Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Patch 001 - Glockenspiel

The first thing I did when I got my microKORG a couple of weeks ago was to restore the factory presets (I bought my synth used on ebay) and go through them one by one taking note of which ones to keep and which ones to ditch. In the end I was happy to keep 78 of the 128 presets and set about initializing the other 50 patches (shift+3).

If, like me, you're a new microKORG user then it is worthwhile taking the time to check out the settings of an initialized patch - a single oscillator (saw wave), no detuning, filter fully open and a basic amp envelope of fast attack and decay, full sustain and no release. The mod and pitch bend wheels take on vibrato and pitch bend duties respectively with no other modulation controls operating. The effects and EQ settings are both off. If all of that makes no sense to you then you'd best do some reading up on synthesizer basics!

You'll soon find out from my sound experiments that I tend to steer clear of harsh, in your face, sounds, preferring instead lush pads, synth strings, ambient drones and musical blips and bleeps, etc. I am also interested in how to recreate acoustic instruments on a VA synth. Therefore, for my first patch in this venture I thought I'd keep it simple and try and recreate a glockenspiel.

The first thing I did was to edit the amp envelope to have a fast attack (2 rather than 0 to avoid an unpleasant click sound), zero sustain and relatively high decay / release. The ADSR characteristics are clearly a lot more like a percussive instrument (the initialized patch has an organ like ADSR envelope). The saw wave is not suitable for an xylophone so I changed this to a sine wave and already the sound is beginning to take shape, especially in the upper octaves. The sound was lacking something though, that metallic quality of the glockenspiel (perhaps more xylophone-esque).

I read in the manual that ring modulation can give a bell like sound so I messed about with that for a while but to be honest didn't have a clue what I was doing (definitely something to explore another time). Then I remembered the digital waveforms (DWGS) and so I worked through them and settled on number 7, which was definitely a lot more like it. The sound was a bit static so I added a little flanger and delay and I was nearly there. I wanted how hard I played the notes to respond as it would with a glockenspiel so I routed velocity to amp in the modulation matrix. I turned off the pitch bend. The only other thing to try and model was the change in tone as you up the actives and so I routed keytrack to the cut-off filter, which I closed about half-way (I only noticed after that there is a fixed routing already on the microKORG, oops!).

And I was pretty happy with that for a first try. Definitely sounds better in the upper registers though and I would like to be able to route keytacking to the decay / sustain so that the lower notes ring out a bit.

Here are the patch settings (in the end I also saved a version without flanger / delay, I like both):

Voice: SYT, SGL, PLY, ---, --- (unchanged)
Pitch: 0, 0, 0, 0, 2
Osc 1: DIG, ---, 7, ---, ---
Osc 2: SAW, OFF, 0, 0, --- (unchanged)
Mixer: 127, 0, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Filter: 12L, 71, 20, 0, 0
Filter EG: 0, 64, 127, 0, ON
Amp: 127, CNT, OFF, 0, --- (unchanged)
Amp EG: 2, 92, 0, 92, ON
LFO 1: TRI, OFF, OFF, 10, --- (unchanged)
LFO 2: SIN, OFF, OFF, 70, --- (unchanged)

Patch 1: VEL, AMP, 48, ---, ---
Patch 2: TRC, CUT, 48, ---, ---
Patch 3: LF1, CUT, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Patch 4: LF2, CUT, 0, ---, --- (unchanged)
Mod FX: FLG, 20, 6, ---, ---
Delay: STR, OFF, 56, 42, ---
EQ: 320, 0, 2, 0, --- (unchanged)
Arpeg. A: 120, 1.16, 80, UP, 1 (unchanged)
Arpeg. B: OFF, 0, OFF, 8, --- (unchanged)

I like how this sounds running through the arpeggiator, try for yourself!


  1. Cool first patch, I made a short little track with it.

  2. Hey David, cool track! Was that sequenced on Renoise? I love the tracker interface for that style of music. Just out of curiosity, was the MicroKorg recorded dry?

  3. Yeah, I used Renoise to sequence it. The only changes I made to the MicroKorg sound was some panning, volume and EQ.