Korg M3: Making program changes within a track of a song

Note: a section of this article also applies to the Korg M50.


You are recording a song in the SEQ mode of the M3, and you want to automate program changes before recording musical data to track, or change the program that a given track is using after having already recorded some measures with the original program in that track. For example, in track 1 you start with a couple measures of one guitar sound, then switch to a different guitar sound a few measures later, then after some more measures you switch back to the original guitar sound, or even to a completely different sound, such as a synth lead.


There are a few ways to insert or record program changes:

Using the Create Exclusive Data Command (M3 only)

With the Create Excl Data command, you can insert a program change event at any time, whether the track is empty or if there is existing recorded data on a track. Adding program change events to an empty track means you can automate program changes in advance of recording any note data on that track, leaving both hands free to play the keyboard while in Overdub recording mode. If you have already recorded musical data on the track, the procedure works exactly the same.

To make it easier for now, let's use a new, empty song and we'll insert a program change into track 1 right before measure 4 starts. Once you understand the insertion process, you can use this technique on your songs in any track and location (measure) either before recording note data or after a track has been recorded.

  1. Select a new song. Leave everything as is.
  2. Press the Page Select button and go to the P6: Track Edit screen and make sure Track 01 is selected.
  3. Touch the Menu Command button at the top right of the screen, scroll over and select the Create Excl Data command.
  4. The Create Exclusive Data dialog is now open. In the From Measure and To Measure fields, enter values of 003 in both.
  5. In the first Beat Tick field, enter a value of 4.476.
  6. In the second Beat Tick field, enter a value of 4.477. These last two steps mean that the program change will occur quickly at the end of measure 3.
  7. In the next section for "Kind" there are three arrows / fields. Touch the first arrow and select Track 01 from the choices in the menu.
  8. For the second (middle) arrow choose Parameter from the choices.
  9. For the third (bottom) choose Program. This will open up the Start / End value fields.
  10. Since we're using a new song, leave the Start field's value as is (I A-000), which is the starting program for this track.
  11. In the End value field, select something like I B-003.
  12. Touch the OK button to insert the program change event.

OK, so we've just entered a program change on Track 1 at the end of measure 3 to switch between programs I A-000 and I B-003. Now press the Exit button until you return to the main Play/Rec screen. You can verify the program change works by pressing the Sequencer Start/Stop button to play the song and watching the screen.

Important: If you are automating program changes before recording musical note data to a track, remember to use Overdub recording mode so that you do not overwrite the inserted exclusive data.

In Real-Time While Overdub Recording (M3 & M50)

After you play all the notes you want and have a track recorded, change the record mode to overdub, put it into record and have it playing and recording, and simply change the program on the track at the moment you want it to change. Then stop recording. A program change is added to the track.

Using Track Edit / Event Edit (M3 & M50):

This procedure assumes you want to insert the program change on track 2 as the very last event in measure 4, so that the new program is in effect at the very start of measure 5. You can adapt the specifics used in this example as needed.

  1. Go to page P6:Track Edit.
  2. Use the Track Edit tab to specify Track02 and a value of 005 in both the From Measure and To End of Measure fields. We choose to edit measure 5 because when you insert a new event, it is always inserted before the event. By editing measure 5, we'll be able to see the "Bar" event that marks the start of measure 5, and our inserted program change event will go just before this Bar event.
  3. Touch the menu command button (upper right) and choose Event Edit.
  4. In the resulting Set Event Filters dialog, make sure that every checkbox is selected, then touch OK. It's very important to see all events on the selected track so that you can be sure your program change event is occurring after all of the other events in bar 4. If you filter out some of the event types from the event editor view, you won't know for sure whether your program change event is really after all the other events in bar 4.
  5. If you get the message Destination is empty, this means that the track in which you're trying to insert the program change is currently empty.
      • This is very common, because many tracks share the same channel, to create layered sounds or for discrete pan/volume settings of note ranges in a drum program, etc. In these cases, the note events and other events that that are captured when you are recording only need to be captured on the first track among all the tracks that share the same channel.
      • However, since you want to change the program on this specific track, which does not contain any event data at all because it hasn't needed event data until now, you must manually insert at least one note event before you'll be able to insert the program change event. Here's how:
        1. Touch OK to close the Destination is empty message.
        2. Go to the Track View tab. Track 2 and measure 005 as the From and To measures are still correctly selected, but depending on whether you've been using this tab already during this recording/editing session, you might not actually be looking at the row that represents track 2. Look at the little thumb-slider at the far left of the screen and if it's not overlapping the blue, highlighted 2, then touch the narrow grey bar with the up arrow above the dark blue editing area to move your view up to where it's showing you track 2.
        3. Now touch the editing area in the row for track 2 and measure 5. All of measure 5 will be highlighted in a lighter blue color.
        4. Now touch the button on the right side with the magnifying glass icon. This zooms you in to a piano-roll editor for track 5, showing you a tiny bit of the end of measure 4, all of measure 5, and part of measure 6.
        5. Make sure the button with the pencil icon, at the far right, is selected. This enables you to add new notes.
        6. Touch the white rectangle in the first segment of measure 5 in the C4 row. You've now added a C4 note event at the start of measure 5. Don't worry, we can easily delete this after you've inserted your program change event. Now track 2 has some event data in it, at the start of bar 5, which will enable us to successfully use the Event Edit command when we try it again, and to easily put the program change event right where we want it.
        7. Touch Done to close the piano-roll editor.
        8. Touch the menu command button (upper right) and choose Event Edit, then touch OK at the Set Event Filters dialog.
  6. The Event Edit Track 02 dialog appears, and the BAR event at the start of measure 5 is already selected. This is exactly what you want.
  7. Touch Insert. A new Note event is added immediately before the BAR event for measure 5. This is okay, we're now going to change this note even to a program change event.
  8. In the new Note event, touch the field in the middle where the C-1 note value is displayed.
  9. Now spin the big Value Dial clockwise a bunch of times until you scroll through all the possible note values and get into the other types of events. You'll stop at a BEND event.
  10. Once you've stopped at the BEND event, move the Value Dial back two clicks until you see PROG in this field. We've inserted the Program Change event. Now all that's left to do is configure it correctly.
      1. Touch the BT field and using your numeric entry pad, enter 999999 and then press the ENTER button. The beat:tick value automatically changes to the last possible tick in measure 4, which coupled with the fact that this is the last event in the list for measure 4) ensures that it comes last after every other event in measure four even if there are other events that occur at this specific beat:tick.
      2. Touch the B field and use the Value Dial to select the program bank you want. Note that the GM banks and User banks come after a bunch of 000-127 values. (I'm not sure what these 000-127 values are for.)
      3. Touch the P field and use the Value Dial to select the program slot you want.
      4. If you had to insert a dummy C-1 Note event at the start of measure 5 to enable the Event Edit menu command to work successfully, you need to remove that Note event now. It should be visible in the window. Touch any field in that event to select it, and then touch Cut to remove it.
      5. Touch Done.


Make the Event Edit mode your friend - it's really quite simple and is the easiest way to do this stuff. Just insert one event and away you go. You can do it the recording way, but you might not change the program at the exact moment you want, or maybe you have to change banks first - it can be sloppy. The event edit method is *exact* - like using a scalpel instead of a machete.

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