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Days and Nights inside the XS

The eight Element, Xpanded Articulation world of the XS opens new possibilities. In working with transferring Motif ES Voices and seeing how they port over to the XS, I discovered some interesting things. Since Elements can be grouped and can be activated or deactivated together, this offers the possibility of creating a Voice that combined multiple sounds to great advantage.

In most synthesizers there is a Voice called “Piano&Strings”...why? because it is very useful. In the Motif ES this Voice is a single Element piano and a 2 Element string sound. The MW changes the balance of the strings, while the AS1 and AS2 knobs act as individual volumes for the piano Elements and the string Elements, respectively.

Many users wind up creating their own Piano/String combination by combining the “Full Grand” with say the “Background” string Voices in a Performance, or in a MIXING setup. Of course, this is still possible in the XS.

However, in the XS you can take all four Elements of the ES’s ‘Full Grand’ and all three Elements of the ‘Background’ string sound and combine them in a single Voice (and still have an Element left over). Not only could I musically change between them in a natural performing gesture, I would not have to worry about switching MIDI channels or even button presses (the transition could easily be handled with the assignable foot switch). I prefer working the foot switch as opposed to a front panel button, but you have your choice.

I took my USB drive and loaded the Motif ES versions of “Full Grand” piano and the “Background” strings into the Motif XS. I started with an initialized XS VOICE. I copied the four Elements of the “Full Grand” into Elements 1-4. I then copied the three Elements of the “Background” string voice into Elements 5-7. I made the Element Group assignments and set the XA CONTROL so that when [AF1] was ON, I had strings and [AF2] was ON I had piano. I then made the FS (Foot Switch) send control cc086 (the default for controlling Assignable Function 1). I also setup the Ribbon controller as an alternate method of activating and deactivating the [AF2] option. Of course, you can choose whatever controllers make you comfortable.

Notice I did not copy the effects from the Voices… why? Because I have learned (through experience) that you are better off listening to the combination you now have and applying new effects to your new combination. The effects and EQ that were right for the piano alone, will not be right when I combine it with any other sound. If I bring in the strings I want to listen and create the effects and equalization for this combination (piano and strings). Whatever effects were right for the strings alone in Voice mode are not going to be right in this combination.

I see that question so much on the forums – you know, the “I want it to sound exactly like it did in Voice mode…” question. Well, I don’t!!! I want it to sound right in the context I have now placed it. Do I want the piano forward and the strings in the back? This I can do by controlling the amount of reverberation send from each. Do I want the piano punchy and present or do I want more of a distant sound? This I want to decide based on the current situation and the current composition. What it was doing in VOICE mode was fine for Voice mode – not for the Performance (or the Mixing) setup I am going to place it in. You’re given the tools to program – so I do!

So how does it play? When I step on the FC4 (assignable FS) I have strings which sound as long as I hold them (either with my fingers or with my FC3 sustain pedal). If I let go, I can then play piano. You cannot make it glitch. Seamless… I play with this for what seems like a few minutes (actually it was a few hours)… and realize, okay, this is cool. The expanded Element architecture allowed me to have the equivalent of two full Motif ES Voices under control in a single XS VOICE. The XA Control allows you switch between the Voices so the polyphony is not wasted – polyphony is used only when an Element is actively sounding. The AF function switches completely between Elements so that polyphony is not used for the elements when they are not sounding. I can set it so that I can have the Strings alone, the Piano alone or both together. In a few minutes I was able to work out a great playing scenario for myself. I programmed the pedal so I can even fade in the strings when necessary.

And this is just a single VOICE!

You can begin to see that with a small amount of programming chops one can do much more. In one of the programming tutorials (Customizing Piano sounds to your playing style) I posted a single Element 3-way velocity piano “PianoBadMr”. What if I were to use my favorite single Element piano? Using a single Element Piano means I can combine the piano with a lot of other different sounds and then I could figure other methods of dynamic performance… I can use the position of the ribbon to fade in or out a particular sound or to turn it ON/OFF. And since the MW is a mix control as well, and sweep foot pedals are available… Now that I have a VOICE that is Piano and Strings, what if I place that in a Performance with a VOICE that is Electric Piano and Synth Pad as PART 02? …And there are a total of four PARTS to a Performance… hmmm the possibilities abound.

Every hour you spend with the XS brings a new area of enlightenment



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