KARMA 2: KARMA Wave-Sequencing (introduction)

Temporary placeholder for more introductory article to KARMA Wave-Sequencing


Perhaps you have a Korg M3 or M50 and you'd like to achieve the well-known effect of "wave-sequencing" similar to the Korg WaveStation - but the M3 or M50 does not have this feature. Or, you have a Kronos or Oasys (which does have traditional Korg wave-sequencing), but you are looking for additional ways to achieve these kinds of effects.

The Kronos, M3 and Oasys all have a somewhat hidden feature which can do many of the same things as traditional wave-sequencing, and much more - it's called: KARMA Wave-Sequencing. It's also available for the Korg M50 through the use of the KARMA M50 Software.

What is Wave-Sequencing

Wave-sequencing, as it has traditionally come to be defined, means changing the PCM waveforms of a sound while you are playing it, in some sort of sequence. The typical sound that immediately comes to mind is the sort of "floop-chicka-click-diddle" percussive rhythmic sequences popularized in the Korg WaveStation by sounds such as "Ski Jam", "Pharaoh's Jig", "The Wave Song" etc. In these, basically a 16th note stream of waveform changes is cycled through while holding down notes, creating an ever-changing barrage of snippets of drums and percussive sounds. Other less "in your face" uses allow musical waves to gradually fade and morph between sounds, also a popular WaveStation type sound.

Some KARMA GEs also use wave-sequencing simply to override the default oscillator waveform of a program when KARMA first begins playing, but after that does not cycle through other waveforms. For example, on the Korg M3, GE 1232 Snaky Synth-Bass does this. If you play combi I-A036 Alligator Boots and solo Track 10 (which is played by KARMA Module C), you can move Slider 7 in KARMA's Master layer to turn this type of simple "binary" wave-sequencing on and off. When the slider is in the lower half of its range you're hearing the default oscillator waveform for program I-B117 Sine Synth, but when the slider is in the top half of its range you're hearing the wave-sequencing override from KARMA switching that program's oscillator to use a completely different waveform.

Impact of wave-sequencing on MIDI recording of KARMA modules

All wave-sequencing changes are accomplished by using SysEx messages to tell the PCM engine in the OASYS and M3 to change the underlying waveforms used by the oscillators in a program. This SysEx message is only around 12-16 bytes long so it is low-overhead and shouldn't be affected by the limitations on SysEx message length that some external sequencers have (such as Sonar HomeStudio).

If your external sequencer does not support SysEx, then when you record KARMA output and subsequently play back your recorded KARMA MIDI tracks to a combi (or song), some tracks might not sound the same, because the SysEx message to select the correct waveform override (or to cycle through different wave-forms) is not being transmitted by the recorded MIDI track. One notable external sequencer affected by this issue is Ableton Live, which currently does not support SysEx even in Version 7.


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