Today I thought I would give you a quick look at some of my workflow. Here’s how I often start creating an EBM (Electronic Body Music) style track. I’ve started a Eurorack modular system and you can see my first two pieces in action here. I have recorded a 5V Pulse into Ableton from the Korg SyncKontrol iOS app. I loaded the click into Simpler and use MIDI to create a pattern. In this example it’s a straight 16th note. I use Ableton Live to route the 5V click out of my Motu 828 MKIII into a Doepfer Dark Time analog sequencer. The Dark Time is not in sync with my Ableton MIDI set up. The Dark Time controls an Analog Solutions Telemark (SEM clone). 8 steps of CV variation and CV filter variation loop the bassline. I also have the Dark Time send a clock out to a Korg Monotribe. On the Monotribe I have muted the drums and just have it playing some lazer zap type sounds typically where you would find a snare drum. Using MIDI I have a Vermona DRM1 MKIII playing a kick and snare. The Monotribe’s clock out goes into an Intellijel uStep which sends a 16th note clock to a Make Noise Echophone. I have a MFB-522 drum machine in sync with Ableton via MIDI playing a clap. This clap is sent into the Echophon where it’s delay shimmers in 16 synced steps because of the uStep control. I can play with the Echophon’s pitch knob for a wicked nice analog clap delay effect. Is it worth all this effort? In my opinion yes. You can’t really get a sound like this without going analog. This part would make a good verse. Because I can pitch the bassline on a MIDI keyboard the next step is to make a Chorus, maybe change the Dark Time sequence length or patter slightly, add some pads from an Ensoniq ESQ-1 and add vocals. I hope you enjoyed the peek into a world where control is everything.
“CV/Gate (an abbreviation of Control Voltage/Gate) is an analog method of controlling synthesizers, drum machines and other similar equipment with external sequencers. The Control Voltage typically controls pitch and the Gate signal controls note on/off. This method was widely used in the epoch of analog modular synthesizers, beginning in the 1960s and up to the early 1980s. It was mostly superseded by the MIDI protocol, which is more feature-rich, easier to configure reliably, and more easily supports polyphony.” – wikipedia.org/wiki/Control_voltage
Engadget has coverage of Google’s I/O conference. Did you know that Google is showcasing a “Net-enabled social music device with a musical keyboard and a wide multi-touch display, and a variety of musical apps and cloud services.” called the Miselu Neiro? Retronyms, Korg and Yamaha are showing off software on the device. Check out the Polysix, a touch screen Theremin and more in the video above. It’s interesting but the iPad has such a huge lead in music apps this will have to be very inexpensive or get some exclusive content. I do like the idea!
“Yamaha is providing the upcoming “neiro” with the Yamaha AudioEngine (TM) Series Sound Chip NSX-1. This powerful synthesizer engine delivers a quality that almost matches the sound of real musical instruments. The DSP chip offers a larger variety of sound effects such as reverb, chorus and EQs that create a rich sound experience.” – miselu.com
So let’s say you modified your Korg Monotribe to use MIDI. You can see the post I did about the Amazing Machines Miditribe I/O: here. Unbelievably there is now a software editor that lets you control your MIDIed Monotribe called Mtribe. You can now save presets, record automation, etc… There’s even a random patch generator (yay). It’s stand alone or a Max4Live device. The software is $5. I love my Monotribe and think it has a great sound. Very much worth the price.
“MIDI IN/OUT for all MIDI supported features in a practical GUI. Presets (load/save for storing and recalling presets!). Key Tracking. In real time pitch modulates LFO intensity / VCF cutoff. LFO as second oscillator, auto tuned based on harmonics schemes. Glide emulation and finer pitch bending (more precisely than raw MIDI). XY Pad for two parameters at once (with reset and spring mode). (optional) note off removal (to remove gate clicks) and velocity off/on. preset randomizer for each section (VCA, LFO, modulation, glide). MIDI learn for the GUI through extra MIDI input.”
As I am about three fourths of the way done with my next album and my studio is a mass of wires. I’ve become obsessed with syncing my old drum machines and analog synthesizers using various methods. I’m not looking for perfectly quantized MIDI. I’m looking for some Control Voltage madness. Last night’s experiment will definitely make it to a full song. I haven’t shared anything with you in a while with regards to my upcoming music but it’s time I start breaking the ice. The audio sample may not be your cup of tea but the method can be used to create all sorts of nonsense in many music styles.
I have an old Korg Rythm 55 drum machine. I go out of it’s Trig Out to a Doepfer Dark Time analog sequencer’s Click In. On the Korg you can set the sequencer to trigger in various times. If you select a 16th note you will get your typical Giorgio Moroder type of thing. This time I have it set to follow the Korg’s kick drum (blue arrow above). The Doepfer is hooked up to one of the oscillators on an Analogue Solutions Telemark synth (both pitch and filter). This time around I don’t want the Dark Time telling the synth to play different notes. I only want it to Trigger a very slight pitch change and that’s why (see the green arrow) I have the pitch line stop after the second step. The two steps are just slightly detuned. The filter does change open and closed over 8 steps (which you can only hear when the filter is partial closed at the beginning). If you notice there is a grey Midi cable plugged into the top of the Dark Time. If I wanted I could play different notes on my attached MIDI controller and the entire sequencing line would change pitch.
Hit play on the Korg and off we go. I turn up the filter, bring in the Korg’s snare and you have something from a different decade. To add to the whole vintage feel the Korg has some Boss DM-100 on it. You can hear when I hit the fills on the Korg the synth follows and it’s really magic. One last thing to note is if you look at the Analogue Solutions Telemark photo above you see that orange arrow? That points to the other oscillator that’s not being controlled by the Doepfer. Its another reason you hear a detuned sound. I can bring it and the noise knob in and out for great effect (or verse/chorus parts). Time to add the vocals.
“At its most basic, an analog sequencer is nothing but a bank of potentiometers and a “clock” that steps through these potentiometers one at a time and then cycles back to the beginning. The output of the sequencer is fed (as a control voltage and gate pulse) to a synthesizer. By “tuning” the potentiometers, a short repetitive rhythmic motif or riff can be set up.” – Wikipedia
My brother bought me a Korg Monotron Delay. It was on backorder for a good 6 weeks. It arrived yesterday thanks Al! This is what it sounds like (in my hands).
“A good delay was an essential part of the classic analog synthesizer sound. More often than not, that delay came from a tape-style echo machine until affordable digital delays were created. The monotron DELAY is an analog synthesizer optimized for sound effects. In addition to its analog oscillator, filter, and LFO, it also provides a Space Delay that’s indispensable for swooping, cosmic sounds. The monotron DELAY even reproduces the pitch changes that occur when you vary the delay time, just as though you were using an analog tape echo. As with the filter, the delay effect can be added to any external sound via the Aux In jack. This fat and warm delay will add an authentic edge to your analog sounds!” – Korg.com
Two words: stocking stuffers. I’ll take the Delay thanks.
“The powerful and fun-to-play monotron analog synthesizer has been joined by two siblings. The Dual Oscillator monotron DUO offers X-MOD capabilities for generating even more extreme sounds. The monotron DELAY features a Space Delay that can produce intense, analog-like echo effects.” – korg.com
You can sync a Korg Monotribe with another Monotribe. With the SyncKontrol iPhone app you can sync a Monotribe with an iPad and/or wirelessly with Ableton Live (or any DAW). I still can’t get over the fact you can get a fully analog groovebox for about $230. I hope these sell like crazy so Korg keeps on making analog synths and drum machines.
“SyncKontrol offers owners of Korg’s monotribe Analogue Ribbon Station precise tempo control, plus the ability to sync their monotribe to WIST (Wireless sync) enabled apps! SyncKontrol allows you to control the tempo and start/pause of the monotribe Analogue Ribbon Station via the audio output of your iPhone. The app also offers Tap Tempo, a Swing function, and WIST (Wireless Sync-Start Technology) to sync monotribe to WIST-enabled apps such as Korg’s iMS20, iElectribe and iElectribe Gorillaz(tm) Edition. In addition, this application receives sync from Mac based DAW software by receiving MIDI clock and play/stop commands via Wireless Network MIDI.”
Nick from Sonic State’s full review of the Korg Monotribe. I can’t believe these things are $229 (link)! I can’t believe people are complaining that’s too expensive. You have to make and enjoy music of a certain retro style to really get this box. If your looking for a sound source of that retro nature this is going to get you there better/easier than any plug-in. I can’t wait to see Korg’s next analog thing. Imagine what they can do at $999.