Playing arpeggiator with live drummer


In my band we play a lot of 80’s pop tunes, many of which rely on an arpeggiator (e.g. Blondie’s Heart of Glass), triggered by me. Often my drummer (playing an acoustic kit) and I end up out of sync. I would like to be able to lift my finger and retrigger the arpeggiator as necessary (e.g. when we end up out of sync), but notice that my UVI arpeggiator starts not precisely when I hit the key, but several milliseconds later according to some sort of internal MIDI clock.

Any suggestions? Should I be looking to buy a dedicated arpeggiator that has this control?



I believe @DaveBoulden was just recently discussing this in his Backstage with GP episode?


Thanks for replying, unfortunately I can’t find any references to arpeggiator in the transcript I read. If you happen to have the link that would be great :+1:

I am only starting to (slowly) learn how to use arpeggiators too (I am also in a 80’s band).

I think some arpeggios allow you to restart the pattern. For example, I think the Syntronik arpeggiator does.

It works pretty much perfectly for me on Hungry Like the Wolf.

(In another band, we do Baba O’Rielly. For that one I think I would have to figure out how to program gradual tempo increases and would probably need a click track with my drummer hearing it, at least for the fiddle solo at the end. Instead, I just keep the synth arp low in the mix, restart the pattern often and fudge it. Shh, don’t tell anyone.)

1 Like

Thanks jeffn1, your post led me to check a few things and have realised that whilst the UVI player ARP itself doesn’t have the function I need, the UVI Synth Anthology 3 VST that it runs, does. It also has a useful clipping function to trim the length of notes so that they work better in faster sequences. Cheers!

1 Like

Jump to the 25 minute mark.

1 Like

In the same context I use BlueARP for this and resync at each new chord.


Yes, I use an arpeggiator and resync every 1-2 bars with our drummer. I have found that different VST instruments have different re-trigger options. The one I have found to be best is either Omnisphere, or one of the NI synths. To be fair, I’ve not tried any UVI ones, though I do have Falcon.

I do find it necessary to really pay attention to note-on accuracy when moving from one note to another to avoid any legato phrasing and any overlap between notes will not force a re-trigger of the sequence.

I would also advise you set your tempo to 1-2 BPM faster than your drummer’s average tempo for each song as the “tempo-jolt” between one bar an the next is much more noticeable if you have to re-trigger a little early rather than re-trigger a little late.


Hi Dave, thank you for all your insights, and especially the one about setting tempo to 1-2 BPM faster than the drummer’s average. I had always expected playing with an arpeggiator to be easier than not, but a live band context (as we now know), it comes with a new set of challenges. Just another technique to work on for the toolbox!

1 Like

That’s the way I do it with my drummer, too, for many Rammstein cover songs.
Omnisphere Arp retriggers very well.

In this case, a very low latency of your audio interface is vital. In no other use case I can feel the very small but present latency so critically. I run a RME Babyface Pro at 96 samples buffer at 44.1kHz. If I would go to 256 samples we never would be in sync. It is hard to play at a constant time in advance to compensate latency.


Such small but precious hints from real pros make this forum so great!