Korg Karma: Taming KARMA GEs

This article was originally published on the Korg USA website, and is reprinted with their permission. Original author: Jerry Kovarsky.

The Karma Music Workstation has introduced a new level of creativity, inspiration and interactivity with sound. And like all new things it can take some time for you to understand how it is doing the amazing things it does. On of the best ways to learn is to explore what the skilled Korg programmers have done, and try tweaking their work to personalize it for your own purposes. Here are a couple of great tips for taking control of this amazing new technology.

Transmit Filtering

A KARMA GE (Generated Effect) can produce a lot of information. It can generate notes, pitch bend data, and many other controllers like panning, filter cutoff, realtime effects control and more. Sometimes less is more, and you may like an aspect of what a GE is doing, but not all of it. That’s why the Karma Music Workstation offers the ability to filter out parts of a GE. Let’s show you how:

  • In Program Mode select [Menu], then [KARM], then [TxFilter]. (See Parameter Guide, Page 28)
  • Or in Combi/Sequencer Mode select [Menu], then [KARM], then [TxFilter]. (See Parameter Guide, Page 60)

Looking at this page you’ll see the following filtering options:

  • GE-Bend – pitch bend messages, which may be coming from one of several methods of pitch bend generation (see page 29 of the Parameter Guide, and pages 26, 28 or 37 of the GE Guide, depending on the bend method used.)
  • GE CC-A – a MIDI CC (continuous control), programmed using a grid-interface (see page 26 of the GE Guide for more info)
  • GE CC-B – a second MIDI CC, also programmed using a grid-interface
  • GE Env1 – a powerful envelope generator, assigned to modulate a MIDI CC, or velocity, tempo, duration etc. (see page 28 of the GE Guide for more info)
  • GE Env2 – a second envelope generator
  • GE Env3 – a third envelope generator

Much of what KARMA generates can be individually filtered out using the settings on this page. What I like to do is uncheck all the options and then turn them back on and off one at a time to get a clear sense of what each one is doing.

You may find that you can turn off some of these without hearing a change. Note that this doesn’t mean that there is necessarily anything being filtered out (since not all GEs generate all of these types of information).

Hint: The Karma Voice Name List shows the different types of MIDI information being generated by each GE, starting on Page 10. You can use this reference to help get an idea of what may be going on.

Here are some examples to show you what can be done. Be sure that KARMA is on to hear the results!

  • Program B024 Brass Pad – turn off GE Bend, all three envelopes and try using only one of the two CC patterns for a mellower version.
  • Program A016 Metalic Rez – turn off CC-B to remove the filter modulation, or CC-A to remove the panning pattern
  • Program A062 Crimson 5ths – turn off GE Bend and Env2 for a mellower version.
  • Program A096 Digital Polysix – turn off CC-A to remove the filter modulation and leave a more open gating effect.
  • Program A108 Syncro City – turn off Env1 to remove the fading in/out aspect of the sound. Experiment with the other two envelopes to change the character of the GE’s sound.
  • Program A015 Monkey Skulls – turn off GE Bend and experiment with the CC-B and Env1 control of the reverb.

Of course this works in Combi Mode as well – have fun and experiment!

Transmit CC

Another cool feature of the KARMA function is that it can be set up to transmit up to four CC values whenever you turn it on, so you can “edit” the sound to be more responsive to what the GE is going to do. (When you turn KARMA off, the CCs are reset to their previous settings, so that the program sounds as it was intended to sound.) This is often used to change the filter cutoff and to increase/decrease effects depth. The parameters are found by selecting [Menu], then [KMdl], then [Parm1]. Let’s explore this:

  1. Select Program A032 Power Snap Synth.
  2. Navigate to the Parm1 page. Notice that there are two CC’s set up to be transmitted when you turn the KARMA function on.
  3. Turn on KARMA and listen as you adjust these two values. CC18 has added some delay – decrease the value to remove it. CC80 is adding in a Phaser, try different settings to suit your taste.

Explore other programs, experimenting with lessening/changing their Tx.CC settings to suit your tastes. Now let’s try adding some CC’s to another program to see how we can change a sound.

  1. Select Program A012 Smooth Sine Lead.
  2. Navigate to the Parm1 page. Notice that there is one CC set up, CC21 which increases the Reverb depth when you turn on the KARMA function.
  3. Turn on KARMA and listen to how it plays.
  4. While it is playing cursor to the second Tx.CC row and type in 79 for the CC number. This will control the EG intensity control of the Filter.
  5. Cursor over to the Value field and try numbers below 64 – this will decrease the EG intensity and will “soften” the sound. The lower the number the more the sound will seem to fade in and out. Or try CC71 and use high values to increase the Filter Resonance for a cool effect.

Experiment with these ideas, being sure to reference the list of available CC’s for control found on Page 231 of the Karma Parameter Guide.

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