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A NEWBAY MEDIA
P U B L I C AT I O N

Your Perfect Performance Partner


The new S Series combines the sounds of the Motif XS, a handcrafted S6 piano and the ease of use of a stage piano.
Features such as Balanced Hammer action, combo input jack for adding vocals and guitars, and USB record/playback
make it perfect for stage or studio. The compact design of the 88- and 76-note weighted versions are portable and
road-ready. The S70 XS/S90 XS also lets you quickly create your own Performances with the amazingly fast
Performance Creator feature. With extensive Controller functions, its also the perfect companion for your computer
music production system.

www.yamaha.com/usa
www.motifator.com
www.yamahasynth.com
2009 Yamaha Corporation of America. All rights reserved.

One voice, endless


possibilities.




  

Based on the award-winning Prophet 08, Mopho is a compact, affordable,


great-sounding monophonic synthesizer with a 100% analog audio path.
Available now at Dave Smith instruments dealers worldwide.
For specs, audio and video demos, and more, visit davesmithinstruments.com.

Prophet 08 tabletop/rack module

Prophet 08 keyboard

The Prophet 08 keyboard has been honored with multiple awards, including:

Celebrating 30 years of
innovative synth design.

4EA>GF7%AI7D
Jetro Da Silva: Keyboardist - Whitney Houston 2010 World Tour
and Professor - Berklee College of Music

The Fantom-G is a powerful instrument that contains all the


necessary tools and qualities to create and perform wonderful
music. For Whitney Houstons 2010 world tour, the Fantom-G plays
the role of sampler, sample player, synth and workstation, giving me
absolute power to deliver whatever the music calls for. The large
color screen is great, and the editing features are very user friendly.

Seize the musical authority you crave with the Fantom-G, the most
powerful workstation keyboard on the planet. With its amazing
sound quality, astounding feature set and gorgeous color display, the
Fantom-G takes you places that other workstation keyboards simply
cant, from stage to studio and beyond.
Rule your musical universe with the Fantom-G and enjoy the absolute
power of creative freedom.

Experience the Fantom-G Series Workstation Keyboards


at www.RolandUS.com/FantomG and on YouTube.

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www.R o lan d US.co m

CONTENTS
COMMUNITY
6

A brand new section devoted to your pictures, anecdotes, questions, gear,


feedback, and anything else youd like to share with the Keyboard community!

KEYNOTES
Todays hottest artists help you play better and sound better.
10 PJ Morton on Six Essential R&B Keyboard Sounds
11 The Low Anthem on Recording Antique Reed Organs
12 Eric Frederic of Wallpaper on Guerilla Producing
13 David Fowler of Echo Movement on Bubble Reggae Organ
14 Weekend Warriors
MAJORminor
16 The Editors Playlist: Music Reviews

LESSONS
20
22
26
30

Daniel Minsteris on creative Wurly EP comping


Larry Goldings Hammond B-3 master class
5 ways to play like McCoy Tyner
Suzanne Ciani on New-Age Synth

COVER STORY
32

ALICIA KEYS talks about her diverse sonic and stylistic influences on her new hit album,
The Element of Freedom, and her new signature virtual piano Alicias Keys.

SOLUTIONS
42
44

STEAL THIS SOUND Create the brass swells from Robert Palmers Addicted to Love.
DANCE Make your tracks stand out with Real-World Ambiences.

GEAR
18
46
50
54
60
64
68

NEW GEAR at Frankfurt Musikmesse


Roland V-COMBO VR-700
Akai MINIAK
Livid Instruments OHM64
Native Instruments ALICIAS KEYS
Mixosaurus DAW DRUMS KIT A
MusicLab REALGUITAR 2L

Cover photo by
Thierry LeGoues
KEYBOARD (ISSN 0730-0158) is published monthly by
NewBay Media, LLC 1111 Bayhill Drive, Suite 125, San
Bruno, CA 94066. All material published in KEYBOARD
is copyrighted 2010 by NewBay Media. All rights
reserved. Reproduction of material appearing in KEYBOARD is forbidden without permission. KEYBOARD is
a registered trademark of NewBay Media. Periodicals
Postage Paid at San Bruno, CA and at additional mailing
offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to KEYBOARD P.O. Box 9158, Lowell, MA 01853.

TIME MACHINE
74

A look back at samplers that changed how we make music.

More Online!
THIERRY LEGOUES

Canada Post: Publications Mail Agreement #40612608.


Canada Returns to be sent to Bleuchip International,
P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2.

Video
interviews
and
podcasts!

Get these links and more at keyboardmag.com/june2010


Audio
examples for
Lessons and
Solutions!

Video sneak
peeks at hot
new gear!

Follow Keyboard on

06.2010

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

COMMUNITY
From The Editor
CONNECT!
Tell us what you think, link
to your music, share tips
and techniques, subscribe
to the magazine and our
e-newsletter, show off
your chops, or just vent!
Your forum post, tweet,
email, or letter might end
up in the magazine!
Comment directly at
keyboardmag.com
twitter.com
keyboardmag
facebook.com
KeyboardMagazine
myspace.com
keyboardmag

Welcome to the new


Keyboard! Periodic
makeovers are a must
in the magazine world,
as were always concerned to give you more
of what you want, not to
mention be more accessible, inspiring, and fun to read.
But the way it all goes down is nothing like what youd
imagine from watching sitcoms like Ugly Betty or Just
Shoot Me. First of all, you seldom see the people who
work at the fictional magazines on those shows actually, uh, working. Second, we dont have any designer
office chairs. Third and most importantly, even if we
did, we wouldnt be sitting in them around a designer
table having a hipper-than-thou contest about whose
ideas are more now. Keyboard has always been about
you playing better, sounding better, and getting the
most out of the instruments and technology products
that compete for your hard-earned cash. We want to
make that happen with more of your input than ever
before, and one part of this is the Community section
youre reading right now. Heres the concept: Tell us

whats on your mind via your preferred medium (see


the Connect sidebar at left) and theres a good chance
itll end up here. What are we looking for? Your own
product reviews for You Review It. Your suggestions
or complaints to the keyboard industry for Soapbox. A time you met one of your keyboard heroes
for Idol Hands. Pics and descriptions of your weekend gig and keyboard rig for Dig My Rig. And other
things well think of cute names for once you send
em in. But thats only the beginning. Well use your
input to shape future artist coverage, music lessons,
tech clinics, and gear reviews. Feast your eyes on the
results of our first online poll on page 8more and
bigger lessons topped the list. You want it, you got
it. This months issue includes four supersize lessonspiano, Wurly, B-3, and synthpenned by top
players including organist Larry Goldings and synth
legend Suzanne Ciani. So keep the feedback coming, because youre the reason we do this. Together,
we can make Keyboard better than ever.

forums.musicplayer.com

keyboard@musicplayer.com

YOU REVIEW IT!


64-Bit Processing in Logic Pro 9.1
by Kevin Anker, Keyboard Corner forum member

With over a dozen powerful soft synths, over 38GB of added content, and
a suite of other useful apps like MainStage 2.1, all for $500, theres nothing
quite like Apple Logic Studio. Logic Pro 9.1 ups the ante by letting you run it
as a 64-bit application. The true benefit is that 64-bit apps dont bump into the old 4GB-RAM-per-program limit of the 32-bit world. A 64-bit application can address RAM in amounts that are effectively limitlessabout 16.3 billion GB. Now, there arent any machines with anywhere
near that much RAM, but 32GB systems are certainly in use. With massive sample libraries like those from EastWest/Quantum Leap and
Native Instruments reaching into the tens of GB, streaming large amounts of samples from a hard drive can prove difficult at best. Being
able to keep most if not all of a sample library in RAM makes using it much more practical.
There is one catch. Logic cant run 32-bit plug-ins natively when in 64-bit mode, and most third-party plug-ins on the market are still
32-bit. Apple figured out a pretty slick workaround: the AudioUnit Bridge, a separate application to host 32-bit plug-ins that automatically launches alongside Logic. One huge benefit of this is that when a 32-bit plug-in misbehaves, it crashes the AUB, not Logic.
Disagree with us about a review? Have something to add? Comment on the article on our website, post on the Keyboard
Corner forum, or email keyboard@musicplayer.com, and you just may see your wisdom hereand win prizes!
6

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

06.2010

SOAPBOX

IDOL HANDS

Keyboard reader Brian OSullivan

DIG MY RIG

Last summer I met Geoff Downes before the with Keith Emerson.
Asia/Yes concert in Montclair, New Jersey, and he graciously signed my sheet music
book from Asias first album, which Ive had since 1982. Geoff asked if I found the
book useful, noting that it wasnt 100% accurate. I assured him it was very helpful,
and that it helped set me in an excellent keyboarding direction in my early teens.
A few years earlier, I met Keith Emerson [shown] after his band played in
Annapolis, Maryland. I asked Keith to sign a transcription Id made of his solo
piano piece A Cajun Alley, which he played that night. Keith looked it over and
said it looked quite goodI was walking on air! Brian OSullivan, New Jersey

I was going the direction of More, more!building a rig around Apple MainStage,
a Kawai MP4, a Kurzweil PC3-61, a Yamaha VL70m module, and planning on
adding a Roland V-Synth and/or VP-770. But as my playing continues to develop,
Ive drastically changed my approach. Less is more. All I use now is my Kawai MP4
and Roland AX-Synth. I constrain myself to an acoustic piano patch (MP4 with a
little bell-EP and voice pad for spice) and focus more on the what of what I play
versus the patches. Im constantly surprised by the compliments I get on the piano
sound from the MP4. GAS [Gear Acquisition Syndrome, an occupational hazard
for keyboard players. Ed.] has me dying to replace it, but it just sounds so good.
I allow myself the luxury of the AX-Synth for strolling out into the crowd,
extended synth solos, and the likebut now more than ever, Im a piano player
first and a keyboard player, distant second. Most important is amplification: two
Acme Low B-1 three-way cabinets for warm, transparent, full-range integrity.

Why, when we have tools to sample, resample,


synthesize, and ROMple our way into oblivion;
fly MIDI and audio tracks to the moon; and jam
with players halfway around the globe, do the
companies that produce the current crop of
MIDI keyboard controllers avoid the 76-key
option? Is 76 keys the new 13th floor in our
collective tower of digital audio? Im beginning
to suspect something of that nature is afoot,
especially when Akais MPK series leapfrogged
over 76 keys, going from 61 to 88. And what
of M-Audio, Roland/Cakewalk, and Novation?
And are the challenges some face in fully integrating the CME UF7, UF70, VX7, and VX70
due to some techno-cosmic violation of this
apparent agenda of a malevolent Higher
Bandwidth? Inquiring minds want to know.
Allan Evett, via the Keyboard Corner forum

Some keyboard companies think demand


for 76-key controllers isnt enough to justify the cost of making yet another size
Yamahas recent KX line does the same as
Akais. Yet there are exceptions. I own and
love a Studiologic VMK-176 Plus. Theres
the Infinite Response VAX-77 we reviewed
in April (77 keys, but close enough). Though
theyre full instruments, not just controllers,
the Nord Stage, Yamaha S70XS, and Roland
V-Combo (see page 46) all have 76 keys.
And if there is an evil spirit making CME
controllers buggy, its affecting all sizes. So
whattaya say, industry? Are 76-key controllers a niche item, or the Goldilocks size
the people really want?
Stephen Fortner, Executive Editor

Timothy Wat, via Facebook


06.2010

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

COMMUNITY
@KeyboardMag: Do keyboards have a place
in heavy rock/metal? Why or why not?

Know Brainer

The

Poll

What should we
print more of in
each issue?

Lessons
New gear reviews
How-tos on duplicating
famous synth sounds
A-list studio and tour
players coverage

Can anyone identify the era of the oscillator board in this Minimoog
Model D? Im particularly interested in finding out what sort of modification
has been done to it, which is apparent in the close-up photo.

How-to clinics on
using your DAW

Lance Hill, synthgeeks.com

Submit your answer at keyboardmag.com.


Music business advice
Coverage of up and
coming artists
Be counted!
New polls go live the first and third Tuesdays of each month at keyboardmag.com.

Very interesting question! Jordan Rudess (@jcrudess): I might say yes! Frank Baker (@bakerfrank): I have to agree with

Jordan . . . of course keys belong in metal! Mario Guillermo (@mariokeyboard):


8

Joseph A. (@jainy9): Yes, the dark days of metal in minor keys. Emiko (@emikomusic):

TWITTER TICKER

ASK THE INDUSTRY


I have subscribed to Keyboard for many years. I play a Yamaha Tyros.
I use the one-note setting with my left hand to control the music
styles. I have the split point set down to the first 13 notes on the
left. Is it possible to transfer the one-note triggering of the chords the
accompaniment styles play, via MIDI, to a 13-note pedalboard (I have
a Roland PK-5)? If so, I can control the backup band with my feet,
freeing up my left hand to play guitars, sax, harp, etc. Ira Thomas
Ira, heres the skinny directly from our friends at Yamaha:
The PK5 can control the chord changes within the Tyros with
the following procedure:
1. Set the PK5 for Bass, have it transmit on MIDI channel
1, and connect it to the Tyros MIDI port B input.
2. On the Tyros, press Function followed by H (MIDI).
3. Select C (Master KBD 1). This will setup the Tyros to

receive on MIDI channel 1 via port B for


keyboard control.
The PK5 will now control the single finger
chord changes when
the Tyros automatic accompaniment is active. If the user
wishes to play left hand parts,
he will need to adjust the split
assignment within the Tyros function menu. Hell need to either
lower the style split point or raise
the left hand split point.

I definitely say yes. Wesley Dysart (@wesleydysart): Keys in metal rule when done right. Children of Bodom = great example.
KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

06.2010

Vienna
Choir

Having redefined the world of virtual orchestration during the past


several years, the Vienna Symphonic Library is breaking new ground with
this impressive vocal collection. The voices of VIENNA CHOIR were cast and
assembled exclusively for the recording sessions at Viennas Silent Stage, with
each singer hand-selected from Austrias leading choirs. Imbued with passion and
emotion, every recorded note and interval is a testament to the artistry of these outstanding soprano, alto, tenor and bass ensembles.

VIENNA INSTRUMENTS
DVD Collection 25 GB
AU (Mac), RTAS, VST (Mac & PC),
stand-alone.

www.vsl.co.at

www.ilio.com

KEYNOTES

PJ MORTON
Six Studio Secrets for R&B Keyboard Sounds
Having grown up with the music of New Orleans, Grammy-winner PJ Morton knows good soundsand how to create signature patches in Apple
Logic for such artists as India.Arie and Jermaine Dupri. His own album Walk Alone is available now. Michael Gallant

Miking Acoustic Piano We usually put two mics on a piano, Synth Bass Theres a new kind of bass sound on records by artists
but the music Im working on right now is kind of retro, so we use one
mica ribbon. It doesnt capture as sophisticated a sound, and it takes
off some of the pianos prettiness, which is what Im going for.

Urban Strings When Im trying to make the string tones in Logic


[soft synths] sound authentic, I roll off the high end. When Im going
for more of an urban, synthetic sound, I go with the high end.
Real and Virtual Rhodes When we record the real thing, we
go direct out and put two mics on the [Suitcase] speaker so the tremolo
sounds true-to-life. In EVP88, I mess with the tremolo, tweaking the
speed so it sounds just right. I dont like the tines too bell-like, so I roll
that off as well. I love playing a real Rhodes, so I adjust the sound close
to what Im used to.

Virtual B-3 For my demos, I use EVB3. I control it with a Yamaha


Motif, set my mod wheel to affect Leslie speed, and set the sliders of the
Motif to act like drawbars. The way I play organ, Im changing drawbars
all the time, so its good to control that from the keyboard.

10

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

06.2010

like Kanye West. The bottom has a feel like a Roland TR-808 drum machine,
but it has pitches. I start with a factory synth bass in EXS24, then add a lot
of low end to get the booman important thing about the 808 is how long
it booms, so you want the release time a little longer. Set it to monophonic,
since you dont want notes to overlap. Its a very muffled type of bass.

Snakey Lead In the late 60s, Stevie Wonder had this cool lead
that was sine-y, warm, and high, with some glide. I program my version of that on Logics EFM1. I pick a sine wave thats closeIm going
for warm, so I dont want a lot of high end. I take the release all the way
off and set the attack a little late, for a sneaky kind of lead, not one that
hits right when you trigger the note. I dont detune at all, and I put the
octave up and set it to monophonic.

More Online

Get these links and more at


keyboardmag.com/june2010
Exclusive
video tour of
PJs studio.

Visit PJ Morton
online.

THE LOW ANTHEM


Pumps Up Their Sound with Antique Reed Organs
Folk rockers the Low Anthem are currently headlining their
first U.S. tour in support of their album Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, on which they took a unique approach to creating a sonic identity: recording antique, pedal-pumped reed
organs. Their 1915 Estey organ is of special interest, as it
was played by an Army chaplain in France during World War
I. The band has also found organs in Vermont, Indiana, and
North Carolina. Their organic sound is a joy to experience
and a perfect complement to the voice of keyboardist Ben
Knox-Miller, who took time out to speak with us about this
unique quest.

Think a B-3 is vintage?


One of the Low Anthems
vintage reed organs is this
turn-of-the-century model
from Vermont organ builder
Estey, established in 1840.

Why did you seek out antique pump organs for the record?
We werent looking for one. We werent satisfied with any
of the digital keyboards organ sounds. It appealed to us
more that this was actually air moving across reeds and there
was some element of chance, a real physical thing happening, and the beautiful woody resonance.
So you never thought you could get the same sound by using
samples?
No. The pump organs are very unpredictable and a lot of
that has nice charm to it.
Who were some of your influences?
Neil Young uses a lot of pump organs. We recently saw him
play and he played solo acoustic on the pump organ. Tom
Waits also uses pump organs on his recordings.
On To Ohio, which organ was used?
The Estey portable pump organ. Theres a nice blend of the
traditional pump organ that sounds kind of like a mockup of
an electric organ sound kind of corky, naturally woody, and
crackly. On The Ghosts who Write History Books, by contrast, thats a really clean organ sound.
What about on Cage the Song Bird?
That was the Estey again, the predominant organ we
recorded with. We also have a harmonium on stage, and
a melodeon we just bought. Its from 1850. We found it in
Newcastle, Indiana. Joanie Fotouhi

More Online Get these links and more at keyboardmag.com/june2010

Hear samples of the Low


Anthems pump organs.

Tons of Low Anthem fan


photos.
06.2010

How to find and maintain an


antique pump organ.
KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

11

KEYNOTES

Eric Frederic as Ricky Reed with partner-in-

While producing Bone Dry, the


new single from A B & the Sea, Eric
heard singer Koley OBriens foot
pounding out quarter-notes. Transforming that sound into a TR-707
kick breathed propulsive power into
this otherwise folksy cut.

Your bass not bad enough? Try


doubling two bass guitars, a baritone guitar, and this fat analog
patch from Arturia 2600V.

clubslime, drummer Arjen Singh.

WALLPAPER
Eric Frederic on Guerilla Producing
In Wallpapers hit I Got Soul (Im So Wasted), co-creator Eric Frederic becomes lounge lizard Ricky
Reed. His drunken hipster character roasts hot babes and cool dudes alike as irresistible synth pop
bubbles away. As a sendup of obnoxious club slime, its pure guilty pleasure, but how seriously should we take this writer/producer/synthesist who calls his latest album Doodoo Face?
Very. From the initial percussion on the opening track Indecent, Eric brings more than
your standard loops and honks. Thats a guy from my Ghanian drumming ensemble at UC
Berkeley, he explains. This is party-pop? At 1:33, an instrumental break channels Steely Dan,
Prince, and P-Funk, andremarkablyrenders them fresh. Eric: I try to find the strongest
points about the song and make them really big. Youve got to level the playing field. The strongest
point could be the entire chorus. Or just the bass line. Find that sound and treat it like gold!
Sometimes making a sound really big means getting obsessive: On his remix of Jay-Zs
DOA, Eric turned a tubercular bass part into a monster by doubling it with two bass guitars an octave
apart, a baritone guitar, and a synth patch. On a folkie Josh Ritter remix, he spent hours porting parts in
and out of a cassette recorder while he held the pause button halfway down to achieve a warbling effect.
On Celebrity, Eric recorded a sax part through the entire song, then spent hours pasting individual
notes to create indelibly disturbing sax lines. Richard Leiter

Sometimes you dont have to double


your bassjust use different ones on
the verse and chorus. Remember
Erics Golden Rule: Producing is
subtractive. Take out anything that
isnt golden.

12

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

06.2010

DAVID FOWLER
On Reggae Bubble B-3 Organ Playing
Grab some headphones and give your favorite reggae track a close listen. Under the surface, youll hear tightly-woven patterns performed with
organic precision. These propelling rhythms turn simple chops into deep-pocket grooves. Heres how to nail the classic and often misunderstood
organ comping technique known as the bubble.

Sound Set your B-3 or clonewheel drawbars to 80 0000 003. Turn off the
vibrato/chorus and harmonic percussion
that pinging sound isnt what we want for
the bubble. Keep your rotary speed slow.
The result is a mellow vibe with a hollow body and a well-defined
bottom end.
Rhythm The classic 16-count exercise One-e-and-a, two-e-and-a,
three-e-and-a, four-e-and-a is crucial, so keep it in your head. The reggae rhythm uses tight staccato chords, often referred to as skanks (results
may vary if you seek definitions in Google). Your right hand plays the
skanks on the and upbeats. Guitar and keyboard skanks often share the
same beat, but the organ can complement the chord with inversions and
a clean, octave-long stretch.
Technique Your left hand adds quick chord hits about an octave below
your right. Play the e and the a from the exercise with your left hand.
Add your right hand back in, and the result is a bouncing left-rightleft; left-right-left occupying all 16th-notes in each beat except the
firstso the complete bubble phrase is e-and-a. Leave plenty of
space in this motionsince each chord is staccato, the chords
should be naturally disconnected. Bubbles rely on tone to push
the feel. Find inversions for the chords to make sure your left
hand stays between the second and third octave.

Variations Played straight, the


resulting rhythm has a machine-like
drive. Swing the bubble, and it breathes
life into the song. Once you master
these two feels, try some variations.
One groove-move involves a second drawbar manual set at 00
8005 000. With your right hand, lay down a legato chord on
the first sixteenth-note of the downbeat of each measure, then
quickly return to the bubble. My favorite variation is to keep
the right hand on a piano or Clav and the bubble in the left hand.
David Fowler plays in Echo Movement, a band at the forefront of the new
American reggae/surf-rock scene. Theyve shared stages with the Legendary
Wailers and Steel Pulse, and were on the Vans Warped Tour in 2009.

More Online

Get these links and more at


keyboardmag.com/june2010
David Fowler
teaches you
the reggae
bubble organ
technique.

See where
Echo
Movement is
playing next.
06.2010

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

13

KEYNOTES

Chris Anderson
Steve Sutkin

WEEKEND WARRIORS
Steve Sutkin and Chris Anderson of the MAGs
New Jerseys MAGs started as a midlife crisis of the band membersthe acronym stands for Middle Aged Guys. They cover a diverse
range of material in the classic rock, soul, and Motown vein: Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, the Beatles, Steely Dan, Led Zeppelin, and
Sam & Dave. Ed Coury
DAY GIGS Steve: Director of a state agency that deals with public bidding. Chris: Sales manager for a large mortgage company.
HOW WE GOT STARTED Steve: My then four-year-old daughter began piano lessons 15 years ago. I fell in love with the piano
and decided to play myself. Chris: I took piano lessons in high
school and hated them. I managed to learn a handful of Billy Joel
songs, despite a 20-year hiatus from keys.
INFLUENCES Steve: Chuck Leavell and Thelonious Monk.

Chris: Billy Joel, John Jarvis, Johnnie Johnson, Elton John, and Roy
Bittan. I love the way Elton and Roy fill the space between verses.
GEAR Steve: Yamaha S80 through a Roland KC-500 amp. Chris:
Yamaha YPG-225 through a Peavey KB-100 amp. After reading
Keyboards review of the Casio PX-330, that may be next.
WHY WE PLAY Steve: It makes me feel good. Chris: Out of all the
things Ive done, nothing is better than having fans rock out to my band!
MORE AT magsrock.com

MAJORminor
Joshua Condon
Joshua Condon has been a working musician since his early teens. At 15, I began studying
at the Eastman Community Music Schoola 200-mile round trip commuteand also began
as a church accompanist and music coordinator, he says. Recently, I headlined my own
Christmas show, and also won the David Hochstein Recital Competition in piano. In the fall,
Ill be performing classical music on Rochester radio station WXXI FM 91.5.
First memory of jazz piano: Vince Guaraldis A Charlie Brown Christmas. His music
introduced me to jazz, and his vocabulary was pivotal in my own musical development.
Age lessons began: At six, I began classical piano, and at ten, began seriously
studying jazz as well.
Favorite pianists: Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, Wynton Kelly, Red Garland, and Bill Evans.
Why piano? It has the most versatile range of sound possibilities: a thunderous orchestra one minute and a weeping violin the
next. The profound scope of textures one can learn to command is greater than on any other instrument I know of.
Worst gig nightmare? If I were to mess up a piece of music I had practiced for a very long time. Thatd make me feel like Id
wasted days or weeks of my life in preparation.
How important is traditional training? While there are successful musicians who have made it without such training, the
most skilled musicians are the ones who have studied this system thats been in place for hundreds of years.
Read or play by ear? Both. Reading music is crucial to your ability to teach others, whether in a band or classroom, or just to
learn new music for yourself. However, being able to play by ear lets you grow in how you speak through your instrumentas a
part of you. Jon Regen

14

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

06.2010

exclusive distributors

800.747.4546

KEYNOTES
THE EDITORS PLAYLIST
Jon Regen
WILLIAM FIELDER
Love Progression
Reissued just months
before his death in
2009, this burning 1985
album is proof that renowned educator
Fielder was as fierce a force on the concert stage as he was in the classroom.
Backed by blazing post-bop pianist Mulgrew Miller, Fielders polytonal title track is
a lesson in modern jazz harmony. Other
standout cuts include Millers Brooklyn At
Dawn and Fielders own Validity. A celebration of a tireless musical champion.
(Prescription, ejazzlines.com)
STEFANO BOLLANI
TRIO
Stone in the Water
A legend in his native
Italy, Bollani now shows
this side of the Atlantic what the accolades
have been all about. A fluent mix of sonorities ranges from the tranquil quality of Caetano Velosos Dom de Iludir to Bollanis
metrically shifting Il Cervello del Pavone.
With its gracious touch, Bollanis pianistic command is impressive not only for its
virtuosity, but for its musicality. One of
todays most original voices in jazz. (ECM,
stefanobollani.com)
ISAAC RUSSELL
Isaac Russell
Ever wish you had the
guts to say what was
really on your mind?
Isaac Russell has been speaking his inner
truth since his early teens. Signed to Columbia while still in high school, the gifted 18year-old songsmith hits the ground running.
On Lighthouse, Made Me a Man, and
Golden, he walks the line between sensitive troubadour and renegade. Featuring vintage keyboard work from Zac Rae, this EP
portends great things to come. (Columbia,
isaacrussel.com)

16

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

Robbie Gennet

Stephen Fortner

MARCO
BENEVENTO
Between the Needles and Nightfall
You never know what to
expect from pianist and effects experimenter
Marco Benevento, but you always know youre
in for a ride. Benevento has spent the last few
years thinking outside the definition of not just
what a piano sounds like, but of its place in
a band. Hes not really playing jazz per se;
the grooves feel more indie rock than anything. Indescribable and highly evocative stuff.
(Royal Potato Family, marcobenevento.com)

HYPERBUBBLE
Candy Apple
Daydreams
Early Eurythmics meets
Josie and the Pussycats!
Drum machines and resonant analog squirts
form the basis of this duos unapologetic
anthems to the golden age of electropop.
Girl Boy Pop Toy even admonishes synthesizer haters to come to a gig and be
converted. The vibe is all about having too
much fun to care if you look like a dork, and
if youre too cool for that, the jokes on you.
(Bubblegum, hyperbubble.net)

MAURI SANCHIS
Groovewords
Funkmaster Sanchis is
the first Hammond and
Moog endorsee out of
Spain, and he does both companies justice.
Sanchis enlists a host of deep-grooving
friends to lay down some of the tastiest
music this side of Segovia, including famed
trumpeter Randy Brecker and a host of talented singers. But its Sanchis whirring
Hammond and melodic Moog lines that
stand out amidst the tasteful funk/soul/jazz
tunes. (BHM, (maurisanchis.com)

EVERYBODY WAS
IN THE FRENCH
RESISTANCE NOW!
Fixin the Charts,
Volume One
Equal measures Austin Powers go-go, Ben
Folds angst-pop, and Dresden Dolls cabaret,
Eddie Argos and Dyan Valdes collab just
may be the most musically and socially astute
expression of being justified in ones smartassery that Ive heard in recent memory. Not
to mention that Ive personally been on the
male friend end of the guy-girl conversation
in Hes a Rebel way too many times. (Cooking Vinyl, myspace.com/fixingthecharts)

BETH THORNLEY
Wash U Clean
Singer/songwriter Beth
Thornley comes into her
own on Wash U Clean,
her third and possibly best album yet. With
a seasoned voice and tasteful piano chops,
Thornleys music evokes a variety of flavors
song to song without losing her identity
and style. From the retro sax-honk title song
to the Beatles-esque Theres No Way,
Thornley eludes easy classification. Wash
U Clean had me reaching for the repeat
button. (beththornley.com)

LANCE HAYES
Forza Motorsport 3
Original Soundtrack
Picture the best moments
of Jan Hammers Miami
Vice TV score updated to todays sonic sensibilities, and you get an idea of why this is
one of the few video game soundtracks that
stands on its own outside the game. No surprise that its great for driving, but its smooth
enough to put on when your date says that,
yes, shell come up to your place for one last
drink. (Microsoft, DJDM.com)

Whats on your playlist? What should be on ours? Let us know by


email or Twitter, or at forums.musicplayer.com.

06.2010

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THE BEST OF FRANKFURT
by Stephen Fortner
MUSIKMESSE 2010
KORGS POWER TRIO
Korg (korg.com) released not one but three new keyboard-based synths at Musikmesse,
and all of them were extremely hard to put down.

MicroStation This total workstation in a


mini-keys format packs Enhanced Definition Synthesis
derived from the M3 and 480 fully editable factory sounds. A
full-featured 16-track sequencer with loop and grid modes is onboard,
and up to five insert effects, plus two master effects and one overall effect, can
be in play at once. Its the most production power weve ever seen packed into a
keyboard anywhere near this compact. | $850 list

PS60 Aimed at simplifying live performance, the PS60 is also based on M3 sounds, and is always in a multitimbral mode of up to six
parts: Piano, Electric Piano, Organ, Strings, Brass, and Synth. You turn these parts on and off, choose sounds, and quickly create splits
and layers in the central Easy Setup panel. | $TBA

Monotron This monophonic, real analog palmtop


synth is just fun on a stick, and the ribbon keyboard is
surprisingly easy to play accurately. You can get far
more tonal variation than the five knobs might suggestfrom sine-y rap leads to resonant acid bass
lines. Last but not least, the price makes it literally an
impulse buy. | $85 list

18

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

06.2010

RADIKAL TECHNOLOGIES
ACCELERATOR
Concept: Eight-voice virtual analog synth.
Big deal: Has an iPhone-like accelerometer that sends
assignable MIDI controllers when you tilt the keyboard
end-to-end or front-to-back.
We think: Okay, the accelerometer is fun, but the real
killer app is the sound: creamy, lush, and very authentically analog. Radikal is officially back on the map.
$1,998 | radikaltechnologies.com

FEELTUNE RHIZOME
Concept: Computer meets groovebox.
Big deal: Runs Windows Embedded OS and its own sequencer that hosts
VST instruments and effects.
We think: Our initial skepticism disappeared at first play. The host software
is so intuitive and responsive, and the hardware controls are so well-implemented,
that you really do forget its a computer.
$3,000 (est.) | feeltune.com

STUDIOLOGIC
NUMA ORGAN
Concept: All-modeling
clonewheel organ.
Big deal: Joey DeFrancescos
signature is on it, as he was involved
with its conception. Uses the same
technology as the Italian KeyB, Joey Ds touring organ.
We think: The drawbar and rotary simulation are stunning. Depending on the price, this baby could
eat a lot of clonewheel market share very quickly.
$TBA | studiologic.com

HELMTRONIC CHALLENGER
Concept: Monster analog monosynth.
Big deal: Four oscillators. Two filters. Four envelopes.
Two-voice mode makes it a pair of pannable synths with two
oscillators each.
We think: This unabashed act of Voyager one-upmanship
sounds huge. Its a prototype, though, so theres no word yet
on commercial availability.
$TBA | Website TBA

EIGENHARP TAU and PICO


Concept: More affordable, compact versions of flagship Alpha controller.
Big deal: Each button senses velocity, pressure, and X/Y motion like a joystick. All these
send different MIDI controllers, as can breath, but you dont have to blow into it to make sound.
We think: Theres a learning curve, but these are the most expressive alternative controllers
on the market.
Tau: Approx. $2,800 | Pico: $590 | eigenlabs.com

06.2010

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

19

LESSONS
Daniel Mintseris
ON CREATIVE WURLY COMPING
The Wurlitzer Electronic Piano is loved the world over for its vintage
sound. Songs like Ray Charles Whatd I Say, Marvin Gayes I Heard
It Through the Grapevine, and Becks Where Its At are just three of
the countless Wurly classics.
My rig of choice these days is a Wurlitzer 200A with a MIDI controller on top and my MacBook Pro on the side, loaded with Ableton
Live and other goodies. I feed my Wurly into the laptop through a MOTU
UltraLite interface for realtime processing, sampling, and looping.
The Wurlitzers sharp attack and full, barking low end are great for
rhythmic, percussive playing that borrows ideas from strummed acoustic
guitar, bass, and even drums. In Ex. 1, I put a spin on a classic funky
figure that recalls the Hohner Clavinet as well as slapped electric bass.
Notice the beefed-up bottom end and the auto-wah. Extreme articulation really makes this figure work, so spank the accented beats and
barely touch the ghosted sixteenth-notes for that muted string effect.
Ex. 2 is another rhythmic pattern, with strummy right-hand
octaves and crunchy left-hand power chords. I process the sound with
Ex. 1

Albetons Saturator overdrive and highpass EQ, and use compression


to bring out the grit and crackle. Work on keeping your right hand
steady and relaxed here.
In Ex. 3, Im playing a gentle 6/8 pattern, atmospherically enhanced
by the Grain Delay effect in Live, bandpass EQ, and a touch of slow Leslie
speaker simulation courtesy of Native Instruments B4. Try it yourself
with different keys and chord progressions, keeping consistent octaves
and fifths in the right hand, and basic two-note voicings in the left.
Ex. 4 turns up the groove with a steady eighth-note hi-hat and
snare in the right hand, and a syncopated bounce in the left. Remember that the Wurly is all about articulation and feel. Keep the backbeat
strong, the upbeats laid back, and dig into the bass notes.
The dreamy, percolating sound of Ex. 5 shimmers from timed
reverse and filter delays. Turn the tremolo up, roll the right-hand octaves
and fifths lightly for waves of texture, and use wide left-hand intervals
to create full, pulsating pads. The trick with a sound like this is to find
open voicings that carry over well into the next chord.







 4








  
 4   

 


 
 

 

   
        
4
          
  4    








 
 
 
 

Ex. 2

A5

F 5

G5

A5

F 5

G5

A5

F 5

G5

A5

F 5

G5

 4
    
    
     
 4      

                               
 44 



    

 



    



 
 
 
 


 
 

20

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

06.2010

Daniel Mintseris is known for his work with artists like Marianne Faithfull, Peter
Cincotti, Martha Wainwright, and Teddy Thompson. He and cellist Dave Eggar
just released Convolutions for Cello, Piano, and Electronics, an experimental
album inspired by 20th-century classical music. Jon Regen

Ex. 3

Fsus2/A

Gadd4/B C

Fsus2/A

Gadd4/B

68





 
68




































 

Ex. 4

A /D

G/D

B /D

A /D

G/D

N.C.

 4

 4 






 









 

 








 







 

 



 







 









 44



 

 





 



 

 





 
 



 


 















 



 
Ex. 5










  4 


 4 










 4


   4 







Esus2

Badd9

More Online Get these links and more at keyboardmag.com/june2010

Mintseris plays MP3


examples of these lines.

The inner workings of


the Wurly.

More on Mintseris
experimental album.

06.2010

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

21

LESSONS

LARRY GOLDINGS

Takes Your B-3


Playing to the
Next Level

Larry Goldings has injected his signature Hammond organ and multi-keyboard
sound across funk, pop, jazz, and alternative music. He has toured and recorded
with Pat Metheny, Maceo Parker, Madeleine Peyroux, and James Taylor, and his
songs have appeared in Space Cowboys, Proof, and The Office. Jon Regen

1. Go to church.
In this Gospel accompaniment idea, I harmonize a melodic line. In the first bar of Ex. 1a, I alternate between a Bb triad and a C minor
triad. Note that the inversions change as the line descends. As the idea nears its resolution in bar 2, I pass to the last chord with a diminished chord. Ex. 1b is similar to Ex. 1a, but with rhythmic variation. When Im playing organ in this style, I typically use a very transparent drawbar setting, such as pulling out only the 8' or 4' drawbar. The Leslie would be fast, with no chorus/vibrato. Using such an airy
sound really lets you stand out without getting in the way texturally. Hear this kind of playing on my CD Quartet, on the track Hesitation Blues.
Ex. 1a



  
44                  

           





B

Use left hand for bottom


note, if necessary

Ex. 1b

3
     

44                           

            



3
3

2. Chord symbols are just suggestions.


When given a chord chart, take tasteful liberties that improve on the existing harmonies. In Ex. 2, Im using clusters in bar 1 (which
sound great on organ) and fourths in bar 2 (also a strong sound), while ascending step-wise with the top note. This provides good voiceleading to resolve on an unexpected F minor/major seventh chordnotice how rich a sound you can achieve with these types of voicings. When Im comping, I typically have the first and third drawbars out, and the second drawbar out halfway. Use the C3 chorus/vibrato
setting on your Hammond or clonewheel, with the Leslie effect braked. Check out my CDs Moonbird and As One, especially the songs
Woodstock and Mixed Message, for many related examples.

22

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

06.2010

Ex. 2
Fm7

A 7

D maj7

C7

Fm7

4       
 
 
      

 
 
 4   
 



4

4





3. Less is more.
When your left hand is busy playing bass lines, your right-hand chords can only have five or six voices. But a big sound with lots of
harmony is possible with just two notes, particularly if one of them is moving. Use this idea to think about moving inner voices. Because
it sustains, the organ is perfect for this. Notice how the bottom line in the right hand creates dissonance and suspensions in the harmony. Ex. 3 is particularly useful on a ballad.
Ex. 3
Dm7

G7

Cmaj7

Fmaj7

Bm7 5

E7

Am

4

  
 4    
   


  

4




4


4. Comp Freddie Green style.


Guitarist Freddie Green played with the legendary Count Basie, and organ players can learn a thing or three from him. His kind of
accompaniment, shown in the chord sequence in Ex. 4, is all about voice leading, thirds and sevenths, and groove. Comping like
this can also be effective behind a guitar solo, since that instrument is no longer providing the pulse if its soloing. If youre playing in
half time, this can inject a nice, light swing feel into the music. Dont rushlay back, and dig in a bit more on beats 2 and 4.
Ex. 4
Dm7

G7

Em7

Edim

Dm7

G7

Cmaj7

C6



44    
   
   
   
   








 






4



4





Em7  5
Em7  5/B 
Asus7
A7
Dm maj7
Dm6
Fm7
B7






   
   
 
  





 


    
 

1










06.2010

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

23

LESSONS
5. Add second and third voices to your melody.
I often improvised a harmonized, secondary melody in one lower voice, as in Ex. 5a. It could be a sixth below a voice that moves
in contrary motion to the melody, or simply a strong second line that implies more harmony, adding shape and color. When your left
hand is playing bass lines, this is a great way to fill up the sound without resorting to block chords, which sometimes sound too
heavy-handed. Ex. 5b adds a third voice, harmonized with the interval of a second. This sounds much less predictable than playing block chords. Pull out your first three drawbars, and set percussion to third harmonic, soft, and long decay. Use C3-setting chorus. My lower-manual bass setting is typically the first and third drawbars out all the way, and the second drawbar halfway. Again,
try a braked Leslie setting. A good example of this is on I Think its Going To Rain Today from my CD Moonbird.
Ex. 5a

F7

B 7

Bdim

F7

Fsus7

B 7

4 
   

   

 4         


  
    

 
  
4  

  

   
 

4
 

Ex. 5b

B 7

F7

F7

Cm7

F7

B 7

4 
   

   
 4   
   

  


  
 




4  
 
 
   

 
4

 
 



6. Think shapes.
To play outside of the harmony, I think less in terms of modes and scales, and more in terms of shapes. In the ii-V-i progression of
Ex. 6, I start by outlining the D half-diminished chord to create a clear jumping-off point. Then I alternate between two shapes:
fourths and triads. My goal is to land on my feet once I get back to the C minor chord. This wide intervallic sound is great on the
organ, and is all over my playinglisten to Zoloft off Moonbird, and If from Trio Beyonds Saudades CD.
Ex. 6

Dm7 5

G7

Cm6/9

4

  
 
  
4



    
 
4th

triad

triad

4th

4
4


More Online Get these links and more at keyboardmag.com/june2010

Larry Goldings plays


these examples for you.
24

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

06.2010

Carson-era Tonight Show


footage of Goldings funking
it up with Maceo Parker.

Goldings and Steve


Gadd play Chega de
Saudade.

Paid Advertisement

KORG Korner





 
Rich, I think many readers will be happy to see Korg continuing to
create new sounds for the SV-1.
Definitely. At the moment we have three sets of sounds; and many of
the new sounds are the result of user requests. Using the editor software, you can compile a custom set of 44 sounds the 36 sounds on
the SOUND TYPE and VARIATION knobs, plus the 8 FAVORITES.
All of these new sounds can be downloaded for free from www.korg.
com/sv1.
Despite its vintage charms, the SV-1 remains an ideal piano. For
the first time, Korg has sampled a brighter Japanese grand piano in
addition to the darker European grands. How can players customize
the piano sounds to suit their playing style?
There are a couple of things you can do to tailor the piano to your
liking. The first and easiest way is to adjust the EQUALIZER and
REVERB/DELAY settings.
Next, you might try adjusting the way the keyboard reacts to your
playing style. Press the TOUCH button, and then press one of the eight
FAVORITES buttons to select one of the eight velocity curves. If you
want an easier response for lighter playing, check out numbers 2 and
3. If you want a lot of control over the full dynamic range, try either 6
or 7 instead.
There are also some tuning curves you can explore. Press the FUNCTION button, and the FAVORITES buttons will blink. Press 1 to select
equal temperament, or press 2 or 3 to play using two different Grand
Piano Stretch tunings. In general, the stretch tunings are best for solo
work and the equal temperament should be used when playing in a
band setting, or when blending with other keyboards.

Lets move back to the vintage side of things. I understand that using the editor opens up new parameters and features for the amp
models including selecting different cabinets and controlling the
gain staging with more precision.
Exactly. The DRIVE knob on the SV-1s front panel is only one part of
the equation. Its like the gain knob on an amp, but without a master
volume. The editor gives you that extra volume control so you can add
as much tube gain as you want without raising the overall level of the
SV-1. In fact, using the editor, you also have a three-band EQ just for
the amp, and adjustable Presence. Combine that with a range of selectable cabinets, and youve got an impressive palette of control.
In general, the editor lets you go much deeper than the front panel.
For critical EQ settings youll want to use it, because it offers sweepable
control over the mid frequency. Most of the effects will have many
more controls, which you cant access from the keyboard itself. You
can also add EQ to the RX noises and layers, which is especially useful
with our new alternate sound banks. Theres even a Compare function,
similar to the one youll find in our workstations. While modifying a
sound, you can press Compare to quickly revisit the saved version of
the sound, and press it again to go back to your edits.
This is great stuff, but some of this may be a bit deep for some users.
Do you have any simple tricks that you can share?
Sure, using the Editor you can adjust the Touch Curve for each sound
individually. Many people find that to be the essential tweak per sound
to make the SV-1 their own.
Now, lets say youre playing along with a backing track that isnt quite
in tune, and you need to adjust the pitch of the SV-1 to a very small
degree. Just press the FUNCTION button, then turn the TREBLE knob
to fine-tune.
Heres another cool trick: if you want to isolate the RX noises or a
layered sound, turn on the AMP section, and then turn the DRIVE
all the way down. At this point youll only be hearing the RX noise or
layer. To adjust the level of the RX noise/Layer, press the FUNCTION
button, then turn the BASS knob.
If you have a favorite Korg product you would like to see
explored, or a question you would like to see answered,
drop an email to korgkorner@korgusa.com.




JO

5 Ways To

HN

AB

BO
TT

LESSONS

Play Like

MCCOY TYNER
When I was first learning jazz piano, McCoy Tyners style
had a big influence on my playing. Years later, during a set with
saxophonist Gary Bartz at a jazz club in Washington, DC, I was
doing my best McCoy emulation when McCoy Tyner himself
strolled right past my piano! After the set, he was extremely complimentary of my playing, which made me feel great. Later, I
asked him, How do you feel that so many pianists have copied
your style? He replied, I consider it a compliment. Just then,
an eavesdropping friend sung her best air McCoy impression:
Fifth, fourth . . . fifth, fourth, fourth. Tyner smiled at her and
replied, Theres a lot more to it than that! To play like McCoy,
its important to understand a few basic building blocks of his
immediately identifiable piano sound. George Colligan

1. Fifths in the Left Hand.


One of McCoys signature sounds is playing fifths in his left hand, usually the root and fifth of whatever the designated chord is. In
Ex. 1, were voicing an F7 chord in this way by simply playing F and C in the left hand. Much of the music Tyner played with John
Coltrane was modal or pedal-point based. Playing the root and fifth in the lower register solidifies the harmony, and can also set up
a dialogue with the drummer.
Ex. 1

F7

4 

4 


2. Perfect Fourths in the Left Hand.


We tend to think of Western harmony in terms of thirds, but during the Middle Ages in Europe, thirds were thought of as dissonant. Intervals of fourths and fifths were considered resolutions. An added advantage of playing the perfect fourth in the left hand is that it gives a
grounded, home base quality to the harmony. In other words, fourths sound solid. Tyner often plays two perfect fourths based on the
root, as in Ex. 2, where an F7 chord is voiced using the notes F, Bb, and Eb), or he might play one with the root on top (for example,
F7 as G, C, and F).
Ex. 2

F7

 


44 



26

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

06.2010

3. Augmented and Perfect Fourths in the Left Hand.


These voicings have more tension due to their use of the tritone interval: a sharp fourth. Tyner will often shift from this voicing to our previous voicing and back. So, for a Bb7 chord, he might play Ab, D, and G as in Ex. 3a, then hell shift to Bb, Eb, and Ab as in Ex. 3b.
In Blues on the Corner, he plays F, B, and E against a Bb7 chord, (Ex. 3c), which is quite dissonant. Tyner is a master of tension and
release, and Ex. 3d shows how Tyner combined perfect and augmented voicings on his version of the Antonio Carlos Jobim classic
Wave, from the album Supertrios.



44  



Ex. 3c
B7

44 



Ex. 3a

B 7

4.

Chromatic Playing and


Two-Handed Comping.
Planing refers to intervals that remain intact
as they move around. In Ex. 4a, were
planing a series of left-hand fourth voicings.
Diatonic planing stays in the current harmonic key or mode, as in the Dorian mode
of Ex. 4b, and chromatic planing moves
without regard to the key center, as in Ex.
4c. Tyner sometimes keeps the same lefthand voicing intact, moving it relative to a
home key, until he resolves it. Also notice that
4b and 4c use combinations of fourths and
thirds to make smooth voicings across both
hands. Listen to John Coltranes A Love
Supreme for examples in context.

Ex. 3b


 
44 




Ex. 3d

Cm

  

44

   

 

  
   
  
   








44 







Ex. 4a

Ex. 4b Cm
Dorian Mode

    
44    

    

    
    
44      



Ex. 4c Cm
Dm
Em
F
m
G
m
Bm

44  
















  

  
  

  


 

  
  
44  



06.2010

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

27

LESSONS
5. Using the Pentatonic Scale.
We often hear five-note or pentatonic scales (Ex. 5a) in Asian
and African music. Tyner uses his unique improvisational sense
to manipulate them in this example from his song Blues on the
Corner (Ex. 5b). Often when a chord is dominant, Tyner will
play a minor pentatonic based on the fifth of the chord. But he
might also play a minor pentatonic based on the root of the
dominant chord, then go off in another direction (Ex. 5c).

Ex. 5a
Minor Pentatonic Scale

4
 4             

1

3

7

44






44                 







 


  

4


4

Ex. 5b

E 7


44                                         

 
 


  

 


 





44 

  
 






Ex. 5c

B 7

etc.

George Colligan is a pianist and composer who has worked with Cassandra
Wilson, Buster Williams, Don Byron, Ravi Coltrane, and many others. Most
recently, he joined drummer Jack DeJohnettes new quintet. Colligan has appeared
on over 100 CDs, 19 of them as a leader. His latest release is Come Together
on the Sunnyside label. Colligan is Assistant Professor of Jazz Piano at the University of Manitoba. Jon Regen

More Online Get these links and more at keyboardmag.com/june2010

Audio examples of these


lessons on our site!
28

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

06.2010

Find out where McCoy


Tyners playing live.

Hear McCoy use these


techniques on a killer solo
rendition of Giant Steps.

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LESSONS

SUZANNE CIANI

On New Age Synth


Composer and synthesist Suzanne Ciani is a pioneer in electronic music.
She has released 15 albums, ten of them on her independent label Seventh
Wave. A five-time Grammy nominee in New Age music and a winner of
the Indie Award, her career has also spanned film and TV scoring,
notably the pop and pour sound for Coca Cola, created on a Buchla
modular synth. Jon Regen

Snow Crystals
A lot of my compositions are influenced by the idea of a sequencer, since in the early days I didnt use a keyboard to play the
Buchla synthesizer. Now when I play sequences on a keyboard, I just change the eighth-note figures to easily change meters. Im
using a Celeste-like sound here. The song Snow Crystals is all about patterns, and changing from a 5/4 pattern to one in 6/4
is very comfortable. You can hear this piece in full on my CD Silver Ship.


 4
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More Online Get these links and more at keyboardmag.com/june2010


 

 4  

 4  


Three more new age


synth lessons and full
 44


let ring

Audio and video of


Suzanne on the Buchla
modular synth.
30

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

06.2010

L.H.

audio examples.

Suzanne demos synths on


vintage Letterman and
3-2-1 Contact.

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2010 Bose Corporation. C_008610

RANDALL SLAVIN

COVER STORY

32

I wanted it to go somewhere new, reflects Alicia Keys about her hit album
The Element of Freedom, just minutes before bringing 20,000 hungry fans at
Newark, New Jerseys, Prudential Centre to their feet. I was listening to a lot of
different music, which is what I tend to do before I start an album. It was about
saying, What am I feeling? And what feels good to me?
What feels good to Alicia Keys is almost always a barometer of what listeners
gravitate to as well. In the decade since she broke out with her 12-times platinum,
and five-time Grammy Award-winning debut Songs in A Minor, the prodigious
pianist, singer, songwriter, actress, humanitarianand now virtual instrument
entrepreneurhas sold over 30,000,000 albums worldwide. Make no mistake,
thoughKeys is a fiercely devoted musician at her core, ready at a moments
notice to talk shop around a piano about her latest recorded discoveries, keyboard
acquisitions, and musical influences. On The Element of Freedom, Keys immediately recognizable, piano-centric, R&B-meets-pop panache is bathed in a retro
glow. Supple vocals meet analog filter sweeps, and Motown-worthy melodies are
updated with dirty, MPC-like drum grooves. Its a re-imagining of the soul sound
that has made her one of the most acclaimed artists of the last decade.
Continued
KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

06.2010

06.2010

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

33

COVER STORY
One of the most amazing things
about The Element of Freedom
is whats not on it. Is it true that
you didnt use a real piano, that
all the acoustic piano sounds
came from your Alicias Keys virtual piano plug-in?

Anthony Miller

ALICIAS KEYBOARDISTS
Ive been Alicias musical director since
the beginning, says Onree Gill. I started
with her in 2000, and have worked with
her ever since. Keys, Gill, and Anthony
Miller hold keyboard court behind three
different rigs.
Alicias playing a Yamaha C2 grand
piano with MIDI. The C2 drives the Alicias
Keys virtual piano, which she loves. The
engineer mikes the C2 as well, and decides
each night how much of each signal to use in
the house. Alicia also plays a Suzuki
Omnichord and a separate synth rack with
a Yamaha Motif ES6 and Minimoog
Voyager. She makes sure to have a digital
piano backstage to warm upusually a
Yamaha PF85.
Anthony Miller plays a Yamaha Motif
XS7 and XS8, along with a B-3 organ
chopped by L.A. supertech Ken Rich. Gill
also has a Motif XS7 and XS8 onstage.
Onree Gill
Says Gill, I can bring up different sounds on
different Motif faders: a piano here, some strings there. Its perfect for what I do. Gill
runs some drum and sample tracks on a Roland VS-2480 hard disk recorder. I
sequence in Pro Tools and Logic, then I transfer everything to the 2480. Its rock
solid for the road.

Believe it or not! That sound is so


incredible. Basically, we miked up
my piano, a Yamaha C3 Neo, in
my studio. We were able to sample the exact sound of my piano
that I love so much, and really get
all the dynamics of the way it
feels; the soft pedal, the reverberation when I hold it, the sound
when I hit it extremely hard,
when I hit it soft. . . . It was done
in such an incredible fashion that
now I dont have to mic my piano
every time. Obviously, as you
know, miking a piano, it depends
on the tone youre going for, and
sometimes you do a great job, but
sometimes youre like, Uh?
Sometimes it takes 30 minutes,
sometimes all afternoon. So to be able to turn it on and have it be just
like I want it? [Smiles.]

If youre a guitar or sax player, you can take your instrument with
you every night. But I find that even if I have the same piano, the hall
or the sound system changes, and I always feel a little bit behind the
8-ball. Do you feel better playing Alicias Keys for that reason?

Oh, yeah. Especially on stage, because I tried a lot of different keyboards,


and they were okay. But to have the sound that I love? Im really glad we
got to do it.
Was the impetus to create Alicias Keys the fact that you wanted to
take the sound of your home piano with you?

Yeah, thats where it began. Definitely. To take my sound with me,


wherever I went. On the road, or while Im working in the studio, because
you go to different studios and thats a whole other thing. Sometimes,
a given studios piano sounds great, sometimes it doesnt. Also, for people who might not have access to an acoustic piano, they can have the
sound of an acoustic piano.

If youre using Alicias Keys on the whole record, you get many different sounds out of it. There are times when it sounds like a Yamaha
CP70 electric grand, and times when it sounds like a full Yamaha S6
or C7 concert grand. Theres a lot of range there.

If you hear a CP70, its because we did use a real CP70 on the record. But
the sound of Alicias Keys does have a lot of range to it. Well even put effects
on it, you know? Well put guitar pedals on it, and it will sound totally crazy.
So you have that freedom to do many things.
The Element of Freedom is an amazing marriage of old and new sounds.
Sometimes an artist will go for an older, retro sound, and it sounds
forced. But this record sounds seamless. Talk a little bit about your conception for the albums sound design.

At the beginning of making this record, I really wanted to explore some


interesting combinations of sound and style. Take the PoliceI listen to
them a lot. Obviously, they have that kind of ska vibe to them, but then
they definitely still have a soulful thing, but then they still have a pop sensibility in terms of where the chord changes and melodies go. So I love that.

More Online Get these links and more at keyboardmag.com/june2010


See exclusive video of this
interview, in which Alicia
performs songs from The
Element of Freedom!
34

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

06.2010

Alicia discusses Alicias Keys


with Native Instruments.

Visit Alicias musical director


and keyboardist Onree Gill.

BREAKING THE RULES... AGAIN!


RULE #1 AN 88 NOTE WEIGHTED ACTION KEYBOARD MUST BE HEAVY
Weighing in at an unbelievable 24 lbs, the PX-3s scaled weighted hammer action redefines the stage
piano category. With an Ivory Touch matte key finish and the feel of this remarkable Tri-Sensor action,
youll never believe that you can carry the PX-3 under one arm.

RULE #2 IT MUST BE EXPENSIVE


The PX-3 offers four layer dynamic stereo piano samples, editable sounds, insert effects, a backlit
LCD and more. It only sounds like it costs thousands.

RULE #3 A STAGE PIANO CANT CONTROL OTHER GEAR


The PX-3 allows for 4 simultaneous sounds. These can come from the PX-3s great sound engine,
an external MIDI device or both at the same time. Use it on stage or in the studio with your computer,
the class-compliant USB MIDI interface works seamlessly on any Mac or PC.

RULES WERE MEANT TO BE BROKEN


The Privia PX-3 breaks all of the rules and more by delivering an extremely lightweight, high
performance, 88 note weighted action stage piano and controller at a price that is an absolute steal.

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT WWW.PRIVIAPIANO.COM

2010 CASIO AMERICA, INC.

COVER STORY
Second, I was really into Genesis, because
I just loved the darkness of it, and the way they
experimented with drum machines, but also
with live drums, and how they crossed between
the two. Some songs start out really dark, like
Mama, but then the choruses would just open
up. I really wanted to understand what that
was about.
Third, I listened to a lot of Fleetwood Mac.
That was because one of my closest friends
invited me to see them for her birthday. At
first, I was like, Sure. [Rolls her eyes.] Everybody was singing along to every word, and
I was the only one who didnt know the
words. I felt a little embarrassed. But it was
cool, because it opened me up to a whole
other sound, and drum style, and group. Of
course I knew their big songseverybody does.
But to go deeper in, like the Tusk album . . .

that was the one that I really went back and


zoned on.
So, those were the kinds of things I was listening to, and I did start concentrating a lot on
the songwriting style, and that influenced the
chords I would use, and the way I wanted the
choruses to be. It was about just opening up the
flow. I knew I wanted to experiment, and plus,
I was in my studio collecting tons of keyboards.
My engineer, Ann Mincieli, is a collection addict.
So, shed be like, I saw this new. . . .

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top musicians and producers everywhere.

A little eBay action?

Yes! She gets on eBay and says, Oh, I saw this


Roland Jupiter-8 youd think is crazy. You should
check it out. That was really fly, because I knew
I was searching for a new sound. So I was able to
experiment a lot with Moogs, and different oscillator-based keyboards, and in terms of the creative flow, it was just fun.
And then theres a kind of Roland TR-808
drum vibe as well. It seems like there was an
amazing willingness to say, Hey, lets see
what this sounds like!

Oh my goshits so much fun. I think I was


just able to bring what we started with [2007
album] As I Am to the next level. On As I
Am, Id say we definitely did more with electric pianosa lot of Wurly and Rhodes. We
even did harpsichords and things like that,
but wed put crazy effects on them, just
to take it to a new place. Now, I kind of
pushed that to the next place, going into
more of the vintage keyboard, drum
machine style.

CPdadb"

The bass is back. A limited edition


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You seem pretty fearless when it


comes to different keys. Youre
in Db on one song, then F on
the next, then G. Are you
deliberately starting songs in
certain keys?

I
A
TS
U
Y

36

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

06.2010

Thats cool. Thank you. Im not


so deliberate with thatI think I
kind of find my way into the key
more. Like with Thats How
Strong My Love Is, that started
in a different key. And then as Im
singing it, and Im flowing with
it, I go, Hmm, hmm. [Sings and
raises her pitch.] So I took it up a
half-step, and Im like What does
[another] half-step feel like?
And then Im like, Hmm. So

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COVER STORY

ALICIAS KEYS
The Element of Freedom features
Keys personal acoustic grand, the
Yamaha C3 Neobut in sampled
form for her new signature virtual
piano plug-in, Alicias Keys. All the
acoustic piano sounds on the album
are from Alicias Keys, she says.
The sound is just incredible.
Featuring nearly 3,000 samples in
12 velocity layers, Alicias Keys captures the sinewy piano sound that
helped rocket Keys to worldwide
acclaim. See our full review on
page 60.

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06.2010

a lot of times, the playing is about how it feels


when Im singing.
So it may not end up where it started.

Usually it wont end up where it started. Then, by


the time Im on the road, and Im doing 30something songs a nightthen Im like, Why
did I write that song so high? Because
[laughs], I beat myself up all the time, like,
What were you thinking? All the way up
there? Come down!
Are there some piano players that were instrumental to you when you were learning to play
and coming up with your own concept?

Well, Nina Simone has always been a huge


influence on me, because I think shes probably one of the baddest piano players that ever
existed, period. Period, end of story! She could
play probably every dude under the table, in a
heartbeat. And I think shes just special. She
has this mixture about her, between studying
classical, and jazz, and also the intensity that
she has about herher life, and the very intense
era she lived in, which makes her writing style
very deep. So I love her a lot.
I listen to Herbie Hancock. Hes incredible,
and a very special guy too. Hes been in the business for so long, and he just loves it. He loves it

JN670
2010 B & H Foto & Electronics Corp.

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COVER STORY
purely, and its such a beautiful thing to see someone love it like that. He was also generous enough
to play my plug-in and test it out. He had some
great comments, and he loved it, too!
Growing up, I really admired Brian McKnights

piano playing, too. Because I think that he just has


something in him as well, and I love the way his
melodies and piano playing were so beautiful.
Donny Hathaway. Like, major, zone, stonecold, rude, killer!

Of course, theres Stevie Wonder, because


we cant even leave him out. It doesnt even make
sensethe chords he plays! Nobody plays chords
like he plays them, so you probably might as
well just not try!

Alicia Keys engineer Ann Mincieli with (left to


right) Oberheim OB-8 synth atop Yamaha CP70
electric grand piano, rare Hofner bass, and
Fender Rhodes Piano Bass atop the rare ARP
Electric Piano. Her left hand rests on a Gibson
EH-150, one of the first guitar amps ever made.

THE ELEMENT OF GEAR


Ann Mincieli on recording Alicia Keys new album
The concept of every Alicia Keys album is to marry new sounds
with old ones. Alicia always wants to be retro-futuristicshe has
an amazing collection of gear, and lets me scour the earth looking
for new toys.
Between As I Am and The Element of Freedom, we designed her
signature Alicias Keys piano plug-in. [See page 60 for our full review.
Ed.] We also built an incredible arsenal of drum samples. I hired
drummers, bought and rented drum kits, and spent days sampling
and mapping in NI Battery. I also roamed the world trading producers sounds. Almost every drum sample on The Element of Freedom
came from libraries we built and collected. Alicia has bought some
very exotic drum kits throughout the years; this time, we bought a
1970 Ludwig red sparkle drum kit, a 1960 Rogers exotic kick drum,
four toms, (including a 16" x 16" floor tom with beater), and 6" x 8"
bongos.
We also purchased nine rare drum machines, which we sampled via Pro Tools and 2" tape. These included a Linn LM-1 (serial
#25, made by Roger Linn himself), Roland TR-808, TR-909, CR78, and CR-8000, a LinnDrum 2, and an Oberheim DMX. You hear

40

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

06.2010

a lot of these on the album, which includes programmed drums


over live ones. Alicia is an incredible producer who can program
drums better than anyone!
The Element of Freedom has a lot of synths: Prophets, Moogs,
Roland Junos, the Yamaha CP70 electric grand, and many others. We
also used a lot of vintage guitars and ampseverything from Carol
Kayes Versatone bass amp, to one of the first 1950s Hofner violin
basses. Alicia owns two from 56 and 57Paul McCartney doesnt
even have those!
Alicia owns her own facility, Oven Studios, and its like a candy
store of gear! I have about 80 of the most vintage guitar pedals,
40 of the rarest guitars, and a huge collection of guitar amps. We
use the amps and pedals on everything from guitar to keyboards
to vocals.
Im already preparing for Alicias next album. I found an old Rheem
keyboard from 1967 that has a double-octave bass. Im also making new
drum samples, and reworking her whole virtual synth rig. For the next
album, Im going to take all of the gear we used on this one and hide it
away to push her to try new things!

SOLUTIONS
Steal This Sound

Robert Palmers
ADDICTED TO LOVE
Who could forget the suit-and-tie clad Robert Palmer surrounded by
a band of five vapid models obviously only pretending to play? Considering the small fortunes spent on videos then, Addicted to Love
was cheap, simple, and used the oldest trick in the book: hot girls in
slinky dresses. It didnt hurt that Addicted was a seriously catchy

tune featuring big n brassy synth stabs. This month well create our own
beefy analog stabs on hardware and software synths: the Alesis Ion and
Native Instruments Massive. You can make this patch on just about any
analog or virtual analog synth that has two (or better, three)oscillators. Follow the steps and you too will be Addicted to Love. Mitchell Sigman

Step 1. Set all available oscillators to pulse waves.


Step 2.

Set the oscillators an octave apart; if you have three oscs, put two at the same pitch and the third an octave
up. Detune all oscillators enough to hear some chorusing, but not enough to sound audibly out of tune.

Step 3. For tonal motion, route an envelope generator (usually the one that controls the filter) to control the pulse width
of the oscillator waves. Set attack around 100ms, decay at 300ms, sustain to medium, and release off. These dont need to
be exact, so dont worry if your synth doesnt show times.

Step 4. Using a lowpass filter, set the cutoff frequency relatively low, then turn up the envelope amount knob so that
the envelope you set in Step 3 controls the cutoff. You may need to experiment, but we want it to sound like a brass section.

Step 5. Set the volume envelope similar to the filter: attack around 100ms, decay at 300ms, sustain full up, and release
off. Make sure the attack isnt too fast, as it takes time to blow air through a real horn.

Step 6. Add a thick, juicy chorus effect either


from the synth itself, or as an insert effect in your DAWs
channel strip.

42

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

06.2010

More Online

Get these links and more at


keyboardmag.com/june2010
Hear audio
examples and
read extended
notes on synth
tweaking.

Have NI Massive?
Download the
authors Addicted
patch!

SOLUTIONS
Dance

REAL-WORLD AMBIENCES
Killer synth riffs and slammin drums are key components of dance tracks, but if you want fans to wonder, How was that sound created?
you can get a lot of mileage from adding ambiences. Not as in Brian Eno washy drones, but Foley-type ambiences like in professional sound
effects libraries. By taking natural sounds like forests and jungles, or industrial sounds like construction sites, you can add a layer of organic
content that will give your tracks a truly unique sound. Francis Preve

1. On a Mac, theres a smattering of real-world ambiences in GarageBands sound effects library. Click on the Podcast icon in the
loop browser, select a sound from the ambience category, add it to a GB track, and render the result. Another great resource for free
ambiences is hollywoodedge.com. From the main page, click on Free Sound Effects in the menu bar (free registration required).

2. Drag this sound effect into a new track in your latest electronic opus, as
Ive done here in Ableton Live. In our online audio, we put the loop over a
simple four-on-the-floor kick, so you can hear exactly whats going on.

3. With your ambience clip and drums in place,


begin auditioning one-measure bits of the clip. Each
single-bar segment has its own distinct rhythmic character. Spend some time finding one that really revs
your engine, not just audio filler.

4. Once youve got a loop that grooves,


get creative with tempo-synced effects.
Filters and auto-panners are good, as
are flangers and phasers. In our audio
example, I added a touch of eighth-note
LFO filtering to give it a bouncy wobble.

44

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

5. As an alternative to LFO-based effects, tinker with the volume envelope for the loop.
By gating the loop rhythmically, you can create syncopated riffs with your ambience that
would be nearly impossible to achieve any other way.

06.2010

Dynamic V.A.S.T. Engine


So powerful, it can combine up to 32 layers
of spectacular samples, KVA Oscillators,
and Filters in every preset program.

Cascade Mode
The Kurzweil PC3x is truly the ultimate gig machine.
For versatility and realism, its sounds slam the balls
out of the park and into the next county.
Stephen Fortner
Keyboard Magazine

Each layer in a program can be routed through the


DSP of any other layer, in series or blended together,
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GEAR

Roland
V-COMBO VR-700
What gigging keyboardist doesnt want it all? The B-3 and Leslie, the
Rhodes, Wurly, and Clav, the rich grand piano such is the stuff of rigrelated dreams. If such a pile of heavy, expensive goodness isnt in the
cards, check out one of the latest archetypes of todays keyboards: the allin-one stage piano-slash-clonewheel organ. Rolands V-Combo VR-700
is a light and powerful 76-key instrument that combines physical organ
drawbars with the companys tonewheel modeling technology, and throws
in strong piano, EP, synth, and other non-organ sounds to boot.

Appearance, Controls,
and Sounds
Roland went with a simple and classy designa wise choice, given the
wide variety of contexts in which the instrument will no doubt be used.
Given its dark earth-tone colors and dashboard layout, the V-Combo
looks more like a clean, classy church organ than a spaceship console, a
vibe that makes it appropriate for nightclubs, wedding receptions in hotel
ballrooms, and houses of worship alike.
Roland does a great job of making the instrument non-intimidating,
simple to learn, and easy to navigate on stage. The crown jewels are its
nine drawbars, which feel like home for anyone familiar with a Hammond organ. Push and pull the drawbars, slap on the Rotary Sound
controls, dial up some reverb, and youre ready to rock.
46

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

06.2010

by Michael Gallant

Its very quick and easy to split and layer the keyboard, with up to
three different Organ parts and two different Ensemble (non-organ) parts.
Want to lay down some organ pads in the left hand and play piano melodies
in the right? Hit the Split button, set your drawbars, dial up the piano of
your choice (theyre all expressive and resonantno surprise, considering they come from Rolands stellar RD-700 stage piano technology), and
youre good to go in the time it takes for the applause to die down between
tunes. One cool layering trick involves putting organ and synth brass
together and using the dedicated red Ensemble Volume drawbar: Push
the drawbar all the way in, start playing a high organ line, and gradually
pull it out as you play for some instant 80s excitement. Once youve gotten your tones, splits, and layers locked in, its easy to assign them to the
Favorite buttons for easy recall mid-gig or mid-song.
To expand the V-Combo for a full console organ experience, optional
pedalboards such as Rolands PK-7A let you kick bass via the dedicated
MIDI pedal in, plus theres another MIDI in for hooking up a controller
to act as a lower manual. Since theres only one set of drawbars, you use
buttons in the Harmonic Bar section to switch which parts sounds youre
tweaking: upper, lower, or pedal.
Whether I was jamming on a Wurly EP sound or cranking up the reverb
on strings, I found the V-Combos Ensemble section, electric pianos in particular, to be varied and inspiring. Nearly each one I played gave me an idea

With optional KS-G8 stand and PK-7A


These buttons make the joystick do pitchbend

pedalboard. The PK-7A includes an expression

and modulation, or control organ settings such

pedal with left and right toe-kick switches for

as rotary speed.

switching rotary speeds and other functions.

for a melody or groove I wanted to expand on. As the V-Combo is mainly a


stage keyboard, players used to editing and customizing their sounds may be
disappointed by the limited amount of Ensemble tweaking thats provided.
Other than adjusting the type and intensity of the Reverb and dialing in the
amount of one factory-assigned effect per sound (sympathetic resonance
on pianos, for example), you cant edit the Ensemble tones. The sounds are
quite strong to begin with, though, and while you only get two Clavinets,

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keyboardmag.com/june2010
Editor Stephen
Fortner tries the
V-Combo for the
first time.

Shredding demo
performance from
Jordan Rudess.

the Effect Control section can add a cool phaser to one and a Higher Ground
style auto-wah to the other. Most gigging players wont need deeper editing, but if youre the type to build every one of your non-organ patches from
the oscillators up, youll want a more traditional synth or workstation.

In Use
Two minutes out of the box, the V-Combo made me forget that I wasnt
playing a vintage B-3 through a beer-stained Leslie. Given the immediate
tactile satisfaction of tweaking the drawbars, the easily accessible Leslie
parameters, and the perky, responsive keyboard, I was able to go deep after
just a brief get to know you phase. Palm-swipe glissandi felt smooth and
natural. Editor Stephen Fortner commented, Like the Roland VK-8s keyboard, the V-Combos is quiet, with a nice deadness as the keys bottom
out. If your technique includes pyrotechnics like palm smears or key-slapping, the clack factor is less than on other clonewheels Ive played.
06.2010

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

47

GEAR

Specifications
Organ sounds are vivid, gutsy, and highly playable. Physical drawbars,
knobs, and buttons provide an authentic playing experience. Easy to
learn and navigate on the fly. Organ and rotary section are deeply
tweakable. Non-organ sounds, especially acoustic and electric pianos, dont cut
corners. Lightweight.
Cant route non-organ sounds through rotary simulator. Ensemble
tones have limited editing. More aggressive lead synth sounds
would be nice.

With a wave of your hand, Rolands D-Beam affects pitch, filter, or volume on Ensemble tones. On organ, it can do ring modulation, wheel
break, and simulate kicking a spring reverb.

For another opinion, I asked former touring rocker and current church
organist Gary Frank Scaggs to give the V-Combo a try. My first impression is that it sounds and feels so nice that I want to continue playing, and
I havent really experienced that with a digital keyboard before, said Gary,
whose vintage B-3 is his primary church instrument. The drawbars feel
good. Going by feel, I didnt notice themthats a compliment. Gary also
pointed out how strong the rotary sound of the V-Combo is: It doesnt
just sound jiggly, he said, and I agree. I found the rotary simulation particularly tasty when playing some Chester Thompson-inspired funk.
Rolands D-Beam shines in the V-Combo. I had a blast turning up the
gain on the Rotary Sound control, setting the D-Beam to do ring modulation, and theremin-ing it up with my left hand while hammering out tightlyvoiced, upper-register chords with my right; the result sounded like a
wonderfully demented intersection of DJ scratching and percussive organ
slapping. To add a unique visual aspect to your performance, and stretch
what an organ can usually do, the D-Beam is a wonderful tool.
While organ is the V-Combos highlight, the Ensemble sounds are
nothing to sneeze at. I stepped through the acoustic pianos while accompanying a singer on some Gabriel Faur art songs and was impressed by
the pianos depth and nuance, especially given that they were completely
exposed in this setting. I was also pleasantly surprised by how the keyboard reacted to my touch, and how I was able to breathe a good amount
of pianistic life and expression into my playing, more so than Im used
to with other semi-weighted (which might as well mean unweighted if
youre a serious pianist) keyboards. Building an action that works for
both organ and piano is no easy task, and I commend Roland for striking a workable middle ground.
The only area where I found the V-Combo lacking was gutsy synth
leads. As a big fan of Rolands V-Synth and AX-Synth distorted leads, I
was hoping to find at least a handful of similar tones in the V-Combo. If
the instrument let you run Ensemble sounds through the rotary simulator and crank up the drive to add some grit, it could cover the same territorybut this isnt the case.
At 35 pounds and change, the V-Combo is a featherweight champion. Setting it up in my studio was a breeze, as was throwing it into
my car. Among other thoughtful additions, Roland makes it easy for
you to tell the rotary speed in the dark, as the Slow/Fast button blinks
in sync with it. Finally, call me silly, but I really liked that Roland

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CONCEPT An all-in-one stage keyboard with a focus on tonewheel (i.e.,


Hammond B-3 and Leslie) organ sounds. The clonewheel section is modeled;
non-organ sounds are sample-based.
POLYPHONY Organ: full, like on most modeled clonewheels. Ensemble
(non-organ) sounds: 128 voices.
MULTITIMBRAL PARTS Organ: 3 (upper, lower, pedal). Ensemble: 2 at
once, which you can split and layer with organ sounds.
KEYBOARD 76 semi-weighted waterfall keys with velocity sensitivity, but
no aftertouch. As non-fully-weighted keyboards go, its much more playable,
responsive, and satisfying than we expected.
ORGAN VARIATIONS/EDITING 4 tonewheel models, 5 amp types with
tube overdrive. Harmonic percussion slow, fast, and recharge times. High
and low rotor slow, fast, and speed-up/slow-down times.
NON-ORGAN SOUNDS 65 tones, 5 rhythm sets, 256 GM2 tones, 9
GM2 rhythm sets.
PLAYER SECTION 51 internal rhythm patterns. Playback of WAV, AIFF,
MP3, or SMF backing tracks from USB stick.

W x D x H 49-5/8" x 15-9/16" x 5-1/16".


WEIGHT 35 lbs., 5 oz.
List: $2,329
Street: Approx. $2,000

rolandus.com
included a sturdy wire music stand that you can install in 30 seconds without a screwdriver.

Conclusions
In their quest to design an all-in-one stage keyboard, Roland has slayed
the proverbial dragon. While Id hesitate to take the V-Combo out on a
straight-ahead jazz piano gig, or anything that requires an intensely
nuanced piano touch, the V-Combo is currently my top call for rock, pop,
R&B, and whatever else requires an authentic organ performance alongside broader tonal variation. Flexibility, portability, and an impressively
vibrant and versatile organ are the keys here, and for players who need
all that, the V-Combo is an excellent choice.

GEAR

Akai Professional
MINIAK
At first glance, the Akai MiniAK looks like a compact performance
synth with few frills. Its three-octave velocity-sensitive keyboard, pitch
and mod wheels, three assignable knobs, and gooseneck mic for singing
into the onboard vocoder, are just the thing for playing solos, bass lines,
pads, and fills at live gigs or in the studio. But appearances can be deceiving. Under the MiniAKs hood lies a full-blown virtual analog synth thats
capable of producing up to eight voices with three oscillators each. Each
voice can be its own multitimbral part if you prefer. You get two multimode filters, three ADSR envelopes, two LFOs, linear and exponential
FM capabilities, a ring modulator, and stereo effects including a 40-band
vocoder. Theres also a step and pattern sequencer, an arpeggiator, and a
drum machine. Oh, and lots of preset sounds600 of them. This gives
you a lot of musicmaking power in a deceptively small package.

Sounds
Bass, lead, pad, string, brass, comp, keys, drum, vocoder/special FX . . .
the MiniAKs sounds are organized in nine self-explanatory categories.
Though sounds cover all the basesorgans, electric pianos, Clavs, chimes,
and yes, synthsthere are no samples. Everything is analog modeling.
Even its drum sounds are created using analog-like synthesis techniques,
so many have a TR-808 or TR-909 feel. A few distortion-enhanced kicks
and snares evoke a Nine Inch Nails industrial vibe.
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by Dominic Milano
A number of programs have names that keyboard cognoscenti will
recognize: Seven Days, Lucky Porta, and WontGetFooled, for example, are dead-on covers of sounds from Jan Hammers The First Seven
Days, Keith Emersons Lucky Man solo, and the pulsing, filtered organ
of the Whos Wont Get Fooled Again.
Many of the factory presets have a wonderful ambient tone, thanks to
judiciously applied onboard DSP effects. In addition, the performance
controlsboth mod wheels as well as the three assignable knobsusually take the sounds in new, expressive directions. For example, by opening up the filter cutoff, dialing in resonance, adding vibrato, or giving the
tone added grit via overdrive, and so on.

Synth Engine and Effects


The MiniAKs voice architecture will be familiar if youre an Alesis ION
or Micron player, as the MiniAK is a direct descendent. As such, its programs are compatible with both Alesis machines. The MiniAK is also
reminiscent of various classic analog synths: the Minimoog, ARP Odyssey,
Prophet-5, and so on. It also incorporates a few useful enhancements.
For example, one of the three envelopes can modulate oscillator
pitch. Theres also a ring modulator between two of the oscillators, and
various types of frequency modulation. Linear FM does classic FM synthesis a la Yamaha DX7, whereas exponential FM modulates the pitch

Select a parameter with the Data dial, hold it down,


then wiggle whichever of these three knobs you
want to control it.

Pressing keyboard keys while holding down the Data dial


jumps the LCD to often-tweaked parameter groups.

You can process external audio


through the MiniAks synth engine, either
via the included vocoder mic or the 1/4" balanced
inputs around back.

of an oscillator and can be used for drastic frequency-shift effects spanning up to 12 octaves.
Both hard and soft oscillator sync between various combinations of the three oscillators are available. Oscillator sync was
made popular by analog classics such as the Oberheim SEM and the
Sequential Prophet-5, and famously used by new wave bands such as
the Cars.

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keyboardmag.com/june2010
Download free
demos of Bizunes
MiniAK software
editors.

Audio examples of
the authors
favorite MiniAK
sounds.

Available oscillator waveforms are sine, triangle, sawtooth, and pulse.


A waveshaping parameter bends those waveforms. This causes sines to
deform, triangles to morph into positive- or negative-going sawtooth
waves, and the width of pulse waves to change. Theres even an oscillator
drift parameter to simulate varying degrees of analog instability.
Each of two filters can operate in any of 18 modes, which range from
four-pole lowpass (for a Moog-like sound) to two-pole lowpass (like
the Oberheim OB series), three-pole lowpass (think Roland TB-303 acid
bass lines), to bandpass and highpass variations, as well as three vocal
formant filter modes and a comb filter mode. Two modes are unique
to the MiniAK, including an eight-pole lowpass that yields an extremely
deep cutoff, and a five-band formant filter mode thats based on an idealized human vocal tract.
Two mixers in the signal chain (pre- and post-filter) let you adjust
the relative volume of each oscillator, and you can insert various mod06.2010

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

51

GEAR

Specifications
Lots of usable sounds. Cool acid-house analog grooves. Compact and
lightweight. Manual provides context that explains what features are
useful for.
Programming UI is challenging. Only available software editor is
third-party and PC only. No USB MIDI. Cant record audio loops
for automated control of the vocoder.

CONCEPT Performance synth with modeled analog sound, built-in rhythm patterns, sequencer, and vocoder.
POLYPHONY 8 voices.
OSCILLATORS PER VOICE 3, each with continuously variable waveforms.
FILTERS PER VOICE 2, both resonant and multimode.
MULTITIMBRAL PARTS Up to 8.
HOW ANALOG DOES IT SOUND? Some of the programs are spot-on
recreations of classic synth sounds, others evoke analog-ness but could
use more oscillator drift, which you can add.
Bzunes Windows-only MiniAK MIDI Suite consists of Minizune (right),
a software editor you can run standalone or as a VST plug-in, and

W x D x H 22.8" x 10.8" x 3.3".


WEIGHT 12 lbs.

Groove-Mod (left) for visual control of the MiniAKs virtual analog drum
machine. The apps are $33 each or $50 as a bundle.

eled effects, including compression, limiting, tube overdrive, distortion, tube amp warmth, or a fuzz pedal effect at the output stage of
the signal chain.
The MiniAK includes a bevy of pitch, delay, and reverb effects, any
two of which you can use on a given program. Pitch-based effects include
chorus, theta flanging (a combination of phasing and flanging), thruzero flanging (emulated classic tape flanging), and a 14-stage phaser that
gives you that vintage analog string machine sound. The time-based
effects range from mono and stereo delays to hall and plate reverbs.
Then theres the 40-band vocoder. A number of parameters help you
dial in the effect youre after, including the ability to increase or reduce
sibilant frequencies to improve the intelligibility of words. This is handy
when the sound youre after is less Kraftwerks Trans-Europe Express
and more Clockwork Orange.

Programming
My first reaction to programming the MiniAK was that it could really
use a software editor. One does exist, as part of the third-party MiniAK
MIDI Suite from Bzune (see above). On the MiniAK itself, a backlit LCD
display and a single Data dial, along with the keyboard and three realtime knobs, are the only ways to access its powerful synth engine. The
Data dial serves multiple functionsturning it scrolls through programs,
sequences, rhythms, and Multis. Pushing it in lets you step through voice
editing settings; push it again to edit the chosen parameter. Making tweaks
one at a time in this manner is anything but fast and intuitive.
Fortunately, holding down the Programs button then pressing a white
key above middle G# lets you jump to often-used parameters while using
the Data knob to make changes. Better still, if you wiggle one of the assignable knobs while pressing and holding the Data knob, it maps the assignable knob to whatever parameter is currently up in the LCD. With a bit
of practice, you can customize the MiniAK for a bit more on-the-fly
sound sculpting.

52

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06.2010

List: $699
Street: Approx. $500

akaipro.com

Multis, Sequences, and Rhythms


You wouldnt think youd want to layer too many programs across a
three-octave keyboard, but its surprising how much sound you can
pack into 37 notes. Controlling the MiniAK over MIDI opens things
up, especially when playing sounds that cover more real estateorgans
and electric pianos, for example.
Multis can contain programs, rhythms, and sequences, which the
MiniAK comes packed with. Most of the built-in rhythms are house, acid,
and trance-oriented. The sequences are simple patterns you trigger with
a single key pressdifferent keys change the patterns musical key. A tap
tempo button lets you change playback speed on the fly. Usually, the mod
wheel adds a filter sweep or other appropriate club-music nuance.
The factory Multis take those same dance-flavored sensibilities to another
level by combining rhythms, pattern sequences or arpeggios, and synth
sounds. Programming sequences or patterns is like using a step sequencer
thats always in 4/4. To get odd meters, you treat 4/4 like 1/4. Shuffle and
swing feels are produced by dividing the beat into 12 or 24 steps.

Conclusions
The MiniAK packs a lot of punch into a compact package thatd be at
home at a gig or in the studio. DJs will find plenty to like in its acid-house
grooves, while prog rockers will have a blast riffing with the classic synth
sounds. The vocoder and formant filters bring vocal articulation to the
virtual analog signal, and of course, let you do those guilty-pleasure robot
voices. Anyone serious about programming their own rhythms and sounds
should check out the MiniAK MIDI Suite software from Bzune, but if
youre looking for a portable, self-contained keyboard to cover all the
bases you want to sound like a synthesizer, the MiniAK delivers the
goodsand then some.

GEAR

Livid Instruments
OHM64
Grid controllers are taking off. For musicians and DJs who trigger
audio or video clips, a grid of backlit buttons makes more sense than a
traditional keyboard. Plus, the blinky lights add to the stage show.
The Yamaha Tenori-On looks like a grid controller, but its actually a
self-contained musical instrument. Closer to the dreams of experimental electronic musicians is the Monome, a bare box of buttons.
Livids Ohm64 aims to go further than the Monome in giving you
hands-on control over your music. Its 8 x 8 button grid is supplemented
by 16 knobs, eight sliders, a DJ crossfader, and 17 extra off the grid buttons that you can tap to trigger special events. The knobs and sliders feel
solid and move smoothly. Livid also makes the less expensive Block ($399),
which pairs an 8 x 8 button grid with eight smaller knobs and only
two sliders.

Controlling Your Software


The Ohm64 transmits MIDI dataeither note info or controller
messages. What you do with the data is entirely up to you. Unlike
most keyboard-based MIDI controllers, the Ohm64 has no onboard
smarts, not even an LCD or a bank of preset memory locations. To
program it, you run the free Ohm64 Editor software (see page 55).
This is not a limitation, however, because the Ohm64 will always be
tethered to a computer by a USB cableit runs on USB power only,
54

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

06.2010

by Jim Aikin
and doesnt even have an AC adaptor jack.
The best way to take advantage of the Ohm64s strengths is to use it
with a program such as Ableton Live or Cycling 74 Max/MSP. By assigning each button to trigger a different clip in Live, you gain tactile control
over a whole bank of clipsyoull want to assign the horizontal slider to
Lives crossfader. With Max or Pd (PureData, an open-source programming language popular with electronic music DIYers), you can go much,
much further. For instance, you can change the knob and slider assignments on the fly while the music plays. If you have Max For Live, so much
the better.
Livid just released an Ohm64 template for Propellerhead Reason. The
Ohm64 is also widely used with NI Traktor and with trackers such as
Renoise. Arkaos Grand VJ ships with an Ohm64 template. The LividStep
sequencer for Max For Live is available as a free download from Livids
website.
When you buy an Ohm64, you get a free copy of Livids Cell DNA
video software, which otherwise sells for $149. For live shows, you may
find this extremely useful, as it lets you trigger video clips directly from
the Ohm. Installing the Ohm64 in my Windows 7 system was a no-brainer.
The Ohm64 is USB class-compliant on Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux,
which means theres no driverI plugged it in, Windows recognized it,
and I was ready to go.

The sliders are long-throw,


with about 2.25" of travel.

The knobs arent endless; they pin at five and seven oclock. None of
the knobs or sliders has a center detent, which makes them great for
smooth moves like filter sweeps but less so for things with a home
value, like pitchbend.

Buttons and Sliders


Whats not to like about a big bank of buttons? Well, maybe one or two
things. The limitation of the Ohm64s buttons is that they dont sense finger velocity. Hitting a button transmits a note-on with a velocity of 64,
and releasing the button sends a note-off. Theres no toggle mode in which
tapping a button once sends a note-on and tapping it again sends the corresponding note-off. The absence of velocity sensing is no big deal if you
primarily trigger clips in Live, but drum machine programmers may find
it less desirable.
If youre running Max or Pd, you can easily set up a patch in which
one of the Ohms sliders changes the velocities of subsequent notes. A
toggle mode would be almost as easy to program, as would more complex logic. For instance, you could set up a row of buttons so that seven
of them send note-ons when pressed, but never send note-offs, while the
eighth button does send note-offs for the other seven.
Itd be impossible for the Livid crew to imagine all the things users
may want to do with the Ohm, so it makes sense that they leave it up to
you to design your own software. But I cant help wishing the button grid
had a bit more onboard smartsfor example, if you want a button to light
up, you have to send it a MIDI message from the computer.
The good news is, the Ohm doesnt enforce any sort of rigid correlation between your fingers and the lights. You could set up a Max patch
that would light a given button automatically to indicate that the button
is armed and ready for a finger-tap. Or you could have the lights
step across the rows in time with a multi-row step sequencer, with

The Ohm64 Editor (Mac/PC) lets you assign each button outgoing and
incoming MIDI messages: either notes or controllers. The pop-up edit
window follows you around when you click on a graphic object, or trigger that object on the Ohm64 itself.

each row moving at a different speed. The bad news is, extra programming will usually be needed to get the buttons to light up. One exception
is that if youve assigned buttons to trigger clips in Ableton Live, Live will
transmit the corresponding MIDI notes back to the Ohm automatically,
to show which clips are playing.
All the hardware controls transmit on the same MIDI channel. If you

More Online Get these links and more at keyboardmag.com/june2010

Wiki with everything you


need to know about Livid
controllers.

Use Reason? Download


the Ohm64 template.
06.2010

Video tutorials from


LividTV.
KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

55

GEAR

Specifications

want to set up split or layered zones and transmit on several channels,


youll need some kind of software to process the Ohms MIDI output
or to simply handle your channelizing and zoning on the receiving end,
which most DAWs and multitimbral soft synths do these days.
Speaking of MIDI, the Ohm64 also has MIDI in and out jacks. You
can use the Ohm as a MIDI interface to your computer, or control hardware modules directly from its panel.

Combines a button grid with knobs and sliders. Horizontal crossfade


slider. Attractive wooden body.

Buttons arent velocity sensitive, so use as drum pads is limited.


No onboard preset memory. Slider and knob MIDI output is 7-bit,
not 14-bit.

Programming
In the Ohm64 Editor you choose either a note or controller message for
each button; for knobs and sliders, you choose a controller or pitchbend.
The MIDI inputs that light the buttons are normally the same as the outputs, but they dont have to be. By switching off Safe Assign mode, you
can assign any number of buttons to the same MIDI note if you want. A
minor bug in version 1.07 causes the drop-down menu for each buttons
output to always display note, even after youve switched that button
to controller.
Other Editor commands let you view incoming MIDI messages, view
a list of all current MIDI assignments, send the current state of the Editor
to the Ohm, store it in the Ohms flash memory, and so on. For complex
reconfiguration of the Ohm in performance, you can delve into its MIDI
sys-ex implementation, which is documented on the Ohm64 Wiki at
wiki.lividinstruments.com. No printed manual is shipped with the Ohm.
You can easily save and load various preset configurations using
the software, but only one preset can reside in the Ohm64 at a given

56

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

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CONCEPT Highly programmable MIDI controller meant for DJs, VJs, and electronic/experimental music performers.
CONNECTIONS USB plus 5-pin MIDI in and out jacks.
POWER SUPPLY USB only.
W x D x H 17.5" x 10.5" x 2".
WEIGHT 6.5 lbs.

List: $599

lividinstruments.com

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time; to switch presets, you need the Editor
software. In Windows, this is a problem, as
its not possible to run the Editor at the same
time as your DAW. You have to program the
Ohm first, then quit the Editor and launch
the DAW. In Mac OS X, the two programs can
both run at once.

Conclusions
The Ohm64 will appeal to you if you perform
with Max/MSP, Live, Grand VJ, or other interactive softwareand especially if youre solidly
in the DIY camp of customizing your setup by
programming your own control assignments.
Thanks to the knobs and sliders, its far more
capable than buttons-only grid controllers, and
far more flexible than controllers whose functionality is married to a particular app such as
Live. Its well-constructed, the price is reasonable, and the bright blue lights are bound to look
sexy onstage. Before I send back the review unit,
Ill try programming some realtime interactive
algorithms using QuteCsound. There may be
some interesting possibilities there. . . .

The main competition for the Ohm64 comes from the Novation Launchpad and the Akai
APC20 and APC40. The APC40 (reviewed Sept. 09) is in the same price range as the
Ohm64. What these devices do that the Ohm64 doesnt is automatically light up the
buttons that correspond to loaded clips. The Ohm lights buttons when clips are playing,
but doesnt use different colors to show you which slots have loaded clips, and wont
page across from one bank of slots to another.
The Launchpads backlit buttons have three colors and three brightness levels each,
but the Launchpad has no knobs or sliders. Columns of buttons can act as faders in
Mixer mode, but of course you only get eight levels from full-on to full-off. The Launchpad sends and receives standard MIDI note-ons and -offs, and these are documented,
so it can easily be used with other software.
The APC20 and APC40 are dedicated to Ableton Live. Though they send MIDI messages that, in theory, let you use them with other software, these messages are neither
documented nor user-configurable. The APC20s grid of clip launch buttons is only 8 x
5, but it can page through a larger Live set, as can the APC40.
Sadly, you cant play Scrabble on any of them.

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Native Instruments
ALICIAS KEYS
The sound of Alicia Keys piano, which is by turns lush and assertive,
is all over her hit records. Working closely with renowned keyboard
soundware developer Thomas Skarbye (better known as Scarbee),
not to mention Alicia Keys herself, Native Instruments has captured
the magic of that sound in Alicias Keys. Being that its one piano loved
by one artist, this new sampled grand isnt perfect for every style of
music, but it has some strong features and a great tone, not to mention a modest price. It uses NIs Kontakt Player 4 plug-in software,
which is included.
The piano in Keys studio is a Yamaha C3 in the limited edition Neo cabinetry. A C3 is a six-foot grand, so the low register is less full and deep than
on a nine-foot concert grand. Also, Yamaha pianos are known for their
bright, in-your-face sound, a characteristic thats preserved here, although
the hammers are somewhat subdued compared to those on my own C3 (not
a Neo) in my living room. My piano also has slightly stronger bass frequencies, but that may be because its sitting on a carpet rather than on a
recording studios hardwood floor, so more highs are getting absorbed.
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by Jim Aikin

The realistic features of the Alicias Keys piano are stunning. The velocity
response (reported to be 12 layers deep) makes it extremely playable. I never
felt that isolated notes were jumping out at me or getting buried. Also, every
range of the keyboard responds just as it should. The samples seem to be
full-length and streamed from diskthe instrument occupies almost 7GB
on my hard drive, though only 365MB of RAMso there are no looping
artifacts in the bass register, and the decay envelopes taper perfectly.
If you hold a few keys without the sustain pedal down, then strike
higher or lower keys staccato, youll hear sympathetic resonance. Press the
sustain pedal while holding a note or chord, and youll hear the dampers
open up. (In fact, youll hear them open up very quietly if you press
the sustain pedal while no notes are being held, just as you would on
a real piano.) The duplex strings, which are one of a grand pianos
two systems of acoustic reverb, seem to have been sampled separately, and you can control how long theyll ring before dying away.
Theyre less prominent than the duplex strings on my C3, however,
and their loudness is not controllable.

The pop-up Settings


box has five pages of
control governing
piano details such as
pedal behavior and
sympathetic resonance.

A convolution reverb is built in, with impulse responses for an auditorium, a concert hall, and a studio. The editable parameters are limited
to output level and room sizedont look for niceties like pre-delay. Theres
also a standard DSP reverb, which you may prefer if youre running a
slower computer. On my fast new Intel i5-equipped PC, the reverb didnt
eat up too much of the dual-core 2.67GHz CPU.
Even without any reverb, the pianos natural ambience is gorgeous.
The meticulous tuning contributes to the effect: Each of the unisons has
exactly the right amount of microscopic detuning, so the the tone choruses almost imperceptibly, just like on a real piano.
As noted, Alicias Keys isnt perfect. At first, on some keys at some velocities, I heard key-release samples that were too loud and too longbut see
below. This initially made it all but impossible to employ staccato chords.
Though there is a knob for key release decay time, there isnt one that
reduces the volumes of the release segments. If you have a full version of
NIs Kontakt 4 soft sampler, though, youll be able to edit the levels of the
release samples to taste. I checked whether the release segments responded
to MIDI note release velocity, as on a real piano, and found that they dont.
This is not surprising, since few MIDI controller keyboards transmit a
variable release velocityand even if yours does, Native Instruments recommends that you dont use release velocity with Alicias Keys.
When I reported these issues to Native Instruments, they explained
that Alicia Keys wanted the sound of her unique instrument captured
accurately, imperfections and all. But when I followed up by sending them
an MP3 audio clip that highlighted the inconsistent release times, sound
designer Thomas Skarbye responded immediately by updating the preset, and sending me a beta version of a new NKI file (a Kontakt Player
preset) to check out for myself. This version did indeed have more uniform release segments, and it should be available by the time you read
this. The releases in the bass register are still longer than Id prefer, but
theres no longer any problem playing staccato in the mid and upper registersand at any rate, the uniqueness of Alicias piano is part of the point.
For uptempo jazz comping or a crisp Latin piano montuno, I might
use a different virtual piano. But for a pop ballad, Alicias Keys would be
my first choice. It sounds both richer and more up-front than the Yamaha

More Online

Get these links and more at


keyboardmag.com/june2010

Alicia Keys talks


about Alicias
Keys on video.

Original audio
examples on our
site.

C7 or the German Steinway in Synthogy Ivory version 1.64. Executive


editor Stephen Fortner also got a copy, and added, Ive tried all the character virtual pianoswhere the selling point is the provenance of some
particular piano that was sampled. Alicias Keys is by far the most inviting to play and the most flexible of these. Im reaching for it a lot more
than I thought I would.
Ordinarily Im skeptical of the idea that theres magic in the sound of
any particular instrument, but Alicias Keys really does invite an emotional response. If youre that kind of composer or songwriter, the inspiration factor aloneespecially for the priceis more than enough to earn
it a home on your hard drive.

Specifications
Gorgeous piano sound. Many realistic features, including sympathetic
resonance and damper pedal response. True sostenuto support.
Concert hall reverb included.
Key release samples are too long on some notes.

CONCEPT Kontakt Player-based virtual grand piano sampled from Alicia Keys
personal Yamaha C3 Neo.
FORMATS Mac or PC. AU, VST, RTAS, and standalone.
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS Mac: OS 10.5, Intel processor.
PC: Windows XP Service Pack 2, Vista, or 7 (32- or 64-bit).
Both: 1GB RAM, DVD drive for installation, 7GB hard disk space.

List: $119

native-instruments.com
06.2010

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

61

GEAR

Mixosaurus
DAW DRUMS KIT A
Compared to the beautiful graphics of recent virtual drum plug-ins,
the Kontakt Player interface of Mixosaurus DAW Drums Kit A seems all
business. But what a business! In my opinion, Mixo is potentially the
best-sounding, most realistic, and supremely detailed virtual drum instrument available. However, your experience will depend on your computers
brawn and the degree to which youre able to master Mixos remarkable
programming options. That said, even if you dont take advantage of all
the power Mixo offers, youre still likely to get fantastic drum tracks.
Mixo gives you one kit with seven cymbals in one rather dry room, but
a dizzying inventory of sonic variations: alternating samples, mic options,
echo chamber send, stick or beater choices, drum muffling, flexible MIDI
performance processing, effects, and most significantly, highly musical,
meticulous multisampling. Its 122GB of 24-bit uncompressed WAV files
comes pre-installed on its own hard drive. With the latest updates installed,
I found Kontakt Player 2 to be rock solid and trouble-free, both standalone and as a plug-in within Apple Logic Pro 9 and MOTU DP6.

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by Ernie Rideout

Loading full kits and large programs takes a few minutes. A sensible
selection of memory-conserving programs includes stereo versions and
kits with some articulations and/or mic options removed, some programming limited, or a combination of these.
The biggest kit includes four toms, a kick with inside and outside mics
and four beaters, a snare with three degrees of muffling and top and bottom mics, stick and sidestick samples, hi-hat with close and distant mics,
three crashes, two rides, one splash, and one China cymbal. Each of these
in turn has various articulations (center, off-center, rim, bell, etc.) and a

More Online

Get these links and more at


keyboardmag.com/june2010

Video tutorials on
Mixosaurus
articulations.

Tons of audio
examples!

GEAR

Every direct mic/room mic pair has its


own mixer channel in Kontakt Player 2,
which gives you a lot of mixing power
right off the bat.

ridiculous number of multisamples for each articulationenough to


make for the smoothest, most musical progression from delicately soft
to headbanging Ive ever heard in a library.
For each instrument, additional programs provide two to seven alternating samples on every stroke and velocity layer. Thats a lot of samples.
No programming required: Just load an instrument that has alternates,
and Mixo triggers them in order, giving even the most boring drum loop
a lifelike sound.
This is where a powerful computer comes in handy. Even with 8GB
of RAM, I was unable to load all four programs of the seven-alternates
hi-hat, even with no other programs loaded. I was able to load the sevenalternates snare and kick, plus the three-alternates hi-hat. Memory and
CPU issues are not trivial: At any given moment, Mixo can be playing
100 to 200 samplesa huge job for any computer. I was using the external hard drive version, connected alternately via USB2 (which worked
surprisingly well) and FW800. I didnt get to test the forthcoming solidstate drive version, but given how SSDs work in general, its a safe bet itll
make less demands of your RAM.
I created a funky, New Orleans-flavored track using mostly the
kick and the open snare. Snare hits include center hit, off-center, near
the rim, and several degrees of rim shotall of which I used fully.
After several takes using the pads and keys of an M-Audio Axiom
Pro, I had a four-bar loop with a lot of spunk and variety. But upon
repeated listening, it still sounded like a loop. I loaded in a sevenalternates program for the open snare, and I was amazed at how the
track sprang to life.
The powerful tools Mixo offers to tweak your MIDI performance and
change your sound arent difficult to master, but theyre not bonehead
simple. I liked the Dynamics controls in particular, which let you compress, expand, and raise and lower incoming MIDI velocities. With the
Muscle control, I could raise or lower the overall level of the snare while
preserving its dynamic range, from whisper-soft to beating-the-crap-outof-it. Its easy to assign MIDI controllers to multiple parameters, so I set
up a knob on my keyboard to raise the Muscle on the snare, kick, and hihat simultaneously. Voilinstant dynamic variations for song sections,
without having to edit MIDI data!
Another favorite was the Delay section. On a rim shot, I adjusted the
Time Factor to get a gradual slowing down of the delayed hits. The result
was a rallentando right out of the bayou. I also came up with complete
variations of grooves, simply by adding delay at various rhythmic levels
and adjusting the Time Factor. Since the delays arent just echoes, but
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06.2010

newly triggered samples, you can get very dynamic variations.


I found the Envelope section invaluable. Increasing the snare attack
by about 28ms smoothed rolls right out. Duration and Release controls
helped for creating all kinds of gate effects, from abrupt to subtle.
Theres a lot going on in Mixosaurus, and weve only scratched the surface. When you put in the time to learn it, the payoff is significant: MIDI
drum tracks that sound like they were played by a real drummer on an
acoustic kit.

Specifications
Insane attention to detail. Excellent sound quality. Can add tons of
musicality and realism even to average MIDI drum parts, without you
editing MIDI data. Flexible memory-saving options.
Takes time and effort to master. Higher levels of expression
require higher levels of computer power.

CONCEPT High-end virtual drum kit that comes on its own hard drive.
MAJOR CONTROLS
LEVELS The relative levels of a given instrument in the various
mic channels.
DYNAMICS Changes the dynamics of an existing MIDI track; the hi-hat
even has its own pedal pressure setting.
DELAY MIDI, not audio. It lets you create variations easily.
ENVELOPE Very useful for controlling tone and smoothing rolls.
FILTER Low-, high-, or bandpass, with resonance.
DISTORTION Tube, solid-state, and turbo.
FORMATS Mac: standalone, AU, RTAS, VST. PC: standalone, DXi, RTAS, VST.
DRIVE OPTIONS External: FW400 or 800, eSATA, USB2.0. Bare drive
for installation: SATA I/II. Solid-state: FW400 or 800, USB2.0.
External drive: $1,249.99
Bare drive: $999.99
Solid-state drive: $TBA

mixosaurus.com
U.S. dist. by mvproaudio.com

GEAR

MusicLab

You instantly see notes youre playing on the virtual guitar neck.
RealGuitar will only play voicings that a real guitarist would.

REALGUITAR 2L
Many keyboard-based composers I know pay significant moolah to
session guitarists because absolutely nothing propels a track like an acoustic
guitar rhythm part. Its an expensive indulgence and it can slow down
your process to schedule and record someone. So if youre like me, youve
gone to great lengths to become a virtual guitaristand found that nothing quite works.
Until now. RealGuitar 2L lets you create original, authentic-sounding
acoustic guitar parts from an array of uncannily realistic steel- and nylonstring models. Installation is uneventful and the first step is obvious: Select
a fingered or picked six- or 12-string guitar. All the choices sound like highpriced axes miked through a top-end preamp. The utterly ear-fooling Stereo
Steel has quickly become the go-to solo guitar in my studio. If RG did
nothing but this, itd still be worth the price. But wait, theres more. . . .

Wonderful Little Noises


Part of what makes a sampled guitar sound real is the assortment of
non-pitched sounds a guitarist makes: the scratching of the fingers as

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KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

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by Richard Leiter

they press the strings against the frets, the squeak of the strings as theyre
released, the smack of the hand against wood, the dull chunk of a pick
plucking a muted string. RG2 lets you dial in the level of each noise, then
key-switch through every articulation.
Whats more, any good guitar player has tricks appropriate to each
style. You simply cannot play blues without bending notes, and Americana styles sound pretty dull without judicious hammer-ons and slides.
RG2 lets you assign bends, slides, and mutes to adjustable velocity layers. Hit a note softly, and you get pure guitar. Smack it, and bam: Youre
Muddy Waters.

More Online

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keyboardmag.com/june2010
Stunning performance demo
with Jeff Road
Pig Abbot.

Free audio/video
downloads and
demo software.

eyboard
VOL. 36, NO. 6 #411 JUNE 2010
EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Stephen Fortner
MANAGING EDITOR: Debbie Greenberg
EDITORS AT LARGE: Craig Anderton, Jon Regen
SENIOR CORRESPONDENTS: Jim Aikin, Tom
Brislin, Ed Coury, Michael Gallant, Robbie Gennet,
Scott Healy, Peter Kirn, Mike McKnight, Dominic
Milano, Franics Preve, Ernie Rideout, Mitchell Sigman
ART DIRECTOR: Patrick Wong
MUSIC COPYIST: Elizabeth Ledgerwood
GROUP PUBLISHER: Joe Perry
jperry@musicplayer.com, 770.343.9978
ADVERTISING DIRECTOR, NORTHWEST,
NORTHEAST, CANADA, & NEW BUSINESS
DEV.: Greg Sutton
gsutton@musicplayer.com, 925.425.9967
ADVERTISING DIRECTOR, MIDWEST, MIDATLANTIC, & SOUTHEAST:
Jessica Sullivan
jsullivan@musicplayer.com, 661.255.2719
ADVERTISING DIRECTOR, SOUTHWEST:
Albert Margolis
amargolis@musicplayer.com, 949.582.2753
SPECIALTY SALES ASSOCIATE, NORTH:
Reggie Singh
rsingh@musicplayer.com, 650.238.0296
SPECIALTY SALES ASSOCIATE, SOUTH:
Will Sheng
wsheng@musicplayer.com, 650.238.0325
PRODUCTION MANAGER: Amy Santana
MUSIC PLAYER NETWORK
VICE PRESIDENT: John Pledger
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR: Michael Molenda
SENIOR FINANCIAL ANALYST: Bob Jenkins
PRODUCTION DEPARTMENT MANAGER:
Beatrice Kim
DIRECTOR OF SALES OPERATIONS:
Lauren Gerber
WEB DIRECTOR: Max Sidman
MOTION GRAPHICS DESIGNER: Tim Tsuruda
MARKETING DESIGNER: Joelle Katcher
SYSTEMS ENGINEER: John Meneses
ASSOCIATE CONSUMER MARKETING
DIRECTOR: Christopher Dyson
NEWBAY MEDIA CORPORATE
PRESIDENT & CEO: Steve Palm
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER:
Paul Mastronardi
VP WEB DEVELOPMENT: Joe Ferrick
CIRCULATION DIRECTOR: Denise Robbins
HR MANAGER: Ray Vollmer
IT DIRECTOR: Greg Topf
DIRECTOR OF PUBLISHING OPERATIONS
AND STRATEGIC PLANNING: Bill Amstutz
CONTROLLER: Jack Liedke
SUBSCRIPTION QUESTIONS?
800-289-9919 (in the U.S. only) 978-667-0364
keyboardmag@computerfulfillment.com
Keyboard Magazine, Box 9158, Lowell, MA 01853
Find a back issue
800-289-9919 or 978-667-0364
keyboardmag@computerfulfillment.com

Publisher assumes no responsibility for return of


unsolicited manuscripts, photos, or artwork.

Follow Keyboard online at:

06.2010

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

69

GEAR

Specifications
Choose your
guitar here.

Totally authentic acoustic guitars. Uncanny strumming. Intuitive system


of performance articulations. Highly nuanced library of scratches,
squeaks, and other guitar noises.
It takes a while to get the hang of strumming. Tech support
located in Russia.

CONCEPT Sample-based virtual guitar plug-in that, with a little


practice, lets you not just sound like a guitar on the keyboard, but
play like an actual guitarist.
FORMATS Mac or PC; AU, VST, or standalone.
MINIMUM SYSTEM Mac: OS 10.3.9 or later, G4/G5
800MHz or faster.
PC: Windows 2000 Service Pack 4, XP2 Service Pack 2 or
Vista, 1GHz Pentium 3.
RECOMMENDED SYSTEM Mac: OS 10.5, Intel processor.
PC: 2GHz Pentium 4 or faster.

RealGuitar 2: $159
RealGuitar 2L: $259
Pattern Manager lets you select, audition, drag
n drop, and learn over 1,250 strums.

The Art of the Strum


You can play RG2 like a keyboard and record happily ever after, but youll
only scratch the surface. The real joy is in the strum, and theres a definite learning curve, but the basics are simple: In Solo mode, notes E1B4
correspond to notes on the guitar. The notes directly above become
strumming notes. White keys are quick strums and black keys are
muted strums. Plus, keys C1D#1 become assignable variations: palm
mutes, slides, and more. You can immediately create workable patterns
through experimentation.
Harmony mode adds one note to your played note at six specific intervals, and gives playable access to slides; its good for power chords. The
real fun comes when you get to Chords mode, which builds guitar-correct chords out of very few notes and automatically places them in a fret
position of your choosing. (The notes are instantly displayed on the virtual guitar neck.) This is the mode you can get lost in for hours trying to
fool the built-in harmony maven, but its wonderfully musical, and once
youve mastered the internal rules, you can lay down convincing strums.
You may have to sequence and quantize a little, but youll get the results
youre after.
Bass and Chord mode lets you play root-and-fifth bass parts with
strums, and will bring out your inner flamenco god. Bass and Pick mode
lays out the right-hand switching keys string by string, so you can create
very convincing arpeggiated parts. Left-hand key-switches and assignable pedal effects quintuple the variations you can apply in each mode,

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KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

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musiclab.com
and while pitchbend, modulation, and aftertouch are always available,
you can change their functions. Heck, you can even set the strum speeds
and release times. None of these controls are gratuitous.
Those are the basic rules, but in actual use, youll want to lock yourself in your studio for a week to pursue all the inspirations you discover.

Manage Your Patterns


While RealGuitar 2 doesnt have presets based on musical styles, for $100
more, RealGuitar 2L comes with 1,250 strum patterns housed intuitively
in a separate Pattern Manager window. Just as in many virtual drum
instruments, you can audition each strum with a mouse clickor dragand-drop patterns into your sequencer in any length and order you desire.
Its effortless, but I like to get my hands dirtier. With virtual drums, Id
rather record an original part than use a prefab MIDI file, and I feel the
same about guitar patterns. That said, I auditioned factory patterns, then
ripped offI mean adaptedthe best ones. Essentially, the patterns
teach you how to play RealGuitar 2L.

Conclusions
We keyboard composer/performers have craved something like this for
years, and at $259 for the deluxe model, its a no-brainer for anyone working in a pop format. For its absolutely authentic acoustic guitar sounds,
intuitive performance system, and overall musicality, we recommend
RealGuitar 2L to you with a Key Buy award.

MAR KETPLACE

06.2010

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

71

P R O D U CT S P OT L I G H T

Special Advertising Section

Action Drums: Cinematic Edition

ASC Quick Sound Field

Nine Volt Audio

Acoustic Sciences Corp

Now Available

Now Available

QSF takes the room out of the mic


and puts the talent in the mix. It's a
free standing live room, where you'll
love the mics you used to hate.
SRP: $3,245 for set of 8 traps.

www.asc-studioacoustics.com/qsf.htm

Recorded in a concert hall, Action Drums:


Cinematic Edition brings epic percussion
to the REX, Stylus RMX, ACID Wav and
Apple Loop formats.
SRP: $99.99

www.NineVoltAudio.com

1-800-ASC-TUBE (272-8823)

Amp Modeler Pro


Studio Devil
Now Available

Radial ProD2 Phase Accurate Compact Stereo DI


Radial Engineering
Now Available

From the DI pros at Radial, a stereo Direct Box


thats perfect for keyboards. The ProD2s custom
audio transformers are engineered for high signal
level, linearity and the phase accuracy so important
for solid bottom.
USD SRP: $160

www.radialeng.com
604-942-1001

Studio Devil AMP combines breakthrough


tube amp realism, cabinet impulse
modeling, tone-shaping EQ, and studio
effects into one, straight ahead amp
modeling plug-in. Dial in the professional
guitar tone you expect into your next
recording project without the fuss. Demo
versions available online for guitar and bass.
SRP: $149

www.studiodevil.com
info@studiodevil.com

To advertise in this section contact: Will Sheng at 650-238-0325 or wsheng@musicplayer.com

72

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06.2010

C LAS S I F I E D S
Categories

Education & Tutorial

Pianos & Organs


Sounds, Sequences, &
Software
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Education & Tutorial
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Studio Fur nishings

Buying or selling instruments through our Classified Ads


offers you convenience, a big marketplace, and a

Mixing and Mastering

Learn Piano Tuning, Repairing, And Regulating,


taught by Craftsman technicians. Complete
correspondence course includes written and video
tape training material, Apprentice Training
Manual, much more. Licensed by Departmentof
Education. www.pianotuning.com.
Randy Potter School of Piano Technology,
61592 Orion Dr., Bend, OR 97702. (541) 382-5411.

Finger Fitness Exercises improve


HAND strength, coordination and speed.
Exercise anytime anyplace. New DVD
combo now shipping!
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P.O. Box 13359 Hamilton OH.
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Learn jazz piano on the internet at


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wide range of instruments and prices. However, buying


mail-order does have its drawbacks, too. Keyboard
Magazine suggests the following guidelines to help the
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Free Lessons
Beginner to Advanced
www.piano-keyboard-lessons.com

the buyer to return the instrument for a full refund if


it does not meet his/her reasonable expectations.

Studio Furniture
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Pianos & Organs


www.B3GUYS.com
HAMMOND Organs
& LESLIE Speakers
Sales - Service - Parts - Rental
615-438-8997

www.MusiciansContact.com.
Paying jobs online.
Thousands of satisfied members since 1969.
(818) 888-7879

Acoustic Products & Services


www.b3hammond.com. Buy/Sell MINT
Hammonds, Leslies. Wordwide sales.
(701) 400-2933, b3hammond.com@bis.midco.net

Sounds, Sequences & Software


www.VintageKeyboardSounds.com Authentic
MELLOTRON, B3, and COMBO ORGAN
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BAND-IN-A-BOX IMPROVEMENT PRODUCTS


* Put A Better Band In Your Box * Norton Music
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For more information, check out our website at

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06.2010

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

73

TIME MACHINE
SAMPLER EVOLUTION
by Francis Preve

1963
1987
1988

MELLOTRON MK.I
Using analog tape, it and the Chamberlin were the first keyboards to play
recorded sounds of real instruments.
1976

AKAI MPC60
Designed by Roger Linn. Arguably the
single most important beatbox after
the Roland TR-808.
E-MU SP1200
Its crunchy, grimy sound and oddball
swing/shuffle propelled countless
rap tracks.

1989

1986

COMPUTER MUSIC
MELODIAN
Based on a DEC PDP-8 computer,
it had then-unheard-of 12-bit/22kHz
resolution.

AKAI S900
First affordable, mass-produced sampler to up audio resolution to 12 bits.

BITHEADZ UNITY DS-1


First soft sampler to offer many of the
features of todays plug-ins.
1998

1985

1979

ENSONIQ MIRAGE
First actually affordable (approx.
$1,500) sampler for the weekendgigging masses.

FAIRLIGHT CMI
First sampling workstation. Created signature sounds for Kate Bush (shown), 1984
Thomas Dolby, and many others.

NEMESYS GIGASAMPLER
First soft sampler to stream samples
directly from hard disk.
2001

1981

E-MU EMULATOR
First affordable ($8,000) sampler you
could easily throw on a keyboard stand.

74

KEYBOAR DMAG.COM

LINN 9000
First integrated drum machine/
sequencer/sampler. Ancestor of Akai
MPC series.

06.2010

ABLETON LIVE
First clip-oriented soft sampler you
could truly play like an instrument.

All product names, trademarks, or trade names are the names of their respective owners, which are in no way associated, connected nor afliated with Novation.

Get a new perspective on controlling Logic


We worked with Logics developers to ensure that SL Mk IIs 56 knobs, faders and
buttons, control the things you need in Logic. As well as full transport and mixer control,
Logics own instruments and FX plug-ins are automatically mapped to SL MkII.
So you get instant hands on control.