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April 11, 2003


Korg MS2000I consider my recently acquired Korg MS2000 keyboard a toy more than anything else, since I purchased it blindly a few months ago on the recommendation of Graham of Arctic Square. It is what you call an "analog modeling synthesizer," but instead of actually being analog it is all based on digital circuitry and stuff. Notice I say "and stuff," indicating I have no idea what I am talking about.

Analog Synthesizer Lesson;
Basically you have 2 "oscillators" which you can set to make different kinds of very simple noises each. The simple sounds come in varieties such as "sine," "square," and there is one other which I forget. A typical "sine" wave sounds like the high-pitched whine coming from your television set during those national emergency broadcast systems tests late at night. A square wave might be more like a cicada.

The fun part comes when you *combine* the simple wave sounds from the two oscillators. By varying the frequency (length between waves) and other qualities of each of the 2 oscillators, you get all kinds of crazy interaction between the sounds, producing very complex waves that sound nothing like sines or squares.

Theoretically, any sound you hear can be described in this manner, combining two or more simple waves. A skilled technician can create waveforms that sound like a flute, piano, harp, drumbeat, cymbal or other traditional instruments, but sometimes the fun part is coming up with wild "patches" that don't sound like any instrument you've heard before.

My preference lately during practice sessions with Arctic Square is to use what I call a "singing" sine wave (actually a high-pitched "Lead" in the industry terminology) with a flute-y kind of undercurrent to it. The singing, sine-y lead part stands out favorably but not obtrusively in a crowd of guitars, and works really well with the vibrato wheel when I feel like emphasizing a particular note with a little quavering action. The flute-y undercurrent helps to keep the notes sounding more mellow during quieter sections.

It is apparent I will offer lessons in disciplines about which I know nothing. Sounded pretty convincing for a while though, huh?