Unison 2 Mode

The Roland MKS-80 has several modes for dividing up it’s staggering 16 voltage controlled oscillators. One of the modes is called Unison 2. In this mode playing one note uses all 8 voices (2 oscillators per voice) for a loud punchy, and usually phased sound. Playing two notes together uses four voices per note. Playing three or four uses two voices, and five or more uses one. To illustrate this I played eight notes together, starting with just one note then adding higher notes at each quarter note. As the chord builds you can hear each note getting thinner as voices are being robbed from the first note played.

Unison 2 Mode

MIDI Delay and Sequencer Via Eskimo Spy

Ryan Terrell (aka Eskimo Spy) recently wrote this article to share on AudioCookbook.org regarding MIDI delay and sequencing in Ableton Live, and I agree that it is something that will interest many ACB readers. Ryan writes:

I’ve always wanted a MIDI delay and sequencer built into Ableton. Recently, Max for Live programmers have been coming up with some slick patches to do just that. For those of us who haven’t got the cash for Max yet, there’s an alternative.

While tinkering with the “Note Length” MIDI plugin I stumbled upon an interesting find. The “Note Length” plugin has two modes: Note On and Note Off. Note On simply allows the note to pass through changing only the length of the outgoing note. However, “Note Off” waits for the “Note Off” MIDI message (sent from most synthesizers after the key is released) before triggering a *new* note.

I found that in stacking more than one of these plugins end on end I was able to successfully create a MIDI effect rack built on quantized step increments. Each “Note Length” plugin is waiting for a note to finish before triggering their note. By stacking more than one, and setting the plugins to “Sync” mode, you can delay it by quantized increments.

For added versatility there is a Pitch and Velocity plugin at the end of each parallel rack. The velocity plugin is set to “Fixed” mode, so when the velocity macro for each chain are set at 0, the note doesn’t sound at all, effectively silencing that step.

Finally, there’s are global “Random Velocity” and “Gate” length macros. This will give you global control over all the steps’ lengths, and random deviation by degrees from each step’s programmed velocities.

The implementations of this are two-fold. You can create a type of “MIDI Delay” if you remove any pitch variant, and map a macro (with some tinkering) to the velocity of each step, thereby allowing it to “Decay” over time in velocity. You can also use this as a step sequencer, with 4, 8, 16, 24… etc. steps. The rack I used to make these are built on 16 steps, but it’s entirely modular. Also, with the myriad of “Velocity to ____” (fill in the blank) parameters on every synth in Live, this is a massive breakthrough for my own music. Such is the beauty of racks.

E-mail eskimospy.music [at] gmail [dot] com for the prototype racks. This will be featured on the upcoming website www.RacksForLive.com and you should head over there to register for details of the site launch from the founder, Isaac Halvorson.


Ableton – MIDI Delay w/ Velocity or “Feedback” Modulation by Eskimo Spy

Computer Freak Out and Crash

Remember the old cliché in movies, tv shows, and skits where someone asks a robot some irrational or illogical question and the robot starts to freak out exclaiming, “does not compute! does not compute!”? Here’s the sound I imagine that makes programmed on the Roland MKS-80.

Computer Freak Out and Crash

Dreamy New Age Synth Harp

Having finally started using the Roland Super Jupiter MKS-80 for the last two Ostracon performances my next goal is to utilize hardware synths for the majority, if not for all, of the instrument sounds during these shows. I have another repair necessary on the MKS-80 to make it performance ready, but other than that I should be in business soon. In preparation I have started weeding out some of the sounds in the MKS-80 internal memory, replacing them with my own programmed patches. Here’s an example of a nice harp-like patch I came up with during my last session. I created the passage by routing MIDI to the MKS-80 from Ableton‘s arpeggiator.

Dreamy New Age Synth Harp