Note: this independently contributed article has not yet been reviewed for accuracy by Karma-Lab.
Table of Contents
You are completely new to KARMA and want to master Level 1 ("KARMA Player") usage. This tutorial is only one of several articles that explain what you need to know to become a Level 1 ("KARMA Player") user. For more information on the levels of KARMA usage, see KARMA 2: A beginner's guide.
This tutorial should require 30-60 minutes to work through fully, and it explains all of the important basics of how look at a KARMA performance in a program or combi and figure out what it's doing, and how to control the most useful behaviors of a KARMA performance.
Although this tutorial is written for the Korg M3 keyboard, it can be easily followed by Korg OASYS users too because KARMA 2 is virtually identical on both keyboards and the page, tab, and field names are very similar on both keyboards. Korg M50 users can also follow this tutorial somewhat easily since the Real Time Controls window in the KARMA M50 Software is essentially identical to the control surface of the M3 and OASYS.
Tutorial 1 - Mastering playback and real-time control of a single-module performance (programs)
Part 1 - The Latch function, chord recognition and the note series, and trigger zones
- On your M3, go to program I-A118 Tiny Tine E.Piano. (On the M50, it's program I-A062, and on the OASYS it's program I-C112)
- In the control surface section of the M3 (where the sliders are on the left of the display screen), activate the KARMA ON/OFF button and the LATCH button. (Press the buttons so they are lit.) KARMA M50 users: go to the Real Time Controls window.
- Now play some notes/chords on the right half of your keyboard anywhere above C4. It sounds like nothing special; just the notes that you're playing.
- Now play a chord on the left half of your keyboard anywhere below C4 and let go of the keyboard. KARMA analyzes these trigger notes and immediately starts playing a comping pattern based on the trigger notes.
- This comping pattern is based on two things:
- A note series that is constructed in real-time based on the notes you play (and the velocities of those notes). For example, if you play a C7 chord, the C, E, G, and Bb notes are repeated and extended and filtered into an entire series of notes, based on a set of Note Series parameters in the GE. As one simple example, these four notes might be repeated again one octave higher and then the next octave higher, to create a note series comprising three sets of chord tones spanning three octaves.
- Many hundreds of algorithmic GE parameters that tell the KARMA engine in your keyboard how to manipulate the pool of available notes in the note series.
- When you play a different chord (or even individual notes), the note series is re-built with each new set of trigger notes. If the rebuilt note series is different from before, the comping pattern you're hearing would sound different because the parameters would be acting on an entirely different set of notes and velocities. Note that not every GE is set up to shape its note series based on chord recognition, but the GE we're using in this tutorial is. The default chord recognition feature of KARMA is called Chord Scan and will even interpret single notes and 2-note intervals into chords. Some GEs can be set up to use an alternative form of chord recognition called Smart Scan, which is described in detail further below in Tutorial 2.
- Likewise, if you were to change any of the parameters in the GE, the comping pattern would sound different because although the note series is the same, the KARMA engine would manipulate them differently than you are hearing now.
- It's important at this point to explain that not all KARMA GEs use a note series. For example, some GEs instead use a combination of up to three different recorded 4-bar patterns of up to 7 notes each (which can be sliced and diced in many ways). Drum GEs are created using recorded note patterns like this, and you can also create non-drum GEs using this type of recorded patterns too.
- This comping pattern is based on two things:
- Now de-activate the LATCH button. Notice how the KARMA pattern stops?
- Press and hold a chord down below C4 for a few moments and then let go. Hear how the KARMA pattern plays but only while you are holding the chord down?
- Now hold down a few different chords and some single notes too (all below C4). See how the KARMA pattern "feels" the same but actually chooses slightly different notes from the note series to be in key with the chord tonalities that you're choosing?
- Let's examine what's going on here:
- The LATCH button tells the KARMA engine to keep playing its pattern even after you let go of the keyboard
- The KARMA engine can accurately analyze the chord that you are playing (or can tell when you are playing only single notes) and uses this chordal information to influence how the note series is built from the trigger notes of your chord. (In the GE we're working with in this tutorial, single notes are treated as the root of a major triad for the purpose of building the note series.)
- At this point, it's worth mentioning that there is no way to "see" the note series being used in a GE in your keyboard itself. You can only see the note series if you have the KARMA Software for your keyboard model.
- Let's examine what's going on here:
- Let's look a bit more closely at the chord analysis and how this particular GE is using that information to create the note series:
- Play a C major triad (C E G) and listen to the KARMA pattern.
- Now play a C minor triad (C Eb G) and listen to the KARMA pattern. See how the tonality of the pattern changes to a minor tonality?
- Now play a Cm7 chord (C Eb G Bb). See how the KARMA pattern doesn't change at all? It's exactly the same as when you played a C minor triad.
- Now play a C5 (just C and G). We're back to the same riff as when you played a C major triad.
- Now play a C7 chord (C E G Bb). Also try C G Bb and even just C Bb. Now the pattern has a dominant tonality, and it's the same in three of these cases.
- Now play a Csus4 chord (just C and F), then play a Csus7 chord (C F Bb). The KARMA pattern now has a suspended tonality, but it's the same whether you're adding the b7 or not.
- Now play a Cdim triad (C Eb Gb) and then a Cm7b5 chord (C Eb Gb Bb). See how the KARMA pattern now has a diminished tonality, but it's the same whether the b7 is there or not?
- So what's going on here? Essentially, the Note Series parameters of this particular GE is programmed to build a note series comprising only major/minor/sus/dom/dim chord tones, ignoring the 7th tone in major, minor, suspended, and 7b5 chords.
- Other KARMA GEs might not ignore the 7th note for major and minor and sus and 7b5 chords (for example, the pattern might sound different for a Cm versus a CM7 chord). Still other GEs might not really care about the chord tones at all, and simply trigger from the lowest note in the chord that you're playing. And so on.
- The point here is that while the KARMA engine recognizes the chord that you're playing, what it does with that information depends on how the GE is programmed.
- While we're on the subject of chord recognition, go to the KARMA RTC tab in the M3's display (M50 users: open the Chord Input window) and play a few more chords with your left hand below C4 while looking at the middle-left of the screen just above switches 1 and 2. This area lists the chord that KARMA thinks you are playing.
- Now play some single notes (slowly) with your left hand below C4 and watch the chord-recognition area of the display. See how this GE interprets all your single notes as being a simple major triad rooted by the note that you're playing?
- Now play some chords with your right hand above C4. Notice how the chord display in the screen doesn't change? this is because you're outside of the trigger zone for this program's KARMA module. KARMA isn't paying attention to what you play outside the trigger zone.
- Which brings us to the subject of trigger zones and how to recognize them. This is especially useful for understanding the behavior of multi-module KARMA performances, because quite often each module has different trigger zones on the keyboard.
- You should still be on the KARMA RTC tab. (M50 users: go to the Zones tab of the Performance Editor.) Look at the little keyboard image near the top of the screen. See the blue line that extends only across the left side of the keyboard image? This represents the trigger zone for KARMA module A (notice the red "A" at the right of the keyboard image?)
- In these keyboard images, the C key right in the middle represents C4. If you look close, you can see that the blue line stops right under C4, so this means the KARMA module will respond to any note played from C4 down.
- If it's too hard to squint at these keyboard images to figure out what the zone boundaries are, there's an easier way. Press PAGE SELECT and go to page P7-1 KARMA1 GE Setup/Module.
- You now see the same keyboard image at the top, and the blue line representing the trigger zone. But what you're really looking for on this page is the red Zone area. The Btm and Top fields show you the exact keys at the top and bottom of the trigger zone.
Part 2 - Linking KARMA to the Drum Track (M3 only)
Note: The Drum Track feature is found only on the Korg M3. OASYS users can skip this section.
- Now go back to the P0:Play page , and from there go to the KARMA GE tab. (M50 users: GE Setup tab of the Performance Editor.) We're going to explain what Link to Drum Trk means, because it's easy to misconstrue what this is really doing.
- For this particular program we're playing with, the KARMA module is not linked to the Drum Track. Intuitively, you might think that if we link the module to the Drum Track, then KARMA will always stay on the beat with the Drum Track. Unfortunately, this is not what "linking to the Drum Track" does.
- It's useful to point out here that in many multi-module KARMA performances (in other words, KARMA in a combi), one of the four KARMA modules is often playing a Drum pattern and using a Drum program. So KARMA itself is playing a "drum track" for the combi. This drum module naturally stays in perfect time with whatever KARMA is doing, because it's controlled by the KARMA engine. If you retrigger KARMA mid-beat, the drum module retriggers too and always plays in perfect sync with the other three KARMA modules. (However, if the triggers of the modules in a combi are set to different types of triggers, it is possible to have the modules get out of sync - for example, if the drum module trigger is set to "any", the others set to "first", and you trigger the drum track off the beat of the other modules.)
- But in a single-module KARMA performance (in other words, KARMA in a program), the KARMA module is almost never a drum sound. If you want a drum beat, you have to activate the M3's Drum Track.
- The M3's Drum Track is completely separate from the KARMA engine. Once you start the Drum Track, it just merrily chugs along until you stop it, and it doesn't know about or care about what KARMA is doing. Likewise, KARMA doesn't know or care about the Drum Track.
- The point here is that if both KARMA and the Drum Track are running together, it's up to you to play your notes or chords in the KARMA trigger zone in perfect time with the Drum Track. If you trigger KARMA out of sync with the Drum Track, then things will start sounding really horrible. It takes practice to play KARMA really well alongside the Drum Track.
- Let's see this interaction between KARMA and the Drum Track in action. (M50 users: go back to the Real-Time Controls window.)
- Activate the KARMA and LATCH buttons, and also activate the DRUM TRACK On/Off button.
- Now play a note in the trigger zone. KARMA and the Drum Track start together in perfect sync.
- Now try to play some other notes in the trigger zone out of sync with the Drum Track beat. You should be able to quickly get KARMA and the Drum Track playing out of sync with each other.
- Now try to trigger a note or chord on the downbeat of the Drum Track. You should be able to get KARMA playing in sync with the Drum Track again. The trick is to recognize the downbeat and retrigger on the downbeat.
- Turn off the Drum Track and notice how KARMA keeps playing. This time, listen to the KARMA pattern and try to recognize the downbeat in the KARMA pattern. Turn on the Drum Track again and play a note or chord on the downbeat of the KARMA pattern. Again, the trick is to recognize the downbeat of the KARMA pattern to ensure that you can bring in the Drum Track in sync.
- So now let's see what the Link to Drum Trk checkbox does.
- Turn off the Drum Track and turn off KARMA too.
- Touch the Link to Drum Trk box to select it. (M50 users: remember this is on the GE Setup tab of the Performance Editor.)
- Turn KARMA back on and play something down in the trigger zone. Nothing happens!
- Now turn the Drum Track back on and play something in the trigger zone. KARMA and the Drum Track start up together in perfect sync.
- Now turn off the Drum Track. Notice how KARMA stops too?
- So you might be wondering "Why is this useful? KARMA and the Drum Track start in perfect sync even when KARMA isn't linked to the Drum Track, so what's the point?" Well, the real point of linking KARMA to the Drum Track is to make it so that you can stop both KARMA and the Drum Track at the same time with a single button press (turning off the DRUM TRACK button). That's it.
- For this particular program we're playing with, the KARMA module is not linked to the Drum Track. Intuitively, you might think that if we link the module to the Drum Track, then KARMA will always stay on the beat with the Drum Track. Unfortunately, this is not what "linking to the Drum Track" does.
Part 3 - Scenes and how to make smooth scene transitions
- Uncheck the Link to Drum Trk. The KARMA and LATCH buttons should still be on; if not, turn them on.
- Play a single key down below C4 and let go of the keyboard. You should be hearing the KARMA pattern playing again. We're going to let this pattern run while we learn about KARMA scenes.
- (M50 users: Skip this step) Go to the Control Surface tab. You should be seeing switches and sliders represented on the screen, but these have nothing to do with KARMA. Look at the row of buttons on the left of the control surface: the REALTIME CONTROL button is lit, and you're seeing a graphic representation on the screen of the switches and sliders for the Realtime Control section of the control surface.
- Press the KARMA button in that CONTROL ASSIGN section and watch the screen. (M50 users: go to the Real-Time Controls window.) You're now seeing a graphic representation of the KARMA switches and sliders, but more importantly, you're seeing 8 SCENE "buttons" near the top of the screen. This is a very easy and useful way to jump among all 8 scenes on the Korg M3, because the physical control surface has only 4 scene buttons and it's awkward and slow to do all the button pressing required to jump between, for example scenes 2 and 7 by using the physical control surface on the M3. (OASYS users have 8 physical buttons for the KARMA scenes.)
- On the screen, touch several of the other scene buttons and listen to the results. Be sure to touch some of them in the middle of the KARMA pattern, rather than on the downbeat of the KARMA pattern. Notice how you can quite often cause a noticeable "gap" in the KARMA playback when you jump around between scenes, unless you time your button presses almost just before the downbeat?
- Let's fix this problem (which will be quite common in most of the Korg-created programs and combis). Press PAGE SELECT and go to page P7-1 KARMA1 GE Setup/Module. Then go to the Scene/DrmTrk tab. (M50 users: skip this step - you want to stay on the Real-Time Controls window.)
- In the **Quantize Window field, touch the > button and choose 1 Bar from the list. (M50 users: this is the Scene Change Quantize field.)
- Go back to the P0:Play page again (you should still be on the Control Surface tab there), and jump around the various KARMA scenes now (especially try switching scenes in the middle of the pattern being played—not on the downbeat). See how there are no gaps in playback any more, and all scene changes occur perfectly on the downbeat of each pattern?
- By this time you might have noticed that scenes 5 through 8 sound exactly like scene 1. Only 2, 3, and 4 are different.
- Let's explain what's going on here:
- What is a scene? Why does it make the module sound different?
- A KARMA scene is just a "snapshot" of the state of the 8 switches and 8 sliders in a KARMA performance.
- You can easily change any of the 8 scenes in a KARMA performance. Just go to a scene that you don't like the sound of and mess around with the switches and sliders until you get a sound for that scene that you like. Repeat this process for all the scenes that you want to change. When you're finished, just save the program and you now have your own custom scenes ready for use.
- Why are some scenes no different from other scenes?
- In this program we're using for the tutorial, scenes 5-8 are identical to scene 1. This is simply because the sound designer who created this program felt that four scenes was enough to give you some ideas and intentionally left four scenes undefined so that you could use those "slots" to create some of your own scenes. This is actually somewhat common in programs. Combis, on the other hand, tend to have all 8 scenes fully developed by the sound designers.
- Why the audible "gaps" when I switch scenes in some KARMA performances?
- In early versions of KARMA 2 as implemented on the OASYS and M3, there was no Scene Quantize Window parameter. The default Quantize Window was a sixteenth note. This meant a scene change could occur on any sixteenth note in a pattern, and as you saw, the different rhythm timing of the scenes in this program ended up creating very noticable "gaps" unless you switched scenes right after the last sixteenth note of a pattern (just before the downbeat).
- But in more recent versions of KARMA 2, the Scene Quantize Window values were added (1 Bar, 2, Bars, and 4 Bars etc.), which create much more smooth transitions between scenes, as you saw. However, all the Korg-produced programs and combis still have the original default sixteenth note settings, which is very short and can produce these noticeable gaps when you change scenes.
- Note: All of the KARMA-fied Combi Sound Sets produced by Karma-Lab generally use a setting of one bar for the Scene Change Quantize Window, allowing you to trigger it ahead of time and have it end up changing smoothly on the downbeat.
- The point of all this is that you should get used to checking the Quantize Window of a program or combi and changing it to 1 Bar or more if you feel like you're hearing gaps or "roughness" when you switch between KARMA scenes. And if you need to rely on certain combis/programs for live performance, it's a good idea to save new copies of them to user bank slots after changing their Quantize Window to 1 bar or more. This way you won't be caught by surprise by a rough scene change onstage.
- What is a scene? Why does it make the module sound different?
Part 4 - Figuring out the behavior of KARMA switches and sliders
If you've hacked around with the KARMA switches and sliders in the control surface (M50 users: in the Real-Time Control window), you've probably been confused by several things:
- Some switches and sliders don't seem to change the sound at all
- The labels for the switches and sliders are cryptic and there doesn't seem to be any mention of many of them if you've tried looking for descriptions of what they do in the Parameter Guide for your keyboard.
Fear not! There is method behind this seeming madness and this section of the tutorial will make you an expert at figuring out these sliders and switches.
- Make sure that you're back on page P0:Play, on the Control Surface tab, and that KARMA is on and latched and playing scene 1.
- You see a graphic representation of the switches and sliders, with some labels describing each one.
- Move a few sliders and press a few buttons to change the sound of the pattern in scene 1. Notice that the physical scene 1 button on the control surface starts flashing the moment you make your first change to the switches and sliders.
- Pop-quiz time: How do you get all the sliders and switches back to their original settings? One way is to hold down the RESET CONTROLS button at the top left of the control surface while you press the **KARMA button at the left of the sliders. This resets all of the switches and sliders for all of the scenes back to their original values saved in the program. (M50 users: your only option here is to look at the original stored values by clicking the Compare/Restore button.)
- (M50 users: skip this step) Pop-quiz #2: How do you reset only a few sliders and buttons back to their original value without resetting every scene entirely? To do this, you must go to the KARMA RTC tab. You see the same switches and sliders as in the Control Surface tab, but notice how there is some text beneath each switch and slider? This text tells you the orginal value of the switch/slider, for the currently-selected scene. You can use this information to move only some of the switches and sliders back to their original setting. You can also hold down the RESET CONTROLS button at the top left of the control surface while you touch any of the sliders and switches and you will see that they 'jump' back to the original value on the screen. This is very useful to reset a single scene. An even faster way to reset the entire scene is to hold the RESET CONTROLS button and press the scene button of the scene you are working with. This resets only that scene. This way, if you changed another scene, it stays in the changed state. In addition, you can press the RESET CONTROLS button and the scene button again, and switch back to the changed state. This is similar to the COMPARE button beside the number pad on the right side of the M3, but only affects the functions in the control surface, whereas the COMPARE button sends you back to the original state of the entire combi, which might mean that, for example, Karma is switched off (if it was in the off state when the combi was last saved) and/or you will be switched to the scene that is set to be present when the combi is called up, either of which makes it difficult to hear how your changes are affecting the performance.
- Remember how scenes 5-8 didn't seem to be any different from scene 1? That's because the designer of this program only created 4 different scenes for it. So let's make our own scenes 5 and 6:
- Select scene 5 and play with the switches and sliders until you come up with something that sounds good. Remember to use the previously-described techniques to revert things if you end up with something that sounds bad.
- Do the same thing for scene 6.
- Once you're happy with the sound of your new scenes 5 and 6, save the program to a new user bank slot.
- So far so good, but you might not be content with just blindly experimenting with switches and sliders until you luck-out and get a good-sounding pattern. Maybe you want to actually know what each switch and slider is doing to the sound. This requires doing some reading to learn about the 13 possible RTC Models used for KARMA GEs.
- Go to the KARMA GE tab and look at the RTC Model field at the bottom of the Module A section. (M50 users: go to the RT Parms tab of the Performance Editor.) See how it says CL1 - Comp/Lead 1? This is the name of the GE's RTC model. (You can also see the RTC model name on the Control Surface tab if it's showing the KARMA control surface.)
- Open the following link in a new browser window (so you can keep reading this article too). This link takes you to a section of the Karma-Lab wiki that describes all the RTC models. Once you're there, click the link for CL1 - Comp/Lead 1 RTC model:
- reference: RTC Models
- Note: Not all of the RTC model articles are finished yet. Sorry about that—it takes time to document all this stuff.
- The information in these RTC Model articles that is most useful for a Level 1 ("KARMA Player") KARMA user are the two color-coded tables at the top of each article, and the third table that provides a general description of each slider and switch.
- The color-coding tells you what major aspects of the "feel" of a KARMA GE will be changed by certain groupings of switches and sliders. For example, Note Generation switches and sliders will all somehow change the notes played by the GE, while Melodic Repeat switches and sliders will all somehow change the way that the chosen notes are repeated.
- The third table gives a "plain English" description of how each slider and switch generally affects the sound of the GE.
- One last thing to understand about the sliders and switches in an RTC model: many of them have a noticeable effect all by themselves, but some only have an effect when used in tandem with another slider or switch. So if a slider doesn't seem to do anything, it usually means you have to turn on some switch first. And conversely, if a switch doesn't seem to do anything when you turn it on, it usually means that all the switch does is to activate one or more sliders. Let's see this in action:
- Go back to the KARMA RTC tab of the P0:Play page (M50 users: the Real-Time Control window, and make sure that KARMA is on and latched and playing scene 1.
- Switch 1 is currently off. Turn it on and hear a very noticable change to the sound (the sound changes from stereo to mono). Turn Switch 1 back off.
- Toggle switches 2-5 and you'll see they all have a very noticeable effect. Set them back to their original state (remember, the text beneath each switch tells you its original state).
- Now toggle switches 6-8 and you'll see that doing so has no effect at all on the sound. So the trick is to figure out which other switch or slider each of these switches is tied to.
- For switch 6, notice how it's labeled Bnd Dir, and when you press it, the SW6 field just above the row of switches has the more verbose label Bend Direction? There are only two other switches/sliders that also have Bnd (Bend) in their labels, so chances are very good that switch 6 is somehow tied to one or both of these other controls.
- Turn switch 5 on and you start hearing bendy effects on the sound. Toggle switch 6 now and you hear a very noticeable change in the feel of the bends.
- Now turn switch 5 off but leave switch 6 on. Now move slider 6 (BndSta%) up and down. You hear no change to the sound of the GE. So switch 6 only modifies the behavior of switch 5.
- When you tried slider 6 in the previous step, nothing happened. So which switch "activates" this slider? It's not switch 6, as you found out in the previous step. Turn switch 6 off, turn switch 5 back on, and move slider 6 up and down. Now you hear a change in the sound, so switch 5 is what "activates" slider 6.
- For switches 7 and 8, see how their labels both start with Rpt (Repeat)? and how sliders 7 and 8 also both start with Rpt too? This tells us that switches 7 and 8 and sliders 7 and 8 are all somehow related.
- So lets find out what switch 7 is tied to. Turn switch 7 on and then turn switch 8 on. No change in sound, so you might be tempted to think they're not tied to each other, but in fact they are, as you'll see in a moment.
- Turn switch 8 off and leave switch 7 on. Now move slider 8 up and down. No change in sound, so you might be tempted to think switch 7 and slider 8 aren't tied to each other, but in fact they are.
- Now move slider 7 up and down. Now you're hearing a significant change.
- With slider 7 somewhere above the lowest (000) position, turn switch 8 on and off a few times. The change in the sound is subtle, but it's there if you listen for it.
- Now move slider 8 up and down and again you'll hear a significant change in the sound. What's happening here is that switches 7 and 8, and sliders 7 and 8 are all tied together as one unit. Switch 7 enables the entire grouping (turns on the "Melodic Repeat" aspects of the GE). Slider 7 must be a non-zero value to actually create some repeats, and it creates more repeat repetitions as you move the slider higher. Once some repeats are actually playing, switch 8 changes the volume decay envelope of the repeats. And slider 8 transposes the notes selected for the repeats.
- The point of all this is to remember that each RTC Model will probably have some groupings of switches and sliders that are interrelated like this, but these groupings will differ from model to model. A converse point that is equally important to remember is that all GEs that share the same RTC model will all work essentially the same way. For example, all GEs that use the CL1 -Comp/Lead 1 RTC model like the one we've been using for this tutorial will (mostly) all have these Bend groupings and Repeat groupings, and they'll all work pretty much the same way in every GE.
Part 5 - Swapping out the GE used in the KARMA module
(M50 users: The KM50 Software does not have a "category browser" feature for GEs. You must use the GE Editor to select different GEs for the first few steps of this procedure.)
- Go to the KARMA GE tab, and make sure that KARMA is on and latched. Play a chord on the LH side of the keyboard to get this KARMA module playing a pattern.
- Touch the big button next to the red "Module A". A GE category browser appears, much like a program or combi category browser.
- Select several different GE categories and try a few GEs from each category. See how you instantly hear a sample of each new GE?
- Let's settle on the 02 Harmonic (Poly) category and GE 0367: E.Piano Riff in this category, which sound interesting and meshes well with the sound of this program. Touch OK to return to the KARMA GE tab.
- Notice that the RTC Model of this module has now changed? It used to be CL1 - Comp/Lead, but now it's DM1 - Drum Melodic. Why did this happen?
- Go to the KARMA RTC tab. (M50 users: the Real-Time Controls window.) If you compare the labels of the switches and sliders on the screen now versus the ones you saw a while ago when working through Part 4 of this tutorial, you'll see that they're all quite different now. This is because the DM1 RTC model is set up very differently from the CL1 RTC model, because a Drum-Melodic GE is doing very different things than a Harmonic (Poly) GE, so the most useful parameters to control in real-time are also very different.
- (M50 users: skip this step) If you look closely at the labels beneath each slider and switch (the labels that tell you the default value of each switch and slider in every scene), you'll notice that they do not match the current settings of each slider and switch. This is because you have not yet saved the program now that you've changed its KARMA GE.
- (M50 users: skip this step) Save this program to a new location—don't overwrite the original. See how the labels now match the actual settings? Remember to always save your program after selecting a different GE, before you start playing with the switches and sliders to see what all the variations sound like. If you forget to do this, you won't know the original default values that were imported with the GE.
- Speaking of which, it's worth mentioning here that you can import a GE without also importing its default RTC model, if you have a good reason to do so. But this is generally not a good idea.
- Go back to the KARMA GE tab. (M50 users: go to the GE Editor and then click the round menu button next to "Generated Effect" and choose Load GE Options.)
- See how text next to the Load GE Options button says "Auto RTC Setup" and "UseRTCM/ResetScenes"? Touch the Load GE Options button to see the corresponding options.
- The Auto RTC Setup option and its two checkboxes essentially wipe out everything about your old GE and its RTC model, and they bring everything that is stored in the new GE, including the RTC model that was originally created for that GE by its sound designer.
- The Clear RTC Setup brings in the new GE and it completely clears out your current switch and slider positions, labels, and assignments to the underlying GE RTP and Perf RTP parameters. This is good for advanced KARMA users that might want to set up the switches and sliders completely from scratch after bringing in a new GE.
- The Keep RTC Setup brings in the new GE but it keeps the old switch and slider positions, labels, and underlying assignments. This is almost never a good idea to use unless you're a very adept KARMA user and know exactly what you're doing and why this might save you time or give you the effects you want. The primary reason it's not a good idea is that the resulting switch and slider labels might give you no real indication of what the switches and sliders are actually doing in the new GE.
- Now that you have a new GE that sounds good with this program, and you've saved the program once to set the proper default settings text on the KARMA RTC tab (M50 users can ignore that bit), you can go to each scene and play with the sliders and switches until you have 8 scenes that you like, then save the program again.
- Compare your new version of this program with the original I-A118 Tiny Tine E.Piano program. They sound very different now, don't they? Because the KARMA "feel" is so different, these two programs are useful for completely different applications. You have effectively created an entirely new program simply by swapping out the original GE for only one of more than 2000 system default GEs. Pretty powerful stuff, eh? It gets even more powerful when you do this type of GE-swapping in combis, which have not one, but four KARMA modules. Which brings us to…
Tutorial 2 - Mastering playback and real-time control of a multi-module performance (combis)
Note: This tutorial assumes that you have worked through the preceding Tutorial 1. Many concepts and terms explained in that tutorial will be needed to understand this one.
The previous tutorial explained the important aspects of playing a single-module KARMA performance (in other words, KARMA in programs). This tutorial focuses on the important aspects of playing a multi-module KARMA performance (in other words, KARMA in combis and songs). The details of each module are the same as for a single-module performance, so we won't rehash those details in this tutorial. Instead, we'll focus on how the four modules are assigned to the timbres in a combi (or tracks in a song) and how the control surface can be used to affect any one of the modules or all four of them at the same time.
Part 1 - Figuring out the GEs and RTC models, and how to solo GEs
- Load up combi I-A042 Always Watching You… (M50 users: combi I-B110; OASYS users: combi I-A004), but don't play any keys just yet. Note that KARMA is already enabled and latched in this combi.
- On the P0:Play page, go to the KARMA GE tab. (M50 users: the GE Setup tab of the Performance Editor.) This shows us the GEs assigned to each of the four KARMA modules in this KARMA performance.
- (M50 users: not applicable) If you look at the GE category buttons next to the red A, B, C, and D in the middle of the page, ou can see at a glance that module A plays a drum line, modules B and C play arpeggio lines with a downward movement, and module D plays a melodic riff line of some sort.
- If you touch the GE number immediately beneath each category button (not the > button, but the number itself to the right of that button), you'll see that the row above the category buttons changes to display the full descriptive name of each GE and more importantly, the RTC Model used by each GE, which you can use to look up the corresponding article on the wiki to help you understand what the switches and sliders for that module will do to the sound of that module. (M50 users: the top right of the Performance Editor tells you the full descriptive name of the GE and the RT Parms tab of the GE Editor tells you the RTC model for each GE. You must click the little Mod buttons in the top center of the GE Editor to choose which module's GE is displayed.)
- Finally, the Solo checkboxes on this tab enable you to solo the sound of a particular module, which can be very helpful in the busy mix of some combis. (M50 users: this is back on the GE Setup tab of the Performance Editor.)
Part 2 - Figuring out the trigger zones and why some modules don't seem to recognize chords
- Now go to the KARMA RTC tab. (M50 users: the Zones tab of the Performance Editor.) This looks familiar but instead of one row, there are now four rows beneath the keyboard image, one for each KARMA module. The blue lines show the trigger zone for each module.
- Module C is the only one with a trigger zone on the right half of the keyboard, so let's check it out first. Play some single notes, and then some chords, above C4. Tip: release after each note/chord so you can hear module C by itself. The riff sounds different when you play a single note versus a 2-note interval versus a 3-note chord versus a 4-note chord, versus inversions of the same chord, etc. This is because the note series for the module's GE is being constructed differently in each case. This is as far as I've gotten adding notes for M50 users in this editing pass.
- Now that we've sussed out the behavior of module C, let's turn it off so we can focus on the remaining modules. Look at the first four buttons shown on the KARMA RTC tab. See how they're labeled ModRunA, ModRunB, and so on? Touch button 3 (ModRunC), which represents "Switch 3" in the KARMA control surface, to turn off module C. (This is a common convention in pretty much all multi-module performances.)
- Play a single C2 note. You hear drums and what sounds like a bass line happening now. Look at the keyboard image and you see red notes being played by modules A and D. But why isn't module B playing too? After all, C2 is inside the trigger zone for module B as well as for modules A and D? We'll answer this question in a moment.
- Turn off module A to silence the drums, so we can focus on what's going on with the bass line played by module D. (Remember how? Press the button representing switch 1 on the screen.)
- Now that you're hearing only the bass line played by module D, play a single C3 note, then a C3, E3, G3 chord (C major), then a C3, Eb3, G3 chord (C minor). Note how the bass riff never changes at all? That's because this GE is set up to build a riff-oriented note series based only on the lowest note played.
- Now turn off module D now that we've figured out its behavior, and lets see why module B isn't making any sound. This is a complex enough subject to merit a part all on its own to explain something called Smart Scan.
- Before we turn our attention to how Smart Scan works, go to page P7-1: KARMA1 for a moment, and then to the Setup A tab. See the red Zone area near the top? The Btm and Top fields here set the exact keyboard range for the trigger zone for module A. The Setup B, Setup C, and Setup D tabs enable you to do the same thing for modules B, C, and D.
Part 3 - The confusing and yet powerful "Smart Scan"
- Down in the trigger zone for module B, play some single notes, then some 2-note intervals, and finally some 3- and 4-note chords. Notice how module B only starts playing when you play 3 or more notes at the same time? And how it will won't retrigger to something new until you play another 3-note (or larger) chord? If you just play single notes or intervals, the module just keeps playing an arpeggio of the previous chord until you trigger a new arpeggio with a different chord.
- But wait! There's more! Stop KARMA for a moment and then turn it on again. Now this time play and hold a chord with in the right hand area, outside of the trigger zone for module B. While holding the RH chord, play a single note down in the trigger zone for module B. See how module B starts playing? What's going on here? In the previous step you had to play a chord in the trigger zone to get the module to start playing, but in this step it started when you played only a single note in the trigger zone!
- It gets even better! Turn module C back on, and play and hold a Cm chord in the RH zone. While holding the chord, play a single C2 note and let go. You'll hear a simple module B pattern along with the module C pattern.
- Now change the Cm chord in your RH to a C major. Hear how the tonality of the module B pattern changes accordingly? What's this? You didn't even touch anything down in the trigger zone for module B!
- Stop playing all keys and stop KARMA and turn it back on. This time, start with a Cm chord in the trigger zone for module B (try C2, Eb2, G2) and let go. Listen to module B's pattern for a moment, then play and release several different chords on the RH side of the keyboard. Hear how the chords you play on the RH side, which are out of module B's trigger zone, still change the tonality of the pattern that module B is playing? Spend some time experimenting with various combinations of chords and single notes in both hands and notice how both modules B and C "hold" every chord while you play single notes and intervals to riff on top of the chord tonality.
- The key to this interesting and deep behavior is that module B uses a Dynamic MIDI Destination parameter called Smart Scan. An appendix in the M3 Parameter Guide can explain more about Dynamic MIDI Sources and Destinations, but the point to learn here is that some KARMA performances (single- or multi-module) use a Smart Scan destination to tell KARMA when and how to trigger one or more modules.
- And depending on the keyboard range assigned to the Smart Scan destination, you might be able to retrigger a Smart Scan-controlled module by playing chords outside of the module's trigger zone.
- So if you ever wonder why a certain KARMA module isn't playing, just play a 3-note chord (or larger) in various places on the Keyboard at the same time you play at least one note in the module's trigger zone, and if the module starts playing, you know that it is being controlled by Smart Scan.
- Go to page P7-4 KARMA4 Perf and then to the Dynamic MIDI tab. See how the Destination for Dynamic MIDI slot 1 is Smart Scan? And how beneath that, the B checkbox is selected and the A, C, and D checkboxes are cleared? This means that only module B is triggered by Smart Scan.
- What Smart Scan essentially does is to replace the normal chord recognition for a the modules assigned to use Smart Scan.
- The normal chord recognition feature (called Chord Scan) will interpret even single notes or 2-note intervals as a chord.
- Smart Scan, by contrast, requires 3 or more notes (a chord) to be played relatively close to each other (typically within the span of a single hand) to trigger chord recognition. Therefore, KARMA GEs that require chord recognition to set up the note series for the GE (like the GE used for module B) won't start until 3 notes are played somewhere close together in the keyboard range for the Smart Scan AND at least one note is played somewhere in the trigger zone for the module.
- This behavior enables you to use one hand to set the chord tonality played by the KARMA modules that are using Smart Scan, and the other hand can play single- and double-note lines without changing the chord tonality.
- The exact span for Smart Scan chord recognition is 16 semitones or less.
- The keyboard range for the Smart Scan detection can be set differently than the keyboard range for the trigger zone of the KARMA modules that are using Smart Scan, which can produce some confusing results until you understand the interaction between the two ranges:
- The keyboard range for Smart Scan is set by the Bottom and Top values. A value of 000 equals C-1, 012 equals C0, 024 equals C1, 060 equals C4, and so on.
- If the Smart Scan range is exactly the same as the trigger zone for the KARMA module, then all 3 notes played must be within the trigger zone of the KARMA module.
- However, if the Smart Scan range is wider than the trigger zone of the KARMA module, then you might have only one note actually within the trigger zone of the KARMA module, but as long as any three notes in the Smart Scan range are played within 16 semitones from the highest to lowest in the three, then the module controlled by Smart Scan will start playing and will build it's note series only from the note played in the module's trigger zone. (But will use the chord from the Smart Scan range to define the chord tonality for the note series.)
- If the Smart Scan range is narrower than the trigger zone of the KARMA module, then KARMA will only start playing that module if you play three or more notes inside of the Smart Scan range.
- Yes, this seems confusing at first, but if you actually play with setting the top note of the Smart Scan range for the combi in this tutorial with only Module B enabled (or soloed), you'll get the hang of it pretty quick.
- The top note of the trigger zone for module B is G#2. The default Smart Scan range in this combi is set to the width of the entire keyboard (000-127), so you can play G#2, B#2 (C3), and D#3 while watching the KARMA RTC tab, and you'll see KARMA recognize the chord as G#. module B starts playing because the G#2 is the top note of the trigger zone for the module.
- Now play G#2, B2, and D#3. KARMA recognizes the new chord as G#m, but the riff that module B is playing does not change to a minor tonality, or change in any way at all. This is because the note series for the GE is currently based on only one note, G#2, because that's the only note inside the trigger zone for module B.
- Now play the same two chords down one octave. Since all three notes are now inside the trigger zone for the module, you hear more complex riffs with two very different tonalities.
- Now stop KARMA and go to page P7-4:KARMA4 Perf and set the Top value for the Smart Scan slot to 44, which equates to G#2 on the Keyboard, the same top note as the trigger zone for module B.
- Enable KARMA again and play G#2, B2, D#3 again. See how module B won't start playing? This is because two of your notes (B2 and D#3) are outside the Smart Scan range.
- Stop KARMA and set the Smart Scan Top value back to 127
- What Smart Scan essentially does is to replace the normal chord recognition for a the modules assigned to use Smart Scan.
Part 4 - Drum Track linking, scene management, and control surface layers
- You've made a lot of changes to the control surface of this KARMA performance so let's reset everything back to its default state before we continue. To the left of the physical control surface, press and hold RESET CONTROLS and press KARMA.
- Go to page P0:Play and the KARMA GE tab.
- (M3 only) At the bottom of each module is a Link to DT checkbox. These enable you to link any of the KARMA modules to the Drum track as described in Tutorial 1.
- Go to the Control Surface tab and make sure that the KARMA button on the physical control surface is lit, so that you're looking at the KARMA control surface on the screen.
- The SCENE section looks the same and works the same as described in Tutorial 1, with one important difference.
- To the left of the SCENE section is a Module field, and the current value of that field is M. This means you're currently looking at the Master layer scenes.
- Touch the > button in this field and choose A from the list. Notice how the position of the sliders changed, and the labels of some of the sliders and switches changed? This Module field controls which of the five control surface layers you are looking at.
- There is one layer for each module in the performance. Each module has its own unique set of 8 scenes defined, its own RTC model, and as you recall from Tutorial 1, each scene is just a different "snapshot" of switch and slider settings.
- You can also change the control surface layer by pressing the MODULE CONTROL button in the physical control surface of your keyboard.
- The Master layer (designated by the M in the Module field) is a special layer that can simultaneously control any of the 32 GE parameters in any of the four modules at the same time. The Master layer also has its own set of 8 scenes, each of which independently chooses one of the 8 scenes for each KARMA module.
- We're not going to cover the GE parameter assignment details here, because this is a subject for a Level 2 ("KARMA Tweaker") user. For now, it's sufficient to know that, for example, one slider or switch could be be connected to 3 parameters from module A, 5 parameters from module B, and one parameter from module D.
- Let's examine how to tell what the Master layer is doing with KARMA scenes.
- Go to page P7-1 KARMA1 GESetup, and then to the Scene Matrix tab
- At the bottom you find the Quantize Window for scenes, which works exactly the same way as described in Tutorial 1. If you want smooth transitions between KARMA scenes in a multi-module performance, you typically want to set this to a value of 1 Bar.
- Touch any of the grey bars in the M row. See how this changes the red bars in the A, B, C, and D rows too?
- Now touch any of the grey bars in the A row. See how only the A row changes? Try this in the B row too.
- What's happening here is that for any selected scene number in the M row (the Master layer), you can specify any combination of scenes from modules A through D. If you make changes here and then save the combi, you now have new, custom scene assignments for the Master layer.
- The DT Run checkboxes decide whether each Master layer scene will temporarily mute the Drum Track if it's running. If the checkbox is cleared for a particular Master layer scene, the Drum Track is muted while you're on that scene.
- The Link Scenes checkboxes, when cleared, decouple a particular KARMA module from the Master layer scene changes.
- The Enable RTC checkboxes, when cleared, decouple a particular KARMA module's GE parameters from the switch and slider assigments in the Master layer. Remember how just a while ago we said that one slider in the Master layer could affect a bunch of different GE parameters from each KARMA module? Clearing this checkbox for a module stops that behavior for just that module.
Part 5 - Figuring out which timbres (tracks) are used by KARMA
- Go to page P0:Play and then look at the Prog 1-8 and Prog 9-16 tabs. You can tell that only timbres 1-10 are actually used by this combi, because timbres 11-16 are all set to program A-001 M3 Grand Piano, which is the default program assigned to timbres in a new, initialized combi. But there's nothing here that tells you which of these 10 timbres are being used by KARMA.
- Go to page P7-1:KARMA1 GESetup and look at any of the four Setup tabs. The MIDI I/O section shows you how each KARMA module is hooked up to the timbres in the combi.
- The In column tells you that all four modules are watching the MIDI notes on the keyboard's defined Global Channel for their triggering and chord recognition information.
- The Out column shows that the MIDI output generated from module A is being sent to channel 2. The output from module B is being sent to channel 3. The output from module C is being sent to channel 4. And the output from module D is being sent to channel 5. Almost all Korg-produced combis use channels 2-5 for modules A-D like this.
- The bars to the right are a convenient visual indicator of which timbres in the combi are assigned to each of these channels. Timbres 5 and 6 are both listening to channel 2, so module A (the drums) is playing both of those.
- Likewise, module B is playing timbre 7, module C is playing timbre 8, and module D is playing timbre 9.
- Sometimes a module will play two or more timbres to produce a fat, layered sound, but when a drum-oriented module is playing more than one timbre, it's generally because the sound designer wanted use different timbres for certain note groupings (by assigning each timbre to a narrow keyboard range) to make a very rich, well-mixed drum sound:
- You can use a different drum program for each timbre, so you're not stuck with the flavor of a single drum kit.
- You can use the same drum program for each timbre, but you can use the mixer section of the combi to specify different pan and volume settings for each timbre, thereby spreading out the drums in the mix. Or you could have different EQ settings for each timbre, etc.
- Let's examine the drum timbres in more detail:
- Go back to page P0:Play, press any note to get module A playing, and then solo timbre 5 and then solo timbre 6. Notice how timbre 6 is being used only for the kick drum, and all other drum notes are coming from timbre 5? Also note that the two timbres are using different programs, so different drum kits are being used for each timbre
- Go to page P4 Zone/Delay and then to the Key Z 1-8 tab. Look at the Top Key and Bottom Key for timbres 5 and 6. See how they're set up to each use different keyboard ranges? The range for timbre 6 was chosen because only the kick drum notes from the GE's drum patterns are in this range. The range for timbre 7 was chosen because all other notes from the GE's drum patterns are in this range.
- Let's look at a different combi altogether to see a different way that drum timbres are used for the KARMA module that plays the drum groove. Go to I-A000 Towards the Sun EX3 and look at page P7-1: KARMA1 GESetup, on the Setup A tab. This combi uses module A for a drum GE, so you can see that timbres 4-8 are used for the drums.
- Now go to page P0:Play, on the Prog 1-8 tab, and you'll see that four of those five timbres all use the same drum kit.
- Go to the Mixer 1-8 tab and you'll see that the five drum timbres have different pan and volume settings.
- Go to page P4: Zone/Delay, on the Key Z 1-8 tab, and you'll see that each of the drum timbres have a specific range of the total keyboard.
- Go back to page P0:Play and hit a note to start KARMA playing, then solo tracks 4-8 and listen closely to how nicely the drum sounds are spread across the stereo field and have some front-to-back depth. This isn't possible if you use only a single timbre for the drum program in a combi.
Part 6 - Switches and sliders in the Master RTC layer versus the module RTC layers
- Make sure you're back at combi I-A042 Always Watching You…, on the Control Surface tab, and you've pressed the KARMA button to the left of the physical control surface so that the screen shows the KARMA control surface.
- Make sure that KARMA is active and latched. Play a chord on the LH side and also on the RH side to get all four modules going.
- As you learned in Part 4 of this tutorial, you're currently looking at the Master RTC layer, as denoted by the M in the Module field.
- In the Module field, touch the > button and choose A. You're now looking at the RTC layer for module A. Everything that you learned in Tutorial 1 about understanding the switches and sliders for a module applies here. Same for the RTC layers for modules B, C, and D.
- What's new and different in a multi-module KARMA performance are the switches and sliders in the Master RTC layer, so let's go back there by pressing the > button and choosing M.
- Switches 1-4 and Sliders 1-4 are generally the same in every Korg-produced combi and every Karma-Lab-produced combi, so once you figure out what these do in one combi, you'll know what they do to pretty much every combi.
- Experiment with switches 1-4. As their labels imply, these simply turn each KARMA module on and off. Return them to their original settings (remember, you can do this easily from the KARMA RTC tab by looking at the text beneath each switch or slider).
- Experiment with slider 1 then return it to its original position. As the label implies, this creates a swing feel for all four modules.
- Experiment with slider 2 then return it to its original position. As the label implies, this slider makes the patterns from at least some of the modules more complex (at a value of 127) or less complex (at a value of 000). This slider usually doesn't affect a drum module.
- Experiment with slider 3 then return it to its original position. Nothing happens at all. This is unfortunate, because it turns out that this slider should be doing something to the sound. The sound designer of this combi either overlooked a couple of GE parameter settings that would make this slider have a useful effect (and never caught the mistake), or for some reason I cannot fathom, they consciously decided to disable this particular slider in the Master RTC layer. Regardless, we're going to venture into Level 2 ("KARMA Tweaker") territory for a moment and fix this combi so that slider 3 in the master layer does something noticeable and useful. I'm not going to explain what we're doing—that's a subject for the Level 2 section of the Beginner's guide to KARMA.
- Go to page P7-3 KARMA3 GE RTP.
- On the GE RTP M B tab, press the 17-24 button near the top of the screen.
- In the bottom row, 24: Duration: Duration Value , touch the box in the ASSIGN column and turn the value control dial a few clicks until this box displays SL3.
- Now go to to the GE RTP M C tab and in the bottom row, 24: Duration: Duration Value , do the same thing so that the ASSIGN box for this row displays SL3
- Now that you've completely hooked up modules B and C to slider 3 in the Master layer, let's hear what this slider usually does to most combis. Play chords in both hands to get all four KARMA modules running. Experiment with slider 3 now, and you'll hear that it affects the note duration of modules B and C. In general, this slider typically affects the duration of everything except drum modules (no point in increasing the duration of drum notes), but depending on the effect that the sound designer is trying to achieve, it might be more musical and interesting to affect the duration of only one particular module or two.
- Now experiment with slider 4. Again you hear no effect, and again, I think this was oversight on the sound designer's part because I cannot think of any reason to effectively disable this slider in this combi, since the arpeggio sounds from modules B and C are perfect for this. So we're going to fix this like we did for slider 3.
- Go to page P7-3 KARMA3 GE RTP.
- On the GE RTP M B tab, press the 25-32 button near the top of the screen.
- In the top row, 25: Velocity: Scale , touch the box in the ASSIGN column and turn the value control dial a few clicks until this box displays SL4.
- Now go to to the GE RTP M C tab and in the top row, 25: Velocity: Scale , do the same thing so that the ASSIGN box for this row displays SL4
- Now that we've "fixed" slider 4 in the Master layer by hooking it up fully to modules B and C, let's hear how this slider usually affects most combis. Experiment with the slider and you'll hear not only changes in the basic sound based on different velocities being applied to each note in the patterns put out by modules B and C, but you'll also hear some notes dropping out of the pattern in some cases, or the pattern feeling "reversed" in other cases. Note that the actual effects of this slider might sound very different from combi to combi depending on which types of velocity parameters from each module's GE are hooked up to the slider, but in general you'll at least hear the effect on the timbres of playing the notes with different velocities as you move the slider.
- Switches and sliders 5-8 are a different story. These can be used for pretty much anything the sound designer can dream up, so the point here is that they'll be very different from combi to combi, unlike switches and sliders 1-4, which are almost always the same in each combi.
- However, switch 5 and slider 5 are somewhat commonly done the same way in a lot of combis, so let's take a closer look because they're very useful.
- Switch 5 turns on something called an alternate drum map which enables some realtime transposition of drum notes played by the drum GE's three patterns to different notes. This transposition is controlled by slider 5. Since switch 5 is already on by default in this combi, experiment with slider 5 to see how this drum map transposition sounds.
- The remaining switches and sliders aren't worth explaining in this tutorial. The general rule of thumb is to just experiment with them and see what they do, and remember that sometimes, a given slider might require a related switch to be on for the slider to have any effect. If you ever want to really understand what one of these sliders and switches 5-8 in the Master layer are doing, and why, you need to get to Level 2 ("KARMA Tweaker") proficiency with KARMA.
Part 7 - Swapping out the GEs used in the four KARMA modules
There isn't much detail to this part because it's so similar to swapping out the GE in the single module performance as covered in Part 5 of Tutorial 1 above. The main points to make here for multi-module performances are:
- Since you can totally change the "feel" of four different modules in a combi, you can create an entirely different sound, much more so than just changing one module in a program.
- When you swap out any GE in a combi, you will essentially "break" the Master control layer's switch and slider assignments. There is no way to automatically import some other Master layer, because each Master layer is hand-built for every combi based on the specifics of the four GEs used in the combi. Therefore, you really need to become proficient at Level 2 ("KARMA Tweaker") KARMA usage to understand how to rebuild the Master layer effectively when you change any GEs in a combi.
Note: KARMA will still work fine when you swap out the GEs in a combi, and the real-time controls for each module will still work fine. It's only the switches and sliders in the Master layer that must be manually tweaked to have useful labels and produce useful, understandable results over all four modules at once.