A defining feature of the original SH-101 was its ability to take trigger ins as clock. Here’s what that means and how to use it on the new Roland SH-01A.

We often hear that cliché about how useful restrictions can be in music. But the key is to make those limitations interesting. So, here, instead of having an endlessly repeating step sequence that loops on every bar, we can quickly produce syncopations and polyrhythms. That’s a whole lot of fun when you’re jamming live onstage or in the studio, because it lets you quickly create something asymmetrical and add variety.

Normally how a step sequencer advances is from one step to the next. You can sync that to external clock, but each step advances at the same rate. The clever thing about the SH-101 and now the SH-01A is that you can trigger the move from one step to the next externally.

Any trigger signal will work, but here let’s use the trigger output on the TR-08. The TR-08 has a dedicated trigger part, so you can sequence any pattern you want. (Those of you with Eurorack setups and the like can get fancier from here, if you so choose.)

Let’s watch this in action:

Some tips:

  • Any monophonic minijack cable will work to connect the two pieces of gear.
  • Now that the SH-01A adds polyphony, you can also use this trick to create sequences of chords, not just monophonic melodies as here.
  • Remember that even with a signal routed to the external clock in jack on the SH-01A, you still have to press the play button on the 01A sequencer.

Roland SH-01A

Roland TR-08

Video hands-on: jamming with the TR-08 and SH-01A is lots of fun

What you need to know about the Roland Boutique 101, 808 reboots