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Newbie Sequencing a Korg Microkorg S?

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Joined: 30 Dec 2018
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:36 am    Post subject: Newbie Sequencing a Korg Microkorg S? Reply with quote


I'm pretty new to Synthesizers, but am hoping to purchase a Korg Microkorg S, can anyone tell me please if it has a built-in sequencer?
If not is there any portable ones to attach to the Korg?
I don't want to use a computer as it can get frustrating with software Synths, basically going back to the good old ways.

I think I need a multi track recorder aswell, if you catch my drift this is how Sylvester McCoy's Dr Who theme tune was made....


Any advice would be appreciated, thanks!
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


No, the microKorg S has NO built-in sequencer. Only an arpeggiator.

Korg sells the SQ1, which is a portable 16 step sequencer that you can connect through MIDI. But its possibilities are limited. E.g. you can not save a sequence. It depends a bit what you are looking after.
I'm not aware of other portable sequencers. Anything can be used, as long as it has a MIDI out.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 4:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sequencer that are as powerful as the MC500 are not that common and if bought new will cost more than your MicrokorgS, though generally are worth the money especially if you are looking to expand. There are a couple on the market right now, but are made by small companies who have trouble keeping up with demand, so are listed as "out of stock" on their websites (I'm referring tot the Social Entropy Engine (https://www.socialentropy.com/engine/?page_id=346) and the Sequentix Cirklon (https://www.sequentix.com/shop/cirklon-hardware-sequencer)). There are others which come close although have now song mode and sold as 'looping' sequencer, eg the Squap Pyramid and Polyend SEQ. They too are both very expensive.
I own a Pyramid and it can be used as a song sequencer by programming a very long sequence with multiple tracks, but like the the Great Pyramids of Egypt, it can be a mystery at times! Luckily their userforum is full of really helpful people who are quite happy to help a new user learn how to use it and demystify it's eclectic work flow.

In the 'affordable' price bracket I know you are in, the options tend to be mono-sequencers such as the Arturia Beatstep Pro which is a two-track sequencer with a drum/percussion track as well. It's two melody sequencers are great a can be used like a simple song sequencer in that the patterns can be chained. Unfortunately they are note sequencers so chord are technically out of the question. And being a step-sequencer, it'll not playback the nuances of realtime performance, ie the notes will be pulled into to the nearest step the fall on so on playback you slight imperfect timing that can give a performance a 'human' feel will not be there.

Arturia do have a chord sequencer, the Keystep, though it too is a step-sequencer and not as advanced as the Beatstep Pro in that it doesn't have a pattern chaining function. The absence of the pattern-chaining isn't as much as an issue as it could be due to the rather long sequences that can be created by programming a 64 step sequence and setting it to step in crotchets (whole notes?). In 4/4 you can get 16 bar loops. I own one (as well as a Beatstep Pro) and find the it useful for simple chord progression accompaniment making it great for jamming over. Again, being a step sequencer it won't record your timing exactly as you played, but for chord progs that isn't too much of an issue.

As for 2nd hand, you can get some very powerful sequencers from last century for great prices. One of the standouts is the Roland MC500/mkII. The mkI is the sequencer used in the Doctor Who theme breakdown video you posted. Was and still is a great machine. I've never used one but I do remember jamming with a guy who did. We actually jammed with it and it wasn't just him preprogramming a few patterns and then hitting play, he programmed on the fly, editing and creating new patterns as it ran and then introducing them in realtime. I was never 'allowed' to learn the ins and outs of it though (control freak... Confused )

I've own a few sequencers over the years and still my favourite is the Kawai Q-80. I owned two at one stage as to have a back-up for parts. Unfortunately I ended up selling one and then a few years later bricked the other. It is a similar affair to the MC500 in that is has a single line lcd screen for programming but easy to learn and use. Very powerful but rare as hen's teeth today.

I replaced the Q-80 with a Yamaha QY700. I've seen it described as "Ableton Live for the 90's" and tend to agree with that. Although it doesn't sample, it can function as a song arranger, a clip/phrase (pattern?) launcher and also has an onboard MIDI sound module with a good amount of programmability. When I got mine home and first explored it, I was amazed at how many pop-songs were actually composed of it's preset patterns and onboord sounds completely untouched! Seriously artists had straight-up laid out a pattern sequence changing nothing and then added their own leadlines and vocals over them, that is how great for song composition it is. You can program your own phrases and save them internally but for long term storage you do need 3.5" floppy discs.
Programming phrases or songs was almost like cheating with all the tricks of arrangement such as transposition and auto-chord available on it's rubber keyboard. It also lets you place a chord progression into the sequence for simple accompaniment creation.
The QY700 was the flagship of the QY line and even today the command fairly high 2nd hand prices. Fortunately though it was the last in a long line of QY sequencers, all of which have the onboard MIDI synth, the phrase bank and composition functions. I've not looked deeply into what the rest of the line are like, but they were seen as fantastic portable workstation sequencers in their time and I'm sure all the key features of the 700 are there if you aim for one of the models with 3 digits in their model name.

Geez carried away again! I was going to try to make this brief and include a few more suggestion. Seems I might be permanently stuck on 'maximum verbosity' Surprised Some of the sequencers aboard 'groove boxes' can be great fun too, but you are then often are super dance-music oriented.

Whatever you end up doing, let us know. Remember to do some reading on perspective buys, skimming manuals is always advisable. Good Luck!
Stuff I'm using: Umm right now, this: Ever-growing Dumbmachine: Bastl Instruments, Circuit Abbey, Elby Designs, Expert Sleepers, Blue Lantern, Tiptop Audio, Make Noise, Busy Circuits, Mutable Instruments, Buchla/Topbrillo, 2hp, Metro Modular, Doepfer, Intellijel, Frostwave, Synthrotek, Korg, Arturia, Teenage Engineering, Patchblocks, Waldorf, Cat Full Of Ghosts, Music Thing Modular
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