved via USB and the included driver for Windows or now native to Mac OS10.14 or newer.

You can contact me at fresh@freshnelly.com with any questions or requests

Thanks for checking out the Accord Melisma!



Firmware V 1.4b Accord Melisma is now shipping!


Preliminary User Guide (30 pp, V1.1 January 2020)
Preliminary User Guide V1.2 (30 pp, V1.2 February 2020)


All instructions to do a firmware update are in the .zip file

Firmware V.1.0       N/A 16/01/20  (Deprecated, not avail.) Original pre-release beta-testing firmware.
Firmware 1.1   MEL-REL-V11.zip 21/01/20 Addresses issues: Pulsewidth reset, Progressions time-out resetting to zero, Chord Preview caused hangnotes, Gate+Progression timing
Firmware 1.2   MEL-REL-V12.zip  05/02/20 Addresses issues: major:ChordList "ALL" misaligned, minors: CC CV Arp_S (no CV) reads zero, CC CV PRG_R (no CV) not displaying "OFF"
Added Spread Linear Mode, CC CV Prog. Reset now holds, New Screen Splash & Vers.# on power-up
Firmware 1.2   MEL-REL-V13.zip 02/02/20 Added Arp size controls: FIX ARP SIZE, FIX END NOTE ( applied only when FIX ARP SIZE <> CHORD ) Not in User Guide Yet!
Firmware 1.4   MEL-REL-V14.zip 24/08/20 Added 5 new Remote CC controls, Arp Mask Pattern QB, 30 Custom Chords Editor with MIDI Learn, fixed Lists offsets starting at zero, Fast Encoder, Screen-Saver 1-9 min
Firmware 1.4b MEL-REL-V14b.zip 27/08/20 Fixed Custom Chord Editor displaying Chord#10 as Chord#01
Firmware 1.5  MEL-REL-V15.zip 03/09/29 Added: Remote LINK MIDI CC's for Arp Mask Pattern, Arp Size, LHAND Bass Octave. CC CV Controls for Root+Chord Progressions Low/High/Window, Arp Mask Patter select, and Arp Size. Custome Chords in SysEx fully functional, as well as  new CC's. Enhanced Spread CV 0 tp -5V: Spread  in Reverse.
Fixes: unstable progressions Reset in 2X or 4X modes, Arp Pattern reverse "1's", Select bus starts at zero.


LINKink to ES MIDI Breakout module
Melisma Functional Block Diagram


Last Page Update Sept 3rd, 2020