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TALK The rebellion against just pressing play is in full swing,
and those with keyboard chops are in a great position to
8 Voices from the Keyboard community. be part of the new wave of real musicianship in EDM.
We cover what you need to know to get started spinning
your own sets to live audiences.
NEW GEAR 32 Five Ways To Add Live
10 Our monthly wrap-up of the most interesting products from the Performance to a DJ Set
keyboard, recording, and professional audio worlds. 36 Ableton Live Mini Master Class
38 The DJ Gig Bag Survival Kit


Omnisphere sound designer Scott Frankfurt describes
12 BREAKOUTS essential synth programming virtues to Jerry Kovarsky.
South African duo Goldfish didnt like the
stereotype of electronic dance music artists as 42 BEYOND THE MANUAL

unmusical button-pushers, so they took their Gotcha! Craig Anderton on common
jazz training and started a band that combines computer glitches and fixes.
lots of live instrumentation with funky Ableton-
powered grooves and gorgeous sound design. 44 DANCE
Using odd time signatures and polyrhythms.
Australias M4sonic started as a classically
trained pianist, and plays a Novation
Launchpad like its a Steinway. He details the 46 ROUNDUP
approach thats rocketed him to overnight Our picks for DJ software for keyboardists.
20 TALENT SCOUT Roland Aira TR-8
In this double-sized section on up-and-
coming musicians, we profile sax-slinging, 54 BASS SYNTH
Boulder-based livetronica duo Big Gigantic, Roland Aira TB-3
and sensational German R&B jazz
keyboardist and vocalist Olivia Trummer. 56 SOFT SYNTH
iZotope BreakTweaker

4 b b
b b Audible Genius Syntorial
3 3

3 3

Brian Charette on ? 44 b b b 62 APP
3 3 3

time trickery. Korg Gadget

3 3 3 3 3

? 44 b

Sting keyboardist Jason Rebello makes
reharmonization easy. 66 Five things Jamiroquais current keyboardist
Matt Johnson has learned about playing in a band.

Online Now! KEYBOARD (ISSN 0730-0158) is published monthly by NewBay Media, LLC 1111 Bay-
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4 Keyboard 05.2014
VOL. 40, NO. 05 #458 MAY 2014
EDITOR IN CHIEF: Stephen Fortner
SENIOR CORRESPONDENTS: Jim Aikin, Craig Anderton,
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6 Keyboard 05.2014
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Editors Note Connect

Comment directly at

What is it to be EDM artist who performs live on-the floor foundation that packs dance clubs.
as a DJ? Even asking that question in Key- Goldfish are poster children for this trend.
boardlet alone devoting as much space to it as Why should you care? As a keyboardist, you
we do in this issuecould be mistaking a hor- already have the ears and vocabulary to craft
nets nest for a piata. Its very easy to watch electronic dance music that youd actually enjoy.
any star of contemporary electronic dance So will the whole new audience and gig circuit
music perform live and ask, Just what are they you might pick upincluding venues that have
doing up there? Its true that some are doing neither the space nor the resources to hire full
little besides playing pre-made set lists, which live bandsin the process. If that sounds inter-
in some cases are made for them. Any trained esting, our special Beyond DJing tech section
Keyboard Corner
musician is justified in resenting these modern is for you. Now to get back to practicing my fes-
Milli Vanillis. tival fist pump. . . .
However, theres a recent wave of artists
with strong musical backgrounds, aiming to
combine live instrument performance and Stephen Fortner
sound manipulation with the loop-based, four- Editor

Key Secrets Freeze Frame!

Stopping time to enjoy the good parts of something is one of the best things about digital
media production. While helping my son make a claymation video (
sphere), I realized his 300 photos would last only ten seconds at the standard 30 frames per
second (fps). So we slowed the playback to 6fpsstill fast enough to suggest motionand
extended important frames to last even longer. This trick works on audio, too. Try reducing the
tempo of a MIDI sequence right before the chorus to build anticipation, or ensuring silence on a
vocal track in between phrases to let the music speak. David Battino






Polls rotate every two weeks, and can be found at the bottom of our homepage.
8 Keyboard 05.2014
The Seaboard
from startup
YEARS Roli grabbed a
lot of attention

AGO at NAMM, and

we got hands-

TODAY on time both

there and at
private demos
Nick Rhodes enjoyed a late last year. The concept is to meld a meaningfully alternative
personal valet for his Korg controller with a traditional layout, for keyboardists who might be
Poly-800 on our May 1984 cover, and within the pages, detailed his put off by harmonic-table honeycomb keys or other such exotic
riga Roland Jupiter-8 atop a Fairlight CMI workstationduring fare. Continuously moving between the soft-yet-supple keys allows
the heyday of Duran Duran. [We most recently spoke withNick in for polyphonic pitch-bend and portamento, and two ribbons run
the August 2011 issue Ed.] Writer Bob Doerschuk profiled the key- the length of the keyboard, both behind and in front of it. Its
board rental business, and Dominic Milano reviewed the Sequential internal synth engine, Equator, is optimized to take full advantage
Circuits Six-Trak and Octave-Plateau Voyetra-8still one of the of the control messages it sends. Find out more at
most versatile and underrated vintage analog synths around.

Electronic Instrument Amin Bhatia

My First __________________________.
While synth master Amin Bhatia is widely renowned both for his nuanced television scoring on
shows like Flashpoint and his analog prestidigitation on albums like Interstellar Suite, his rst
electronic instrument wasnt a keyboard at all.
It was the family Grundig TK-341 reel-to-reel tape recorderthe Deluxe model! says Bhatia,
laughing. I was only ten years old, but my dad saw that I had a knack for the thing, so he let me
be in charge of it. The day I discovered sound-on-sound overdubbing, that started it all. Bhatia
began experimenting, using the recorder to construct impromptu duets with himself. I could
create echoes and strange sounds and, using feedback, create different tones and splice them
up into mini-sequences of melodies, he recalls. Later, I added a little Stylophone synth to it and
that became my rst keyboard. Bhatias family purchased a piano not long after, but he never
forgot his initial electronic music inspiration. The tape recorder was rst! he says. Everything
else came later. For more on Bhatia, visit | Michael Gallant

05.2014 Keyboard 9

NEW GEAR WHAT Acoustic piano with

transducers that make the
soundboard a speaker for
internal sampled sounds.
Has Silent Piano muting and
headphone out. WHO Pianists
who want natural resonance
for layering acoustic and digital
sounds. [We played this at
NAMM, and it sounded fantastic.
Ed.] $TBD |


WHAT USB-powered, 25-note keyboard with 40-button matrix and
eight knobs, designed for Ableton Live. Also works as a standard MIDI
controller. WHO Anyone who needs to combine clip launching and synth rifng
while squeezing into a cramped DJ booth. $129.99 street |


WHAT A two-birds-one-stone combo of tube line driver and summing
mixer. WHO Anyone working with already-tracked drumsthough it could
seriously warm up bass and keyboard tracks, too. $TBD |


WHAT MIDI controllers featuring direct GROOVEMAKER
integration with most DAWs. WHO WHAT Performance-
Computer musicians on a budget oriented iOS remixing
who still want the same great feel and app with 3,600
construction as in Nektars Panorama loops, effects, time
keyboards. 25 keys: $129.99 | 61 keys: stretching, and the
$229.99 | ability to record and
import audio. WHO
EDM artists who want
a song starter that
goes wherever their
iPhones do. $9.99 at Appple App Store |

WHAT Polysynth module that puts the sound of classic string machines on your
tabletop. Includes mono solo synth section and effects. WHO Retronauts looking for
string-ensemble sounds from the golden age of analog. $325 |

All prices are manufacturers suggested retail (list) unless otherwise

noted. Follow and @keyboardmag on Twitter
for up-to-the-minute gear news.

10 Keyboard 05.2014
What initially amazed me, and still continues makes people move across the country and cut
to, even though we oftentimes take it for granted, their hair. It makes armies march into battle. It VOYAGER ELECTRIC BLUE
is that the movement of airthe compression makes people weep. And all it is, is air. So thats
and rarefaction of aircan somehow elicit magic. I just couldnt believe that something LIST: $3556.00
the most profound emotional responses any could have that much power over me. I couldnt
human is capable of having. Moby says. see it, I couldnt touch it and I couldnt taste it, but
Music doesnt exist. Its just air hitting your somehow it was affecting me so profoundly. Thats
eardrum a little bit differently than it otherwise pretty much why Ive dedicated my life to music.
would be hitting your eardrum. The air hits
someones eardrum a little bit differently, in To read the entire interview NEW ALBUM
a slightly more structured way, and it makes INNOCENTS
and see the gear Moby uses to make magic, Available on iTunes
people dance, it makes people have sex, it visit MOBY.COM



and well honed synth and production chopsthough you wouldnt know it from
attending many a live EDM show. Ghost-written tracks, premade playlists, and
DJs jumping around onstage behind an expanse of gear theyre not really using
are all too common.

Dom Peters and Dave Poole are as bugged by this

as the rest of us, which makes perfect sense given
that the South African duo known as Goldfish
started out as serious students of jazz. The video
for their track One Million Views is a perfect
parody of EDM cultureyet that very culture
has embraced their expert mixology of on-
the-fly Ableton grooves with live sax, flute,
upright bass, and keyboard playing. Their
self-described anti-DJ performances
netted them a residency at dance club
holy-of-holies Pacha in Ibiza; more re-
cently theyve been touring the world in
support of their musically diverse, soni-
cally layered, and thoroughly enjoyable
album Three Second Memory.
We spoke to Dom and Dave about
the gear, techniques, and philosophy
they combine to go beyond DJing.

12 Keyboard 05.2014

05.2014 Keyboard 13
What was the first artist you heard that gave student jazz band, and we must have played it a
you your synthesizer A-ha moment? thousand times at gigs. Time went by and Goldfish GOLDFISHS
Dom: Jamiroquai. Toby Smith was my refer- took over our lives, but we never stopped loving TOP TIPS FOR
that track, so we made a dance bootleg for our DJ-CURIOUS
ence for everything when I was a teenager. I used
to listen to all their albums and study Tobys sets, using just a stereo WAV file of it. Fast-forward
style. It was the perfect balance of complex jazz a couple of years. While we were in Ibiza, we got
chords done in an accessible way, where you this email out of the blue from Geoff Wilkinson of Since Dom and Dave were
didnt even realize you were listening to such cool Us3, asking if wed do a remix for the 20th anni- jazz musicians rst, we
stuff because hed reduced it to its essence. That versary re-release. Of course, wed done it and had asked them what theyd
was our gateway from jazz into electronica. After been playing it out, so Dave casually sent it back to tell a keyboard player who
that,Kruder & Dorfmeisters The K&D Sessions, him two minutes later and said, Heres the remix. wants to go solo and start
and St. Germains Tourist were a huge inspira- I think we gave him a bit of a fright. creating dance oor tracks.
tionthe clash of analog and digital. He mailed back straight away, saying that it was Heres their advice.
the first bootleg hed heard that he actually liked.
What was your point of entry into experi- He subsequently sent us the multitrack separates, Less is more. The most
menting with synths yourselves? which let us do some really cool stuff. It was one of powerful music can be
Dom: My folks bought me a Kawai keyboard those weird moments where the universe aligns. disarmingly simple and
for my 11th birthday. I found a grainy pic of me If youd told me as a teenager that wed one day be hypnotic.
opening the box, and the look on my face that remixing one of our favorite tunes at the request
definitely was the moment it all began. It had a se- of the artist, Id have patted you on the back and Making dance music is
quencer and some truly terrible sounds, but for an called the guys in white coats. harder than it looks. Some
11-year-old it was like the keys to the city. Sudden- musicians are supremely
ly I could program tracks. I started learning tracks nave about the intricacies
off the radio so I could impress girls. [Laughs.]
I then bought a Roland MC-505 when I was "Jazz is a of dance musicwe know
because weve been those
people. Producing and
great foundation,
19. At the time, Dave and I were in a jazz band
and Id take sequences to rehearsals so the band mixing songs is a whole new
could hear my track ideas. But it never really
worked out, and thats when Dave and I realized almost like doing skill set. Learning about how
EQ, compression, reverb,
we were both into the same kinds of music. We
started Goldfish alongside the jazz band and
Shakespeare and delays affect your music
is a lifelong journey in itself.
changed our lives forever. plays before Just because you can
How did your jazz study influence your ap- doing lm." play anything doesnt
proach to electronic dance music? mean you should. Being
Dom: Dave and I both received jazz degrees a jazz virtuoso and
from the University of Cape Town, Dave rocking Which elements of your live show are se- playing super-technical
a masters and myself a bachelors. Jazz is a great quenced, and which are played in real time? chord progressions and
foundation, almost like doing Shakespeare plays Dom: Ableton is running the basic track, onto burning solos is all hot air
before doing film. You had to nail it then and there; which we add loops, arpeggiators, and live instru- if you cant access your
you couldnt fix it in the mix. That training will ments. There are only two of us, and over time we audiences emotions.
always stand you in good stead, even if you dont realized that there has to be a balance between
plumb its depths after you graduate. But the biggest reinventing the DJ wheel and being entertaining. Pick a DAW and learn it
mistake you can make when studying is losing the It cant be a panicked mission control scenario inside out. It will become
essence of your musical message by letting your aca- with checklists of technical tasks. We want to focus your best friend. For us its
demic ego take over. Just because you know a bunch on playing our live instruments and being creative. Ableton, but it could be
of clever words doesnt make you a good writer, and Logic, Digital Performer, Pro
the same applies to music. The best thing was that What songs in your show have the biggest oc- Tools, Cubase, FL Studio, or
the training helped us create our own samples, as topus factor in terms of doing a lot at once? anything.
we played so many instruments between the two of Dave: On Hold Tight, I have to play the sax
us that we could be the whole band. riff and trigger a harmony sample of the sax riff Dont let your gear
at the same time, which requires precise body inuence the idea in your
Your album includes a remix of Us3s Canta- positioning and the right neck strap length so I head. Sometimes, the
loop, which itself is a remix of Herbie Han- can play the sax with my left hand while my right interface and operation of
cocks Cantaloupe Island and a prototype of hand hits the sample on the Roland SP-404SX. It your DAW or sequencer can
the art of sample manipulation. Was it intim- keeps things interesting. color your ideas. That can
idating to take on a track that legendary? Dom: Probably Just for Tonight. Im playing be a good thingor it can
Dom: This is a funny story, actually. Canta- a synth, running an arpeggiator, and sweeping dilute your original idea.
loop was the first track we ever learned in our the filter cutoff while also playing upright bass. It

14 Keyboard 05.2014
Our goal onstage is to make things as simple as
possible without compromising the live performance
element, says Goldshs Dave Poole. Doms setup
has a Ned Steinberger electric upright bass and an
Akai SynthStation 49 driving an iPad with a selection
of synth apps, which we run through a Roland MC-
909 for additional processing. This allows us to
have more gear patched in without having to use
a massive live desk. The MC-909 is still a win over
using only soft synths with a controller, as it has a
great layout for live use and a rock-solid sequencer
with zero latency for arpeggiations.
IN THE FISHBOWL My setup includes an Allen & Heath Zed-10FX mixer,
which acts as the audio interface for Ableton Live 9,
running on a beast of a MacBook Pro with an SSD and
maxed-out RAM. The Touchable app for iPad controls
Ableton, to minimize ddling with the laptop onstage.
This is coupled with a Korg NanoKontrol to gain some
dedicated knobs for the heat of live performance.
Theres also a Korg Kaoss Pad 3 and a Roland SP-404SX
sampler for vocal phrases, extra loops, and one-shots.
I play sax and ute live; the sax is a curved
soprano, which really cuts, and on big shows the
tenor comes along. Ableton also sends MIDI to our
VJ to trigger video and lighting cues in time with
the music. We send the MIDI cues over WiFi to two
MacBook Pros at front-of-house, one running VDMX
and the other connected to a GrandMA lighting
console. Our VJ also mixes four GoPro cameras, to
give people an up-close view of what were doing.

just wouldnt be the same if that were all backing- tempt us into a more 808-style approach. [See our From there, we started the lyric content covering
tracked and perfect. Even if Im the only one who review of the TR-8 on page 50. Ed.] the state of dance and pop music today.
knows what Im doing, its a lot of fun.
Your song One Million Views lampoons Deadmau5 once said in a Keyboard inter-
In the studio, whats your music production the just press play mentality in EDM. Do view, To produce and present electronic
software of choice? Other gear you cant live you see yourselves as an EDM act? music is to be a DJmeaning that what-
without? Dom: We like to think of it asreinventing the ever your musical and technical chops are,
Dave: Were using Ableton in the studioit DJ. Were DJs who play instruments . . . or is it you cant avoid being perceived as a DJ once
doesnt get in the way when the creative juices are musicians who DJ? its time for the show. Do you agree?
flowing. The only negative is the in-the-box bounc- Dave: We have live elements, we have beats, Dom: Yes. Thats why we featured a charac-
ing, so we purchased a [Thermionic Culture] Little were entertainers, and were there to make ter based on him in the video. He wrote a blog
Bustard summing mixer to do mixdowns through. everyone have a great time. We wouldnt call about how we all hit play and that resonated
The Little Phatty by Moog is definitely a synth we ourselves an EDM act, asthese days EDM has with us. Yes, we alldo hit play to varying ex-
couldnt live without. For controlling Ableton in connotations of a more specific sound than what tents, but to perform an entire pre-mixed EDM
the studio, we love the Akai APC40, as it makes us the letters actually stand for. setor take the backing-tracked, lip-synced
feel like we have a real mixing desk. approach that has become so prevalent in
The video for that song has a scene where popis insulting to the audience. Dont get us
When you compose, do you start with a you go into the studio, write out sheet mu- startedwe could talk all day about this!
drum loop and slice it? Or finger-drum MPC- sic, and play synths. How do songs usually
style? Or do 808-style step sequencing? begin, in fact?
Dom: We dont have a set way of doing this. Dom: Its different depending on the track. Watch One Million Views.
However, mostly it starts with a loop, which we On One Million Views, it was when I was noo- Tour Goldshs stage rig.
either slice up [REX-style] or just take bits from dling on the Wurly, which is like an inspiration
until we have what were after. We just tried out machine. I came up with the opening riff and
Rolands new Aira TR-8, which would definitely Dave just blurted out, I got one million views.

16 Keyboard 05.2014



In the case of classically trained Nick Boundy, a.k.a. M4sonic (thats em-four-sonic), the hype is more than deserved. Controller-
ism isnt entirely newartists like Moldover and Jeremy Ellis have been trailblazers for some time. But M4sonic takes it to a new
level, with every percussive and pitched note of his sonic creations mapped to a different pad on his Novation Launchpads. He plays
songs through in real time, with no loops running, triggering something different at seemingly every sixteenth-note. These skills have
gotten his YouTube videos over 30,000,000 views and netted major deals with Sony and Ultra Music. Heres how he does it.

How does your classical piano training affect What was your point of entry from playing of sounds that my brain found easy to remember.
your approach to creating electronic dance piano into wanting to make electronic music? It became such a personal space where my music
music? It was a combination of driving my parents mad was designed for me only. Over time Ive adapted
When I compose music, I begin by playing a with the constant practicing in the living room my loops and hits into a more methodic layout. Of
melody on the keys. The melody is crucial to my and their support for me wanting a keyboard that the 64 LED buttons on the Launchpad, I have four
music and is sometimes lacking in other genres had more features than just a piano sound. That quadrants of samples with very linear groupings.
of EDM. conveniently came with headphones so that I
could play all night without disturbing anybody! Do any aspects of traditional keyboard train-
When did you start piano lessons, and who ing translate well to the Launchpad for you?
was your most influential teacher? Given your keyboard training, why not just My learning style is via repetition and visual cues.
I first began playing at age five with my mum on map your slices, hits, and other sonic ele- I was never brilliant at sight-reading sheet music,
the family piano, which had been left to us by a ments to keys? What advantages does a grid so I quickly became accustomed to relying on
family friend who was a travelling concert pia- controller like the Launchpad provide? muscle memory. The Launchpad is like a three-
nist. I would memorize a sequence of notes that I The Launchpad has no function until you map dimensional keyboard in that I can move verti-
could play while my mum played a piece of music. it. Therefore, unlike a piano where middle C will cally, not just horizontally. My hand positions,
I then had to make up the rest, and thats my only ever be that note, I can map my own musi- strangely, are very similar to playing chords on a
earliest memory of my first composition, which I cal language. Originally that language didnt have piano. The dexterity from all those years of scales
performed at school in grade 1. much logic to it, only an organically built layout on the piano has also really helped.

18 Keyboard 05.2014
What more can you tell us about your gen- and error. Theres no genius formula, just a lot Its also becoming increasingly common for
eral mapping scheme on the Launchpad? of practicing. artists to share the stems from their tracks for re-
The bottom right quadrant will have the majority mix competitions, and a growing number of con-
of the chord and synth stabs. The top right might For your drum sounds, are you mainly using trollerists out there are starting to experiment
a kit-type virtual instrument in Ableton, or with this. Instead of putting a track together on
REX-style slices of longer audio loops? a computer using a DAW, then transferring it and
All my drum sounds are one-shot samples. Often playing it live on CDJ decks, I hope more produc-
my bass kick is something that Ive resampled ers start to use the controllers and instruments
from an existing project where Ive layered a top that they made the music with to perform it live.
kick over my main kick, tuned to the key register What makes the Launchpad such a great tool is
that my miscellaneous [pitched material] is in. its versatility for studio and live performance.
The same goes for the other percussive sounds
from sample packs Ive collected. Are there any non-EDM musical influences in
your background, other than the aforemen-
What are your favorite soft synths for stabs? tioned classical training, that might sur-
Bass sounds? Leads? prise your fans?
Im a huge fan of plucky synths. I often use Syl- Yeah, I would listen to Korn. I was a huge fan of
enth for those sounds. My bass sounds are usu- their drummer Joey Jordison. I always wanted
ally pretty basic sine waves layered with a square to play drums. I mucked around on friends kits
wave straight out of Massive, but I like to process but never had lessons. On the complete opposite
the audio with some distortion and other effects scale I was listening to Vangelis and orchestral
before I have my bass samples ready for use on compositions. I appreciate music for what it is,
the pads. Leads are much the same. Depending not the stereotype that accompanies it. I dont
on what VSTi Im using, I find that resampling ever want to feel restricted to making music
the single stab with another, over and over, cre- thats only EDM.
ates some really unique sounds that I can use in
other projects by again resampling, time-stretch- Where do you think EDM is headed overall, and
ing, pitching, and layering. what can be done to promote more real musi-
cianshipand appreciation of that by fans?
Your hands are fully occupied on your The biggest part of this is educating audiences
Launchpads in live performance. Even so, about how EDM is produced and performed.
are there any plans to incorporate, say, an There is a growing dissatisfaction with the press
analog synth? play mentality and acts like Disclosure and
I actually just purchased an aluminum Minimoog Robert DeLong are growing large fan bases as
Voyager that I saw at NAMM, which sounds and a result of not only their music but their live
looks amazing. Expect not just a new sound in my performance. Similarly, big-name superstars like
production, but a new element of performance Skrillex, Zedd, and Above & Beyond are doing
have pretty much anything; usually it acts as a with this synth in the future! live instrumentals as a way of showing their fans
linear extension of certain stab or chord sounds that theyre also musicians. Commonly EDM fans
from the 16-button quadrant below. The bottom DJing has one important cultural aspect think of a producer and a DJ as the same thing.
left is for percussion and FX, and above it in the in common with jazz: The idea of covering, These two roles have been meshed together and
top left quadrant I keep uplifters, vocals, and quoting, and interpreting someone elses often a great electronic producer is not an amaz-
chord stabs that might be in an intro but not in standard. Do you think that your method ing DJ. Similarly there are some technically amaz-
the main body of the performance. of dissecting the rhythmic and pitched con- ing DJs who cant really make music. I think that
tent into all these pad-mapped elements helping the community understand that these are
In that bottom left quadrant, it seems like might encourage live remixing between two unique skill sets will make them really ap-
you prefer to finger-drum grooves MPC- artists? preciate the artists who both produce their music
style rather than letting a loop just run? One hundred percent. Just recently I teamed and perform it in a unique way.
Spot on. The samples are generally laid out so with Novation to give away my samples via a
that my thumb plays the kick, my index finger YouTube competition where people perform on
plays the snare, my pinky plays the ride, and the Launchpad iPad app. Its been really exciting Watch M4sonics incredible chops
my fourth finger plays the crash.My left hand to see how users whove downloaded the sample on the Novation Launchpad.
is always responsible for the drum kit and other pack are moving samples around and laying
sounds like vocals, risers, and so on. Working things out in their own ways to make new remix-
out sequences though, thats a process of trial es of my performance of Virus.

05.2014 Keyboard 19

Are you livetronica?

Some people use that term to describe our sound.
In some ways its accurate and in some ways, for
what were doing, its too general.

The song Blue Dream takes a very aggres-

sive, synth-driven, trap groove and layers an
almost jazzers sax melody on top. . . .
Ive always combined more synthesized and elec-
tronic elements with more organic sounds like my
saxophone or a horn section or a piano. Essen-
tially its just something weve always strived for.

What synth was used for the rapid-fire,

throaty, sixteenth-note synth part through-
out Lets Go?
Its called [LennarDigital] Sylenth1, which is a
pretty popular synth in the electronic music world.

Going back a little further in your catalog,

what synths were used for the wormy saw-
tooth lead and square-wave arpeggio on

Big Gigantic
Rise and Shine?
I used Native Instruments Massive for that lead
synth and Sylenth for the arpeggio.

BY LILY MOAYERI A lot of your music is characterized by that

sort of machine-gun synth part. Instead of
a fast four-on-the-floor under that, the kick
BiG GiGantic saxophonist and producer dominic LaLLi received a and snare hit at half-time. Is the contrast
masters degree in jazz from the Manhattan School of Music. Beginning in Boulder, intentional?
Colorado, in 2008, Big Gigantic is now on their fifth album, The Night Is Young. Ive always been a fan of rap and hip-hop, so I
Once again, they mine genres for an amalgamation of EDM, hip-hop, and electrified think thats where my influence stems from in
soul. Lalli and Salken offer their albums for free download, and their last full-length, terms of that tempo.
2012s Nocturnal, has had over a million downloads. Festival regulars, Big Gigantics
live show is one of the duos driving forces. Switching between drums, sax, and key- What are the biggest things, musically, that
boards, the two do the work of a full band onstage. a traditional keyboardist or songwriter
needs to understand if they want to branch
What were your influences when you started Mostly piano, Rhodes and organ sounds, some soft out and create music for an EDM audience?
the band? synth sounds, and also some Moog type leads. Youre making music for people to dance to. If
They are a lot of the same influences Ive always you keep that in mind and put your music in that
had, which range from classical and jazz music to How did the transition from saxophone to situation, its easier to know what your goal is
electronic music to club music. keyboards happen? in terms of the track. Kids love the buildup and
Ive always played sax, but playing keyboards is, the drop and there are a million different ways
Which particular keyboards figure largely to my mind, a crucial part of being a musician no to approach it, so the creativity lies only within
into the creation of your sound? matter what primary instrument you play. boundaries that you set for yourself.

20 Keyboard 05.2014
olivia trummer
wHAt Im LIStenInG to RIGHt now:
Art Tatum, Prince, Laura Nyro, and Led Zeppelin.

mY bIG bReAK: I would say a significant

BY JON REGEN moment was when I brought tears to my fathers
eyes by playing my original songs. Playing with
Bobby McFerrin was a wonderful experience as
KeYboARDISt AnD voCALISt oLIvIA tRUmmeR HAS been mAKInG HeR mUSICAL well.
mark both in her native Germany and around the globe, with a seductive stew of
jazz, funk, blues, and beyond. Find out more at LAteSt ALbUm: Im working on my fifth
studio album, entitled Fly Now, which will be re-
Hometown: Berlin, Germany. at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. leased later in 2014.
I also took private lessons with Richie Beirach
InStRUmentS PLAYeD: I play piano, and Sophia Rosoff. FAvoRIte KeYboARD GeAR: Steinway
Rhodes, flute, violin, saxophone, some percus- grand pianos, the Wurlitzer electric piano, and
sion, and I sing as well. FIRSt GIGS: Myfirst gigs were classical, the Nord Lead synthesizers.
around age six. I performed recitals with my
mUSICAL tRAInInG: I started playing mothers piano class. wHAtS neXt: The release of my new album,
piano at age four. I was classically trained and as well as working on new songs at home and in
I always loved to improvise and compose. I mUSICAL InFLUenCeS: For classical music, the studio in Berlin. Im touring (especially in
started writing songs and singing along while its everything from Bach to Bernstein. For Jazz, Europe), and observing life, always in the sweet
I practiced piano at an early age. I also actively I love Bill Evans, Shirley Horn, Gonzalo Rubal- danger of facing a new songwriting-avalanche.
participated in several choirs.I have a degree in caba, and Kurt Rosenwinkel. And for pop music, I
both jazz and classical piano and studied for one love artists like Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, ADvICe: Youve climbed a mountain top,
year in the jazz piano masters degree program Laura Nyro, Prince, and Aphex Twin. youre ready to fly now.

05.2014 Keyboard 21

Time Trickery

Odd time signatures ARE GENERALLy DEfINED AS ONES whERE ThE NUMbER Of 1. Metric Modulation
beats per bar is not evenly divisible (e.g., 5/4, 7/8, 9/4, 11/4). Metric modulation happens In Ex. 1 we group quarter-note triplets
when you imply an odd time signature (via accents or triplets) over a standard one such as into descending arpeggios of four notes
4/4. this concept has been used in african music and even by Bach, but it became popular per phrase. If we treat these groupings as
in jazz through the influence of Miles Davis drummer tony Williams. Groove displacement new measures, we can fit three of these
means moving an existing groove forward or backward a fraction of a beat. lets examine new modulated bars over the 4/4 time
these three concepts. signature. The left-hand chords mark the
beginning of each new modulated bar,
Ex. 1.

while the bass line plugs along in the orig-
b b

4 b b
inal time so you can keep track of where

&4 you are. This is the basic concept for most

metric modulations. You can also group

3 3

3 3 3 3
different note values (like dotted quarter-

? 4 b b
3 3

notes or eighth-note triplets) in this way.

3 3 3
3 3 2. 7/4 on Electric Pianos

3 3 3

? 44 b
Ex. 2 is a grouping exercise in 7/4 time.

The left hand sets up a C minor ostinato
while the right hand plays groups of
five quarter-notes. Notice how the two
Ex. 2. groupings oppose one another. In the
online audio clip, we have a Rhodes

b b b b b b b

& 74 b
(5) (5) (5) (5) (5) with a little delay on top and a Wurly

on the bottom. If youre having a hard

time conceptualizing when the begin-

b b b
ning of the pattern (pitch-wise) lines up

? 74 b b b b b
with beat 1 of a measure, draw out the
music so you can see where the different
groupings come out together.

Listening List
Miles Davis Wynton toWer of
Four and More Marsalis PoWer
Marsalis Back to
Standard Time Oakland
Volume 1

22 Keyboard 05.2014
Ex. 3.
A min13 3. 9/4 on Organ
Ex. 3 takes an organ approach for time
& 4 #

# trickery. This one is in 9/4 and has an
off-beat comping pattern in the right
hand that goes to an on-beat pattern
every other bar. For the bass part, pull
? 49

the first and third drawbar on your
Hammond or clonewheel all the way
out. Add vibrato and Leslie however you

& # #
like and avoid harmonic percussion.

4. Swing Time Tricks
The drummer is usually the band member

who initiates these ideas, so its impor-
tant to examine these concepts through
a drummers eyes and ears. In the first
Ex. 4.
j 3 j j 3 j j 3 j j 3 j two bars of Ex. 4, we have an ordinary

4 x x x x x x x x x x x x swing beat with a quarter-note bass line.

4 x x x x
In bars 3 and 4, the drummer makes the
quarter-note triplet the new pulse. The
ride pattern from beat 2 in the original

? 44
time moves to the second quarter-note

triplet in the modulation. You can practice
this away from the keyboard. Over any
3 3 3 3
4/4 pop music, tap quarter-note triplets
j 3 j j 3 j j 3 j j 3 j j 3 j j 3 j on your lap with your right hand, mimick-
x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x ing a ride cymbal. With your left, accent
x x x x x x every other triplet in the way the high hat
would close on two and four in a tradi-
3 3 3 3 tional jazz beat. Slowly slip in the dinga

ding on every second triplet with your

right hand to complete the ride pattern.

5. Funky Groove
Ex. 5.
4 x x x x x x x x Ex. 5 is a funk application of groove dis-
4 placement. A simple funk beat in bars 1
and 2 shifts an eighth-note ahead in bars
3 and 4. The funk bass line stays steady
? 44 b b so we again know where we are relative to

4/4. This is another concept that you can

practice away from the keyboard. I like to
j j j j j j j j use my right hand for the hi-hat, left hand
x x x x x x x x for the snare drum, and right foot on the
ground for a bass drum. You can even
sequence the bass line in this example for
practice. Tower of Power drummer David
Garibaldi is a master of this style. For a
? b b great example of groove displacement, lis-
ten to the bridge of the their tune Squib
Cakes from the album Back to Oakland.

Reading Time Brian plays

For further analysis of these concepts I highly recommend drummer Ari Hoenigs book Intro to original audio
Polyrhythms, says Brian Charette, who has performed and recorded with Joni Mitchell, Michael examples.
Bubl, and Rufus Wainwright, in addition to leading his own jazz groups. His two new albums are
The Question That Drives Us and Square One. Find out more at

05.2014 Keyboard 23

a reharm

Do you ever get boreD of the SaMe olD

chord voicings? Are you looking for interesting ways
to accompany a singer or other lead instrument?
Reharmonization is the key, but rather than give you
loads of historical examples, I want to show you some
simple principles that will hopefully set you on your
way towards creating your own. The idea at work here
is that chords come from scales. So rather than think-
ing about particular chords, we can find the underly-
ing scale and use that to give us alternate chords.

ex. 1. 1. Standard Changes

Lets look at how to vary the first
F maj7 G7

two chord changes of a song. Ex. 1

& b 4 . j
illustrates the melody and chords from
a bossa nova in the style of Antonio

w ww
Carlos Jobims classic tune The Girl

? b 44 w n ww n ww
from Ipanema.

w w w w 2. Mother Scales
If we want to look at the other options
for chords for our song, we can look at
ex. 2. the underlying scale of the chord for
other possible choices. For instance, our
F major F7maj7 G7

& b 44 . j
first chord is Fmaj7, which comes from
the F major scale. Remember that all

chords can be traced back to a mother

w ww
scale. Ex. 2 is a simple harmonization of

? 4 w n ww n ww the F major scale using the root, fifth,

b 4 w
w w w
third, and seventh.

3. Chord Scale
I II III IV V7 VI VII Substitutions
Now we can look at the Fmaj7 chord
ex. 3. from our song and substitute it with one
F maj7 G7 or more of the chords from our F major

& b 44 . j
scale. The same applies for the G7 chord,
i.e., chord V of the C major scale. In Ex. 3,
the first chord is chord III from F major

ww ww ww
and the second chord is chord IV from F

? b 44 w ww n ww
major. The third chord is chord II from C

w w
major and the fourth chord is the same
w as the original (chord V from C major).

24 Keyboard 05.2014
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Ex. 4.
4. Alternate Substitutions
F maj7 G7 Ex. 4 takes this idea one step further
and changes the character of the tune.

& b 44 . j

Here, the first four bars are from the
F major scale, the next two are from
the C major scale, and the next three
? 4 . .
are from the F major scale again. This

b 4 application gives the piece a sadder

sort of feel. Notice how by using only
basic major scales, weve managed to
create something quite different from
G min7 C7 F maj7
our original set of chord changes.

&b j j j
We havent even looked at minor,
. w altered, or diminished scales yet, but
w if the same principles are applied
we can add many more colors to our
? . . .
b n reharmonizations.
5. Mother Scale Solos
Ex. 5 is a simple solo constructed
using mother scales. These same
Ex. 5. substitution principles apply to
improvisation, too. Try experimenting
F maj7 G7
with reharmonization in your playing
4 j n

and soloing. Remember that discovery
&b 4 is the real joy of jazz.

w ww n ww
? b 44 ww
w w
F major scale.................................................... C major scale..................................

G min7 C7 F maj7


? b n ww w ww
ww One of my biggest
w inuences is Herbie
F major scale.................................................... Hancock, says Jason
Rebello. Hes a master of
reharmonization. Rebello
has worked with Wayne
Listening List: Herbies Reharms Shorter, Sting, Jeff Beck
and Peter Gabriel. His new
album Anything But Look
is out now. Find out more

Round Midnight Embraceable You Mercy Street Both Sides Now Original audio
The Other Side of Gershwins World The New Standard River: The Joni examples.
Round Midnight Letters

26 Keyboard 05.2014


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Beyond DJing

30 Keyboard 05.2014
WHEN DEADMAU5 PUBLISHED HIS 2012 BLOG ENTRY CALLED WE ALL HIT PLAY, DJing can be a lucrative and fun gig
he unleashed a restorm of controversy in the electronic dance music world. His overall for keyboardists, whether youre do-
assertion was that regardless of the musicianship and production skills required to cre- ing creative things with other artists
ate great EDM tracks in the studio, performing those tracks at shows is little more than tracks, performing your own, or as
playback, and thus requires very little talent. Veteran DJs cried foul. Insiders snickered. most big electronic DJs do these days,
But keyboardists understood. Why? Because many of us have been using sequencers both. In this special section, well
live since the early 80sand some trailblazers of electronic music used them well be- examine how to make your sets maxi-
fore that. Plus, we already know how to listen for keys and tempos, and have an inherent mally musicalall with your inner
sense of what makes a beat, bass groove, or synth riff danceable, funky, and engaging. muso respecting you in the morning!

05.2014 Keyboard 31
improvisational sense of mixing two tracks that are unexpectedly wonderful togeth-
er. However, as our industry migrates to laptops and controllers, even purists are
starting to wonder, Hmm, what else can I do onstage?

Thats where keyboardists have the distinct edge. fuse them with the art of DJing? Thats exactly
While most of us may not have the encyclopedic whats been happening in the ever-evolving world
knowledge of the history of dance music and a of EDM. Trailblazers like Sasha and Richie Hawtin
collection of thousands of obscure and crowd- have been using complex controllers to perform
pleasing tracks, we are often the musicians who are their music for close to a decade, while newer stars
creating the remixes and tracks themselves. Thats like Deadmau5, Moguai, Joachim Garraud, and
one of the biggest reasons that all of the newest those featured in this issue incorporate even more
DJs on the scene are also producers in their own elaborate approaches to melding production and
right. Twenty years ago, if you wanted to be taken live performance into a DJ context.
seriously as an EDM producer, you had to build Here are five techniques that will help key-
credibility by spinning other artists tracks for boardists enter the fray, bringing their years of
crowds. Now, if you want to hit it big as a DJ, youd musical experience to the true art form of DJ sets
better be great at crafting your own tracks. and taking everything up another notch.
So why not take the production skills and
musicianship most keyboardists already have and

1. PAD CONTROLLERS viewed Jan. 14). Many DJs might consider Push own unique touch as an artist.
Add a flashy controller to your rig, preferably one too large and heavy for carrying in a backpack to Then there are the pads. As keyboardists,
with lots of LEDs. This is the closest cousin to a cramped DJ both, but schlep-accustomed key- were fairly well conditioned to think of these
standard DJ style, but if you approach it from the boardists likely wont blink. as drum triggers, because until a few years ago,
perspective of a musician, you can really add a lot The secret with any controller such as these is thats all they ever were. Nowadays, every pad can
of spice to your sets without raising the accident not to simply approach it as a bunch of volume slid- be anything from a toggle button to a MIDI note
factor. Take Austin-based boutique manufacturer ers and drum pads. With a controller this flexible, to an effect switch, in addition to standard drum
Livids Base controller, for example. It has eight touch you can assign two groups of three or four faders pad fare. Whats more, certain controllers with
faders, eight touch knobs, and 32 pressure-sensitive each to a single channel and its effects. For example, pressure sensitive pads can be used to dynamical-
pads. Since all of these controls feature customizable in my rig, I have my first four faders assigned to ly raise/lower the value of a continuous controller
RGB LEDs, it looks like Christmas on Coruscant highpass filter, lowpass filter, echo, and volume. In or effect level, kind of like aftertouch.
making for an extremely visual performance. this manner, I can create absolutely seamless blends
More familiar controllers on the mass market between tracks or loops and add a touch of my own Top Pad Controllers
(and thus more likely to be available for trying production flair to each segue. But thats just how I t Livid Base
out in a music store) include Novations compact do it. Another producer could use those same faders t Keith McMillen QuNeo
and affordable Launchpad S (reviewed Feb. 14) for bit-crushing, buffer/stutter tools, even macros t M-Audio Trigger Finger Pro
and for those who want an extension of Ableton that sweep the parameters of several effects at once. t Novation Launchpad S
Live that becomes a musical instrument in its The trick is to avoid the pitfall of thinking strictly in t Akai APC Mini
own right, Abletons own Push controller (re- terms of volume or EQ and giving each fader your t Ableton Push

32 Keyboard 05.2014
2. Grooveboxes and most important is how to sync the groovebox to gig. Whats a key moment? Well, imagine starting
drum machines your DJ software. In the case of a product like a show by building a groove on a drum machine
Another time-honored way to get interactive with Rolands new Aira TR-8 (see page 50), just set a in real time from scratch, then switching over to
your performances is to add a groovebox or drum few preferences, plug in a USB cable, and youre your laptop and bringing in a slamming opening
machine and sync it to your software. Granted, good to goand its also your computer audio track, rhythmically synced. Were talking real
this will work most effectively with software such interface. Elektrons new Analog Rytm offers USB drama here. If you really want to go whole-hog
as Native Instruments Traktor and Ableton Live, MIDI sync, as does Dave Smith and Roger Linns with your groovebox, Dave Smith and Roger
as opposed to old-school DJ apps like Serato near-legendary Tempest. With Korgs Volca series Linns award-winning Tempest (which does come
Scratch. For adding impact to a performance, you can choose between analog sync or a five-pin at a premium price) is an absolute monster for
this is a very cool option for two reasons. First MIDI connection. And of course, there are hun- this type of performance.
off, hardware is more playable and features lots dreds of old MIDI drum machines out there, both
of real-time controls out of the box. Secondly, new and used. You just need to add a USB-to- Top Groovebox Picks
thanks to products like Korgs Volca series (re- MIDI interface to your gig bag (and at this point, Roland AIRA
viewed Mar. 14) and Akais new Rhythm Wolf, maybe a portable hub, too). Dave Smith Instruments Tempest
you can add real analog substance to a digital set. Once youve got the groovebox synced, its just Korg Volca Beats
If you decide to add a groovebox to your a matter of plugging it into one of your DJ mixer Elektron Analog RYTM
rig, there are a few things to keep in mind. The channels and bringing it in at key moments in a Akai Rhythm Wolf

3. add an iPad can grab an iPad and load it up with tons of synths, With all of that in mind, the iPad approach is
The ubiquitous iPad is another easy and powerful way then experiment until you find one that fits your probably the most practical way to add either fine-
to add impact to a DJ set. Deadmau5 and Moguai personal styleall without breaking the bank. tuned control or synthesis to your performances. Stay
have used them live as touchscreen controllers for The coolest thing about integrating an iPad away from the iPad Mini for these purposes, as its
external gear, thanks to apps like Lemur (above left) synth into your performances is the fact that so just too small for your fingers to be precise enough.
and TouchOSC, which allow the above-mentioned many of them include Korg Kaoss-style interfaces Spring for the full-sized iPad Air or even the immedi-
controllerist approach (albeit without the pleasure of (including Korgs own iKaossilator app) so if ately previous fourth-gen model. You wont regret it.
truly tactile response). So thats one way to quickly you spend some time analyzing the key of your
integrate an iPad into your live performances. favorite tracks, then create presets for your iPad Top iPad synths
However, with the vast array of iOS synths synths that constrain the interface to those keys Moog Music Animoog
and grooveboxes, as well as exotic sync options and the proper scales, you can just whiz your Wizdom Music MorphWiz and SampleWiz
like Korgs WIST protocol for the ultra-ambitious, finger around the touchscreen to play synth riffs, Korg iKaossilator
there are almost as many musical options for iOS knowing that youre going to rock solid. This Liine Lemur (controller app)
users as there are for standard Macs and PCs. Best makes it easier to keep the DJ side of your perfor- TouchOSC (controller app)
of all, the iOS tools are invariably less expensive mance under control, especially if youre picking See our iPad DJ app roundup on page 46 and
than their computer-based counterparts, so you and mixing the majority of your tracks on the fly. Korg Gadget review on page 62.

05.2014 Keyboard 33
4. Soft SynthS a wrapper for his line of soft synths, as well. SSD may be fast enough for this type of work, youll
Thanks to an abundance of extremely portable USB Of all five approaches, this is the most cumber- need one thats capacious enough to accommodate
keyboard controllerslike the Korg NanoKey 2, Keith some as there are several factors involved for making both your DJ collection and your sample libraries,
McMillen QuNexus, and lets face it, countless oth- things run smoothly. First off, you need to check and with room to grow. Several soft samplers can alter-
ersits possible to add soft synths to your approach double-check that both apps can consistently access nately load all instrument data into RAM (if you
with a minimum of fuss. In Ableton Live, its a simple your audio interface while simultaneously operating have enough), but thats yet another time-consum-
matter of setting up an additional channel/track that and leave your CPU usage within tolerable limits. This ing step, and setup and turnaround times between
contains one or more soft synths, then simply activat- includes trying out high-polyphony loads and lots of EDM acts in a dance club are notoriously tight.
ing record on that channel while your DJing your set. EQ and effects, while also searching your library for Its also worth noting that some mini keyboard
With Traktor and Serato, its a wee bit more com- new tracks in real time. Yes, its a fair amount of road controllers come bundled with a few lite soft
plex and requires a bit of at-home testing to make testing, but its the only way to ensure there are no synths. For example, Korgs compact MicroKey 25
sure your CPU can handle the load of two robust, hiccups in your performances. comes with a virtual M1le and a bunch of Applied
independent music programs at the same time. Why? Theres another caveat: Full-fledged soft sam- Acoustics goodies. Novation also includes several
Because since neither of those DJ apps support plers (think Native Instruments Kontakt or MOTU synths with their controllers, including the BassSta-
plug-ins, so the only synths that you can use in con- MachFive) are dangerous in this context because tion and V-Station. Its definitely worth shopping
junction with them are those that have standalone bandwidth demands can shoot way up depend- around for a solid starter combo in this area.
operation. Fortunately, many of the most popular ing on the samples you use. Imagine having two One last word when performing with soft synths:
mainstream soft synths do (in some cases, you have stereo audio files buffering from your hard drive, Never overlook the untapped potential of the Keytar.
to select it during installation). Arturia and Native while simultaneously streaming multiple notes of
Instruments offer standalone versions of all of their polyphony (say, legato piano with sustain) from the top Mini Controller Picks
soft synths. Korgs Legacy collection also includes same hard drive, which perhaps has some fragmen- Keith McMillen QuNexus
standalone versions of their biggest vintage hits. Rob tation from lots of use. With anything less than a Korg NanoKey2 and MicroKey
Papen offers a free app called RP-Dock that serves as 7,200rpm drive, youre asking for trouble. While an Novation Launchkey Mini

5. hardware SynthS youre an analog head, the Arturia MicroBrute is other artists. That era, as we currently know it, is
Well, duh. After all, the simplest approach is to definitely the way to go. If you want club-friendly about to end. Its time to blaze new trails in the
bring a keyboard synth in addition to your laptop, flashing lights and modern amenities, the Korg world of live performance.
audio interface and controller. At the very least, Kaossilator Pro and Roland TB-3 are great picks.
youll be able to play it if your computer crashes. It And for ultimate hipster cred, consider the pos- top Compact hardware Synths
also requires the minimum amount of maintenance sibilities of more exotic gear like Yamahas Tenori- for dJing
and management of all five options weve examined. On or Teenage Engineerings OP-1. Arturia MicroBrute
The trick again is to find a portable instrument The bottom line with all of these options is to Korg MicroKorg, Kaossilator 2, Volca Keys
that suits your sound and fits in your gig bag. If really go beyond just beat-matching two tracks by Roland TB-3

34 Keyboard 05.2014

wArp Like A pro

Ableton Live One of the coolest things about Ableton is that
it can keep absolutely everything in a session in

Mini Master Class

perfect sync. The secret lies in mastering its warp-
ing toolsand not relying on Lives assump-
tions as to where to put warp markers when you
import a track. For syncing recorded audio, this
feature can be a godsend, but when youre work-
Next, weLL LeArN how to tAke fuLL AdvANtAge of three feAtureS thAt ing with flawlessly timed modern dance music,
make Ableton Live such a widely used platform for DJing and Live EDM Performance, and its time to roll up your sleeves and perfect those
that we alluded to earlier: warping (time correction), integrating soft synths with beats warp markers so that every track is absolutely in
and loops, and finally, syncing hardware grooveboxes via both MIDI and analog means. time with all of your other elements. Heres how.

Step 1 Step 3 Step 4

Zoom way into your audio track and find the first Zoom into the final measure of your track and Finally, Ive often been asked how I mix without
downbeat (usually a kick) of the track. Then place select the final kick drum on beat 4 of (for these headphones at my shows. Some people think Im
a transient/warp maker at that position, right- examples, were using four-on-the-floor tracks to cheating and just pressing play. Nothing could be
click and select Set 1.1.1 Here keep things clear). Add a warp marker to that kick further from the truth. Instead, I simply add warp
and make sure its transient is falling exactly on markers at the exact points where the bass and/
the correct beat. Once youve done this with a few or melodic parts begin and end, since the major-
tracks, test them against each other by mixing ity of well-produced tracks include eight or more
the end of each with the beginning of the others. measures of isolated drums and percussion at their
If there are any inconsistencies, repeat the steps start and end. This is a standard production trick
with a closer zoom. to make tracks easier for DJs to mix. By placing
Step 2 these warp markers at the musical high points of
Next, delete all other warp markers after this a track, I can avoid the dreaded bass clash effect
point by right-clicking again and selecting Warp where the low frequencies of conflicting bass lines
From Here (Straight). wreak havoc with mix transitions.

thAt SyNCiNg feeLiNg

Syncing grooveboxes like the Roland Aira TR-8 or First, record the sync out
TB-3, Dave Smith Tempest, and Elektron Analog of your Volca as an audio track
Rytm is a breeze in Ableton, thanks to their abili- into your DAW of choice.
ty to receive MIDI sync information directly over Make sure the signal is hot,
USB. Sending over a five-pin connection is easy, but not clipping. Then, isolate
too, if your audio interface has a free MIDI out one of the voltage spikes and
port. Just go into your apps MIDI preferences crop it into a single sample. From there, drop an important consideration herebut if youre
and assign the clock to the appropriate port. it into one of your soft samplers (Abletons using a more flexible interface, say, the MOTU
For analog grooveboxes that have an analog Simpler is perfect for this, as shown here) and UltraLite Mk. 3, youll have spare outputs galore.
sync option and/or lack MIDI input, theres create a one-bar sequence playing straight six- Once youve got the click going from your
another way to do this via rolling your own old- teenth-notes, making sure the timing is perfect. interface, youll need to experiment to find the
school clock pulse track. Ive tested this method Once youve got that sequence running, route it right output level to get your analog drum ma-
in my studio, syncing the Korg Monotribe from a separate output on your audio interface to chine to sync consistently, but once its done you
on several occasions, because the Monotribe the sync input in your analog groovebox. If youve should be all set. As with everything in your DJ
doesnt have MIDI. This method will also work got a dual-stereo interface like Native Instruments rig, its crucial to do a fair amount of at-home
with a vintage Roland SH-101, if youre lucky Traktor Audio 2, youll sacrifice a channel for this, rehearsing and testing to make sure your system
enough to own one. which means you wont be able to cue tracks live is bulletproof, but your audience will thank you.

36 Keyboard 05.2014
This is a hotly debated topic in the DJ world,
because purists contend that the real art of
WITH BEATS DJing is reading the vibe of the crowd and
going on an improvised journey together. But
Once youve warped and arranged a few tracks to sketch out your set, its time to add a both pre-ordering your set and mixing tracks
few live instruments to your basic Live template for performance. While there are count- on the y have advantages and disadvantages.
less ways to approach this, its helpful to have a starting point, especially since youll also
be integrating MIDI controllers. Heres how.
Pre-Arranging Your Set
Adding a MIDI track with Ask any DJ who cut their teeth on vinyl :
Here are your DJ your favorite instrument To play your synths live, When you can only bring one crate of 50
channels with plug-in is the absolute you can either set up Lives records to a gig, chances are your track
tracks. Whether easiest way to get a monitor input to always order is well rehearsed. This drives down
youve gone with a synth into your DJ rig. play the synth when you risk and lets you gure out exactly what
pre-arranged set or Its even more dramatic hit a keyor just toggle other live/synth elements youre going to
are adding tracks on if you add tempo- the record button on and perform in tandem with your tracks.
the y, youll need at synced LFOs and effects off when youre playing, PROS: You can select tracks with
least two tracks for to your lead sounds to to avoid accidentally complimentary keys and grooves in
mixing songs and keep the riffs locked triggering notes as you advance. You can rehearse transitions and
remixes together. with your grooves. whiz around the DJ booth. riffs at home or on the plane. Less risk of an
ill-timed choice. Lets you focus on crowd
interaction, rather than on trying to be a
psychic. Sounds slicker overall.
CONS: Hipsters will complain behind your
back. If the crowd isnt into what youre
doing or the turnout is low, youre locked
in with no escape. If the club manager asks
you to change it up, youre screwed. More
advance preparation time.
TIP: Start your set with a lower energy,
groovier vibe, then gradually build up to
bangers, and everyones tastes will be covered.

While I personally prefer planning large
chunks of my sets in advance, Ive
encountered more than a few gigs where
Ive had to throw out the entire map and
wing itand these have been some of the
most inspirational sets Ive ever played.
PROS: If you have a sufciently diverse
Lives collection In addition to For a really polished collection of tracks, youll be prepared for
of analog drum triggering drums live, soundand no blown anything. Lots more street cred. Deeper level
machines makes it you can also make speakersput a limiter of interaction with the crowd. Adrenaline.
easy to add custom custom grooves and on your master output. CONS: Requires searching for tracks on
beats with vintage save them as clips Adding loops, synths, and the y, which can take your attention away
avor. Heres their that can be toggled drum hits raises the overall from the crowd and your performance.
808 kit in action. You or triggered at key level of your mix, and a Cueing up tracks on headphones really isnt
can also use a pad points in your set. limiter will help keep it in that fun. Potential key clashes and other
controller to trigger line. Its also good to get embarrassment if youre getting started.
drums and samples a feel for your levels when TIP: Thoroughly rehearse live accompaniment
on the y, using rehearsing at home, as for 3-5 guaranteed crowd-pleasers (in a
the same method opposed to having a part variety of grooves and styles) and always have
outlined in 2 and 3. come in too loud at the gig. them ready to perform at a moments notice.

05.2014 Keyboard 37

The DJ Gig Bag I N A D D I T I O N T O YO U R L A P T O P,

Survival Kit
software, audio interface, MIDI controller,
and synth, there are a few small items
you absolutely should not be without for
a DJ or live EDM set. Everything on this
list could save your gig if need be.

Adapters Emergency
Most DJ mixers have a 1/4" jack on Flash Drive
the front for plugging in headphones This is your parachute if you have
for cueing up tracks. Most laptops a total laptop failure and can
Flashlight have a stereo 1/8" jack on the side. So manage to rent, borrow, or buy
First and foremost, you should make sure you have more than one a laptop before the show. Get a
always have a sturdy but small flash- 1/8"-to-1/4" adapter so that you can 16GB USB2 model and put the Ear Plugs
lightthe bright LED kind. Ive seen plug your headphones into either. If following items on it: A spare in- Nightclubs are loud, so protect
other DJs try to get by with their youre using a Native Instruments staller for your software, current your ears while youre in the
smartphone flashlight, but its not Traktor Audio 2, you can attach this drivers for all interfaces and con- audience. Custom molded ones
enough when youre jacking into a adapter to a standard 1/8"-to-RCA trollers, a collection of 100 or 200 are better but pricey. I like the
mixer in a dim or completely dark DJ cable from any Radio Shack, in case tracks that are part of your rep- Etymotic brand for the price.
booth. A decent flashlight will save you lose NIs custom cables. Does ertoire, any loops or presets that Its also worth having a couple
the day far more than you know. your laptop power supply have a are essential to your perfor- of pairs of the cheap foam ones
three-prong AC plug? Keep a mance, and if you really in your bag . I actually keep two
two-prong cheater handy. want to be thorough, pairs of the foam ones in the
Traveling overseas? Youll a USB-bootable disk coin pouch of my wallet. Theyve
need AC outlet adapters, repair utility. Keep saved the day more than once.
and to make sure all your this drive safe,
power supplies can take dont use it for
220-240VAC. Got bat- anything else,
Backup Cables tery operated gear? and have a
for Everything Always carry redundant
For many keyboardists, this is just an extra fresh copy. Emergency CDs
extra few pairs of 1/4" cables. For lap- batteries. Sometimes, your laptop fails
top DJs, its more complex. Youll need during a setit really hap-
an extra mini or micro USB cable for pensand youre screwed. For
small controllers like the Korg Nano this, have at least one (twos bet-
series. Youll need extra full-size USB (or ter) sure-fire mix CD that youve
FireWire or Thunderbolt) cables for your made in your spare time. I know
audio interface. Extra RCA cables? Yep DJs who routinely keep this CD
and unless your audio interface has RCA in one of the CD players at every
outs, 1/4"-to-RCA cables (shown) are gig. If theres a crash or major
a must, as you may have to plug into a hiccup, they can quickly hit Play
house DJ mixer that has only RCA in- Bar Towels (theres that phrase again) and
puts. Keep them all in a small zippable Laptops hate vibrations far more than CD play- let the mix CD go until they can
pouch separate from your other gear. ers, and youll eventually end up in a club with figure out whats wrong.
way too much bass in the DJ booth. That means
a standard hard drive could lock, go into safe
mode, or worse. Many rock star friends of mine
have learned this the hard way. The fix? A few bar
towels under your laptop, distributed evenly.

38 Keyboard 05.2014

The arT of
sYnTh soloing

scott frankfurt in his studio.

bump or blip using envelopes can add charac-

ter to the attack period.
Another example of this would be to modulate
ParT 1 an engine parameter (like a bit-crusher, waveshaper,
small amount of FM, grain shifter, fast-rate pulse
BY JERRY KOVARSKY width modulation, or even bringing in another os-
cillator that provides a short transient) to get the at-
tack to speak, and then use velocity to control how
This monTh we geT a wonderful masTer class on sound creaTion much of this is heard. Anything you can employ to
from one of the secret weapons that I and other veterans of the synth industry bring variance to the initial 40ms is desirable.
have employed over the years. Scott Frankfurt is an artist, engineer, sound designer
and producer par excellence, who worked with me at Ensoniq for many years, later Related to the attack, legato/solo mode is
doing patch design and demos for Korg, E-mu, and Yamaha. He is currently the Vice typically desirable for leads. This gives the player
President of Design at Spectrasonics, working closely with founder Eric Persing and more articulation options by letting intuitive legato
the team developing their synths and sounds while running a world-class studio. [In playing technique determine envelope re-triggering.
his spare time? Ed.] This month, well examine Scotts views on all the successful
marks a lead synth solo sound needs to hit. Next month, well look at a specific ap- The sustain segment must be compelling.
plication of these principles from a patch he designed for Omnisphere. Harmonic activity is important for sustainthis is
where the emotion is. This sonic movement, even if
A lead synth sound needs to cut through ity axis is crucial. In the case of a sample-based its subtle, enhances held notes, allowing them to
the sonic space in which its set. Keep in mind sound, try modulating the sample start time via sing for quite some time. Synth soloing is similar
how focused the bandwidth of a lead guitar is. You velocity. For samples with a prominent attack tran- to singing from a phrasing point of view, so you
dont want a frequency-bloated sound that masks sient, start the sample playing just after the attack should dial in slow but steady modulation of har-
everything, or worse, gets masked by everything portion for a softer attack, and then modulate the monics to create the same effect a good singer natu-
else. It needs to play nicely with others. That said, start point backwards via velocity so the harder rally employs, subtly varying the sustained tone.
theres room for a lot of diversity here. A smooth you play, the attack portion gets used. For other The personality of a sound can come from a
lead sound perfect for instrumental jazz is not go- samples, routing velocity to start point can add myriad of places, so start by listening to what the
ing to work for hard progressive rock, for example. slight randomness to each attack, which sounds waveform is already telling you. Is it squawking a
more interesting and less repetitive (see Figure 1). certain way? Then, try to dig that out or enhance
It should include a satisfying attack char- The ear and brain make a decision about what it even further, maybe with a filter or effect, and
acteristic that gives tactile feedback to the a sound is and whether its pleasing within about lightly modulate that. Is it super fat already? If
player. Percussive or not, the attack needs to be 500ms, so its important to work some charac- so, then perhaps thin it out slightly it over time.
interesting in its own right (think about repeated ter into this crucial time period. In the case of a Is it really thin and edgy? Go in the other direc-
short notes), and developing interest on the veloc- synthesis-based oscillator, an amplitude or pitch tion and introduce some fatness over time.

40 Keyboard 05.2014
Fig. 1. Routing velocity
to sample start time in

Fig. 2. Delays with built-in filters.

Performance tools must be created for the lease works great. This not only enhances playability
player to interact with. Nothing is more satisfying but also makes room for the effects to speak. Here,
to a soloist then reaching for the modulation wheel Frankfurt prefers delay to reverb as its more trans-
and hearing something awesome happen as it turns. parent and doesnt disappear as easily as reverb does. level or amp envelope. Instead, let velocity control
An ideal scenario is where the initial patch sounds Hell even band-limit the delays to create more space the filter, oscillator modulation, effects, and such.
great, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. Perfor- if possible, by thinning out the delays. Omnisphere,
mance controls (wheels, pedals, ribbons, and the like) and many cool plug-ins such as SoundToys Echo Boy Make vibrato like an electric guitars. Frank-
should reveal the rest. In Spectrasonics Omnisphere, and Delay Designer in Logic Pro, offer integrated furt prefers a triangle- or sine-wave vibrato that
a great way to do this is to modulate the Harmonia high-pass or band-pass filters to achieve this (see Fig- modulates in the positive phase only, with a
Depth feature to reveal more voices tuned to various ure 2). Or you can put the delay effect on a send bus maximum pitch depth of not more than a minor
octaves, fifths, or other intervals. You can simulate and insert the filter onto the return channel strip. third. Years ago, he took a close look at Steve
this in any synth that has enough oscillators. Lukathers guitar vibrato style on a pitch scope,
Frankfurt also likes to simultaneously modulate Release velocity. If available on your controller since Lukather among the most recorded guitar-
an effect so that the sound gets fuller harmonically, keyboard, try using release velocity to modulate ists alive. The positive phase over a minor third at
while also getting dirtier via sample rate modulation envelope release time so that a fast key-up causes the furthest position of the wheel most emulates
or distortion. Another trick is finding a key param- a fast release time; and a slow key up causes a his natural bending of a fretted note (notwith-
eter that has two sonic sweet spots, and limiting a slow one. Details like this increase playability. standing whammy bar technique of course, which
performance controller (slider, knob) to target those can hit both positive and negative phases). If this
spots as modulation boundaries. Alternately, you Dont overdo the amplitude dynamics. Lead was a violin sound, we would approach the vi-
could use two switches to offer dedicated variations sounds are far more playable if the volume hangs brato differently, but for synthesizer lead sounds,
on a modulation possibility. in there. The typical velocity-to-amp modulation electric-guitar style vibrato sounds great.
is not as useful as modulations that alter the tone
The finish. A solo lead sound should get out of the of the sound. So when programming synth lead For more about Scott Frankfurt, visit
way quickly when you let up off the keys, so a fast re- patches, use minimal velocity control over the amp

05.2014 Keyboard 41

Fig. 1. waves L3
is a precision

with a look-


To minimize
latency during
BY CrAIG ANDErTON the tracking
process, use it
only after youve
surely encountered those weird, unexplainable issues that bring your project to a
screeching halt. Here are some common gotchas (with an emphasis on Windows,
although many of these tips apply to the Mac as well) and the appropriate fixes so avoid crackles and pops. The fix: ASIO4ALL can in-
you can sort things out and return to your creative flow. terfere with some drivers. Uninstall it (dont just dis-
able itremove it) and see if the problem goes away.
Sudden major latency increase. Some plug- VST. Move half of the plug-ins from your exist-
ins, particularly dynamics programs like precision ing VST plug-ins folder to the temporary folder, Moving the mouse interferes with audio
multiband limiters (see Figure 1), have a look- then open the program. If it doesnt crash, one of performance. All is well until you try to adjust
ahead function that creates a delay so they can the plug-ins you moved caused the problem. Keep controls, move a window, or perform some such
catch transients and be prepared to process them moving plug-ins back to the original folder until common action, and then you hear crackles or
correctly before they happen. But if your DAW you find the one that crashes the program. If the dropouts. Fix 1: Check for graphics card driver
has delay compensation, this delays everything. program does crash, move half the remaining updates. Outdated ones may be the problem. Fix
The fix: Remove the plug-in until mixdown, or plug-ins and continue the process until you locate 2: If youre using a gaming mouse, substitute a
temporarily substitute a similar one without the the offending plug-in. standard mouse. You dont need the extra resolu-
look-ahead feature. tion. Fix 3: Graphics cards designed for high-per-
A manufacturers audio interface driver for formance gaming are often not a good match for
Missing VST plug-ins. Steinberg invented Windows doesnt work at low latency settings. audio performance. A basic graphics card often
the VST specification, so installing a Steinberg The driver works, but requires huge buffer settings to gives better performance with DAWs.
program with plug-ins created a Steinberg > VST-
plugins folder. Many subsequent non-Steinberg
programs defaulted to installing plug-ins there. Fig. 2. Several
However, nowadays programs often create their folders containing
own plug-in folders during installation and point vST plug-ins have
to them as the preferred plug-in location. The fix: been specified in
Search for folders containing VST plug-ins, and Acoustica Mixcraft
make sure that any hosts point to all paths that so that it can see
lead to plug-in folders (see Figure 2). Another op- all the plug-ins.
tion is to create a single VST plug-ins folder, and
when you install a program or new plug-ins, in-
stall your plug-ins there. Finally, re-scan the VST
folders once youve specified all their file paths.

Program crashes on startup when scanning

VST plug-ins. Some plug-ins (particularly free
ones) may not get along with a particular pro-
gram and when scanned on startup, theyll crash
the program. Sometimes whatever scans the
VSTs will show the name of the plug-in on which
it stopped, but sometimes not. The fix: Close
the program. Create a folder called Temporary

42 Keyboard 05.2014
After installation, program crashes or acts Virtual instrument doesnt respond to af- create an empty text file called no_context_shar-
erratically. Programs should work after you install tertouch. Most DAWs have a preferences menu ing.txt and move it to the Waves Audio folder.
them! The fix: Anti-virus software may not allow for enabling various MIDI input messages, but
the program to do needed system modifications. the instrument still doesnt respond even after Stereo placement sounds weird when collabo-
Uninstall the program you just installed, disconnect youve enabled aftertouch. The fix: There are two rating with someone using the same host and
from the Internet, disable any anti-virus programs aftertouch types: channel and key (polyphonic). loading the same file. You dont hear a huge dif-
(see Figure 3), then run the program installer again. Channel aftertouch is far more common, so make ference, but there are subtle issues. The fix: Check
sure youve chosen the right one. for panning law preferences in both programs (see
Virtual instrument has issues with some Figure 4), and make sure theyre set identically.
hosts but not others. This is almost always In Windows, you cant see the plug-in in-
a straightforward compatibility issue. The fix: terface when inserting more than a certain There are strange, rare, random problems
Check online user forums to see if others have number of instances of the same Waves plug- with a variety of computer programs. Dont
the same problem, then check regularly for soft- ins. While this might not seem likely, it can hap- re-install your operating system yet; it could be
ware updates. It can take a while before system- pen if you use something like the NLS virtual con- a hardware problem. The fix: A defective RAM
specific incompatibilities surface so that manu- sole plug-in on each track. The fix: Create a folder stick could be responsible, because issues show
facturers can know what to fix. called Waves Audio in C:\ProgramData. Then up only when accessing the bad bits. There are
several utilities for checking RAM; MemTest and
MemTest86 are free and open-source.

Windows is saying your drive is protected,

and you cant override security attributes.
Youre stuck in read-only land and cant modify
files or write to the disk. The fix: (Make sure
you type anything that follows in bold exactly as
shown.) Click on the Windows Start button, and
type CMD.EXE in the search box. When a com-
mand line prompt opens, type diskpart then hit
Enter. Type list volume then hit Enter.
Youll now see a list of drives, each with a num-
ber. Identify the number of the protected drive,
then type select volume # (where # is the appro-
priate drive number), then hit Enter. Next, type
attributes disk clear readonly then hit Enter.
Fig. 3. Windows Security Essentials is a relatively unobtrusive program, When you see Disk attributes cleared successful-
but disable it after downloading new softwarethen install your new music ly, youre doneclose the command prompt box.
production software, unless it requires an internet connection.
Operations that used to happen quickly in
Windows, like bouncing to disk, now take
forever. For example, rendering or freezing a soft
synth track takes an hour. The fix: For reasons
not understood by mere mortals, a disc sitting in
your optical drive can slow operations down if the
computer keeps looking to the disc to see if theres
something it wants to find. Eject the disc.

PreSonus FaderPort controller wont work with

a particular DAW. FaderPort ties in closely with
your DAW, so take the right steps. The fix: First, go
to to
download and install the latest drivers. Next, go to and enter FaderPort
in the Search box. Youll find documents on setting
up FaderPort with various DAWs.

How-to guru Craig Anderton is one

of the founders of music technology
journalism. His latest adventure involves
Fig. 4. Cakewalk Sonar provides several panning law options. When collaborating, wearing the mantle of Chief Magic
make sure the same one is specified in everyones preferences. Officer at Gibson Brands.

05.2014 Keyboard 43


The easiest way to incorporate polyrhythms is to

dance music. Some artists, most notably Deadmau5, Matt Lange, and BT, have dont have a lot of pitch content. This way, you
dabbled with them over the years, but Im honestly surprised that its not more dont have to worry about any unpleasant key
common. So this year, I made a resolution: Release tunes where some tracks super- clashes as multiple elements cycle and recombine.
impose unusual time signatures or odd phrase lengths on whats foundationally a It also keeps the groove subliminally interesting
4/4 dance oor groove. in the same way that complex automation and
editing can work, but with a lot less effort.

Example 1
For example, on my upcoming remix for Bright
Light Social Hours new single Infinite Cities, I
wanted to keep the sixteenth-note hi-hat pattern
interesting in a subtle way. First, I composed it
in 4/4, using four different hat sounds to create a
rhythm that wasnt static.

Example 2
From there, I transformed it into a loop in 7/8
time, by simply changing Lives clip loop positions
so that the final eighth-note was excluded. The re-
sult is a constantly evolving top part that involves
the ear without dominating the overall rhythm
awkwardly. Working with multiple time signatures
can get messy very quickly if you arent careful. Of course, the song is in a single time signature (4/4), and on score paper the hi-hat loop would be notated ap-
propriately, i.e., as a recurring seven-note phrase that plays across bar lines. However, dance music producers tend to think of parts in an arrangement as inde-
pendent objects with their own properties, so treating the loop as its own thing in 7/8, while technically less than correct, is more intuitive.

Example 3
Once youve got the hang of mixing time signatures, its time
to experiment with melodies. Dance music rarely strays from
simple keys and modes, so with a little planning you can create
cycling polyrhythms that dont step on each other. For my lat-
est track GUPC, I took a simple two-chord progression, then
looped the lead riff over it in 7/4 (basically, a two-bar loop
with the last quarter-note cut out). The result is a lead that is
constantly changing in melodic relationship to the underlying
progressionand a track that got the attention of one of the
hottest trance duos in todays scene: Myon and Shane 54.

Original audio
With those techniques under my belt, I plan to incorporate more sophisticated polyrhythmic ele- examples.
ments into upcoming tracks. Its a new way of thinking in the context of EDM, but for me, the results
are well worth it.

44 Keyboard 05.2014

The Best DJ Software

for Musicians


artists proled in this issue have shown is possible, a live performer of danceable elec-
tronic music. Your choice of software will determine what you can achieve with your rig.

With a decades worth of laptop-centric DJ tools new turntablist skillsdaunting, to say the least. Snap Judgment
on the market, it can be tough to know where to With all of that in mind, weve picked a few
begin. There are apps that are especially synth- software packagesfor both laptops and iPads PROS Complete integration
and loop-friendly, as well as excellent options that will deliver the ability to mix full tracks and of songs, loops, soft synths,
that focus on performers who come from a tradi- songs with more modern production amenities and virtual drum machines.
tional DJ background. like loops and soft synths, giving you a huge bag Huge assortment of effects
If youre new to keyboards and got your start on of performance tricks right out of the gate. and MIDI processors. MIDI
turntables or CD decks, Seratos Scratch DJ and Vir- control over everything.
tual DJs eponymous Virtual DJ Pro will feel most Ableton Live Ability to create custom
familiar. If youre coming at this as a keyboardist, Its no secret that a huge number of producers and macro knobs for sweeping
both of those apps require that you master entirely DJs rely on Ableton Live for their performances. multiple effects parameters.
VST and AU support. Large
ecosystem of dedicated
hardware controllers.

CONS Lives auto-warping

often requires manual
editing of results for perfect
sync. No key detection
of imported material.
Limited metadata for
track organization. All this
exibility means a steeper
learning curve than standard
DJ tools.

Bottom Line
If you want nearly unlimited
expandability in exchange for a bit
more overall effort, Live is the gold
standard for integrating musical
performance with DJing.
The authors Ableton Session view for a recent DJ set. Channels 1 and 2 serve as
the decks for his DJ set. Channel 3 holds a reserve of alternate tracks he can Live 9 Standard: $449
pull in to extend his set, and the FX column contains heavily processed tracks Live 9 Suite: $649
meant to be superimposed on other tunes. Across the bottom are the Operator
soft synth and effects chains.

46 Keyboard 05.2014
For the most part, Live is the perfect tool for key-
boardist-producers who want to make the leap into
DJ-style live performance; but even so, there are a
few caveats when compared to other options.
On the plus side, Live is built from the ground
up for on-the-fly everything. It allows you to mix
full tracks with time-locked loops, create killer
beats in real time, and play soft synthsall at the
same time. It also supports third-party plug-ins
and has a huge ecosystem of hardware control-
lers, many designed specifically for Live. This is
why Live is the go-to platform for main-room
artists like Deadmau5, Steve Duda, Sasha, Ga-
briel and Dresden, and a slew of other household
EDM names.
If youre not already a Live user, however,
there will definitely be a learning curve. For Native Instruments Traktor Pro 2 EDM artist Matt Langes Traktor setup.
example, while Live does an admirable job of While Traktor got its start as a DJ-centric prod- Note that his fourth deck is set up to
automatically syncing audio material when its uct, its grown over the years to include a boat- play loops.
imported (warping in Ableton parlance), its not load of remixing and processing amenities that
perfect. So youll have to familiarize yourself with make it a worthy alternative to Live, depending
optimizing your raw materials by hand, which at on your approach to performing. Make no mis-

Snap Judgment
first can be laborious. Whats more, despite its take, Traktor is not a production environment, so
magical ability to convert audio to MIDI, theres you wont be composing studio music in it any-
no key-detection algorithm for songs. So if you time soon. But if youre looking for a system that
want to add this kind of metadata to your tracks, leans more toward DJ mixing, without sacrificing PROS Completely integrated
youll have to do it manually in the clip names. the ability to radically transform your songs and approach to mixing full
Part of the reason for this is that Ableton sets, Traktor has a lot to offer. tracks with loops and stems.
has wisely focused on being a full-fledged music The essential approach is simple: You can Can display all waveform
production platform, albeit with that on-the-fly have up to four simultaneous decks, up to two data simultaneously. Tons
emphasis. So being able to DJ in Live is almost of which can be used as remix decks. A remix of built-in effects and EQ
an afterthought. Thats not a diss; its just further deck can contain up to four simultaneous sample types. Parameter control is
proof that, for integrating musicianship and channels. Each channel can use one-shot samples, higher-res than MIDI when
production chops with a DJ set, Live arguably loops, or even the stems (instrument subgroups used with NIs own hardware
remains the 800-pound gorilla of the dance music such as drums, bass, top loops, etc.) from popular controllers. Can auto-detect
worldespecially as the club scene expands be- tracks, which can be purchased directly from sev- and sort by musical key.
yond DJing into more innovative territory than eral outlets including Native Instruments them- Integrating external gear is
just mixing and beat-matching stereo tracks. selves and Beatport. If youve amassed a sizeable painless.
If youre using a different DAW for production loop library of your own, youll be in heaven,
especially one thats timeline-centricyou have to because these can be imported into the remix CONS No support for soft
take a good look at what you want to do as a per- decks as well. synths or plug-ins of any
former. If you want to focus on the DJ aspect with a For audio processing, Traktor includes a wide kind. Can only send MIDI
little live performance on a synth or drum machine array of EQs and effects that cover the entire sync, not receive it.
thrown in for good measure, Live may not be your range of standards such as reverbs, delays, flang-
best bet. The other tools in this roundup are more
immediate, if less flexible. Additionally, a lot of
ers, lo-fi, even one-knob macro effects. In a nifty
twist, you can even select your EQs (globally) Bottom Line
producers are still strangely put off by Lives Session from a variety of different emulations based on If youre not already producing in
view, saying that it looks like an Excel spreadsheet. classic DJ mixers from Pioneer, Allen & Heath, Ableton, Traktor deserves a very
Well, looks can be deceiving, because Session view and Numark. That said, if you have a set of pre- close look thanks to its immediacy
is quite possibly the biggest innovation in production ferred VST or AU plug-ins, youre out of luck, as and wide array of performance and
tools since, well, maybe the DAW itself. Non-linear theres no support for either, nor for soft synths processing tools.
composition and performance arent the future. of any kind.
Theyre the present. So if youre ready to move past One of Traktors greatest strengths is the $99 street
your preconceptions, you just might find yourself ability to organize and sort all of your DJ mate-
migrating to Live for more than just gigging. rial, including both full tracks and remix clips.

05.2014 Keyboard 47
The overall approach is similar to iTunes, includ-
ing playlists, but with the addition of sorting via
key and tempo, making it super easy to get to ios
everything into your crate. In fact, when you
import new tracks into Traktor, it auto-detects DJ
the musical key (much like Mixed In Key) and APPs
adds that metadata to its database. Better still, ALgoriDDiM nAtiVe sounDtrenDs
when youre sorting by key in the middle of a per- DJAy 2 instruMents MetA.DJ
formance, Traktor lets you view this info via the trAKtor DJ
Circle of Fifths, which makes things extremely in-
tuitive for performers who know a bit of theory. Pros Includes sorting Gorgeous, Fully customizable,
Although theres no soft synth hosting, you by tempo and key. clean interface. with five different
can turn any deck into a live input for micro- Integrated beat- Ability to fine- instrument
phones, line-level signals, or whatever your audio matching and tune your track devices. Integrated
interface supports, letting you pipe a drum ma- sync tools. Drum syncing via a Kaoss-style
chine, synth, or iPad through Traktor. Traktor pad interface simple four-beat effects. Intuitive
can send (but not receive) MIDI sync over USB, for triggering grid interface. user interface.
so you can lock a drum machine to your BPM and samples. Integrated EQ Blurs the line
bring its audio back into Traktor for processing Integrated sample and touchpad between DJing
and mixing. packs from Qbert effects. Pairs and musical
Though some producers will prefer Ableton and Snoop Dogg. flawlessly with performance.
Live because its also one of the top DAWs, quite MIDI control NIs Traktor Compatible with
a few producers have switched to Traktor because over a range of Kontrol Z1 earlier iPads,
of its focus on controllerism and fluid mixing of parameters. controller. including iOS 4.1.
audio from a wide variety of sources. You can get
the software by itself, or bundled with most of Cons Key detection Only two track At press time,
NIs Traktor Kontrol hardware controllers. requires an iPad decks. No sampling hasnt been
Air or iPad Mini or loop layering at updated since
Retina. this time. version 1.6 in 2012.
for DJing Price $9.99 $9.99 $19.99

Lets sAy you Just wAnt to DiP A Website native-
toe into these DJ waters and experiment to
see if it appeals to your performance sen-
sibilities. If you have an iPad, youre in luck,
because there are a few capable apps that
will let you started, using your iPads music
library, for less than 20 bucks each.

Algoriddim Djay 2
Algoriddims original Djay iPad got a big boost from
Apple when it was included in their earliest iPad an-
nouncements and presentations, because of its gor-
geous turntable-based interface and ability to give
almost anyone the chops to rock a house party.
Last year, Algoriddim unleashed Djay 2, with a
truckload of Traktor and Serato-esque amenities
such as key detection, iOS inter-app audio sup-
port, EQ, Kaoss-style effects, and the ability to
instantly toggle to sample-triggering with a drum
pad style interface. Better still, many of these
features are compatible with a range of MIDI
controllers, including popular DJ products from
Vestax and Pioneer.
For ten bucks, Djay 2 delivers a surprising
amount of performance functionality and seems
poised for further growth as a legitimate option
for live performance.

48 Keyboard 05.2014
SoundTrends Meta.DJ
When I reviewed Meta.DJ back in October 2012,
I immediately fell in love with its approach to in-
tegrating decks, loops, arpeggiators, effects, and
drum machines. Of all of the DJ apps available
for the iPad ecosystem, Meta.DJ feels the most
like a cousin to Ableton Live.
The basic concept for Meta.DJ is simple: The
screen contains four quadrants, each of which can
contain one of five musical devices: Track Decks
(an iTunes-integrated track player), Drumtron
(a drum machine), One Shot (sample triggering
pads onscreen), Looptastic (a loop player with
up to eight custom loops), Riser (for adding rises
and whooshes on-the-fly), or Sampl3r (a sample-
based synth/arpeggiator).
If you want to create a setup with two Track
Decks, a One Shot, and a Looptastic, no prob-
lem. Want to create a different setup with two
Looptastics, a Sampl3r, and a One Shot? Go for
it. Whats more, each of these configurations can
be saved and recalled for different parts of your
With that kind of flexibility, its a bit of shame
that Sound Trends hasnt updated Meta.DJ in a
while. While that may be a cause for some concern,
that doesnt mean its not still 100 percent viable.
In fact, I recently tested it on an iPad Air, and the
extra horsepower made the experience even more
fluid and enjoyable. If youre looking for a more
techy, quasi-music-production approach to your
iPad sets, Meta.DJ is your best bet.

Native Instruments Traktor DJ

Native Instruments iPad version of Traktor is
the most traditionally DJ-centric of the iPad apps
discussed here, but that doesnt mean its not a
great choice for getting your feet wet. While its
limited to two track decks and doesnt provide
live tools like sample-triggering or the ability
to layer additional loops (yet), its still got some
great amenities like trackpad-based delay, flanger,
and a cool-sounding filter gate. Its integrated EQ
is a nice touch, as well.
BreakINg NewS Whats more, Traktor DJ for iPad is also com-
Just announced at South by Southwest, patible with Native Instruments own Traktor
a new app called Pacemaker integrates Kontrol Z1 mixer interface, so you can get truly
your Spotify account with its DJ tools, hands-on as you spin tracks in it.
giving access to almost any track on Although Traktor DJ is the simplest of the
Spotify (and in your iTunes library) three apps, its also the newest, which means that
as part of your crate. It has a simple its inevitable that there will be powerful up-
interface and a ton of tempo-synced grades in the future, and its reassuring to know
effects. Expect a full review soon. that its got the full support of one of the biggest
software developers in the industry.

05.2014 Keyboard 49

ROLAND Snap Judgment

Aira TR-8
PROS Immaculate
recreations of the TR-808
and TR-909 that also go
far beyond the originals.
Integrated delay and reverb
can be sequenced. External
like the one surrounding Rolands new Aira series. It was the talk of NAMM 2014 synced gating and side-
even though it wasnt exhibited publicly, and blog after blog covered the teasers chaining. Unit can act as an
leading up to its release. When it nally hit the market, nearly every outlet rushed audio interface.
a video review of the productsmore than a few of which telegraphed the review-
ers unfamiliarity with the original TR-808 and TB-303. My rst synth teacher, David CONS Drum and effect
Kane, let me spend hours with his TR-808 back in 1982. Then I used one throughout parameters cant be saved
the 80s along with the TB-303, TR-909 and 606, and lets not forget the TR-707. with kits or patterns. Only 16
Needless to say, I was chomping at the bit to get my hands on this new Aira series pattern memories.
and give you an in-depth report.

50 Keyboard 05.2014
Specs tons Buffer Shuffler effect, reversing and re-ar- conga with its higher pitch and rounder sound.
Lets get the nuts and bolts out of the way first. ranging elements to morph grooves in extremely This is especially cool in conjunction with their
The TR-8 is astonishingly modern in its ameni- complex ways, with just a twist of a knob. Editor tuning functions. You can easily create simple me-
ties. Weve all seen the videos of its LED-laden Stephen Fortner calls scatter the BT knob, and lodic content in this manner, which is even more
panel. In person, the thing glows like its filled thats an apt moniker. fun when you add the 808s clave and cowbell.
with kryptonite and it positively begs to be added The final few knobs and buttons are devoted Now, lets answer the big question. Did Roland
to a live EDM/DJ rig, thanks to its full comple- to parameters like tempo, shuffle/swing, and nail the analog beauty of the originals even as
ment of USB connectivity including sync, MIDI, switching between the various recording and per- they kept the innards of the Aira system fully
and two-way audio communication that lets you formance options, and thats it. The TR-8 is bliss- digital? The answer is a resounding Hell, yeah!
record direct and independent digital audio for fully straightforward in every way. If you take advantage of the new knob func-
every drum channel in the beast. Whats more, tions, like tuning, decay, and compression (on
the TR-8 can serve as an audio interface for your The Sound the kick and snare), and do so with an ear for the
computer, so you can send the output and sync Keyboard readers know that Im obsessed with originals, the results are functionally identical
from your DJ software, then process that audio todays analog renaissance, so Ill admit that I was to the TR-8s analog ancestors. Little quirks like
through the TR-8. As a performer, I was immedi- pretty skeptical about Rolands all-digital Analog the way the snare and clap noise elements are
ately fascinated by this option and tested it heav- Circuit Behavior (ACB) approach to modeling the layered, or the whiff of bit-crushing in the 909
ily for this reviewmore on that in a bit. TR-808 and 909. Roland claims this emulates hi-hats and cymbals, are absolutely nailed.
The essential sounds of the TR-8 are, again, complex interactions between analog components Heres a gripe, though. Even with all of these
modeled replicas of the original TR-808 and 909 such as transistors and capacitors, and that they options for customizing individual drums
kits. Individual drums and percussion elements did a lot of reverse engineering of the vintage sounds, your edits cant be saved at the kit or pat-
can be mixed, matched, and sonically tweaked to units circuit boards. (Theres a precedent for this tern levels. The kits contain only the sound selec-
create entirely new kits. The front panel controls in the form of the sophisticated SPICE circuit mod- tions, not their parameter settings. Heres hoping
include independent slots for kick, snare, three eling software used by engineers, though I dont theres a way to add this ability in a firmware
toms, rim shot, handclap, open and closed hi- know whether thats the tool Roland used.) For update at some point.
hats, and two cymbals. At first, I was concerned reference, I still have a Boss DR-110 that includes
that Roland had omitted other signature 808 808-derived analog circuits, along with a Mattel Sequencing and Performance
percussion sounds, but these are just hidden Synsonics and Korgs new Volca series (reviewed Make no mistake, the TR-8 is a targeted at live
more deeply in the units kit options. In fact, the Mar. 14). So in conjunction with my synths, I performance and not designed for song composi-
layout is nearly identical to the kit selection in certainly had enough tools at my disposal to assess tion. Other than selecting a range of patterns to
the TR-909, but you really have to be a purist to whether the new Airas truly sound analog. play sequentially, there's no proper chaining of
detect these discrepancies. Sadly, EDMs current As mentioned, the TR-8s drums are laid out patterns into songs. After all, when its connected
crop of preset teens would never notice this like the originals, but with more knobs for each via USB, you can easily create complex song pat-
detail. [And those damned kids wont get off Francis drum, so you can fine-tune the sound of each terns with your DAWs sequencing features, so
lawn! Ed.] to your exact specifications. Even the extra 808 this isnt a deal-breaker by a long shot. Onstage,
Above the drum kit controls are three sections percussion options, like congas, clave, maracas of course, the point is to trigger patterns manu-
for the reverb, delay, and external input, all with and the quirky-but-timeless cowbell, are perfectly ally and tweak them on the fly.
dedicated knobs per function. This brings me to captured. Whether Rolands ACB approach is Also, the TR-8 only offers 16 main pattern
one of my favorite aspects of the TR-8. With the strictly modeling or a hybrid that incorporates slots. In a nod to the original TR-808, each of
possible exception of loading kits and swapping sampling is beside the point. The units 24-bit the slots can have A and B versions, which can be
individual instruments, theres absolutely noth- resolution (32 bits internally) and 96kHz sam- toggled on the fly or strung together to create two-
ing fiddly about immediately producing great pling rate, combined with the added parameters bar patterns, complex 32nd-note one-bar grooves,
grooves with this box. Rolands devotion to the and overall sound, result in audio thats present, or things in between, depending on which of the
one-knob-per-function ideal really paid off here, punchy, warm, and absolutely in-your-face like four Scale options you choose. Between the Scale
because almost every feature is instantly acces- proper analog. choices and the Last Step button (which lets you
sible in live performance. (A notable exception is There are 16 kits in total and interestingly, set any step as the final one in the pattern), odd
stereo panning, for which you enter Instrument theres no save function. Once you select your time signatures are possible if you want em.
Select mode, hold down a drum button, and turn sounds for a given kit, theyre locked until you As with the kits, theres no save function for
the tempo knob.) change them again. You can even set up the toms the patterns. When you move to another pattern,
In the upper right-hand corner of the unit is so that each can have its own sound. For example, whatever you did on the previous one is retained
the Aira familys new Scatter function, which the low tom can be a sharp 808, the mid tom a until you return to it and revise it further. In con-
performs a bit like iZotopes Stutter Edit or Able- quirky 909, and the high tom could be the 808 text, this felt completely natural.

05.2014 Keyboard 51
The back of the TR-8 sports connections for USB, five-pin MIDI in and out, a stereo mix out, 1/4 stereo headphone out, two
assignable outputs for individual drums, and stereo 1/4 external inputs for processing audio. The TR-8 can also send each
and every drum on its own channel as audio over USB.

Programming patterns is handled using Essential functions like copying or erasing pat- Finally, theres a mute mode that can eliminate
the same two methods that nearly every drum terns are handled via intuitive key combinations that various drums for intros, breakdowns and other
machine uses: Triggering sounds by hitting the I mastered within an hour of opening the box. Once dramatic effects. A solo function would have been
non-velocity-sensitive buttons (with quantiza- your sequence is programmed, you can add flour- cool as well, but thats splitting hairs. Again, I have
tion baked in) or via Rolands timeless step entry ishes like rolls and variations by holding secondary to emphasize that any omissions in the sequenc-
mode that everyone has copied over the past 30 keys while pressing the button for the drum(s) to be ers features are largely academic in this context.
years. I wasnt bothered by the lack of velocity or affected. There are eighth-note and sixteenth-note Roland clearly knows that the reason the TR-
pressure sensitivity, because thats not part of the rolls, as well as two vari options that further synco- 808 and 909 were successful wasnt because of
character of the originals. If you want to empha- pate the drums to which theyre applied. Multiple roll their arcane song construction tools. These are
size specific hits, you can always apply the Accent buttons can be pressed in combination for further the very drum machines that launched electronic
knob on those steps. variety, which was a pleasant surprise. dance music as we know it, and were central to



RobPapen_USA.indd 1 12/08/2013 11:59
52 Keyboard 05.2014
a good chunk of hip-hop (though the Akai MPC that can also be sequenced on the fly for pump- of highly influential EDM blog LessThan3, was at
shares the spotlight there), and the Aira approach ing and chopping up your tracks as you layer the my home during the tests, and he concurred that
to sequencing and performance exemplifies this. TR-8 grooves on top. I spent a few hours push- the Aira TR-8 is the future of live EDM perfor-
ing this system to the limit, mixing tracks from mance. Final answer.
Further Features Ableton through the TR-8s USB audio link, and
In addition to the TR-8s collection of amazing didnt have a single hiccup. Note that the TR-8 is
drum sounds, there are integrated delay and always running at 24-bit/96kHz resolution, and
reverb effects that you can add on a per-step
basis. For example, you could set the reverb to
will force your software to do the same, so con-
sider the CPU impact if you intend to pair it with
Bottom Line
hit only on beats 2 and 4 and the delay to hit on an older laptop. The TR-8 fully lives up to its hype,
the off-beatsor cook up any pattern that you but goes way beyond that. Its quite
can imagine. There are eight distinct options for Conclusions possibly the new standard for live
each effect and some go far beyond the usual Ill admit that the buzz leading up to the Aira beat-making.
halls, rooms, and tempo-synced delays. Many are release was both mysterious and heavy-handed.
extremely chunky and gritty, and there are even It wasnt that I was skeptical about Rolands $499 street
some LFO-modulated delays for wobbly effects. intentionsI just wanted to make sure that the
Whats more, you can dig deep into the system TR-8 didnt have that flat in the box sound that
and turn effects off for specific drums, which can digital products often suffer from. All I can say is
tighten your mixes considerably. that the TR-8 exceeded my expectations in nearly
The cherry on this sundae is the TR-8s stereo
external input, which can accept either analog
every possible way. Its truly addictive as a per-
formance tool and drum machine, and its ability
Hear It Now!
audio via the 1/4 jacks or digital audio over USB. to integrate seamlessly into a DJ or live EDM rig
As soon as I saw this, my DJ brain exploded in (not to mention its rock-solid performance and
ecstasy. With a little forethought, you can actu- sturdy build) gave me the confidence to include it Original audio examples.
ally use the TR-8 as the audio interface for your in both of my performances at Austins South by
Traktor or Ableton rig and have the entire thing Southwest music festival in front of thousands of Walkthrough video.
locked to tempo. As if that werent enough, the people. Im not just a believer. Im a full-fledged
external input includes gate and sidechain effects addict, and Im not the only one. Ari Evans, CEO

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RM3II Grand Action

05.2014 Keyboard 53


Aira TB-3
PROS Knockout modeling
TB-303 Bass Line synth, which helped launch acid house music in the late 80s and Covers classic as well as
was hugely inuential in early hip-hop. Propellerhead ReBirth did an uncanny job of contemporary sounds.
replicating the sound over a decade ago, so its certain that Roland would improve Integrated effects
on that. They also took a lot more liberties relative to the original than they did with complement the oscillator
the TR-8 (see page 50), and thats a wonderful thing. Lets face it: Programming the modes beautifully.
TB-303 was complicated, and a joke among users was that you actually had to be Sequencing is fun and
on acid to get it. In contrast, the TB-3 features an LED-backlit touchpad and decid- immediate. Doubles as a
edly enjoyable approach to making hypnotic loops. USB audio interface.

Overview and Sounds replicas of the TB-303s oscillator, and they each CONS Changes to synth
The TB-3 eschews slavish devotion to the origi- cover a different approach to its sound. parameter values cant be
nals features, starting with its whopping 134 Bank As collection of 26 modes is entirely saved. Sequences cant be
preset tones for use as oscillators in the context devoted to the original 303s sound, including exported via sys-ex.
of its synth engine. Twenty-six of these tones are some cool processed options. The first four modes

54 Keyboard 05.2014
Weve been askeda lotwhether the TB-3 is better than the Korg Volca Keys
or Volca Bass. The answer is deeper than, Well, theyre different, because
they have quite a bit in common, such as touchpad keyboards, extremely
similar workows, and no ability to save edits to sounds. The TB-3 has eight timess as many
sequence patternsbut the Volca Keys can automate parameter changes. In the TB-3s favor, it can
double as a USB audio interface. On the Volca side is the cachet of being real analog. The Volca synths also have
more knobs, a speaker, and battery operation. They have no swing or shufe, though, which limits groove options. Each
has a distinct character, and after a lot of listening, I still couldnt say which sounded betterhonest.

in the bank are outstanding recreations of the the active sequence. The piano keyboard mode imagination as you work. That can lead to a lot
original units basic sound with its distinctive works in a similar fashion, with the onscreen keys of happy accidents, so if youre noodling away on
sawtooth and square waves beautifully replicated. interrupting the sequence as long as your finger the TB-3 in the studio, have your DAW rolling to
After that, things get pretty wild. remains down. catch them.
Despite the original 303 only offering those Like the TR-8, the TB-3 can serve as an audio
two waves, there were quite a few common pro- interface, thanks to USB implementation that Conclusions
cessing tricks that were applied during its heyday includes both MIDI and bi-directional audio. Overall, the TB-3 is an astonishing accomplish-
in the late 80s and early 90s. Notable production ment. If you stick with a few select TB-303
tricks included different types of distortion and Sequencing models in the first bank of preset tones, its a
overdrive, as well as delay, reverb, and chorus/ The TB-3 includes 64 pattern slots for your se- beautiful emulation of the original that sounds
unison effects. All of those are represented in quences. Each is one measure long, but Rolands absolutely massive through speakers. Then, when
the rest of bank A and sound fantastic. The other Pattern Select mode lets you chain up to eight you add in another 100 or so tones that cover
three banks cover bass, lead, and effect sounds, patterns (a single bank, to be clear) in sequence a lot of both analog and digital synthesis terri-
respectively. Many of these cater to current dance with a swipe of the finger. This gives the unit a lot tory, youre out of 303-land and into a whole new
fashions and may sound dated in the future, but more musicality in a performance context, but arena of sound. While some of the sounds have a
others are inspirational and timeless. like the TR-8, theres no chaining of patterns into bit of digital sheen, there are a lot of Virus users
After youve selected a tone as your starting songs per se. As with the TR-8, this isnt neces- who crave that sound, so their needs will be satis-
point, youve got a few knobs for dialing in your sarily a bad thing. Its just a reminder that these fied by the TB-3 as well.
sound: Volume, Cutoff, Resonance, Accent, and grooveboxes specialize in live performance. The other performance modes, like X-Y play,
Effect. At first glance, its easy to assume that You enter sequences via either step recording envelope mod, and the touch-keyboard all take
the 303s legendary envelope modulation and or realtime note entry. In step mode, the TB-3 the performance angle even higher. I fully expect
decay are absent. Not sotheyre simply ac- recaptures the original 303s approach in all its to see this wonderbox in as many DJ rigs as the
cessed via the units touchpad as you play and wacky glory, but thanks to the touchpad, the TR-8most likely in combination, which is an-
program, courtesy of four interface modes for process feels friendlier overall. The originals rest, other sign that the club landscape is about to out-
the screen. accent, and slide/tie functions are handled by the grow its roots of simply mixing tracks together.
Get beyond bank A, and the envelope modula- touch screens green panels, which flank the red All in all, the price-to-performance ratio on the
tion affects more than just filter and decay. Bit- keyboard. TB-3 makes it a modern classic.
crushing, elaborate modulation, and even some Realtime mode works as youd expect, with
granular-style effects can be performed here. The the bonus of the step LEDs scrolling across the
same applies to the TB-3s Effect knob, which top of the unit as you enter notes. I have to say
adds time-based effects like delay and reverb. The
TB-3 also includes the Aira series Scatter func-
that a simple metronome would have come in
handy here, but theres none. Bottom Line
tion, which warps and twists the patterns in a I was initially peeved that the TB-3 didnt Roland captures the essence of
musically intelligent and glitchy manner. store any synth parameter edits with its sequenc- the TB-303 and makes it more fun,
Another performance option is the X-Y play es. In light of everything the unit is capable of, more exible, and easier to use.
mode, which gives the TB-3 a distinctly Kaossila- this would put it over the top, especially consider-
tor vibe. When this is active, the touchscreen lets ing the sonic range of its synthesis engine. Then I $299 street
you inject pitch swoops into your performance, considered the original 303, which didnt do this
even as a sequence plays. When you switch to either. Neither do the Korg Volcas. So, as with
X-Y mode, finger contact temporarily interrupts the TR-8, the intention here is to engage your

05.2014 Keyboard 55

Fig. 1.
main page
shows the six
tracks and the
patterns each
is playing.
Below, the
MicroEdit pane
opens when
you click on
any sequencer
event, letting
you rearrange
its audio at
what feels like
a quantum

Snap Judgment

PROS Unprecedented tools
for integrating complex
time-based micro-edits into
electronic grooves and beats.
BY JOHN SKIPPY LEHMKUHL Powerful step sequence-based
drum machine. Powerful
sample-based and DSP
and over, trying to program those incredible sonic edits that electronic music leg- mostly makes dealing with
end BT is known for. His plug-in Stutter Edit (reviewed Aug. 11) nally let us do all this complexity very easy.
some of these tricks, but BT has hinted for years at a follow-up plug-in for rhythm Huge 2GB sample library, with
creation. Enter BreakTweaker. Fundamentally its a groovebox plug-in, but thats much content created by
kind of like calling a Porsche Panamera plug-in hybrid a gas-saver. Everything isnt electronic composer BT.
all roses, but what BreakTweaker does well, nothing else can do at all.
CONS No Swing parameter.
Tracks on the folder icon, it opens the Generator presets Only 75% of the pattern
Six percussion tracks are available for groove menu, so you can call up a different sound. Next windows width is visible at
creation, each with its own solo and mute button is the playback multiplier, which alters the tracks any given time. DSP synth
(see Figure 1). Next is a Waveform Edit button for playback speed from 1/3X to 3X. engine produces aliasing.
each track, which opens the Generator window. Up next are the track volume and pan knob Skimpy number of pattern
A Generator preset is the closest thing here to a and the 32-step step sequencer grid. Timing and Generator presets. Can
patchmore on this in a bit. A Play button tri- events on the grid are light blue: click to create be CPU-intensive.
angle triggers each tracks sound, and if you click and double-click to remove. You can change their

56 Keyboard 05.2014
Fig. 2. In the Generator Edit view, you can
create and edit sounds based on samples
or an internal synth engine. With the
current track across the top and MicroEdit
across the bottom, you see everything
pertinent to the sound of one track.

length by dragging the right edge, and their vol-

ume by dragging up or down. Under the 32 steps
is a solid bar; changing its length makes that
track longer or shorter. All this is per track, which
allows complex groove possibilities before you
even get into the MicroEdit window, which oper-
ates per event, and is by far the coolest feature in
One odd design choice is that the main inter-
face doesnt show you all of the overall drum pat- Micro Editing timing effects. The Type can be set to divide the
tern. Theres a window box at the top thats visu- BreakTweakers sequencer is unique because each timing events by an absolute number of divisions,
ally reminiscent of Pro Tools universe view, and event can be a different length, and the way any a set timing value, a starting pitch, or an absolute
you have to drag it left or right to see the first event behaves depends on the MicroEdit window. speed in Hz. The Slope parameters decide how
two or final two beats of a two-bar pattern. Either You could divide a single timing event so that it evenly these divisions are distributed over time:
you get used to jockeying back and forth or you triggers itself more than a thousand times. With Tension controls whether they play in an ac-
make your patterns one bar longwhich, inter- the innovative Type, Slope, and Gate parameters, celerating or decelerating manner (from subtle to
estingly, is the default length for new patterns. you can create mind-blowing stutter, glitch, and extreme) and Rotate alters the playback phase

The Keys
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Fig 3. Side-by-side comparison of playing middle C with the default sawtooth waveform from Spire (left) and breakTweaker (right).
because of the aliasing it produces, the synthesis capabilities of breakTweaker are not as sonically impressive as they could be.

of the micro-edited events. Gate sets the gap Sequencer window is an output assignment setting Distortion section can produce two distinct distor-
between events. You get 34 Slope presets, which for each track; this is helpful because there are no tion presets at the same time. Distortion flavors
affect how all these settings interact. mastering, delay, or reverb effects built in. include Warm, Transistor, Hard, Digital, RAW, and
You can transpose the pitch per event, add a dis- Though theres no swing or shuffle parameter Aliasing. Theres a mix parameter, but be aware
tortion or filter effect per event, and the fade-in/out (a glaring omission to some, but perhaps not to that some of the distortion presets alter the sound
volume parameter is very useful. At far right of the makers of four-on-the-floor dance music), I found even when mix is set at zero.
a way to make parts kind of swing: Drag an event Next up is a single Filter that has three sonic
width to a quarter-note, with a division of 2, and characters: New York, Tokyo, and Brick Wall.
SoUnd LIbrary use the Kinda Slope preset. All include lowpass and highpass options; New
York adds a bandpass mode. A mix stage lets you
BreakTweakers library is divided Sound Engine change panning and volume for the current Lane.
into Pattern and Generator presets. A BreakTweaker sound is called a Generator (see The ADSR envelopes feature adjustable curva-
A Pattern preset contains up to six Figure 2). Each of the six tracks is assigned one tures for the attack, decay, and release segments.
tracks and typically 12 patterns (out Generator, which in turn can consist of up to The LFO offers more than 80 waveforms.
of a possible 24) in a number of three Generator Lanesthink of Lanes as layers. LFOs can sync to host, and retrigger (or not), and
electronica genres. The Generator Each Lane can use either a sample-based sound or you can shift the phase. When you combine these
presets come in drum, synth, and a two-oscillator synth, so you can mix and match. LFOs with the complex wavetables and synthesis
bass flavors. Although there are Clicking the waveform display opens the Genera- abilities, some pretty dynamic sounds can be
many acoustic drum and some tor editor, which is laid out in three sections: produced on a single track. Virtually every knob
percussion samples, the factory Oscillator; Distortion, Filter, and Mix; and Modu- or slider can have two modulation sources, but be
patterns and sounds are focused lation, which contains four envelopes and four aware that the envelopes and LFOs are the only
strictly on modern dance styles. LFOs. For sample-based Lanes, you can option- sources available.
Having only 69 Generator presets ally drag-and-drop samples from your computer. BreakTweakers synth engine produces no-
seems skimpy given that there are As to factory sound choices, each drum type ticeable aliasing. Its not just on very high notes;
over 4,000 samples. To get the most is divided into sub-folders. For example, the Kick playing a simple sawtooth wave C4, I could both
out of BreakTweaker, you have to folder has sub-folders named Acoustic, Basics, hear it and see it on a spectrum analyzer relative
dig deeper into the Generator editor. Dubstep, Electro, Hip Hop, Minimal, Trance, and to another soft synth, Reveal Sound Spire (see
Three additional libraries come in Vintage. You might want to try the Discovery but- Figure 3). Since BreakTweaker is designed for
the expanded version. Cinematic ton, which uses a cloud-based audio search engine. making in-your-face beats and grooves with an
Textures is a must for composers, (Internet connection required, and it only works EDM focus, maybe this is less of an issue than
with more than 700 sound design- with the factory samples.) Looping with realtime it would be for most synths. Still, reducing the
focused samples and 71 incredible crossfades is available for fleshing out samples that aliasing would make the synth engines powers
patterns. Vintage Machines is very need to play longer than their original length. more clearly heard, and iZotope is looking to im-
useful but is really more pop/dance The other option is the DSP synth, which prove matters in an update.
than vintage. The Kick and Snare shows you a waveform display with two tabs at the
expansion, however, doesnt have a top to select between oscillators 1 and 2. Here, a In Use
single Pattern or Generator preset to folder icon lets you peruse 99 different wavetable Despite its under-the-hood complexity, Break-
support its 102 samples. presets, ranging from basic waveforms for subtrac- Tweaker is almost primitively simple to use. On
tive synthesis to complex multi-wave tables. The a MIDI keyboard, you play chromatically from C1

58 Keyboard 05.2014
to play the six sounds assigned to each track. Play cant have a multi-time-signature polyrhythmic had been effects or edits you had to apply after
chromatically from C2 to trigger the 24 separate breakdown in the middle of your song, because if the fact. Nothing else does this.
patterns. There are two play modes: Gate and you try, all 24 patterns will be multi-meter poly-
Latch. Gate starts with a note-on and stops with rhythmic. Also, volume and pan are not stored on
a note-off. Latch starts when you hit a key (or a per-pattern or per-micro-edit level. It would be
drum pad) and doesnt stop until you hit it again, nice to change these settings throughout a song.
As to CPU use, my 2010 six-core 3.5Ghz Mac
Bottom Line
freeing your fingers to change patterns. With the
Always Retrigger toggle turned turned off, you Pro kept chugging along without any issues. A groundbreaking integration of
can trigger new patterns and they wont restart However, my 2006 quad-core 3.0Hz Mac Pro had groove machine and glitch/stutter
the whole thing from beat 1, which is very useful problems playing even three tracks without audio generator that no EDM artist or
for sequencing realistic and dynamic rhythms. dropouts. I highly suggest downloading the demo music-for-picture composer will
Though there are no realtime MIDI parameters version to see how it works with your computer. want to go withoutbut with a few
to map physical controls to anything inside the version 1 speed bumps.
engine, every parameter (for all six tracks) is reg- Conclusions
istered in the automation list of your DAW. If you want to experiment with complex rhythms Standard: $249 street
To make your own patterns, its fun to click in and incredible stutter edits, BreakTweaker is a Expanded: $299 street
the grid and get a cool groove going. Select Load no-brainer. The sonic quality of the extensive
Kit Only from the main preset directory to load sample library is also a big plus. These world-class
samples and get started even faster. You also can sounds and the unprecedented timing engine
select one of the 24 pattern boxes in an existing
pattern to further develop one of the factory pat-
earn a major thumbs-up. However, the lack of
swing, the truncated view of the pattern window,
See It Now!
terns. However, there are a few things that I hope and the relatively small number of Generator pre-
iZotope will change in a future update. As of ver- sets make BreakTweaker seem underdeveloped
sion 1.0, all patterns have to share the same Time for a premium-priced software instrument. That The authors comprehensive
Multiply and Track Length settings. These are ter- said, the importance and coolness of what it does video review of BreakTweaker.
ribly limiting. For example, if you make a half-note cant be understated: It makes glitch, stutter, and
hi-hat groove for pattern 1, the hi-hat track will be complex micro-timing tricks a part of your initial
a half-note in length for the other 23 patterns. You beat-making process, whereas until now these

edd byy Er
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articles and combined them with a wealth of insight to create this landmark book.
Features 20 interviews with noted players and producers like Jimmy Jam & Terry
Lewis, Duran Durans Nick Rhodes, Depeche Modes Vince Clarke, Peter Gabriel,
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00331932........................................................................ $19.95

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05.2014 Keyboard 59

In the demonstration, the

controls you see are actually
a video playback explaining
the particular synth function.
You then proceed to the
challenge, in which these
functions are put into action.


Syntorial Snap Judgment

PROS Clear, concise, ear-
based lessons emphasize
BY TOM BRISLIN recognition of audio
examples. Copius amounts
of helpful videos along the
a good place to start, but its not always clear what a particular adjustment is really lessons from bone-simple to
doing to the sound, and how it affects the overall makeup of a synth program (es- more involved settings. Synth,
pecially to a newcomer). Enter Syntorial, a synth training application that helps you called Primer, can also be
understand and hear synthesis, from the ground up. used as a standalone or plug-
in instrument. Quizzes offer
When first starting Syntorial, and whenever you during the challenges, one of the settings is played. audio examples to correct you
encounter a new section of the software, you are Your task: Match it correctly by choosing the right if you get something wrong.
greeted by one of many help videos. These are your setting. The narrator gives any important definitions
virtual professor, outlining how to use the soft- as the demonstrations progress; even a user with CONS Primer synth is limited
ware as well as giving subjective descriptions of zero synth experience could learn how it works. to six voices of polyphony.
the various sonic qualities youll be identifying and The challenges play a simple note sequence on
tweaking. Theres no need for a manual or any oth- a hidden patcha synth program whose settings
er documentation outside of the software itself. are not shown. You can then make adjustments to
Each lesson contains a demonstration and a chal- whatever parameters are available, and can go back notched to just a few available values per control.)
lenge. The demonstration is a video that shows you and forth between your patch and the hidden patch The help video states that its very important to play
the concept or synth function for each lesson. You while the sequence continues playing. Once you feel the sound while making adjustments so you can get
can pause or replay it before going to the challenge. youve matched the sound of the two, click Submit to know the differences. This is a vital aspect of learn-
The demonstration video displays the syntorial for your results. Youll get instant feedback, outlining ing the synth programming process.
synth panel, which at first deals with the most basic incorrect settings in red, which will turn green once Once youve completed the series of lessons,
building block of a sound: the waveform. You get to corrected. (Dont be intimidated by all of the possible theres a short quiz. Each multiple-choice question
hear the differences between waveforms, and then values that a knob or slider can have; the settings are asks you to identify something about a sound that

60 Keyboard 05.2014
The challenge begins with a hidden Switch to My Patch and the available
patch. Play it manually or let run a controls will appear. Make the necessary
short looping note sequence run. adjustments to make My Patch sound
Listen for as long as you like. just like the hidden patch. Toggle
between the two as often as necessary.

Submit your results and Syntorial will The companion synth, called Primer,
tell you how you did. Correct settings is available in VST and AU formats. It
are highlighted in green, incorrect features the full array of Syntorials
settings in red. synth parameters, preset banks and
user patches.

corresponds to the content in the lesson. If you without bogging you down with too much jargon
answer incorrectly, it reveals the correct answer, or information at once. Little by little, the synths
and a play button appears next to each choice. front panel becomes more populated with param-
You can now listen to the differences in the eters, and eventually becomes a nicely functioning
answers. Some questions refer to concepts ex- virtual analog software synth. One likeable aspect
plained in the help videos, so pay attention! Once is that it doesnt just show you how a synth works,
you complete the quiz, regardless on how well it deals with how to approach sound design when
you did, the next lesson is unlocked. Fun. matching timbres. The videos and on your own
Before moving on to the next lesson, syntorial assignments are full of effective strategies on ap-
gives you an on your own assignment. In this, you proaching the tones you seek. If you really want
go to your own hardware or software synth and try to learn about subtractive synthesis and how to
some tweaks the program gives you. This applies to recreate the synth sounds you hear in music, Syn-
most subtractive synths, but if youre working with torial is a must-have.
an old DX7, most of the material may not apply.
Since youll be getting very handy at editing
Syntorials internal synth, it makes sense to have
it as a standalone or plug-in instrument. In this
context, the synth is called Primer. It has healthy
Bottom Line
specs: monophonic or six-voice, two oscillators The most comprehensive and
plus a sub-oscilaator, low/high/bandpass filter fun tool for learning synthesizer
with resonance, LFO, distortion, phaser, chorus, programming, hands down.
delay, and reverb, plus envelopes and a few mod-
ulation routings. This is an excellent inclusion. $129.99
Theres a lot to like about Syntorial. It gets
you listening to differences in sound right away,

05.2014 Keyboard 61


Snap Judgment
called Gadget. Ill be candid here: Ive been very skeptical about iOS as a full-on instruments that run
recording environment. Sketchpad? Absolutely. Creating audio and loops for im- the gamut of synthesis
porting into my primary DAW? Ive done it countless times. Actually completing a techniques. Powerful
polished track on an iPad? Reply hazy at best. Of course, all of Korgs previous iOS sequencing tools are
synths have been world-class examples of whats possible in iOS. So, with everyone actually easy to use. Very
at NAMM buzzing about it, I swung by the Korg booth for a demo and was duly im- intuitive use of touchscreen.
pressed. When I got home, I downloaded my own copy and got to work. Great sounding mixer and
effects deliver professional
Synthesizers that power into a complex and confusing interface, results. Export, WIST, and
Gadgets synthesis engine is a monster, including they distilled it into 15 distinct soft synths that run social media integration.
modeled analog, FM, phase modulation, vector inside the Gadget environment. Each of these is
synthesis, wavetable synthesis, and a few sample- optimized for a different aspect of electronic music CONS No user sampling or
based synths for things like drums, special effects, composition and named after a different city. external audio recording.
and acoustic instruments. But instead of putting all For starters, there are two drum synthsLon-

62 Keyboard 05.2014

Whether he is recording Mark Knopfler or learning a

new plug-in, award-winning recording engineer Chuck
Ainlay always acquires the music software he uses
from legitimate sources. Chuck believes in fair play
and works exclusively with legal software.

Respect yourself, your craft, and the work of others.

Buy the software you use, and buy the music you love.
International Music Software Trade Association
New York Toronto Hamburg Tokyo
Tel: 416 789-6849 Fax: 416 789-1667
The International Music Software Trade Association is a non-prot organization that represents the interests of music software and soundware publishers.
One of our most important functions is to advocate for the legal use of software in the music production and creation landscape. We do this primarily
through public education campaigns. We are supported by our members who are software and soundware developers, distributors, retailers & publications.
We are challenging piracy on moral grounds appealing to the good in all of us. We are trying to change behavior.
swagger. Chiang- Mixing and Effects
mai is Gadgets DX Gadgets mixer includes panning and volume
clone, and Kings- for every track, mute and solo buttons, a global
tons specialty is reverb with individual send levels, and an adjust-
arcade sounds and able limiter on the master bus. The reverb is a hall
chip tune leads. (with adjustable decay) and cant be changed, but
Rounding out since almost every synth has its own integrated
the collection is a effects, you really dont need much else besides
boom box called this reverb. The limiter is also top-notch, with
Amsterdam that adjustable intensity. In fact, as I was working
has four slots for on my first sequence, I cranked up the knob and
sampled sound ef- was instantly greeted with that punchy-bricky
fects such as explo- sound thats essential for big-room tracks. Dial-
sions and risers. ing it back imparted a more natural feel, yet still
In addition to delivered the necessary impact for credible dance
spot-on sounds and floor music.
interfaces, most of
don and Tokyothat cover the bases for sampled these synths include integrated effects that are Connectivity
and analog modeled sounds, respectively. London tailor-made for their character and go a long way Gadget comes with in-app social media sharing,
includes a huge assortment of drums and some toward eliminating the need for added processing WAV export to AudioCopy-compliant apps, and
really sweet editing features, like per-drum con- and EQ in Gadgets mixer, so the output of each Korgs WIST technology for wireless syncing. Au-
trol over tuning, duration, reverse, punch, low synth is extremely polished. The attention to de- diobus support was added as of version 1.02, but
boost, and the ability to apply an onboard effect tail is stunning. a recent iPadsuch as an Air or Retina-equipped
that can be anything from gated reverb to granu- Miniis recommended. All this connectivity can
lar delay. Tokyo is a simple virtual analog affair Sequencer come in handy, as about the only thing Gadget
that offers customizable kick, snare/clap, toms, In four years of reviewing iPad DAWs and groove- cant do is record user samples or external audio
and percussion. box apps, I can honestly say the Gadget sequencer youll need to get outside of Gadget to put a
Speaking of analog, the next four city-themed is is the best by far. Its obvious that Korgs en- lead vocal over your electronic opus, for example.
synthsChicago, Berlin, Phoenix, and Dublin gineers spent a lot of time analyzing top-notch Frankly, when you have 20 to 30 synth tracks
all sound fantastic and cover a specialized range computer DAWs, cherry-picking their most intui- cranking away on your iPadas I did on my re-
of the analog world. Chicago is Gadgets TB-303 tive features, and then optimizing those func- cently purchased iPad Air, and without a glitch
emulation and does a great job of evoking the tions for a touch screen interface. you wont miss this ability. Theres even a freeze
original, especially in the filter and distortion Individual sequences are laid out in a man- function that will up your track count by another
departments. Berlin is a monophonic synth that ner that strongly evokes Abletons session view 20 to 30 percent if youre on an older unit.
specializes in hard sync effects. Phoenix is Gad- without being an outright rip-off. They even use
gets polyphonic offering (see image), and it both the term Scenes for the pattern groups. Whats Conclusions
looks and sounds reminiscent of the legendary more, Gadgets ability to view the piano roll and From the moment I fired it up, Gadget completely
Oberheim OB-Xa, sporting dual oscillators and a current synth simultaneously has a whiff of Pro- blew me away. Its the single best iPad electronic
sweet-sounding lowpass filter. Dublin is another pellerhead Reason about it. In practice, Gadgets music tool Ive ever used, hands down. Its 15
monosynth and handles more like a Moog, with workflow is blissfully straightforward: Create a synths are so specialized, but collectively cover so
a few faux-modular interface elements thrown in scene and then add individual synth tracks, each much ground, that even newcomers can quickly
to keep things interesting. with its own associated sequence. Individual find exactly the sounds theyre seeking. Theyre
On the mainstream digital side, Marseille, synth sequences can be any length, with the also so well designed that its basically impossible
Wolfsburg, and Brussels deliver the essentials. longest determining the overall duration of that to come up with a bad patch. The sequencing and
Marseille is a ROMpler covering necessities like scene. For example, a scene containing a one-bar arrangement functions are absolute best of breed
piano, strings, brass, and such, but with the ad- drum loop, four-bar chord progression, and eight- for iOS. Even the limiter delivers Beatport-grade
dition of a nifty Chord button that works in con- bar lead will loop every eight bars. Delete the lead mastering for your exported songs. Finally, you
junction with the global key signature and mode track and it becomes a four-bar sequence. can complete a no-compromise electronic track
settings to make clever one-finger progressions Arranging is even easier. Just drag your using nothing but an iPad. Buy. Gadget. Now.
absurdly easy. Wolfsburg has that icy digital-ana- scenes around vertically until theyre in the
log sound that strongly evokes the vibe of a Nord right order, top to bottom, and hit Play. As each
or Virus, whereas Brussels is the monophonic
go-to synth for super-saw festival leads.
sequence completes, Gadget jumps to the next
until it reaches the bottom scene, then loops
Bottom Line
In the realm of more exotic digital tools are endlessly. The best iPad electronic music
Kiev, Helsinki, Miami, Chiangmai, and Kingston. Editing tools are kept to the bare essentials, production tool on the planetperiod.
Kiev is a nifty little vector synth with lovely mod- but as with everything else in Gadget, theyre
ulation amenities and a fantastic wavetable. Hel- implemented so seamlessly that you dont really $38.99
sinki excels at ethereal textures with an additive miss the fussier functions, which, honestly, would
flair. Miami does dubstep wobbles with grit and just clutter everything up on an iPad.

64 Keyboard 05.2014
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Keyboard 05.2014 65


Matt Johnson at a Jamiroquai
TV appearance, playing (left to
right) an Alesis Andromeda A6
atop a Rhodes electric piano,
and a Nord Wave synth atop a
Yamaha Motif ES8.

Keyboards U.K.-based
musician and

in a Major Act
Matt Johnson
has played
keyboards for
for the last 12
BY MATT JOHNSON years. He has
l written
itt and
d performed
f with Duffy,
Newton Faulkner, and Will Young.
taught me how to really impress in a band situation. I started playing at the age of a new Jamiroquai record with lead
vocalist Jay Kay, as well as writing
17 in Howie Caseys band, a sax player who played for Paul McCartney, Marc Bolan,
and producing for a new artist named
the Who, and many more. He taught me how to play with authority. For the last Laura Doggett. Find out more at
12 years, Ive been a member of Jamiroquai, playing with a world-class band that
has helped me hone my skills to no end. If I hadnt t in perfectly in that situation, matt-johnson.
I wouldve been long gone! Here are ve things Ive learned about playing in a
band at this levelwhich can help in any band at any level.

1. Be Generous
Being a generous musician is key to fit-
as you pick the right moment. Another tip is that
when youre given a solo, try not playing straight
4. Timing Is Everything
Focus more on your timing than what notes
youre playing. Its better to play simple and grooving
ting in with any band. Remember, music is not a away. A couple of bars of silence will impart a than interesting and sloppy. If your timing is super
competition. Theres nothing worse than a group little tension to the mix. People are really listen- tight, you will encourage others to play the same way.
that sounds like a loose confederation of warring ing now, wondering why you arent playing! Now
tribes. Dont be tempted to play your super hot
licks all the timeyoull just get on everyones
nerves! Try to see yourself as a cog in a well-oiled
you have a chance to create something special.
Make your first few phrases really minimal, and
the rest of the band will get into a vibe.
5. No Presets Allowed
Making your own sounds makes what
you do unique. I hear a lot of players who just use a
machine and refine your parts to fit in perfectly Rhodes preset all night, and while they play nicely, its
and complement others.
3. Watch the Singer
Like a Hawk
boring. Keyboardists are lucky to play instruments
that are capable of a wide range of sounds. Learn

2. Play Less
Imagine yourself in a studio playing on
a great record. How much would you want the
You should always be sensitive to how the singer is
feeling. If you can see he or she is struggling, dont
bash away selfishly. Instead, try to think of the
programming and be as compositional with your
sounds as you are with your notes. Sometimes an
ambient or dissonant sound can be so much more
keyboard player to be doing? Probably a lot less best thing you can play to help him or her through exciting than just a piano or Clav part. Any modern
than many players end up playing at a live show! it. Keyboards are usually the most important in- synth can make great sounds if you invest the time to
A great rock or pop band knows this and arranges strument for a singer, as they provide the pitch. So truly understand its architecture. Make your sounds
their songs to complement the vocals. When you always be aware. Sometimes you can really inspire easily tweakable as well. For example, if you can add
play less, the odd occasion when you play a little a singer by playing something unexpected, but you a big reverb or filter sweep by turning the mod wheel,
something extra becomes really specialas long need to use your ESP to get it right. it can really make a simple sound come alive.

66 Keyboard 05.2014
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