KARMA 2: Dissecting a KARMA performance

This article is under construction. Pardon the dust while it's in an incomplete state


As part of learning how KARMA works, so that you can confidently explore/tweak the KARMA performance of a program or combi, or so that you can build deep and expressive KARMA performances for your own programs and combis, it's helpful to dissect or "reverse-engineer" interesting KARMA performances to learn how they were built.

Quick review: only some parameters are visible in the Kronos/OASYS/M3

As described more in-depth in KARMA 2: The KARMA in your keyboard is only part of the picture, only 32 of the more than 400 parameters used in a KARMA GE are visible in your keyboard. This is an intentional feature to simplify the use of KARMA GEs when performing/recording or creating programs and combis. Having to deal with 400 parameters when tweaking a KARMA module in your keyboard would be too overwhelming.

The sound designers who created the more than 2000 GEs available in the Kronos, OASYS and M3 have chosen the 32 most useful parameters that can be tweaked to good effect for each GE. (If you use the KARMA Software for your keyboard to create your own GEs, you must also consider which 32 parameters would be the most useful for people actually using your GE in programs and combis.)

So in the following sections that talk about the GE parameters in a KARMA module, it's important to remember that what you see is only the most useful tip of the iceberg. When researching what any of the exposed 32 parameters actually does, you need to remember that it might be interacting with other parameters that you simply cannot see in the Kronos/OASYS/M3 itself. This is okay, because the basic idea is that you don't have to fully understand every exposed parameter to use it effectively. Just tweak the slider or switch or play with different values in the page that lists all 32 parameters for a GE and see what happens!

Dissecting a single-module KARMA performance

A single-module KARMA performance is what's attached to programs in the Kronos/OASYS/M3. This section takes a close look at the workings of a typical KARMA module.

  1. Load program I-A105 Wurly E.Piano.
  2. On the P0:Play page, go to the KARMA GE tab. You can see that there is only one module (A), that its GE type is Wavesequence, the specific GE is 2043: WaveSeq 1 (Bnd/Rpt), that its RTC Model is WS1-Wav Seq 1, and that this KARMA module is not linked to the Drum Track.
    1. To understand what a Wavesequence GE does, compared to all other GE types, refer to KARMA 2: Understanding GE types and categories.
    2. To learn about the WS1-Wave Seq 1 RTC model versus all other RTC model types, refer to Reference: RTC models
    3. When a KARMA module is linked to the drum track, the module will not start playing until the Drum Track starts playing. So you can have KARMA active and ready to go, but can play some intro phrase without KARMA, then turn the drum track on and KARMA will start playing too when you trigger the drum track. Note that you can also specify whether the Drum Track will run in each of the 8 scenes. This is done on page P7-1:KARMA1, on the Scene/DrmTrk tab.
  3. Now go to the Control Surface tab.
    1. Watch the screen while you press the KARMA button in the control surface of the M3. See how you're seeing a visual representation of the switches, sliders, and scene buttons of the control surface? This is an especially useful place to jump around between the 8 KARMA scenes, since toggling the 4 scene buttons with the KARMA switch on the control surface is somewhat awkward. However, there's one big problem with using the switches and sliders on this Control Surface page: there's no way to tell what the original values for each slider and switch are!
    2. So now go to the KARMA RTC tab. You can still see the sliders and switches, but now notice how there is text beneath each slider and switch? This tells you what the original values saved with the program are, which makes it easy to set the switch/slider back to its default value if necessary. (You can also do this by holding down the RESET CONTROLS button and pressing the KARMA button, but this resets all the switches and sliders back to their default state.)
    3. On both this tab and the Control Surface tab, see how there is a more readable "name" for the switch or slider displayed when you press each switch or slider? This "user-friendly label", which was hand-entered by the GE's programmer, is unfortunately misleading when you want to understand what the GE parameter really is. For example, press Switch 2 and see how the user-friendly label is Time Signature? This is confusing because this is not really the name of the GE parameter assigned to Switch 2. Even more confusing is the fact that there is a GE parameter called "Time Signature", but that's not what this switch is assigned to!!!
  4. So let's see how to find the real name of the GE parameter assigned to Switch 2:
    1. Press the PAGE SELECT key and go to page P7-2 KARMA2 GE RTP/Perf.
    2. Tab through the 4 sets of parameters (1-8, 9-16, etc.) while looking at the ASSIGN column. Stop when you find SW2 in the ASSIGN column.
    3. See how the GE parameter assigned to SW2 says Phase: TSig Numberator [B]? This is the real name of the GE parameter assigned to Switch 2 in this KARMA module. You can use this name to look up detailed information about that GE parameter in the M3 Parameter Guide. The first part of every GE parameter displayed in this tab is the GE group type ("Phase" in this case), which corresponds to the main subsections of the KARMA GE Guide chapter in the M3 Parameter Guide.
    4. What this particular GE parameter is doing is toggling between a value of +0003 or +0007 depending on whether Switch 2 is on or off. Remember, switches always toggle between the two values shown in the MIN and MAX columns, but sliders always move through a 128-step range between the two values shown in the MIN and MAX columns.
      • The value column is greyed-out (inactive) for switches, and represents the value of the switch when it is ON.
      • The value column is active for sliders, and represents the value of the GE parameter when the slider is in its middle postion of the range (corresponding to step 64 of its full 128-step range), which enables the slider to act in a linear or non-linear way. If the MIN-MAX values for this GE parameter comprise a range smaller or larger than the 128 steps of the slider, then the actual value of the parameter is determined based on the relative position of the slider. For example, if the MIN-MAX range is only 4 steps, then the parameter is in the 1st step of that range when the slider is at any position from 0-31, then in the 2nd step of that range when the slider is in any position from 32-63, and so on. For more information, see KARMA 2: How MIN-MAX-VALUE works in GE RTP parameters

To be continued…

Dissecting a multi-module KARMA performance

A multi-module KARMA performance is what's attached to combis in the Kronos/OASYS/M3. The previous section took an in-depth look at the workings of a KARMA module, so we won't cover the same material in this section. Instead, this section takes a close look at how multiple KARMA modules are assigned to timbres and MIDI channels in a combi, and at how the MASTER RTC layer is used to simultaneously control parameters from all four KARMA modules in the combi.

To be continued…

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