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Mastering MONTAGE: Pattern Workflow in OS v3.0

MTGWHSM
Bad Mister continues his overview of the Pattern Sequencer. It's all about workflow.

Performance Recorder - Pattern Function Workflow Examples


Putting the band together in a Performance: You can start with any Performance, be it a Single Part Performance, Multi Part KBD CTRL Performance or whether you start with the “Init” 16-Part “Multi/GM” template (traditional style). Putting the instrument sounds you want to interact with into a Performance ahead of entering the Play/Rec area is a workflow you may wish to adopt. You can completely construct your Performance or you can start with just a few instruments and add PARTs later. There is no one way to work. You can determine the best way to approach things, as you go. The significant thing to understand is that if you have the Performance Parts constructed ahead of time, you can freely access what is available without having to STOP the transport – but to add new items will require you stop the sequencer transport. You can work either way – but know this rule.

There are several ways to put data into the Pattern feature:

  • You can Record directly to the 16 Tracks using the Keyboard
  • You can use the “Get Phrase” Job to grab data from an existing linear Song
  • You can load .mid data directly to the Pattern Scene (maximum Length 256 Measures per Scene)
  • You can load .mid data to the linear Song, then “Get” specific data from that linear Song — work on it in the Pattern area — upon completion using “Put Phrase” you can return data to the linear Song structure.
  • You can record one Track at time with Single Part instruments merged into one Performance.
  • You can record Multi Part Performances to multiple Tracks, simultaneously.
  • You can combine a workflow that uses both Single instrument sounds and Multi Part instruments sounds, recording as you may require.

Performance construction, that is, the actual merging of new Parts or replacing existing Parts, means you are rerouting signals and adding controller mapping changes. This type of heavy construction should take place prior to entering Sequencer, or when the Sequencer is in standby mode (stopped).

Important things to know: You may notice there is no screen item that selects a RECORD TRACK. At first, you may scratch your head over this...
How do you know which track, or which tracks, are actively recording data? Understanding the answer is important: It’s a Performance Recorder... what you hear, is what you get. If you are actively in touch with a Single Part, it will Record its data to its Track, however, if you’re actively in touch with a Multi Part (KBD CTRL) group of Parts, each of those will have a correspondingly numbered Track ready to record their data.

This means, for example, if you setup a Performance with Drum Kit (Part 1), Bass (Part 2), Organ (Part 3), and Tenor Sax (Part 4) merged into a Performance but each set as a Single Play, (no KBD CTRL active), you can select and record your Drums, then move to PART 2 and record your Bass line, move to PART 3 record your Organ part, and then move to PART 4 and lay down the melody with the Tenor Sax, all without stopping the Sequencer.

These same four Parts linked by KBD CTRL, would mean you would be able to control them all together, you could record them all at once. Say the Drums and Bass Parts are under control of Arpeggio Phrases, while you are switching back and forth between the Organ and Tenor Sax sound with Knob Control. It’s a Performance Recorder – it will record what you have setup.

The Performance Recorder can be used either way. What you hear – is what gets recorded. In fact, you can create a combination of workflows. Try not to limit your thinking to how you always used to work, only. By having your instruments sound setup, you can select them and begin recording immediately. Whether or not you have to STOP is really up to you.

Multi Part Instruments: For example, you record yourself playing the “CFX +FM EP 2” Multi Part Performance, in order for the Performance Recorder to do its job, it Record enables a Track for each Part you are controlling. KBD CTRL is active (green) on both the Acoustic and Electric Piano Parts, 1 and 2... the Performance Recorder will dutifully document your interaction with the Synthesizer, including the Super Knob movement that morphs one instrument sound into the other.

If you create a Performance built up from “CFX + FM EP 2” — say you’ve “merged” a Drum Kit (with Arpeggios) to Part 3. Often to get inspiration using a drum groove is better than just playing with a metronome click. The Sequencer will automatically record you playing to the corresponding Track for each Part, with the Drums in Part 3 outputting the Arp data to its dedicated Track 3.

If you then wish to add a 2-Part (Multi Part) sound to Parts 4 & 5, you can. Remember, to play multiple sounds simultaneously you need to use the KBD CTRL (green) icon to link them. What you hear is what is recorded. Therefore, you would deactivate the KBD CTRL on the already documented acoustic, electric pianos of the “CFX + FM EP 2” and the Drum Kit Parts and activate KBD CTRL on your newly merged Parts (4&5). The data on Tracks 1, 2 and 3 will playback and those Parts you are hearing when you touch the keyboard is what will be added to the recorded MIDI data.

If you do not deactivate the KBD CTRL on the already recorded Parts – then you will be simultaneously controlling and recording all the PARTs together.

If you used the Super Knob to morph during the original recording, and you wish to keep that movement documented, you must use Record Type = OVERDUB. If you use Record Type = REPLACE, the Super Knob movement will be overwritten.

What if you wish to add several more Multi Part sounds? Or the Multi Part program you wish to add takes you over the 1-8 area? The KBD CTRL icon can only be activated on Parts 1-8, this means Tracks 9-16 are all Single Parts. Are you stuck? Well, no. You can move your Track data and you can move the Part (instrument) so that they unite in a new location.

Track data can be “Copied” and the Performance Parts can be “Exchanged”.
  • COPY TRACK: By using the “Edit/Job” > “Track” > “Copy” Job, you can move data that you have recorded to Tracks 9-16
  • EXCHANGE PART: By using the [SHIFT] + [EDIT] function, you can move individual Parts 1-8 to Parts 9-16, as well.
This will free up Parts 1-8 for additional Multi Part merging and recording. More detail on this in another article.

Pattern Record Example


For our example we'll start with the 2-Part Performance “CFX + FM EP 2” 

From the HOME screen let’s merge a Drum Kit to this Performance instead of using the Metronome for a timing reference. There are two methods to do this:
  • Press the “+” in Part 3 to launch the “Performance Merge” search engine. Set Main = Drum/Perc and select a Kit.
  • You can use the “Rhythm Pattern” function. On the MONTAGE: Press [SHIFT] + [CONTROL ASSIGN]. On the MODX press [RHYTHM PATTERN]
When a Part’s “Arp On” box is blue, you must hold the controlling keys down in order for the Arp Phrase to continue. You can set it to HOLD (amber) by pressing [SHIFT] + tap “Arp On” in the screen. Arp Hold (amber) means that once the Drum groove starts you will not have to maintain contact with Keys to make the Drums continue. If you use the Rhythm Pattern method to select your Drum Kit, ARP HOLD is set automatically.
  • Press [EXIT] to return to the HOME screen.
  • Press [STORE] and give this new Performance a Name.
Press [RECORD] (flashes) you will be taken to a new (empty) Pattern location

Important Tip: When recording with an ARP Phrase on any of the PARTS, you will want to use “Key On Start” = On and “Loop” = Off.

This will automate the beginning of Record to when you engage the Keys, and will automatically stop the recording when you reach the “Length” as set. You may think you are good enough to come in on the beat, and fast enough to stop recording before it cycles around, but in reality, the technology can do it better! Let the technology work for you. Record an 8 measure SCENE 1, to get the feel for how this works.
  • Set the Length = 8
  • Set “Key On Start” = On
  • Set “Loop” = Off
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Record 8 measures – the sequencer will stop automatically.

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When you have recorded data, the Pattern will “link” itself to the current Performance, so that when you recall this Pattern it will restore the Performance you used. If you have used a Factory Performance to start with, you will naturally want to STORE, the Performance to the USER Bank and then establish a link to that User Bank location.

Keyboard Control and Part Merge


Let’s “merge” a Multi Part Performance to our current three Parts.
  • Stop the Sequencer.
  • Tap the “+” in Part slot 4 to open the Performance Merge Category Search
  • Type in “FM Saw Pad” (a 2-Part FM-X Synth Pad). Both Parts will automatically be ‘merged’ in a single operation

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“Merge” adds the multiple Parts to next available slots, 4 and 5.

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Important Tip
: Use the KBD CTRL and PART SELECT features to determine what you are currently playing. Remember: what you hear is what gets recorded at any time – therefore, learning to manipulate the active Parts is a skill you wish to develop.

RULE: KBD CTRL links Parts together, but you must select one of the “linked” Parts for the Keyboard to Control them, or you must be in a Performance COMMON area. Either situation will let you play the now merged “FM Saw Pad”.

Example with several Multi Part instruments merged to a Performance: Say you want to use a Keyboard sound that is 2-Parts, a Bass sound that is 2-Parts, a single Part Drum Kit and a Pad sound that occupies 3-Parts… You could create the Performance by ‘merging’ all the Parts to your current Performance, then by dynamically manipulating the KBD CTRL function, you can address each instrument sound as you require. This can be done without having to STOP the recording…

Extra Credit: When you add (merge) a new sound to your existing Performance, you will understand that the new Parts bring along all of their Part programming, including the intricate Part Control Knob Assignments, the Dual Insertion Effects, and the Controller assignments that manipulate those Insertion Effects. What is brought along, but not automatically activated, are any assignments dealing with the upper Common/Audio level of the architecture. This means, the links to the Super Knob, and any assignments concerning the System, and Master Effect, or Master EQ.

You can understand why when you realize this new Performance already has some programming on that upper Common/Audio level... the Super Knob is morphing the Acoustic Piano Part to the Electric Piano Part. Adding our “FM Saw Pad” complicates things... if it automatically merged its previous upper level assignments they would absolutely conflict with what is already established.

In order to avoid this, you must review the upper level Control Set Source/Destination assignments (max. 16) to make sure you can add any new ones and you must verify that they work with what already exist.

This bit of advanced programming detail will be appreciated by those who seek to use the interaction among the assembled sounds. What you do not want is having the fact that you morphed the Acoustic Piano to the FM Electric during recording those Parts, necessarily changing the “FM Saw Pad” that you are adding. Does that work? It might, but that would be luck. Therefore, the system maintains what was assigned to happen with FM Saw Pad but does not automatically apply it. This is an advanced topic, we will leave for another article. We want to make you aware that the upper level programming is not lost – it remains intact but awaits your review.

On the upper Common level, you’ll be assigning control to things that will be applied or available to all Parts and any A/D In Part. An example would be assigning real time control over a Master Effect parameter, or using the Super Knob to fade out all 16 Parts. There is only one set of upper Common assignments and whatever is assigned there you want to work no matter how many PARTs are assembled in this Performance. 

Example WORKFLOW: “16-Part Multi-timbral”


If you are coming from the workflow approach found in the Motif XF/MOXF series this will be most familiar. 

Those familiar with this traditional “workstation” workflow will find this method somewhat familiar. In the hardware MOTIF XF/MOXF sequencers, you started with an “Init Multi” setup: which starts with a default MIXING setup that contained a “placeholder” Part in each slot. Shown below the typical SONG MIXING setup as found in the Motif XF:

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You created your sequence Track-by-Track, Part-by-Part. In that workflow, you replaced the “Full Concert Grand” piano that initially occupied each of the 16 slots with the exact instrument sound you desired for your composition.

The equivalent starting point on the MONTAGE is shown below: “Multi/GM”:

MONTAGEPattern021
Starting with the “Multi/GM” Init template… Piano in all slots, except 10, which has a “Stereo GM Kit”. The significance of starting with this template versus just starting with a Single Part and then “merging”15 others, must be understood. They wind up the same but the tools available to you will be different. By starting with a “placeholder” instrument in each slot, the workflow for searching will be different. Instead of the “Performance Merge” Search screen, you will get the “Part Category Search” screen which offers you a different set of options. Please review the article on “Mastering Category Search”

Mastering MONTAGE: Using Category Search
Mastering MODX: Using Category Search

Here we will use the “Part Category Search” Function Set with “Attribute” = “Single” to replace each Part with a selected instrument one-by-one. When you set your “search” parameters they will remain in place. Therefore, if you plan to build your Performance from Single Part instruments that you have in your current USER Bank, you would set “Bank” = User, “Attribute” = Single, and each time you return to search for new Part your parameter definitions persist:
  • From the HOME screen
  • Press [CATEGORY SEARCH]
  • Touch “Init” > Select “Multi/GM”
  • Press [ENTER]
Using the ‘Replace’ search Procedure: First, let’s prevent the automatic KBD CTRL coming ON for each replaced PART. We are not going to be playing them together – we actually want to be able to play them one-at-a-time. The KBD CONTROL LOCK is useful when you are working in 16-Part Multi-timbral mode… It fixes the KBD CTRL at PART 1, allowing you to *select* and communicate with just one PART at a time. You can now select any PART 1-16, directly, and you will be immediately in communication with that Part.

Touch “FX” found at the very top line of the screen; This takes the shortcut to the EFFECT SWITCH/BYPASS screen.
Set “KBD CTRL LOCK = ON”:

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Press [EXIT] to return to our work…

Select the PART, example select “PART 1”
Press [SHIFT] + [CATEGORY SEARCH] to launch the “Part 1 – Category Search” – which appears on the top line:

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Alternate Search Method
:  From the PATTERN or HOME screen:
  • Touch the PART in the screen to view the pop-in menu
  • Touch “Category Search”:
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Setting the “Attribute” to Single (green) will allow you to return each time to search for a new Single Part instrument.
Below you can see that I have the “Attribute” set to Single and I am searching Drum/Perc > Drums > and have selected the “Real Drums Kit”:

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Press [ENTER]

Repeat for PART 2. Select Part 2. Press [SHIFT] + [CATEGORY SEARCH] to launch “Part 2 – Category Search”
Below the “Bank” and “Attribute” settings remain… I’m searching for a Bass > Electric > and I’ve selected “Velo Bass”:

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Press [ENTER]

Repeat for PART 3. Select Part 3 – this time touch Part 3 in the screen, a pop-in menu appears from the left… This is an alternate method to using the buttons [SHIFT] + [CATEGORY SEARCH] to recall the “Part Category Search”.
“Bank” is still “All” and “Attribute” remains “Single”; I search “Main” = “Keyboard” and “Sub” = “Electric Piano”:

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Repeat for Part 4...

This time I know I want to use a Single MegaGuitar for my rhythm guitar part. The Bank (All) and Attribute (Single) persist, and I’ve typed in “mega” to narrow my search to just Single sounds with the letters M-E-G-A in the name… This adds yet another way to conduct a search – even if you only remember the Performance Name has the letter “z” you can recall all Single Part Performances that contain that letter:

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I’ve selected this so that we have a Part with an Arpeggio just to show that setting it up is exactly the same.

Extra Credit: Please note that when you are doing a “Part Category Search” – you have the “Parameter with Part” option blocks along the bottom of the screen. Green means you are “opting in”, the settings stored with the PART you are selecting are brought along. If you are simply replacing one Bass sound with another, or trying different Guitar Parts, but you wish to maintain the settings already configured in your current Performance, you would “opt out” on bringing anything along.

For example, you already have a custom Arp and you want to assign a new Voice, then you want to “opt out” on bringing along “Arp/Ms”. Or, if you are creating a split and have already setup the split point, then you would “opt out” on bringing the MIXING settings. The MIXING would bring along the Bass sound across all keys, while “opting out” would respect your current Note Limits.

As you begin to develop a catalog of Songs, Patterns and Performances, you will find this feature more and more useful. When you work really hard at creating a particular sound to fit a particular situation – knowing how to use this “Part Category Search” feature means you can capture settings from your previous work easily. These options only appear when you are replacing and existing Part. They do not appear when you are using “Performance Merge” – when using the Merge search, naturally the original programming come in as it was originally programmed.

Please note that when using this search function, the “Source” can be set to any individual PART. Say you created a Drum Kit specifically for a particular composition. It may not be stored as a Single Part that can be found in the usual method, but if you know it was Part 3 of a specific Performance, you can set the Source to go and find that particular Part.

There is a unique Drum Kit in the Performance “Marine Life” in Part 3 which contains many ‘vocoded’ samples. If you desire to go and get this kit from that Performance knowledge of how to use the “Source” setting will make this possible

Once you have made your selection: Press [ENTER] to return to the Pattern area.

Extra Credit: You do not have to select all of your instruments now. In this example, I am working with a four-piece rhythm section and will add the other musical parts, later. You can still change your mind about the ones you use, even after recording data. We can now place the PATTERN in record and switch between them without having to hit stop. Remember, Performance construction is not possible while the sequencer is running. 

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Ready, Set, Record

To launch a NEW PATTERN Recording – press [•] Record button. It flashes to denote Record Setup.
A new (blank) PATTERN will be recalled. ON the RECORD SETUP screen you can set the Time Signature, Length, Tempo and determine if you want to quantize as your record (you can, of course, wait until after you record):

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Data Management

MIDI (Song) and Pattern data are automatically stored to their respective Data Utility Folders.
Press [UTILITY] > touch “Contents” > touch “Data Utility”:
Here you will find the various Data Folders:

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The Pattern and Song Folders will house your Pattern and Song data, respectively. The items can be sorted by “Name” (alphabetical/reverse alphabetical), by “Date” (or reverse), or by “Number” (001~128). The data will remain in this folder even if you load in a new User File. The data in the Pattern and Song Folders will remain until you either DELETE them or you initialize your instrument’s memory.

In order for the Pattern and Song data to ‘find’ the Performance used to create it, you must ensure that the Performance data is present in your instrument. It is a good idea to keep a copy of each Performance you use with a Pattern or Song backed up to either MONTAGE CONNECT (if you own a MONTAGE), to MODX CONNECT (if you own a MODX) or to the Cubase Sound Browser or the Soundmondo App. This way you can quickly bulk the Performance to your instrument’s Edit Buffer whenever you need it.

Keeping individual versions of your Performances, will allow you to easily move them into your instrument at any time. This will help facilitate new USER Performance sets.

That's it for now! Stand by for more articles soon!

Questions/comments? Join the conversation about this lesson o the Forum here.

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