Even in today’s software-dominated world of recording, a hardware sequencer has plenty to offer. A hardware sequencer is dependable, locked into a known (and also dependable) level of sounds, polyphony, and effects. Hardware sequencers are generally masters of pattern-based looping; a wonderful recording style that is both quick and inspirational.
Motif XS offers all of the above and more.
As on earlier models, the XS offers an Integrated Sampling Sequencer (ISS), which seamlessly combines audio and MIDI recording. Install optional DIMM modules (up to 1 GB) and you can record audio directly to Pattern (loop-based) or Song (linear) tracks. See page 295 of your Owner’s Manual for details.
You can plug a mic, guitar, bass, another keyboard or a mixer directly into the A/D input of the XS, or import samples (loops or waves) from a sample CD. There is no one method when constructing your music compositions. You might choose to record in SONG mode using a basic drum groove as a working tool, and later “paint” the track with arpeggio data. Or you may use the PATTERN mode to refine your drum tracks… placing fill-ins where necessary. Learning about moving data between PATTERN mode and SONG mode and vice versa can be very useful in creating and placing data where you need it.
Each of these (SONG mode and PATTERN mode) is part of the same sequencer. Certain functions are best carried out in one or the other. Moving data back and forth will open opportunities for you and is easily accomplished. One of the KEYS to mastering the sequencer knowing about the power Sequencer JOB functions. You can move all tracks together with some functions or you can move individual track and phrase data with others.
Pattern Mode: There are 64 User Patterns in the Motif XS, each of which are composed of up to 16 (looping) Sections, labeled [A]-[P]. One way to think of a Section is as a formal part of some kind of music (“bridge”, “chorus”, “verse”, “A Section”, etc.). Each Section has up to 16 available Tracks. Each Track can be anywhere from one measure to 256 measures long. (This is an impressive figure: Think about it.) Each Track Contains a Phrase. When a track is placed in record in Pattern Mode, a phrase is always created. So you can construct your composition by recording these musical Sections and as it is common for musicians to map out their music form “AABA” where “A” is Verse and “B” is the chorus. You can try out different arrangements and variations of your structure before committing to it. You commit to it by creating a PATTERN CHAIN… simply a list of the order in which you want these musical Sections to playback.
Song Mode: Is the linear, finished product which will play from start to finish.
So far we could also be describing the Motif ES. The XS ups the recording ante in several important ways.
First, thanks to the large format, color display you can SEE a whole bunch more than ever before. This not only means you have vastly improved contact with voice lists, arpeggios, and especially the sampling features (waveforms, etc), you can also — genuinely — mix a project from the screen.
4 analog outs and S/PDIF stereo digital out are standard. The XS8 comes with multi-channel FireWire audio/MIDI built-in and the XS6 and XS7 use a new Dice II based FireWire card called the mLAN16E2. This expansion gives you up to 16 audio bus outputs from your XS mix and 3 pair of audio returns, plus 3 Ports of MIDI communication. This MIDI communication is for the normal 16 tracks of MIDI data, plus REMOTE CONTROL functions for the most popular DAW software, plus the XS becomes a MIDI interface for one external device connected via the 5-pin MIDI ports on the back. ...Combined with the new Motif XS Editor VST version, you have one of the most powerful and flexible integrations between inspiration and creative realization. Need a FireWire cable?
Real Time Loop Remix, an excellent feature on the ES, has been improved on the XS. The loop remix can be set to occur every measure or at set intervals up to every 8 measures. This is an awesome function for creating variations, rolls and fill-ins that sound polished and professional. It works on MIDI data, and even on the MIDI data triggering “Sliced” audio clips!
The XS also implements direct recording of a Performance (the inspirational ‘multi-sound with arp-driven drum loops and more’ patches) into the sequencer! View web video on this feature.
As YamahaUS pointed out in the forums recently, “Here’s the complete Power User guide on how to take a Performance with 4 intelligent arpeggios with chord recognition and record them into a Song or Pattern. Ready! Hit: Record.”
Finally, although it is always advisable to store your Patterns and Songs externally, on the XS you don’t have to. Patterns and Songs need to be stored before leaving Song/Pattern Mode (and the XS kindly reminds you to do so), but once they are stored in Flash memory, the material will be retained on power down.