Maybe some of the problems I’m having with my current band are related to the problems of our times. The band is a weird group of characters that I’m not sure if they would even think of being together if it weren’t for me in some way. I don’t take credit for getting this band together. If anything, I take blame. The idea was to sell off all the old electronic music equipment I had in storage for three years in the California desert and get new and fewer pieces of musical equipment with trading them all in. I ended up with The Band I write about in the link on this site called The Band.
I’ve been a keyboard player since I was nine years old and even requested piano lessons.
The lessons were given in this little house not too far from where we lived. My assignment each week was to learn various things in the music books I faithfully propped up on the holder of the Cable Nelson spinet we had. I tried hard for a few weeks to master the simple little songs. The problem was that I was bored because my piano playing was so much beyond these book lessons. My own music seemed so much easier to play and so much more useful than learning songs others had written. Especially when you were making up your own songs on the piano and taping them into your father’s old one track tape recorder.
My piano lessons started at the beginning of a particularly brutal winter with large amounts of snow in Ohio. The home of my music teacher was within walking distance of my home in Dayton, Ohio and I would walk the distance with my workbooks under my arm. The weather got worse and worse and harder to get to my piano teacher’s home. Besides, the lessons were getting more and more boring to me as they had to compete with the music I could already play on the piano. The music lessons didn’t get much time when matched up against the music I could already play on the piano. Self-taught but something that was entertaining and enjoyable to me more than anything else.
Korg Kross Keyboard
The final straw was when I trudged through a horrendous snowstorm one night to go to class just to see the state champion in Chopin come out of his home. My musical teacher excited walked her down the steps of his home and to her mother in the Ford Station Wagon Country Squire waiting for her in the big snowstorm. I watched as my music teacher went out to the car and leaned over on the driver’s side and talked to her mother. The competition was in just two weeks up in Cleveland. I already knew this. It was all he talked about during my lessons. I watched him lean on the driver’s window and talk to her mother. Then they were gone and he walked back toward his home and then noticed me.
“Oh you,” he said in a nasty manner.
I tried piano lessons again in college but quit after a few months.
So I proceed my own way.
Sell the old equipment and get new music equipment. After a period of photography and writing, a swing of my artistic muse back towards music. It was like this about eight years ago. Maybe this is the length of my particular cycles here?
It’s not surprising to me. It has been this way all my life.
Now, I find myself attempting to bring together the sounds of some sophisticated modern musical instruments. In fact, some of the most creative you could imagine and popular with the greatest people in music in the past fifteen years. They are all Korg instruments: the Kross 88 keyboard, the Korg Kaossilator Pro Plus, the Korg MiniLogue Polyphonic Synthesizer and the Korg Electribe Sampler. The amount of programs and sounds and rhythms and loops and patterns produced by these instruments.
I’ve been trying to master Korg instruments since I bought a Korg M1 in the late 80s.
But Korg has not been all that helpful.
They have brilliant engineers who create this stuff but they are not good at communicating how to use it.
To me, this is a pretty major crime today for I’ve always seen the power and magic of the Korg instruments but was never given much help on capturing much of this Korg magic. What you learn, you mostly pick up yourself through watching YouTube Videos after reading through the product manuals.
Perhaps they are not so sure themselves about how to use their creations?
Maybe they (and many people) await for someone who will know how to use the musical instruments in a new way. To create a new music for a new era, a new age.
Kaossilator Pro Plus
The first member of my new Korg band, re-assembled from storage in California to Ohio, was a Korg Kross 88-key piano. Next was a Korg Kaossilator Pro Plus, a Korg Minilogue Polyphonic Synthesizer and finally a Korg Electribe Sampler. I was learning how to play the individual instruments. Each hundreds of programs and sounds. I made some interesting recordings of an individual instrument. Yet the challenge for me was integrating all the strange elements (and musical perspectives) of these instruments that make up my band so to speak.
The song above called Trane’s Greensleeves is created from a sample of the first phrases of John Coltrane’s Greensleeves recording in the early 60s.
They were the years when Trane was reaching the height of his popularity within the general jazz and popular music populace at this time. The Sample was put onto Part One in the Electribe and matched up with the Modal Jazz Pattern where we tweaked some of the Samples in the Steps.
We put this on Track One of our 24-Track Tascam. On Track Two we laid a heavy bass line from the Korg Minilogue running somewhat counter-to the Electribe Pattern.
Over this, we put a type of lead guitar with the Kaossilator Pro Plus making sure we match the 135 BPM of the Sample on the Electribe and the D# Key with that on the Kaossilator Pro. It is an amazing graphical interface to music that let’s one play music in a new way.
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It had been a frustrating day trying to figure out the Korg Electribe Sampler. I was on a type of personal mission to understand how Sampler’s worked and the philosophy of them. But it was a difficult task. Me, from the Baby Boom Generation, the great linear minded generation, trying to understand that musical art called Sampling, from a later generation than mine. This was much of the problem it seemed to me. Those citizens of the contemporary world understood the philosophy and politics and nature of Sampling sounds and images in the world without necessarily creating these images or sounds themselves.
Perhaps this is the way it is today with all art? The creativity not in the individual creation but rather in combining and changing the creations of others?
Sampling the world rather than creating it.
None of these thoughts are consolation to me as I sit in front of that 7 x 12 inch red device right next to me right now called the Korg Electribe Sampler.
I’ve been battling with it’s Manual and YouTube videos on how to play this amazing music making machine. Yet I continue to discover aspects of the Electribe myself. (Similar in many ways to the Electibe ES1 I had in 2008). Yet the power has been vastly increased and I begin to see the power of this machine. One of the things I wanted the Electribe Sampler for was for a project of mine where I would sample key phrases from legendary jazz musicians and build things around this initial structure.
Korg MiniLogue Polyphonic Synthesizer
So, a Sample of Trane’s early 60s Greensleeves appears in Part One of a sixteen part sample that continues to loop in the background as we play in Real Time the Korg Minilogue and the Korg Koassilator Pro. I go into forums on the Internet for the Electribe. It is so frustrating because everyone seems to be having problems understanding what the Electribe will do. No one seems to have reached anywhere near it’s potential yet. Everyone’s goals for it seem centered around Hip Hop when I’m thinking Jazz Phrases. Legendary jazz phrases, Sampled and used as a basis to build new Songs in the Electribe Sampler around.
I keep attacking this innocent looking little metallic red box called my Korg Electribe Sampler: Music Production Station.
But it’s frustrating as hell.
I watch a fifteen minute video by someone who could have been a math or science professor discuss how to load a sample into the Electribe. I watch more videos on how to use this little monster. No one knows though, or answers questions I’m asking about it. Simple questions like how to sample and loop samples and edit them and put them into patterns and put the patterns into strings.
The Electribe is the difficult to get along with instrument me and my band.
Like a Trump fanatic at a Hillary rally sometime in early 2016.
Korg Electribe Sampler
I try to understand this amazing instrument. Korg has done little to encourage this. Perhaps a film could be made that would explain how to use their product? Perhaps one of the most sophisticated musical products ever invented. Yet something that was in danger of being overlooked as a music production tool in modern America.
The Electribe Sampler is a type of metallic-pink Rosetta Stone. It might be one of the most beautiful pieces of musical equipment I have ever seen. I imagine that I look at it like someone might admire an expensive piano or other type of musical instrument.
A little Rosseta Stone it seems to me. It’s a good analogy for now.
A magic piece of music technology.
Created in Japan by thirty somethings. Millennial generation.
Attempted to learn by (me) a Baby Boomer (at leading edge of Baby Boomers) in Ohio.
Across cultures and generations., I attempt to learn this magical music making machine. The quest is only just started.
Anyway, the song you hear is the original Coltrane sample from Greensleeves. It’s been placed into Part One of the Sixteen-part-sequence that makes the sample looping on the Pattern in the background. It is the Modal Jazz Pattern with a number of its Parts assigned other Sounds. This looping provides the Context against which the Koassilator Pro imposes a type of Lead Guitar instrument into the Song. It is interesting the the KP Pro works not on a linear keyboard concept but rather a graphical interface where a finger moves on a screen to approximate the sounds desired. I sold my old Kaossilator and got the new Pro Plus in its place. An amazing machine (band member) I’ve loved for years.
Will I ever be able to understand the Electribe Sampler like I understand the Kaossilator Pro Plus?
Sounds like esoteric questions.
But just what if music teachers decided to teach students how to use the particular Korg instruments in my current band.