Multitimbral Moments – Part 2

About a year ago I embarked on a mission to write some multitimbral compositions using some of my more capable digital hardware synths. The first – ‘JV80’ was written and sequenced using Reason, with a single MIDI cable sending all of that lovely MIDI goodness into the Roland JV-80 (my first synth!). I often feel the need to explain what ‘multitimbral’ means today, and why it’s so awesome – since it’s something I feel that we (myself included) take for granted in DAWs and modern music production, but if you’re curious read a little bit about it in my previous post here.

More recently, I used my Yamaha MU5 tone generator for a similar composition, this time using Logic as the sequencer running 10 MIDI channels. The MU5 is an inexpensive sound module – using mostly GM type MIDI sounds but it’s handy size makes it great for noodling on the go, and using for multitimbral compositions such as this.

the MU5 is super compact but still boasts full MIDI – as well as a PS2 port for old-school hosts. As you can see on the right of this pic… the Zoom TacR2 Interface generates lots of system exclusive MIDI messages which were cluttering up my event list! I had to delete all these manually…

As you can see in the picture, Logic is being used to sequence this song – which was created all in one morning. There are no FX on the MU5 so it might sound a little dry… but I think it makes up for it in character!

The MU5s rubber buttons are fun to press – but this isn’t really a keyboard lets be honest…

Whilst the MU5 is 16 part multitimbral, it does only have 28 note polyphony so you’d probably not ever use all the 16 channels simultaneously – that said it would be useful for keeping things interesting in a song, especially if you include some programme change messages as well. If anything, this forces you to be a little more creative and I find limiting myself during writing and recording often tends to be beneficial in the long run.

Next in line for multitimbral duties will probably be my Roland D5 but this will probably be in a few months (hopefully not a full year again!). I really enjoy working in this way and it’s very rewarding if you can handle the odd polyphonic headache!

Multitimbral Moments

During my sequencing module at Point Blank I spent a lot of time researching about MIDI – the one stop communications protocol for musical instruments and other fun equipment! It was whilst researching that I truly started to grasp how powerful it is..

I’m a bit of a synth collector, although I can’t afford the more expensive (and more famous) analogue synths so I lean towards the digital synth era, from the early 80s onwards. A lot of my synths are MULTITIMBRAL which I never quite got my head around until I looked into MIDI further. WIthout boring you… multitimbral instruments can play more than one ‘patch’ at a time – a patch referring to a particular preset, drum bank etc. This differs from polyphony as that is the maximum number of notes a synth can play simultaneously.

Anyway – I’ve hooked up my Roland JV-80 which has a multitimbral mode and used Reason to sequence 7 channels of MIDI. I then sent them directly out to the synth using a single MIDI DIN cable, where I selected the appropriate patches, adjusted levels and mixed in chorus and reverb to boot!

REMEMBER everything you hear is coming from one synth! 🙂