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Electronic Music Machines

Electronic Music Machines The New Musical Instruments

Jean-Michel Réveillac

First published 2019 in Great Britain and the United States by ISTE Ltd and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, this publication may only be reproduced, stored or transmitted, in any form or by any means, with the prior permission in writing of the publishers, or in the case of reprographic reproduction in accordance with the terms and licenses issued by the CLA. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside these terms should be sent to the publishers at the undermentioned address: ISTE Ltd 27-37 St George’s Road London SW19 4EU UK

John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 111 River Street Hoboken, NJ 07030 USA

www.iste.co.uk

www.wiley.com

© ISTE Ltd 2019 The rights of Jean-Michel Réveillac to be identified as the author of this work have been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Library of Congress Control Number: 2019932201 British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 978-1-78630-325-7

Contents

Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

xi

Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

xiii

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

xvii

Chapter 1. Electronic Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1

1.1. Musique concrète . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.2. The beginnings of electronic music. . . . . 1.3. Electroacoustic music . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.4. Acousmatic music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.5. And much, much more . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.6. Maturity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.7. Different paths to music . . . . . . . . . . . 1.8. Today and tomorrow . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.9. Electronic music and counter-culturalism . 1.10. Final remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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1 3 3 4 6 6 6 10 11 14

Chapter 2. When Revolution Holds Us in Its Grasp . . . . . . . . . . . .

15

2.1. From analog to digital. . . . . . . . . 2.2. Popular music and electronic music 2.2.1. New wave . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.2.2. House music . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.2.3. Techno . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.2.4. New beat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.2.5. Acid house . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.2.6. Acid jazz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.2.7. Ambient . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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2.2.8. Hip-hop and rap . . . . . . . . . . . 2.2.9. Trance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.2.10. Electro or contemporary electro 2.3. Final remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Chapter 3. The MIDI Standard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

41

3.1. History. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.2. How MIDI works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.2.1. The hardware level . . . . . . . . . . . 3.2.2. The software level . . . . . . . . . . . 3.3. Examples of MIDI transmission . . . . . 3.3.1. Note-on/note-off messages . . . . . . 3.3.2. Program change message . . . . . . . 3.4. The MIDI implementation chart . . . . . 3.5. The General MIDI standard . . . . . . . . 3.5.1. Specifications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.6. The General MIDI 2 standard . . . . . . . 3.7. The GS format . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.8. The XG format . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.9. The structure of a MIDI file . . . . . . . . 3.9.1. Header chunks. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.9.2. Track chunks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.9.3. Example of a MIDI file . . . . . . . . 3.10. MIDI devices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.10.1. MIDI boxes, mergers, and patchers 3.10.2. Musical instruments . . . . . . . . . 3.10.3. Studio hardware . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.10.4. MIDI to computer . . . . . . . . . . . 3.11. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Chapter 4. Sequencers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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41 42 42 45 49 49 50 51 52 52 54 54 55 56 56 57 64 67 67 69 70 71 73

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4.1. Mechanical and electrical machines 4.1.1. Music boxes . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.1.2. Mechanical pianos . . . . . . . . 4.1.3. Barrel organs . . . . . . . . . . . 4.1.4. Fairground organs . . . . . . . . 4.2. Analog sequencers. . . . . . . . . . . 4.3. Digital sequencers . . . . . . . . . . . 4.4. Software sequencers. . . . . . . . . . 4.5. Final remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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75 76 77 80 82 83 86 88 91

Contents

Chapter 5. Drum Machines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.1. On the subject of electromechanical rhythm 5.2. Drum machines with presets . . . . . . . . . . 5.3. Programmable drum machines . . . . . . . . 5.4. The MIDI age . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.5. Drum machines with sampled sounds . . . . 5.6. Rhythms, software, and computers . . . . . . 5.7. Final remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

93 97 103 106 107 111 115

Chapter 6. Samplers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

117

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Chapter 7. Groove Machines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

147

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7.1. Structure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.2. Famous groove machines. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.2.1. E-mu SP12 (1985) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.2.2. AKAI MPC-60 (1988) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.2.3. Roland MC-303 (1996) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.2.4. AKAI MPC 2000XL (1999) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.2.5. Roland MC-909 (2003) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.2.6. Elektron Octatrack DPS 1 (2011) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.2.7. Korg Electribe 2 (2014) and Korg Electribe Sampler (2015) 7.2.8. Novation Circuit (2015) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.2.9. Teenage Electronics Pocket Operator PO-32 (2017) . . . . . 7.3. Software groove machines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.3.1. Image Line Groove Machine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.3.2. Propellerhead Reason . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.3.3. Ableton Live. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.4. Controllers and software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.4.1. Native Instruments Maschine (2009) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.4.2. Roland MPC Studio Black (2017) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.5. iGroove machines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.6. Final remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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93

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6.1. History of samplers . . . . . . . . 6.1.1. Basic principles . . . . . . . . 6.1.2. The arrival of the Mellotron. 6.1.3. Samplers . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.1.4. Software samplers . . . . . . 6.2. History of musical styles . . . . . 6.3. Architecture and principles . . . 6.4. Final remarks . . . . . . . . . . . .

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vii

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147 148 149 150 151 152 153 155 156 158 159 160 162 163 169 172 172 174 176 176

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Chapter 8. Vocoders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.1. History. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.2. Working principle of the vocoder . . 8.3. Machines and equipment . . . . . . . 8.3.1. EMS Vocoder 2000 . . . . . . . 8.3.2. EMS Vocoder 5000 . . . . . . . 8.3.3. EMS Vocoder 3000 . . . . . . . 8.3.4. Roland VP-330 . . . . . . . . . . 8.3.5. Korg VC-10 . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.3.6. Moog Vocoder . . . . . . . . . . 8.3.7. Roland SVC-350 . . . . . . . . . 8.3.8. Electrix Warp Factory . . . . . . 8.3.9. Korg MS2000 . . . . . . . . . . . 8.3.10. Microkorg . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.3.11. Roland VP-550 . . . . . . . . . 8.3.12. The Music and More VF11 . . 8.3.13. Novation Mininova . . . . . . . 8.3.14. Digitech Talker . . . . . . . . . 8.3.15. Electro-Harmonix V256 . . . . 8.3.16. A few more unusual examples 8.4. Software vocoders . . . . . . . . . . . 8.5. One step further . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.5.1. Talkbox. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.5.2. Auto-Tune . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.6. Final remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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179 183 184 184 185 185 186 187 188 188 189 189 190 191 192 192 193 194 194 195 196 196 198 199

Chapter 9. Octatrack: Maintenance, Repairs, and Tips . . . . . . . . .

201

9.1. Updating the software. . . . . . . . . . . 9.1.1. Updating the operating system . . . 9.2. Testing the OT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.2.1. Testing the push buttons . . . . . . . 9.2.2. Testing the dials. . . . . . . . . . . . 9.2.3. Testing the x-fader . . . . . . . . . . 9.2.4. Analysis and results . . . . . . . . . 9.3. Hardware repairs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.3.1. Opening up the OT . . . . . . . . . 9.3.2. Replacing the push buttons . . . . . 9.3.3. Replacing the battery. . . . . . . . . 9.3.4. Replacing the x-fader . . . . . . . . 9.3.5. Replacing an incremental encoder . 9.4. Final remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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201 203 206 207 210 211 211 211 212 215 220 222 225 228

Contents

Chapter 10. Octatrack: MIDI Sequences and Arpeggios . . . . . . . . 10.1. Setup and configuration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.1.1. Connections and software settings . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.1.2. Creating a new project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.1.3. Creating a THRU device (machine) . . . . . . . . . . . 10.1.4. Setting up the MIDI connection between the OT and the instrument . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.2. Creating a MIDI sequence using triggers . . . . . . . . . . 10.2.1. MIDI track . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.2.2. Creating a musical sequence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.2.3. A multi-page sequence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.3. Creating a sequence with the arpeggiator . . . . . . . . . . 10.3.1. Presentation of the arpeggiator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.3.2. A simple arpeggio. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.3.3. Defining an arpeggio graphically . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.3.4. More complex arpeggios. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.3.5. Triggers in chromatic mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.3.6. Saving a MIDI sequence from an external instrument 10.4. Creating a MIDI sequence with a drum machine . . . . . . 10.5. MIDI sequences, rhythms, and CC codes . . . . . . . . . .

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232 234 234 235 238 240 241 242 244 246 247 248 251 255

Chapter 11. Korg Electribe: Maintenance and Hardware Tips . . . .

263

11.1. Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.1.1. Electribe 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.1.2. Electribe Sampler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.2. MIDI cables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.2.1. Male 3.5 mm jack to female 5-pin DIN adapter . . 11.2.2. Male 3.5 mm jack to male 5-pin DIN cable. . . . . 11.3. Updating the operating system. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.4. Electribe 2 to Electribe Sampler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.4.1. Migrating to the Electribe Sampler. . . . . . . . . . 11.4.2. Reverting to the Electribe 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.4.3. Downgrading the Electribe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.4.4. Editing the operating system files . . . . . . . . . . 11.4.5. Major operating system versions of the Electribe 2 11.5. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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263 264 266 267 267 268 269 272 274 276 277 277 280 280

Chapter 12. Korg Electribe: Software Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

281

12.1. Menu tree of the Electribe 2 and the Electribe Sampler . . . . . . . . . 12.2. Shortcuts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.3. Using the audio input . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

281 295 295

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12.3.1. Through the Electribe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.3.2. Saving a carrier pattern. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.3.3. Filtering and applying effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.3.4. Sending commands to the synthesizer using triggers . . . . 12.3.5. Sequencer, synthesizer, filters, and effects . . . . . . . . . . 12.4. Extra tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.4.1. Octave switching . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.4.2. Viewing the current settings of a PART. . . . . . . . . . . . 12.4.3. Controlling two different synthesizers from the MIDI out . 12.5. Final remarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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296 297 300 302 304 305 305 305 305 306

Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

307

Appendices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Appendix 1. CV/Gate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Appendix 2. Digital Inputs/Outputs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Appendix 3. The General MIDI (GM) Standard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Appendix 4. Plugins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Appendix 5. Control and MIDI Dump Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Bibliography. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Foreword

By the dawn of the new millennium, digital technology was no longer a miracle but a reality. From electronic instrument-making to software applications, a new world of flourishing expertise swept across the globe within the sound sphere. This wave of nascent technologies began to weave cultural and counter-cultural influences together. Creators, engineers, and developers lost no time in seizing the revolution for themselves. Each to their own craft. “Home Studios” have undeniably transformed both the work and the environment of composers. The parameter of time springs to mind, a newfound freedom to experiment with the timescales of the creative process. Some might see an intimate quality in working at their computers and electronic hardware, armed with unbounded experiences that might seem endless and lawless; others might find the infinite choice disorienting. Technological progress has unquestionably amplified the impact of new timbres. Most instruments of computer-assisted music (CAM) are simply more elaborate versions of their very first generations. Consider, for instance, hip-hop – more specifically, the recent variant known as “trap music.” Would this style ever find its way into music if the legendary TR-808 beatbox had never been invented? As electronics developed in the 1990s, tubes were superseded by transistors. The Japanese inventor Ikutaro Kakehashi, a former watch manufacturer who became an

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electronic instrument-maker, launched the TR-808 in 1980. Four years later, he was forced to abandon production due to a shortage of components and the arrival of the MIDI format. The 12,000 existing copies of his drum machine gradually found their way onto the secondhand market. Now finally affordable, Ikutaro’s TR-808 established itself as the ultimate weapon in the two greatest musical movements of the late 20th Century, techno and hip-hop. Before long, it was the emblem of an entire generation. The same principle also applies at larger scales. Communication between technology and creators has an extraordinary impact on learning and experiencesharing. This sets the scene for Jean-Michel Réveillac’s research into the many historical facets of electronic music, Electronic Music Machines: The New Musical Instruments, a unique source of information that delves even deeper into the reflections of his previous book, Musical Sound Effects, published by ISTE Ltd (2018). Both books explore and illuminate the creative landscapes of these musical worlds, making a statement about technological progress that highlights the timeless diversity of innovators and their instruments. This book contains a diverse series of chapters that transport the reader to new heights in understanding musical movements. We are gently encouraged to think about how the machines of the past and the present can be described and categorized, gradually working toward the invention of modern standards and tools. Exploring these pages reveals a prodigious maelstrom of knowledge, strongly centered around the practical aspects of making music. The second part of the book focuses on two recently developed machines: the “Octatrack” by the Swedish manufacturer Elektron and the “Electribe” by the Japanese manufacturer Korg. Jean-Michel Réveillac has a few surprises about these instruments for his readers. Let us end by pondering a few words by researcher John C. Lilly (1915–2001). “The true miracle is that the Universe created one part of itself to study another, and that this part, by studying itself, is ultimately able to discover the natural and inner reality of the rest of the Universe.” Léo PAOLETTI (Leo Virgile) Composer and audio designer

Preface

If you would like to find out whether this book is right for you, how it is organized, and which conventions are used, you are in the right place. Target audience This book is for anybody who is passionate about sound, whether hobbyist or professional, whether primarily interested in sound recording, mixing, or broadcasting, whether a musician, performer, or composer. A few sections require some basic knowledge of digital audio, computers, and electronics. Organization and contents of this book This book is divided into two focus areas. Chapters 1–8 are devoted to theory, whereas Chapters 9–12 are more practically oriented. Theory: – 1. Electronic Music; – 2. When Revolution Holds Us in Its Grasp; – 3. The MIDI Standard; – 4. Sequencers; – 5. Drum Machines; – 6. Samplers;

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– 7. Groove Machines; – 8. Vocoders. Practice: – 9. Octatrack: Maintenance, Repairs, and Tips; – 10. Octatrack: MIDI Sequences and Arpeggios; – 11. Korg Electribe: Maintenance and Hardware Tips; – 12. Korg Electribe: Software Tips. Each chapter can be read separately. Whenever there are concepts that build on other chapters, references to the relevant sections will be included. The first two chapters are devoted to the topic of electronic music in general. These chapters provide a rudimentary background that may help to understand the other chapters. If you are completely new to the subject, I highly recommend that you start by reading the first two chapters – everything else will be a lot clearer. If you are a more experienced reader, I hope that you still discover new concepts that will expand your knowledge. Appendices 1–5 contain some additional information and summaries. You will find, in the following order: – CV/Gate; – Digital Inputs/Outputs; – The General MIDI (GM) Standard; – Plugins; – Control and MIDI Dump Software. The book ends with a bibliography and a list of useful Internet links. Conventions This book uses the following typographical conventions: – italics: reserved for important keywords, mathematical terminology, comments, equations, expressions, and variables when they are used for the first time. Some words and expressions borrowed from other languages are also indicated in italics.

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– UPPERCASE: reserved for the names of windows, icons, buttons, folders, directories, menus, and submenus. Also used for any elements, options, or commands used in the window of a software program. Comments are indicated as follows: NOTE.– They complement the explanations given in the main body of the text. Each figure or table has a caption that may help to understand its contents. Acknowledgments I would especially like to thank the team over at ISTE, as well as my editor Chantal Menascé, for placing their trust in me, as well as the composer and sound designer Léo Paletti (Leo Virgile) for writing the Foreword of this book and for his time, attention, and patience. Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Vanna, who supported me from the very first page of this book until the very last. Jean-Michel RÉVEILLAC February 2019

Introduction

For centuries, musical instruments were largely frozen in time, except for a few major technical evolutions, such as the transition from the fortepiano to the traditional piano (simply known as the piano), to cite just one example.

Figure I.1. Fortepiano (left) and upright piano (right)

A purist might remind you that there were significant changes in the design, shape, and mechanics of wood, strings, and brass instruments, as well as keyboards and percussions, between the Renaissance (17th Century) and the early 20th Century. They would, of course, be correct, but these changes pale in comparison to the upheaval created by electricity in the musical world. The term “electricity” is somewhat of a generalization here – it encompasses the multiple more specific revolutions of electromechanics, electronics, computers, and so on.

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The second half of the 20th Century was packed with musical innovations: the popularization of tape recorders, the invention of the first oscillators and the first sound effects (reverb, echo, filters, etc.), the introduction of transistors and later integrated circuits, the analog-to-digital revolution, the advent of computers, the first-ever synthesizers, and so on and so forth.

Figure I.2. The RCA Mark II synthesizer, dating from 1955 (source: https://encyclotronic.com)

Uncountably many technological devices – some highly sophisticated, others less so – quickly became indispensable in studios, both for composers and performers. As for the creative aspects of musical compositions, new styles of music were unleashed upon the planet as musicians did not hesitate to take advantage of their new means of expression and creation. Tape recorders were one of the key catalysts of the style of musique concrète, alongside electroacoustic, acousmatic, and experimental music1. They were also an essential factor in the formation of new genres of popular music2 that shook the deeply entrenched norms of music to their very core. Techno, hip-hop, new wave, dance, house, ambient, acid jazz, electro, and much more: new anthems for the 1 See Chapter 1 of this book. 2 Here, the term “popular music” is used in a general sense (rock, blues, jazz, etc.).

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electronic music generation. In just a few decades, so many new styles were born, and it has become difficult to keep track of them. But the steamroller of technological progress continued full speed ahead nonetheless, unearthing inventive and creative treasures to seed the next generations of musical craftsmen in turn. The appearance of electronics and the first synthesizers at around the same time supplied a vast new palette of sounds to work with. Traditional instrument-making was forced to accept and merge with electronics; this fruitful union produced new ways of writing music. New professions with nebulous-seeming titles emerged to reinforce the newfound technicity: sound designers, disk jockeys, ghost producers, sound creators, digital communication experts, etc. Over time, the concept of a “home studio” began to take shape, empowering new generations of musicians to work without relying on the classical infrastructure of traditional sound creation. The lion’s share of composing music could now be done at home, working independently. For the first time ever, composers could dispense with third parties (recording studios, mastering, engineers, technicians, producers, classical musicians and instruments, etc.) until the final stages of the creative process.

Figure I.3. A “home studio” in 1995 (source: https://www.soundonsound.com)

By the turn of the 21st Century, home studios were everywhere. Today, the same phenomenon has intensified further; not only do modern musicians have the means to design their own music, but they can also distribute and even promote it, subverting the musical production infrastructure that had previously reigned

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supreme for decades. Online music, Web 2.0 and social networks, crowdsourcing3, the cloud, shared networks, and so on have disrupted the musical economy. The major industry players have their work cut out for them; they must adapt and offer new services, or they will not survive. Their monopoly has crumbled; the modern digital economy is driven by individuals, copyright is under threat, and legislation has lost its sharp focus. Modern technology plays a primordial role in the great shipyard of contemporary music. New ideas and concepts appear and disappear every day at the whim of engineers, inventors, designers, manufacturers, or even marketing trends. This book attempts to paint a simple picture of the machines scattered throughout the modern electronic music community. Standing proud against their constantly changing environments, these devices, tools, and equipment have become the pillars of the musical world. They have become inescapable for composers, persistent markers that are immutable and indispensable for any serious musical endeavors. Whether on the radio, on TV, at the movies, at a concert, in a studio, or at home, sound engineers, artists, and composers are now both the primary consumers and the primary contributors. Synthesizers, digital recorders, electronic sound effects, drum machines, groove machines, vocoders, samplers, sequencers, control surfaces, tablets, and computers are the foundational components of modern electronic instrument-making, invading every inch of the contemporary musical space.

3 Crowdsourcing refers to the process of using the creativity and expertise of a large body of people working as subcontractors to replace the work of a professional individual or business.

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Figure I.4. EMS VCS3 synthesizer featuring an independent keyboard (1970)

In this book, I have deliberately chosen to focus primarily on peripherals, largely avoiding the topic of synthesizers, since these instruments have been discussed at great length in many other books, as well as the topic of sound effects hardware, which is explored in my previous book, Musical Sound Effects, also published by ISTE. My hope is that these chapters will leave you with a broader and more refined knowledge of the electronic instruments that have enchanted the modern musical community, to the delight of anyone as passionate as myself about the magical and sometimes mysterious universe of electronic music.

1 Electronic Music

This chapter provides a definition of electronic music and presents some of the musical techniques that contributed to its ever-accelerating transformation over the past few decades. 1.1. Musique concrète It would be tempting to claim that musique concrète (which translates literally to “concrete music”) was the foundation of today’s electronic music. Unfortunately, things are never quite that simple. The arrival of new technologies introduced various other new concepts, some even richer and more complex, which punctuated the evolution of music from the post-war era until the present day. Who invented musique concrète? Even this question is not entirely straightforward to answer. Some might suggest that Pierre Schaeffer1 invented this style of music in 1948 from the studios of the RTF (Radiodiffusion télévision française, the French national broadcasting organization from 1949 to 1964). But digging a little deeper quickly reveals that musicians such as Hector Berlioz, Claude Debussy, John Cage, Herbert Eimert, Jorg Mager, and many others were also experimenting with similar concepts, styles, and approaches.

1 Pierre Schaeffer, August 14, 1910–August 19, 1995. French engineer, researcher, composer, and writer who founded the RTF Studio d’essai in 1942, together with Jacques Copeau.

Electronic Music Machines: The New Musical Instruments, First Edition. Jean-Michel Réveillac. © ISTE Ltd 2019. Published by ISTE Ltd and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Figure 1.1. One of the logos of the RTF (used between 1959 and 1964)

Musique concrète was gradually conceived among a constellation of factors that contributed to shaping its ideas: technological advancements (tape recorders, sound generators, records, etc.), new art forms (cinema, television, radio, etc.), a period of musical renewal driven by new types of instrument (mechanical instruments, electromechanical instruments, electronic instruments, etc.), evolving environmental conditions for musicians (concert halls, studios, acoustic playback and reproduction equipment, etc.), and much more. This list is far from exhaustive. Pierre Schaeffer can arguably be credited with popularizing musique concrète – if “popularize” is indeed the right word for such a niche style of music. Before we go any further, let us take a moment to define and characterize exactly what the concept of musique concrète means. This is also the perfect opportunity to present some of the many musical styles that it has inspired. Musique concrète has already been defined many times. However, it is often presented by invoking freshly minted terminology, the raison d’être of which seems to be to confuse or disorient amateurs and occasionally trip up even the most careful of experts. Who better to define musique concrète than the man who originally introduced the term himself in 1948, Pierre Schaeffer? The expression musique concrète was first immortalized on a paper in the article “Polyphonies”, published in December 1949. In this chapter, Schaeffer offers a clear and precise explanation of the term: “We have called our music by the name of ‘concrete’ because it is made from preexisting elements, borrowed from various sound materials, including both noises and musical sounds, then arranged experimentally by a direct construction that realizes the composer’s artistic

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intentions without the help of ordinary musical notation, even if such help were not impossible”. 1.2. The beginnings of electronic music Armed with this definition of musique concrète, we are now ready to talk about electronic music, a much more nebulous concept – especially given how ubiquitous it has become today. We shall return to the modern view of electronic music later in this chapter. In its original context in the 1950s, Herbert Eimert2, one of the inventors of the style, gave the following definition: “Unlike musique concrète, which uses microphone recordings, electronic music only uses electro-acoustically generated sounds. These sounds are produced by a sound generator and engraved on tape. They can then be processed by performing complicated and dynamic frequency band manipulations”. 1.3. Electroacoustic music The marriage of musique concrète and electronic music was preordained and inevitable, even if, on some level, they are opposing concepts. Electroacoustic music emerged as the fruit of their union in the late 1950s. Karlheinz Stockhausen3 was one of the pioneers of this type of music. Electroacoustic music mixes concrete sounds recorded by one or several microphones with purely electronic sounds. One of the most important early pieces in this style was “Song of the Youths” (Gesang der Jünglinge), composed by Karlheinz Stockhausen in 1956. Some even earlier pieces, such as Orphée 51 by Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry, Déserts by Edgard Varèse4, and Musica su due dimensioni by Bruno Maderna5, experimented with similar ideas.

2 Herbert Eimert, April 8, 1897–December 15, 1972. German musician, pioneer of electronic music, founder of the Studio für elektronische Musik for the Cologne-based radio station WDR in 1951. 3 Karlheinz Stockhausen, August 22, 1928–December 5, 2007. German composer, pioneer of electroacoustic music and the spatialization of sound. 4 Edgard Varèse (Edgar Varèse), December 22, 1883–November 6, 1965. French composer who later gained American citizenship, widely acclaimed as a pioneer of 20th-Century music. 5 Bruno Maderna (Bruno Grossato), April 21, 1920–November 13, 1973. Italian composer and conductor.

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In the 1960s, the term electroacoustic quickly became murkier, which was widely abused as a one-size-fits-all description for anything with elements of instrumental, concrete, and electronic music. It is worth noting that any purely electroacoustic works from this period were almost entirely limited to recordings. Direct playback was extremely difficult to implement with the equipment that was available at the time, although this did not stop some artists from experimenting with it.

Figure 1.2. The Cologne-based radio station WDR, one of the workplaces of Karl Stockhausen. This studio was one of the first-ever electronic music studios

1.4. Acousmatic music During the same period, in parallel with musique concrète and electronic music, the musical community embraced another new concept, acousmatic music. The objective of acousmatic music is to experiment with the listeners’ sense of hearing and their mental perception of musical messages to leave room for the imagination. The word “acousmatic” refers to an auditory situation where the sound source is not visible, e.g. when listening to the radio or the off-screen voiceover of a documentary. Acousmatic music is intrinsically bound to its platform; it must be played on the same medium on which it was recorded. The sound materials carried by the medium are carefully crafted, sculpted, and shaped by the composer. They can feature any type of sounds (instruments, noises, voices, and synthetic sounds, which are deformed, chopped up, transcribed, inverted, looped, filtered, sped up, stretched, compressed, etc.). During playback, the acousmatic composition is

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reproduced by a potentially elaborate array of equipment (inside an acousmonium6), often with an orchestra of speakers with different acoustic properties to play signals at specific volumes with specific acoustic colors, much like a traditional orchestra of instrumentalists.

Figure 1.3. An acousmonium with an orchestra of speakers (source: https://inagrm.com)

The word “acousmatic” was coined by the philosopher Pythagoras, who used it to describe his personal style of teaching. The Ancient Greek thinker spoke from behind a curtain so that his students would only perceive the sound of his voice and would not be distracted by facial expressions and gestures. The term was dusted off and revived by the novelist and poet Jérôme Peignot7 in 1955. 6 Acousmonium, a playback room or auditorium, also known as a sound projection room, containing multiple speakers arranged and staged in various ways according to the specific requirements of a piece of acousmatic music. The sound message can be played monophonically, multiphonically, stereophonically, on three or more channels, etc. 7 Jérôme Peignot, June 10, 1926. French novelist, poet, and typographer.

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1.5. And much, much more Even after defining musique concrète, electronic music, electroacoustic music, and acousmatic music, we are still far from having exhaustively covered every form of music that emerged between the 1950s and today. We could, for example, continue by mentioning experimental music, mixed music, tape music, computer music, live electronic music, subaquatic music, minimalistic music, spectral music, and so on. This list is just a small taste of the sprawling diversity of music and broadcasting phenomena inspired by musique concrète and technological advancement. In parallel, the ebb and flow of various trends gave rise to creative movements that proceeded hand in hand with specific musical styles, both old and new: krautrock, ambient music, progressive rock, wave, no-wave, disco, funk, etc. 1.6. Maturity It is impossible to remain fully objective and neutral when judging the maturity of music. The maturity of which style, exactly? Some musical styles are still being born, while others have disappeared. Combining everything under the single label of “electronic music” reflects the modern reality of the style, despite being something of a catch-all description. Throughout this book, we shall view electronic music as sound content that combines traditional and/or electronic instruments with a wide range of acoustic processing equipment to enhance playback and listening, whether live or on a recorded medium. In historical terms, I would personally suggest that the experimental period of electronic music ended with the arrival of the first synthesizers in around the 1960s; electronic music has arguably been mature as a style ever since. We shall mention specific music styles wherever relevant throughout each chapter of this book, noting the corresponding periods and dates where necessary. 1.7. Different paths to music A new movement known as serial music first emerged in the early 20th Century, initiated by Arnold Schönberg, Alban Berg, and a few others to replace tonal music, which had predominated since the 18th Century. Serial music adopts a new approach to writing and composing music by arranging its 12 chromatic sounds according to the enumerative and non-repetitive principle of twelve-tone serialism

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(or dodecaphony)8. As such, serial music is in some sense a derivative or an extension of dodecaphony.

Figure 1.4. Example of a twelve-tone series (notes, dynamics, and rhythms), the foundation of serial music or serialism

Although it attracted a significant amount of attention, serialism had very limited influence on contemporary styles of music like rock, jazz, and popular songwriting, which continue to employ the tonal system, each style developing its own characteristic rules of construction. Composers like Karl Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez combined together musique concrète and serial composition in pieces that remain important references to this day. For example, the piece Deux études de musique concrète (“Two Studies of Musique concrète”) was composed by Boulez in 1951. In the mid-1950s, serialism was gradually abandoned in favor of mixed sounds that combine recordings of concrete acoustic sounds and musical instruments. In parallel with these more theoretical developments, technological progress was skyrocketing. In the early 1960s, new types of electronic equipment began permeating each and every style of music. Ever since the tape recorder replaced turntables and engraving benches, musical compositions have been defined and shaped by the actions performed on them. Composers realize their artistic vision by molding sound materials like a sculptor, carving out its musical mass, and adding loops, collages, montages, experiments, and various other manipulations which, together, forge and enrich the musical continuum of the newly created piece. Composers are like musical smiths, hammering away at their sound messages with carefully measured strokes driven by patience, precision, energy, and drive within a brand-new musical environment.

8 Twelve-tone serialism is a technique of musical composition invented by Arnold Schönberg that gives equal weight to each of the 12 notes of the chromatic scale. Serial music is also called atonal music because of the lack of hierarchy between notes of different pitches.

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Figure 1.5. An AEG tape recorder from 1935 (source: https://www.filmsoundsweden.se)

This new path to music is still trodden by the musicians of today, who continue to produce a stunning diversity of incredible compositions. Guided by personal artistic vision, musicians worked in various organizations, laboratories, and studios, such as the GRMC (Groupe de recherche de musique concrète, Research group for musique concrète), the GRM (Groupe de recherche musicale, Musical research group), and the GMEB (Groupe de musique expérimentale de Bourges, Bourges experimental music group) in France, the WDR (WestDeutscher Rundfunk Köln, West German broadcasting Cologne) in Germany, the Studio di fonologia (Studio of phonology) in Italy, and various other private studios, especially in the USA, to assemble their musical materials into musical styles that differed wildly, despite often being carried by the same underlying technology. The alternative path to musical composition adopted by the practitioners of so-called popular music, such as rock and jazz, received relatively little attention at that time. These paths to music share much in common. As well as a classification based on musical styles, it is striking how accurately each path can be characterized by the technologies used to design and reproduce its sounds.

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Figure 1.6. One of the earliest digital samplers, the Fairlight CM1 (1979 – source: https://motherboard.vice.com)

Electronic equipment has been an integral part of music ever since the 1900s. Without attempting to give an exhaustive list, a few of the key milestones are as follows: – Thaddeus Cahill’s Telharmonium (1896); – the first audio oscillator (1907) by Lee de Forest; – the Audion piano (1915) by Lee de Forest; – the Theremin (Etherphone9 – 1920) invented by Lev Termen;

9 Etherphone was the original name of the instrument that would later be renamed as the RCA Theremin in 1929.

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– the Ondes Martenot (“Martenot waves” – 1928) invented by Maurice Martenot; – the Trautonium10 (1930) by Friedrich Trautwein; – the Hammond organ (1935) by Laurens Hammond; – the tape recorder (1935) marketed by AEG; – the first analog synthesizers (1970); – musical computers (IBM 7040 – 1957 – Bell AT&T); – microcomputers and musical software; – vocoders; – samplers; – digital synthesizers; – groove machines or grooveboxes. 1.8. Today and tomorrow Since the early 1990s, a new generation of musicians has taken up traditional, electronic, and electroacoustic instruments. Much like their forefathers before them, every budding new musician needs a historical context to identify with and relate to. What could be more natural than choosing Pierre Schaeffer, the man who popularized musique concrète within the contemporary musical community, as foundation and reference? Schaeffer was a researcher, inventor, pioneer, and thinker whose literary and musical works formulated a philosophy and an entire school of thought for one of the most innovative modalities of his era, musique concrète and its derivatives: electroacoustic music, electronic music, acousmatic music, mixed music, and so on. Schaeffer is far from the only possible source of inspiration. We could cite many other artists, such as Pierre Henry, Luc Ferrari, Bernard Parmegiani, François Bayle, etc. Their independence, esthetic vision, extravagance, talent (or occasionally ego), and musical productions introduced new ways of expressing sound, creating a platform for the trends and styles of a newly emerging musical art form whose history would be intertwined with counter-culturalism.

10 Two-hundred copies of the Trautonium were made by Telefunken between 1932 and 1935 under the name Volkstrautonium.

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1.9. Electronic music and counter-culturalism In the 1990s, two new genres known as house and techno music gained in popularity. This marked the beginning of the modern electronic scene and a new union of esthetics and culture. The ferocity of this new music was unlike anything that existing artists and producers had ever experienced; computers began to spread, the Internet became accessible to everyone, and the musical economy was shaken to its very foundations. A sophisticated and disciplined audience, who just a few years earlier seemed perfectly happy to purchase vinyl records, tapes, and CDs, suddenly transformed into an impulsive and inveterate consumer base with completely new music consumption habits. Online music, shared from peer to peer (P2P)11, the first ever music downloading websites, the MP3 format, and portable music players drastically changed the way in which people listened to music – audiophiles wanted more and more music, no matter whether it was obtained legally; individuals were empowered to consume music in their own way, at their own speed. The introduction of sampling and remixing and new forms of musical performance blurred the traditional lines between composers, performance artists, and DJs (disk jockeys). Electronic music functions as a creative melting pot, merging a vast array of different art forms and styles. To compose a piece, artists no longer need to sit alone in front of an empty page of sheet music. New methods and equipment are available; writing music is now a collaborative enterprise that can draw from any repertoire: contemporary, classical, jazz – just to name a few. Theoretical concepts, such as the tempo, the dynamics, and the key of a piece, have become more flexible, fluctuating around an equilibrium that often depends more on the audience than the artists themselves. Raves12 and DJ performances perfectly encapsulate the experience of the audience; nothing is fixed or set in stone, and everything is constantly in flux. Music has thus become a malleable medium shaped by sociological, technological, and cultural events. New esthetic sensibilities have taken flight, often intangible, multidimensional, and cross-generational.

11 P2P is a computer networking model where every participant acts as both client and server, unlike the more conventional client–server model. 12 The underground gatherings of the electronic music scene, often organized in disused locations (warehouses, old factories) or natural venues.

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Musical styles can no longer be imposed on an audience. The audience are the mediators, judges, and executioners of the present moment and deliver their verdict in real time. Just a few years earlier, this might have been seen as scandalous and denounced as such – plagiarism, copyright violation, and theft. A few still fight to uphold traditional values in the name of musical and sociological ethics, but they are in the minority. The steamroller of popular electronic music irreparably crushes any voices that dare to rise against the crowd. Even as the old guard, the producers and record companies, scream foul play, nobody hears them, or perhaps nobody wants to listen. Their efforts are in vain; they cannot fight against technology, the Internet, and the ability to download. The general public and their new artists have seized the helm. Who needs the music industry? Albums can be promoted over Web 2.013, social networks, music and video sharing, and distribution platforms: Deezer, Spotify, YouTube, DailyMotion, etc. (see Figure 1.7).

Figure 1.7. Deezer, Spotify, YouTube, and DailyMotion – four of the most popular sharing platforms

Some performers, rights-holders, and institutions continue to protest the concept of a piece of music that cannot be fixed, that is continuously evolving, which jeopardizes the legal principles of copyright and ownership. Perhaps they have a point? But we could also argue that even traditional songs, melodies, and compositions have traveled over time, across different epochs and continents, with a thousand and one variants in almost as many different styles. Surely this is nothing new? The 13 Web 2.0 describes the Internet after 2003, once support for user interactivity had become widespread. On the web, users are both actors and content creators.

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modern world invokes ethicality to justify rights and contracts, but we should not turn a blind eye to the economic and financial incentives at play. The recognition enjoyed by artists and performers is granted and taken away according to the whims of the media and networks. The dematerialization14 of music, whether at the level of distribution, interpretation, or composition, seems to be a recurring theme of modern times. It seems unlikely that anything can stand in its way. Still, a few noteworthy initiatives such as the Creative Commons License15 and the Free Art License16 have attempted to adapt the idea of copyright to the new musical dimensions of cyberculture.

Figure 1.8. The different types of Creative Commons License (BY: attribution to the author is required – SA: sharing is authorized under identical conditions – ND: no derivative works – NC: no commercial usage)

14 Replacement of traditional information carriers and materials (papers, folders, disks, CDs, etc.) by computer files. 15 Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that offers an alternative legal solution for individuals of all countries who wish to relinquish their intellectual property rights. 16 The Free Art License is a legal contract that applies the principle of “copyleft” (where the author of a protected work grants the rights to this work) to artistic creations and much more. It can be used for any production that is covered by copyright.

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1.10. Final remarks No one can predict the future of the popular landscape of electronic music, which is the culmination of a technological, musical, and ethical convergence at the forefront of a revolution that might deserve to be denounced as politically incorrect. Nevertheless, the foundations have been laid for a transgressive utopia that perfectly suits its newly emerging musical sound smiths – a paraphrase, in case anyone should object to using the terms “musician” or “artist” in connection with electronic music.

2 When Revolution Holds Us in Its Grasp

This chapter presents two revolutions that unfolded in parallel. The first was a technological revolution: “From analog to digital, a great upheaval”. The second was more cultural in nature: “How pop fell in love with electro”. 2.1. From analog to digital Over the next few chapters, we will trace the history of the musical equipment used by electronic music: sequencers, drum machines, samplers, groove machines, etc. But first, this section focuses on the transition from analog electronics to digital electronics within a much broader context, including a discussion of the key external factors that made it happen. Ever since the 1940s, we have been witnessing a technological convergence that has never stopped expanding and accelerating. Progress has been consistently exponential, but the last 35 years were especially hectic. Since 2015, things finally might have started to slow down once again – or perhaps we have just reached a temporary plateau, and progress will resume its course as soon as the next major technological advancement arrives.

Electronic Music Machines: The New Musical Instruments, First Edition. Jean-Michel Réveillac. © ISTE Ltd 2019. Published by ISTE Ltd and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Figure 2.1. Convergence of media, carriers, and platforms

If we roll back the clock by 35 years, we arrive in the early 1980s. This decade was an important milestone for multiple reasons: – The first computers and software became accessible to the general public: Apple II, Tandy TRS-80, Commodore PET, Commodore 64, Sinclair ZX80, ZX81, ZX Spectrum, Oric, Texas Instruments TI994A, BBC Micro, Thomson TO-7, followed a few years later by the first PCs, Commodore Amiga, Apple MacIntosh, Atari 520, 1040ST, etc. Taken alone, computers do not tell us the whole story. The operating systems and specialized software available to run on them are a crucial part of the tale. The functionality offered at the software and operating-system levels expanded at the same rate as technological progress in hardware: microprocessors, RAM, storage media (floppy disks, optical discs, hard drives, Compact Disc (CD)ROMs, etc.), and the graphical quality of monitors, not to mention various new types of audio interface (sound cards, interface cards, data acquisition cards, etc.).

Figure 2.2. The famous Commodore 64 microcomputer (1982) and its musical SID (Sound Interface Device) chip. A true synthesizer if ever there was one!

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– The introduction of the MIDI standard (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) united the world of electronic musical instruments, allowing devices to communicate among themselves. Musicians could now control multiple instruments in real time, gaining the ability to create easy-to-record sound sequences that could be effortlessly reused either during live performances or in the studio. The first generation of musical software for manipulating the MIDI format appeared at around the same time as computers. Software would very quickly become an essential pillar of the electronic music universe. Among the pioneering software tools, we can cite Performer by MOTU (Make of the Unicorn) in 1985, Finale by MakeMusic in 1988, and Cubase by Steinberg in 1989. There are many others!

Figure 2.3. 5-pin DIN MIDI cable and ports

– The first digital synthesizers: musical equipment manufacturers in Europe, the USA, and especially Japan launched new devices to take advantage of the MIDI standard, opening up a range of new, unexplored possibilities: polyphony, multi-timbrality, programing, saving sounds to disks, and so on.

Figure 2.4. The famous DX-7 synthesizer by Yamaha (1983), which triggered an explosion in the electronic instrument-building market

– The introduction of CDs: in 1979, Philips and the Sony Corporation began a fruitful collaboration leading to the CD, which reached the markets in 1982. As soon as CDs became available, the quality of music improved by leaps and bounds: background noise was eliminated; CDs (with a theoretical maximum playback time of 74½ minutes) could store 1.5 times more audio than 33-rpm vinyl records; they were more resistant to dust and scratches, smaller, and spanned a larger frequency range (from 20 Hz to 22 kHz); each recorded track could be accessed directly and more easily; time-tracking information and random playback modes were now

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possible; the head (needle, sapphire, diamond) was less fragile and did not collect dirt; and a laser beam was now used to read the digital data stream containing the sound message. Commercial CD players followed just a few years later in 1986, and CD sales surpassed vinyl records shortly after that in 1988. The CD-R (CD Recordable – a blank CD that can be custom burned) was introduced in 1988, followed by DVDs a few years later, and more recently by USB sticks.

Figure 2.5. The evolution of audio media over time: vinyls (33⅓ rpm), CDs, DVDs, and USB keys

– The emergence of new norms and standards in electronics, IT, video technology, and many other fields: audio transmission standards, such as AES/EBU in 1985, followed by S/PDIF (see Appendix 2); data transmission standards, such as RS232 (1981), IEEE1284 (parallel port – Centronics), AppleTalk (1984), MIDI, MPEG 1 (1988), and the SMPTE standards. It would be completely impossible to list them all. The 1980s brought thousands of different standards that today have either disappeared or changed. Many of these standards were tied to computers and their widespread adoption and standardization in the mid-1990s around a small number of successful operating systems (Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS Classic, followed by OSX and MacOS). – The arrival of programmable drum machines: as we shall see in Chapter 5, programmable drum machines dramatically changed the way that musicians compose music, giving them a vast palette of new freedoms. It suddenly became a lot easier to arrange complex rhythm sequences, impossible to execute by a human instrumentalist, or set up basslines and drumlines for live events and home studios. By combining drum machines with the MIDI standard and the new sequencers, musicians could now be completely independent during production or when composing the first draft of a new song. The hip-hop and rap communities quickly seized upon the possibilities offered by drum machines, using them to replace other percussive instruments, and adding other sounds and samples from records or CDs with the arrival of the first generation of fully programmable drum machines (see Chapter 5) and groove machines (see Chapter 7).

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Figure 2.6. The Roland TR-808 drum machine (1980–1983)

– New musical styles: new groups, some of which have attracted a cult following today, began to emerge from the depths of the soundscape, laying the foundations of new types of popular music that embraced electronic machines and early computers within very different cultural movements: new wave, house, techno, hip-hop, progressive rock, psychedelic rock, space rock, acid rock, rap, krautrock, new age, ambient, trance, and so on (see section 2.2). – The first musical samplers: a true revolution that would turn the world of popular music upside down. The Fairlight CMI, the first ever sampler, was followed just a few years later by many other models with much less intimidating price tags, paving the way for new ideas. As the entire approach to composing music changed, musical pieces gradually became sophisticated mixtures of synthetic sounds, samples, traditional instruments, drum machines, computers, sound effects, etc. Chapter 6 is entirely dedicated to the topic of samplers.

Figure 2.7. The Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument) sampler

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– The explosion of video clips promoting musical tracks: in 1981, the MTV channel made its grand entrance onto the television landscape by broadcasting music clips to promote and popularize a wide variety of groups, performers, and musical styles with the general public. Other broadcasters rushed to attempt to fill the niche. Television suddenly gained a completely new commercial significance for the production and distribution of music, particularly effective at targeting a new generation of increasingly sophisticated young consumers with ever more demanding tastes. The number of TV channels dedicated to music exploded, including both free and subscription-based options.

Figure 2.8. The logos historically used by MTV, the television channel that created the video-clip industry (from left to right: logo before launch, logo in 1981, and logo since 2010)

– The birth of Arpanet1, the Internet2, and the web: especially when viewed together with the factors mentioned above, the arrival of the Internet was impossible to ignore. In the late 1980s, Arpanet – the prodigal father of the Internet in the early 1990s – opened its gates to commercial traffic over the web via HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) and HTML (HyperText Markup Language), created by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN (Conseil européen pour la recherche nucléaire – European Council for Nuclear Research). The first multimedia web browser Mosaic, developed by Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina at the NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications), also deserves a special mention. Email had been around since the early 1970s, invented by Ray Tomlinson. 1 The first transfer network based on data packages, created in the USA by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The project was initiated in 1966, and the first operational demonstration was in 1972. 2 The term “Internet” describes the super-network of networks that linked together ARPANET and several other smaller networks in 1983.

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Figure 2.9. The first-ever web browser, NCSA Mosaic

Each of these factors intensified the gradual convergence of media, data carriers, and platforms that had already begun a few decades earlier.

Figure 2.10. The convergence of NBIC (source: Thierry Berthier – University of Limoges)

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More recently, another form of convergence has also been unfolding, namely, the convergence of NBIC (nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive science) since 2002. Many experts agree that this new convergence represents the future path by which technological advancement – which, as mentioned above, is currently in stagnation or silently stalled – will reach even greater heights. Returning to the main topic of this section, the transition from analog to digital has had major repercussions at every level of society. Its consequences are innumerable, not just in music but every other aspect of our lifestyles, too. The digital revolution triggered a sociological revolution that changed how we behave, see, listen, analyze, understand, create, develop, act, etc. Even if the gradual rise to power of digital technologies was less conspicuous in the musical community, its influence was no less significant. We can draw a simple analogy to illustrate the impact of the digital age. Consider the art of photography. Before digital cameras, images were captured using a thin silver-based film (photographic film). After taking a picture, the photographer needed to develop it and print it on a paper before seeing the results. This obviously takes time – it was impossible to quickly check whether a picture was any good. But with digital photography, anybody can review the picture on the camera screen (or some other device, like a tablet or a computer) within seconds of taking it. Moreover, the number of snapshots is no longer limited by the length of the film reel; we now have virtually unlimited memory available to store digital photos. This changed our entire approach to photography. Our attitudes toward images, such as taking photos, viewing them, or preparing the scene when taking a picture, are now completely different. The revolution experienced by music was similar. Composition, creation, performance, recording, and editing were all transformed and reinvented by digital technology. In the future, nanotechnology, the dematerialization of documents and music, and futuristic quantum computers will lead to new breakthroughs. We can expect electronic music to embark upon unexplored paths, guided by a new generation of contributors, researchers, artists, and sound smiths of tomorrow. One thing is certain – digital technology has triumphed and there is no way back. Even if a few stragglers remain, naively fighting for the return of the analog age, they simply represent a dwindling minority of collectors and musical historians. Of course, vinyl records are on the rise, analog synthesizers have never been more popular, and manufacturers are still building new analog equipment. But to be

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perfectly clear, analog in the 2010s is nothing like analog in the 1950s to 1980s. Modern analog equipment comes with the usual digital innovations already built in: digital audio input/output interfaces, memory card support for data storage and recording, MIDI ports, USB ports, S/PDIF, and so on.

Figure 2.11. The Novation Bass Station II (2013), an analog synthesizer. The MIDI ports and the USB port on the back would of course not have been present on an original model from the 1970s

Readers who feel the pull of nostalgia should rest assured – a valiant few still painstakingly preserve the vintage analog devices of the past so that they will never be forgotten; it is heartwarming to think that these wonders will be preserved by fans passionate about historical technologies that are obsolete, or in some cases perhaps arguably not. The machines of the past are undoubtedly part of our heritage; they deserve to be protected and archived to allow future generations to remember the magical era that preceded and created the digital world. 2.2. Popular music and electronic music Before the 1980s, musical styles were relatively inflexible. It was easy to classify individual pieces by category and genre; the boundaries between different types of

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music were clear-cut and unambiguous. Any given musician or group could easily be characterized as classical, jazz, pop, rock, hard rock, etc. But, as the technological and sociological environment of music changed, the boundaries between styles gradually faded. Marketing began to define the separations between genres instead. It would be difficult or perhaps impossible to give a fully authoritative classification of musical styles from the 1980s until today. The context never stopped changing; new techniques, hardware, and software came and went ceaselessly. Today, everything has been thrown together and intertwined. The digital age is much to blame (or to credit) for this, having empowered musical composers to draw from existing music and reuse it to create new tracks. Remixes and mashups3 were among the key ideas of this new type of electronic music. However, completely new and original compositions never stopped being made. The next few paragraphs aim to paint a simple picture of the state of electronic music since the 1980s, mentioning any relevant styles by name in each case. Other books have gone into much more depth; interested readers are welcome to visit the bibliography at the end of the book for further reading. There is a relatively broad consensus that house music and new wave were the starting points of modern electronic music. These styles took shape around the earliest models of the drum machine. By adopting very intense slap basslines, they generate vivid energy that combines jazz, rock, soul, world music, etc., combining the most unremarkable of instruments with the most unexpected and exotic sounds – sirens, whistles, steel cans, etc. Both movements, especially house music, represent subversive musical styles in their own right, by virtue of their structure, melodic arrangements, and rhythmic and harmonic combinations – designed by electronic machines for electronic machines. House music strongly influenced many later performers and musicians, inspiring them to revisit their repertoire with an entirely new approach.

3 Mix of different sound sequences of different styles, typically from several different sources. This technique was widely used by DJs and was further democratized by samplers and groove machines. Mashup composers used harmonization tools to align the key and tempo of their mashup tracks. Although mashups were originally fairly difficult to execute in the 1980s, they soon became a lot more accessible with the arrival of new computer-based music editing software.

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2.2.1. New wave House music was born in Chicago, at some point around 1982–1983. In many ways, it emerged as a replacement for disco, the muse of the 1970s. New wave was another style that suddenly appeared in the mid-1970s and lasted until the late 1980s. Like house music, it was also heavily reliant on electronic hardware. However, unlike house music, whose more innovative aspects would shake the musical world to its roots, new wave remained fairly consistent and rigid as a musical style over the course of its lifetime, without splitting into different subcurrents.

Figure 2.12. Four new wave albums: Propaganda: “Secret Wish” (1985); Depeche Mode: “Broken Frame” (1982); Fad Gadget: “Collapsing New People” (1983); Anne Clark with David Harrow: “Sleeper in Metropolis” (1984)

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Some might describe new wave as the music of the post-punk generation4. New bands, such as the New York Dolls, Velvet Underground, Ian Dury, and Nick Lowe, had already begun experimenting with new wave between 1970 and 1975, but it only truly took off in the early 1980s with Propaganda, Eurythmics, Blondie, Tears for Fears, Billy Idol, Anne Clark, New Order, Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark, Depeche Mode, Simple Minds, Ultravox, Fad Gadget, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Art of Noise, Dead or Alive, Bronski Beat, Talk Talk, Pet Shop Boys, Visage, Soft Cell, Spandau Ballet, Alphaville, Grauzone, Andreas Dorau, and so on. In the United Kingdom, the term “new wave” was less popular. Instead, the movement was often understood as a renewed form of punk with underground leanings. Over time, subgenres of new wave, such as cold wave, electronic body music (EBM), New Romantics, alternative rock, Neue Deutsche Welle, and Gothic new wave (Siouxsie, The Cure, Simple Minds) emerged, but the movement as a whole remained relatively consistent around a single, shared momentum. 2.2.2. House music In parallel, house music was embarking upon a separate path, drawing inspiration from the burgeoning new possibilities offered by the sequencers and early drum machines of electronic music. The repetitive music and beats favored by groups like Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, and various others, the early pioneers of experimental electronic music from the 1970s who played an important role in popularizing the style of krautrock5, provided an important source of ideas and inspiration to some disc jockeys (DJs). The result was the birth of a new musical movement: house music. DJ mixing techniques borrowed from Jamaica were another key influence of the style. The house music genre is designed to be shared, bringing every culture and community together around the common desire to have fun and party. This marked the beginning of improvised get-togethers in unusual locations not intended for music – abandoned factories and warehouses. 4 Musical genre derived from rock that first appeared in the early 1970s. Post-punk was very popular between 1974 and 1976, with groups such as The Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Ramones. 5 Krautrock is a subgenre of progressive rock (Procol Harum, Yes, The Nice, Soft Machine, Emerson Lake and Palmer, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Van der Graaf Generator, Genesis, Pink Floyd, etc.).

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The origins of the name “house music” are unclear, but two of the proposed explanations stand out: – music created at home, in a home studio; – music designed to be played at events hosted in warehouses. In Chicago, Larry Sherman founded the first record label entirely dedicated to house music, Trax Records.

Figure 2.13. One of the first albums of house music, published by TRAX Records: “Baby Wants to Ride” by DJ Frankie Knuckles, one of the pioneers of the genre

Far away from Lake Michigan, in New York, on the eastern coast of the USA, house music was just as present but featured slightly different colors than in Chicago. The New York strain of the movement was softer and more focused on vocals, with patches of strings and more conventional structures with verses and a chorus. Emerging record companies in this part of the world also began to devote themselves to this newfound style: Easy Street, Supertronics, and a few others. This form of house music is known as garage house6. Although house music remained relatively localized, marginal, and under-theradar in the USA, it took flight in Europe and especially in the United Kingdom, 6 The name “garage” comes from a famous club in New York – Paradise Garage – which opened in 1978 and lasted until 1987. DJ Larry Levan, one of the first modern DJs to make music from other people’s music using turntables, was one of the trailblazers of house music and a historical backbone of this club.

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becoming a global phenomenon. Music tracks from the USA were broadcast in many British clubs, setting the dance floors on fire. In 1986 and 1987, house music even stole top position on the charts. Tracks such as “Jack Your Body” by Steve “Silk” Hurley and “Pump Up the Volume” by the British band MARRS were number ones for several weeks in a row, spreading the passion for this new type of music to other European countries.

Figure 2.14. Two famous house music records: “Jack Your Body” (1987) and “Pump Up the Volume” (1987)

2.2.3. Techno Back on the other side of the Atlantic, in Detroit, another style of music was beginning to form in the early 1980s – techno7, which borrowed sounds from soul, disco, and motown. The musical structure of techno uses repetitive sequences with very funky sounds, mixing synthetic electronic elements on top of a strong bassline. It concentrates poetic flourishes around very mechanical beats with colder and more industrial colors. Among others, the key founders of the genre were Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson, who confessed to being fascinated by the house music scene in Chicago. They created the famous track “Strings of Life,” which is considered one

7 The term “techno” is thought to have been coined by the DJ Talla 2XLC, who used it as a description for this musical genre in his record store in Germany in 1982.

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of the great classics of the techno genre. It has several clearly recognizable similarities with house music.

Figure 2.15. The compilation “Techno! The New Dance Sound of Detroit” (1988). This compilation offers some insight into the influence of house music on techno

Toward the end of the 1980s, the floodgates opened, and techno engulfed the European music scene: from Berlin to Manchester, then onward to other neighboring countries. Some earlier music tracks, such as “I Feel Love” (1977) by Donna Summer and “ShariVari” (1981) by Number of Names, and even some pieces by Kraftwerk (between 1977 and 1983), arguably deserve to be retrospectively classified as techno. 2.2.4. New beat In the late 1980s, in Belgium, a new style was born: new beat, a derivative of new wave and EBM8. This was the heyday of samplers and drum machines.

8 EBM is a music style that mixes synthetic punk and industrial music (a style that incorporates mechanical noises, often from industrial settings), often viewed as its own subgenre of new wave.

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The new beat was first and foremost a new style of party music, overtly sexual and scandalous, drawing from recent national and international events. In 1987 and 1988, its popularity suddenly surged, with hundreds of records produced by short-lived groups who formed and disbanded with the new beat movement.

Figure 2.16. Two examples of new beat tracks: Bassline Boys, “Dechavanne, on se calme !” (1989), structured around a topical news story (a provocation by French television presenter C. Dechavanne on the TV show “Ciel mon Mardi”), and The Maxx, “Cocaine” (1988)

After the turn of the new decade, the new beat movement ran out of steam and gradually vanished, but not before giving birth to a new subgenre of techno, hardcore techno, which would prove extremely popular in the Netherlands and surrounding countries. Among the artists of the new beat movement, we can cite Bassline Boys, Jade 4U, One O One, The Maxx, and many others. 2.2.5. Acid house Acid house, another derivative of house music characterized by analog basslines generated using the Roland TB-303 synthesizer, first emerged in 1988. This new style would very quickly be spread throughout Europe via electronic music gatherings (rave parties).

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Figure 2.17. The TB-303 synthesizer by Roland

The origins of acid house are not entirely clear. Some authors have attributed the style to the track “I’ve Lost Control” by Sleezy D in 1986, whereas others instead cite “Acid Tracks” by the group Phuture in 1987. Regardless, the earliest music of this style was produced in Chicago, although its path to popularity took a detour through the United Kingdom.

Figure 2.18. The two albums credited as possible origins for the acid house style by some authors

Acid house has historically been fraught with bad press and associated with various types of drugs, especially ecstasy and LSD.

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Figure 2.19. The yellow smiley, the emblem of the acid house movement

2.2.6. Acid jazz In the mid-1980s, another style began to take form on the London music scene, combining jazz, funk, disco, and soul – acid jazz. In 1991, the popularity of acid jazz exploded, and it crossed the pond to the USA. Japan, Brazil, Germany, and Eastern Europe would each succumb in turn.

Figure 2.20. “The Antidote” (1992), an album by the guitarist Ronny Jordan

The guitarist Ronny Jordan was one of the heralds of acid jazz in Great Britain before his flagship track “The Antidote” later gained recognition throughout the entire globe. English groups like Jamiroquai, Galliano, and Urban Species also played a key role in disseminating this style of music throughout Europe.

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Figure 2.21. A compilation album of acid jazz (1996). The tracklist features Galliano, Urban Species, and other artists

In the USA, possible examples include A Tribe Called Quest, the musical project “Buckshot LeFonque” by Branford Marsalis, and the jazz lineup Liquid Soul. Internationally, we can cite Mondo Grosso in Japan and Skalpel in Poland. Many great contributors of acid jazz are also well known on the hip-hop scene. The popularity of acid jazz began to dwindle in the late 1990s. 2.2.7. Ambient The pioneer and founder of the ambient style is widely considered to be Brian Eno in the 1970s. Ambient music offers a follow-up act to the dreamy music popularized by bands such as Ash Ra Tempel, Tangerine Dream, Popol Vuh, Pink Floyd, and Klaus Schulze. Initially, it was completely experimental, using synthesizers and any other electronic devices that were available at the time. With the development of house and techno, ambient experienced a revival in the mid-1980s, achieving widespread popularity in 1990, thanks to performers such as Aphex Twin. Over time, ambient was transformed by new ideas and special musical colors from artists who typically focused on other styles, e.g. Wendy Carlos, Mike Oldfield, Vangelis, and Jean-Michel Jarre.

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The arrival of house music and techno created the subgenres of ambient house (Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO)) and ambient techno, but musical journalism and the general public rarely made the distinction, usually simply focusing on the term “ambient.”

Figure 2.22. The famous album “Ambient 1” (1978) by Brian Eno, widely credited with inventing the ambient style

Ambient was frequently used to round off techno events by creating a calming and satisfying atmosphere that contrasted with and soothed the strong rhythms and powerful basslines. Variants of this style would continue to spread until 2010.

Figure 2.23. The album “Public Pressure” (1980) by YMO, a Japanese band and pioneer of the ambient house style

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Ambient is often described as an intellectual music style with a deeply moving melodic composition. It aims to fit into any kind of environment by building a relaxing atmosphere that never forces the listener to pay attention, while still piquing his or her interest with an intriguing mixture of timbres. 2.2.8. Hip-hop and rap Both hip-hop and rap were born in the USA, especially in the Bronx in New York, around the early 1970s. They were the catalysts of an extremely important artistic movement that would spread to every city of the world and develop into a veritable urban culture. In the early 1980s, hip-hop began to draw inspiration from disco, and electronic instruments were gradually incorporated into its music: first, drum machines, followed by samplers shortly after. In the United Kingdom, DJ Greg Wilson was one of the first artists to perform a style of music that can be described as electro hip-hop. 2.2.9. Trance Trance originated from Germany in the 1990s. It is a direct descendant of techno, but features more melodic sounds, with upward and downward shifts designed to evoke certain emotions. The tempo can range from 10 to 160 bpm (beats per minute), with sound effects based on extremely drawn-out reverbs used to build up an imposing musical mass.

Figure 2.24. The trance album “Yaaah” (1990) by D-Shake

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D-Shake, Goa Gil, Juno Reactor, Raja Ram & the Infinity Project, Future Sound of London, Total Eclipse, Sven Vâth, Energy 52, and Paul van Dyk are just some references of the trance genre. A substyle known as Goa trance or psychedelic trance also emerged from an underground movement in India in parallel with the genre developing in Europe. 2.2.10. Electro or contemporary electro In the mid-1990s, the digital age arrived in full force: computers, the Internet, electronic games, video games, and consoles. By this point, the electro style had implicitly already crystallized – now it was ready to explode. Electro music typically has a tempo ranging from 120 to 140 bpm and features strongly syncopated rhythms. This creates an industrial effect, almost as if it were designed and driven by a machine. The meaning of the term “electro” also changed over time, transforming from a style encompassing any electronic music that incorporates some degree of dancing to a multitude of different styles and substyles across a wide range of extremely diverse artists today.

Figure 2.25. The album “Music for the Jilted Generation” (1994) by The Prodigy

The modern conception of electro tends to focus on artists who use computers and sophisticated electronic instruments (synthesizers, digital effects, groove

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machines, drum machines, samplers, sequencers, vocoders, talkboxes, etc.), sometimes in combination with more traditional instruments. The artists who exemplify this so-called contemporary electro music in France and the United Kingdom include The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Phoenix, Fat Boy Slim, Bob Sinclar, Moby, Laurent Garnier, and many others. 2.3. Final remarks In the last few sections, we completed a brief tour of some of the most memorable styles that have marked the history of electronic music. You may have noticed that we stopped in the early 2010s – there is a good reason for this. For the last 10 years, electronic machines have been omnipresent in the universe of popular music; the roles of DJs, performers, musicians, composers or technicians, and sound engineers and designers have been chaotically scrambled together, seemingly without rhyme or reason, driven by an onslaught of marketing, advertising, trending, philosophical, esoteric, sociological, emotional – not to mention musical – impulses. Over the history of electronic music, dozens of new styles and genres have been born. Some have survived while others have disappeared – together, their passing represents the essence of electronic music and its progression over time. Table 2.1 lists a small selection of albums and performers that left their mark on electronic music between the 1970s and the 2010s, organized by decade. This is just a small taste of the sheer variety of electronic music. There is much, much more to discover. Decade

Performer

Album or single

1970s

Tangerine Dream

Ricochet Rubycon Stratosfear

Klaus Schulze

Moondawn Timewind Mirage Dune

Brian Eno

Ambient 1: Music for Airports

Ah Ra Tempel

New Age of Earth Join Inn

Popol Vuh

In den Gärten Pharaos

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1980s

1990s

Kraftwerk

Autobahn Radio-Activity The Man-Machine Trans Europe Express

Jean-Michel Jarre

Oxygène

Tangerine Dream

Green Desert Logos Exit

Brian Eno

Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks

Klaus Schulze

Trancefer

Depeche Mode

Master and Servant

Ame Strong SA

Tout Est Bleu

Hiroshi Yoshimura

Green

Kraftwerk

Computerwelt

Laurent Garnier

Wake Up Astral Dreams Shot in the Dark

Air

Sexy Boy

Bob Sinclar

Paradise

Moby

Play Ambient

Depeche Mode

Violator Ultra Songs of Faith and Devotion

Aphex Twin

Selected Ambient Works 85–92 Melodies From Mars

B12

Time Tourist

Boards of Canada

Music Has the Right to Children

Autechre

LP5 Chiastic Slide

Daft Punk

Homework

DJ Krush

Kakusei

Amon Tobin

Bricolage

I:Cube

Disco Album

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2000s

Solar Fields

Movements Leaving Home

Crystal Castles

Crystal Castles

Daft Punk

Discovery Human After All

Avril

Be Yourself

Ready Made

Bold Flexion & F.Me

Skyramps

Days of Thunder

Moderat

Moderat

Apparat

Duplex

Boards of Canada

Geogaddi

Jon Hopkins

Insides

M83

Digital Shades, Vol. 1

Glass Candy

B/E/A/T/B/O/X

Gridlock

Formless

Bob Sinclar

Champs Elysées

Table 2.1. A few electronic music albums between 1970 and 2010

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3 The MIDI Standard

The MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) standard transformed the world of musical hardware. MIDI was the first catalyst of a fundamental revolution that created new ways for musicians to work and reimagined the entire creative process. This chapter presents the MIDI standard, its evolution over time, and its inner workings – from day one until its modern form. We will also discuss a couple of alternative proprietary formats – GS (Roland) and XG (Yamaha) – before finishing with a brief tour of a few musical devices that support MIDI. 3.1. History Dave Smith, the founder of Sequential Circuits, is undoubtedly one of the founding fathers of the MIDI standard. He was not the first person to suggest a communication system between different electronic music devices, e.g. a synthesizer and a sequencer. Many others had already designed their own systems – the problem was that everyone had developed their own communication protocol without bothering to coordinate or consult with their neighbors first. But Dave Smith had something much more ambitious in mind. He wanted to create a digital interface with a universal communication protocol that could be used with any musical device, regardless of its manufacturer or specifications. At the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) conference of 1982, hosted in Anaheim, a group of major hardware manufacturers – including Sequential Circuits, Yamaha, Roland, Korg, E-mu, Oberheim, Kawai, and others – united to develop a protocol and communication technology that would provide a reliable and secure channel and adequate transfer speed. Optocouplers were a key topic of the

Electronic Music Machines: The New Musical Instruments, First Edition. Jean-Michel Réveillac. © ISTE Ltd 2019. Published by ISTE Ltd and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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debate; these components allow different devices to be isolated from one another, resolving many of the problems encountered by the previous generation of protocols. Another essential constraint was cost. The interface needed to be inexpensive in order to have a realistic chance at being universally adopted by all manufacturers. With all of this in mind, Dave Smith and Chet Wood proposed a digital interface called MIDI, for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. In December 1982, the first MIDI synthesizer, the Prophet 600, was marketed by Sequential Circuits, soon followed by the DX7 by Yamaha, the Jupiter 6 by Roland, and other models. The very next year, at the NAMM conference of 1983, MIDI communication was successfully demonstrated between devices of different brands. Although these early experiments were perfectly functional, several technical challenges needed to be resolved before MIDI could be considered stable. By 1985, the MIDI standard had arguably matured into a reliable state. Even so, there were plenty of improvements yet to come. The International MIDI Association (IMA) was created in 1983 with the objective of improving the MIDI standard. The specifications of MIDI 1.0 were published by IMA. In parallel, two other supervisory associations were founded in 1985 in an attempt to avoid complete anarchy in the development process; the MIDI Manufacturer’s Association (MMA) was created to coordinate American, Canadian, and European manufacturers, whereas the JMSC (Japanese MIDI Standard Committee) was created for Japanese manufacturers. 3.2. How MIDI works The MIDI standard works on two different levels. At the hardware level, MIDI defines electronic components for connecting musical devices together. At the software level, MIDI specifies a communication protocol for encoding, decoding, and transferring the MIDI messages according to the specifications of the MIDI language. 3.2.1. The hardware level Like any digital data transmission technology, the MIDI interface is characterized by speed or bitrate, which is 31,250 bits/second. Each block of transmitted data has a length of 8 bytes, with one start bit and one stop bit (universal

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43

asynchronous receiver-transmitter (UART)1 on 10 bits). MIDI uses asynchronous serial transmission, which reduces the number of wires needed within the transport cable and avoids the unwanted time drift experienced by synchronous systems. Each MIDI link is a one-way data transmission channel from a source device to one or more receiving devices. Each device is isolated by an optocoupler to avoid mass looping problems, which can be extremely annoying when processing audio signals. Physically, the connectors are based on 5-pin DIN connectors. Since MIDI is a serial protocol, devices are “daisy-chained” together. The cables are shielded and have the pin configuration shown in Figure 3.1.

Figure 3.1. Pin configuration of the 5-pin DIN connectors used by the MIDI standard

There are three different types of MIDI ports (not every MIDI device has all three): – MIDI IN: data input; – MIDI OUT: data output; – MIDI THRU: the data received by the IN port are redirected to this output without being modified. This allows multiple receiving devices to be chained together in series. Figure 3.2 illustrates how these MIDI ports work.

1 UARTs are dedicated electronic circuits with a clock and a shift register, designed to transform parallel data into serial data and vice versa.

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Electronic Music Machines

Figure 3.2. Hardware links and MIDI ports. In this configuration, both devices B and C are controlled from A (daisy-chain link)

The configuration shown in Figure 3.3, which uses only the IN and OUT ports, supports less functionality than the configuration shown in Figure 3.2.

Figure 3.3. In this configuration, device A controls B and device B controls C, but A does not control C

The MIDI links are a maximum of 15 m long to avoid data corruption from signal attenuation in the cable. The signal is reamplified by any THRU ports that it passes through, as shown in Figure 3.4. However, MIDI is much more than just a set of hardware specifications. It also defines a dedicated software protocol that ensures that the data are transmitted correctly – the MIDI protocol.

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Figure 3.4. Diagram of the IN to THRU connection within the MIDI interface

3.2.2. The software level The MIDI software protocol standardizes the encoding of the transmitted MIDI data by defining a syntax that every MIDI message must follow. 3.2.2.1. General remarks MIDI messages are structured into codes. Each code represents a musical event, like pressing a key on the keyboard, spinning the modulation wheel, as well as meta-commands, like switching channels or modes (e.g. omni, poly, and mono – see below). In MIDI, each musical sequence is viewed as a collection of messages. Together, these messages form a series of events, labeled by codes. The codes are saved as bytes; there are two types: status bytes and data bytes. Whenever a status byte is sent with data bytes, the status byte contains additional information about the accompanying data bytes. Together, this forms a MIDI message that translates an event, e.g. an action performed by the musician on the keyboard. Recall that digital data are represented in binary. The MIDI standard specifies that any byte starting with 1 (Most Significant Bit or MSB) is a status byte, and any byte starting with 0 is a data byte.

Figure 3.5. Representation of a status byte and a data byte

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Electronic Music Machines

MIDI messages are reconstructed by assembling these codes. These messages can be classified into two major families: channel messages and system messages.

Figure 3.6. Families of MIDI messages and their members

The MIDI standard recognizes 16 channels. These channels can be used to send different data to different devices; each device can be configured to accept data from one or multiple channels. There are two receiving modes: omni on mode and omni off mode. In omni off mode, the device only listens on a single channel. In omni on mode, the device listens on every channel. 3.2.2.2. Families Table 3.1 provides an overview of the commands in the family of channel messages. These messages can be further subdivided into two subcategories: – Voice messages: there are seven types in this subcategory. Some devices do not support some types of message. – Mode messages: this subcategory has four types; the first four govern how the voices of the device are assigned to the MIDI channels, whereas the other four have more specific functions. Members

Commands

Description

Voice messages

Note-off

Determines whether a note has stopped playing.

Note-on

Determines whether a note has started playing (e.g. a key is pressed on the keyboard).

Polyphonic key pressure or Aftertouch

Message characterizing the pressure exerted on the key. NOTE.– This feature is not implemented by every synthesizer, expander, or keyboard.

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Mode messages

47

Control change

Modifies the parameters of the devices using the specified MIDI channel. These parameters are divided into nine groups.

Program change

Modifies the sound presets on all devices using the specified MIDI channel.

Aftertouch or Overall pressure or Channel pressure

Modifies the general settings for the dynamics of all keys on the keyboard.

Pitch bender change

Determines the position of the pitch change wheel.

Mode 1

Omni on, poly on: voice messages are accepted on every channel, and every voice produces the same sound (the number of voices is determined by the polyphony of the device).

Mode 2

Omni on, mono on: voice messages are accepted on every channel, and only one voice is played.

Mode 3

Omni off, poly on: voice messages are accepted on the specified MIDI channel, and every voice produces the same sound (the number of voices is determined by the polyphony of the device).

Mode 4

Omni off, mono on: voice messages are accepted on the specified MIDI channel, and each channel controls one single voice. This converts the device into multiple monophonic devices (one for each available voice).

All sound off

Mutes all voices on the specified channel. The sound is turned off.

Local control

Removes the keyboard from the list of locally controlled devices (local control off) or adds it to this list (local control on).

Reset all controllers

Resets all controllers. The device is returned to the default settings from when it was powered on.

All notes off

Asks the device to cut all voices on the specified channel.

Table 3.1. The commands in the family of channel messages

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Electronic Music Machines

Table 3.2 lists the commands in the family of system messages. These messages can be divided into three subcategories: – System real-time messages: there are eight system real-time messages. These messages take precedence over any other MIDI messages transmitted and apply to every MIDI system without distinguishing between the channels. – System common messages: there are seven messages in this category. These messages target all the devices connected to the MIDI system. – System exclusive messages: this category groups together manufacturerspecific messages and universal messages. Members

Commands

Description

Real-time messages

MIDI timing clock

Signal that synchronizes multiple devices to the same beat. The MIDI timing clock counts 24 pulses per quarter note (PPQN).

Start

Start signal transmitted by the master device of the MIDI system (sequencer, drum machine, etc.). The purpose of this signal is to synchronize all devices at the start of a musical sequence.

Stop

Opposite of the start command, stopping every connected device.

Continue

This signal instructs every device in the MIDI system to resume from where it stopped.

Active sensing

Signal for monitoring the devices. It instructs each device to check their MIDI connection. A message must be received by the IN connection every 300 ms if no other messages are sent.

System reset

Resets the MIDI devices of the system. Each device is returned to its initial state from when it was powered on.

MIDI time code

This gives a real-time representation of information about the hours, minutes, seconds, and frames per second of an SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) message. Its structure is based on the SMPTE code, adapted to the partitioning used by the MIDI standard.

Song position pointer

Precise 2-byte marker (from 0 to 16,383) indicating the position within a musical sequence. This message is heavily used by drum machines and sequencers.

Song select

Selects a sequence number (from 0 to 127) on a sequencer or drum machine.

Common messages

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Exclusive messages

49

Tune request

Asks the device to tune to the frequency specified by the manufacturer.

End of exclusive (EOX)

Marks the EOX.

Message 1

Message dedicated to researchers, both academic and non-academic, for non-profit purposes.

Message 2

Message dedicated to certain deferred-time manipulations.

Message 3

Message for certain real-time manipulations.

Table 3.2. The commands in the family of system messages

3.3. Examples of MIDI transmission After our brief tour of the hardware and software layers of the MIDI standard, this section examines the structure of a few example MIDI actions and their messages in more detail. The objective of this section – and of the entire chapter – is not to give a completely exhaustive presentation of every aspect of the MIDI standard but simply a preliminary introduction. Readers who are interested in finding out more are welcome to visit the bibliography at the end of the book. 3.3.1. Note-on/note-off messages This type of message is generated when the user presses a key on the keyboard or performs a physical action on a MIDI controller to produce a sound. The sound is played when the generator receives the message. Example: the user plays the note A2 (second octave) on a keyboard: 10010000 00111001 01110111 (binary) or 90 39 77 (hexadecimal) 10000000 00111001 01000000 (binary) or 80 39 40 (hexadecimal) Table 3.3 explains the contents of this message in more detail.

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Byte

Commands

Description

1001 0000

Note-on MIDI channel

Keypress on the keyboard. Selected MIDI channel, from 1 to 16. Here, channel 1 is selected.

00111001

MIDI note number

Specifies a note between 0 and 127 (from C2 to G8). Here, the note is A2.

01110111

Velocity

Speed at which the key was pressed, from 0 to 127. Here, the velocity is 119.

1000 0000

Note-off

Keypress on the keyboard. Selected MIDI channel, from 1 to 16. Here, channel 1 is selected.

00111001

MIDI note number

Specifies a note between 0 and 127 (from C2 to G8). Here, the note is A2.

01000000

Velocity

Speed at which the key was released, from 0 to 127. Here, the velocity is 64.

Table 3.3. Breakdown of the MIDI message generated when a user plays A2 on a keyboard (the note A in the second-lowest octave of the standard layout)

3.3.2. Program change message The designers of the MIDI standard originally made provisions to allow the sound of a musical device like an expander or a synthesizer to be modified. As technology progressed, various other devices such as sound effect racks and drum machines also began to implement MIDI compatibility, meaning that patch changes, memory, presets, and so on were no longer necessary. Example: the user runs the program with number 25: 11001001 00011001 (binary) or C9 19 (hexadecimal). Byte

Commands

Description

1100 1001

Program change MIDI channel

Keypress on the keyboard. Selected MIDI channel, from 1 to 16. Here, channel 10 is selected.

00011001

Number of the program

Program number, from 0 to 127. Here, the program number is 25.

Table 3.4. Breakdown of the MIDI message generated when the user calls program 25

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3.4. The MIDI implementation chart To specify the set of all parameters supported by a musical device more precisely, the MMA and the JMSC designed a document known as the “MIDI Implementation Chart” that must be provided together with any musical device. The structure and the contents of this chart are standardized.

Figure 3.7. The reference model of the MIDI implementation chart

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Electronic Music Machines

The first column specifies the message type, the second specifies the transmission functions, the third defines the receiving functions, and the final column contains any remarks. The message types implemented by the device are indicated by a circle. Any message types that are not implemented are indicated by a cross. 3.5. The General MIDI standard A new standard known as General MIDI (GM) was released in January 1991 after being approved by both the MMA and the JMSC in turn. Why was a new standard needed? What benefits does it offer? This section attempts to answer these questions. Originally, when a musician composed a MIDI sequence, the results depended on the specific chain of MIDI devices that the musician was currently using. When played on other systems, the parameters – especially any “program change” parameters – usually needed to be reconfigured; otherwise, you might end up with a clarinet playing a tune intended for electric guitar, for example. Other parameters could also fail to carry over, such as the number of tracks, which often depended on the performance of the sequencer. The GM standard resolves these problems by standardizing the behavior of the MIDI devices in terms of certain imposed parameters. Nonetheless, there is still one aspect that is difficult to manage effectively – the timbre of each instrument, which necessarily varies from device to device, because it depends directly on the sound synthesis techniques used by the manufacturer of the instrument (FM synthesis, granular synthesis, sampled sounds, etc.). 3.5.1. Specifications The most important constraints imposed by the specifications of the GM standard are as follows: – Sounds are classified into 16 families of 8 instruments. This produces a 128-instrument table that must be fully implemented by the device. – Sound-generating devices must be multi-timbral, with a polyphony of at least 16 instrumental voices and 8 percussion voices. – Channel 10 is reserved for percussion sounds. Each note is associated with a sound, and there must be at least 47 percussion sounds.

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– The device must support the 16 standard MIDI channels. – The note C3 must have MIDI number 60. Furthermore, the following MIDI control events must be implemented: – Velocity and aftertouch on every channel. – Referenced parameter controllers (RPNs) for the pitch bend effect. – For channel voice messages, via control change: - 1 – Modulation (vibrato, LFO); - 7 – Master volume; - 10 – Pan; - 11 – Expression; - 64 – Sustain. For channel mode messages: - 121 – Reset all controllers; - 123 – All notes off. – The default overall volume is 90. – The initial tuning should be set to A440 (note A with frequency 440 Hz). – There must be an exclusive system message that toggles the GM mode on/off for the device. – Devices that comply with the GM standard may display the logo shown in Figure 3.8.

Figure 3.8. The GM logo

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Electronic Music Machines

Readers can find more information about the assignments of each family of instruments with the GM standard in Appendix 3. 3.6. The General MIDI 2 standard In March 1999, a group of manufacturers extended the GM standard after criticism that it was no longer adequate. Thus, the GM Level 2 (GM2) standard was born, after approval from the MMA. After GM2 was introduced, the original GM standard was retroactively renamed as GM1 (GM Level 1). The GM2 standard adds 87 new instruments to the original standard (for a total of 215). The number of effects is increased to 46, and there are almost three times as many percussion sounds (133 for GM2 compared to 47 for GM1). Channel 11 is used in parallel with channel 10 to manage two drum kits simultaneously. The number of channels is increased to 32. GM2 introduces wider support for voice channel messages (especially control change messages) and universal exclusive messages. This summarizes the major changes, but a few more specific adjustments were also made. Readers are welcome to consult the bibliography at the end of the book to find out more. 3.7. The GS format The GS format was unveiled in 1991. It has a similar design to the GM format, but it is only supported by instruments made by Roland. It features 16,384 sounds and allows 128 percussion kits or sets to be assigned to channel 10. In practice, the GS format usually only has 10 kits, and only one kit is required. The following channel voice messages are recognized, subject to a few small adjustments: – Polyphonic aftertouch and pitch bend are implemented. – For the control change: - bank select (choose the sound bank); - modulation; - portamento time;

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- data entry; - volume (master); - pan; - expression; - hold; - sostenuto; - soft; - effect 1 (reverb); - effect 3 (chorus); - RPNs; - NRPN (non-RPNs). The following channel mode messages are recognized: – All sounds off; – Reset all controllers. Some standardized exclusive messages are also implemented. 3.8. The XG format In a similar spirit to the GS standard, XG is another proprietary standard, created by the Japanese manufacturer Yamaha. XG extends the GM standard and is therefore compatible with it while offering various additional features: – polyphony on 32 simultaneous channels; – more than 100 sound banks, each with 128 sounds; – additional channels for managing percussion sounds in parallel with channel 10; – additional internal graphic equalizer; – three sound effects (chorus, reverb, insertion effect); – real-time voice modification; – support for external inputs (microphone, electric guitar, etc.); – extended support for channel voice messages (especially control change).

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3.9. The structure of a MIDI file MIDI files are organized into a series of data blocks called chunks. These chunks are structured as follows: Type

Length

Data

4 bytes

4 bytes

Data bytes (of a certain length)

Table 3.5. Structure of a data chunk

There are two types of chunks, header chunks (MThd) and track chunks (MTrk). 3.9.1. Header chunks The MThd chunk defines the header of the MIDI file. Each MIDI file has only one chunk of this type. Type

Length

Data

4 bytes

4 bytes

6 data bytes

MThd (ASCII)

32 bits

16 bits (2 bytes)

16 bits (2 bytes)

16 bits (2 bytes)

4D 54 68 64

00 00 00 06





Table 3.6. Standard format of an MThd chunk

The first four bytes contain the string “MThd” in ASCII (4D 54 68 64). The next four bytes specify that the data of this chunk have a length of six bytes (00 00 00 06). The last six bytes are interpreted two by two. The first two indicate the format of the MIDI file. The middle two specify the number of tracks, and the final two indicate the time resolution. There are three possible formats, types 0, 1, and 2: – Type 0 means that the file contains a single MIDI data track. – Type 1 means that the file contains multiple tracks to be played simultaneously. Each track contains information for a specific MIDI channel.

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– Type 2 means that the file contains patterns. Each track is played independently from the others. The number of tracks is always 1 if the format is 0. The time resolution is expressed in ticks per quarter note or delta time units per SMPTE frame. If the resolution is expressed in ticks, the MSB of the fifth byte is 0, and the other 15 specify the number of ticks. Fifth byte

Sixth byte

Bit

7

6–0

7–0

Division

0

Ticks per quarter note Table 3.7. Resolution in ticks

If the resolution is expressed in delta time units, the MSB of the fifth byte is equal to 1, and the bits 6 to 0 of the first byte specify the number of frames per second (expressed as a negative number: −24, −25, −29, or −30 frames per second). The bits 7 to 0 of the second byte specify the number of ticks per SMPTE frame. Fifth byte

Sixth byte

Bit

7

6–0

7–0

Division

1

frames/s

ticks/frame

Table 3.8. Resolution in delta time units

3.9.2. Track chunks Track chunks contain the MIDI data of each track, presented as a sequence of events and delta times. If the format is 0, the track chunk contains all notes and tempo information. If the format is 1, the first chunk is known as the tempo map and is different. The tempo map defines the following values: – Time signature: indicates the time parameters of the MIDI sequence; – Set tempo: defines the tempo;

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– Sequence/Track name: specifies the name of the track or MIDI sequence. If the format is 2, each track chunk contains an independent MIDI sequence. The general format of a track chunk is as follows: Type

Length

Data

4 bytes

4 bytes

Data bytes

MTrk (ASCII)

32 bits

According to the defined length

4D 54 72 6B



Table 3.9. Standard format of a track chunk

The delta times encode the timing of the MIDI sequence. Each delta time specifies the time elapsed between two consecutive MIDI events. The running status2 is also taken into account by these events. To reduce the file size, the delta times are compressed using a variable-size representation in 1, 2, 3, or 4 bytes. To identify which bytes belong to the delta time, we check the MSB. This bit is equal to 0 in the last byte. One byte: the values range from 0 to 127, 00000000 to 01111111. In this case, the compression algorithm leaves the values unchanged. The MSB is 0, so this is the last and only byte of the delta time. Two bytes: the values range from 128 to 16,383 (decimal) or 00000000 10000000 to 00111111 11111111 (binary). After compression, the values become: 10000001 00000000 to 11111111 01111111. A left bit shift was applied to bits 7 to 13, the 7th bit was set to 0, and the 15th bit was set to 1.

2 Since MIDI data are often repetitive, manufacturers use a technique called running status to reduce the size of the data and avoid problems with data transmission delays. For consecutive messages with the same status on the same channel, the status byte is only sent once.

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Three bytes: the values range from 16,384 to 2,097,151 (decimal) or 00000000 10000000 00000000 to 00011111 11111111 11111111 (binary). After compression, the values become: 10000001 01111111.

10000000

00000000

to

11111111

11111111

A double left bit shift was applied to bits 14 to 20, a single left bit shift was applied to bits 7 to 13, the 7th bit was set to 0, and the 15th and 23rd bits were set to 1. Four bytes: the values range from 2,097,152 to 268,435,455 (decimal) or 00000000 00100000 00000000 00000000 to 00001111 11111111 11111111 11111111 (binary). After compression, the values become: 10000001 10000000 10000000 00000000 to 11111111 11111111 11111111 01111111. A triple left bit shift was applied to bits 21 to 27, a double left bit shift was applied to bits 14 to 20, a single left bit shift was applied to bits 7 to 13, the 7th bit was set to 0, and the 15th, 23rd, and 31st bits were set to 1. Track chunks can contain three types of MIDI events: channel messages (see section 3.2.2.2), system exclusive events (sysex events), and meta-events. Any sysex or meta-events cancel the running status. 3.9.2.1. Exclusive events Exclusive events have variable length, starting with F0 and ending with the EOX code, F7. Start

Length

Bytes transmitted

End

F0

aa

bb bb bb …

F7

Table 3.10. Standard format of an exclusive event

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There are two special cases: – An exclusive event can be divided into multiple subevents separated by delta times. In this case, only the first event starts with F0. All others start with F7. Start

Length

Bytes transmitted

F0

aa

bb bb bb … Delta time cc ... cc

Start

Length

Bytes transmitted

F7

aa

bb bb bb … Delta time cc..cc

Start

Length

Bytes transmitted

F7

aa

bb bb bb …

Table 3.11. A complex exclusive event

– Exclusive events that start with F7 are used to transmit certain special messages. Start

Length

Bytes transmitted

End

F7

aa

bb bb bb …

F7

Table 3.12. An exclusive event

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3.9.2.2. Meta-events There are 16 meta-events: – sequence number; – text event; – copyright notice; – sequence/track name; – instrument name; – lyrics; – marker; – cue point; – program name; – device name; – end of track; – set tempo; – SMPTE offset; – time signature; – key signature; – sequencer-specific meta-event. Sequence number: – Optional event that must be placed before any delta times or other events. This event specifies the sequence number in two bytes or the pattern number for format 2. – Format (hex): FF 00 02 nn nn. Text: – Variable-length ASCII-encoded text description. – Format (hex): FF 01 len text (string length, ASCII text description). Copyright: – Indicates the copyright, author name, year, ©, etc. in an ASCII string with the specified length. – Format (hex): FF 02 len text (string length, ASCII text).

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Sequence/track name: – Name of the sequence for format 0 or name of the track for format 1. – Format (hex): FF 03 len text (string length, ASCII text). Instrument name: – Text indicating the name of the MIDI instrument being used. – Format (hex): FF 04 len text (string length, ASCII text). Lyrics: – Text lyrics of the song, often divided into syllables. – Format (hex): FF 05 len text (string length, ASCII text). Marker: – Text marker inserted at a specific time, typically indicating special elements such as the chorus or a verse. – Format (hex): FF 06 len text (string length, ASCII text). Cue point: – Text description of an event occurring at a specific time. – Format (hex): FF 07 len text (string length, ASCII text). Program name: – Name of the program defined to play the track chunk. This is not necessarily the same as the track name or the sequence name. – Format (hex): FF 08 len text (string length, ASCII text). Device name: – Name of the MIDI port to which the track should be directed. If a device name has been specified, all events are directed to this device. Typically used with format 1 to bind specific tracks to specific devices. – Format (hex): FF 09 len text (string length, ASCII text). End of track: – Mandatory event. This is the last event of the track chunk; there can only be one end-of-track event in any given track chunk.

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– Format (hex): FF 2F 00. Set tempo: – Change of tempo specified as the number of microseconds per quarter note in three bytes. By default, the tempo is 120 bpm (beats per minute). – Format (hex): FF 51 03 tt tt tt. SMPTE offset: – Starting point of the SMPTE code in hours, minutes, seconds, frames per second (frames), and hundredths of a frame per second (subframes). Format (hex): FF 54 05 hr mn se fr ff. Time signature: – Defines the time signature of the musical sequence, in four bytes. nn and dd represent the numerator and denominator of the time signature as it would be notated. – The numerator nn is represented as usual. – The denominator dd represents the power of two that characterizes the time signature: 20 = 1 (1 whole note per whole note), 21 = 2 (2 half notes per whole note), 22 = 4 (4 quarter notes per whole note), 23 = 8 (8 eighth-notes per whole note), etc. – The cc parameter expresses the number of MIDI clocks in a metronome click. – The bb parameter expresses the number of notated 32nd notes in a MIDI quarter note (24 MIDI clocks). This was added because there are already multiple programs which allow a user to specify that what MIDI thinks of as a quarter note (24 clocks) is to be notated as, or related to in terms of, something else. – Format (hex): FF 58 04 nn dd cc bb. Key signature: – The key signature defines the tonic note and the mode or scale. – The key is defined by sf, where 0 corresponds to C major, the positive values 1 to 7 range over the sharps, and the negative values –1 to –7 range over the flats. – The mode is 0 for major scales and 1 for minor scales. – Format (hex): FF 59 02 sf mi. – Example: FF 59 02 07 00 – C# major.

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Specific event: – Label defined by the manufacturer for specific messages on certain instruments. – Format (hex): FF 7F len data (string length, specific data). 3.9.3. Example of a MIDI file Table 3.13 shows the data of a simple MIDI file as an example, including the header chunk, the track chunk that sets the tempo, and the track chunk of a musical sequence on MIDI channel 1. Each hexadecimal code in the file is listed and annotated. Hexadecimal code

Comments Header chunk

4D 54 68 64

ASCII string: “MThd”

00 00 00 06

Length of chunk data: 6

00 01

MIDI format: 1

00 05

Number of tracks: 5

01 80

384 ticks (per quarter note) Track chunk – (tempo track)

4D 54 72 6B

ASCII string: “MTrk”

00 00 00 19

Length of chunk data: 25

00

Delta time: 0

FF 51 03

Event: tempo4

0B 71 B0

Value of tempo: 750,000 μs/quarter note, which is: (60 s/0.750 s = 80 quarter notes/min or 80 bpm)

00

Delta time: 0

FF 58 04

Event: time signature

04

Numerator of the time signature: 4

02

Denominator of the time signature: 2² = 4

18

Number of metronome ticks (MIDI clocks): 24 per quarter note

08

Number of 32nd notes per quarter note: 8

00

Delta time: 0

The MIDI Standard

FF 59 02

Key

00

0 (no alterations) => C

00

0 => major (1 => minor)

00

Delta time: 0

FF 2F 00

End of track Track chunk 2 (channel 1)

4D 54 72 6B

ASCII string: “MTrk”

00 00 02 47

Length of chunk data: 583

00 FF 03 09

Track name

53 74 65 65 6C 47 74 72 00

ASCII string: “steelgtr.”

00

Delta time: 0

B1

Control change/channel 2

07 64

Main volume: 164

00

Delta time: 0

0A 2C

Pan: 44

00

Delta time: 0

5B 37

Effect 1 (reverb) depth: 55

00

Delta time: 0

5D 14

Effect 3 (chorus) depth: 20

8C 04

Delta time: 1540

90

Note-on/channel 1

40 73

Note: E3 – velocity: 115

00

Delta time: 0

44 5B

Note: G#3 – velocity: 91

00

Delta time: 0

47 63

Note: B3 – velocity: 99

00

Delta time: 0

4C 5E

Note: E4 – velocity: 94

70

Delta time: 112

80

Note-off/channel 1

44 00

Note: G#3 – velocity: 0

00

Delta time: 0

47 00

Note: B3 – velocity: 0

65

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08

Delta time: 8

40 00

Note: E3 – velocity: 0

00

Delta time: 0

4C 00

Note: E4 – velocity: 0

81 24

Delta time: 100

90

Note-on/channel 1

44 5D

Note: G#3 – velocity: 93

00

Delta time: 0

47 61

Note: B3 – velocity: 97

04

Delta time: 4

40 66

Note: E3 – velocity: 102

00

Delta time: 0

4C 59

Note: E4 – velocity: 89

2C

Delta time: 44

80

Note-off/channel 1

44 00

Note: G#3 – velocity: 0

00

Delta time: 0

47 00

Note: B3 – velocity: 0

00

Delta time: 0

40 00

Note: E3 – velocity: 0

00

Delta time: 0

4C 00

Note: E4 – velocity: 0

34

Delta time: 52

. . .

. . .

00

Delta time: 0

FF 2F 00

End of track Table 3.13. Example of a MIDI file

The MIDI Standard

67

3.10. MIDI devices Over more than 35 years of technological progress in musical hardware, the MIDI standard has firmly established itself on the market. Little by little, compatibility with the MIDI standard and protocol was added to the vast majority of musical equipment. Today, USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports, Firewire, Thunderbolt, Ethernet, wifi, and Bluetooth could potentially offer a lot more in terms of functionality, but this does not seem to matter – MIDI is still going strong and has not changed much. People have been talking about upgrading to an improved version of the standard known as HD-MIDI or MIDI 2.0 since 2013, but little progress has been made and manufacturers have remained non-committal. There have also been attempts at alternatives, like OSC (Open Source Control)3, based on the User Datagram Protocol (UDP)4 and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), but none of them ever became much more than a curiosity, despite the support from some manufacturers and software publishers, e.g. Ableton Live, Cycling 74 Max/MSP, PureData, Native Instruments Reaktor, MOTU Digital Performer, and Steinberg Cubase. 3.10.1. MIDI boxes, mergers, and patchers This section presents a few ways for managing unusual MIDI configurations. To directly connect multiple devices (devices 2–4) from a single output (device 1), we can use a MIDI thru box as shown in Figure 3.9.

Figure 3.9. Connections through a MIDI thru box

3 OSC is a data content format developed at CNMAT by Adrian Freed and Matt Wright in parallel with a musical language known as OSW (Open Source World). 4 UDP and TCP are two of the key communication protocols used by Internet.

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Electronic Music Machines

The advantage of this device is that it eliminates chaining, which could potentially degrade the signal as it passes through the IN and THRU ports of multiple devices. The MIDI thru box creates a direct link to each device. Another useful trick is to mix multiple MIDI inputs using a MIDI merger; see Figure 3.10.

Figure 3.10. Connections through a MIDI merger

For example, a MIDI merger allows the same expander (device 3) to be controlled from multiple master keyboards (devices 1 and 2). MIDI patchers, MIDI patchbays, and MIDI routers are much more sophisticated versions of the above, with significantly more advanced features, such as MIDI data filtering, multiple input or output merging, and signal rerouting to predefined outputs, as well as the ability to save various settings and configurations in memory banks to be reloaded more easily later. Example models include the A-880 by Roland, the MX-8 by Digital Music Corp, the MIDI Patcher by 360 Systems, and the ME-30P by Akai.

Figure 3.11. The A-880 MIDI router by Roland

Today, with computer-based virtual instruments and effects, MIDI routers have become practically obsolete, only needed by musicians with extremely large hardware setups.

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3.10.2. Musical instruments Ever since the 1980s, there are MIDI interfaces in every musical instrument. Synthesizers and expanders usually have all three ports (in, out, and thru). Master keyboards typically have at least one MIDI out port and one MIDI in port.

Figure 3.12. A Yamaha KX-88 master keyboard with MIDI in and out ports

Most drum machines, sequencers, and groove machines also have MIDI in and out ports. Samplers and sampler-sequencers usually have all three ports, sometimes with duplicates, like the S6000 by Akai.

Figure 3.13. The MIDI ports of the Akai S6000 sampler

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Electronic Music Machines

Over time, some manufacturers began to allow themselves a few liberties. As a result, MIDI ports can sometimes be found in alternative forms, like the 3.5 mm stereo jack.

Figure 3.14. MIDI 3.5 mm jack port on a Korg Electribe 2 groove machine

3.10.3. Studio hardware A lot of musical equipment designed for studio usage, e.g. mixing consoles, sound effects racks, and many others, have MIDI ports, allowing the user to save presets and modify MIDI parameters using dedicated editing software.

Figure 3.15. The Yamaha SPX2000 sound effects processing rack with a USB port and MIDI ports (on the left)

Many modern devices now also feature USB, Ethernet, or Firewire ports, which perform better and are more flexible for managing, modifying, and storing parameters, as well as transmitting data.

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Figure 3.16. The Lexicon PCM96 sound effects processor, with MIDI ports (center), as well as Ethernet and Firewire ports (on the left)

3.10.4. MIDI to computer Over the period from 1985 to 2000, computers gradually crept into the corners of our daily lives. It was not long before people started looking for ways to connect them to their musical devices. The earliest interfaces for connecting to computers were the RS232 serial port, the RS422 port, and the parallel port.

Figure 3.17. The interface of the MOTU MIDI Express XT from 1996. The communication ports visible on the rear panel (bottom) – a parallel port and an RS422 serial port – can be connected to a computer

Over time, technology continued to progress; the USB port was introduced in 1996, followed by the Firewire port in 1999.

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Electronic Music Machines

Figure 3.18. The interface of the M-Audio MIDISport USB 8 × 8, with eight MIDI in/outs and one USB 1.1 port

The USB standard itself has also improved over time (USB 2.0). In 2000, the data transmission rate increased significantly. Other more powerful interfaces have also been introduced over time.

Figure 3.19. The interface of the UltraLite MK3 Hybrid. The Firewire and USB 2.0 ports for connecting to a computer are visible on the rear panel (bottom)

In 2008, the improved and faster USB 3.0 arrived on the market, soon followed by the even more powerful USB 3.1 in 2013.

Figure 3.20. The M-Audio MIDISport Hub 4 × 4 interface (2016) with its USB 3.0 port (left)

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73

In 2011, another newcomer made its entry onto the market – the Thunderbolt port, which was then upgraded to version 3.0 in 2015 as the USB-C port, combining the USB and Thunderbolt protocols into a single interface.

Figure 3.21. The interface of the Focusrite Clarett 2Pre with its Thunderbolt port (white rectangle on the bottom image)

3.11. Conclusion For more than 35 years, the MIDI standard has reigned supreme in the field of musical hardware. Although some aspects of the underlying protocol might seem outdated today, the undying endurance of MIDI proves that this clearly does not matter. MIDI remains crucial and indispensable. Will MIDI ever be superseded? Will it continue to change? It is hard to say. Reaching a consensus across all publishers and manufacturers is always easier said than done – old habits die hard. Why replace a technology that still works perfectly well, despite its shortcomings? A vast range of older equipment would risk suddenly becoming obsolete or incompatible. It seems likely that the MIDI standard still has plenty of good days ahead.

4 Sequencers

Sequencers – a new word to describe a musical concept that has existed for a very long time, the idea of playing a sequence of notes automatically. The ancestors of the modern sequencer include mechanical musical instruments such as music boxes, player pianos, and barrel organs. 4.1. Mechanical and electrical machines The dream of making music mechanically has always been a source of inspiration. The word automatophone describes the category of all such instruments: music boxes, player pianos, barrel organs, fairground organs, etc. In addition to the mechanical systems themselves, the early 20th Century brought new ways of supplying the energy needed to operate a system to replace human input, typically in the form of electric motors. The next few pages provide a brief history and overview of these machines. For further reading, you can visit the bibliography at the end of the book: – music boxes; – player pianos; – barrel organs, and later versions that replaced the original barrels with paper rolls or cardboard books (collectively known as orgues de Barbarie in French, which literally means “Barbary organs”); – fairground organs (Limonaires).

Electronic Music Machines: The New Musical Instruments, First Edition. Jean-Michel Réveillac. © ISTE Ltd 2019. Published by ISTE Ltd and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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4.1.1. Music boxes In 1796, the Swiss watchmaker Antoine Favre had an idea – why not add a musical mechanism to a watch? He designed a system based on a flat disk with little bumps that caused metal slats to vibrate as the disk rotated. It is worth noting that a Hungarian inventor, Josef Nagy, and the French watchmaker Michel Joseph Ransonet had also created similar devices a few years earlier. Even so, the invention of the music box is usually attributed to Favre. Shortly after Favre’s invention, the mechanism was improved, replacing the disk with a cylinder covered in pins and replacing the individual metal strips with combs (1820) to increase the resonance.

Figure 4.1. A simple music box mechanism (spring box, regulator, comb, and cylinder)

The clockwork system driving the cylinder uses a spring that stores energy and a regulator that limits the speed to ensure that the cylinder rotates uniformly, giving the melody a fixed tempo. This triggered a race for innovation. The combs gradually became larger, a damper system (1822) was added to limit unwanted vibrations, and the mechanism was enriched with chimes to embellish the musical sequence. These music boxes were handmade by craftsmen. Industrial production only arrived in 1850–1875 when manufacturers, such as the Nicole Brothers, Charles Paillard, and others, decided to try their own hand at making music boxes. In parallel, improvements in miniaturization allowed music boxes to be placed inside jewelry.

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77

Figure 4.2. A very sophisticated music box (source: Allard and Sandoz, 1890)

The golden age of music boxes peaked at around the mid-19th Century. The variety of music boxes available during this period was staggering. Some were very expensive, and others were very affordable. 4.1.2. Mechanical pianos While music boxes were becoming popular, another market was also developing – mechanical pianos, also known as automatic pianos. One of the earliest such instruments was made by Alexandre François Debain, a renowned harmonium- and piano-maker, in Paris, 1849. Debain’s invention was an upright piano with a second array of hammers operated by levers, placed in motion by a system based on cranks and boards embedded with pins.

Figure 4.3. Advertisement for Debain’s mechanical piano

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Electronic Music Machines

The same technique was later reused in barrel pianos. Mechanical pianos were rapidly superseded by pneumatic pianos, which were easier to operate and more sophisticated. These pianos used a pneumatic system with punched music rolls to generate the melody. It was in 1863 that the French inventor Henri Fourneaux presented his Pianista in Philadelphia, but the crowds did not seem particularly impressed. Later, in 1895, the American inventor Edwin Scott Votey created the pianola, which proved to be much more successful.

Figure 4.4. A “pianola”

The earliest of these pneumatic pianos were able to play 65 different notes. Over time, they were improved until they could access the full 88-note range of a standard piano by making the holes on the rolls smaller. The mechanism was driven by an airflow generated by pedaling on a set of bellows.

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79

In Europe, Giovanni Racca marketed the first music roll pianos in 1880. The famous Melodico model continued to be manufactured until the 1920s and was a great success.

Figure 4.5. A music roll inside a G. Steik pneumatic piano (source: https://pouedraspianos.wordpress.com)

A selection of famous pieces was transcribed by specialized companies, and a small repertoire of automatic music soon appeared. In the 1930s, the production of pneumatic pianos peaked. From then on, it would only decline. At the beginning of the 20th Century, as technology progressed, the German inventor Edwin Emil Welt filed a patent for a device that could reproduce the same loudness dynamics as a pianist by incorporating pedal presses and effects. The pedal-operated bellows used to supply airflow were also replaced by an electrically motorized system. Several major piano-makers, such as Gaveau and Steinway, built this procedure into some of their models in partnership with system manufacturers – examples include the Duo-Art by Aeolian, the Pleyela by Pleyel, and others such as Ampico, Welte-Mignon, and so on.

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Electronic Music Machines

The invention of gramophones and jukeboxes eventually triggered the decline of music roll pianos. 4.1.3. Barrel organs Barrel organs can be classified as wind instruments, in the subcategory of organs. Their general appearance is difficult to characterize because so many different models were created over the years, some of which were extremely sophisticated and imposing.

Figure 4.6. A barrel organ (source: https://www.orgues-de-barbarie.com)

The original French name for these organs was “orgue de Barbarie,” meaning “Barbary organ”, perhaps because they sounded much less majestic than church organs. Other possible explanations include the suggestion that this name refers to an Italian manufacturer, Giovanni Barberi, who allegedly made the first portable organ in the mid-17th Century, or that the word “barbare” (barbarian) was used to describe anything and everything that was not quintessentially French in the 18th Century, since the organ players tended to be from abroad.

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These organs have a long history, spanning several centuries and multiple continents. Around the middle of the 19th Century, as mechanical techniques became more refined and the number of manufacturers became larger, they reached the height of their popularity. The exact date of their birth remains unknown – sometime shortly after the start of the 18th Century. Engravings of barrel organ players dating from around this period have been found. In addition to portable organs, many stationary organs were made for bourgeois clientele. Some of them were very large, ranging up to 2 or 3 m high and several meters wide. Although arguably different from barrel organs in some regards, they are based on similar principles. Each barrel organ has a system to activate the bellows, generating the airflow needed to produce sounds, as well as several mechanisms that redirect the air to the correct pipes to reproduce the melody. The most common mechanisms are based on cylinders (pins or stops) and disks (with spikes or holes), as well as punched cards linked together to fold in zig-zags or arbitrarily long musical rolls of stored notes. The user turns a crank to operate the bellows and advance the reading mechanism, which scrolls through the sequence of notes stored on the medium. In stationary organs and some portable organs, electric motors outperform user-driven motion in every way. As a result, many of these organs were motorized in the early 20th Century.

Figure 4.7. Punched card fed into a barrel organ

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The primary advantage of punched piano cards or rolls was the amount of music that could be stored on them, which was much higher than previous solutions. Piano cards and rolls are still made and published for a variety of music, both popular and classical. Even today, barrel organs are still being made – a few companies have specialized in designing and renovating them. 4.1.4. Fairground organs The first fairground organs were invented by two brothers, Antoine and Joseph Limonaire, who were French mechanical instrument makers in the 19th Century. They filed for a trademark, and their instruments became very well known, to the point that the word “Limonaire” passed into everyday usage to describe these instruments in modern French. Fairground organs can be described as large barrel organs and are also known as band organs. They were often accompanied by other mechanical instruments, such as pianos, xylophones, violins, or drums, to form orchestrions. Automata were often also included as a visual enrichment of the musical performance.

Figure 4.8. The Limonaire fairground organ of a wooden-horse carousel (source: https://www.petitpapy.fr)

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Old fairgrounds had a wooden-horse carousel or merry-go-round whose musical accompaniment was generated by a Limonaire organ in the center. Today, most fairground organs are found in Holland or Belgium. Some are still being made; modern fairground organs are equipped with more advanced technologies and electronics. 4.2. Analog sequencers As mentioned earlier, mechanical systems designed to automatically play musical sequences declined in the 1930s with the introduction of new musical reproduction techniques, such as the cylinder-based phonograph1 created by the American inventor Thomas Edison and the flat-disk-based gramophone created by the German inventor Emile Berliner. The triode2 was invented in the early 1900s. This marked the beginning of the era of electronics – new devices, such as radios, amplifiers, and music playback systems, would soon emerge, taking the general public by storm. The magnetic tape recorder was a revolutionary device that was immediately embraced by composers and musicians alike. It was created in 1928 by the German inventor Fritz Pleumer. Tape recorders became much more viable in 1940 when high-frequency pre-magnetization and iron oxide (Fe2O3) tape coating enabled a previously impossible quality of sound. Subverting the original purpose of tape recorders, musical artists began to use them to create sound loops and special effects such as reverb, pitch shifts, and much more. With the dawn of the electronic age, oscillators, filters, and envelope editing tools suddenly emerged. Combining these tools led to the first-ever musical synthesizers such as the Warbo Formant Organ created by Harald Bode in Germany in 1937. Throughout the 1940s to the 1960s, these instruments continued to spread, gradually becoming extremely complex and sophisticated as technology continued to progress (passive components, diodes, transistors, etc.).

1 Over time, the terms “phonograph” and “gramophone” have become synonymous. 2 Earliest device for amplifying an electrical signal, invented by Lee De Forest (USA, 1873–1961) in 1906.

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Figure 4.9. One of the earliest tape recorders, made by AEG/Telefunken (source: https://www.museumofmagneticsoundrecording.org)

But before long, they were paired with sequencers that could automatically reproduce repetitive sequences of musical notes or melodies. The first sequencers, which appeared in the 1970s and the 1980s, were limited to just a few notes, typically between 8 and 16. Later, more powerful models capable of stringing together up to 256 unique notes were introduced.

Figure 4.10. The sequencer by ARP

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85

Some of the best-known examples are listed below: – Korg SQ-10 (24 notes); – ARP Sequencer 1601 (16 notes); – Moog 960 (24 notes); – AKS EMS Synthi sequencer (256 notes); – Buchla Series 100 Module 123 (8 notes); – Buchla Series 100 Module 146 (16 notes); – Roland System 100 – Sequencer 104 (24 notes); – Doepfer A-100 Module A-155 (2 × 8 notes). Even today, a few models of analog sequencer can still be found, such as the SQ-1 by Korg or the A-155 module by Doepfer (still published and manufactured to this day).

Figure 4.11. The Korg SQ-1 analog sequencer

All of the analog sequencers listed above use the CV/gate standard (see Appendix 1), which transmits notes as specific control voltages.

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4.3. Digital sequencers Analog sequencers almost disappeared during the 1980s when the MIDI protocol was introduced (see Chapter 3) to standardize the wide variety of musical equipment available on the market. One of the key benefits of digital sequencers is that they can record an essentially unlimited number of notes. The versatility of the digital MIDI protocol is another important advantage; MIDI is capable of managing a large number of parameters such as the velocity, the volume, added sound effects, and so on.

Figure 4.12. The Yamaha QY-10, a digital MIDI sequencer

Every major manufacturer active during the 1980s launched their own MIDI sequencer model.

Figure 4.13. The CSQ-600 by Roland, a digital sequencer that also supports the CV/gate standard

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During the transitional period between the analog age and the MIDI age, some early digital sequencers also implemented the CV/gate standard, including the CSQ-100 and the CSQ-600 by Roland. Table 4.1 lists some examples of digital sequencer models. Manufacturer

Model

Year

Roland

CSQ-100

1979

Roland

CSQ-600

1980

Roland

MSQ-700

1984

Roland

MSQ-100

1985

Alesis

MMT-8

1987

Yamaha

QX-21

1987

Roland

MC-500

1988

Roland

MC-300

1988

Roland

PR-100

1988

Akai

ASQ-10

1988

Yamaha

QY-10

1990

Roland

MC-50

1992

Yamaha

QY-20

1992

Yamaha

QY-300

1994

Yamaha

QR-10

1994

Yamaha

QY-8

1994

Yamaha

QY-22

1995

Yamaha

QY-700

1996

Yamaha

QY-70

1997

Roland

MC-80

1999

Yamaha

QY-100

2000

Sequentix

P3 Sequencer

2006

Table 4.1. Digital sequencers

No chapter on digital sequencers would be complete without saying a few words about modern sequencers.

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Today, sequencers are usually not presented as autonomous and independent devices, although some standalone sequencers can still be found (see Table 4.2). Instead, they are typically combined with other instruments, such as drum machines, synthesizers, samplers, or groove machines (also known as groove boxes), which we will explore throughout the next few chapters of this book. The sequencer elements of these machines play a crucial role in electronic music, whether in the studio or in real time for a live performance: the creation of musical loops.

Figure 4.14. The Octatrack sampler–sequencer by Elektron, a device that offers a wide range of features

Manufacturer

Model

Arturia

BeatStep Pro

Arturia

BeatStep

Sequentix

Cirklon

Synthstrom Audible

Deluge

Yamaha

TENORI-ON (TNR-O)

Table 4.2. A few examples of modern hardware sequencers

4.4. Software sequencers As computers became widespread in the mid-1980s, the first generation of musical software also appeared on the market, offering a way to manage the MIDI protocol. The Atari 520ST was one of the first ever devices with a built-in MIDI port.

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Many types of sequencers have existed, both historically and more recently; some are more sophisticated than others. In some cases, the sequencer functionality is the primary focus of the software; in others, it is just an auxiliary feature; it is difficult to state authoritatively whether a given software program should be viewed as a standalone sequencer or a full-fledged Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).

Figure 4.15. A session in Ableton Live

Nevertheless, we can classify software sequencers into a few large families: – omnifunctional sequencers are primarily used for studio work, although some are also suitable for live performances. These sequencers offer features that support the vast majority of musical styles; – modular sequencers, designed for live performances; – sequencer–arrangers, which can generate arrangements in different styles; – loop sequencers, designed for creating simple or complex musical loops; – sequencers dedicated to electronic music, with sampling features. Many products are difficult to classify and are therefore listed under multiple families below. Table 4.3 lists the most popular sequencers currently on the market.

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Publisher

Name

Family

Ableton

Live

Electronic music Loop management Modular Omnifunctional

Apple

Mainstage

Modular

Apple

Logic Pro X

Omnifunctional

Avid

Pro Tools

Omnifunctional

Cakewalk

Sonar

Omnifunctional

Defective Records

Cyclic

Loop management

Human Touch Technology

HTP4

Arrangers

Image-Line

FL Studio (Fruity Loops)

Electronic music

Magix

Acid Pro

Loop management

Magix

Samplitude

Omnifunctional

Magix

Music Maker

Loop management

MOTU

Digital Performer

Omnifunctional

PG Music

Band In Box

Arrangers

Propellerhead

Reason

Electronic music Loop management Omnifunctional Modular

Sample Logic

Rythmology

Loop management

Sensomusic

Usine Hollyhock

Modular

Steinberg

Nuendo

Omnifunctional

Steinberg

Cubase Pro

Omnifunctional

Open Source (CC License)

Superboucle

Loop management

XT Software

EnergyXT

Modular

ZetaOhm

FLXS1

Arrangers

Table 4.3. A few examples of software sequencers

Choosing a software sequencer is not always straightforward. Many programs have built up a dedicated fan base over time. In objective terms, none of them can truly be described as bad. The differences between them largely reside in the interface design and a few special features. Many software sequencers have trial

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versions. I would highly recommend downloading several different choices to form your own impressions. The bibliography at the end of this book contains a list of articles, books, and Internet links that can help you make the right choice. 4.5. Final remarks This brief interlude devoted to sequencers will hopefully have provided some idea of the possibilities offered by these machines. Today more than ever, sequencers are an integral part of electronic music. The ancestors of repetitive music already seem very distant; the electronic age was a major milestone in the history of sequencing, as was the computer age with the introduction of the MIDI standard. The next chapter has only just begun: an age of touch-based tablets, smartphones, live software, and implicitly omnipresent “electro” music. Sequencers are now the most important tools of modern music composition. They empower musicians to express themselves in new ways and draw from new sources of inspiration.

5 Drum Machines

After keeping a low profile for much of their history, drum machines are now an essential element of electronic music and an entirely new category of instrument. Whether used alone or accompanied by other equipment, drum machines can be found both in studio settings and live performances – replacing, supplementing, or enhancing the drummer and/or percussionist. The primary purpose of a drum machine is to generate percussion sounds, such as snares, tom-toms, bass drums, claves, and bells, absolutely anything that can accompany a bassline, although drum machines are sometimes also used completely solo in some musical sequences. Over time, other musical instruments, sounds from everyday life, and synthetic sounds have been added to the universe of drum machines, executing colors and sound patterns that an instrumentalist would find difficult or perhaps even impossible to perform. 5.1. On the subject of electromechanical rhythm The history of the drum machine can be traced back to the 1930s with the appearance of the Rhythmicon, a revolutionary and innovative device imagined and invented by Léon Theremin1 at the request of Henry Cowell,2 who asked for a 1 Lev Sergueïevitch Termen, more commonly known as Léon Theremin, August 27, 1896–November 3, 1993. Russian engineer and inventor of the Theremin, one of the first-ever electronic musical instruments. 2 Henry Dixon Cowell, March 11, 1897–December 10, 1965. American composer, pianist, theorist, and impresario.

Electronic Music Machines: The New Musical Instruments, First Edition. Jean-Michel Réveillac. © ISTE Ltd 2019. Published by ISTE Ltd and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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device capable of playing rhythmic patterns too difficult to execute on existing instruments. In 1932, Léon unveiled the Rhythmicon, an electromechanical machine that met the specifications outlined by Cowell.

Figure 5.1. The “Rhythmicon” by Léon Theremin

Multiple different rhythmic patterns based on the harmonic series were possible, with 16 different combinations. Each combination could be linked to each of the steps in the rhythm. The Rhythmicon originally received a warm welcome from the general public when it was first unveiled, but interest unfortunately subsided very quickly. Only three copies were ever produced. One still exists and is on display at the Theremin Center of the Moscow Conservatory. The mechanical and electronic components of this machine were completely extraordinary and truly innovative; the Rhythmicon was unlike any of its successors, which were based on rotating drums.

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The Rhythmicon used vacuum tube oscillators and photoelectric sensors to capture the light passing through disks with punched holes. It had a 17-key polyphonic keyboard that could produce 16 different rhythms, as well as a 17th key that added a syncopated element to the selected rhythm. The Rhythmicon was able to generate extremely complex rhythmic sequences that would be practically impossible for a pianist to play. Cowell was fascinated by the idea of composing complex poly-rhythms beyond the reach of human skill, inspiring him to commission the Rhythmicon. In his book New Musical Resources, Cowell3 presents the underlying principles of his music, which he describes as “rhythmic harmony”. The pieces written by Cowell with the Rhythmicon include “Rhythmicana” (1931) and “Music for Violin and Rhythmicon” (1932). Twenty-five years after Cowell, the Rhythmicon was rediscovered by the English producer Joe Meek4, who went on to use it in many of his own compositions. After the Rhythmicon, the first true electronic drum machine was arguably a machine named the Rhythmate, invented by Harry Chamberlin. In 1946, Chamberlin built a system capable of reading magnetic tapes on which rhythmic drum sequences were recorded. Over the next few years, he perfected his original design and invented other, more advanced models. His very first model was baptized the Model 100 Rhythmate. It was capable of reading 14 magnetic loops of rhythms prerecorded on ¼-inch strips. Chamberlin’s invention was only ever manufactured in modest numbers, with possibly only around 10 copies ever being made between 1948 and 1949. His invention seemingly attracted some interest, so Chamberlin decided to open a retail store in the city of Upland in California.

3 An Internet link to Cowell’s book (in pdf format) can be found in the bibliography at the end of this book. 4 Robert George Meek, 1929–1967, English musical producer and songwriter, credited with being one of the first-ever independent producers.

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Figure 5.2. “Rhythmate 100” by Harry Chamberlin (source: https://120years.net)

He then invented the Model 200. This new drum machine was no longer restricted to rhythmic sequences and featured other instruments, such as violins, flutes, and so on. The magnetic tapes were no longer loops, and the design of the device made it relatively easy to switch the sound bank installed within the machine. A few dozen copies were made between 1950 and 1959. Physically, the Model 200 looked like a small piece of furniture with a keyboard of 35 keys (from G to F, around three octaves). After 1960, new generations of this device were gradually unveiled (300, 350, 400, 600, etc.). Later versions were equipped with a 3/8″ magnetic tape system that could store three recorded tracks on each tape.

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Figure 5.3. An advertisement for the “Rhythmate 200”

5.2. Drum machines with presets In parallel to the Rhythmate, Wurlitzer5 began to market one of the first-ever electromechanical drum machines featuring a preset system, in 1959. Their invention was proudly baptized the Wurlitzer Side Man.

Figure 5.4. A Wurlitzer electric piano

5 A specialist American company founded in 1853 by Rudolph Wurlitzer that makes and sells musical instruments, especially electric pianos and electronic organs.

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This device could reproduce a dozen different rhythm patterns from factory presets. The tempo could be adjusted, and the sounds were generated electronically by vacuum tubes.

Figure 5.5. The Wurlitzer Side Man (left) and its control panel (right) (source: https://www.troperecordings.de)

The sequencing was implemented by a mechanical system with a rotating arm that swept over a series of contacts.

Figure 5.6. The mechanical sequencing system of the Wurlitzer Side Man (source: https://www.troperecordings.de)

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Rotating more quickly caused the tempo to increase. The entire system was placed inside a wooden cabinet with a built-in amplification system to boost the selected rhythms. In 1960, Raymond Scott manufactured a machine named the Rhythm Synthesizer, soon followed by a drum machine called Bandito the Bongo Artist in 1963. Both systems can be heard in action on the album “Soothing Sounds for Baby” from 1964. As progress in electronics continued to make leaps and bounds, vacuum tubes were replaced by transistors, giving birth to a new generation of transistor-based drum machines that were much less bulky. The Rhythm Prince was designed and marketed by Gulbransen6 in collaboration with the Seeburg Corporation7, a manufacturer of automated musical equipment (jukeboxes, orchestrions, etc.). The Rhythm Prince, equipped with electromechanical generators, was still relatively imposing in size. In 1964, Seeburg built a smaller model featuring transistor-based electronics – the Select-a-Rhythm – which included a preset system to allow users to easily choose the desired rhythm.

Figure 5.7. The “Rhythm Prince”, a drum machine by Gulbransen and Seeburg

6 An American company that manufactures pianos and organs for apartments, founded in 1904 by Axel Gulbransen. 7 An American company that manufactures and designs automated musical equipment, e.g. jukeboxes, founded in 1902 by Justus P. Seeburg.

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The compact size of this new drum machine meant that it could be fitted inside electronic organs, to the great delight of organists, providing an ideal way to add automatic percussion backing.

Figure 5.8. The famous “Select-A-Rhythm” drum machine

As this was unfolding in the USA around the early 1960s, Tadashi Osanai and Tsutomu Katoh founded a new company, Keio-Giken, in Japan in 1963. Their company developed a drum machine known as the Doncamatic DA-20 based on vacuum tubes and an electromechanical mechanism. The DA-20 was a small piece of furniture with a keyboard and an amplification and playback system. It not only featured a set of rhythm presets but also allowed sequences to be played manually.

Figure 5.9. The “Doncamatic DA-20” drum machine (source: https://encyclotronic.com)

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Keio-Giken was later renamed Korg8, a company that is still well known for its musical inventions and innovations today. Shortly afterward, another model known as the Doncamatic DC-11 was unveiled as a replacement for its predecessor, upgrading the aging electronics to a more reliable transistor-based system. The electromechanical mechanism was also replaced on later models, starting with the Doncamatic DE-20 in 1966.

Figure 5.10. The “Doncamatic DE-20”

In 1967, a drum machine option for Yamaha electronic organs was developed by Korg – the Mini Pops MP-2. This was followed by other models, including the MP-3 and the MP-7. Much of their success was due to their extremely compact size.

8 Korg is a multi-national Japanese company that manufactures electronic musical instruments.

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Figure 5.11. The “Mini Pops MP-3” distributed under the brand Univox by the Unicord Corporation in the USA

The same year, Japanese engineer Ikutaro Kakehashi from Ace Tone Industries created a preset rhythm-pattern generator based on a diode matrix circuit, with some similarities to systems developed a few years earlier by Seeburg and Nippon Columbia. Kakehashi later founded the Roland Corporation9 after leaving Ace Tone in 1972. Also in 1967, Ace Tone released its 16-preset drum machine, the FR-1 Rhythm Ace. This model allowed users to change the volumes of four different instruments: cymbals, cowbell, claves, and bass drum. Multiple different rhythms could also be combined together. The company Hammond fitted the FR-1 into some of its organs.

Figure 5.12. The FR1-Rhythm Ace drum machine 9 A Japanese company that manufactures electronic musical instruments, founded in 1972 by Ikutaro Kakehashi in Osaka.

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In the USA, some FR-1s were sold under the brand Multivox (Peter Sorkin Music Company), as well as the brand Bentley Rhythm Ace in the United Kingdom. From the 1960s to the 1980s, various new drum machines with preset systems appeared on the market. These models used fully synthetic sounds created artificially by electronic systems of various degrees of sophistication, based on oscillators, filters, and noise generators. A small, non-exhaustive list of the most famous models is given below: – Univox SR-95: Korg – Japan – 1975 – 20 presets; – Mini Pops Junior: Korg – Japan – 1970 – 10 presets; – Mini Pops MP-120W and MP-120P: Korg – Japan – 1976 – 10 presets; – MR-101: Selmer – Japan – 1970 – 10 presets; – TR-77: Roland – Japan – 1972 – 19 presets; – TR-330: Roland – Japan – 1973 – 10 presets; – TR-66: Roland – Japan – 1973 – 9 presets; – CR5000: Roland – Japan – 1980 – 24 presets – MIDI; – King Beat 7: King Beat – Japan – 1960 – 5 presets; – Auto-Vari 64: Hammond – USA – 1970 – 16 presets.

Figure 5.13. Hammond Auto-Vari 64

5.3. Programmable drum machines The mid-1970s marked the introduction of the first programmable drum machines. One of the earliest programmable models was the ComputeRhythm manufactured by the Italian company Eko in 1972.

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This drum machine was designed as a matrix of six rows with 16 light-up buttons. Each row was associated with a pair of percussion instruments (Rolling Drum – Cymbal 1 / Cymbal 2 – Snare / Timbal 2 – Charleston / Triangle – Clave / Block 2 – Timbal 1 / Block 2 – Bass Drum) that can either be toggled on or off on each of the 16 beats by pressing the corresponding button, allowing complex rhythmic patterns to be assembled. The volume of each instrument in any given row could be adjusted, and the tempo of the overall pattern could be varied. The number of beats per row was also configurable (5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 15, or 16).

Figure 5.14. The “ComputeRhythm” by Eko

Over time, many other programmable machines arrived on the market, including the famous CR-78 by Roland, one of the first drum machines to use a microprocessor, also featuring four memory banks to store user-defined rhythm patterns. Today, some of these drum machines have become extremely sought-after for the characteristic colors of their analog sounds, attaining an almost legendary status. Examples include the TR-808 (1980) and TR-909 (1983) models10 by Roland. These devices left a mark on the musical community so profound that a modern re-release 10 TR stands for “Transistor Rhythm”.

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was unveiled in 2014 to simulate them – the TR-8. In 2017, another clone of the TR-808 was released, the extremely compact TR-08.

Figure 5.15. The microprocessor-based Roland CR-78

The Roland TR-8 was superseded by an even more powerful model in 2018, the TR-8S.

Figure 5.16. Roland TR-808 (top), TR-8 (left), and TR-08 (right)

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A special case that deserves a mention here is the Programmable Drum Set 3750 made by the company PAIA Electronics in 1975. It could be purchased either as a self-assembly kit, or in pre-assembled form. Around 2,000 copies were produced. PAIA also made the Drummer Boy, another (non-programmable) model.

Figure 5.17. The “Programmable Drum Set” (left) and the “Drummer Boy” (right) by PAIA

5.4. The MIDI age In 1983, the introduction of a dual system and standard for connecting musical peripherals triggered a fundamental musical upheaval felt by both manufacturers and performers. The MIDI communication protocol had finally arrived, with its dedicated electronic interface based on a 5-pin DIN connector to transfer digital data.

Figure 5.18. The three types of MIDI connectors (in, thru, and out) and a MIDI cable (always male-to-male)

Without delving too deeply into the details, the MIDI standard was the fruit of a collaboration between four individuals: Dave Smith (Sequential Circuits),

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Chet Wood (Sequential Circuits), Tom Oberheim (Oberheim), and Ikutaro Kakehashi (Roland). Their interface standardized the music industry’s approach to communication between different instruments, synthesizers, sequencers, drum machines, effects, and so on. There had been other communication systems before MIDI, but they had typically relied on analog parameters. Any manufacturers that had attempted a digital approach had done so alone, resulting in a proliferation of proprietary interfaces. Appendix 1 provides more details on the CV/gate analog standard for transmitting information between musical instruments. Many of the drum machines of the mid-1980s were MIDI-compatible. To cite just one example, the TR-909 by Roland, created in 1984, had three MIDI connections – one input and two outputs.

Figure 5.19. The rear panel of the TR-909 by Roland. Its three MIDI connectors (2x out, 1x in) can be seen in the bottom center.

5.5. Drum machines with sampled sounds In 1980, a ground-breaking new drum machine was the catalyst of an entirely new category. Its sounds – instead of being generated electronically – were reproduced from numerical samplers (28 kHz). Furthermore, it was fully programmable, enabling 16-step rhythms to be put together, either in “step recording” mode or in real time. The drum machine featured 12 different sounds (kick, snare, hi-hat, cabasa, tambourine, tom 1, tom 2, conga 1, conga 2, cowbell, clave, and handclap). The revolutionary quantification system automatically aligned the rhythm pattern specified by the user with the selected tempo. It was manufactured by the company Linn Electronics, who named it the Linn LM-1. Barely 500 units were ever made; at the time, it was prohibitively expensive to own (around $5,000). The Linn LM-1 was designed by Roger Linn, a musician, guitarist, and composer with a passion for electronics.

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Figure 5.20. Linn LM-1

The initial model was followed in 1982 by the LinnDrum, which was more sophisticated and commercially much more successful. Later, the Linn 9000 added a 32-track MIDI sequencer, a feature to allow users to save their own samples, and velocity and pressure-sensitive touchpads.

Figure 5.21. The LinnDrum (left) and the Linn 9000 (right)

In parallel with Roger Linn’s drum machines, other manufacturers began creating and marketing their own models, with similar features. Yamaha launched the RX-11 and RX-15 in 1984, E-mu released their renowned Drumulator in 1983, and Sequential Circuits marketed the Drumtraks in 1984; although these three models may be the most famous, they are far from the only ones, with manufacturers such as Korg, Alesis, Boss, Zoom, Roland, Akai, Kawai, Casio, Dynacord, Hohner, Böhm, and Gem each producing their own entries.

Drum Machines

Figure 5.22. E-mu Drumulator (left), Sequential Circuits Drumtraks (center), and RX-11 (right)

Table 5.1 lists a few examples of programmable models. Manufacturer

Model

Year of release

Akai

XR-10

1990

Alesis

SR-16

1990

Arturia

DrumBrute

2016

Arturia

DrumBrute Impact

2018

Boss

DR-55 (Dr. Rhythm Series)

1979

Boss

DR-110 (Dr. Rhythm Series)

1983

Boss

DR-220E (Dr. Rhythm Series)

1986

Boss

DR-550 (Dr. Rhythm Series)

1989

Boss

DR-660 (Dr. Rhythm Series)

1992

Boss

DR-5 (Dr. Rhythm Series)

1993

Boss

DR-770 (Dr. Rhythm Series)

1998

Boss

DR-670 (Dr. Rhythm Series)

2001

Boss

DR-3 (Dr. Rhythm Series)

2003

Boss

DR-880 (Dr. Rhythm Series)

2004

Casio

RZ-1

1986

Dave Smith Instruments

Tempest

2011

Elektron

Machine Drum

2001

Elektron

Digitakt

2017

Kawai

R-50

1987

Korg

KPR-77

1983

Korg

DDM-110

1985

109

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Korg

DDD-5

1987

Korg

DDD-1

1986

Korg

Volca Beats

2013

Linn Electronics

LM-1

1980

Linn Electronics

LinnDrum

1982

Linn Electronics

Linn9000

1984

MFB

Tanzbâr

2013

Oberheim

DMX

1980

Oberheim

DX

1982

Roland

TR-808

1981

Roland

TR-606

1982

Roland

TR-909

1984

Roland

TR-707

1984

Roland

TR-727

1985

Roland

TR-505

1986

Roland

TR-626

1987

Roland

R-5

1989

Roland

R-8

1989

Roland

TR-8 (AIRA Series)

2014

Roland

TR-09

2016

Roland

TR-08

2017

Roland

TR-8S (AIRA Series)

2018

Sequential Circuits

Tom

1985

Teenage Engineering

PO-12

2015

Vermona

DRM-1

2001

Yamaha

RX-15

1984

Yamaha

RX-11

1984

Yamaha

RX-5

1986

Yamaha

RX-7

1988

Yamaha

RX-8

1989

Yamaha

RY-30

1991

Table 5.1. A few examples of programmable drum machines

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5.6. Rhythms, software, and computers By the 1990s, there was a vast selection of standalone drum machines with many different features. But the market then gradually began to decline after the arrival of samplers controlled by internal and external sequencers, as well as specialized software accompanied by or integrated within Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs). One example is the famous MPC-60 by Akai, a giant of its time. Released in 1988, it was one of the first ever sampler-sequencers to feature touchpads, designed to generate drum rhythm sequences in real time.

Figure 5.23. Akai MPC-60

The MPC-60 was yet another brainchild of Roger Linn, who had liquidated his company Linn Electronics due to financial problems but had not given up on perfecting the Linn 9000. Akai offered him another opportunity to build and implement his ideas, ultimately leading to the first ever model of the MPC.

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Many other models would follow. Over time, they have evolved from mere drum machines, becoming something new – groove machines (see Chapter 7). Various software-based emulators are now available for vintage drum machines, in the form of plugins or standalone software programs, also known as virtual drum machines.

Figure 5.24. An example of a virtual drum machine – Hydrogen by H2, in TR-808 emulation mode

Table 5.1 provides a non-exhaustive list of tools that can emulate or replace a traditional drum machine. Some are highly sophisticated whereas others are less so, and some are standalone whereas others are designed to be integrated into DAWs. There are dozens of them, and they can be very tricky to classify. In my personal opinion, there is only one way to find the right one – try everything out (many of the software programs listed below offer trial versions or are completely free), listen to everything, look at everything, and see if it fits into your working environment. The right tool for you is definitely out there – there are so many options!

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Publisher

Name

Notes

8DiO

Advanced Drum Series Blackbird

For Kontakt11

8DiO

Hybrid Drums 808

For Kontakt

Auddict

Drum of the Deep II

For Kontakt

Audio Assault

Druminator 1.0

VST, AU, AAX plugin12 for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS

Audio Imperia

Sinfonia Drums

For Kontakt

Audio Imperia

Decimator Drums

For Kontakt

Chocolate Audio

The Black Album Drums

For BFD3 and Kontakt

d-lusion Interactive Media

DrumStation

Freeware for Microsoft Windows

DreamPipe

HTML5 Drum Machine

Available at: https://www.html5drummachine.com/

Drumasonic

Luxury

For Kontakt

EOSdev

Loop12

Freeware for Microsoft Windows

Fingerlab

DM1 – The Drum Machine 3.1

Standalone – Mac OS – iPad

Flatpack

Analogik Drums

For Ableton

FXpansion

BFD Eco

VST, RTAS, AU plugin for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS

11 Kontakt is a sampling software suite by Native Instruments. Kontakt player is a free sampler reader that can be used either standalone or as a plugin. Versions are available for both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS. 12 More explanations about the various types of plugins are given in Appendix 4 at the end of this book.

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GetGood Drums

Matt Halpern Signature Pack

For Kontakt

H2

Hydrogen

For Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. Available at: https://www.hydrogen-music.org/hcms/ node/21

Kontakt

Soundiron Antidrum Machine

For Kontakt

Manda Audio

MT Power Drum Kit 2

VST plugin for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS

MeldaProduction

MDrummer Large V7.02

Mac OS

Native Instruments

Abbey Road Drummer

For Kontakt 5, Kontakt 5 player

Native Instruments

Studio Drummer

For Kontakt 5, Kontakt 5 player

One Motion

Drum Machine

Available at: https://www.onemotion.com/drummachine/

Overdrive Music

DrumTrackz

Available at: https://overdrive.music.free.fr/ 01drumtrackz_zikinf.php

Power Drumkit

MT Power Drumkit 2

VST, AU plugin for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS

Roland

TR-808 Software Rhythm Composer

VST, AU plugin for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS

Roland

TR-909 Software Rhythm Composer

VST, AU plugin for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS

Samplephonics

Hybrid Drum and Bass

For Mach 5 and Ableton

Soundiron

Temple Drums

For Kontakt

Steven Slate Drums

SSD 5

VST, AAX, AU plugin for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS

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Steven Slate Drums

SSD 4

VST, AAX, RTAS, AU plugin for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS

Steven Slate Drums

Trigger 2 Platinum

VST, AAX, AU plugin for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS

Toontrack

Superior Drummer 2.0

VST, AU, RTAS plugin for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS

Toontrack

EzDrummer 2.0.1

Standalone or VST plugin for Microsoft Windows

XLN Audio

Addictive Drums

For Microsoft Windows

XLN Audio

Audio Addictive Drums 2.1.7

VST, AU, AAX for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS

Table 5.2. Emulators and drum machine software

5.7. Final remarks We have now taken a tour of the category of musical hardware known as drum machines. As we have seen, drum machines peaked in the period between 1985 and 1995. But despite everything, many models have survived and remain relevant to this day. Vintage sounds are extremely fashionable, and collectors are willing to pay top dollar for the legendary drum machines of a bygone era. Drum machines can still be found throughout the musical landscape of modern times and continue to work acoustic wonders to this day. Whether physical or virtual, drum machines are perfectly alive and well in electronic music.

6 Samplers

Samplers profoundly changed the way through which audio professionals worked. Much like early tape recorders, they were initially met with hostility and suspicion by recording studios, who feared an unfair competitor that might replace the instruments – and hence musicians. Samplers also raised new ethical problems, as music could now easily be re-appropriated for new creations without obtaining permission from the original authors. 6.1. History of samplers The rise of the sampler began from the 1950s to the 1960s, well before the advent of digital technology. But the phonograph invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison could perhaps be described as an early precursor. At a fundamental level, what is a sampler other than a device for reproducing recorded sounds? Edison’s invention was later improved by other inventors like Graham Bell and Emile Berliner1. Nevertheless, our history shall begin with the introduction of the first magnetic tape recorders (see section 4.2), which hit the market in the early 1950s. At around this time, composers like Pierre Schaeffer began experimenting with montages, cutting and gluing magnetic tapes together to form loops that could be reused in future musical productions. This new experimental technique found applications in every style of music, especially musique concrète, and early, rock-oriented forms of electronic music.

1 Emile Berliner, originally Emil Berliner, May 20, 1851–August 3, 1929. German-born American inventor whose creations included flat phonograph disks.

Electronic Music Machines: The New Musical Instruments, First Edition. Jean-Michel Réveillac. © ISTE Ltd 2019. Published by ISTE Ltd and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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6.1.1. Basic principles In 1946, Harry Chamberlin designed a device that could play and mix rhythmic drum sequences recorded on magnetic tapes (see section 5.1). Chamberlin perfected his instrument over the next few years. His next version, Model 200, could produce more than just rhythms: violin sounds, vibraphones, flutes, and so on. Chamberlin even added a three-octave keyboard to this model (G2 to F5). He soon introduced other dual-keyboard models, such as the Model 600, which allowed users to combine backing rhythms with melodic instruments.

Figure 6.1. Chamberlin’s dual-keyboard Model 600

After making only a few hundred units of all models combined, Chamberlin’s company stopped doing business in 1981. Over in France, the composer Pierre Schaeffer had been pondering a new style of music incorporating noises and sounds for some time. After numerous tests, Schaeffer constructed his famous sliding phonogène in collaboration with Jacques Poullin. Improvements to the original design soon followed (e.g. the chromatic phonogène manufactured by Tolana, the universal phonogène developed by the ORTF). The phonogène allowed the user to manipulate all kinds of sounds by applying continuous or non-continuous transpositions to vary the pitch, either keeping the duration fixed or allowing it to vary simultaneously.

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Figure 6.2. Pierre Schaeffer’s chromatic phonogène, manufactured by Tolana (source: https://www.musikzeitung.ch)

Chamberlin’s device attempts to reproduce a rhythm or an instrument as faithfully as possible, whereas Schaeffer’s device invents new sounds and transforms existing sounds. Despite being based on two very different concepts, both are very close to the principle of a sampler. 6.1.2. The arrival of the Mellotron In 1963, a machine known as the Mellotron (a portmanteau of the words MELOdy and elecTRONics) was developed in Birmingham, England. The makers of the Mellotron, the Bradley brothers, revived and renewed Chamberlin’s work after purchasing the commercial rights to his ideas. The Mellotron Mark 1 was the first model released by their company, Streetly Electronics. It featured two keyboards, each with 35 keys, arranged side by side. The read heads were physically transported to one of three available tracks by an elaborate mechanical system, enabling the user to select another instrument or mix the sounds of two instruments together. Polyphony was achieved by multiple magnetic tapes containing recordings of each instrument at the correct musical pitch – one tape for every key on the

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keyboard. Limited by the length of the tape, the mechanical system could hold each note for a maximum of 8 s.

Figure 6.3. Working principle of the Mellotron when a key is pressed. 1 – key, 2 – screw, 3 – felt pressure pad, 4 – pinch wheel, 5 – tape head, 6 – rotating capstan, 7 – tape storage bin, 8 – tension wheels, 9 – tension spring, 10 – counterweight (source: Wikipedia)

Several models of the Mellotron were made. It had a few major drawbacks, lacking robustness as a result of the complex mechanism and fragile tapes, especially when moved; it was also very heavy and expensive. However, it had the key advantages of polyphony and sound fidelity by comparison with the other synthesizers available at the time, which were almost exclusively monophonic and struggled to simulate melodic instruments in high quality. The tapes of the earliest models (Marks I and II) were not interchangeable. This defect was remedied in later models after the M300, featuring a single 52-note keyboard, was released in 1968.

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Figure 6.4. The Mellotron M300

In 1970, the flagship model of the brand was released – the M400. It was lighter than its predecessors, weighing only 55 kg, and had interchangeable tape racks to support multiple different sound banks. More than 2,000 units were manufactured up until 1986, some under the alternative brand Novatron after Streetly Electronics went bankrupt in 1977.

Figure 6.5. The Mellotron M400 and its control panel

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In 1990, David Kean bought as many spare parts as he could find. Together with Markus Reach, he designed a new model – the Mark VI, making several major improvements to the M400. Their company Mellotron Archives later also released the Mark II (double keyboard). Today, Mellotron Archives is based in Canada.

Figure 6.6. The Mellotron Mark VII and its two keyboards

John Bradley, the son of Leslie Bradley, the inventor of the Mellotron, created a new company together with Martin Smith, also named Streetly Electronics after his father’s original company. In 2007, manufacturing resumed for the Mellotron, with two new models: the M4000 (single keyboard) and the M5000 (double keyboard).

Figure 6.7. The Mellotron M4000 and its control panel

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123

Today, the Mellotron is considered a vintage instrument, although digital editions like the M4000D can still be found on the market. Its disappearance in the early 1980s is largely explained by a flood of new, fully electronic and digital devices from around this time – samplers and sequencers. The Mellotron had competitors, but none ever rivalled its success. Examples include the Optigan by Mattel Incorporated (1971), the Orchestron by David van Koevering (1975), and the Birotron by Dave Biro and Rick Wakeman (1975). 6.1.3. Samplers The first samplers with electronic components arrived on the market in the mid-1970s. This was the dawn of the age of computing – over time, synthesizers would gradually be conquered by microprocessors and specialized audio signal processing circuits. The Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument) was one of the first ever synthesizers equipped with electronic components.

Figure 6.8. The Fairlight CMI-3 synthesizer, with its keyboard, monitor, and 8″ floppy disk drive

The Fairlight CMI was created by Peter Vogel, Kim Ryrie, and Tony Furse in the late 1970s. It originally featured two 6800 microprocessors by Motorola. This was soon upgraded to a triple processor setup, 2x 6800 + 1x 6809, then to 2x 6809 +

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1x 68000, and finally to 10x 68000 + 1x 6800 + 1x 68B09 for the CMI-3 model. The available memory also increased over time, from 4 KB on 8 bits, to 14 MB on 16 bits, then to 32 MB and 64 MB in the latest versions (CMI-3), while the sampling frequency was upgraded from 8-bit, 24 kHz to 16-bit, 100 kHz.

Figure 6.9. The 6800, 6809, and 68000 microprocessors (top to bottom) made by Motorola and installed in different models of the Fairlight

Alongside the CMI, the Synclavier was another major milestone in the history of sampling. The Synclavier was built by NED (New England Digital) in the USA in 1975. Two versions were released. It was one of the first fully digital synthesizers and featured the ability to record audio onto a hard drive (sample to disk). It worked on 16 bits, with sampling rates of up to 50 kHz.

Figure 6.10. NED Synclavier II

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The NED discontinued manufacturing of the Synclavier in 1991. Today, both the Synclavier and the CMI are extremely prized as vintage instruments. The Synclavier especially has carved out an enduring niche for itself in sound design and film music. At the time, both the Fairlight CMI and the Synclavier were extremely expensive. Only a select few artists, studios, and producers could afford them. In the early 1980s, the first widely accessible samplers in terms of cost began to appear, alongside the MIDI standard. The American manufacturer E-mu Systems achieved widespread recognition with their new invention, the Emulator I. This was perhaps the first-ever sampler that was truly easy-to-use, compact, and sufficiently portable to be used onstage, while still offering enough functionality to make it a workstation in its own right. The Emulator I was 8-bit, 27 kHz, and had 128 KB of memory. Samples were stored on 5-1⁄4″ floppy disks.

Figure 6.11. The Emulator I by E-mu

The invasion of the market by workstations had begun. In addition to sampling functionality, workstations offer keyboards, editing tools, timbre processing features, sound effect management systems, and note sequencers. After the success of their first model, E-mu Systems released another hit in 1984 with the Emulator II – even more powerful, with 512 KB to 1 MB of memory, 8-channel polyphony, either dual floppy disk drives or a 20-MB hard drive, MIDI, SMPTE, and RS 422.

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Figure 6.12. An Emulator II with dual floppy disk drives

In 1987, the Emulator III was released, boasting 16-channel polyphony, 16-bit, 44.1-kHz sampling, and a memory capacity of up to 8 MB. This third generation was fitted with an SCSI interface (see Appendix 2) supporting multiple connected devices (hard drive, CD player, etc.).

Figure 6.13. The Emulator III

The fourth edition, the Emulator IV, was released in 1994, with 128 MB, 128-channel polyphony, multi-effects management, multiple inputs/outputs, and a 48-track sequencer. In 1984, just as E-mu announced the Emulator II, their competitor AKAI announced their own rack sampler, the S612. This was soon followed in 1985 by the S700, as well as another model fitted with a keyboard, the S7000.

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Figure 6.14. The Emulator IV sampler rack

Just one year later, the S900 hit the market, followed by the S1000 and the MPC 60 (Music Production Center) in 1988. The MPC 60 deserves a special mention. It was a new and intuitive instrument for musical expression unlike any of its predecessors whose creator was none other than Roger Linn himself (see section 5.6). The design of its workflow, sensitive pads, and powerful sound editor were revolutionary for the time – nothing else came close. The MPC 60 was the first of the many variants. Even today, AKAI is still producing new models, even though other manufacturers have rushed to target the same niche. The MPC 60 was arguably one of the most influential machines of all time. Although originally designed as a drum machine, it was very quickly adopted and repurposed by the emerging hip-hop community, who used it to record melodic sound samples. Its real-time sound inputs were perfect for live performances.

Figure 6.15. The MPC 60 by AKAI: 12-bit, 40 kHz, with 1.5 MB of memory, 32 percussion sounds, a 60,000-note sequencer, MIDI, MTC (MIDI Time Code), SMPTE, FSK 24 sync, and 16 velocity- and aftertouch-sensitive pads

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More recent models include the MPC 2000, 2000XL, and 3000, loved by beatmakers and still extremely fashionable to this day.

Figure 6.16. The MPC 2000XL by AKAI: 16-bit, 44.1 kHz, with 2 MB to 32 MB of memory, an SCSI port, 32-channel polyphony, two LFOs, sound effects (optional), a 300,000-note sequencer, MIDI, MTC, and SMPTE (optional), eight separate outputs (optional)

By contrast, the S1000 was geared more toward studio work, designed to be compatible with the powerful software tools available on computers.

Figure 6.17. The AKAI S1000 sampler

The S1000 works on 16 bits, from 22 to 44.1 kHz, with 2 to 32 MB of memory. It has eight separate stereo outputs, one stereo input and output, effects loops, MIDI ports, an SCSI interface (see Appendix 2) with two ports, an 18 dB/octave digital filter, a VCA (Voltage-Controlled Amplifier), an LFO (Low-Frequency Oscillator), an ADSR (Attack-Decay-Sustain-Release) envelope generator, and 16-channel polyphony.

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129

This ends our brief tour of historical hardware samplers. The early 1990s marked the start of a sampling arms race, with many manufacturers such as Korg, Roland, Ensoniq, Kurzweil, and others competing to offer increasingly powerful equipment to musicians at affordable prices. Broadly speaking, the main differences between the various models can be reduced to a few key criteria: – Memory size: there are two types of memory to consider, RAM (or live memory) and mass storage memory. The RAM of a sampler determines the maximum length of each sound sample during playback, ranging from just a few seconds in the 1980s to dozens of minutes today. Mass storage memory, on the other hand, was largely limited to floppy disks in the 1980s (a few seconds of recording). Later, in the 1990s, hard drives with a memory capacity of 20 MB to 100 MB (a few minutes of recording) began to spread. Today, truly massive amounts of mass storage space are available, often well above 1 TB (terabyte), even at extremely affordable prices, enough for hundreds of hours of recording. – Processing power: the amount of available processing power has historically followed Moore’s second law2, meaning that it has improved quickly and consistently. Over time, audio processing operations have become increasingly complex, incorporating new, highly sophisticated editing and rendering functionality (loops, transposition, effects, etc.). – Quality of the sound rendering: the first generation of processors worked on 8 bits. Later generations could handle 12, 16, 24, 32 bits, or even higher, achieving ever better quality of sound. In parallel, bandwidth increased from 12 kHz (8 bits) and a dynamic range of 48 dB in 1980 to 48 kHz (24 bits) and a dynamic range of 144 dB in the 2000s. – Polyphony: this refers to the number of notes that can be played simultaneously. Today, the MIDI standard limits the polyphony to 128 notes. Feats that would have seemed impossible in the 1980s have now become entirely trivial. – Multi-timbrality: this refers to the number of timbres that can be played simultaneously. The MIDI standard limits the number of timbres to 16, although this restriction can be circumvented by using more than one MIDI port. 2 Moore’s laws are empirical laws (conjectures) that describe the evolution of computational processing power and complexity over time. The most commonly cited principle predicts that the power of computers will increase exponentially, with the number of transistors doubling every 18 months. This has no longer been the case in recent years; somewhere around 2014, progress began to run into physical restrictions that limit the performance of semiconductor materials.

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Electronic Music Machines

– Timbre: as technology improved over time, so did the sampling performance of the latest generations of equipment. By increasing the amount of bandwidth used for sampling sounds, incredible levels of accuracy became possible. Nevertheless, timbre is highly subjective, and sound colors are often closely associated with specific technologies. The colors generated by an old 12-bit sampler can be just as musically desirable as those produced by the state-of-the-art models. Everything is ultimately a question of sound esthetics; each model offers its own set of nuances and a specific granularity. – Software functionality: the earliest samplers already had very powerful editing features, but that did not stop manufacturers from constantly innovating and improving them. New features were added, such as loop management, quantization3, resampling, time-stretching, transposition, and many others, alongside a vast range of sound effects, such as delay, reverb, compression, equalization, phasing, vibrato, and filtering. – Interfaces: as computer technology advanced, the number of interface standards used by samplers multiplied. In addition to MIDI and SMPTE, the SCSI, USB, ADA, and S/PDIF standards (see Appendix 2) were introduced, allowing samplers to be hooked up to all kinds of peripherals – audio, computer-based, analog, digital, and so on. – Keyboard: most of the early samplers had a built-in keyboard, but rack models designed to be controlled from a master keyboard via MIDI were soon introduced. Even today, some models featuring a keyboard are still available. These models tend to be full-blown workstations rather than just samplers. Keyboards are no longer strictly needed for the latest models, which instead implement new interfaces such as pressure- and velocity-sensitive pads, not to mention the various possibilities offered by software-based virtual systems. – Price: the first generation of samplers tended to be prohibitively expensive. Since then, they have gradually become more and more affordable. Samplers revolutionized the musical community as their popularity grew. Today, good-quality samplers are easy to find and cost much less than the classical acoustic instruments. As samplers become cheaper, the newest releases go out of fashion and are superseded more quickly, a trend that can be observed with many other types of electronic products. Nevertheless, a few so-called vintage models are safe bets; they will always remain prized by musicians who appreciate their characteristic colors and timbres.

3 Quantization is the process of “intelligently” aligning a sound signal (for example a sequence of notes in a musical track) to correct small imperfections in a musician’s performance and remain perfectly on-beat.

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131

Table 6.1 lists a few of the most famous samplers4 from the period between 1975 and 2000. The table does not include any romplers5 – devices that are somewhat similar to samplers but that cannot record musical sequences. Romplers simply store sound banks of samples that can be combined with audio processing and sound effects. Manufacturer

Model

Year

Processor/interface

AKAI

S612

1985

Interface: MIDI

S700

1987

Interface: MIDI

S900

1986

Interface: MIDI

Ensoniq

E-mu

S950

1988

Interface: MIDI

S1000

1988–1993

Interface: MIDI – SCSI

S1100

1990

Interface: MIDI – SCSI – AES/EBU – SMPTE

S2000

1995

Interface: MIDI – SCSI

S3000

1996

Interface: MIDI – S/PDIF – SCSI – AES/EBU – SMPTE

S5000

1998–1999

Interface: MIDI –SCSI – AES/EBU

S6000

1998–1999

Interface: MIDI –SCSI – AES/EBU

MPC60

1988

Interface: MIDI – MTC – SMPTE – FSK24 – Pulse 96 – click in

MPC2000

1997

Interface: MIDI – MTC – SMPTE

MPC2000 XL

1999

Interface: MIDI – MTC – SMPTE

Mirage

1984–1988

Interface: MIDI

EPS

1988

Interface: MIDI – SCSI

EPS-16+

1990

Interface: MIDI – SCSI

ASR10

1992–1998

Interface: MIDI – SCSI

Emulator I

1981–1983

Interface: MIDI

Emulator II

1984–1988

Interface: MIDI – SMPTE – RS422

Emulator III

1987–1990

Interface: MIDI – SMPTE – SCSI

Emulator IV

1994

Interface: SPDIF/AES – SCSI – MIDI

4 For more information, visit the bibliography at the end of the book. 5 Rompler: portmanteau of ROM (Read-Only Memory) and “sampler”.

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Fairlight

Kurzweil

NED

Roland

Yamaha

SP12

1985–1987

Interface: MIDI – SMPTE

SP1200

1987

Interface: MIDI – SMPTE

CMI

1975–1977

Motorola 6800

CMI – Series I

1979

Motorola 6800

CMI – Series II

1980

Motorola 6800 and 6809 Interface: MIDI

CMI – Series IIx

1983

Motorola 6809 and 68000 Interface: MIDI – SMPTE

CMI – Series III

1985

Motorola 68000 and 68020 Interface: MIDI SMPTE

K250

1984–1990

Interface: MIDI

K2000 – K2000RS

1991

Interface: MIDI

K2500 – K2500S – K2500R

1996

Interface: MIDI – SCSI – AES/EBU – S/PDIF

K2600

1999

Interface: MIDI – SCSI – AES/EBU – ADAT – TDIF

Synclavier I

1977

ABLE processor Interface: CV – RS232

Synclavier II

1979

Interface: MIDI – CV/gate – SMPTE

Synclavier PSMT

1984

Interface: MIDI – CV/gate – SMPTE

Synclavier 3200

After 1980

Interface: MIDI – CV/gate – SMPTE

Synclavier 6400

After 1980

Interface: MIDI – CV/gate – SMPTE

Synclavier 9600

After 1990

Interface: MIDI – CV/gate – SMPTE

S10

1986

Interface: MIDI

S50

1986–1987

Interface: MIDI

S330

1987–1988

Interface: MIDI

S770

1989–1993

Interface: MIDI

A3000

1997

Interface: MIDI – SCSI

Table 6.1. A few examples of samplers

Samplers

133

6.1.4. Software samplers Not long after hardware samplers had finally managed to establish themselves, the next chapter in the history of sampling was initiated – the first software samplers hit the markets in the 1990s. Computers were becoming increasingly widespread and had become standard in studios. Keenly aware of this trend, musical manufacturers began to design and develop software systems. There are many similarities between a hardware sampler and a computer; both have processors, RAM, a display or monitor, mass storage (floppy, hard drive, etc.), and proprietary internal (software) applications. The transition from hardware samplers to computers was one small step for manufacturers, one giant leap for music.

Figure 6.18. The Digidesign SampleCell (Nubus) card for Apple Macintosh

At the time, samplers could only be integrated into a computer with a dedicated peripheral for audio signal acquisition and processing. Accordingly, many manufacturers released specialized audio processing cards.

Figure 6.19. The Emulator X studio system by E-mu with its cards and interface box

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Electronic Music Machines

Dozens of different sound cards were developed by manufacturers such as Creative Labs, Digidesign, Gravis, Turtle Beach, Yamaha, Ensoniq, and E-mu. Table 6.2 lists a few models. Manufacturer

Model

Year

Media Vision

Pro Audio Spectrum

1991–1992

Creative Labs

Sound Blaster 2.0

1993

Gravis

Ultrasound 93

1993

Audiomedia

Audiomedia II

1994

Digidesign

SampleCell II

1994

Turtle Beach

Monte Carlo

1995

Ensoniq

Soundscape 95

1995

Digidesign

DAE 882

1995

Roland

Audio Producer RAP-10

1994

Creative Labs

Sound Blaster AWE32

1994

Creative Labs

Sound Blaster AWE 64

1997

Echo

Gina 20

1997

Ensoniq

Audio PCI

1997

Yamaha

SW1000XG

1997

Terratec

EWS

1997

Mediatrix

Audiotrix

1997

Digidesign

888

1997

Digidesign

D24

1997

Lexicon

Core 2

1998

Creative Labs

Sound Blaster Live!

1998

Digidesign

888 – 24 bits

1999

Creative Labs

Sound Blaster Audigy

2001

Creative Labs

Sound Blaster Audigy 2

2002

ESI

Prodigy 192

2003

Creative Labs

Sound Blaster Audigy 4

2004

E-mu

Emulator X

2004

Table 6.2. A few examples of sound cards

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135

By the mid-2000s, few manufacturers were still making hardware samplers. Most had either ceased physical production and focused instead on software development or disappeared to make way for companies specializing in the development of digital audio programs. Software samplers can be divided into two categories: standalone software programs and plugins6. Plugins are designed to “plug into” and extend other sequencers, editing environments, or digital audio workstations (DAWs). Various rompler plugins are also available, offering access to large sound banks of samples of all kinds: acoustic instruments (strings, brass, wind, etc.), electronic instruments (organs, synthesizers, drum machines, etc.), and noises.

Figure 6.20. The MachFive 3 software/virtual sampler by MOTU

6 See Appendix 4.

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To name just a few models: Publisher

Name

Type

Operating system

Serato

Sample

Plugin

Microsoft Windows Mac OS

Native Instruments

Kontakt

Standalone Plugin

Microsoft Windows Mac OS

Steinberg

Halion

Plugin

Microsoft Windows Mac OS

NemeSys

GigaSampler

Plugin

Microsoft Windows

MOTU

MachFive

Plugin

Microsoft Windows Mac OS

Plugin Boutique

Zampler RX

Plugin

Microsoft Windows Mac OS

IK multimedia

SampleTank 3

Plugin

Microsoft Windows Mac OS

Image Line

DirectWave

Plugin

Microsoft Windows

Arturia

CMI V

Standalone Plugin

Microsoft Windows Mac OS

Ableton

Sampler

Plugin

Microsoft Windows Mac OS

AIR Music Technology

Structure 2

Plugin

Microsoft Windows Mac OS

VSL

Vienna Instruments

Plugin

Microsoft Windows Mac OS

E-mu

Proteus VX (free)

Standalone Plugin

Microsoft Windows

E-mu

Proteus X2

Standalone Plugin

Microsoft Windows

Speedsoft

VSampler

Standalone Plugin

Microsoft Windows

Native Instruments

Kompakt

Plugin

Microsoft Windows Mac OS

Spectrasonics

Omnisphere 1.5w

Plugin

Microsoft Windows Mac OS

Samplers

TASCAM

Gigastudio

Standalone

Microsoft Windows Mac OS

E-mu

Emulator X

Standalone Plugin

Microsoft Windows

Yellow Tools

Independence Pro

Standalone

Microsoft Windows Mac OS

137

Table 6.3. A few examples of software samplers

Modern digital audio editors typically include sampling functionality alongside various other features such as multitrack mixing and editing, soundtrack extraction from video files, and spectral analysis.

Figure 6.21. The digital audio editor “WaveLab” by Steinberg

Some audio editors also include sampling or audio recording functionality.

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Electronic Music Machines

Publisher

Name

Type

Operating system

Audacity

Audacity (free)

Standalone

Microsoft Windows Mac OS Linux

Magix

Sound Forge

Standalone

Microsoft Windows Mac OS

Steinberg

WaveLab

Standalone

Microsoft Windows Mac OS

Adobe

Audition

Standalone

Microsoft Windows Mac OS

Propellerhead

ReCycle

Standalone

Mac OS

Wavosaur

Wavosaur (free)

Standalone

Microsoft Windows

Ocenaudio

Ocenaudio (free)

Standalone

Mac OS

Table 6.4. A few examples of digital audio editors

As we bring this section to a close, note that many recent models of musical equipment include advanced sampling functionality, such as the highly sought-after sampler-sequencers (Elektron Octatrack, AKAI MPC Series, Korg Electribe Sampler, Teenage Engineering PO32 and PO33, Korg Volca Sample, etc.) loved by the modern generation of musicians, especially in hip-hop, rap, and electro.

Figure 6.22. The Octatrack MKII sampler-sequencer by Elektron

Samplers

139

6.2. History of musical styles The arrival of samplers profoundly changed the world of music and pop music7 production. The first samplers became available in the 1970s, but their cost was so prohibitive that they remained relatively inaccessible. Samplers only truly became viable in the early 1980s, once smaller customers could purchase and use them. From as early as 1965, many bands and groups used equipment like the Mellotron to add novel and innovative colors to their music. Samplers followed about 15 years later; the compositions that arrived with them had an even more radical impact on the progression of popular musical styles. Various rock, progressive rock, and new wave bands integrated samplers into their hardware line-ups and started creating their own samples. In parallel, as hiphop and rap gradually took shape, samplers began to be used in new ways, drawing from the repertoire of other artists to mix together original music and recorded sequences (samples). New controversies were soon ignited on topics such as rights management, musical ethics, and plagiarism. Hip-hop uses breakbeat loops and samples to create a rhythmic foundation for its music. DJs had been doing this since the late 1960s and early 1970s, but samplers made it much easier, no longer requiring skilled manipulations on record turntables. The following list presents a few of the most famous sampled tracks from hip-hop, disco, new wave, minimalist music, musique concrète, techno, and house between 1965 and 2009, in no particular order: – 1966: Lee Dorsey – “Get Out of My Life, Woman”; – 1966: Joe Tex – “Papa Was Too”; – 1968: The Mohawks – “The Champ”; – 1969: The Winstons – “Amen, Brother”; – 1970: James Brown – “Funky Drummer”; – 1970: The J.B.’s – “The Grunt”; – 1971: Kool & The Kang – “N.T”; – 1972: Lyn Collins – “Think (About It)”; 7 Here, the concept of pop music includes any style of music targeting a wide audience, including rock, commercial music, jazz, and other styles, as opposed to so-called classical music.

140

Electronic Music Machines

– 1973: Ohio Players – “Funky Worm”; – 1973: The Honey Drippers – “Impeach the President”; – 1973: Skull Snaps – “It’s a New Day”; – 1973: Lafayette Afro Rock Band – “Hihache”; – 1973: Melvin Bliss – “Synthetic Substitution”; – 1973: Barry White – “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More, Baby”; – 1974: Bob James – “Nautilus”; – 1974: Fred Wesley and the J.B.’s – “Blow Your Head”; – 1974: Soul Searchers – “Ashley’s Roachclip”; – 1976: The Headhunters – “God Make Me Funky”; – 1978: Yellow Magic Orchestra – “Computer Game / Firecracker”; – 1979: Van Halen – “Jamie’s Crying’”; – 1980: Zapp – “More Bounce to the Ounce”; – 1980: Billy Squier – “The Big Beat”; – 1981: Yellow Magic Orchestra – “Technodelic”; – 1981: ESG – “UFO”; – 1981: Queen and David Bowie – “Under Pressure”; – 1981: Sugarhill Gang – “8th Wonder”; – 1983: AC/DC – “Flick of the Switch”; – 1983: Art of Noise – “Beat Box”; – 1984: Art of Noise – “Close (to the Edit)”; – 1985: LL Cool J – “Rock the Bells”; – 1985: Beastie Boys – “Slow and Low”; – 1985: Big Audio Dynamite – “The Bottom Line”; – 1985: François Bernard Mâche – “Iter Memor”; – 1985: Propaganda – “Duel”; – 1986: Ultramagnetic MCs – “Ego Trippin”; – 1986: Run DMC – “My Adidas”; – 1986: Frank Zappa – “Jazz from Hell”;

Samplers

141

– 1987: MARRS – “Pump Up the Volume”; – 1989: Black Box – “Ride on Time”; – 1989: Biz Markie – “Just a Friend”; – 1990: Vanilla Ice – “Ice Ice Baby”; – 1990: François Bernard Mâche – “Khnoum”; – 1991: The Prodigy – “Charly”; – 1993: Dr. Dre – “Let Me Ride”; – 1994: The Notorious B.I.G. – “Ready to Die”; – 1994: The Notorious B.I.G. – “Big Poppa”; – 1995: Steve Reich – “City Life”; – 1995: Coolio – “Gangsta’s Paradise”; – 1996: The Ganja Kru – “Super Sharp Shooter”; – 2000: François Bernard Mâche – “Vectigal Libens”; – 2004: Gwen Stefani – “Luxurious”; – 2006: The Incredible Bongo Band – “Apache”; – 2007: Rihanna – “Don’t Stop the Music”. – 2009: Flo Rida – “Right Round”; The number of artists using sampling techniques has exploded since the early 2000s. It would be impossible to cite them all. The list above does not include any progressive rock bands such as Genesis, Rick Wakeman, Yes, and Pink Floyd. Although these bands have been regularly using samplers since the 1980s, their compositions use them in subtler and less representative ways, making it difficult for an untrained ear to appreciate exactly how the samplers are being used. Any interested readers are invited to listen carefully to each of these examples of the so-called “sampled” music, which cover a large variety of different musical styles. You should soon recognize that these new compositions mix together old beats and melodic or rhythmic patterns with new and original elements.

142

Electronic Music Machines

6.3. Architecture and principles This final section presents the general internal architecture of a sampler and describes its internal components. Figure 6.23 shows the key blocks of a sampler and the interactions between them.

Figure 6.23. Classical sampler architecture

The software interface acts as a gateway between the user and the machine. It allows the user to access the various features of the sampler: sampling, sample editing, and audio processing (looping, transposition, time-stretching, envelopment management (ADSR), recording, playback, etc.). This interface communicates with the operating system to access the various electronic devices, input/output interfaces, memory, and storage media (floppy disk, hard drive, CD, USB key, SD card, etc.). The hardware interface assigns the audio signals stored in the sampler to a keyboard through a MIDI or USB interface, or to internal or external pads through a MIDI or USB controller. Real-time processing can be performed whenever the user generates a note or an audio signal. In addition to the effects already specified by the MIDI standard, namely, the velocity and the pressure, others can be added – e.g. acoustic effects (reverb, delay, phasing, etc.).

Samplers

143

Figure 6.24. The MPD 26, a USB/MIDI controller by AKAI

The sound processing block performs sample editing and formatting (ASDR, looping, transposition, time-stretching, effects, saving, loading, mixing, etc.). The sampled signal is supplied by the inputs. These inputs could, for example, be a microphone, an audio line (CD player, turntables, tape recorder, etc.), S/PDIF8, and AES/EBU. The live memory block stores any samples that the user is currently working on. The mass storage memory contains a library of audio samples, often organized into sound banks. These samples can be read by the user and/or saved onto various types of medium: floppy disk, hard drive, optical drive, CD, zip9, USB key, compact flash cards, SD cards, and so on. The outputs deliver the signal after it has been processed by the sampler. Each output can be mono, stereo, or multi-channel: 4, 8, or even more channels.

8 See Appendix 2 at the end of this book. 9 Zip is a mass memory storage format based on removable disks created by Iomega in 1994. Their storage capacity can range up to 100 MB, 250 MB, or even 750 MB. The disk reader can be connected by SCSI, parallel port, USB, Firewire, PCMCIA, or IDE.

144

Electronic Music Machines

Figure 6.25. The stereo outputs (top left) and eight multi-outputs (bottom center) of the MPC 2000XL by AKAI

The analog-to-digital conversion block transforms the recorded audio into a digital signal, and the digital-to-analog conversion block performs the reverse operation, transforming the processed digital signal back into analog form so that it can be delivered to a mixing console, amplifier, etc. The output signal does not necessarily need to be converted back into analog form if the device placed after the sampler in the musical chain supports digital inputs. The architecture presented above is significantly simplified. Many samplers have highly advanced features that require extremely specific technological components. For more information, readers are welcome to visit the bibliography at the end of the book. 6.4. Final remarks Samplers are recent inventions that gave little warning before making a sudden and dramatic appearance in the musical world. For most other instruments, we can identify some kind of ancestor or predecessor – synthesizers are derived from pianos, drum machines are derived from percussion instruments, electric guitars are derived from acoustic guitars, and so on. But samplers are not burdened with a similar heritage. When they arrived, they were not tied to any specific culture, repertoire, or tradition. They are also extremely versatile instruments – samplers can simulate any traditional instrument, record noises or musical sequences, and mix completely different sounds together to produce new sound materials for musical creation.

Samplers

145

Samplers have enriched and inspired musical styles of the past and present throughout the entire world and will continue to do so in the future. They have completely abolished many of the constraints of conventional music. They have also created a new approach to writing music that is no longer bound by musical scores or written notes. Finally, samplers have become almost indispensable for live music.

7 Groove Machines

At the intersection of synthesizers, sequencers, and samplers, there is another category of machines, one that works hard to defy description – groove machines. We have already encountered a few groove machines in the previous chapters; indeed, many of them are difficult to classify. The term groovebox is sometimes also used, typically referring to machines geared toward loop-based musical sequences, e.g. rhythm patterns for live performances. These devices need to be user-friendly and suitable for improvization. The manufacturer Roland was the first to use the term groovebox to describe the MC-303, which was released in 1996. 7.1. Structure A groove machine combines several key elements into a single device: – a sequencer; – a control surface or a controller, e.g. linear/rotary encoders, buttons, pads (usually velocity- and pressure-sensitive), and keys (keyboard); – a control monitor (LCD display) and display indicators (LEDs); – one or more sound generators, e.g. samplers, drum machines, synthesizers. The objective of a groovebox is to provide an integrated array of instruments to allow musicians to quickly and easily construct musical sequences in real time from patterns, loops, instrumental voices, and percussions – all at the same time.

Electronic Music Machines: The New Musical Instruments, First Edition. Jean-Michel Réveillac. © ISTE Ltd 2019. Published by ISTE Ltd and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Electronic Music Machines

Figure 7.1. Structure of a groovebox

Groove machines can therefore be used to perform alone or integrated into a musical lineup like any other instrument. They can also be used as a controller for external electronic instruments via the MIDI interface. In this sense, groove machines could be characterized as the hardware-based alter ego of a digital audio workstation (DAW). 7.2. Famous groove machines This section presents a few of the most significant groove machines, ordered by their date of release. For the most part, we shall only focus on multi-purpose machines, leaving aside the drum machines discussed earlier in Chapter 5. I am fortunate to have owned many of these models personally and tried out many others over the years. Each model has its own unique workflow. It can be difficult to choose between them, although a few are now somewhat technologically outdated. Personally, I find that the technology itself is almost irrelevant to me – more than anything else, I value the unique sound colors generated by each instrument. Many other groove machines did not find their way into these pages, but no single book would be capable of presenting them all, especially given that their numbers have skyrocketed in recent years.

Groove Machines

149

7.2.1. E-mu SP12 (1985) One of the first-ever drum machines with a built-in sampler, the E-mu SP12 was a trailblazer for future generations of grooveboxes. It featured a collection of integrated drum sounds and allowed the user to add their own sounds with a 12-bit sampler. In 1987, it was replaced by the hugely successful SP-1200 model. The SP12 has an extremely recognizable sound, due to its 12-bit sampling. It is incredibly straightforward to use, with highly versatile mixing features.

Figure 7.2. E-mu SP12

Technical specifications: – Drums: 24 samples (kick, snare, cymbal, toms, clap, bell, etc.); – Polyphony: 8 voices; – Sampler: 27,500 Hz – 12 bits; – Memory: 48 to 192 KB; – Rhythm patterns: 100; – Sound sequences: 100 by pattern chaining; – Interfaces: MIDI, SMPTE; – Controls: 8 pads.

150

Electronic Music Machines

7.2.2. AKAI MPC-60 (1988) Widely used in rap, hip-hop, and R&B, the AKAI MPC-60 designed by Roger Linn combines a drum machine, a sequencer, and a sampler. Sound patterns can be created in real time by adding elements to a rhythm loop.

Figure 7.3. AKAI MPC-60

Technical specifications: – Drums: 24 integrated samples (kick, snare drum, cymbal, toms, clap, bell, etc.); – Sampler: 40 kHz – 12 bits – stereo; – Memory: 768 KB to 1.5 MB; – Mass storage: 3½-inch floppy disks; – Factory sounds: 32 samples; – Polyphony: 16 voices; – Rhythm patterns: 99; – Sequencer: 99 sequences, 99 tracks, 60,000 notes; – Interfaces and controls: MIDI, SMPTE, MTC, FSK 24, Pulse 96; – Controls: 16 pads (velocity + pressure).

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151

7.2.3. Roland MC-303 (1996) The MC-303 was always predestined for dance and techno music. It combines a range of sound kits with a sequencer, allowing users to store music sequences while simultaneously making real-time modifications, thanks to a number of commands with a wide range of functionality.

Figure 7.4. The MC-303 by Roland

Technical specifications: – Drums: 12 kits including the Roland TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines; – Presets: 448 sounds; – Polyphony: 28 voices; – Rhythm patterns: 120 presets and 50 user slots; – Sequencer: 8 tracks, 10 sequences + arpeggiator; – Memory: around 14,000 notes; – Effects: filter, resonance, pan, chorus, flanger, reverb, delay; – Interfaces and controls: MIDI; – Controls: 12 buttons (arranged as a microkeyboard).

152

Electronic Music Machines

7.2.4. AKAI MPC 2000XL (1999) One of the most famous models in the Music Production Center (MPC) series, the MPC 2000XL is a sequencer and a sampler extended by extremely powerful editing functionality (loops, pitch shifter, transposition, quantization, etc.). It is nothing less than an upgradeable DAW that can serve as the centerpiece of a small production studio. An SCSI device (hard disk, CD player, flash drive reader, etc.) can be added to provide mass storage. The sequencer is user-friendly and intuitive, equally suitable for both recording and real-time work. It can also send MIDI sync information to other devices. Over time, the MPC 2000 XL has established itself as an authoritative reference for music composition and live hip-hop. The optional expansions make it a virtually universal machine that remains extremely popular with music professionals to this day, despite being somewhat technologically outdated.

Figure 7.5. AKAI MPC 2000XL

Technical specifications: – Sampler: 44.1 kHz – 16 bits – stereo – 8 independent outputs (optional, multi-8 card) – S/PDIF output (optional, DM card); – Polyphony: 32 voices;

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153

– Sequencer: 64 tracks, 99 sequencers, 300,000 notes; – Memory: 2 MB to 32 MB; – Mass storage: 3½-inch floppy disks; – Effects: optional with the EB16 card (4 effects); – Filter: 12-dB resonance; – Interfaces and controls: MIDI, MTC, and SMPTE (optional, IB-M20T card), SCSI; – Controls: 16 pads (velocity + pressure). 7.2.5. Roland MC-909 (2003) Some of the features of the sequencer and sampler built into the Roland MC-909 are extremely sophisticated, making this groovebox a powerful workstation with a high-performance sound synthesis engine. Audio and MIDI compatibility is very present throughout every aspect of the MC-909, producing a fully integrated working environment. The large LCD display makes it effortless to edit or manipulate audio sequences and perform sample processing. The sound synthesis engine can manage four different keys simultaneously with 64-voice polyphony. The workflow design closely mirrors that of an analog synthesizer, making the MC-909 an extremely easy device to operate. Most of its features are directly accessible via buttons and dials. The MC-909 also boasts impressive real-time time-stretching capabilities inspired by the popular Turntable Emulation controller by Roland. The sequencer can handle up to 16 tracks, with a resolution of 480 ticks per quarter note. Up to 998 bars of each rhythm pattern can be saved using a highly innovative recording method. Sequences can easily be imported or exported via the MIDI and USB ports. With its S/PDIF inputs/outputs, six analog outputs, and a V-LINK function for adding video, the MC-909 is extremely open to external devices and communication-ready. It also features integrated sound effects, including reverb, filtering, phasing, distortion, as well as a mastering processor with an equalizer and a three-band compressor.

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This groovebox was designed for dance, house, and techno. Any sounds needed for these styles are stored in ROM (organs, pianos, bass guitars, drum kits, etc.).

Figure 7.6. The Roland MC-909

The specifications below only mention the basic characteristics of the MC-909. There are so many other features that it would be difficult to list them exhaustively. Technical specifications: – Sampler: 44.1 kHz (WAV or AIFF) – 16 bits – S/PDIF i/o; – Polyphony: 64 voices; – Sequencer: 16 tracks, 99 sequences, 300,000 notes, arpeggiator (128 presets, 128 user slots); – Rhythm patterns: 333 presets, 200 user slots, 999 on card – 50 songs; – Memory: 16–272 MB with a SmartMedia card; – Mass storage: SmartMedia card, record to USB on a computer;

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– Effects: various, 38 types (MFX1) + 47 types (MFX2), 4 types of reverb, 1 compressor – three-band equalizer; – Filters: cutoff, resonance, ADSR; – Low-frequency oscillators (LFOs): 8 waveforms; – Interfaces and controls: MIDI, USB; – Controls: 16 pads. 7.2.6. Elektron Octatrack DPS 1 (2011) The Octatrack is a Swedish invention with surprisingly rich functionality and a very unique workflow: a sampler-sequencer with 8 tracks and 256 patterns divided into 16 banks. Each pattern contains triggers for audio, MIDI, internal, or external events. Four different types of software machine can be hosted on each track. The first two are designed for manipulating audio samples, which are either supplied by a streaming source or loaded from the main memory. The other two software machines are reserved for external audio processing or effects dedicated to other tracks. The Octatrack sequencer is undoubtedly one of the most sophisticated grooveboxes available on the market, although it can be quite challenging to operate. The hardware alone is unlike anything else on the market. The AKAI MPC series perhaps comes closest. While it is truly an extraordinary groovebox, mastering its quirks can be daunting due to the sheer range of possibilities and completely unique workflow design. Chapters 9 and 10 of this book are devoted to this machine, one of the most intriguing and captivating devices that I personally have ever had the pleasure to work with. On a technical level, we will discuss how to circumvent and remedy some of its flaws. We will also spend a few pages exploring its unique software design. Another version of the Octatrack, the MK II, was released in 2017. The new model features some improvements, but the workflow remains unchanged.

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Figure 7.7. The Elektron Octatrack

Technical specifications: – Sampler: 44.1 kHz (WAV or AIFF) – 24 bits; – Sequencer: 8 tracks, 16 scenes per track, 16 banks per project, 8 arrangements per project; – Rhythm patterns: 256 patterns per project; – Memory: 64 MB internal memory; – Mass storage: Compact Flash Card, 80 MB per project; – Effects: phaser, flanger, chorus, delay, reverb, compressor, Lo-Fi, and twoband parametric equalizer; – Filters: multimode; – Interfaces and controls: MIDI, USB 2.0; – Controls: 16 triggers. 7.2.7. Korg Electribe 2 (2014) and Korg Electribe Sampler (2015) The Electribe 2 and Electribe Sampler are later additions to the series, after the original Electribe was launched in 1999 and perfected in 2003. Both the Electribe 2 and the Electribe Sampler are strongly oriented toward house, dance, and electro, featuring both real-time and step-by-step modes, as well as a “touch scale” function that automatically blocks incorrect notes. Both grooveboxes feature a sequencer, a drum machine, and a sound synthesis engine. Unsurprisingly, the Sampler model also has a sampler.

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These machines are delightfully easy to operate. Each control can be accessed directly by buttons on the top panel. Like the Octatrack, this book will devote a couple of chapters to the Electribe series – Chapters 11 and 12. The Electribe 2 and the Electribe Sampler have the same basic electronic components. Might it be possible to upgrade the former so that it has the same sampling capabilities as the latter? The answer to the question, and a few others, can be found in these two chapters.

Figure 7.8. The blue Korg Electribe 2

Technical specifications: – Sampler: 48 kHz – 24 bits; – Polyphony: 24 voices; – Sequencer: 4 × 16 steps; – Rhythm patterns: 200 presets, 50 user slots; – Mass storage: SD card (512 MB–32 GB); – Effects: compression, overdrive; – Synthesizer: 409 oscillators, analog modeling and PCM, ring modulation, cross modulation, and so on; – Filters: cutoff, resonance, low-pass, high-pass, bandpass, ADSR; – Interfaces and controls: MIDI, USB; – Controls: 16 velocity-sensitive pads, 1 touchpad (“Kaoss”).

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Figure 7.9. The Korg Electribe Sampler

7.2.8. Novation Circuit (2015) Sequencer, synth, and sampler – the Novation Circuit boasts a playful and intuitive design with a well-designed workflow. It has a range of features, including two built-in Nova synthesizers1 that deliver impressively high-performance results. Real-time operations are effortless, the editor is extremely effective, and a range of attractive effects are available. The Novation Circuit allows the user to control and synchronize external processes (drum machines, synthesizers, etc.) via MIDI, providing lots of room for creativity. This groovebox is easy to hook up to Ableton and can also be used as a standard USB-MIDI controller. Technical specifications: – Sampler: 48 kHz – 24 bits; – Sequencer: 32 sessions, 8 tracks per session, 8 patterns per track; – Drums: four control parameters (pitch, distortion, decay, filter); – Synthesizer: two Nova synths, drum machine, 6-note polyphony per synth; 1 Analog modeling synthesizer by Novation.

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– Effects: 16 delays, 8 reverbs – effect chaining; – Filter: low-pass, high-pass; – Interfaces and controls: MIDI, USB; – Controls: 32 velocity-sensitive pads, 28 function buttons.

Figure 7.10. The Novation Circuit

7.2.9. Teenage Electronics Pocket Operator PO-32 (2017) The PO-32 is a micro-groovebox that combines a drum machine, sequencer, and sampler. This small machine with only a few controls is an interesting model and definitely deserves a mention in this list. Its modest price and concept might seem alien, but the possibilities are spectacular for its size, especially because it is surprisingly easy to use and program. The sequencer can be used either in real time or step by step, and audio can be recorded in real time. The Microtonic software program by Sonic Charge allows users to transfer and edit the device memory and thus each of the 16 sounds that it stores. The sound rendering of the PO-32 is reasonably good, with warm, dynamic undertones and plenty of aggression, even if it can sometimes lack volume.

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There is an entire series of specialized Pocket Operators, each designed for certain types of sounds (speak – PO-35, arcade – PO-20, rhythm – PO-12, factory – PO-16, etc.). Each of these small devices can be chained together (by a 3.5-mm stereo jack cable), with one of them serving as the master machine.

Figure 7.11. Teenage Electronics Pocket Operator 32 (Tonic)

Technical specifications: – Sampler: microphone-based recording; – Polyphony: 16 voices; – Sequencer: 16 steps; – Rhythm patterns: 16, up to 64 with chaining; – Effects: 16 effects (distortion, echo, pitch, reverse, megamorph, etc.), real-time calls; – Interfaces and controls: Sonic Charge Microtonic VST (sound transfer and editing); – Controls: 16 buttons. 7.3. Software groove machines As well as hardware-based grooveboxes, the 2000s saw the introduction of a new generation of groovebox software, whose proliferation was encouraged by new tablets running Android or iOS.

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A new approach was born with them – the idea of connecting a hardware controller or control surface to a computer or tablet running musical software. One of the most famous software grooveboxes is the ReBirth RB-338 by Propellerhead. This program emulates several machines made by Roland, namely, the TB-303, the TR-808, and the TR-909. Other noteworthy mentions include Caustic 3, Reason, and the iconic Ableton Live. ReBirth was released in 1996. Its development was discontinued by Propellerhead in 1999, who then completely abandoned it in 2005, although it could still be downloaded until 2016. A freeware version (2.01) of the software has since been made available by the Rebirth Museum website. Version 2.0 emulates two Roland TB-303 synthesizers, as well as the TR-808 drum machine and the TR-909. ReBirth was revolutionary for its time. It offered virtually unlimited programming possibilities, flexibility, and a new approach to understanding the process of computer-assisted musical composition. The design and user-configurable graphical interface was extremely innovative and would be copied by many software programs from later generations.

Figure 7.12. ReBirth RB-338 by Propellerhead

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At the time, many musicians criticized ReBirth for its audio quality, which could not rival the authentic sounds of the hardware it was trying to emulate. Like any software synthesizer, the sound rendering was strongly limited by the available CPU power and sound card. A digital imitation of an analog machine is never completely perfect, especially with the limited computational resources available in the late 1990s. Over time, many of the original generation of software-based groove machines were developed into full-blown and extremely sophisticated DAWs. This was, for example, the case with Digital Performer, Cubase, Cakewalk, Fruity Loops, and many of the other software programs around in 1997. The next few sections give a brief presentation of three famous groove machine software programs available on the market today: Image Line Groove Machine, Propellerhead Reason, and Ableton Live. 7.3.1. Image Line Groove Machine Sequencer, sampler, synthesizer, and drum machine – this virtual machine can do anything. Its main characteristics are listed below, reproduced directly from the Image Line website (www.imageline.com): – five hybrid synthesizer channels (subtractive/FM); – eight flexible sampler channels, each with four sample layers; – multiple independent outputs for the four synth channels and eight sampler channels; – 10 DJ style effects + equalizer and stutter on each channel; – step-by-step sequencer with automation functions; – optimized for live performance; – internal connection system for maximum compatibility with MIDI controllers; – ideal for dubstep, trance, house, and hip-hop producers; – available in VST, AU (see Appendix 4), and as a standalone. The software can run under both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS. To fully master the functionality of the Groove Machine, especially in live settings, it can be helpful to have a MIDI controller, although a computer mouse and keyboard are theoretically sufficient.

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Figure 7.13. Image Line Groove Machine

It is worth noting that IL Groove Machine and Ableton Live can be linked together, multiplying the possibilities offered by either of them alone.

Figure 7.14. Ableton Live and IL Groove Machine

7.3.2. Propellerhead Reason Reason has been around since 2001, developed by Propellerhead Software. The more recent versions especially have become much more than just a groovebox.

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Reason features synthesizers, samplers, sequencers, mixers, drum machines, and sound effects, presented as virtual racks that can be linked together to interact. The idea is to create a software-based music studio from a selection of different instruments. Each instrument is either implemented virtually or imported from an external software sequencer, such as Pro Tools, Logic, Fruity Loops, Digital Performer, Cubase, Sonar, and GarageBand by means of a specific protocol known as Rewire. Since version 2.0, Reason can be controlled from an external MIDI device.

Figure 7.15. Screenshot of Propellerhead Reason 2 (top to bottom: Mixer, Redrum, D-11, RV-7, CF-101, DDL-1, Malström, DDL-1, PH-90, Dr. Rex, transport bar + parameters)

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Changes are made with each new version of Reason. Its functionality is constantly evolving and has never stopped being innovative. The potential is incredible. Despite its complexity, the interface design makes it relatively straightforward to operate compared to other software studios, with an extremely attractive workflow.

Figure 7.16. An example of the wiring configuration on the rear panels of virtual racks in Propellerhead Reason

Without going into too much detail, Table 7.1 lists some of the musical devices available in versions 1.0 to 10.1 of Reason, which was released in May 2018.

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Version

Hardware

Description

1.0 (2001)

Dr. Rex

Loop reader

NN-19

Sampler

Redrum

Drum box

Matrix

Pattern sequencer

Subtractor

Analog synthesizer

RV-7

Reverb

DDL-1

Digital delay

D-11

Distortion

F-101

Chorus/flanger

COMP-01

Compressor

PH-90

Phaser

PEQ-2

Two-band parametric equalizer

ECF-42

Envelope control filter

Rebirth

Rebirth insertion module

Sequencer module Mixer – Mixer module MIDI module – Audio out: communication interface 2.0 (2002) 2.5 (2003)

3.0 (2005)

4.0 (2007)

Malström

Synthesizer

NN-XT

Sampler

RV7000

Reverb

BV512

Vocoder

Scream 4

Sound destroyer

UN16

Unison

Spider Audio

Router

Spider CV

Router

MClass Mastering Suite

4-band parametric equalizer Stereo processor Compressor Maximization modules

Combinator

Peripheral chaining

Thor Polysonic

Oscillators Filters Sound processing modules

Groove Machines

RPG8

Arpeggiator

ReGroove

Mixer

167

Improvements to Reason’s linear sequencer 5.0 (2010)

6.0 (2011)

6.5 (2012)

7.0 (2013)

8.0 (2014)

Dr. Octo Rex (replaces Dr. Rex)

Loop reader

Korg drum designer

Set of 16 pads

Blocks

Song editor, arranger, and mixer

Pulverizer

Compressor, distortion, filter

The Echo

Analog stereo echo

Alligator

3-channel signal divider

ID-8 Instrument Device

Sound bank (piano, organ, guitar, drum kits, etc.)

Record

External sound recording module

Polar

Harmonizer, pitch-shifter

Pulsar

2-channel LFO

Radical Piano

Sampled piano

Audiomatic

Various vintage-oriented audio sound effects

Parsec

Spectral synthesizer with additive synthesis

PX7

DX7-type synthesizer with FM synthesis

Radical Keys

Electric pianos: Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Hohner Pianet-T

Rotor

Leslie speakers

Synchronous

Time effect modulator (distortion, delay, filter)

Softtube Amp

Guitar amp emulator

Softtube Bass Amp

Bass guitar amp emulator

A-List Acoustic Guitarist

Rack extension – Acoustic guitar emulator

A-List Studio Drummer

Rack extension – Acoustic drum emulator

A-List Classic Drummer

Rack extension – Acoustic drum emulator, pop sounds

A-List Power Drummer

Rack extension – Acoustic drum emulator, powerful sounds

Pop Chords – A-List Electric Guitarist

Rack extension – Guitar emulator with pop, rock, funk sounds

Power Chords – A-List Electric Guitarist

Rack extension – Rock, metal guitar emulator

168

9.0

10.0

10.1

Electronic Music Machines

Dual Arpeggio

Polyphonic arpeggiator

Note Echo

MIDI delay

Scales and Chords

Key analyzer – Finger chords

Pitch Editor

Monophonic pitch editor designed for voice audio sources

Fingerpicking Nylon

Rack extension – Nylon-string guitar emulator

Layers

Quadraphonic sampler with synth emulator: Roland Jupiter-4, Korg MS-20, Yamaha CS-80, Oberheim Matrix

Europa

Wavetable synthesizer

Grain

Granular synthesizer

Klang

Special percussions (glockenspiel, music box, bottles, etc.)

Pangea

Strings and wind instruments for world music

Humana

Sampled choir emulator

Layers Wave Edition

Synthesizer emulating the Waldorf Wave, a wavetable synthesizer from the 1980s

Drum Sequencer

Rhythm pattern reader

Umpf Club Drums

Drums and percussions for dance, electro, techno, house designed around sampled sounds

Table 7.1. Devices and instruments added with each new release of Propellerhead Reason

Figure 7.17. Screenshot of Propellerhead Reason 10

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7.3.3. Ableton Live It almost seems unfair to include Ableton Live in this section. Its sheer power and functionality make it much more than just a regular groovebox. Ableton Live runs on both Microsoft Windows and MacOS. Ever since its very first version in 1999, Ableton was born and raised as a sequencer. In 2001, it became Ableton Live, a composition and arrangement tool primarily geared toward real-time and live performances. Ableton is the name of the German company that develops the software. Everything about Ableton Live is designed with concerts in mind, even the visual interfaces, which avoid pop-up windows2 in favor of five fullscreen workspaces divided into multiple windows (or zones). One of the highly innovative features of this software is the warp function, which can be activated at any time. As the user edits the looping points of a sound sequence (clip) in real time, the warp function automatically realigns the clip with all other sequences that are currently playing.

Figure 7.18. Ableton Live in session view

2 Secondary window that “pops up” over the main window.

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Every processing step applied to a sequence, e.g. every sound effect, is performed in real time. MIDI controllers can be assigned to any of the software parameters, or even multiple parameters simultaneously. Another of Ableton’s strengths lies in its routing capabilities, with the support for multiple inserts on each track. Session view and arrangement view are two of the main windows in Ableton Live. Sound sequences are known as clips; they can be MIDI or some other audio format. Ableton supports VST and AU instruments and plugins.

Figure 7.19. Ableton Live in arrangement view

The following list of instruments is included in Ableton Live (some are only supported in certain versions): – Simpler: sampler with a single sound; – Operator: FM synthesizer; – Sampler: multi-format sampler (AKAI, Soundfonts, etc.); – Impulse: sampler dedicated to rhythm patterns; – Analog: modular synthesizer based on subtractive synthesis;

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– Electric: virtual electric piano; – Wavetable: wavetable synthesizer; – Tension: string instrument synthesizer. Together with these instruments, a wide variety of effects are available: filters, compressor, equalizer, limiter, pan, flanger, phaser, vocoder, chorus, looper, reverb, and so on. MIDI effects are also available, including an arpeggiator, a chord generator, and much more. In 2009, Ableton partnered with Cycling ’74 to produce Max for Live, a version of the Max audio synthesis, analysis, recording, and MIDI instrument control software.

Figure 7.20. Ableton Live in session view with a Max for Live window open in the foreground

In 2017, Cycling ’74 was acquired by Ableton.

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7.4. Controllers and software This section briefly discusses an alternative approach, which involves combining a control surface (or controller) with software installed on a computer. The control surface usually features a set of pads and button controls that visually resemble a conventional groovebox. There are several ways of approaching this trend, which has been growing ever since computers and sound cards became powerful enough to support this type of set-up. The controller and the computer are typically connected via USB. Two examples are presented in the next few sections of this chapter, but there are many other alternatives (see Table 7.2). Manufacturer

Model

Manufacturer

Model

Ableton

Push

AKAI

MPC Renaissance

AKAI

PUSH 2

AKAI

MPD 218

Korg

PadKONTROL

Livid Instruments

OhmRGB

M-Audio

Trigger Finger Pro

Novation

Launchpad

Novation

Launchpad MK2

Zvuk Machines

Zvuk9

Table 7.2. A few examples of controllers and control surfaces

7.4.1. Native Instruments Maschine (2009) Maschine is the perfect competitor for the MPC by AKAI. The latest version is the MK3, a very sophisticated control surface accompanied by a software-based groovebox. The control surface itself does not generate any sound; the set-up can only be used in combination with a computer. Maschine has dedicated software for managing its interactions. A configuration program is also available to allow Maschine to be used with other software. The sound bank and rhythm patterns are delivered when the device is purchased. Maschine is powered by the computer over the USB port.

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Its design revolves around a set of eight groups that can store 16 sounds (one for each pad) and 64 rhythm patterns, divided into four banks, as well as a collection of scenes to define sound sequences (introduction, chorus, verse, etc.). Patterns and sounds can be modified in real time; the synchronization is taken care of automatically. Maschine is specifically designed with live performance in mind. A total of 21 sound effects are available (delay, reverb, chorus, filter, compressor, etc.), as well as various routing features that make it highly flexible to use.

Figure 7.21. Native Instruments Maschine I

The original version was released in 2009. Since then, there have been two new models (MKII and MK3), each providing various novelties, features, and performance improvements. Improvements in sound cards and computers contributed significantly to the progress over time.

Figure 7.22. The Native Instruments Maschine I software, delivered together with the controller

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Although Maschine was extremely innovative in 2009, other manufacturers have since developed various strong competitors. 7.4.2. Roland MPC Studio Black (2017) This control surface is delivered together with MPC 2.0, a musical production software suite with advanced editing functions. The sound bank takes up 7 GB of space and includes 300 different instruments.

Figure 7.23. One possible set-up for the Roland MPC Studio Black (source: Quickstart Guide – AKAI Professional)

MPC 2.0 is compatible with both Microsoft Windows and MacOS. VST and AU plugins are also supported.

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Figure 7.24. The Roland MPC Studio Black

Specifications: – Polyphony: 64 voices; – Sequencer: 128 sequences and 128 tracks; – Effects: 50; – Filter: low-pass, high-pass, bandpass, analog modeling, voice shaper, and so on; – Interfaces and controls: MIDI, USB; – Supported audio formats: WAV, MP3, REX, AIFF, SND; – Controls: 16 pressure and velocity-sensitive pads.

Figure 7.25. The AKAI MPC 2.0 software suite (source: Quickstart Guide – AKAI professional)

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7.5. iGroove machines Virtual instruments made their grand entrance when touchscreen tablets started to become popular. A range of groove machines have been developed for handheld devices, both on Android and iOS. These groove machines are sometimes referred to as iGroove machines. Some of them are virtual reproductions of hardware instruments, such as the iElectribe by Korg. Table 7.3 provides a non-exhaustive list of a few iGroove machines. Publisher

Model

Operating System

2beat

Oscilab

Android

AQ

AudioId

Android

AKAI

iMPC Pro 2

iOS

Ampify – Novation

Groovebox

iOS – iPhone – iPad

Fingerlab

DM1

iOS – iPhone – iPad – Mac OS

Korg

iElectribe

iOS – iPad

Image Line

Groove Machine Mobile

Android, iOS, Windows

Jimaudio

Groove Rider GR16

iOS

Mikrosonic

Groovebox RD3

Android

Mikrosonic

RD4

Android

Native Instruments

iMachine 2

iOS – iPhone – iPad

Table 7.3. A few examples of iGroove machines

7.6. Final remarks Today, groove machines (or grooveboxes) are more popular than ever. Many musicians use them for live sessions, although they have also proved to be invaluable in home studios. Groove machines are new tools that allow musicians to easily craft complex musical sequences as an arrangement of sound patterns. They encourage innovative approaches to composition and live performance which have delighted an entire generation of modern musicians, despite often being unfairly disparaged for operating outside of the bounds of conventional music, which has historically and traditionally been confined to written sheet music.

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Groove machines have contributed extensively to the rise of new and original hip-hop, rap, and electro artists and creators, sweeping away the cobwebs from the conventional approach to live music and inventing new ways to make music, on stage and in the studio.

8 Vocoders

Researchers have long been inspired by the dream of recreating the human voice. Reproducing, transforming, falsifying, modifying, and synthesizing vocals have all sparked an incredible amount of creative effort. Even today, despite leaps and bounds in technology, many challenges remain unsolved. This chapter presents a few milestones in the history of musical voice processing. 8.1. History In 1937, at Bell Laboratories, Homer Dudley developed the Voder (Voice Operation DEmonstratoR), one of the first-ever devices capable of imitating the human voice.

Figure 8.1. Helen Harper demonstrating the Vocoder at the Franklin Institute in 1939

Electronic Music Machines: The New Musical Instruments, First Edition. Jean-Michel Réveillac. © ISTE Ltd 2019. Published by ISTE Ltd and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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The Voder was difficult to operate. However, with some training and practice, users could create astonishingly high-quality machine-synthesized sentences. Dudley continued his research, which led him to unveil another instrument, the vocoder (VOice enCODER), in late 1939. One of the primary applications of the vocoder was the SIGGSALY system1, also known as Project X, developed by Bell Laboratories in a partnership with the British mathematician Alan Turing, to provide secure voice communications over telephone lines during the Second World War. The SIGGSALY system became operational in 1943.

Figure 8.2. SIGGSALY terminal station (source: www.cryptomuseum.com)

Thus, the vocoder was not originally designed as a musical instrument but as a cryptographic tool. Nevertheless, Bell Laboratories decided to record a piece of Irish folk music, “Love’s Old Sweet Son”, as the very first demonstration of the device. Perhaps the ancestors of electronic music were already anticipating the musical applications of their invention?

1 SIGGSALY is not an acronym but the code name of the project.

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In addition to voice encryption, another objective of the vocoder was to reduce the bandwidth needed by voice messages to allow them to be transmitted more quickly over telecommunication networks. The idea was to design an end-to-end encoding system for voice messages that would allow the receiver to accurately reconstruct the original message.

Figure 8.3. Vocoder HY-2 (1961), used by the U.S. military to transmit less bandwidth-intensive voice messages (source: commons.wikimedia.org)

In 1968, the Canadian composer and musician Bruce Haack built one of the first vocoders specifically designed for music. At around the same time, the famous American engineer Robert Moog, founder of the brand that bears his name, Moog Music, developed his own version of the vocoder from the original drawings by Homer Dudley. These two early instruments can be heard on the albums “The Electronic Record for Children” by Bruce Haack and “Clockwork Orange” by Wendy Carlos2 (Walter Carlos).

2 Wendy Carlos, born Walter Carlos, November 14, 1939. American composer and performer of electronic music.

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Figure 8.4. The two albums “The Electronic Record for Children” and “Clockwork Orange”

The vocoder remained mostly under the radar until 1974, when it was used by the German group Kraftwerk in their album “Autobahn.”

Figure 8.5. The album “Autobahn” by Kraftwerk

Kraftwerk inspired many later musicians. Popular artists from the early 1980s include Laurie Anderson and Herbie Hancock, as well as Afrika Bambaataa and her group, Soulsonic Force.

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Figure 8.6. The VP-CP330 vocoder keyboard by Roland, one of the classics of the 1980s

It was the dawn of a new era. The robotic vocals created by the vocoder suddenly became extremely popular. They are still going strong to this day. The Alan Parsons Project, Tangerine Dream, Frank Zappa, Electric Light Orchestra, Pink Floyd, The Buggles, Joe Zawinul, Boney M, Earth Wind & Fire, Jean-Michel Jarre, Madonna, Scorpions, Joe Walsh, Stevie Wonder, Booba, The Chemical Brothers, and Daft Punk – these are just a few of the artists who left their mark along the journey of the vocoder from the mid-1980s to the 2010s. 8.2. Working principle of the vocoder Human vocal sounds are generated by the opening and closing action of vocal cords on the glottis. Vocals are periodic signals that are very rich in harmonics. Together, the throat and the nose form a highly sophisticated resonance system that filters the sounds generated by the glottis to shape the voice (formants). To put it simply, the vocoder divides the sound signals of the voice into narrow frequency bands, then analyzes the level of each band (with an envelope follower). This gives an instantaneous representation of the voice signal, encoded in a way that allows the spectral content of the original message to be accurately reproduced. The encoded voice information is just a sequence of numbers which requires very little storage space (band number and level). To recreate speech, the vocoder reverses this procedure by processing a broadband audio signal (carrier signal), applying filters to reconstruct the original frequency bands and their levels (VCA modulator3).

3 VCA stands for voltage-controlled amplifier.

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Figure 8.7. Basic principle of the vocoder

Some of the information from the original message, such as the instantaneous frequency of the voice, is not particularly useful – the primary objective of the vocoder is to reproduce intelligible speech. It does not matter if the result sounds unnatural and non-human. The robotic, metallic, and industrial character created by this process is extremely attractive to composers and musicians. 8.3. Machines and equipment As the musical community gradually began to embrace the vocoder, a range of new models appeared on the market. This section presents some of the devices along the historical path taken by the vocoder through electronic music, from the 1970s until modern times. 8.3.1. EMS Vocoder 2000 This analog machine was designed by Tim Orr and manufactured between 1975 and 1979. It features 16 bandpass filters with 16 envelope followers, as well as a single VCO (Voltage-Controlled Oscillator), and a white noise generator.

Figure 8.8. The EMS Vocoder 2000

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185

8.3.2. EMS Vocoder 5000 Released in 1975, the EMS Vocoder 5000 is an analog model with 22 bandpass filters, two oscillators with multiple waveforms (pulse, sawtooth, sine, square), and a parameterizable noise generator. It features a patch matrix (22 × 22), an oscilloscope interface, a voice detector, and various control voltage (CV) features. The 5000 is the most sophisticated model of vocoder produced by EMS.

Figure 8.9. The EMS Vocoder 5000

8.3.3. EMS Vocoder 3000 The EMS Vocoder 3000 is another analog model released in 1987 by EMS Rehberg as a successor to the 2000 model. It has 16 individually configurable bandpass filters, a VCO, a white noise generator, 4 mic/line jack inputs, 2 inputs, and an XLR output on the rear panel.

Figure 8.10. The EMS Rehberg 3000

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8.3.4. Roland VP-330 Manufactured from 1979 to 1980, the VP-330 is an analog vocoder and synthesizer that emulates synth pads (strings) and choir sounds. It has a 49-key keyboard that can be divided into two sections (splittable), 3 oscillators (VCOs), an LFO, a VCA, 18 bandpass filters, 1 high-pass or low-pass filter, a chorus effect generator, and 20 VCFs. The VP-330 includes a CV/gate mode (see Appendix 1). Two models were produced – the MK1 and the MK2 – with slightly different interface designs. The chorus circuits were made by Reticon in the MK1 and by Panasonic in the MK2.

Figure 8.11. The VP-330 MK1 (top) and VP-330 MK2 (bottom) vocoders by Roland

NOTE.– More recently, several clones of this machine have been made – some better than others. Examples include the VP-03 by Roland and the VC-340 by Behring (a prototype at the time of writing).

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Figure 8.12. Two clones of the Roland VP-330 – the Roland VP-03 and the Behringer VC-340

8.3.5. Korg VC-10 Released in 1978 and manufactured until 1982, this analog vocoder was one of the first widely accessible consumer models with an affordable price. Its design was inspired by the contemporary MS-10/MS-20 synthesizers, featuring a 32-key keyboard, an LFO, a VCA, and a CV/gate input (see Appendix 1). The VC-10 is polyphonic and works on 20 bands. It was extremely popular with musicians, despite some limitations in performance and sound quality.

Figure 8.13. The Korg VC-10 vocoder

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8.3.6. Moog Vocoder Made in 1979, the Moog Vocoder is an analog model with 16 separate frequency bands. It has no internal oscillators, no LFOs, and no filters – instead, it is designed to be used with external sources. The Moog Vocoder has 16 synthesizer inputs and 16 outputs, organized into a cross-matrix patching system that can be used to switch between the synthesizer and the vocoder components in a modular system.

Figure 8.14. The vocoder by Moog

8.3.7. Roland SVC-350 The SVC-350 by Roland is an 11-band analog vocoder with two microphone inputs, one instrument input, and one guitar input with harmonic correction. Each of the 11 filters can be configured individually. The raw vocals and the processed output can be mixed together by adjusting the balance settings. This model also features a headphones output, a guitar amp output, and two line outputs (mono, voice amp, or stereo simulated by a chorus effect).

Figure 8.15. The SVC-350 vocoder by Roland

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8.3.8. Electrix Warp Factory This digital vocoder first hit the markets in 1999. It is primarily aimed toward DJs and is optimized for vocals, featuring an XLR microphone input, two line jack outputs, two RCA phono inputs, one line input for the carrier signal, two line jack outputs, and two RCA line outputs. It also has MIDI in/out/thru ports, as well as two filters: one high-pass and one low-pass. There are only a few settings, but they are powerful. The filter width is configurable, as well as the pitch of the formant, to convert between male and female voices. The filter resolution can be customized to adjust the clarity of the vocal effects. The noise generator is also configurable, as is the pitch of the source signal, which can be parametrized by a pitch control function.

Figure 8.16. The Electrix Warp Factory vocoder

8.3.9. Korg MS2000 The MS2000 is an analog modeling synthesizer with a built-in vocoder function, released by Korg in 2000. This model features a velocity-sensitive 44-key keyboard, a primary oscillator (eight classical waveforms – sine, sawtooth, triangle, etc. – and 64 DWGS (Digital Waveform Generator System) waveforms), a secondary oscillator (three classical shapes), two LFOs, two ADSR (Attack Decay Sustain Release) envelope generators, 128 programs, effects (chorus, equalizer, delay, etc.), two low-pass filters, a highpass filter and a bandpass filter, an arpeggiator, and a 16-note sequencer that supports three sequences. The vocoder function is implemented by two sets of 16 bandpass filters with an envelope follower filter. These filters are parameterizable and can be modulated with an LFO.

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The MS2000 is equipped with MIDI in/out/thru ports, as well as two micro and line inputs specifically for the vocoder. A rack version with the same features but without a keyboard was also released – the MS2000R.

Figure 8.17. The Korg MS2000 synthesizer-vocoder

8.3.10. Microkorg Released in 2002, this synthesizer-vocoder is built on the same synthesis engine as the Korg MS2000 (analog modeling synthesizer). It features a keyboard with 37 velocity-sensitive keys and 4-voice polyphony. It also includes two oscillators capable of generating a wide range of waveforms (sine, sawtooth, triangle, pulse, white noise, etc., as well as 64 DWGS waveforms). It has two LFOs and a multimodal filter, with several types of effects (delay, equalizer, 8-band vocoder, arpeggiator, flanger, chorus, and phaser). Up to 128 programs can be stored in memory, and the device can be controlled over its MIDI in/out ports. The “Microkorg Sound Editor” software editor makes it easy to access the various parameters of the device.

Figure 8.18. Microkorg synthesizer-vocoder

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NOTE.– In addition to the Microkorg, there are several other models: the Microkorg XL (8-channel polyphony, 16-band vocoder, USB port), the Microkorg S (multi-timbres – 2 channels, 256 programs with 64 user slots, builtin speakers), the Microkorg PT (platinum finish), and the Microkorg XL+ (8-channel polyphony, 16-band vocoder, USB port, 17 Kaoss effects, new vintage black finish). 8.3.11. Roland VP-550 Released in 2006, this keyboard is a highly unique instrument that combines synthesizer, vocoder, and harmonizer. Alongside the usual features, the Roland VP550 can create a virtual vocals track from the keyboard player’s voice and add certain colors: classical choir, male or female vocal ensemble, gospel, jazzy or pop, vintage vocoder, or even synth pads (strings). As the user plays the keyboard and sings into the microphone, his or her voice is automatically realigned onto the keyboard notes in real time. The VP-550 also features bass and percussion sounds, with a sampler function that can store sequences of around 10 s. The effects panel manages three different types of reverb. The VP-550 has 128-voice polyphony, with four memory banks and a 49-key keyboard. Like the Microkorg, it can be controlled over its MIDI in/out port. The Roland VP-550 can be described as more of a voice processor than a classical vocoder. The interface design and workflow are fairly straightforward, although some of the musical backing functionality requires practice.

Figure 8.19. The Roland VP-550

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8.3.12. The Music and More VF11 The VF11 has 11 bandpass filters plus an oscillator (VCO), with a line input for the carrier signal, two microphone and line inputs for the modulating signal, one input for a non-voice signal to improve the clarity of the voice, and one line output. It needs two external sources, typically a voice for the modulating signal and a synthesizer for the carrier signal. There are four settings to mix the different signals together and adjust the modulation amplitude of the filter. The frequency of the oscillator can be configured to adjust the pitch and gain of each of the 11 frequency bands of the signal.

Figure 8.20. The VF11 vocoder by Music and More

8.3.13. Novation Mininova The Mininova is an 18-channel polyphonic synthesizer-vocoder based on the same sound engine as the Ultranova, an analog modeling synthesizer by Novation. The Mininova features 348 programs including 128 user slots, 3 oscillators, a noise generator, and 2 ring modulators. As for oscillators, 70 different waveforms are available. All sources can be processed with two multimodal filters. The Mininova also has an arpeggiator, as well as MIDI in/out ports and a USB port. The built-in vocoder supports 12 bands with programmable widths and has a Vocaltune function which, as the name suggests, automatically tunes vocals to the notes played on the keyboard. Effects like chorus, reverb, phaser, distortion, compression, and equalization can also be added to the vocals line. All of these features can be easily accessed via the editing software.

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Figure 8.21. The Novation Mininova synthesizer-vocoder

8.3.14. Digitech Talker Released in the 1990s, this vocoder is built into an effects pedal. It has six program presets (NuVo, nu Wah, TazMania, Talkbox, Alien, Autotalk) and three settings to configure the microphone input level, instrument level, and effect output level. The Talker needs two sound sources, typically a guitar (or synthesizer) on the instrument jack and a microphone (XLR) for the voice. It has two outputs: an amplifier (jack) and a line output (XLR).

Figure 8.22. The Digitech Talker vocoder pedal

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8.3.15. Electro-Harmonix V256 Like the previous entry, this vocoder is an effects pedal. It has a balanced XLR microphone input (switchable phantom power), one instrument input (guitar, bass, keyboard, etc.), one MIDI input, one effects output, and one instrument output, all powered by an external 9V adapter. It manages 9 presets and 8–256 frequency bands. A tune corrector feature called Reflex Tune is built-in, as well as a transposer, an instrument control function, and three different robotic voice modes.

Figure 8.23. The analog V256 vocoder pedal by Electro-Harmonix

8.3.16. A few more unusual examples Most of the vocoders presented above are still being mass-produced today. But there are also non-mainstream machines that venture off the beaten path, with only a few dozen units ever being made. Some of these models are known because they were used by famous artists, such as the Synton Syntovox 221 (Wendy Carlos) and the Sennheiser VSM 201 (Kraftwerk).

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Figure 8.24. The Synton Syntovox 221, a 20-band analog synth-vocoder, and its synth/vocoder routing matrix

Synton also made three other models of vocoder: the Syntovox 202, 216, and 222.

Figure 8.25. The Sennheiser VSM 201 analog vocoder

8.4. Software vocoders Like most instruments, vocoders can also be found in software form, as virtual machines. Table 8.1 provides a few examples. Many of these software programs feature advanced functionality, combining vocoder, talkbox, transposer, sound effects, etc.

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Publisher

Name

Notes

Type

EVM

Syncoder 32

32-band vocoder

VST for Windows

G200kg

Vocovee

Vocoder, 6 bands, 3 oscillators, 2 LFOs, and multiple effects

Freeware – VST for Windows

iZotope

VocalSynth

Vocoder, talkbox, harmonizer, and synthetic voice generator

VST, AU, AAX for Windows and Mac OS

Native Instruments

Vokator

4-to-1024-band vocoder, synthesizer, sampler, and sequencer

VST, AU, DXI, MAS, RTAS for Windows and Mac OS

Sonivox MI

Vocalizer Pro

Vocoder

VST, AU, AAX, RTAS for Windows and Mac OS

ToneBytes

Vocotron

32-band vocoder

VST for Windows

Waldorf

Lector

3-to-100-band vocoder, one LFO, multiple waveforms, 3-band equalizer, and multiple effects

VST, AU, for Windows and Mac OS

XILS-lab

XILS Vocoder 5000

22-band vocoder, 2 oscillators, 2 LFOs, and one VCA

Windows and Mac OS

Table 8.1. A few examples of software vocoders

8.5. One step further The concept of vocoder immediately conjures up associations with two of its close relatives – talkbox and Auto-Tune. Although often confused, these three technologies are not the same. 8.5.1. Talkbox In a certain sense, the talkbox is the opposite of the vocoder. The original sounds are produced by an instrument, often a guitar or a synthesizer, and sent to a device with a speaker that plays them into a tube. By holding this tube in their mouth, users can modulate these sounds and re-record them with a standard microphone. Thus, a talkbox is in fact just a speaker extended by a tube. Historically, the talkbox descended from the Sonovox, which was invented by Gilbert Wright in 1939. In 1964, Peter Drake was one of the first to use a talkbox with a guitar. The first commercially available talkboxes were “The Bag” by

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197

Kustom Electronics, released in 1969, and the “Heil High Powered Talk Box” by Bob Hell, released in 1970.

Figure 8.26. The HT-1 Heil Talkbox by Dunlop

Figures 8.27 and 8.28 show two examples of talkbox setups, one for synthesizer and one for guitar.

Figure 8.27. Talkbox with a synthesizer

Figure 8.28. Talkbox with a guitar

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Talkbox users do not actually sing into the tube. Instead, they mouth out the lyrics, without producing any sound themselves. Together, the shape of the mouth’s opening, the position of the tongue, and the pinching of the lips create a natural resonance chamber that modulates the sound exiting the tube (just like the formants of speech). For a while, talkboxes were mostly limited to guitarists such as Peter Frampton (“Show Me The Way” – 1975) and Bon Jovi (“Livin’ On A Prayer” – 1986). Over time, they gradually captured the attention of the electronic music scene. Roger Troutman of Zapp and Stevie Wonder were inspirations for many modern artists. 8.5.2. Auto-Tune Auto-Tune is a software program that was originally created to correct the pitch of vocal tracks in 1997. Since then, it has grown into a full-fledged vocal synthesis instrument, inspiring a whole new generation of voice processors. Auto-Tune was created by Harold (Andy) Hildebrand, who, interestingly, was not a musical audio specialist. He worked for the oil industry – his job was to determine which oil deposits were viable and feasible to exploit. To do this, he developed a method based on autocorrelation4 that emits acoustic waves into the ground. After developing this method, he sold it to the oil company Exxon, then retired. Sometime later – at a dinner party, as he tells the story – a guest challenged him to develop a computer program that prevents people from singing out of tune. Using the same technique of autocorrelation, he developed a preliminary version of AutoTune in 1996. In 1997, the company Audio Antares Technologies, founded by Hildebrand specifically for this purpose, released the commercial version of Auto-Tune. Auto-Tune is not just a voice editing tool. It can also be used as a full-fledged instrument that transforms vocals by giving them a robotic, synthetic feel. This effect is perhaps why it is so often confused with vocoders.

4 Autocorrelation is a mathematical method used in signal processing to detect similarities in a signal, among other things.

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Figure 8.29. Version 8 of the Auto-Tune software plugin by Antares

“Believe,” performed by the singer Cher in 1998, was one of the first big hits to use the Auto-Tune effect. 8.6. Final remarks Synthesizing vocals and modifying them to create new sounds has always been a source of fascination for artists, whether in cinema or in music. Today, we have become accustomed to the distinctive sound of mechanical or robotic vocals. Rap, hip-hop, and electro are using these sounds more than ever before. Of course, too much of any good thing can become a burden. On the other hand, many trends just keep coming back, fresher and stronger than ever. Perhaps the popularity of Auto-Tune will stand the test of time.

9 Octatrack: Maintenance, Repairs, and Tips

This chapter presents some of the common failures and issues encountered by Octatrack (OT) users, as well as a few possible solutions. Many problems can be solved simply by taking advantage of the built-in features of the OT; these solutions are accessible to all readers. However, hardware-level failures can be trickier. The solutions to these issues presented in this chapter are intended for more adventurous DIY enthusiasts with the appropriate equipment and knowledge of electronics. Please note that all operations are performed at your own risk. The author cannot be held responsible under any circumstances for damage to your OT or other connected devices resulting from the following procedures. 9.1. Updating the software Preordering for the earliest version of the OT was opened on December 13, 2010. The first-generation OT was delivered with a 4-GB CF card, preloaded with two gigabytes of copyright-free loop samples from the publisher Loopmasters, as well as a user manual and a power adapter. The OS (operating system) has progressed through the following versions: – 2011: version 0.995; – 2011: version 0.998b; – end of June 2011: version 1.00; – October 2011: version 1.03; – May 2012: version 1.2;

Electronic Music Machines: The New Musical Instruments, First Edition. Jean-Michel Réveillac. © ISTE Ltd 2019. Published by ISTE Ltd and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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– 2012: version 1.21; – May 2013: version 1.25.

Figure 9.1. OT with the standard accessories

Version 1.25 was followed by a few patches: 1.25B, 1.25C (October 2014), 1.25D, 1.25E, 1.25F, 1.25G, and 1.25H. The latest update as of the time of writing is version 1.30C, released on November 24, 2017, replacing versions 1.30 and 1.30B. The user manual delivered with the OT is updated with each new version. The following notice can be found at the bottom of page 3 (before the section “Panel layout and connectors”):

Figure 9.2. The notice in the manual stating the version of OT (source: Elektron: OT DPS-1 Dynamic Performance Sampler – User Manual)

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9.1.1. Updating the operating system Before performing an update, you may need to find out which version of the OS your OT is currently running. – Start up the OT. – Press FUNCTION + PROJECT, select SYSTEM and STATUS, and press ENTER/YES. – The SYSTEM STATUS window should be displayed, stating the version of your OS.

Figure 9.3. The SYSTEM STATUS window, showing the OS version. Here, the OT is running version 1.25H

NOTE.– Whenever you reboot your OT, the OS version is also briefly displayed in the bottom right-hand corner of the start-up screen.

Figure 9.4. The OS version displayed in the OT start-up window

If you are not running the latest version of the OS, there are two ways to update it. The first procedure sends the update files over the MIDI connection, whereas the second loads the new OS from a Compact Flash (CF) card. NOTE.– Many users will find updating by CF easier and quicker.

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9.1.1.1. Updating over MIDI – Using two MIDI cables, connect the MIDI interface of your computer to the OT (OT MIDI In to Computer Midi Out and OT MIDI Out to Computer MIDI In). – Download the new OS files from the SUPPORT section1 of the Elektron website. You will also need to download a MIDI management software program (C6 SysEx Manager) if you do not already have one.

Figure 9.5. The contents of the two ZIP files (OS files and C6 SysEx Manager)

NOTE.– There are plenty of alternative MIDI management programs such as “SysEx Librarian” for OSX, “MIDIOX” and “Bome Send FX” for Windows, “Simple Sysexxer” for Linux, and many others. – Launch a MIDI management program on your computer and load up the .sys MIDI file containing the OS. – Start up the OT by holding down the FUNCTION key. – The OT MENU window will now be displayed. Press trigger 3 and select MIDI UPGRADE. The OT enter a waiting state, ready to receive the OS files, displaying the message “READY TO RECEIVE MIDI UPGRADE...”.

Figure 9.6. The OT is ready to receive a sysex MIDI message

1 As of the time of writing (early September 2017), the download for the operating system had the filename “OCTATRACK_DPS-1_OS1.25H.zip” and the download for the MIDI management software had the filename “Elektron_C6_MAC_AND_WIN_1.51.zip”.

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– Send the .sys file from the MIDI management program on your computer. While the update is being loaded by the OT, the trigger LEDs will light up one by one. Once the transfer is complete, the message “PREPARING FLASH” will be displayed, followed by the message “UPDATING FLASH.” At the end of this phase, your system will be successfully updated. WARNING.– The next time you turn on the OT after the update, the system may still need to update its booting sequence. Do not turn off the OT until the start-up sequence has finished or the machine asks for a reboot. 9.1.1.2. Updating via CF card – Download the new OS files from the SUPPORT section2 of the Elektron website. – Start up your OT after inserting a flash card with at least one megabyte of free space. – Transfer control of the CF card to your computer by pressing FUNCTION + PROJECT, then SYSTEM and USB DISK MODE. – Press the ENTER/YES button. The OT should now display the message “USB DISK ACCESS IS NOW ENABLED...”.

Figure 9.7. The message indicating that the USB is ready for access by the computer

– Open the CF card on your computer and copy the .bin file containing the OS into the root directory of the card. 2 At the time of writing (early September 2018), the download for the operating system had the filename “OCTATRACK_DPS-1_OS1.30C.zip”.

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Figure 9.8. The root directory of the CF card after copying the .bin file

– Eject the card from your computer. The OT should take back control. – Press FUNCTION + PROJECT, select SYSTEM and OS UPGRADE, then press ENTER/YES. A message should ask you to confirm. – Press ENTER/YES again to confirm the update or EXIT/NO to cancel. – WARNING.– The next time you turn on the OT after the update, the system may still need to update its booting sequence. Do not turn off the OT until the start-up sequence has finished or the machine asks for a reboot. 9.2. Testing the OT The OT has a fairly sophisticated self-testing program that is not fully documented in the manual. In the TESTMODE section, the manual simply states that troubleshooting information will be shown on the display. In fact, we can go into a lot more detail. – Press the FUNCTION button to start up the OT.

Figure 9.9. The five options in the OT menu

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– Press trigger 1 to activate the testing mode. After a few moments, the OT will display the choices shown in Figure 9.10.

Figure 9.10. The window shown after selecting TESTMODE

You can now perform a range of different tests by pressing the buttons of the OT. 9.2.1. Testing the push buttons – Pressing the trigger 1 button allows you to check the pixels of your screen at maximum contrast ratio (black pixels).

Figure 9.11. The screen with pixels at maximum contrast

– Pressing the trigger 2 button allows you to check the pixels of your screen at minimum contrast ratio (light gray pixels).

Figure 9.12. The screen with pixels at minimum contrast

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– The trigger 3 button allows you to check the yellow LEDs. – The trigger 4 button allows you to check the green LEDs.

Figure 9.13. The OT with all green LEDs turned on

– The trigger 5 button allows you to check the red LEDs. – The trigger 6 button allows you to check the LEDs in their off state. – The trigger 7 button lights up the LED of trigger 1 in green (the x-fader needs to be in the left position). – The trigger 8 button lights up the LED of trigger 8 in red. – The trigger 9 button lights up the LED of trigger 1 in red. When released, the LED should turn off. – The trigger 10 button lights up the LED of trigger 2 in red. When released, the LED should turn off. – The trigger 11 button lights up the LED of trigger 3 in red. When released, the LED should turn off. – The trigger 12 button lights up the LED of trigger 4 in red. When released, the LED should turn off. – The trigger 13 button lights up the LED of trigger 5 in red. When released, the LED should turn off. – The trigger 14 button lights up the LED of trigger 6 in red. When released, the LED should turn off. – The trigger 15 button lights up the LED of trigger 7 in red. When released, the LED should turn off.

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– The trigger 16 button lights up the LED of trigger 8 in red. When released, the LED should turn off. – Pressing the buttons in certain sequences produces the results listed in Table 9.1 (see Figure 9.14 for the numbering).

Figure 9.14. Numbering of the OT buttons for the testing mode

Button no.

Action

LEDs on (red)

1

Record A---B

Trigger 4 and 1:4 3:4 (continuous)

2

Record C---D

Trigger 5 and 1:4 3:4 (continuous)

3

T1

Trigger 1 and 2:4 (continuous)

4

T2

Trigger 2 and 2:4 (continuous)

5

T3

Trigger 3 and 2:4 (continuous)

6

T4

Trigger 4 and 2:4 (continuous)

7

T5

Trigger 5 and 2:4 (continuous)

8

T6

Trigger 6 and 2:4 (continuous)

9

T7

Trigger 7 and 2:4 (continuous)

10

T8

Trigger 8 and 2:4 (continuous)

11

Mixer

Trigger 1 and 2:4 3:4 (continuous)

12

MIDI

Trigger 6 and 2:4 3:4 (continuous)

13

Tempo

Trigger 1 and 1:4 2:4 (continuous)

14

Playback

Trigger 3 and 3:4

15

Amp

Trigger 4 and 3:4

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16

LFO

Trigger 5 and 3:4

17

Effect 1

Trigger 6 and 3:4

18

Effect 2

Trigger 7 and 3:4

19

Function

Trigger 6 and 1:4 3:4 (continuous)

20

Cue

Trigger 3 and 1:4 3:4 (continuous)

21

Pattern

Trigger 7 and 1:4 3:4 (continuous)

22

Bank

Trigger 8 and 1:4 3:4 (continuous)

23

Enter/Yes

Trigger 2 and 2:4 3:4 (continuous)

24

Exit/No

Trigger 3 and 1:4 3:4 (continuous)

25



Trigger 4 and 2:4 3:4 (continuous)

26




Trigger 2 and 3:4 (continuous)

29

● Record

Trigger 2 and 1:4 3:4 (continuous)

30

▶ Play

Trigger 1 and 1:4 3:4 (continuous)

31

◼ Stop

Trigger 8 and 3:4 (continuous)

32

Scene A

Trigger 2 and 1:4 2:4 (continuous)

33

Scene B

Trigger 3 and 1:4 2:4 (continuous)

34

1:2 2:4 3:4 4:4

Trigger 4 and 1:4 2:4 (continuous)

Table 9.1. The LEDs that light up when each button is pressed. The word “continuous” indicates that the diodes remain continuously lit up

9.2.2. Testing the dials – You can test each of the dials (excluding the headphones volume) as follows: - LEVEL: the LEDs of triggers 1 to 16 should light up in green, one after the other, with 2:4 3:4 (continuous); - A: the LEDs of triggers 1 to 16 should light up in green, one after the other; - B: the LEDs of triggers 1 to 16 light up in green, one after the other, with 1:4 (continuous); - C: the LEDs of triggers 1 to 16 should light up in green, one after the other, with 2:4 (continuous);

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- D: the LEDs of triggers 1 to 16 should light up in green, one after the other, with 1:4 2:4 (continuous); - E: the LEDs of triggers 1 to 16 should light up in green, one after the other, with 3:4 (continuous); - F: the LEDs of triggers 1 to 16 should light up in green, one after the other, with 1:4 3:4 (continuous). – You can test the button press function of the dials as follows: - LEVEL should light up the LED of trigger 7 and 1:4 2:4 3:4 (continuous); - A should light up the LED of trigger 1 and 1:4 2:4 3:4 (continuous); - B should light up the LED of trigger 2 and 1:4 2:4 3:4 (continuous); - C should light up the LED of trigger 3 and 1:4 2:4 3:4 (continuous); - D should light up the LED of trigger 4 and 1:4 2:4 3:4 (continuous); - E should light up the LED of trigger 5 and 1:4 2:4 3:4 (continuous); - F should light up the LED of trigger 6 and 1:4 2:4 3:4 (continuous). 9.2.3. Testing the x-fader As you slide the x-fader from left to right, the LEDs of triggers 1 to 16 should light up one after the other. LED 1 (x-fader to the left) and LED 16 (x-fader to the right) should light up in green, and the others should light up in red. 9.2.4. Analysis and results If any of the aforementioned actions do not produce the expected result, your OT may have some form of hardware fault. Common issues include worn-out push buttons, dirty x-faders, or defective dial encoders. Section 9.3 explains how to perform certain repairs for DIY enthusiasts. – Turn off the OT to exit the testing mode. 9.3. Hardware repairs This section describes procedures on the internal components of the OT. To any readers who are not already DIY enthusiasts with a strong understanding of

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electronics, I recommend consulting with a qualified expert or company to replace any faulty components and repair your OT. All of the following operations are performed at your own risk3. If you are not confident in your own abilities, the (admittedly high) cost of expert assistance is likely worth paying to avoid damage to your machine. 9.3.1. Opening up the OT Opening up the OT is very straightforward and only requires a few simple tools. You will need an M2 Allen key (also known as a hex key, 6-pan key, BTR key, or Allen wrench) and a T10 TORX (six-pointed star) key.

Figure 9.15. M2 BTR and T10 TORX screwdriver tips

The BTR key is needed to unscrew the front panel and the x-fader (cross-fader), and the TORX key will be used to unscrew the internal circuit board attached to the front panel. To open up the OT, perform the following steps: – Disconnect the power supply, as well as any other cables (audio, MIDI, USB). – Loosen and remove the six BTR screws on the front panel (Figure 9.16). 3 The author of this book cannot be held responsible under any circumstances for the damage caused by improper handling.

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Figure 9.16. The six BTR screws to be removed

– Carefully lift off the front panel from underneath. You should see three ribbon cables (see Figure 9.17).

Figure 9.17. Ribbon cables 1 and 2 on the left and ribbon cable 3 on the right

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Ribbon cables 1, 2, and 3 are respectively plugged into the connectors J3, J2, and J5 on the motherboard, located at the back of the housing. – Disconnect ribbon cables 1 and 3 from the bottom circuit board (motherboard), making a note of which ribbon cable is plugged into which connector (J3 and J5). These ribbon cables are not keyed, so they risk being switched if not careful. Ribbon cable 2, which is connected to the x-fader SCENE A/SCENE B, can be disconnected from either the motherboard (J2) or the x-fader circuit board (or both). – You should now have two separate pieces – the housing with the motherboard and power supply board, and the front panel with the control board and x-fader board.

Figure 9.18. The two pieces obtained after opening up the OT. The top image shows the main housing and the boards inside it. The bottom image shows the separate control board attached to the front panel

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9.3.2. Replacing the push buttons NOTE.– This operation requires an understanding of tin soldering and desoldering. You will also need soldering equipment: a desoldering pump or desoldering station, as well as a soldering iron with a fine tip. Readers who are not confident in their abilities should seek professional assistance for this operation; there is a risk of causing serious damage to your OT.

Figure 9.19. A soldering/desoldering station

9.3.2.1. Unmounting the control card To replace the push buttons, we first need to unmount the control board from the front panel. – First, turn over the front panel and remove the eight dials by pulling gently away from the panel. – Next, remove the x-fader SCENE A/SCENE B button.

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– On the control board side of the front panel, loosen and remove the 16 star-shaped screws with your TORX key.

Figure 9.20. The 16 TORX screws that need to be removed from the back of the control board

NOTE.– If you unplugged the ribbon cable between the x-fader SCENE A /SCENE B and the motherboard from the other side (as shown in Figure 9.20), you can optionally remove it completely to make the control board easier to unmount. This ribbon cable is keyed to prevent you from plugging it in the wrong way.

Figure 9.21. The ribbon cable of the x-fader with its two keyed connectors (x-fader board side on the top, motherboard side on the bottom)

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– After removing the screws, you can detach the metal panel from the control board. The x-fader board is attached separately to the metal panel.

Figure 9.22. The front panel with the x-fader board still attached, the 16 TORX screws, and the control board

9.3.2.2. Removing and replacing the push buttons For example, the following procedure explains how to replace the following five push buttons: MIDI, ENTER/YES, T2, T3, and 6 (F T6). – Remove the gray or white cap of each button by pulling it gently away from the panel.

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Figure 9.23. The control board, showing the five buttons being replaced. The caps have already been removed

– Turn the board over and desolder each of the five buttons. – Check that the perforations are not blocked by tin residue after desoldering (two holes per button).

Figure 9.24. The empty positions of the five buttons after desoldering and removal (from top to bottom: T2, T3, MIDI, ENTER/YES, 6)

The push buttons are based on a ball-bearing mechanism, which is shown in Figure 9.25. A gold-plated ball-bearing creates electrical contact between the two

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terminals when the button and the spring are pressed. Mechanically, this mechanism is very reliable, but it suffers from a different issue – over time, the contacts can oxidize. This can be exacerbated by environmental factors such as usage frequency, humidity, heat, cold, dust, etc. Note that the button does not have any kind of seal. This is perhaps a design flaw, but we can also use it to our advantage by injecting anti-oxidation products at the contact between the moving element (white) and the fixed element (black). Finding replacement buttons for the OT can be difficult, although I have personally been successful in finding suppliers on eBay in the past. The best solution might simply be to contact the Elektron technical department to order replacement parts. They offer very reasonable prices and rapid delivery times. In fact, I suspect that these push buttons were developed specifically for the OT by its manufacturer (Marquardt), although I have not yet been able to find any sources confirming this.

Figure 9.25. Working principle of the OT ball-bearing push buttons

NOTE.– An alternative fix that I have personally used in the past is to inject contact cleaner4 into faulty buttons. Although this was successful, replacing a faulty button is the best way to ensure that it continues to operate robustly.

4 Various aerosol-based contact cleaners are available. Some of the best-known brands include: “KF F2 special contacts”, “Chemie Kontakt 60”, “Bardahl Nettoyant Contact”, “WD40 Smart Straw”, “CRC Contact Cleaner”, and “3-en-Un Nettoyant Contact”. These products or alternatives should be easy to find in any large DIY store or online retailer.

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Figure 9.26. Injecting a special contact product into a push button

– Resolder the new push buttons back into place. Make sure that they are firmly pressed against the control board. Even a slight offset or crooked alignment will prevent them from working properly after the front panel is replaced because the plastic caps will rub against the edges of the opening. There is very little clearance between the cap and the opening in the front panel – just a few tenths of a millimeter. – Replace the button caps. – Screw the control board back onto the front panel. After placing the first few TORX screws (e.g. one in each corner), check that the buttons work properly through the front panel by pressing each of them in turn. – Replace the remaining screws, tightening firmly but without excessive force to avoid damaging the printed circuit board. – Replace the three ribbon cables, taking care to connect ribbons 1 and 3 correctly (see Figure 9.17). – Remount the front panel by replacing each of the six BTR screws. You have now successfully replaced the push buttons! – Plug in the OT, turn it on, activate the TEST mode, and check that each button is working properly (see section 9.2.1). 9.3.3. Replacing the battery According to Elektron, the internal battery of the OT should last at least six years. If the battery runs out and needs to be replaced, the OT will notify you with a “BATTERY LOW” message. Replacing the battery is extremely straightforward. – Disconnect the power supply, as well as any other cables (e.g. audio, MIDI, and USB).

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– Unmount the front panel as described in section 9.3.1. – You should be able to see the battery at the back of the motherboard. The battery is usually placed in a battery holder. NOTE.– Some models of the OT have a soldered battery instead of a battery holder. If so, I recommend inserting a battery holder after desoldering the old battery. Please be careful – you will need to unmount the motherboard to do this, which is held in place by nine TORX screws. The desoldering operation requires extreme caution.

Figure 9.27. A battery holder for 25 mm 2430 or 2450 button cells

– Gently lift up the metal tab holding the battery in place and slide the battery out of the battery holder.

Figure 9.28. The opened-up case of the OT, showing the motherboard with its battery, held in place by a metal tab

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– For the battery, a 3 V lithium button cell with reference number CR2450 should be used. Insert the new battery under the tab, with the positive terminal facing upward. – Check that the metal tab is not twisted and is making firm contact with the positive terminal of the battery. – Replace the front panel. 9.3.4. Replacing the x-fader In a few rare cases, you may need to replace the x-fader. However, cleaning will often suffice.

Figure 9.29. The x-fader of the OT

To unmount the x-fader, perform the following steps: – Disconnect the power supply, as well as any other cables (audio, MIDI, USB). – Unmount the front panel as described in section 9.3.1. – Remove the fader button by gently pulling it away from the panel.

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– Unscrew the two BTR screws on either side of the fader, and remove the fader from the front panel through the control board.

Figure 9.30. The two BTR screws on either side of the x-fader

The x-fader is based on an optical mechanism that is much more reliable than the standard linear potentiometers with carbon tracks. The component used by the OT is the Infinium Crossfader DX400221 with a 45-mm track.

Figure 9.31. The x-fader circuit board with its printed model number

Figure 9.32 shows a blown-up view of the fader. The x-fader can develop a fault for several reasons. One common durability issue is the guiding of the head along the two parallel steel tracks. The head needs to move fluidly and continuously, without sticking. Unless one or several structural elements of the x-fader, e.g. the two plastic end plates, have physically broken or split, most problems can be resolved in a simple way by cleaning the two sliding tracks and possibly applying a light film of silicone grease. Be careful not to apply too much – this can cause dust to accumulate and create much bigger issues later.

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Figure 9.32. A blown-up view of the x-fader (source: etherpod.org)

Irregularities in sound sequences or transitions are often caused by dust on the two lower parabolic reflectors or the incremental shutter under the head. Try gently running a soft-bristled brush over the reflectors and the shutter. You can also try blowing compressed air over these components with an anti-dust aerosol cleaner5.

Figure 9.33. One of the parabolic reflectors (left) and the incremental shutter (right) located on the lower part of the head, which slides along the two tracks

5 A wide variety of anti-dust products can be found in any supermarket, DIY store, or online retailer. Examples of possible brands include: “Dacomex Aerosol Duster”, “Metronic Air Sec”, “Tecnoware”, “Jelt Dry Duster”, “Logilink Spray Duster”, and “DCS Airo Duster”.

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WARNING.– The following operations are risky and may cause permanent damage to the x-fader. They must be performed with extreme care and precision to avoid breakage. The plastic components are extremely fragile. The presented cleaning process will be sufficient to resolve problems with the x-fader in the vast majority of cases. – For more stubborn residue, you can use a soft cloth as the last resort. You can access the head and reflector blocks more easily by unclipping the x-fader circuit board, which is held in place by a series of small plastic hooks between the two flanges supporting the metal tracks. – The blocks can be removed from their mounts on the board, and the mounts themselves can also be removed. They are held in place by three small plastic clips built into the mounts.

Figure 9.34. Part of the x-fader printed circuit board, showing the mount of the optical block, the emission LED, and the photoreceptors

– Each block mount has eight holes; the square hole allows light from the central infrared LED to pass, and the seven other smaller holes capture any light reflected by the incremental channels engraved on the head, redirecting it to seven photoreceptors. 9.3.5. Replacing an incremental encoder There are incremental encoders under each of the dials, which rotate indefinitely. They also operate as a push button when pressed along their axis. These encoders are much less sensitive to dust than the x-fader because their contact elements are less exposed. Any faults that develop are usually caused by

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internal wear. They can be replaced relatively easily, although this becomes much more difficult without the right equipment, including a good desoldering pump. The encoders are manufactured by the company Bourns, with reference number PEC16-4020F-S0024. You can find them and order them from various distributors, such as Mouser Electronics and Digi-Key Electronics, or from eBay.

Figure 9.35. The encoder by Bourns (source: www.bourns.com)

To replace one or multiple encoders, perform the following steps: – Disconnect the power supply, as well as any other cables (audio, MIDI, USB). – Unmount the front panel, then the control panel, as described in sections 9.3.1 and 9.3.2.1. – Some models of the OT have a metal plate that holds the seven encoders in place, as shown in Figure 9.36. Other models do not have this plate.

Figure 9.36. The metal plate holding the encoders, present in some models of the OT

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– If your model has a plate, unscrew the seven nuts securing the plate in place. If your model does not have a metal plate, proceed to the next step. Each encoder is soldered to the circuit board at seven different points – five electronic connections and two additional solder points for structuring.

Figure 9.37. The seven solder points of an encoder (on the back of the control board)

Now that your encoders are accessible, you simply need to desolder them. This should be straightforward with any good electric or manual pump. If you wish to attempt this operation without a pump, which is more difficult and riskier, you can perform the following extra preparatory steps: – Open the metal clasps of each encoder with a small flat-headed screwdriver (Figure 9.38).

Figure 9.38. The four clasps of the encoder, after being opened (on the left)

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– Remove the upper part of the encoder; then, using small cutting pliers or a Dremel-type multi-tool with a cutting disk, cut through each of its brackets/connectors. – You can now remove the encoder much more easily by gently pulling it away from the board from the component side with pliers while heating each of the solder points on the other side with a fine-tip soldering iron.

Figure 9.39. The seven holes after desoldering the encoder

After removing the old encoder, check that the seven holes are clean to prevent issues when placing the new one. When soldering the new encoder, make sure that it is firmly pressed against the board. 9.4. Final remarks I hope that this chapter will answer some of the questions and issues that you may encounter with your Elektron OT DSP1 (MK I). We have not talked about every single problem or fault that an OT might develop, but it would, unfortunately, be impossible to compile an exhaustive list. Most of the scenarios discussed earlier draw from either my own personal experience with the OT or that of my friends who regularly use it. Once again, please do not hesitate to seek assistance from a professional or directly from Elektron if you are not confident about any of the maintenance operations described earlier.

10 Octatrack: MIDI Sequences and Arpeggios

This chapter explores how to create sound sequences by connecting the Octatrack to other instruments over MIDI. In general, sequences can contain arpeggios or even be entirely constructed from them. We will focus on sequences and arpeggios rather than the other features of the Octatrack simply because there are very few straightforward tutorials on these topics. Dozens of tutorials on recording sound sequences, editing samples, creating loops, and many other features of the OT can be easily found on the Internet. There would be little benefit in trying to reinvent the wheel here! Readers interested in these topics are welcome to refer to the bibliography at the end of the book. The examples described next were designed with version 1.25H of the operating system. Some changes may be necessary if you are using a more recent version. The later parts of this chapter focus specifically on the arpeggiator function of the Octatrack. 10.1. Setup and configuration This section presents a few hardware and software setups that we can use to create sequences and arpeggios. 10.1.1. Connections and software settings – Connect the output(s) of the OT to a playback system (amp, mixing desk, etc.). In the example, we will use an amp.

Electronic Music Machines: The New Musical Instruments, First Edition. Jean-Michel Réveillac. © ISTE Ltd 2019. Published by ISTE Ltd and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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– Connect the MIDI out port of the Octatrack to the MIDI in port of the instrument (synthesizer, expander, etc.) receiving the commands. In the example, we use a Yamaha DX7 synthesizer1.

Figure 10.1. The hardware setup

– Connect the audio output of the instrument to one of the inputs A, B, C, or D of the OT. In our example, we will use input A. If your instrument is stereo, connect the two outputs to inputs A-B or C-D. – Start up your instrument (in our example, the Yamaha DX7 synth).

Figure 10.2. The famous DX7 synthesizer by Yamaha

– Start up the OT. 1 This (legendary) synthesizer is just a convenient example, mainly chosen because its MIDI parameters are straightforward to set up and configure. Any synthesizer will work, whether a keyboard or an expander-type rack.

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10.1.2. Creating a new project – Press the FUNCTION + PROJECT buttons. When the CHOOSE PROJECT window appears, choose PROJECT and CHANGE, then select and confirm by pressing the ENTER/YES button.

Figure 10.3. The CHOOSE PROJECT window with the option

– Enter a name for your project (e.g. “SEQUENCE 1”). The default name is “PROJECT” followed by the date (year, month, day: YYMMDD). To erase the current name, press CUE + EXIT/NO or FUNCTION + EXIT/NO. Pressing FUNCTION opens a character selection menu that allows you to enter a project name using the arrows. Release FUNCTION to confirm your selection. After entering a name for your project, press ENTER/YES to confirm. 10.1.3. Creating a THRU device (machine) – Select a track, e.g. track 1 by pressing the T1 button. – Double-press PLAYBACK/NOTE to open the PLAYBACK SETUP window. – Choose THRU for the machine type.

Figure 10.4. The PLAYBACK SETUP window with the THRU machine option selected

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– Press ENTER/YES. – Press PLAYBACK/NOTE again to confirm. – Using the A or D button, select the input(s) of the instrument (A, B, A-B, C, D, C-D). In the example, channel A. If necessary, you can adjust the input volume (gain) using the B button (for inputs A, B, A-B) or the D button (for inputs C, D, CD). In the example, we will keep the volume at 0.

Figure 10.5. The settings window of the THRU machine

10.1.4. Setting up the MIDI connection between the OT and the instrument – Select the receiving channel on the instrument, e.g. channel 1. – On the OT, press the MIDI button.

Figure 10.6. Track 1 in MIDI mode

– Check that you are on the correct track on the THRU machine, in our case track 1 (T1). If not, press the T1 button. – Double-press PLAYBACK/NOTE to open the MIDI settings window (MIDI NOTE SETUP).

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– Using dial A, select the same channel as on your instrument. In our example, we need to select channel 1.

Figure 10.7. The MIDI NOTE SETUP window showing the MIDI channel settings

– Press ENTER/YES to confirm. NOTE.– Another way to confirm a parameter selection is to press the dial like a button. This works in many different scenarios – you can use this tip in any of the following examples. – Press PLAYBACK/NOTE again to exit the MIDI settings window.

Figure 10.8. Track 1 configured on the MIDI channel 1 (top left)

– Play a few notes on the keyboard of your instrument (if it has one) to check that the sound is correctly passing through the OT (THRU). If you cannot hear any sound, the THRU machine might be turned off. To fix this, press the key for your track, in our case T1, then press the PLAY button (). You should now be able to hear your instrument when you play notes on the keyboard. A small triangle icon should replace the square icon under the track number whenever you are playing. NOTE.– Whenever a MIDI signal is being transmitted or received by the OT, two pixels light up on the display, just above the tempo (see Figure 10.9). The left pixel means that MIDI data are being received, and the right pixel means that MIDI data are being sent.

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Figure 10.9. The pixels indicating the receipt and transmission of MIDI data

10.2. Creating a MIDI sequence using triggers To begin, let us present each section of the MIDI track window. 10.2.1. MIDI track

Figure 10.10. The window of a MIDI track and its parameters

Figure 10.10 shows the window of a MIDI track. On the right, there are data boxes for six settings, which are managed using the A–E buttons: – NOTE: defines the default note sent to MIDI out. After pressing a trigger (1 to 16), you can adjust the value of this setting by turning the data input dial A (the selected note is displayed in letter notation and the corresponding key is highlighted on the mini-keyboard at the bottom of the LCD screen).

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– VEL: defines the velocity of the transmitted notes (0 is equivalent to NOTE OFF2). – LEN: defines the length of each note. This can be set to infinite (INF). When the arpeggiator is turned on, this parameter controls the length of the arpeggio. – NOT2 to NOT4: layers up to three additional notes on top of the default note to create a chord. Whenever the fundamental note (NOTE) is changed, the notes NOT2 to NOT4 are automatically transposed (the selected notes are displayed in letter notation and the corresponding keys are highlighted on the mini-keyboard at the bottom of the LCD screen). NOTE.– The icons along the right and left edges of the LCD display indicate the MIDI channel that has currently been selected for each track. The symbol “x” means that no channel has been assigned to that track. 10.2.2. Creating a musical sequence As an example, we will consider the tune of “Das Model” by Kraftwerk:

Figure 10.11. The musical score that we will reproduce on the sequencer (“Das Model” by Kraftwerk) 2 See the section on the MIDI format in Chapter 3 of this book.

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The instrumental voice of the synthesizer connected to the OT should be set to either an organ or a piano. – Press RECORD (). – Press TEMPO and set the tempo to 62 using the LEVEL button.

Figure 10.12. The tempo input window

– Press TEMPO again to confirm. – Using the C button, set the note length LEN to 32. This duration will be applied to every note in the sequence. To begin, we will now enter the first nine notes of “Das Model” into the sequencer. To create these notes, we need to assign a trigger to each of them. The sequencer scrolls through the steps at a constant speed determined by the tempo; the spacing between the triggers therefore determines the duration of each note. By default, the OT will play the 16 triggers on page 1 at tempo 1×, i.e. the base tempo multiplied by a factor of 1, or 62 eighth notes per minute in this example. If we view each step of the sequencer as an eighth note, the tune shown previously becomes: 2 steps – 2 steps – 1 step – 1 step – 1 step – 1 step – 3 steps – 1 step – 2 steps – 2 steps – 8 steps. This corresponds to the following sequence of notes: quarter note (A), quarter note (A), eighth note (A), eighth note (C), eighth note (B), eighth note (A), dotted quarter note (B), eighth note (G), quarter note (E), and quarter rest (silence lasting for one quarter note). A sequence of triggers is also known as a pattern. – Check that you are in the MIDI mode – the yellow LED next to the MIDI button should be on. If not, press this button once. – Press the first trigger (trigger 1). The LED directly above it should light up in red. While holding down 1, turn dial A to set this note to A2.

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NOTE.– Setting a trigger to a note is called “p-locking” (which stands for “parameter-locking”). – Press trigger 3 to advance two steps (one quarter note). The LED directly above it should light up in red. While holding down 3, turn dial A to set this note to A2. – Press trigger 5 to advance two steps (one quarter note). The LED directly above it should light up in red. While holding down 5, turn dial A to set this note to A2. – Press trigger 6 to advance one step (one eighth note). The LED directly above it should light up in red. While holding down 6, turn dial A to set this note to C3. – Press trigger 7 to advance one step (one eighth note). The LED directly above it should light up in red. While holding down 7, turn dial A to set this note to B2. – Press trigger 8 to advance one step (one eighth note). The LED directly above it should light up in red. While holding down 8, turn dial A to set this note to A2. – Press trigger 9 to advance one step (one eighth note). The LED directly above it should light up in red. While holding down 9, turn dial A to set this note to B2. – Press trigger 12 to advance three steps (one dotted eighth note). The LED directly above it should light up in red. While holding down 12, turn dial A to set this note to G2. – Press trigger 13 to advance one step (one eighth note). The LED directly above it should light up in red. While holding down 13, turn dial A to set this note to E2. NOTE.– The quarter rest at the end of the second measure will be added by default, since triggers 15 and 16 are not used.

Figure 10.13. The trigger sequence for the first two measures of “Das Model”

NOTE.– After entering these notes, the LEDs of each active trigger should flash rapidly in red and yellow, indicating that changes have been made (deviation from the default note).

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– Press the PLAY button (). Triggers 1 to 16 should light up in yellow one after the other, and you should hear the sound sequence being played and repeated. – To stop playback, press STOP (). – If necessary, you can save your work by pressing FUNCTION + PROJECT, then selecting the PROJECT and SAVE options. Press ENTER/YES to confirm. NOTE.– If an alert window pops up with the message “Any previously saved state will be lost. Continue?” when saving the project, press ENTER/YES to overwrite the saved version of the project. 10.2.3. A multi-page sequence To continue the sequence and enter the rest of the melody, we need to define more steps. Any given sequence on the OT is limited to 4 pages of 16 steps, for a total of 64 steps (this is the maximum length of a pattern). – Press FUNCTION + SCALE SETUP. The PATTERN SCALE window will be displayed. – Press SCALE SETUP twice to increase the length to 48/48, which is equivalent to three pages. The LEDs 1:4, 2:4, and 3:4 above SCALE SETUP should now light up, indicating that the three pages are now active. – Press EXIT/NO to exit and confirm. – The 1:4 LED should light up more brightly in red than the 2:4 LED, indicating that you are currently on page 1 of the sequencer. Press SCALE SETUP to go to page 2. The 2:4 LED should now be brighter. – The trigger sequence entered on page 1 is copied over to page 2 by default. Press each of the triggers lit up in red to turn them off. On page 2 (2:4), we can now enter the rest of the tune of “Das Model”. Continuing from the start of the third measure, the next section of the tune is as follows: 8 steps – 4 steps – 2 steps – 1 step – 1 step. This corresponds to the sequence: whole rest (silence lasting for 8 eighth notes), half rest (silence lasting for 4 eighth notes), quarter rest (silence lasting for 2 eighth notes), eighth rest (silence lasting for 1 eighth note), eighth note (E). – Press trigger 16 to advance 15 steps (whole rest + half rest + quarter rest + eighth rest). The LED directly above it should light up in red. While holding down 3, turn dial A to set this note to E2.

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Figure 10.14. The trigger sequence for the third and fourth measures of “Das Model”

– Next, go to page 3 of the sequencer (3:4) by pressing SCALE SETUP. The 3:4 LED should now be brighter. – The trigger sequence entered on page 1 is copied over to page 3 by default. Press each of the triggers lit up in red to turn them off. In the previous step, we entered measures 3 and 4 of the melody. On page 3 (3:4), we now need to enter measures 5 and 6 of “Das Model”, which are as follows: 2 steps – 2 steps – 1 step – 1 step – 1 step – 1 step – 3 steps – 1 step – 2 steps – 2 steps. This corresponds to the sequence: quarter note (A), quarter note (A), eighth note (A), eighth note (C), eighth note (B), eighth note (A), dotted quarter note (B), eighth note (G), quarter note (E). – Press trigger 1. The LED directly above it should light up in red. While holding down 1, turn dial A to set this note to A2. – Press trigger 3 to advance two steps (one quarter note). The LED directly above it should light up in red. While holding down 3, turn dial A to set this note to A2. – Press trigger 5 to advance two steps (one quarter note). The LED directly above it should light up in red. While holding down 5, turn dial A to set this note to A2. – Press trigger 6 to advance one step (one eighth note). The LED directly above it should light up in red. While holding down 6, turn dial A to set this note to C3. – Press trigger 7 to advance one step (one eighth note). The LED directly above it should light up in red. While holding down 7, turn dial A to set this note to B2. – Press trigger 8 to advance one step (one eighth note). The LED directly above it should light up in red. While holding down 8, turn dial A to set this note to A2. – Press trigger 9 to advance one step (one eighth note). The LED directly above it should light up in red. While holding down 9, turn dial A to set this note to B2.

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– Press trigger 12 to advance three steps (one dotted quarter note). The LED directly above it should light up in red. While holding down 11, turn dial A to set this note to G2. – Press trigger 13 to advance one step (one eighth note). The LED directly above it should light up in red. While holding down 12, turn dial A to set this note to E2.

Figure 10.15. The trigger sequence for the fifth and sixth measures of “Das Model”

NOTE.– The quarter rest at the end of the sixth measure is included automatically, since triggers 15 and 16 are not used. – Press the PLAY button (). Triggers 1 to 16 should light up in yellow one after the other, and you should hear the sound sequence being played and repeated. – You have the option to save your work by pressing FUNCTION + PROJECT, then selecting the PROJECT and SAVE options. Press ENTER/YES to confirm. NOTE.– If an alert window pops up with the message “Any previously saved state will be lost. Continue?” when saving, press ENTER/YES to overwrite the last saved version of the project. 10.3. Creating a sequence with the arpeggiator3 The next section presents the built-in arpeggiator of the OT, with an explanation of how this feature works and a few examples of how it can be used.

3 Any synthesizer with at least 4-note polyphony will work, whether a keyboard or an expander-type rack. Monophonic synthesizers will ignore the chords generated by the arpeggiator.

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10.3.1. Presentation of the arpeggiator Although the arpeggiator might seem complicated at first glance, there is no need to be intimidated – it is entirely straightforward and logical. Any apparent complexity is simply created by a wide range of parameter options. Figure 10.16 shows the arpeggiator window.

Figure 10.16. The arpeggiator window

The six data boxes are managed by buttons A to E: – TRAN: transposes the arpeggio up or down by a certain number of semitones. – LEG: controls the legato, i.e. the smoothness of the transition between notes. When the legato is ON, each pair of consecutive notes overlaps by an amount that depends on the NLEN parameter if the arpeggiator is active or the LEN parameter if not (see the MIDI track settings window in Figure 10.7). When the legato is OFF, each note is cutoff (NOTE OFF4) before the next note in the arpeggio. – MODE: turns the arpeggiator on or off. – OFF: arpeggiator off. – TRUE: the notes are played in the order of insertion. – UP: the notes are played in ascending order, from lowest to highest. – DOWN: the notes are played in descending order, from highest to lowest. – CYCL: the notes are played in ascending and descending order, in a repeating cycle. – SHFL: the notes of a certain octave are played in random order (shuffle) before moving to the next octave (if the number of octaves is greater than 1). 4 See the section on the MIDI standard in Chapter 3.

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– RNO: the notes are played in random order. – SPD: sets the speed of the arpeggiator, synchronized to the BPM of the project. A setting of 6 equals sixteenth-notes, a speed of 12 equals eighth-notes, and so on. – RNGE: defines the number of octaves (range) of the arpeggiator, from 1 to 8. After each cycle of the arpeggiator, the notes are transposed upward by one octave. After running through every octave, the arpeggiator returns to the original octave. – NLEN: defines the length of the notes in the arpeggio. 10.3.2. A simple arpeggio The first step is to create a new project (e.g. “ARP 1”) and a THRU machine (on track T1), as described in sections 10.1.2 and 10.1.3. For example, we will create an arpeggio of the C-major chord defined by the four notes C3, E3, G3, and C4. We can arpeggiate these notes in different ways; the OT is very versatile. First, create the chord on trigger 1: – Check that MIDI mode is on. The yellow LED next to the MIDI button should be lit up. Check also that you are on track T1 and MIDI channel 1 (see section 10.1.4). – Press PLAYBACK/NOTE. – Switch to the GRID RECORDING mode by pressing the red RECORD button (). – Press trigger 1 and set the second note of the chord (E3) using button D. – Set the third note (G3) using button E. – Similarly, set the fourth note (C4) using button F. – Release the trigger. Its LED should flash red and yellow. After setting these three notes and releasing trigger 1, you should have the same result as shown in Figure 10.17. The first note is C35 by default.

5 C3 has frequency 261.626 Hz (note 60 in the MIDI standard). This is the note between the second and third lines of a treble clef score. It is usually the default starting note of any given octave, as it includes the famous 440-Hz note (A3) frequently used for tuning.

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Figure 10.17. The keyboard, with a chord defined on trigger 1

Now, if you press the PLAY button (), you should hear a chord when the sequencer passes through trigger 1. If you cannot hear anything, press T1 + PLAY (). – You can stop playing the sequence by pressing STOP (). – Turn dial C to set the length LEN to 1/8. Each page of the sequence has 16 steps, and each step is assigned to one trigger. The sequencer will, therefore, always spend 1/16th of the duration of the page on each trigger (regardless of the tempo). Therefore, if we set the length of the arpeggio to 1/8, the sequencer will have time to play two notes (2 × 1/16), in this case: C3 and E3. The arpeggiator applies the same logic as the sequencer to determine the duration of each note in the arpeggio. – Press the AMP/ARP button to open the arpeggiator. – Turn dial C to set the MODE to UP. – Set the speed SPD to X6 (16th notes, see section 10.3.1) using dial D. – Set the number of octaves RNGE to 1OCT using button E. – Set the duration NLEN of the arpeggio notes to 1/16 using button F. If you press the PLAY button (), you should now hear a sequence of two notes, C3 and E3. – Return to the MIDI track by pressing PLAYBACK/NOTE. – Press trigger 1 and set the length LEN to 1/4 (4 × 1/16, which is (1 × 16) / 4 = 4 notes) using dial C.

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You should now hear the full C-major arpeggio, with four notes. – Press trigger 1 and set the length LEN to 1/2 (8 × 1/16, which is (1 × 16) / 2 = 8 notes) using dial C. You should now hear the full C-major arpeggio twice, with eight notes in total. – Press trigger 1 and set the length LEN to 1/1 (16 × 1/16, which is (1 × 16) / 16 = 16 notes) using dial C. You should now hear the full C-major arpeggio four times, with a total of 16 notes. I am sure you get the idea! – You have the option to save your work by pressing FUNCTION + PROJECT, then selecting the PROJECT and SAVE options. Press ENTER/YES to confirm. 10.3.3. Defining an arpeggio graphically Arpeggios can also be configured from the MIDI ARP SETUP window of the arpeggiator. To begin, create a new project (e.g. “ARP 1”) and a THRU machine (on track T1), as described in sections 10.1.2 and 10.1.3. For example, we shall create an arpeggio from the C-minor + D-major chords, containing the six notes C3, Eb3, G3 and D3, F3, A3. We will arpeggiate these notes in a few different ways to explore the possibilities of the OT. – Check that MIDI mode is on. The yellow LED next to the MIDI button should be lit up. Similarly, check that you are on track T1, MIDI channel 1 (see section 10.1.4), and PLAYBACK/NOTE (yellow LED should be on). – Turn dial C to set the length LEN to 3/8 (which is (3 × 16)/8 = 6 notes). – Switch to GRID RECORDING mode by pressing the red RECORD button (). – Press trigger 1 and check that the NOTE parameter is C3. If not, set NOTE to C3 using button A. – Press the AMP/ARP button to open the arpeggiator. – Turn dial C to set the MODE to TRUE. – Set the speed SPD to X6 (16 notes, see section 10.3.1) using dial D. – Set the number of octaves RNGE to 1OCT using button E.

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– Set the duration NLEN of the notes in the arpeggio to 1/16 using button F. – Press AMP/ARP twice to open the MIDI ARP SETUP window. This window allows you to configure and create arpeggios. – Set the length of the arpeggio to 6 (for the notes C3, Eb3, G3, D3, F3, A3) using button C. The LEDs of the first six triggers should light up in green. – Now, press trigger 2 and, using the LEVEL button, increase the base note (C3) by 3 semitones to Eb3. Release trigger 2. – Press trigger 3 and, using the LEVEL button, increase the base note (C3) by 7 semitones to G3. Release trigger 3. – Similarly, increase the base notes of triggers 4, 5, and 6 to D3, F3, and A3. – Press AMP/ARP to exit the arpeggiator. If you press the PLAY button (), you should now hear a sequence of six notes. – Press FUNCTION + SCALE SETUP (1:4 2:4 3:4 4:4). In the PATTERN SCALE window, set the scale to 6/16 by using the LEVEL button to modify the first parameter. This will limit the sequence to six notes (six 16th notes).

Figure 10.18. The PATTERN SCALE window with the scale parameter, currently set to six notes

– Press FUNCTION + SCALE SETUP (1:4 2:4 3:4 4:4) again to confirm. The sequence should now continuously repeat the six notes of the arpeggio. – You can stop playback by pressing STOP (). – You have the option to save your work by pressing FUNCTION + PROJECT, then selecting the PROJECT and SAVE options. Press ENTER/YES to confirm.

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Figure 10.19. The MIDI ARP SETUP window for creating a 6-note arpeggio

NOTE.– The KEY parameter in the MIDI ARP SETUP window sets the key scale. When set to OFF, all notes and note offsets will play according to their set values. The value of the MODE parameter in the arpeggiator window (TRUE, UP, DOWN, CYCL, SHFL, RND) does not affect the arpeggio – the arpeggio will always play unless MODE is set to OFF. 10.3.4. More complex arpeggios The length LEN (button C of the MIDI track) can be combined with the number of octaves RNGE of the arpeggiator (button E of the arpeggiator, see section 10.3.1). – Press trigger 1 and set the length LEN to 1/8 using dial C. – Press AMP/ARP to open the arpeggiator. – Set the number of octaves RNGE to 4OCT using button E. If you press the PLAY button (), you should now hear a sequence of four notes four times at four different octaves. By changing NLEN (button F of the arpeggiator), you can adjust the length of each note in the arpeggio (see section 10.3.1). You can also assign one or more chords, or the same chord multiple times, to one or more other triggers, which will change how the sequence unfolds. As you can see, the possibilities are endless. Feel free to experiment by playing with the parameters, such as LEN, NLEN, MODE, NOT1, NOT2, NOT3, NOT4, SPD, TRAN, etc., to gain a better understanding and mastery of the various functions of the arpeggiator.

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Figure 10.20. The arpeggiator in shuffle mode on four octaves at 4× speed

The transition between consecutive notes is determined by the MODE setting of the arpeggiator (see section 10.3.1). 10.3.5. Triggers in chromatic mode Triggers can also be added to a MIDI track in a so-called chromatic mode6. In this mode, the 16 triggers of the OT act like a keyboard spanning 1½ octaves, equivalent to the 16 chromatic notes of a piano keyboard. – To begin, create a new project (e.g. “CHROMATIC”) and a THRU machine (on track T1), as described in sections 10.1.2 and 10.1.3. – Check that the MIDI mode is on. The yellow LED next to the MIDI button should be lit up. Also, check that you are on track T1, channel 1 (see section 10.1.4), and PLAYBACK/NOTE (yellow LED underneath should be on). – Press FUNCTION and  (down arrow) to select CHROMATIC. – The triggers will light up. The note C is yellow, the white keys of the keyboard are red, and the black keys are represented by unlit LEDs. When you press a trigger, you should hear a note, ranging from C3 for trigger 1 to Eb4 for trigger 16. – By pressing FUNCTION +  (left arrow) or FUNCTION +  (right arrow), you can increase or decrease the pitch by one octave. For example, we will now record a sequence directly by using the OT triggers as a keyboard. The OT can then play the recorded sequence back to us. – Switch to LIVE RECORDING mode by pressing RECORD () + PLAY (). – Play a few notes on the triggers. You should hear the tune being played back.

6 Chromatic mode can also be used with non-MIDI tracks for STATIC, FLEX devices, etc.

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If you stop the recording by pressing STOP (), you can restart playback by pressing PLAY (). You can resume recording at any time by pressing RECORD () + PLAY () again to switch back to LIVE RECORDING mode. To record a sequence of notes on the triggers, you may find it useful to turn on the metronome ticks. – To do this, go into the PROJECT menu by pressing FUNCTION + PROJECT, select CONTROL and METRONOME, then press ENTER/YES. – Check ACTIVE by pressing ENTER/YES, scroll down with  (down arrow), go to MAIN VOLUME, and set the volume of the metronome to 10 or higher. If you are in PLAY mode (), you should hear the metronome immediately. – Press EXIT/NO twice to exit both menus and confirm your settings. – You have the option to save your work by pressing FUNCTION + PROJECT, then selecting the PROJECT and SAVE options. Press ENTER/YES to confirm. 10.3.6. Saving a MIDI sequence from an external instrument Rather than recording an audio sample from an external instrument, you might want to record a sequence onto a track directly in MIDI. To record, we need to configure MIDI channels to send and receive the data. On the OT, the receiving channel is called the AUTOCHANNEL and is set to 11 by default. At the hardware level, connect a MIDI cable from the MIDI out of the OT to the MIDI in of your instrument. In our case, the instrument is the DX7 keyboard.

Figure 10.21. Hardware setup for recording a MIDI sequence from the DX7

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There are several ways to perform the MIDI recording. One possibility is to configure your instrument to send and receive on channel 11 (or OMNI ON7). Alternatively, you can reconfigure the AUTOCHANNEL on the OT to the same channel as your instrument. This second option is to take the following approach: To begin, create a new project (e.g. “REC-MIDI”) and a THRU machine (on track T1) as described in sections 10.1.2 and 10.1.3. – Press FUNCTION + PROJECT and select MIDI and CHANNELS. – Press ENTER/YES. – Using the LEVEL dial, change AUTO CH from 11 to 1.

Figure 10.22. The MIDI CHANNELS window and the AUTO CH parameter

– Press EXIT/NO to exit. – On your instrument (in our case, the DK7), set the MIDI transmission channel to 1. – Check that the sound signal is being properly transmitted by pressing one of the keys on the instrument. If not, press T1 + PLAY () to activate the THRU machine. You should now be able to hear the instrument when you play notes on the keyboard. A small triangle icon should replace the square icon under the track number whenever you are playing. To improve the quantization of the recorded sequence, we will set the OT to microtiming mode, which quantizes the notes in fractions of 1/384 rather than the default setting of 1/16. The quantization determines how a recorded sound sequence, 7 See Chapter 3 on the MIDI standard.

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whether originally from an audio source or a MIDI source, will be divided into segments. We can increase the time resolution by modifying the TEMPO MULTIPLIER in PATTERN SCALE, but this will reduce the number of available measures accordingly. – Press FUNCTION + PROJECT and select SYSTEM and PERSONALIZE. – Press ENTER/YES. – The PERSONAL SETTINGS window will be displayed. Navigate to QUANTIZE LIVE REC and turn this option on by pressing  (right arrow).

Figure 10.23. The PERSONAL SETTINGS window with the QUANTIZE LIVE REC setting

– Press EXIT/NO twice. – Check that the MIDI mode is on. The yellow LED next to the MIDI button should be lit up. Check also that you are on track T1, channel 1 (see section 10.1.4), and PLAYBACK/NOTE (the yellow LED underneath should be on). – Press RECORD () + PLAY () to switch to LIVE RECORDING mode. – Play the sequence that you would like to record on your instrument, in our case the DX7. Note that the sequence is limited to a single measure8 by default. After recording a measure, the sequencer will play the recorded notes back to you. – You can stop the recording by pressing STOP () and restart the playback by pressing PLAY (). – You can optionally save your work by pressing FUNCTION + PROJECT, then selecting the PROJECT and SAVE options. Press ENTER/YES to confirm. 8 You can record up to four measures (4 × 16 steps) by increasing the number of pages in the rhythm pattern.

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NOTE.– In general, you can record up to 4 pages of 16 steps each, for a total of 64 steps. To do this, press FUNCTION + SCALE SETUP (1:4 2:4 3:4 4:4). In the PATTERN SCALE window, change the number of steps using the LEVEL dial: 16 steps – 1 page; 32 steps – 2 pages; 48 steps – 3 pages; 64 steps – 4 pages. An intermediate number of steps can also be chosen to record sequences of specific durations (in musical measures). The LEDs of the triggers for each step should light up in red. Press FUNCTION + SCALE SETUP (1:4 2:4 3:4 4:4) again to confirm.

Figure 10.24. The PATTERN SCALE window, which allows you to manage the number of pages or measures

10.4. Creating a MIDI sequence with a drum machine This section considers a different hardware setup for generating rhythm patterns from a drum machine. The MIDI notes representing percussion instruments are transmitted over the MIDI interface. Figure 10.25 shows the hardware setup. For example, the OT is connected to a Roland TR-505, but you can use any other model of a drum machine instead.

Figure 10.25. Hardware setup for creating a rhythm sequence with a drum machine

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– To begin, create a new project (e.g. “DM 1”) and a THRU machine (on track T1), as described in sections 10.1.2 and 10.1.3. – Check that the MIDI mode is on. The yellow LED next to the MIDI button should be lit up. Similarly, check that you are on track T1.

Figure 10.26. The TR-505 drum machine by Roland

– Configure the MIDI channel to be the same as the MIDI receiving channel9 of the drum machine. On the TR-505, this is MIDI channel 10.

Figure 10.27. MIDI channel 10 on the Roland TR-505 ready to receive data (top), and the same channel on the OT ready to send data (bottom)

9 The OMNI mode must of course be set to OFF (see Chapter 3 on the MIDI standard) on the drum machine, otherwise the drum machine will receive on all channels regardless of the specified receiving channel. If the OMNI mode of the drum machine is set to ON, any channel will work on the Octatrack.

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– Check that the sound signal is being properly transmitted by pressing one of the buttons of the drum machine, in our case the TR-505. If not, press T1 + PLAY () to activate the THRU machine. You should now be able to hear the drum machine. – Press TEMPO and set the speed to 90 using the LEVEL dial. Press TEMPO again to confirm. – Press RECORD () to switch to the GRID RECORDING mode. The rhythm pattern that we will create as an example is shown in Figure 10.28.

Figure 10.28. An example rhythm pattern

For the purposes of this example, we will use the following four instruments on the Roland TR-505: snare drum, bass drum, closed hi-hat, and hiconga.

Figure 10.29. The triggers of each instrument on the Roland TR-505 drum machine

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The instrument assignments10 on the Roland TR-505 are shown in Figure 10.30.

Figure 10.30. The assignments of the instruments on the TR-505 and their MIDI codes

– Set NOTE to C#3. The snare drum is now the default sound for all 16 triggers. – Press triggers 1, 4, and 9 to activate them (their LEDs should light up in red). To add the bass drum, perform the following actions: – Hold down trigger 5 and set NOTE to C3. – Hold down trigger 13 and set NOTE to C3. To add the closed hi-hat, perform the following actions: – For each of the triggers 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, and 16, set NOTE to F#3. – NOTE has already been assigned for the triggers 1, 4, and 9 (snare drum – C#3), but we can use NOT2 to set up multiple sounds in parallel. For each of these triggers, set NOT2 to F#3 (+5 semitones).

10 These assignments are not the factory defaults of the TR-505. They were redefined to make them easier to implement on the OT. Most drum machines allow you to do this. Any other choice of notes would also work if the rhythm pattern is adjusted accordingly.

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– Similarly, NOTE has already been assigned for the triggers 5 and 13 (bass drum – C3), so we need to use NOT2 in parallel. For each of these triggers, set NOT2 to F#3 (+6 semitones). To add the hi conga, perform the following actions: – NOTE has already been assigned for the triggers 11, 14, and 15 (closed hi-hat – F#3) in NOTE, so we will use NOT2. For each of these triggers, set NOT2 to A3 (+3 semitones). Press PLAY () to start the sequence and play the rhythm pattern. If you cannot hear anything, press T1 + PLAY () to activate the THRU machine. – You can stop playback by pressing STOP () and restart it by pressing PLAY (). – You can optionally save your work by pressing FUNCTION + PROJECT and, then, selecting the PROJECT and SAVE options. Press ENTER/YES to confirm. 10.5. MIDI sequences, rhythms, and CC codes Our next example of a hardware setup will allow us to create MIDI rhythm sequences from an expander. For example, we will consider the SC-55 MKII (or Sound Canvas) by Roland.

Figure 10.31. Hardware setup with an expander

Like many other synthesizers, the SC-55 MKII has a rhythm section where each note is assigned to a percussion instrument. It also emulates several rhythm ensembles: Standard, Jazz, Room, Power, Electronic, TR-808, Brush, and Orchestra.

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Figure 10.32. The SC-55 MKII expander by Roland

For this example, we will use the TR-808 rhythm ensemble. The composition of this ensemble is shown in Table 10.1, reproduced from the manual of the SC-55.

Table 10.1. TR-808 rhythm ensemble on the SC-55 MKII (source: Roland)

The objective of this example is to create a rhythm sequence that sends MIDI CC (Control Change) codes containing instructions for the expander from the OT, as

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well as the rhythm notes themselves. In our case, we will send CC codes to modify the volume, reverb, and chorus settings on the SC-55. Base channel Mode

Function… Default Changed Default Message Altered

Note number: Velocity Aftertouch (pressure) Pitch bend Control change

True voice On Off Polyphonic Channel 0, 32 1 5 6, 38 7 10 11 64 65 66 67 84 91 93 98, 99 100, 101 120 121

Transmitted x x x x ***** x ***** x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Recognized 1 – 16 1 – 16 Mode 3 Mode 3, 4 (M = 1) 0 – 127 0 – 127 o x o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o (Reverb) o (Chorus) o o o o

Remarks Memorized *2

Bank selection Modulation Portamento length Data input Volume Pan Expression Sustain (Hold-1) Portamento Sostenuto Soft pedal Portamento control Effect 1 (intensity) Effect 3 (intensity) NRPN (LSB, MSB) RPN (LSB, MSB) All sounds off Initialize controls

Table 10.2. Excerpt of the MIDI implementation chart of the SC-55 MKII. The CC codes of the volume, reverb, and chorus are highlighted in red (source: Roland)

– To begin, create a new project (e.g. “DM 1”) and a THRU machine (on track T1), as described in sections 10.1.2 and 10.1.3. – Check that the MIDI mode is on. The yellow LED next to the MIDI button should be lit up. Similarly, check that you are on track T1. – Configure the MIDI channel to be the same as the MIDI receiving channel of the expander. In our case, this is MIDI channel 10 on the SC-55.

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The rhythm pattern to be entered into the OT is shown in Figure 10.32.

Figure 10.33. The rhythm pattern for the example

Enter this sequence as described in the previous section. Table 10.3 summarizes the assignments of each of the 16 triggers that produce the desired rhythm pattern. Trigger no.

1

NOTE

F#2

F#2 F#2 D2

C#3 +7

NOT2

NOT3

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

F#2 F#2 F#2

F#2 F#2 D2 F#2 F#2 F#2

F#2

C#3

C2

F#2 C2

+4

+7

-6

+4

C2

C2

-6

-6

-6

Table 10.3. Note assignments for the rhythm pattern

– After entering these notes for each trigger, press PLAY () to start playback of the sequence. If you cannot hear anything, press T1 + PLAY () to activate the THRU machine. – You can stop playback by pressing STOP (). We are now ready to add the CC codes to this rhythm pattern. Before doing so, we will briefly review the relevant CC codes and how they are assigned to the commands of the OT. – Press FUNCTION + EFFECT1 to display the MIDI CTRL 1 SETUP window.

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Figure 10.34. The MIDI CTRL 1 SETUP window. The CC1 code is set to 7 by default

The CC1 code should currently be set to 7. This is usually the default CC code for the volume on most MIDI instruments, so we can leave it unchanged. We now need to add CC codes for the reverb and chorus. For this example, we need to add a CC2 code of 91 (reverb) and a CC3 code of 93 (chorus), in accordance with the MIDI implementation chart shown in Table 10.3. – Using button D, set CC2 to 91 (FX1 DEP). – Confirm by pressing D. – Using button E, set CC3 to 93 (FX3 DEP). – Confirm by pressing E. NOTE.– You can alternatively confirm the settings with ENTER/YES instead of pressing the dials.

Figure 10.35. The CC1 code is still set to its default value of 7. The CC2 and CC3 codes now have values 91 and 93, respectively

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– Press PLAY () to start playback of the sequence. – Press EFFECT 1 to display information about CC, CC1, CC2, and CC3; each of them should currently be set to OFF.

Figure 10.36. The window displayed by pressing EFFECT 1. The parameters CC1, CC2, and CC3 are set to OFF

– Press FUNCTION and use the dials C, D, and E to activate these codes. – You can also use these dials to adjust the main volume (CC1: 0 – 127), reverb (CC2: 0 – 127), and chorus (CC3: 0 – 127). The value of each code is immediately sent to the expander. In our case, the SC-55 displays them on its screen.

Figure 10.37. The values of CC1, CC2, and CC3 displayed both on the Octatrack and on the SC-55 (LEVEL, REVERB, CHORUS)

NOTE.– You can check the current value of each parameter on the Octatrack by pressing the corresponding dial. The value is displayed for a few seconds before disappearing. EFFECT 1 can be used to configure a fourth control code (CC4).

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EFFECT 2 supports six additional control codes (CC5 to CC10). Each of these codes can be activated and adjusted in the same way as the first three. LFOs can also be configured and applied to MIDI tracks using the LFO button, in the same way as they would be used with audio tracks. Readers are very welcome to experiment with these features. The results will vary drastically according to the choice of settings and the MIDI instrument connected to the Octatrack.

11 Korg Electribe: Maintenance and Hardware Tips

This chapter presents a few operations and hardware or software tips for the Korg Electribe 2 groove machine. The tips regarding the built-in features and controls of the machine (buttons, keys, pads, etc.) are perfectly safe and accessible to all readers. Reprogramming and cable-making may be slightly more challenging. These tips are intended for more adventurous DIY enthusiasts who already have some basic equipment and knowledge of electronics. All operations are performed at your own risk. The author is not responsible under any circumstances for damage to your Electribe or connected devices arising as a result of the procedures described in the following sections. 11.1. Overview We shall begin by briefly reviewing the various models of the Electribe 2. Users often wonder whether there any major differences between models. There are four versions of the Electribe 2, which can be easily distinguished by their colors: – the gray Electribe 2 was released in 2014; – the blue Electribe 2 was released in 2015; – the black Electribe 2 Sampler was released in 2016; – the red Electribe 2 Sampler was also released in 2016.

Electronic Music Machines: The New Musical Instruments, First Edition. Jean-Michel Réveillac. © ISTE Ltd 2019. Published by ISTE Ltd and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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The main characteristics of all four models are identical: – synthesizer with oscillators, filters, LFO, and envelope generator; – 24-note polyphony; – 48-kHz sampling rate, 24-bit A/D and D/A conversion; – 16 tracks; – 32 effects (MFX); – 38 insertion effects (IFX) per track; – 72 types of modulation; – MIDI sequencer with input/output sync, 4 × 16 steps; – “Kaoss” XY pad to control effects and notes; – 16 velocity-sensitive pads; – USB port (type-B micro-USB); – SD card reader; – power supply from 9V adapter or six A4 batteries; – export feature to Ableton Live. 11.1.1. Electribe 2 The gray and blue models of the Electribe 2 are essentially equivalent – the gray model is just slightly older. After updating the operating system (OS) of a gray Electribe 2 to v2.02 (July 21, 2016), it will be completely identical to the blue model. The procedure for updating the OS is presented later in this chapter. Both models have 409 different sounds (including some multi-sampled sounds), 200 factory rhythm patterns, and 50 user-definable patterns. They also have 16 different filters – 6 low-pass filters, 5 high-pass filters, 5 bandpass filters – and 54 oscillators.

Korg Electribe: Maintenance and Hardware Tips

Figure 11.1. The two models of the Electribe 2

Low-pass

High-pass

Bandpass

Moog

Electribe

Electribe

Electribe

MS20

MS20

MS20

Prophet 5

Prophet 5

Prophet 5

Oberheim

Oberheim

Oberheim

Acid – TB303

Acid – TB303

Acid – TB303 Table 11.1. The three categories of filter available on the Electribe 2

Input effects are handled monophonically.

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11.1.2. Electribe Sampler The red and black models of the Electribe Sampler include a sampler that can record a monophonic sound sequence of up to 273 s if the factory samples are erased for space (and 99 s otherwise). Multiple sampling sources are supported: audio input, SD card, and resampling.

Figure 11.2. The two models of the Electribe Sampler

Sample looping, cutting, and editing features – the standard functionality that you would expect to find on any sampler – are included. Samples can be used to construct musical sequences. Note that the Electribe Sampler does not include a built-in warping function1.

1 Warping means applying a time-stretching algorithm to stretch or compress a sampled loop without changing its pitch in order to synchronize it with the tempo of the user’s session. In other words, warping modifies the quantization (or autocorrection) of a sample. The software suites, Acid Pro and Ableton Live, offer this feature, which is extremely useful and widely used in electronic music.

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The Electribe Sampler has 421 different sounds (no multi-sampled sounds), 150 factory rhythm patterns, and 100 user-definable patterns. It also has three filters – one low-pass filter, one high-pass filter, one bandpass filter – and 16 oscillators. Input effects can be handled either monophonically or stereophonically. 11.2. MIDI cables Presumably with the goal of minimizing cable congestion, the MIDI ports of the Electribe 2 and the Electribe Sampler are not the standard 5-pin DIN sockets but 3.5 mm stereo mini-jacks. In some situations, you may therefore need an adapter.

Figure 11.3. The two adapters delivered with the Electribe

The Electribe comes with two gender changers (adapters) in the box. If you lose them or buy a second-hand Electribe that comes without adapters, you can make your own adapters and cables by following the diagrams shown in Figures 11.4 and 11.5. 11.2.1. Male 3.5 mm jack to female 5-pin DIN adapter Figure 11.4 shows the connection diagram of an adapter that is equivalent to the gender changers delivered with the Electribe 2 and the Electribe Sampler. It is short, measuring about 10 cm in total, but can simply be extended with a standard MIDI cable (2× male 5-pin DIN) to connect to the input or output of a MIDI device.

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Figure 11.4. Male 3.5 mm jack to female 5-pin DIN adapter for the Electribe

11.2.2. Male 3.5 mm jack to male 5-pin DIN cable Figure 11.5 shows the connection diagram of a cable that can be used to connect the Electribe 2 or the Electribe Sampler directly to the input or output ports of a MIDI device. Note that this cable will typically need to be relatively long (1–5 m).

Figure 11.5. MIDI cable to connect the Electribe directly to a hardware device

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269

11.3. Updating the operating system Before updating your OS, you may need to check the version installed on your device. – For the Electribe 2, if you are currently running version 1.18, you should install version 1.19 first before upgrading to version 2.02.

Figure 11.6. The OS update files for the Electribe 2 available for download from Korg’s website (source: www.korg.com)

For the Electribe Sampler, if you are currently running versions 1.0, 1.15, or any other version older than 1.16, you should install version 1.16 first before upgrading to version 2.02.

Figure 11.7. The OS update files for the Electribe Sampler available for download from Korg’s website (source: www.korg.com)

The update files for the Electribe 2 and the Electribe Sampler can be downloaded from Korg’s website (www.korg.com) in the “Support” section. You will need an SD card that is compatible with the Electribe and a computer (PC or Mac) with an SD card reader. The Electribe needs to be either plugged into the mains power supply with its adapter or running off batteries (six A4 batteries). To avoid any issues, it is recommended to use the mains power supply during the update process.

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After downloading the update files, the remaining steps are the same for every version of the OS: – Unzip the downloaded files. – After unzipping, you should have a folder containing several files, one of which is called “SYSTEM.VSB”.

Figure 11.8. Example of the unzipped folder containing the “SYSTEM.VSB” file, in this case, version 2.02 of the OS for Electribe, viewed on MacOS

– Check that your Electribe is turned off 2. – Insert the SD card into the Electribe. – Start up the Electribe. – Format the SD card: - Press MENU/ENTER on the Electribe. - Select DATA UTILITY using the < and > buttons (Data Util 27/28). - Press MENU/ENTER. - Select CARD FORMAT using the < and > buttons. - Confirm by pressing MENU/ENTER. - Press MENU/ENTER to confirm when the prompt “Are You Sure?” appears. - If formatting was successful, the message “OK” will be displayed after the working phase. – Turn off the Electribe and eject the card.

2 Be careful – inserting or removing an SD card from the Electribe without turning it off first may cause undesirable behavior or damage to the device.

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Figure 11.9. Procedure for formatting an SD card on the Electribe (left to right and top to bottom)

– Insert the formatted SD card into your computer’s SD drive. – Copy the “SYSTEM.VSB” file from your computer into the “System” subfolder in the “Electribe” (or “Electribe Sampler”) subfolder of the “KORG” folder on the SD card.

Figure 11.10. The “System” subfolder on the SD card after copying “SYSTEM.VSB”

– Eject the SD card from your computer. – Insert the SD card into your Electribe. – Start up the Electribe. – Press MENU/ENTER. – Select DATA UTILITY using the < and > buttons. – Press MENU/ENTER.

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– Select SOFTWARE UPDATE from the DATA UTILITY menu using the < and > buttons. – Press MENU/ENTER. The Electribe will display both the current version of the system (Now Version) and the version being installed (Next Version). – Press MENU/ENTER. The Electribe will ask you to confirm (Are You Sure?). – Press MENU/ENTER. – After a working phase, the Electribe will ask you to restart. – Turn off the Electribe, wait for a few seconds, then turn it back on. The OS has now been updated!

Figure 11.11. Procedure for updating the OS of the Electribe (left to right and top to bottom)

11.4. Electribe 2 to Electribe Sampler This section explains how to transform, or migrate, the Electribe 2 into an Electribe Sampler to gain access to the sampling features of the latter. It is worth bearing in mind that this migration does not yield a completely perfect replica of the Electribe Sampler because some of the differences between the two models are hardware based and therefore cannot be overcome by making changes to the software. The operations described in this chapter are not completely risk-free, but many Electribe owners (including me) have successfully performed them without encountering any issues. As stated at the beginning of this chapter, the author cannot be held responsible under any circumstances for damage to your device if something goes wrong. I have performed this procedure myself several times on a gray Electribe 2, a blue Electribe 2, and a red Electribe Sampler, without any problems.

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I edited the “SYSTEM.VSB” files with a hexadecimal editor myself (see below) to check the steps suggested by sources found on the Internet. In parallel, I had some fun experimenting with a specialized tool for Texas Instruments microprocessors to deconstruct the code and gain more insight into the inner workings of the device. The Electribe is based on a Sitara ARM9 (AM1802) microprocessor.

Figure 11.12. The AM1802 microprocessor (300 MHz – RISC Architecture) by Texas Instruments on the motherboard of the Electribe

Most of the steps described in this section were discovered or developed by others. My personal contribution is to simply compile and summarize a collection of articles, comments, and notes encountered on various forums and websites, as well as during social media discussions with other users of the Electribe 2 or Electribe Sampler. The main sources are as follows: – Victor Piscue: piscue.com/author/admin; twitter.com/piscue; youtube.com/ piscue. – Jergling: jergling.wordpress.com/2015/09/19/electribe-2-firmware-disassembly/. – The Korg forum: www.korgforums.com/forum/phpBB2/index.php. – Robin Domingo, a.k.a. “The Beat Bender”.

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– Tarekith: innerportalstudio.com/hacking-the-new-electribe/. – Synthtopia: www.synthtopia.com/content/2015/09/14/hack-turns-korg-electribemusic-production-station-into-an-electribe-sampler/. – Gearslutz.com: www.gearslutz.com/board/electronic-music-instruments-andelectronic-music-production/1178703-i-just-bricked-my-electribe-2-a-2.html. – Korg Electribe 2 & Sampler Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/ 1587573334805635/. To migrate the Electribe 2 (gray or blue) to the Electribe Sampler, the current firmware installed on your Electribe must be version 1.10 or earlier. If not, the migration will not work. If you already have a later version of the firmware, you will need to “downgrade” your Electribe before performing the update because more recent versions prevent you from downgrading directly. However, there is a workaround that is described a little later in this chapter; see section 11.4.3. There are two ways to obtain the files that you will need. You can download edited versions from the Internet3 or edit the original files yourself with a hexadecimal editor4 (see section 11.4.4). 11.4.1. Migrating to the Electribe Sampler The procedure for migrating to the Electribe Sampler is as follows: 1. Format an SD card that is compatible with your Electribe: – Check that your Electribe is turned off. – Insert the SD card into the Electribe. 3 Please be careful with any download links. These links were correct at the time of writing, but Internet resources are by their very nature extremely volatile, and some links may no longer work. It should be possible to use a search engine to find alternatives to any expired links. 4 For example, you can use any of the following editors for Microsoft Windows: Hex Edit (free), HxD Hex Editor (free), and WinHex (free trial software); or for MacOS: HexEdit (free), Hex Fiend (free), iBored (free), and 0xed (free). This list is not exhaustive; many other editors are available. Online editors are another option (e.g. https://hexed.it).

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– Turn on your Electribe. Using the mains power supply is recommended to avoid any problems that might interfere with the process (if running on batteries is the only option, make sure they are fresh!). – Press MENU/ENTER. – Select CARD FORMAT using the < and > buttons. – Press MENU/ENTER. – Select CARD FORMAT using the < and > buttons. – Confirm by pressing MENU/ENTER. – Press MENU/ENTER to confirm when the prompt “Are You Sure?” appears. – If formatting was successful, the message “OK” will be displayed after the working phase. – Turn off the Electribe and eject the card. 2. Insert the newly formatted SD card into your computer. 3. Copy the file “SYSTEM.VSB” (from the “e2-e2s” folder, download link: http://piscue.com/korg-electribe-2-hack/ (free registration required) or http://www.mediafire.com/file/xcch54rcp8sp8p3/e2-e2s.zip/file) into the “KORG/electribe/System” subfolder of the SD card.

Figure 11.13. The file tree of a newly formatted SD card, showing the “System” subfolder

4. Insert the SD card into your Electribe 2 (gray or blue). 5. Start up the Electribe. 6. Press MENU/ENTER. 7. Select DATA UTILITY using the < and > buttons. 8. Press MENU/ENTER.

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9. Select SOFTWARE UPDATE from the DATA UTILITY menu using the < and > buttons. 10. At this point, if the “SYSTEM.VSB” file has been correctly recognized by the Electribe, the screen will display a message indicating the current version of the OS (Now Version) and the version being installed (Next Version). 11. Press MENU/ENTER. The Electribe will ask you to confirm (Are You Sure?). 12. Press MENU/ENTER. 13. After a working phase, the Electribe will prompt you to restart (OK. Please Reboot). 14. Turn off the Electribe, wait for a few seconds, then turn it back on. 15. When you turn the Electribe back on, the Electribe Sampler logo should be displayed on the screen. 16. Your Electribe 2 has now been patched and is ready to use! NOTE.– Migrating the Electribe 2 to the E2S as described in the procedure does not produce a perfect clone of the latter; some of the features are different. The PCM oscillators are incorrectly assigned and some oscillators are missing. However, the filter types are all present and everything else seems to work properly. 11.4.2. Reverting to the Electribe 2 To revert to the original Electribe 2, the procedure is essentially identical. The steps are as follows: 1. Format your SD card using the patched Electribe 2 (DATA UTILITY menu then CARD FORMAT – see the first step of the procedure in section 11.4.1). 2. Copy the file “SYSTEM.VSB” (from the “e2s-e2” folder, download link: http://www.mediafire.com/file/00xsy4qxmv6v566/e2s-e2.zip/file) into the subfolder “KORG/electribe sampler/System” of the SD card. 3. Follow Steps 4 to 14 of the procedure in section 11.4.1. 4. When you turn the Electribe back on, the Electribe logo should be displayed on the screen. 5. Your Electribe 2 has now been reverted and is ready to use!

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11.4.3. Downgrading the Electribe Versions 1.17, 1.18, and higher of the Electribe 2 OS are not “downgradable” – the machine prevents you from installing an older version of the OS. This can be circumvented by following the procedure described below: – To downgrade from version 2.02, download the “SYSTEM.VSB” file from the following link5: http://www.mediafire.com/file/cccrr1f5xt7brl2/e2_downgrade_from_202.zip/file – To downgrade from version 1.18, download the “SYSTEM.VSB” file from the following link: http://www.mediafire.com/file/qy4lnudrqk94m69/el2_downgrade_from_1.18.zip/file – Format an SD card that is compatible with your Electribe (see section 11.4.1). – Insert the newly formatted SD card into your computer. – Copy the correct “SYSTEM.VSB” file into the “KORG/electribe/System” subfolder on the SD card. – Follow Steps 4 to 14 of the procedures in section 11.4.1. – Start up the Electribe. There may be a working phase followed by an update phase, in which case the device will ask you to restart (OK. Please Reboot). – To check the version of the OS that is currently installed, go to DATA UTILITY and SOFTWARE UPDATE. You should see a message indicating the current version of the system (Now Version). – Exit the menu by pressing the EXIT button twice. – Your Electribe 2 has now been downgraded and is ready to use! 11.4.4. Editing the operating system files To migrate the Electribe 2 to the Electribe Sampler (and vice versa), you need two files. 5 Please be careful with any download links. These links were correct at the time of writing, but Internet resources are by their very nature extremely volatile, and some links may no longer work. It should be possible to use a search engine to find alternatives to any expired links.

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You can create these files yourself as described below. To create the patch that allows you to migrate to the Electribe Sampler, proceed as follows: – Download the Electribe Sampler OS from Korg’s website (www.korg.com) in the “Support” section. Version 1.16 is recommended (this procedure has not been tested with some of the other versions, e.g. 1.14, 1.18...). – Open “SYSTEM.VSB” in the hexadecimal editor of your choice (see section 11.4). – The first few lines of the code are shown in Figure 11.14.

Figure 11.14. The first few lines of the hexadecimal code in the “SYSTEM.VSB” file of the Electribe Sampler

– We need to edit byte 12, which has value 53; byte 2B, which has value 10; and byte 2E, which has value 24 (in hexadecimal), replacing their contents with the values shown in Figure 11.15 (namely, 00, 0A, and 23).

Figure 11.15. The 3 bytes to be edited and their new values (00, 0A, and 23)

– Save the edited file with the same filename as before. This file can now be used to migrate your Electribe 2 to the Electribe Sampler.

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To create a patch for reverting the Electribe Sampler (patched Electribe 2) to the standard Electribe 2, perform the following steps: – Download the OS of the Electribe 2 from Korg’s website (www.korg.com) in the “Support” section. Version 1.10 is recommended (this procedure has not been tested with some of the other versions, e.g. 1.19, 1.18, 1.17…). – Open the “SYSTEM.VSB” file in the hexadecimal editor of your choice (see section 11.4 for examples if you do not have one). – The first few lines of code are shown in Figure 11.16.

Figure 11.16. The first few lines of code in the “SYSTEM.VSB” file of the Electribe 2

– We need to edit byte 12, which has value 00; byte 2B, which has value 0A; and byte 2E, which has value 23 (in hexadecimal), replacing their contents with the values shown in Figure 11.15 (namely, 53, 06, and 24).

Figure 11.17. The 3 bytes to be edited and their new values (53, 06, and 24)

– Save the edited file with the same filename like before. This file can now be used to revert your patched Electribe 2 into the standard Electribe 2.

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11.4.5. Major operating system versions of the Electribe 2 Older versions of the OS for the Electribe 2 can be difficult to find on the Internet. You can download versions 1.18, 1.17, and 1.10 from the following link: http://www.mediafire.com/file/cz05j5fxm11q37o/OS_E2.zip/file6 11.5. Conclusion You can do much more than just the operations described earlier. Plenty of other ideas can be found by searching the Internet. There is a rich and highly active community of Electribe users from all around the world. New developments often appear overnight, so stay tuned.

6 Please be careful with any download links. These links were correct at the time of writing, but Internet resources are by their very nature extremely volatile, and some links may no longer work. It should be possible to use a search engine to find alternatives to any expired links.

12 Korg Electribe: Software Tips

This chapter presents a few resources and less well-documented operations that can be performed with the Electribe 2 and the Electribe Sampler. 12.1. Menu tree of the Electribe 2 and the Electribe Sampler Users frequently need to navigate through the menus of the Electribe to modify the parameters or to activate the features. It may not always be easy to find what you are looking for, especially for beginners. Table 12.1 shows the full menu tree for version 2.02 of the Electribe 2. The menus are numbered from 1 to 28, divided into seven families: Pattern, Part, Step, Part Util, Global, Data Util, and Event. No.

Family

Function

1

Pattern

BPM - 20–300

2

Pattern

SWING

No.

˗50% to 50% 3

Pattern

BEAT - 16 - 32 - 8 Tri - 16 Tri

4

Pattern

LENGTH - 1–4

Electronic Music Machines: The New Musical Instruments, First Edition. Jean-Michel Réveillac. © ISTE Ltd 2019. Published by ISTE Ltd and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

S/function

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5

Pattern

PATTERN LEVEL - 0–127

6

Pattern

MFX TYPE 1. Mod Delay 2. Tape Delay 3. High Pass Delay 4. Hall Reverb 5. Room Reverb 6. Wet Reverb 7. Looper 8. Pitch Looper 9. Step Shifter 10. Slicer 11. Jag Filter 12. Grain Shifter 13. Vinyl Break 14. Seq Reverse 15. Seq Doubler 16. Old Stepper 17. Event Stepper 18. Low Pass Filter 19. High Pass Filter 20. Band Plus Filter 21. Touch Wah 22. Tube EQ 23. Decimator 24. Distortion 25. Compressor 26. Limiter 27. Chorus 28. XY Flanger 29. LFO Flanger 30. XY Phaser 31. LFO Phaser 32. Auto Pan

7

Pattern

CLEAR MFX MOTION

8

Pattern

KEY - C–B

9

Pattern

-

SCALE Chromatic Ionian Dorian Phrygian Lydian Mixolydian

Korg Electribe: Software Tips

-

Aeolian Locrian Harm minor Melo minor Major Blues minor Blues Diminished Com. Dim Major Penta minor Penta Raga 1 Raga 2 Raga 3 Arabic Spanish Gypsy Egyptian Hawaiian Pelog Japanese Ryukyu Chinese Bass Line Whole Tone minor 3rd Major 3rd 4th Interval 5th Interval Octave

10

Pattern

CHORD SET - 1–5

11

Pattern

GATE ARP - 0–50

12

Pattern

ALTERNATE 13–14 - On / Off

13

Pattern

ALTERNATE 15–16 - On / Off

14

Pattern

CHAIN TO - Off - 0–250

15

Pattern

CHAIN REPEAT - 1–64

283

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16

Part

LAST STEP - 1–16

17

Part

GROOVE TYPE 1. Conga 1 2. Conga 2 3. Conga 3 4. Bongo 1 5. Bongo 2 6. Bongo 3 7. Cabasa 1 8. Cabasa 2 9. Claves 1 10. Claves 2 11. Cowbell 12. Agogo 1 13. Agogo 2 14. Tambourine 15. Off Beat 16. On Beat 17. Push 5&13 18. Pull 5&13 19. Oval Groove 20. Laidback 21. Rushback 22. The One 23. Syncopation 24. Crescendo 25. Decrescendo

18

Part

GROOVE DEPTH - 0–127

19

Part

VOICE ASSIGN - Mono1 - Mono2 - Poly1 - Poly2

20

Part

PART PRIORITY - Normal - High

21

Part

MOTION SEQ - Off - Smooth - Trigger Hold

22

Part

TRG. PAD VELOCITY - Off / On

Korg Electribe: Software Tips

23

Part

SCALE MODE - Off / On

24

Step

STEP EDIT

25

26

1

STEP NUMBER - Step: 1:01–4:16

2

NOTE - C1–G09

3

GATE TIME - 0–96 - Tie

4

VELOCITY - 0–127

1

COPY PART

2

COPY PART SOUND

3

CLEAR SEQUENCE

4

CLEAR MOTION

1

TRIGGER MODE - Normal - Seq 1st - Seq Play

2

VELOCITY CURVE - Heavy - Normal - Light - Const 96

3

CLOCK MODE - Internal - Auto - External USB - External MIDI - External Sync

4

GLOBAL MIDI CH. - 01–16

Part Util PART UTILITY

Global

GLOBAL PARAMETER

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5

MIDI RECEIVE FILTER - Off - Short - Short + Program

6

MIDI SEND FILTER - Off - Short - Short + Program

7

SYNC POLARITY - Hi - Lo

8

SYNC UNIT - 1 Step - 2 Steps

9

METRONOME - Off - Rec 0 - Rec 1 - Rec 2 - On

10

TEMPO LOCK - Off / On

11

KNOB MODE - Jump - Catch - Value Scale

12

TOUCH SLAVE RANGE - 1 Oct - 2 Oct - 3 Oct - 4 Oct

13

LCD CONTRAST - 1–25

14

AUDIO IN THRU - Off / On

15

BATTERY TYPE - Ni-Mh - Alkali

16

AUTO POWER OFF - Disable / 4 h

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27

Data Util

287

17

POWER SAVE MODE - Disable - Auto - Enable

18

PTN. CHANGE LOCK - Off / On

19

CHAIN MODE - Off / On

20

XY CALIBRATION 1. Touch Bottom Left 2. Touch Upper Right

1

EXPORT PATTERN

2

EXPORT ALL PATTERN

3

IMPORT PATTERN

4

IMPORT ALL PATTERN

5

INITIALIZE PATTERN

6

EXPORT AUDIO - Ableton Live Set - Wav File Only

7

EXPORT P.SET AUDIO - Select Start: 1–64 - Select End: 1–64 - Select Type: Ableton Live Set / Wav File Only

8

EXPORT CHAIN AUDIO - Select Type: Ableton Live Set / Wav File Only

9

CARD FORMAT

10

FACTORY RESET

11

SOFTWARE UPDATE - Now Version - Next Version

DATA UTILITY

288

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28

Event

EVENT REC/PLAY - No Card 1

EVENT RECORDER

2

EVENT PLAYER

Table 12.1. Menu tree of the Electribe 2 – OS version 2.02

Table 12.2 shows the full menu tree for version 2.02 of the Electribe Sampler. The menus are numbered from 1 to 29, divided into 8 families: Pattern, Part, Step, Part Util, Spl Edit, Global, Data Util, and Event. No.

Family

Function

1

Pattern

BPM - 20–300

2

Pattern

SWING −50% to 50%

3

Pattern

BEAT - 16 - 32 - 8 Tri - 16 Tri

4

Pattern

LENGTH - 1–4

5

Pattern

PATTERN LEVEL - 0–127

6

Pattern

MFX TYPE 1. Mod Delay 2. Tape Delay 3. High Pass Delay 4. Hall Reverb 5. Room Reverb 6. Wet Reverb 7. Looper 8. Pitch Looper 9. Step Shifter 10. Slicer 11. Jag Filter 12. Grain Shifter 13. Vinyl Break

No.

S/function

Korg Electribe: Software Tips

14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32.

Seq Reverse Seq Doubler Old Stepper Event Stepper Low Pass Filter High Pass Filter Band Plus Filter Touch Wah Tube EQ Decimator Distortion Compressor Limiter Chorus XY Flanger LFO Flanger XY Phaser LFO Phaser Auto Pan

7

Pattern

CLEAR MFX MOTION

8

Pattern

KEY - C–B

9

Pattern

-

SCALE Chromatic Ionian Dorian Phrygian Lydian Mixolydian Aeolian Locrian Harm minor Melo minor Major Blues minor Blues Diminished Com. Dim Major Penta minor Penta Raga 1 Raga 2 Raga 3 Arabic Spanish Gypsy Egyptian Hawaiian

289

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Electronic Music Machines

-

Pelog Japanese Ryukyu Chinese Bass Line Whole Tone minor 3rd Major 3rd 4th Interval 5th Interval Octave

10

Pattern

CHORD SET - 1–5

11

Pattern

GATE ARP - 0–50

12

Pattern

ALTERNATE 13–14 - On/Off

13

Pattern

ALTERNATE 15–16 - On/Off

14

Pattern

CHAIN TO - Off - 0–250

15

Pattern

CHAIN REPEAT - 1–64

16

Part

LAST STEP - 1–16

17

Part

GROOVE TYPE 1. Conga 1 2. Conga 2 3. Conga 3 4. Bongo 1 5. Bongo 2 6. Bongo 3 7. Cabasa 1 8. Cabasa 2 9. Claves 1 10. Claves 2 11. Cowbell 12. Agogo 1 13. Agogo 2 14. Tambourine 15. Off Beat 16. On Beat 17. Push 5&13

Korg Electribe: Software Tips

18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.

Pull 5&13 Oval Groove Laidback Rushback The One Syncopation Crescendo Decrescendo

18

Part

GROOVE DEPTH - 0–127

19

Part

VOICE ASSIGN - Mono1 - Mono2 - Poly1 - Poly2

20

Part

PART PRIORITY - Normal - High

21

Part

MOTION SEQ - Off - Smooth - Trigger Hold

22

Part

TRG. PAD VELOCITY - Off/On

23

Part

SCALE MODE - Off/On

24

Step

STEP EDIT

25

1

STEP NUMBER - Step: 1:01–4:16

2

NOTE - C1–G09

3

GATE TIME - 0–96 - Tie

4

VELOCITY - 0–127

1

COPY PART

2

COPY PART SOUND

Part Util PART UTILITY

291

292

Electronic Music Machines

26

27

3

CLEAR SEQUENCE

4

CLEAR MOTION

1

SELECT SAMPLE

2

RENAME

3

START POINT

4

END POINT

5

LOOP START POINT

6

SAMPLE TUNE - −63 to 63

7

TIME SLICE

8

CLEAR SLICE

9

PLAY LEVEL - Normal - +12dB

1

TRIGGER MODE - Normal - Seq 1st - Seq Play

2

VELOCITY CURVE - Heavy - Normal - Light - Const 96

3

CLOCK MODE - Internal - Auto - External USB - External MIDI - External Sync

4

GLOBAL MIDI CH. - 01–16

5

MIDI RECEIVE FILTER - Off - Short - Short + Program

SAMPLE EDIT

Global

GLOBAL PARAMETER

Korg Electribe: Software Tips

6

MIDI SEND FILTER - Off - Short - Short + Program

7

SYNC POLARITY - Hi - Lo

8

SYNC UNIT - 1 Step - 2 Steps

9

METRONOME - Off - Rec 0 - Rec 1 - Rec 2 - On

10

TEMPO LOCK - Off / On

11

KNOB MODE - Jump - Catch - Value Scale

12

TOUCH SLAVE RANGE - 1 Oct - 2 Oct - 3 Oct - 4 Oct

13

LCD CONTRAST - 1–25

14

AUDIO IN THRU - Off/On

15

BATTERY TYPE - Ni-Mh - Alkali

16

AUTO POWER OFF - Disable/4 hours

17

POWER SAVE MODE - Disable - Auto - Enable

293

294

28

29

Electronic Music Machines

Data Util

Event

18

PTN. CHANGE LOCK - Off/On

19

CHAIN MODE - Off/On

20

XY CALIBRATION 3. Touch Bottom Left 4. Touch Upper Right

1

EXPORT PATTERN

2

EXPORT ALL PATTERN

3

IMPORT PATTERN

4

IMPORT ALL PATTERN

5

INITIALIZE PATTERN

6

EXPORT AUDIO - Ableton Live Set - Wav File Only

7

EXPORT P.SET AUDIO - Select Start: 1–64 - Select End: 1–64 - Select Type: Ableton Live Set/Wav File Only

8

EXPORT CHAIN AUDIO - Select Type: Ableton Live Set/Wav File Only

9

IMPORT SAMPLE

10

EXPORT SAMPLE

11

EXPORT ALL SAMPLE

12

CARD FORMAT

13

FACTORY RESET

14

SOFTWARE UPDATE - Now Version - Next Version

1

EVENT RECORDER

2

EVENT PLAYER

DATA UTILITY

EVENT REC/PLAY - No Card

Table 12.2. Menu tree of the Electribe Sampler – OS version 2.02

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295

12.2. Shortcuts The Electribe 2 and the Electribe Sampler both have shortcuts that can be accessed by pressing the SHIFT button to activate certain features more quickly. Figure 12.1 lists these shortcuts for both devices. Text descriptions can be found in the settings guide of both machines.

Figure 12.1. The shortcuts (in bold) of the Electribe 2 and the Electribe Sampler

12.3. Using the audio input The operations described in this section enable you to apply the filters and effects of the Electribe to the audio input signal. For example, we shall consider a

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signal sent from a synthesizer, but we could also use any other instrument (e.g. a drum machine). Figure 12.2 shows the hardware setup for this example.

Figure 12.2. Hardware setup of the Electribe

When an external device is connected to Electribe’s audio input, its filters, effects, modulation, envelope, sound management features, and amplification can be applied to this input. To do this, follow the simple procedures described below. 12.3.1. Through the Electribe This first procedure configures the audio signal sent by the synthesizer to pass through the Electribe: – Select an unused pattern (e.g. pattern 210). – To tell the Electribe to accept a signal from the external source plugged into its input (AUDIO IN), go to the GLOBAL PARAMETER menu, navigate to the AUDIO IN THRU submenu, and select ON (Figure 12.3).

Figure 12.3. The AUDIO IN THRU submenu after selecting the option ON

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– You should now hear an audio signal if you play a few notes on the synthesizer. Check that the volume level of the synth output and the INPUT LEVEL of the Electribe are configured correctly. An indicator at the top right of the display shows the level being received by the Electribe in real time (Figure 12.4). NOTE.– If a pattern is also being played by the Electribe, the incoming signal is mixed with the internal audio produced by the device.

Figure 12.4. The level indicator (top, to the right of the tempo, 120) on the display of the Electribe

– If the audio signal saturates, the word CLIP is displayed (Figure 12.5).

Figure 12.5. The clipping indicator (CLIP) on the display of the Electribe

12.3.2. Saving a carrier pattern NOTE.– To provide a baseline, the operations presented below were performed immediately after conducting a FACTORY RESET (DATA UTILITY menu). – Check that the AUDIO IN THRU parameter is set to OFF (GLOBAL PARAMETER menu).

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Figure 12.6. GLOBAL PARAMETER, AUDIO IN THRU set to OFF

– Check that you are still on pattern 210. – Press TRIGGER. – Press Pad 1; “Part 01” should be displayed in the bottom left of the screen. – The currently selected oscillator (OSC) is displayed at the bottom of the screen; its value should be SAW (326).

Figure 12.7. Pattern 210, SAW oscillator

– Press the PART MUTE button and select Pad 1 (purple).

Figure 12.8. Pad 1 is selected (purple)

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– Press the TRIGGER button. – Press RECORD () and record 16 steps while holding pad 1 pressed down.

Figure 12.9. TRIGGER + recording

– Press STOP () to stop the recording. – Press the SEQUENCER button. All 16 pads should light up.

Figure 12.10. All 16 pads are active

– Press the SHIFT button and scroll to the AUDIO IN oscillator (409) using the OSCILLATOR button.

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Figure 12.11. AUDIO IN oscillator (409) selected with the current pattern (210)

– Press the PART MUTE button. – Press the PLAY button (/⏐⏐). If you play a few notes on the synthesizer, you should now be able to hear them. – Check and adjust the volume by pressing the EDIT button of the OSCILLATOR to manage the level of the input signal.

Figure 12.12. Volume of the input signal (here, 77) selected with the EDIT button

12.3.3. Filtering and applying effects This procedure allows you to apply filters and effects to the signal supplied by the synthesizer. – Press the IFX ON button. – Set the FILTER dial to 127 to define the CUTOFF value (you can change this value later to reduce the effect on the processed signal).

Figure 12.13. FILTER: CUTOFF set to 127

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– Check that the MODULATION button is set to MOD. TYPE 01 EG+ FILTER.

Figure 12.14. MODULATION: MOD. TYPE 01 EG+ FILTER

– Set the LEVEL dial of AMP/EG to a moderate value, e.g. 64 (you can change this value later to adjust the level of the processed signal).

Figure 12.15. AMP/EG: LEVEL 64

– Check that the AMP/EG PAN button is in the CENTER position. – Select an effect using INSERT FX (e.g. IFX TYPE – 30 FLANGER). – If you play a few notes on the synthesizer or use the synthesizer as a sequencer, this effect will now be applied to the transmitted signal. You can play around with the effect using the EDIT buttons of the filter under INSERT FX and RESONANCE. By experimenting with the effects (INSERT FX), effect levels (EDIT under INSERT FX), and filter settings (FILTER, RESONANCE, EG INT), you can access a vast range of different sounds, which will now be directly applied to the signal sent by the synthesizer via the audio input (AUDIO IN) of the Electribe. There are far too many possibilities to list here, so feel free to explore. We can also use the touchpad to apply MFX effects.

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– Press the MASTER FX button. – Press the MFX Hold button. – Press MENU/ENTER, scroll to the menu MFX TYPE (6), and select an effect, e.g. 08 PITCH LOOPER, using the shared dial (above the < and > buttons); – Play a few notes on the synthesizer and finetune the effect using the touchpad. Like the internal effects (IFX), there are far too many MFX effects to list exhaustively here. You can explore some of the possibilities by experimenting with the touchpad. 12.3.4. Sending commands to the synthesizer using triggers This procedure allows you to configure your Electribe as a control keyboard for the synthesizer in order to apply filters and effects to the input signal. Figure 12.16 shows the hardware setup of this section.

Figure 12.16. Hardware setup of the Electribe

Proceed as follows: – Select an unused pattern, e.g. pattern 211. – To tell the Electribe to accept a signal from the external source plugged into its input (AUDIO IN), go to the GLOBAL PARAMETER menu, navigate to the AUDIO IN THRU submenu, and select ON (Figure 12.17).

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Figure 12.17. The AUDIO IN THRU submenu. This parameter is currently set to ON

– You should now hear an audio signal if you play a few notes on the synthesizer. Check that the volume level of the synth output and the INPUT LEVEL of the Electribe are configured correctly. – Press the SHIFT button and scroll to the AUDIO IN oscillator (409) using the OSCILLATOR button.

Figure 12.18. AUDIO IN oscillator (409)

– Press the KEYBOARD button. If you press one of the triggers, you should hear sound from the synthesizer. If not, check the MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) configuration of both the synthesizer and the Electribe. They both need to be set to the same channel. On the Electribe, the MIDI channel is configured in the GLOBAL PARAMETER menu, under GLOBAL MIDI CH. – Select a low-pass filter, e.g. MG LPF, by pressing the LPF button until the correct option is shown.

Figure 12.19. Selecting the MG LPF filter

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– Press one of the triggers and adjust the filter cutoff frequency and resonance using the FILTER and RESONANCE dials. You should be able to hear any changes in the audio signal passing through the Electribe from the synthesizer. As always, feel free to experiment with the various filters and settings. In this case, a little extra caution is a good idea because some actions can modify the configuration of the synthesizer over the MIDI connection. 12.3.5. Sequencer, synthesizer, filters, and effects The next example shows how to use the sequencer feature of the Electribe to send commands to the synthesizer while simultaneously applying filters and effects to the audio signal generated by the latter. The hardware setup is the same as in the previous section, see Figure 12.6. – Select an unused pattern, e.g. pattern 212. – Check that the AUDIO IN THRU parameter is set to OFF (GLOBAL PARAMETER menu). – Select the AUDIO IN oscillator (409) using the OSCILLATOR button of PART: 01. – Press the TRIGGER button. If you press trigger 1, you should now be able to hear sound from the synthesizer. If not, check that the Electribe and the synthesizer are set to the same MIDI channel. – Press the SEQUENCER button and enter a trigger sequence, e.g. 1-2-4-6-7-1113-15 (Figure 12.20).

Figure 12.20. The trigger sequence 1-2-4-6-7-11-13-15 in SEQUENCER mode

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– Press PLAY (/⏐⏐). – By configuring IFX and MFX effects, varying the LPF, MPF, BPF filter types and their FILTER, RESONANCE, or even AMP/EG settings, you can drastically change how this sequence sounds. The touchpad is very effective for controlling the master effects (MASTER FX – MFX HOLD). 12.4. Extra tips This section presents a few unlisted features and shortcuts, tested with version 2.02 of the operating system. Other versions may have other unlisted features. 12.4.1. Octave switching You may have already noticed that pressing the buttons 1, 2, 3, and 4 in KEYBOARD MODE allows you to switch octaves, but have you figured out that you can access an even larger range? By using the 1 and 4 buttons to move down and up one octave at a time, you can in fact access a total of eight octaves (octaves 0–7). If you press 1 several times, you will keep moving down octaves. Similarly, press 4 to keep moving up octaves. The buttons 2 and 3 will light up when you reach the mid-range octaves (octaves 3 and 4). 12.4.2. Viewing the current settings of a PART There is an easy way to review the current settings of each part (PART). Simply select the part (from 0 to 16) using the < PART and PART > buttons, then scroll through the parameters and settings of this part using the < and > buttons. NOTE.– This feature even works in playback mode (/⏐⏐). 12.4.3. Controlling two different synthesizers from the MIDI out By connecting a stereo headphone splitter to the MIDI OUT of the Electribe, you can control two different synthesizers at the same time. NOTE.– Some splitters have even more outputs. I have not tried this out yet.

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12.5. Final remarks The objective of this chapter was to present some of the more obscure features of the Electribe. There are many other creative ways to use this fabulous device, and there is no shortage of tutorials and videos on the Internet. This is why the Electribe is such an attractive, endearing, and infinitely open-ended groovebox – anyone who spends some time playing with its features will fall in love with them, and perhaps even discover new and unexpected ways to use them.

Conclusion

Although this book is drawing to a close, there is much left that could still be said. Many other ideas would have deserved their place within these pages, but my knowledge is far from perfect. I can only write about the devices and effects with which I am personally familiar – the ones that I have encountered and used myself throughout my professional career. Technology is progressing rapidly. Over the 9 months spent writing this book, new instruments have seen the light and others have been put to rest. New releases, updates, and patches are constantly being unveiled. There is no way around it; we cannot always predict when new hardware or software will arrive on the market. My hope is simply that this book will have introduced each reader to a few new ideas. The goal was a journey into the world of electronic music and the instruments and machines that have become my passion; the world that surrounds me every day while working in my studio. It brings me great pleasure to trade stories with sound designers, composers, musicians, and anyone else who, like myself, is delightfully attracted to experimenting with sounds and creating new ones. In recent decades, analog technology and its digital successors have given us increasingly powerful tools to invent new sounds and copy existing sounds with unparalleled fidelity. The arrival of the Internet and the web 2.0 accelerated this trend by promoting discussions and experience-sharing, facilitating the proliferation of new musical styles, inspiring producers and distributors alike, and disseminating new trends across all types of media via mass marketing.

Electronic Music Machines: The New Musical Instruments, First Edition. Jean-Michel Réveillac. © ISTE Ltd 2019. Published by ISTE Ltd and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Today, there is software for almost everything. Even the oldest synthesizers, drum machines, and vintage sequencers from the 1960s to the 1990s have been republished in software form, and in some cases, even improved or reinvented. This brings me to a firmly held belief of mine (perhaps mine alone). Digital and software-based simulators, although undoubtedly practical, easy to use, economical with space, and unrivaled in availability, are not always the final word in music. Even if their size and interfaces sometimes make them seem prehistoric, hardware-based equipment is an unrivaled source of intense pleasure, perhaps even operating at an emotional and symbiotic level. The feeling of becoming one with an instrument by physically operating its various controls has a concrete dimension that brings a creative thrill to composers and musicians alike. The user must seize and master the expressive potential buried within the electronics of the machine in the same way that one would play a classical instrument. On the other hand, physical hardware can be prohibitively expensive and difficult to find, but perhaps this is just the price of excellence. What does the future have in store? There are obvious answers, like more powerful equipment and software, new approaches to audio creation, new musical genres; there is no need for a crystal ball to predict this much. But, as always, the details are more elusive. Nonetheless, a slight vintage breeze seems to have started blowing throughout the musical universe, gently nudging the machines of the past back into the spotlight. Is this just a passing trend? Time will tell…

Appendices

Electronic Music Machines: The New Musical Instruments, First Edition. Jean-Michel Réveillac. © ISTE Ltd 2019. Published by ISTE Ltd and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Appendix 1 CV/Gate

A1.1. Introduction CV/gate is an analog control mode used by synthesizers and some other devices, such as sequencers and drum machines. The pitch of the notes is encoded into a control voltage (CV). In parallel, a gate control signal is used to activate or deactivate each note. A1.2. History CV/gate was introduced in 1977 and is occasionally still used today, despite the introduction of the more accurate and versatile MIDI standard in 1983. Many devices support CV/gate as well as MIDI in order to remain compatible with both newer and older hardware. The CV/gate protocol was especially convenient for the analog and monophonic synthesizers of the 1970s and 1980s because these systems also used voltagecontrolled oscillators (VCOs) and voltage-control filters (VCFs). A1.3. Theoretical principle The control voltage defines the note being played – each voltage corresponds to a different note. The information provided by this voltage can also be used to store other parameter values such as time intervals.

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The gate (also known as the trigger) activates the note. The gate can also be used to trigger certain events associated with ADSR-type envelopes (Attack Decay Sustain Release). Unfortunately, not every manufacturer uses the same voltage partitioning scheme in their instruments. As a result, there are multiple different types of CV/gate: – for Moog, ARP, Roland, Oberheim, and Sequential Circuits, each octave spans a range of 1 V. This “volts-per-octave” standard was defined by Robert Moog in the 1960s. The voltage ranges between a minimum of 0 V and maximum of +5 V; – other manufacturers use different ranges for the control voltage, e.g. −5 to +5 V or 0 to +10 V; – Korg and Yamaha use the concept of “Hertz per volt” instead. With this approach, doubling the voltage increases the pitch by one octave. A few other caveats need to be kept in mind: – different manufacturers use different cables. For example, the positive voltage can be assigned to either the tip or the ring of a 6.35 mm stereo jack, also known as a TRS (Tip Ring Sleeve) connector; – some manufacturers use a 6.35 mm mono jack or a TS (Tip Sleeve) connector; – not every device by Korg and Yamaha uses the Hertz per volt approach; – volts-per-octave curves with different slopes are sometimes used. For example, some instruments have 1.2 V per octave, so that each semitone is equivalent to 0.1 V. A1.4. Calculating the voltages and frequencies of notes This section provides a few examples to illustrate how each of the two CV/gate partitioning schemes, volts per octave and Hertz per volt, calculates the voltage of a note. A1.4.1. Volts per octave Table A1.1 shows the partitioning table of a volts-per-octave scheme with a slope of 1 V per octave and a voltage of 1 V at a frequency of 55 Hz.

Appendix 1

Voltage (V) 0.250 0.333 0.417 0.500 0.583 0.667 0.750 0.833 0.917 1.000 1.083 1.167 1.250 1.333 1.417 1.500 1.583 1.667 1.750 1.833 1.917 2.000 2.083 2.167 2.250 2.333 2.417 2.500 2.583 2.667 2.750 2.833 2.917 3.000 3.083 3.167 3.250 3.333 3.417

Semitone 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3

Note C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D

Octave 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3

Frequency (Hz) 32.703 34.648 36.708 38.891 41.203 43.654 46.249 48.999 51.913 55.000 58.270 61.735 65.406 69.296 73.416 77.782 82.407 87.307 92.499 97.999 103.826 110.000 116.541 123.471 130.813 138.591 146.832 155.563 164.814 174.614 184.997 195.998 207.652 220.000 233.082 246.942 261.626 277.183 293.665

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3.500 3.583 3.667 3.750 3.833 3.917 4.000 4.083 4.167

4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

D# E F F# G G# A A# B

3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3

311.127 329.628 349.228 369.994 391.995 415.305 440.000 466.164 493.883

Table A1.1. Definition of each note in octaves 0 to 3 according to a volts-per-octave partitioning scheme

NOTE.– The frequency of a note may be calculated from the following formula: ( octave −3) +

f note = f ref × 2

semitone −10 12

.

where – fref is the reference frequency of 440 Hz, which corresponds to either A3 or A4 depending on the convention being used (see below); – octave is the octave of the note, which is an integer between 1 and 9. The note with a frequency of 440 Hz is assigned to either the third octave (A3) or the fourth octave (A4). For conventions that assign this frequency to the fourth octave (A4), the formula needs to be adjusted slightly by replacing the term (octave – 3) with the term (octave – 4); – semitone is the semitone of the note in its octave, which is an integer between 1 and 12. The note at 440 Hz (A3 or A4) is the tenth semitone in its octave. Example: Suppose that the reference frequency of 440 Hz is assigned to A3 (octave 3). Then the note D#1 has frequency: 440 × 2

(1−3) +

4 −10 12

= 77.782 Hz calculating the voltage:

One octave is equal to 12 semitones and 1 V, so 1/12 V is one semitone. To deduce the voltage of a target note from a reference note, we can therefore simply

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multiply 1/12 V (which is around 0.0833 V) by the number of semitones from a reference note, then add or subtract the voltage of this reference note. Example: If A1 = 2 V, what is the voltage of E2? The distance from A1 to E2 is 7 semitones, so the voltage of E2 is 1 7 × + 2 = 2.583 . 12 A1.4.2. Hertz per volt Table A1.2 shows the partitioning table of a Hertz per volt scheme with a slope of 55 Hz/V and a frequency of 55 Hz at a control voltage of 1 V. Voltage (V) 0.595 0.630 0.667 0.707 0.749 0.794 0.841 0.891 0.944 1.000 1.059 1.122 1.189 1.260 1.335 1.414 1.498 1.587 1.682 1.782 1.888 2.000 2.119

Semitone 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Note C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A#

Octave 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

Frequency (Hz) 32.703 34.648 36.708 38.891 41.203 43.654 46.249 48.999 51.913 55.000 58.270 61.735 65.406 69.296 73.416 77.782 82.407 87.307 92.499 97.999 103.826 110.000 116.541

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2.245 2.378 2.520 2.670 2.828 2.997 3.175 3.364 3.564 3.775 4.000 4.238 4.490 4.757 5.040 5.339 5.657 5.993 6.350 6.727 7.127 7.551 8.000 8.476 8.980

12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

B C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B

1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3

123.471 130.813 138.591 146.832 155.563 164.814 174.614 184.997 195.998 207.652 220.000 233.082 246.942 261.626 277.183 293.665 311.127 329.628 349.228 369.994 391.995 415.305 440.000 466.164 493.883

Table A1.2. Definition of each note in octaves 0 to 3 according to a Hertz per volt partitioning scheme

Calculating the voltage: To calculate the voltage from the frequency, simply divide the latter by 55. For example: The note D2# has a frequency of 155.563 Hz. Therefore, the voltage of this note is simply 155.563 / 55 = 2.828.

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A.1.5. Theoretical principle of the gate (or trigger) The gate sends an all-or-nothing logical signal. The active values can differ: – S-Trigger (Short-circuit Trigger): the command is transmitted by closing a contact. At rest, the control input has a positive voltage. This voltage becomes zero when the gate is activated. – V-Trigger (Voltage Trigger): the command is transmitted by applying a positive voltage, which may be between +2 V and +15 V (very often +5 V) relative to the ground. At rest, the voltage on the input is almost zero. When the gate is activated, the voltage becomes positive.

Appendix 2 Digital Inputs/Outputs

A2.1. Introduction As technology improved, digital input/output ports were added to more recent generations of musical devices. Analog signals have not completely disappeared – but now they have competition. S/PDIF, AES/EBU, MADI, ADAT, TDIF, SMPTE, SCSI, IDE, and USB are some of the terms that you might encounter in the technical specifications of popular samplers. This appendix presents and explains this terminology to serve as a rudimentary guide. A2.2. S/PDIF S/PDIF stands for Sony/Philips Digital Interface. It was created in 1989 and is also known as IEC 958. S/PDIF is a specialized standard for digital audio data transfer. There is a range of different S/PDIF cables: – RCA (copper coaxial cable with an impedance of 75 ohms); – TOSLINK (optical fiber cable); – Mini-Toslink (optical fiber cable). S/PDIF carries 24-bit data at one of three sampling frequencies: 96 kHz (samplers, synthesizers, etc.), 48 kHz (DAT – Digital Audio Tape), and 44.1 kHz (CD – Compact Disc). The S/PDIF interface is stereo or multichannel.

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Figure A2.1. S/PDIF connectors, from left to right: RCA, Toslink, and Mini-Toslink

A2.3. AES/EBU Also known as AES3, AES/EBU (Audio Engineering Society/European Broadcasting Union) is a professional digital audio interface defined and published by the AES in 1985 and adopted by the EBU with a few minor modifications. It was improved and revised in 1992, 2003, and 2009. AES/EBU and S/PDIF are mutually compatible, but S/PDIF is designed for a more mainstream audience. The connectors are either a 3-pin XLR (IEC 60268-12) with a three-conductor balanced 110-ohm twisted pair cable or an unbalanced 75-ohm BNC. The data are processed at a resolution of 24 bits. The AES/EBU standard transmits data as a sequence of audio blocks. Each block contains 192 frames with two 32-bit words. Each pair of words holds information for two separate channels, A and B, which can, for example, be used to encode a stereo signal (channel A on the left and channel B on the right).

Figure A2.2. Different types of AES/PDIF connectors, 3-pin XLR (left) and BNC (right)

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Note that a 56-channel version of the AES/EBU standard also exists, known as MADI (Multichannel Audio Digital Interface). MADI uses either BNC connectors or an optical link. A2.4. ADAT ADAT stands for Alesis DAT; its digital audio transfer interface is more specifically known as ADAT Lightpipe. This interface was developed by Alesis in the early 1990s. ADAT connectors are similar to the Toslink optical fiber connectors used by S/PDIF. However, S/PDIF and ADAT data are not compatible. ADAT supports eight channels at 48 kHz with a resolution of 24 bits or four channels at 96 kHz. ADAT Lightpipe devices are often connected via Firewire (IEEE 1394; Firewire is a real-time isochronous serial bus interface developed by Apple in the late 1980s, also called i.Link by Sony and Lynx by Texas Instruments).

Figure A2.3. An example of an ADAT interface board made by Yamaha. The two visible IN and OUT ports are TosLink connectors.

A2.5. TDIF TDIF (TASCAM Digital Interface) is an unbalanced proprietary interface developed by TASCAM that uses a 25-pin D-sub cable. This is a bidirectional connection, unlike ADAT Lightpipe or S/PDIF, so only one single cable is needed to connect eight inputs and outputs together.

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TDIF supports eight digital audio channels between compatible devices. Version 2.0 supports 96 kHz at a resolution of 24 bits. Alternatively, it can carry a 192-kHz signal by reducing the number of channels.

Figure A2.4. A 16-channel TDIF board made by Yamaha. The two 25-pin connectors (channels 1–8 and 9–16) can be seen in the center.

A2.6. SMPTE SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) combines several other standards for managing video (or music) with timecodes. This makes it possible to edit, synchronize, and identify elements against a reference time axis. SMPTE was standardized in 1969 and extended in 1972. A more recent version was released in 2009.

Figure A2.5. The two SMPTE connectors on the rear panel of the MPC 2000XL by AKAI

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There are five types of SMPTE timecode: – Audio: LTC (Longitudinal Timecode). This form of timecode works at both normal and accelerated playback speeds. – Video: VITC (Vertical Interval Timecode). This is an improved version of LTC with better support for slowed down or paused playback. – MIDI: MIDI Time Code. A simplified timecode introduced for musical applications in 1987 in order to synchronize devices, such as sequencers, serving as a bridge between timecodes and the MIDI format; – Optical: optical timecode track for a movie film (DTS system for synchronizing audio CD players). – Barcode: Keykode, a visual inscription system that overlays time markers onto a magnetic tape or a 35-mm film. A2.7. SCSI This standard defines a digital bus for connecting devices to a computer (or sampler). SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) is based on the X3.131 standard, which was published in 1986. In 1994, a new and improved version was released: SCSI-2. The third generation, SCSI-3, soon followed in 1996.

Figure A2.6. The two 50-pin SCSI ports on the rear panel of the S6000 sampler by AKAI

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The specifications of versions 1–3 of this standard are as follows: – SCSI 1: - 8 bits, optional parity bit, 1.5 Mb/s in asynchronous mode and 5 Mb/s in synchronous mode; – SCSI 2: - NARROW: 8 bits + parity bit, 3 Mb/s in asynchronous mode and 5 Mb/s in synchronous mode; - FAST SCSI: 8 bits + parity bit, 5 Mb/s in asynchronous mode and 10 Mb/s in synchronous mode; - WIDE: 16 bits + parity bit, 10 Mb/s in asynchronous mode and 20 Mb/s or 40 Mb/s in synchronous mode; - EXTRA-WIDE: 32 bits + parity bit, 10 Mb/s in asynchronous mode and 40 Mb/s in synchronous mode. Requires two 68-pin cables. – SCSI 3: - ULTRA SCSI or FAST 20: 8 bits + parity bit, 20 Mb/s in synchronous mode. Unbalanced bus; - ULTRA WIDE: 16 bits + parity bit, bitrate of 40 Mb/s in synchronous mode. Unbalanced or HVD differential bus; - ULTRA 2 or FAST 40: 16 bits compatible with 8 bits + parity bit, 20 Mb/s in synchronous mode at 8 bits and 10 Mb/s at 16 bits. LVD differential bus; - ULTRA 2 WIDE: 16 bits + parity bit, 80 Mb/s in synchronous mode. LVD differential bus; - ULTRA160 or ULTRA 3 (SPI-3): 16 bits + parity bit, 160 Mb/s. LVD differential bus. FAST 80 protocol; - ULTRA320 (SPI-4): 16 bits + parity bit, 320 Mb/s. LVD differential bus. FAST 160 protocol; - ULTRA640 (SPI-5): 16 bits + parity bit, 640 Mb/s. SCSI chains end with an active or passive terminating resistor or plug.

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Figure A2.7. Examples of SCSI terminator plugs

There are various different types of SCSI connectors. The type needed for a given application depends on the standard and the type of peripheral being used.

Figure A2.8. A few examples of SCSI connectors

A2.8. IDE Integrated Drive Electronics or Enhanced IDE (EIDE or E-IDE) is an interface created by Western Digital in 1994. IDE is the commercial name of the standard. On a technical level, IDE is based on the ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment) standard, which was published by ANSI in the document X3.221-1994. IDE is designed as a connection between a storage medium and a computer. Floppy drives and hard drives follow the ATA protocol, whereas CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMs, and ZIP drives follow the ATAPI protocol (ATA Packet Interface). In 2003, ATA was replaced by SATA (Serial ATA) to support higher bitrates.

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Bitrates have improved over time, from 16 Mb/s in early systems to 33, 66, 100, 133, 150, 300, and even 600 Mb/s.

Figure A2.9. IDE/ATA cables and connectors (left to right: hard drive, floppy disk, SATA hard drive)

A2.9. USB USB is a port designed for computer peripherals. Version 1.0 was released in 1996. USB has gone through several iterations: 1.1, 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1. The primary improvement offered by each new generation is the bitrate. – USB 1.0: theoretical version that defined the specifications; – USB 1.1 (1998): 1.5 Mbit/s or 12 Mbit/s; – USB 2.0 (2000): 480 Mbit/s; – USB 3.0 (2008): 5 Gbit/s; – USB 3.1 (2013): 10 Gbit/s. USB ports and connectors have also evolved over time: type A, type B, mini A, mini B, mini AB, micro A, micro B, micro AB, type C.

Figure A2.10. Different types of USB connectors

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A2.10. Conclusion This appendix deliberately says as little as possible about these interfaces; we would need hundreds of pages to describe each of them in full detail. For more information, see the bibliography at the end of this book.

Appendix 3 The General MIDI (GM) Standard

A3.1. Introduction The General MIDI (GM) standard introduces compatibility rules for some of the most important features of MIDI, making it easier for users to control their devices. This standard defines 128 default sounds, divided into 16 families or groups. Each sound is assigned to a certain MIDI control change number. To be compatible with the GM standard, a musical device or instrument must meet the following conditions: – The device must support 16 MIDI channels, with percussion sounds assigned to channel 10. Each channel must support multiple voices. – The device must support at least 24 voices being played simultaneously (16 standard instruments and 8 percussion sounds). – The velocity parameter must be implemented for each voice. – Certain MIDI controls and messages must be supported, including volume, pitch-bending, panning, and so on (see the bibliography for more details). There are also two other variants or extensions of the GM standard: GS by Roland and XG by Yamaha. A3.2. Instrument groups Table A3.1 lists the instrument groups defined by the GM standard.

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Assignment number

Group

Assignment number

Group

1–8

Piano

65–72

Reed

9–16

Chromatic Percussion

73–80

Pipe

17–24

Organ

81–88

Synth Lead

25–32

Guitar

89–96

Synth Pad

33–40

Bass

97–104

Synth Effects

41–48

Strings

105–112

Ethnic

49–56

Ensemble

113–120

Percussive

57–64

Brass

121–128

Sound effects

Table A3.1. Assignment numbers of the instrument groups of the GM standard

A3.3. Instruments Table A3.2 presents the 128 instruments of the GM standard. No.

Instrument

No.

Instrument

No.

Instrument

No.

Instrument

1

Ac Gd Piano

33

Ac Bass

65

Soprano Sax

97

FX 1 (rain)

2

Bght Ac Piano

34

El Bass (finger)

66

Alto Sax

98

FX 2 (soundtrack)

3

El Gd Piano

35

El Bass (pick)

67

Tenor Sax

99

FX 3 (crystal)

4

Honky-tonk Piano

36

Fretless Bass

68

Baritone Sax

100

FX 4 (atmosphere)

5

Electric Piano 1

37

Slap Bass 1

69

Oboe

101

FX 5 (brightness)

6

Electric Piano 2

38

Slap Bass 2

70

English Horn

102

FX 6 (goblins)

7

Harpsichord

39

Synth Bass 1

71

Bassoon

103

FX 7 (echo)

8

Clavi

40

Synth Bass 2

72

Clarinet

104

FX 8 (sci-fi)

9

Celesta

41

Violin

73

Piccolo

105

Sitar

10

Glockenspiel

42

Viola

74

Flute

106

Banjo

11

Music Box

43

Cello

75

Recorder

107

Shamisen

12

Vibraphone

44

Contrabass

76

Pan Flute

108

Koto

Appendix 3

13

77

Blown Bottle

109

331

Marimba

45

Tremolo Strings

14

Xylophone

46

Pizzicato Strings

78

Shakuhachi

110

Bag pipe

15

Tubular Bells

47

Orchestral Harp

79

Whistle

111

Fiddle

16

Dulcimer

48

Timpani

80

Ocarina

112

Shanai

17

Drawbar Organ

49

String Ensemble 1

81

Lead 1 (square)

113

Tinkle Bell

18

Percussive Organ

50

String Ensemble 2

82

Lead 2 (sawtooth)

114

Agogo

19

Rock Organ

51

SynthStrings 1

83

Lead 3 (calliope)

115

Steel Drums

20

Church Organ

52

SynthStrings 2

84

Lead 4 (chiff)

116

Woodblock

21

Reed Organ

53

Choir Aahs

85

Lead 5

117

Taiko Drum

22

Accordion

54

Voice Oohs

86

Lead 6 (voice)

118

Melodic Tom

23

Harmonica

55

Synth Voice

87

Lead 7 (fifths)

119

Synth Drum

24

Tango Accordion

56

Orchestra Hit

88

Lead 8 (bass + lead)

120

Reverse Cymbal

25

Ac Guitar (nylon)

57

Trumpet

89

Pad 1 (new age)

121

Guitar Fret Noise

26

Ac Guitar (steel)

58

Trombone

90

Pad 2 (warm)

122

Breath Noise

27

El Guitar (jazz)

59

Tuba

91

Pad 3 (polysynth)

123

Seashore

28

El Guitar (clean)

60

Muted Trumpet

92

Pad 4 (choir)

124

Bird Tweet

29

El Guitar (muted)

61

French Horn

93

Pad 5 (bowed)

125

Telephone Ring

30

Overdrive Guitar

62

Brass Section

94

Pad 6 (metallic)

126

Helicopter

31

Distortion Guitar

63

SynthBrass 1

95

Pad 7 (halo)

127

Applause

32

Guitar Harmonic

64

SynthBrass 2

96

Pad 8 (sweep)

128

Gunshot

Table A3.2. The 128 instruments defined by the GM standard

Kalimba

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A3.4. Percussion sounds The GM standard assigns percussion sounds to notes 35 to 81 of the keyboard (B0 to A4). This “drum kit” is assigned to channel 10. Table A3.3 lists the 35 percussion sounds defined by GM and their note assignments. Note

Key number

Instrument

Note

Key number

Instrument

B0

35

Ac Bass Drum

B2

59

Ride Cymbal 2

C1

36

Bass Drum 1

C3

60

Hi Bongo

C#1

37

Rim Shot

C#3

61

Low Bongo

D1

38

Acoustic Snare

D3

62

Mute Hi Conga

D#1

39

Hand Clap

D#3

63

Open Hi Conga

E1

40

Electric Snare

E3

64

Low Conga

F1

41

Low Floor Tom

F3

65

High Timbale

F#1

42

Closed Hi-Hat

F#3

66

Low Timbale

G1

43

High Floor Tom

G3

67

High Agogo

G#1

44

Pedal Hi-Hat

G#3

68

Low Agogo

A1

45

Low Tom

A3

69

Cabasa

A#1

46

Open Hi-Hat

A#3

70

Maracas

B1

47

Low-Mid Tom

B3

71

Short Whistle

C2

48

Hi-Mid Tom

C4

72

Long Whistle

C#2

49

Crash Cymbal 1

C#4

73

Short Guiro

D2

50

High Tom

D4

74

Long Guiro

D#2

51

Ride Cymbal 1

D#4

75

Claves

E2

42

Chinese Cymbal

E4

76

Hi Wood Block

F2

53

Ride Bell

F4

77

Low Wood Block

F#2

54

Tambourine

F#4

78

Mute Cuica

G2

55

Splash Cymbal

G4

79

Open Cuica

G#2

56

Cowbell

G#4

80

Mute Triangle

A2

57

Crash Cymbal 2

A4

81

Open Triangle

A#2

58

Vibraslap

Table A3.3. The percussion sounds of the GM “drum kit”

Appendix 4 Plugins

A4.1. Software plugins Plugins are software components that can be loaded into a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), such as Avid Pro Tools, Magix Samplitude X Pro, Cakewalk Sonar, Presonus Studio One, Apple Logic Pro, and Ableton Live, among others, or can be loaded into an audio processing suite, for example Adobe Audition, Magix Sound Forge, Steinberg Wavelab, and Audacity. This list is far from exhaustive. The file extension of a plugin is determined by the operating system and the software environment for which it is designed. Table A4.1 lists the characteristics and file extensions of a selection of example plugins. The file extension can be used to identify the type of plugin. File extension

Publisher

Software–hardware compatibility

VST (Virtual Studio Technology)

Steinberg 1996

DAW – Audio Processing Software – PC/Mac

VST2

Steinberg

DAW – Audio Processing Software – Improved version of VST – PC/Mac

VST3

Steinberg

DAW – Audio Processing Software – Improved version of VST2 – PC/Mac

AU (AudioUnits)

Apple

DAW – Audio Processing Software – Mac – OSX and MacOS

AAX (Avid Audio eXtension)

Avid

Pro Tools 64 bits – PC/Mac

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MAS [Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) Audio System]

MOTU

Digital Performer – Mac

AS (Audiosuite)

Digidesign

Pro Tools – PC/Mac

EASI (Enhanced Audio Streaming Interface)

Apple

Logic Audio – Mac

RTAS (Real-Time Audio Suite)

Digidesign

Pro Tools 10 minimum – PC/Mac

TDM (Time Division Multiplexing)

Digidesign

HD Core or HD Accel Digidesign boards – PC/Mac

DX (Direct X)

Microsoft

PC

Table A4.1. The characteristics of certain plugins according to their file extension

Some plugins have multiple versions for compatibility with different software or hardware environments.

Appendix 5 Control and MIDI Dump Software

A5.1. Introduction What could be more frustrating than a MIDI connection that does not work, a note that fails to arrive at its destination, an unsuccessful MIDI dump, and a command that does not execute properly? Sometimes, we need to know what is really happening, analyze the data directly to understand or anticipate problems, download the current configuration to record, dissect, perhaps modify it – and much more. This appendix provides a brief introduction to a few simple software applications that might help you out in a tricky situation. These programs provide a way to thoroughly analyze the flow of MIDI data passing through a connection. NOTE.– The software download links stated below may have changed or expired. You can use a search engine to find alternative links if one of them no longer works. A5.2. Software for Mac OS This section presents two MIDI monitoring software programs and one exclusive message management program for Mac OS. A.5.2.1. MIDI Loupe This program is free and can be downloaded from the AppStore.

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It monitors MIDI messages from one or multiple devices. Each MIDI source is color-coded to allow the messages to be interpreted more easily. A recording feature allows the messages to be saved to a MIDI log for future reference and analysis. The data can be configured to display as either decimal or hexadecimal values.

Figure A5.1. The main screen of MIDI Loupe

A.5.2.2. MIDI Monitor This software is free (BSD license). You can download it from: http://www.snoize.com/MIDIMonitor/ MIDI Monitor displays any incoming or outgoing MIDI data. It also has data filtering functions and can be set to listen on all channels or only a certain channel. The recording function allows you to save MIDI data to file for future analysis. The data can be configured to display as either decimal or hexadecimal values (preferences).

Appendix 5

337

Figure A5.2. The main screen of the MIDI Monitor

A.5.2.3. SysEx Librarian This software is free (BSD license). You can download it from: http://www.snoize.com/SysExLibrarian/ SysEx Librarian allows you to save and download SysEx files for MIDI devices.

Figure A5.3. The main screen of SysEx Librarian

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Electronic Music Machines

A5.3. Software for Microsoft Windows This section presents two MIDI control and monitoring programs for Microsoft Windows. A5.3.1. MIDI OX MIDI OX is a free, versatile tool for diagnosing issues relating to MIDI data and system exclusive calls. It has a range of features, including: – filtering and displaying incoming and outgoing MIDI data flow; – generating MIDI data from the computer keyboard or built-in application control panel; – recording MIDI data flow for future reference; – scripting language to program custom features; – MIDI routing. Download link: http://www.midiox.com/

Figure A5.4. MIDI-OX with several windows open

Appendix 5

339

A5.3.2. MIDI Monitor MIDI Monitor is a free application. You can download it from: http://obds.free.fr/midimon/ It monitors MIDI data in real time in any of the following formats: binary, hexadecimal, decimal, and explicit. The MIDI Monitor can be used to download the SysEx files from MIDI devices. It also has a MIDI thru feature for routing data from a MIDI input to a MIDI output.

Figure A5.5. The main screen of MIDI Monitor with a prompt to save the SysEx file

A5.4. Final remarks This appendix presents five MIDI control and monitoring software applications. Plenty of other alternatives can also be found, such as MIDI Test (SonelecMusique), Pocket MIDI (Morson Japan), and many others. Another approach is to look for a free VST plugin. There are several options: e.g. midiMonitor and midiKeyboard (both by Insert Piz Here) for MacOS and Microsoft Windows; VST-MIDI monitor (by Cescato Musiktechnologie), and Noisebud MidiVU (for Microsoft Windows only) among others. Finally, there are a few similar apps designed for tablets: MIDI Wrench (iOS – AppStore), USB MIDI Monitor (Android – Google Play Store), and so on.

Bibliography

[AND 86] ANDERTON C., MIDI for Musicians, AMSCO, 1986. [BER 13] BERTOT S., Trente années en 150 albums, de Kurtis Blow à Odd Future, Le mot et le reste, 2013. [BIZ 07] BIZOT J.F., PRIMOIS M., ROUZAUD J., Jean-François Bizot présente la New Wave, Editions du Panama, 2007. [BRA 94] BRAUT C., Norme MIDI Tome 1, Sybex, 1994. [BRA 95] BRAUT C., Norme MIDI Tome 2, Sybex, 1995. [CAI 13] CAIPIRINHA PRODUCTIONS, Modulations, Editions Allia, 2013. [CHI 98] CHION M., MARCHETTI L., ZANESI C., La musique concrète de Michel Chion, Metamkine, 1998. [COL 13] COLLINS N., Electronic Music, Cambridge University Press, 2013. [COW 96] COWELL H., New Musical Resources, Cambridge University Press 1996. [DEW 16] DE WILDE L., Les fous du son, Grasset, 2016. [ERN 15] ERNOULD F., Le grand livre du home studio – Tout pour enregistrer et mixer de la musique chez soi, Dunod, 2015. [FLE 95] FLEURY P., MATHIEU J.P, Vibrations mécaniques acoustiques, Eyrolles, 1995. [FOR 86] FORTIER D., Le mini studio, théorie et pratique, Editions Fréquences, 1986. [FRI 85] FRIEDMAN D., Complete Guide to Synthesizers, Sequencers, and Drum Machines, Music Sales Corp, 1985. [GIB 97] GIBSON D., The Art of Mixing, Mix Books, 1997. [GOU 09] GOUBAULT C., Histoire de l'instrumentation et de l'orchestration: Du baroque à l'électronique, Minerve, 2009. [HUN 14] HUNTER D., Guitar Amps and Effect for Dummies, For Dummies, 2014.

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[KEY 85] KEYBOARD MAGAZINE (eds), Synthesizers and Computers, Keyboard Magazine, 1985. [KOS 16] KOSMICKI G., Musiques électroniques, Le mot et le reste, 2016. [LEH 17] LEHMANN H., La Révolution digitale dans la musique, Editions Allia, 2017. [LEL 16] LELOUP J.-Y. (ed.), Electrosound : Machines, musiques et cultures, Le mot et le reste, 2016. [LEM 15] LEMMINGS R., Drum Machines, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015. [MAN 13] MANNING P., Electronic and Computer Music, Oxford University Press, 2013. [MER 02] MERCIER D., BOURCET P., CALMET M. et al. (eds), Le livre des techniques du son, Dunod, 2002. [MEY 86] MEYER C., BROOKS E., MIDI Time Code, Detailed Specification, Technical document, 1994. [NIM 05] NIMAN M., GENTILI N., Experimental Music: Cage et au-delà, Editions Allia, 2005. [PER 14] PERRINE J., Sound Design, Mixing, and Mastering with Ableton 9, Hal Leonard Corporation, 2014. [PIE 84] PIERCE J.R., Le son musical, Belin, 1984. [PIN 02] PINCH T., TROCCO F., Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer, Harvard University Press, 2002. [QUI 87] QUINET J.J., Les cahiers de l’ACME, Le système MIDI, Jean Jacques Quinet Editeur, 1987. [ROA 15] ROADS C., Composing Electronic Music: A New Aesthetic, Oxford University Press, 2015. [ROA 16] ROADS C., L’audionumérique – Musique et informatique, Dunod, 2016. [ROB 14] ROBISON K., Ableton Live 9: Create, Produce, Perform, Focal Press, 2014. [ROT 95] ROTHSTEIN J., MIDI: A Comprehensive Introduction, Vol. 7, A-R Editions, 1995. [SCH 73] SCHAEFFER P., La musique concrète, Presses universitaires de France, 1973. [SCH 77] SCHAEFFER P., Traité des objets musicaux, Editions du Seuil, 1977. [TOM 10] TOMPKINS D., How to Wreck a Nice Beach: The Vocoder from World War II to Hip-Hop, The Machine Speaks, 2010. [VAI 14] VAIL M., The Synthesizer: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding, Programming, Playing, and Recording the Ultimate Electronic Music Instrument, Oxford University Press, 2014.

Bibliography

343

Internet links Internet links are, by their very nature, volatile. The address of resources hosted on the web may change or even disappear over time. All links were correct at the time of writing of this book. If some of them no longer work, you may be able to find alternatives by searching with Google or any other search engine. Manufacturers and software publishers Ableton: http://www.ableton.com Akai: http://www.akaipro.com Alesis: http://www.alesis.com Audacity: http://audacity.fr/ or https://www.audacityteam.org/ Auto-Tune by Antares: http://www.antarestech.com/ Avid: http://www.avid.com Boss: http://www.boss.info Cycling ’74: http://www.cycling74.com Dave Smith: http://www.davesmithinstruments.com Digidesign: http://www.avid.com Electro-Harmonix: http://www.ehx.com Elektron: http://www.elektron.se E-mu: http://www.emu.com Eventide: http://www.eventideaudio.com Fender: http://www.fender.com Hammond: http://hammondorganco.com Izotope: http://www.izotope.com Korg: http://www.korg.com Lexicon: http://www.lexicon.com Magix: http://www.magix.com Moog: http://www.moogmusic.com MOTU: http://www.motu.com Novation: http://novationmusic.com

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Roland: http://www.roland.com Sonic Timeworks: http://www.sonictimeworks.com Steinberg: http://www.steinberg.net TC Electronic: http://www.tcelectronic.com Universal Audio: http://www.uaudio.com Waves: http://www.waves.com Yamaha: http://www.yamaha.com

Vintage electronic instruments Vintage synthesizers: http://www.vintagesynth.com The 14 most important synthesizers of electronic music: http://www.factmag.com/2016/09/ 15/14-most-important-synths/ Synthmuseum, a website dedicated to old synthesizers: http://www.synthmuseum.com/ Synthtopia, a museum of old synthesizers: http://www.synthtopia.com/

Music boxes, barrel organs, Limonaire & fairground organs Ma boîte à musique (French): http://www.ma-boite-a-musique.com/ Records on automata and music boxes (French): http://www.automates-boites-musique.com/ dossiers-lutece-creation-automate-boite-musique.html History of barrel organs (French): http://pauliphonic.be/fr-histoire-de-l-orgue-de-barbarie.html Barrel organs (French): http://www.jean-christian-michel.com/orgue-barbarie.html A brief history of mechanical music (French): http://club.quomodo.com/musique_mecanique/ histoire.html Odin barrel organs (French): http://www.orgues-de-barbarie.com/ Poirot Limonaire organs (French): http://bertrand.poirot.chez.com/Orgues-Poirot/accueil_031.htm

Vocoders Master Class – Vocoders: http://www.emusician.com/how-to/master-class-vocoders A Brief History of the Vocoder: http://theproaudiofiles.com/history-of-the-vocoder/ The vocoder according to Wendy Carlos: http://www.wendycarlos.com/vocoders.html

Bibliography

345

Digital vocoders with Reason (French): http://openclassrooms.com/fr/courses/1497006-unemusique-professionnelle-avec-reason/1497930-vocoder-numerique

Samplers 15 samplers for modern music: http://www.factmag.com/2016/09/15/15-samplers-thatshaped-modern-music/ How samplers work: http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/music-sampling.htm 5 of the best samplers: http://mixmag.net/feature/5-of-the-best-samplers

Electronic music, musique concrète, electroacoustic music The origins of electro music (French): http://www.cadenceinfo.com/la-musique-electro-sesorigines-et-influences.htm Electronic music, from its pioneers to the dancefloors (French): http://lemotetlereste.com/pdf/ feuille_3014.pdf Styles of electronic music (French): http://www.mediatheque-noisylesec.org/images/selection/ fichiers/electroniques.pdf Electronic music, from its roots to its development (French): http://ethnomusique.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/la-musique-ecc81lectronique-de-sesorigines-acc80-son-decc81veloppement.pdf How the history of electronic music might have happened, by GRAMI (French): http://www.pedagogie.ac-aix-marseille.fr/upload/docs/application/pdf/2017-11/dossier_ pedagogique_grami.pdf Electronic music... A history of sound (French): http://eljibi.free.fr/IMG/pdf/La_musique_ electronique.pdf

Drum machines and groove machines 14 drum machines for modern music: http://www.factmag.com/2016/09/22/the-14-drummachines-that-shaped-modern-music/ The 12 best drum machines: http://www.pmtonline.co.uk/blog/2018/05/15/beat-it-the-12-bestdrum-machines-for-musicians/ The best drum machines and grooveboxes in 2018: http://www.musicradar.com/news/the-besthardware-drum-machines-2018-our-pick-of-the-best-grooveboxes-for-beginners-and-pros Online drum machine: http://html5drummachine.com Website for Elektron hardware owners: http://www.elektronauts.com

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General-purpose websites Activstudio (French): http://www.activstudio.fr/mixage-audio/ Attack Magazine, a magazine http://www.attackmagazine.com/

dedicated

to

music

and

digital

topics:

Audiofanzine, a website dedicated to musical audio hardware: http://www.audiofanzine.com Canford, retailer for audio https://www.canford.co.uk/

and

video

products:

http://www.canford.fr/

or

Recording and mixing: http://mixmag.net Training and resources for amateurs of sound (French): http://deveniringeson.com/ Harmony Central, one of the best websites for musical audio: http://www.harmonycentral.com Keyboard magazine: http://www.keyboardmag.com/ KR Home Studio, the magazine for musical creativity (French): http://www.kr-homestudio.fr/ Musical hardware and more: http://www.pmtonline.co.uk Musical hardware: http://www.musicradar.com Music Store Professional, hardware retailer: http://www.musicstore.de/en_OE/EUR MusicTech, a website dedicated http://www.musictech.net/

to

sound

engineers

and

musical

producers:

Musiker Board, a website for musical audio (German): http://www.musiker-board.de Music, musicians, and instruments: http://factmag.com Pro Audio Review magazine: http://www.prosoundnetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=39995 ProSound: http://www.prosoundnetwork.com/ Audio recording forum: http://homerecording.com SoundClick, a website dedicated to musical audio: http://www.soundclick.com Tape Op magazine: http://tapeop.com/ Thomann, online retailer for musical products: http://www.thomann.de/fr/index.html Website dedicated to vintage synthesizers: http://www.vintagesynth.com/ VST4free, a website dedicated to free VST plugins: http://www.vst4free.com/index.php?plugins=Synthesizers Woodbrass, an online retailer for musical products: http://www.woodbrass.com/ Zikinf, a general-purpose website for musical and audio hardware: http://www.zikinf.com/

Bibliography

347

Interfaces and communication Digital interfaces: http://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/digital-interfacing Digital audio connections connexionsnumeriques.php

(French):

http://www.mamosa.org/jenfi.home/debuter/

MIDI An introduction to the MIDI standard (French): http://www.cri.ensmp.fr/~pj/music_slides.pdf The MIDI standard and its files (French): http://www.jchr.be/linux/midi-format.htm The MIDI standard (French): http://ogloton.free.fr/midi/presentation.html The MIDI standard (French): http://www.sonelec-musique.com/electronique_theorie_midi_ norme.html The MIDI standard (French): http://ntemusique.free.fr/musique/MIDI/MIDI.pdf An introduction to the MIDI standard (French): http://www.midi.org/articles-old/an-intro-tomidi The MIDI forum: http://www.midi.org/forum/830-midi-octave-and-note-numbering-standard The GM standard: http://www.midi.org/specifications-old/item/gm-level-1-sound-set Exploring the GM standard: http://www.harfesoft.de/aixphysik/sound/midi/pages/genmidi.html The General MIDI standard: http://daffyduke.lautre.net/zik/midi_10.html The XG MIDI standard: http://ppretot.free.fr/whatxgf.htm Differences between GM, GS, and XG: http://www.cybermidi.com/helpdesk/knowledgebase .php?article=47

Miscellaneous video tutorials Elephorm (French): http://www.elephorm.com/audio-mao.html Mj tutorials (French): http://www.mjtutoriels.com/18-techniques-audio Tutorom (French): http://www.tutorom.fr/categories-de-tutoriels/fr/audio Virtual Production School (VPS) (French): http://www.tutoriels-mao.com/les-tutoriels/mixet-master-de-a-%C3%A0-z-avec-des-plugins-gratuits-detail Learning to mix with Ableton (French): http://le-son-ableton.fr/apprendre-le-mixage-avecableton/ Tutorials by Anto (French): http://www.tutodanto.com/c/voir-tous-les-tutos-mao

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Tuto.com (French): http://fr.tuto.com/tuto/audio-mao/ Home studio for beginners (French): http://www.home-studio-debutant.com/ Tutorial 1 by Cuckoo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrhPOGzn7LI Tutorial 2 by Cuckoo – Loopbox: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnbQ8ichm54 A session with the Octatrack: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPhYIr3inzA Octatrack, sampling and v=aLG86xedyNE&t=186s

time

stretching:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?

Octatrack, how to structure a song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnE4rUa46SE Electribe 2, transferring files to Ableton (French): http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=c4pAkO6LMsM Electribe 2 tutorial (French): http://the-venom-synth.over-blog.com/2016/07/korg-electribe-2tutoriel-s.html Electribe 2 tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dgLJvz6xfs Electribe 2 tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VM-vtRldnEo Pianotech, tutorials for the Electribe 2 (French): http://blog.pianotech.fr/korg-electribe-2/ Index of tutorials for the Octatrack: http://www.mindmeister.com/fr/310663045/elektronoctatrack-video-tutorial-index Tutorial for the Electribe Sampler: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmFKF220_bw Tutorial for the Electribe Sampler: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0LHNKvdzyU

Index

# 5-pin DIN, 106 A, B, C A-155, 85 Ableton, 158, 161, 169, 264 Ace Tone, 102 acid house, 30 jazz, 32 ADAT, 321 ADSR, 312 AES/EBU, 18, 320 AES3, 320 aftertouch, 53, 54 Akai, 111, 126 MPC 2000XL, 152 MPC-60, 150 S1000, 127, 128 S612, 126 S700, 126 S7000, 126 S900, 127 ambient, 33 house, 34

analog sequencers, 83 architecture, 141 Arpanet, 20 arpeggiator, 240 ATA, 325 ATAPI, 325 Audion piano, 9 automata, 82 automatic piano, 77 automatophone, 75 Auto-Tune, 196, 198 Bandito the Bongo Artist, 99 bank select, 54 battery, 220 Bayle, François, 10 Berg, Alban, 6 Berliner, Emile, 83 Birotron, 123 Boulez, Pierre, 7 Bradley (brothers), 119 Cakewalk, 162 Carlos, Wendy, 33, 181 carrier pattern, 297 signal, 183 Chamberlin, Harry, 95, 118

Electronic Music Machines: The New Musical Instruments, First Edition. Jean-Michel Réveillac. © ISTE Ltd 2019. Published by ISTE Ltd and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

350

Electronic Music Machines

channel messages, 46 voice messages, 54 chromatic mode, 247 chunks, 56 cold wave, 26 common messages, 48 Compact Disc (CD), 17 ComputeRhythm, 103 computer, 16 control change, 53, 54 surface, 147, 161, 172 controller, 142, 172 convergence, 15 CR-78, 104 Creative Commons License, 13 CSQ100, 87 600, 87 Cubase, 162, 164 CV/Gate, 107 cyberculture, 13 D, E, F Das Model, 235 dematerialization, 13 digital audio editor, 138 audio workstation (DAW), 89, 111, 135, 148, 333 sequencers, 86 Digital Performer, 162, 164 Digitech Talker, 193 disassembly, 212 disco, 6, 28 Doncamatic DA-20, 100 DC-11, 101 Downgrade, 277

drum kit, 332 machine (DM), 93 Drummer Boy, 106 Drumtraks, 108 Drumulator, 108 DTS, 323 Dudley, Homer, 179 Duo-Art, 79 DX7, 42 EBM, 29 effects, 300 EIDE, 325 Eko, 103 Electrix Warp Factory, 189 Electro Harmonix V256, 194 electro, 36 hip-hop, 35 body, 26 live, 6 Elektron Octatrack, 155 email, 20 E-mu, 108 SP12, 149 Systems, 125 Emulator I, 125 II, 125 III, 126 IV, 126 emulators, 115 Eno, Brian, 33 Enosniq, 129 Ethernet, 70 exclusive messages, 48 Fairlight CMI, 19, 123 Ferrari, 10 filter, 103 Firewire, 70, 321 FR-1 Rhythm Ace, 102 Free Art License, 13

Index

Fritz Pleumer, 83 Fruity Loops, 162, 164 G, H GarageBand, 164 gate, 2 Gaveau, 79 General MIDI, 2, 52, 54, 329 gramophone, 80, 83 GRM, 8 groove machine, 18, 112 groovebox, 147 GS, 54, 329 Gulbransen, 99 Hammond, 10, 102 hardware controller, 161 header block, 56 Henry, Pierre, 3 Hertz per volt, 312 hip-hop, 35 HTML, 20 I, J, K i.Link, 321 IDE, 325 IEEE 1394, 321 iGroove machine, 176 Image Line Groove Machine, 162 implementation chart, 51 incremental encoder, 225 JMSC, 42 jukebox, 80 Jupiter 6, 42 Kakehashi, 102 Kaoss, 157 Keio-Giken, 100 Keykode, 323 Korg, 101, 129 Electribe, 2, 156, 263, 264, 281 Sampler, 156, 266, 272, 81

MS2000, 189 VC-10, 187 Kraftwerk, 26, 182, 235 krautrock, 6, 26 Kurzweil, 129 L, M, N Linn 9000, 108 Electronics, 107 LM-1, 107 LinnDrum, 108 Logic, 164 loop sequencers, 89 loops, 117 LTC, 323 Lynx, 321 Mellotron, 119, 139 M300, 120 M400, 121 M4000, 122 M5000, 122 Mark VII, 122 Maderna, Bruno, 3 MADI, 321 MARRS, 28 mashups, 24 Max for Live, 171 MC-303, 147 mechanical piano, 75, 77 Melodico, 79 Menu tree, 281 merger, 67 Microkorg, 190 Microtonic, 159 MIDI, 106, 142, 323 box, 67 cables, 267 Loupe, 335 Monitor, 336, 339 USB, 339

351

352

Electronic Music Machines

OX, 338 patchbay, 68 patcher, 68 pocket, 339 standard, 17 Test, 339 Wrench, 339 midiMonitor, 339 Mini Pops MP-2, 101 minimalistic, 6 mode messages, 46 modular sequencers, 89 Moog, Robert, 181 Mosaic, 20 motown, 28 MP3, 11 MPC 2000, 128 60, 111, 127 Studio Black, 174 music acousmatic, 4 ambient, 6 box, 75, 76 computer, 6 download websites, 11 electroacoustic, 3 electronic, 3 house, 11, 24, 26 subaquatic, 6 tape, 6 tonal, 6 Music And More VF11, 192 musical loops, 88 sampler, 19 musique concréte, 1 Native Instruments Maschine, 172 NBIC, 22 NED, 124 new beat, 29 new wave, 24, 25

note-off, 49 note-on, 49 Novation Circuit, 158 Mininova, 192 Novatron, 121 O, P, Q, R octave, 305 omni, 46 omnifunctional sequencers, 89 Ondes Martenot, 10 Operating System, 201 Optigan, 123 orchestrions, 82 Orchestron, 123 organ, barrel, 75, 80 Limonaire (fairground), 75, 82 Warbo Formant, 83 OS (operating system), 269 oscillator, 9, 95 parallel, 71 Parmegiani, Bernard, 10 patcher, 67 patterns, 57 phonograph, 83 photoelectric sensors, 95 Pianista, 78 Pianola, 78 Pink Floyd, 33 pitch bend, 53, 54 plagiarism, 139 Pleyela, 79 plug, 324 plugins, 333 pneumatic piano, 78 poly-rhythms, 95 portamento, 54 pressure, 142 Pro Tools, 164

Index

program change, 52 name, 61 programmable drum machine, 18 Propellerhead Reason, 163 Prophet 600, 42 quantization, 266 rap, 35 RCA, 319 real-time messages, 48 Reason, 161 Reflex Tune, 194 remix, 11 Rewire, 164 Rhythm Prince, 99 Synthesizer, 99 Rhythmate, 95 rhythmic harmony, 95 Rhythmicon, 93 Roland,102, 129, 147, 153 MC-303, 151 MC-909, 153 SVC-350, 188 TB-303, 30, 161 TR-08, 105 TR-505, 251 TR-8, 105 TR-808, 104, 161 TR-8S, 105 TR-909, 104, 107 TR-909, 161 VP-330, 186 VP-550, 191 rompler, 131 RS232, 71 RS422, 71 RX-11, 108 RX-15, 108

353

S S/PDIF, 18, 319, 320, 321 S-Trigger, 2 sampler, 19, 117, 266 SATA, 325 SC-55 MKII, 255 Schaeffer, Pierre, 1, 117 Schönberg, Arnold, 6 Schulze, Klaus, 33 Scott, Raymond, 99 SCSI, 323 SD card, 264, 269 Seeburg, 99 Select-A-Rhythm, 99 Sennheiser VSM, 201, 194 sequence (track) name, 58 number, 61 sequencer, 18, 75, 147 -arrangers, 89 Sequential Circuits, 41, 108 serialism, 7 twelve-tone (dodecaphony), 6 set tempo, 57 shortcuts, 294 SIGGSALY, 180 sliding phonogène, 118 Smith, Dave, 41 SMPTE, 18, 57, 322 software sampler, 133, 137 sequencers, 88 Sonar, 164 Sonovox, 196 sostenuto, 55 soul, 28 Sound Canvas, 255 sound cards, 134 spectral, 6 SQ-1, 85 status bytes, 45

354

Electronic Music Machines

Steinway, 79 step recording, 107 Stockhausen, Karlheinz, 3 Streetly Electronics, 119 Synclavier, 124 Synton Syntovox 221, 194 sysex event, 59 SysEx, 337, 339 Librarian, 337 T, U, V talkbox, 196 Tangerine Dream, 26 tape recorder, 10 TDIF, 321 techno, 11, 28 hardcore, 30 Tempo map, 57 testing, 206 Theremin, 9, 93 Thunderbolt, 73 ticks, 57 time signature, 57 TOSLINK, 319, 321 touch scale, 156 touchpads, 108 track chunk, 57 trance, 35 transistors, 99 Trautonium, 10 trigger, 2, 302, 312 triode, 83 Turntable Emulation, 153 update, 203 USB, 326 3.0, 72 vacuum tubes, 98 Varèse, Edgard, 3 VCF, 312 VCO, 312 velocity, 142

video clips, 20 virtual drum machine, 112 VITC, 323 Vocaltune, 192 vocoders, 10, 180 EMS 2000, 184 3000, 185 5000, 185 Moog, 188 software, 195 Voder, 179 voice messages, 46 Voltage Trigger, 2 volts per octave, 312 V-Trigger, 2 W, X warping, 169, 266 workstations, 89, 125, 148, 152, 153 Wurlitzer, 97 Side Man, 97 x-fader, 222 XG, 55, 329 XLR, 320

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