Table of Contents
This is an intermediate level article intended for those who do not own the KARMA (KM3) software. It is perhaps best suited for those who already have a basic understanding of how KARMA works and for those who wish to design their own combis (or programs) using the preset GEs in the M3. We will be using only the M3's interface, not the editor. While working through the tutorial, it may be beneficial to open up the M3 Parameter Guide to page 551 - Note Series Group, which has detailed information on all the Note Type modes covered hereafter.
Of the 2090 preset GEs, the Note Series: Note Type parameter is used in approximately 60% of them (1255 GEs). When you select a new GE for a program or combi, this important parameter is assigned to Switch 2 in the module level by five RTC Models by default. However the default setup only switches between two of the ten available modes of operation:
- 0: Regular — creates a note series based on actual notes played.
- 1: Scalic — generates a five-note scale according to chord analysis or from single-note input.
Those are perhaps the two most useful modes of operation for the vast majority of GEs and playing styles. But the other eight modes are useful, too, so we'll be covering all ten modes learning exactly what they do in the following hands-on tutorials.
The simplest way of understanding this parameter is that it tells KARMA to generate a "note series" in memory based on what you play. It is not the only parameter in KARMA that determines the final notes that are generated by the GE module, but it is in a way the first parameter in the Notes Series Group "chain," and the other parameters (such as Interval, Replications, Input Sort, etc., as well as other groups like Rhythm and Velocity templates) further modify it to produce the final result. For the GEs that use the Note Series Group to generate pitches, the Note Type parameter might be viewed as the base parameter, or foundation. This is why it's important. As KARMA looks at what you played on the keyboard, this parameter tells the KARMA GE how to generate a series of notes based on its mode setting.
Sounds simple. Right? To be honest, it's a little more complex than that, but if you're confused, working through the tutorials and actually hearing how this parameter works will be a huge help in understanding it. So let's dive in.
Tutorial Part 1
We need a sound to play, so we'll start by using a bold lead synth. We also need to select a good GE to work with and we'll need to make a few reassignments to the GE's RTC sliders and switches for the purposes of the tutorial. (Note: We could initialise the GE, but there a few pre-assigned RTC sliders that we will be useful later in the tutorial. Additionally, after we've set up everything, we will remain on the KARMA RTC tab to avoid switching screens throughout the tutorial.)
If you don't want to recreate the sound per the instructions below, you can download the modified program used for this tutorial here instead and load the individual program into your M3 anywhere you want to. Otherwise, follow these instructions:
- Call up Program U-B001 Leader of Trance
- With KARMA turned OFF, if you play a few notes or chords you can hear there is a delay effect on the sound, which will get in our way so we need to turn off the delay effect. This delay is assigned to FX1, so since we're in RealTime Control Mode you can turn it off by pressing the red-lighted SW1 button at the top of the Control Surface.
- Now we're going to select our GE.
- Touch the KARMA GE tab on the screen, then choose from the Arpeggiator Category GE 0000 - Arp Model 01 Up/Dn, which is the very first GE.
- The next step is to make a couple of modifications to the KARMA RTC Slider and Switch assignments.
- Press the Page Select button on the front panel.
- On the screen, select P7–2: KARMA2 GE RTP/Perf
- We won't be using Swing in this tutorial, so let's clear that assignment. Swing is the first parameter (01), so touch the SL1 in the Assign field and use the value slider to change it to "---".
- We also need to change the Swing Value field to 000, otherwise our GE will play with 50% swing, which we do not want.
- We won't be adjusting the Rhythm Pattern on SL2, so let's clear this one too.
- This is parameter 02: Rhythm Templte+Restore, so touch the SL2 in the Assign field and use the value slider to change it to "---".
- Next, change the Value field to 15, which is the default "as stored" pattern for this GE.
- Now we need to reassign two switches to these sliders.
- The first parameter to reassign is parameter 6 Note Series: Note Type. Touch the assign field and change "SW2" it to "SL1". Now Slider 1 will control the Note Type parameter.
- We want the full range for this RTC control, so adjust the Max field to 9.
- Next, change the Value field to 5.
- The second parameter we'll reassign is parameter 7 Note Series: Input Sort. Touch the assign field and change "SW3" to "SL2." Now Slider 2 will control the Input Sort parameter.
- Again we want the full range of control. So adjust the Max field to a value of 3.
- Change the Value field to "2".
When you've done all of the above, the screen should look like this example:
We have a few final adjustments and then we're done with the prep work.
- Press the EXIT button once to return to the Page Select screen and then select P7–1: KARMA1 GE Setup/Module on the screen.
- Select the MIDI Filter tab.
- In the Transmit MIDI filter section, uncheck all of the boxes except for P.Bend and Notes. This will deactivate any CC patterns and envelopes in the GE, letting us hear only the notes. Your screen should look like this:
Press the EXIT button twice to return to the main screen.
- First let's reduce the tempo so we can better hear the generated notes. Twist the tempo knob to a value of about 90bpm.
- Press the KARMA button in the control surface area to switch the sliders to KARMA functions, for those who prefer to use the physical slider, as opposed to the slider on the screen.
- Now touch the KARMA RTC tab on the screen. We will stay on this screen for the remainder of the tutorial.
- We want to remove any velocity accents for now, so move Slider 4 up to the top to get a Karma value of 0 (Slider MIDI value of 127).
- Also, let's reduce the Note Range to two octaves by adjusting Slider 5 to a Karma value of 200 (Slider MIDI value of 64).
- Finally, the slider names for SL1 and SL2 still have their old names. Instead of manually renaming these, for simplicity's sake we'll use the Auto Assign RTC Name command to do the work for us.
- Touch the Command Menu button at the top right of the screen and select Auto Assign RTC Name from the list. Press the OK button. The names have changed for some of the other sliders and switches, but that's OK.
- If you have a free program slot available, you might want to save this modified program so that you can work through the tutorial at any pace and come back to it a later time.
Now we're finally ready to go. Your KARMA RTC screen should look like this image:
Tutorial Part 2
So we've got our sound and GE all tweaked. Let's Turn on KARMA and ensure the Latch switch is also turned on.
Note Type Mode 0: Regular
We might also call this mode "actual notes played" mode. This mode determines what notes to play by whatever you input on the keyboard (or pads). If you play a single note, then that one note will form the note series. If you play two notes, then that will form the series, and if you play a triad (3-note chord), it will use all three of those notes to form the note series. So whatever you play, that forms the basis of note generation. This is probably the most intuitive of all of the modes. Let's try it out.
- With KARMA switched ON, play a single C4 (middle C) note. You should hear three notes playing up and down over a two octave span - C4, C5, and C6.
- Now play a fourth together using C4 and F4. You should hear the note series playing C4, F4, C5, F5, and C6 and then back down.
- Now play a Cmaj triad using C4, E4, and G4. You should hear the note series playing the triad up and back down through a two-octave span.
- As a final example, play a four-note Cdim chord with C4, Eb4, Gb4 and A4. Again, the GE will use all four of these notes to generate the note series. Have a listen:
Note Type Mode 1: Scalic 1
This mode is your chord analysis mode, and it is also your one-finger chord mode. If you play only a single note (C4), it will essentially create a C-major chord for you, and then use that to generate a six-note scale as the note series. To get a minor scale, you only need to play two notes, say a C and Eb. If you play a three-note Cdim chord, it will then modify the note series to fit the diminished chord (great for jazz and blues riffs and bass lines).
- With KARMA switched ON, adjust Slider 1 to a KARMA Value of 1 and play a single C4 (middle C) note. Should hear the following series of notes: C4, D4, E4, G4, A4, C5, D5, etc. up to C6 and back down. (Note: This scale, which skips the fourth and major seventh notes in a scale is a great soloing scale for many types of music.)
- Now play a two-note C-minor chord with C4 and Eb4. The notes series will now play a minor scale of C4, D4, Eb4, G4, A4, C5 etc, up to C6 and back down again.
- Now play a three-note Cdim chord with C4, Eb4 and Gb4 and the note series changes to fit that chord.
Listen to the above Scalic 1 examples:
Note Type Mode 2: Scalic 2
This mode works just like the Scalic 1 mode, except it will play a full seven-note scale (or all of the tones in a scale). If you play a single c4 note, the GE will generate the following notes (a C-major scale): C4, D4, E4, F4, G4, A4, B4, and C5. A two-note minor chord will play the full minor scale, and so on.
- Adjust Slider 1 to a KARMA Value of 2 and play or have a listen:
Note Type Mode 3: Chromatic
This is a really fun mode, particularly when you set the Input Sort parameter to Random. This mode will generate a series of 12 chromatic notes (all of the notes within an octave) as the basis of the notes series. It doesn't care if you played a chord; it will ignore it and do what it likes. OK, seriously, it will only look at the lowest note you've played and use that as the start point for the note series. After that it will generate 12 notes in semi-tone steps for the note series. Since there's no point in doing chords, we'll play with the some other parameters:
- Adjust Slider 4 down a bit to listen how the Velocity Patterns will accent certain notes. If you bring the slider down past the halfway point, notes will begin dropping out. All the way down and only a few notes in the series will play.
- Adjust Slider 2 to a KARMA Value of 3 — this is Random mode. Each time you press a key, a new random sequence is generated.
Play around with the sliders. When you've finished, return the sliders to their original positions. Slider 2 to a KARMA value of 0 (slider to the bottom). Slider 4 to a KARMA value of 0 (slider to the top).
Note Type Mode 4: Whole Tone
Whole Tone mode does exactly what it says on the tin. It looks at the lowest note you played (ignoring chords again) and then generates a note series in six whole tone steps. This could be your Twilight Zone / Mysterioso mode.
- Adjust Slider 1 to a KARMA Value of 4.
- Play a C4 note and the note series will play C4, D4, E5, F#4, G#4, A#4, C5, etc
- Now Play a C#4 note and the note series plays C#4, D#4, F, G, A, B, C#5, etc.
Note Type Mode 5: Diminished
This is another mode that ignores chords and looks only at the lowest note you played to determine the starting note of the series. This time it uses the first four notes a diminished chord as the basis.
- Adjust Slider 1 to a KARMA Value of 5.
- Play a C4 note and the note series will generate C4, Eb4, Gb4 and A.
Note Type Mode 6: Augmented
By now you should be seeing how these modes work just by looking at the name. This one also uses the lowest note as the starting point and generates a three-note augmented chord as the basis of the note series.
- Adjust Slider 1 to KARMA Value of 6.
- Play a C4 note and the note series generates a C4, E4, and G#4 (augmented fifth).
Note Type Mode 7: Fourths
You guessed it. The Note series will be generated using three steps of stacked fourths.
- Adjust Slider 1 to a KARMA Value of 7.
- Play a C4 note and KARMA will play a C4, F4 and Bb4, C5, F5, Bb5, C6 and back down.
Note Type Mode 8: Tritones
This mode uses augmented fourths as the basis of the note series.
- Adjust Slider 1 to a KARMA Value of 8.
- Play a C4 and KARMA will generate a C4 and F#4 and up another octave and then back down.
Note Type Mode 9: Fifths
Our last mode uses two steps of a fifth chord to form the note series. Great for very simple arpeggios.
- Adjust Slider 1 to a KARMA value of 9.
- Play a C4 note and you will hear a C4, G4, C5, G5 and back down again.
Whether any of the last seven or eight Note Type modes are musically useful to you is something only you can decide. But now that you know how these work and what notes are produced in the Note Series, you are one step closer to taming KARMA and hopefully getting the results you want. Remember, the Note Series Group is only a small part of how KARMA generates the notes that are played. Other KARMA group parameters such as Index Patterns, Phase Patterns, Rhythm Templates, Clusters, Velocity Templates and CC Templates play an essential role in determining note generation too. They all work together, simultaneously, to produce a Generated Effect.
Even so, just a single parameter like the Note Series: Note Type parameter can drastically alter what you hear being produced by KARMA GEs. Which only goes to show just how powerful KARMA is.