MOX/MOXF: Velocity Zone Arpeggios

VELOCITY ZONE ARPEGGIOSThe arpeggio functions on the MOX/MOXF are complex. They are derived from the Motif-series and a brief history of their evolution will be helpful in gaining an understanding of what they are and how they can be used as a truly creative tool for music composition. With each new version of Motif, the […]

By Bad Mister

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The arpeggio functions on the MOX/MOXF are complex. They are derived from the Motif-series and a brief history of their evolution will be helpful in gaining an understanding of what they are and how they can be used as a truly creative tool for music composition. With each new version of Motif, the arpeggio function has improved. In the original Motif (classic) you had 256 arpeggio types in four categories: Sequence, Phrase, Drum Pattern, and Control.

In 2003, the Motif ES expanded on the concept. The original concept of the Motif-series was Music Production. We often talked about what could help keyboard players when they get writer’s block. Writer’s block is something that we all experience – so how can the technology provide some inspiration, without dictating everything? How can the synthesizer be more creative tool? The concept of “Phrase Factory” is, simply put: a way that the content provided in the arpeggio patterns can be manipulated into new and uniquely individual musical data. The Motif ES provided 1,787 arpeggio types, in 18 categories: Synth Sequence, Synth Chord Sequence, Synth Hybrid Sequence, Acoustic Piano & Keyboard, Organ, Guitar & Plucked, Guitar-Keyboard MegaVoice, Bass, Bass-Keyboard MegaVoice, Strings, Brass, Reed & Pipe, Synth Lead, Synth Pad & Musical FX, Chromatic Percussion, Drum & Percussion, Combination and Control.

The MO6/MO8 shared the arpeggio concept of the Motif ES.

Added to the Phrase Factory arsenal of weapons was Real Time Loop Remix – a way to really create an unlimited number of variations on the phrase data generated by the arpeggios. The MO6/MO8 expanded on the Real Time Loop Remix function – Because the MO6/MO8 did not sample, the “Pitch” and “Reverse” Remix types were superfluous to the operating system – the engineers expanded the Remix by adding 48 Fill-in Variations. And also added to the ES/MO engine was the MegaVoice technology to add unprecedented realism to the generated musical phrases.

In 2007 the Motif XS, in keeping with its theme to be over-the-top, provides 6,633 arpeggio types in 17 Categories and 15 Sub-Categories. The MOX came with 6,720 arpeggios. Finally in 2013 the MOXF provided some 7,981. And a newly re-vamped Real Time Loop Remix function. Not to mention that four separate different arpeggios can be used simultaneously.

The Motif XF (2010) and the MOX6/MOX8 (2011), MOXF6/MOXF8 (2013) also use the innovations introduced with the XS.

So what is an arpeggiator and how does it work? Basically, arpeggios started out as musical sequences of notes that automatically played up and/or down the scale – a broken chord. Fast-forward to the 21st century where arpeggios now have real musical content that can be complex musical parts with chord voicing intelligence. Guitar riffs, bass lines, drum grooves, and more, are now fair game. The arpeggios found here are not your grandfather’s arpeggiator!

Here are some fundamentals of how the Motif XS/XF and MOX/MOXF deal with your note-on events: When you press a key that information can either trigger a synthesizer sound directly in the synth tone generator or its note number value can be delivered to the arpeggiator, which then generates a pattern of note-on events related to the currently selected arpeggio type and arpeggio Key Mode. The KEY MODE is important because it determines what the arpeggiator does with the key press events it is sent. For example, does it play the arpeggio data in a predetermined fashion? Does it playback the arpeggio data in the order in which notes are sent in? Does it allow the direct key press to continue on to the tone engine? Or does it block the trigger event and only play the pre-arranged content?

Let’s start the discussion with a look at how arpeggios can deal with Velocity. Velocity is the speed with which a note-on event is pressed and translates to volume output.

Per Element Velocity Limits:
The Velocity Limit parameter within the Element: These determine what note-on strength will make an Element respond with sound.
Here is how you can explore this:

Call up the VOICE: “Festival of Harmony”
Located at: Pre7: 103(G07)
• Press [EDIT]
• Press Track Select button [1] to view Element parameters
• Press [F1] OSC (Oscillator)
• Press [SF3] LIMIT


This screen is showing the NOTE LIMIT (key range across the keyboard) and the VELOCITY LIMIT (what velocities will make this Element sound). You should take note that in the extreme upper left corner of the screen the MOX/MOXF will always tell you exactly where you are within the architecture. You are in VOICE mode, and you are editing “EL1” (Element 1).
• Press [SOLO] and solo Element 1

It is set to sound only when a note-on event is triggered between a velocity of 112 and 119
• Play the keyboard and hear the contribution of this Element in response to the arpeggio. Notice that no matter how lightly or hard you strike the keyboard the result is the same.
• Now turn the main Arpeggio ON/OFF button OFF.
• Play the keyboard manually and attempt to trigger a note in the velocity range 112-119.

Now you will see/hear that only when you play a note-on event that is within the narrow velocity range of 112 through 119 will this Element make sound. (Please take note just how difficult it is to actually play a note in this narrow region of velocities consistently – this is one reason this is done with a pre-programmed arpeggio)… The note-on event that causes this Element to sound can be either you pressing a key or it can be from the data generated by the arpeggio pattern (when ARP ON/OFF = ON).

It is the data in the associated arpeggio pattern that must send a note-on value between 112 and 119 to make Element 1 sound. A note-on event between 120 and 127 will make Element 2 sound. Repeat our experiment while soloing Element 2… then with Element 3 and finally Element 4. Use buttons [2], [3] and [4] to select and view those ELEMENTS, in turn.

El2 FestHarmonyIf you play a note harder than 112, (ARP ON/OF = OFF) Elements 3 and 4 will not sound at all.

So Sherlock Holmes would conclude: Therefore, my dear Watson, the notes generated by the arpeggio pattern are in excess of velocity 112! And we can conclude that note-on velocity is a critical parameter.

The wispy sounding Element 3 and the analog pad sounding Element 4 do not invite you to play with big velocity, so as long as you do not nail notes hard, you are unaware that once you exceed 111 – those Elements to do not sound at all. Return the Voice to normal (undo the SOLO function by pressing the [MUTE] button). Turn the main ARPEGGIO ON/OFF = ON.

There is another parameter that is also a Velocity Limit that controls at what velocity from the keyboard the arpeggio will start.
Here is where that is found:

From the Voice main screen
• Press [ARP EDIT]
• Press [F4] LIMIT
Here you will also find a parameter called “Velocity Limit”.


To see how this works: Set this to 90 – 127
Notice the screen indicates you are in VOICE mode, and you editing the ARP.

Now when you play the Voice “Festival of Harmony” with a velocity below 90 only the wispy Element (3) and analog pad (4) Elements will play… but when you want to bring in the arpeggio + the pad, simply play with a greater velocity 90 or above and the arpeggio will start.

So you have a Velocity Limit for the overall Voice’s response to the arpeggios (this is why it is found in ARP EDIT area). But you also have, at the Element level, an individual Velocity Limit for when an Element willrespond with sound. And, as mentioned, it is in response to a note-on event from you playing the keys orfrom the arpeggiator output. That is why I illustrated this by having you turn ARP ON/OFF to OFF.

To make this point clear try an example using a Drum Voice… if you set the [ARP EDIT] > [F4] LIMIT > Velocity Limit range to 126-127… and assigned the KIT VOICE a “DrPc” arpeggio, and set ARP ON/OFF = ON… the Drum Voice would play normally in response to key strikes; that is until you struck a key with a velocity of 126 or 127 at which time the arpeggio would start. So the ARP EDIT “Velocity Limit” parameter is responsible for triggering the start of the arpeggio.

The fact that the “Festival of Harmony” Voice has Elements with specific velocity ranges, and arpeggio patterns designed to send notes at specific velocities to the Elements assigned in those specific ranges, is what makes the Voice so very unique.

The Note-On velocity of the source phrase data is transferred to the arpeggio type. And when you assign an arpeggio type to a VOICE you can have that Voice respect the original source velocities or not. The parameter is called the “VELOCITY MODE” – it can be set to “original” or “thru”.

original – The Arpeggio plays back at the preset velocities included in the Arpeggio sequence data.

thru – The Arpeggio plays back according to the velocity of your playing. For example, if you play the notes strongly, the playback volume of the Arpeggio increases.

Experiment: Set the VELOCITY MODE to THRU on the “Festival of Harmony” and see that you must exceed 112 for the arpeggios to happen… this is because YOUR playing is doing the determining. Not the ORIGINAL Velocity as recorded in the original Arpeggio data.
The VOICE “Festival of Harmony” uses the arpeggios in the PadH (Pad High velocity) category…


You can see this when you go to the following screen:
Press [ARP EDIT]
Press [F2] ARP TYPE and [F3] MAIN

Each of the [SF] buttons 1-5 will recall a different ARP, for example:
[SF1] = CATEOGRY: Hybrid; SUB-CATEGORY: Zone Pad; TYPE: #6424 “MA_PadH_Pad Seq1”

The Arpeggio Velocity Ranges will (should) cover the entire velocity range 1-127. “PadH” or Pad High range, has velocities 1-112 for the pad sounds and two regions for arpeggio response 113-120 and 121-127.
A “2Z” or Two Zone Velocity arpeggio will have just two ranges or zones to cover the full 127. It is listed as 1-90 for the first zone and 91-127 for the other zone.

If you have a Voice with two Elements and one is set to respond to note-on events from 1-90. And the second Element is set to respond to velocities of 91-127… then an arp pattern will trigger one or the other depending on the velocity of the note events contained in the arpeggio source material (and the VELOCITY MODE setting).

A “4Z” or Four Zone velocity arpeggio will have four ranges to cover the 1-127 spectrum, as follows:
1-70, 71-90, 91-110, 111-127

Take the Voice: PRE 7: 126 (H14) Mister Sinister.
It has several Hybrid > Zone > 4Z arpeggio assigned to it. This is a four Element Voice.
But get this: The Element Velocity Limits are set as follows:

EL1 = 1-70
EL2 = 70-104
EL3 = 91-127
EL4 = 108-127

…Not quite matching the 4Z velocity ranges – rather Elements actually overlap in some instances and this causes the unique pattern where at times the Element sounds play simultaneously _ like in any poly-rhythmic situation – there may be simultaneous hits. So if you create an arpeggio pattern with different velocities you may trigger only one Element or there is a possibility of triggering different combinations of Elements.

• A note-on event of 66 triggers only the thick “DigiOsc4” wave of Element 1.
• A note-on event of 86, for example, only triggers the”Radio Noise” wave in EL2…
• A note-on event of 105, triggers the hihat sounding “ElectricPerc2” (EL3)
• But a note-on event of 112 triggers both the hihat-ish EL3 and the hollow synthy “Mg Bass1” (EL4)

…you get the idea… With this Voice, press [EDIT] and use the [SOLO] button (as before) to hear the rhythm that the arp is sending to each Element. Each is contributing to the whole arp pattern. And if you record the data to the sequencer you will see the velocities are what are making the rhythm pattern.
You do not have to match the discreet velocity zones – that is thinking way too “inside”… you can have the Voice Elements have different ranges and the ranges can overlap – which causes combination sounds (multiple elements at once). The arpeggio source data can be created right in the Sequencer – the arpeggio pattern can be made up from up to four tracks. Now, often these tracks are misunderstood. All four tracks will apply to the same arpeggio pattern – so they should be seen as rhythm rather than different instruments (as with a traditional track).

Okay, let’s go one more step… in creating an arpeggio like this one, you can see how the four tracks of the arpeggiator were used… each setup a different rhythm… because often arpeggios are more about the rhythm than the notes….

Element 1, which acts as the “bass” here, is decidedly on the upbeat (the “and” of the beat) “1+2+3+4+”
Element 2 plays a hide and seek role at the top and near the end of the 2 measure cycle
Element 3 plays a role like a hi-hat pattern
Element 4 is on the back beat 2 and 4, solid “1+2+3+4+”

This has been a quick peak at Velocity Zones… and how they apply to Arpeggios. Explore your favorite Voices; there is much to be learned by exploring!

Recording a Hybrid Velocity Zoned Arpeggio to the Sequencer
The sequencer is designed to record either the key presses (direct) or the output of the arpeggiator (notes as sorted by the selected arpeggio type). Voices that use the following types of arpeggio KEY MODES are going to be somewhat problematical: “sort+direct” and “thru+direct”. There is no perfect “easy” solution….

PRE 8:017(B01) “TekkNow”:
TekkNow1When you look at this VOICE it is made up of 4 Elements.

One makes up the pad sound – Element 1
Three are arpeggiated – Elements 2, 3, and 4

You can hear this by pressing [EDIT] and soloing the elements, here’s how:
Buttons [9], [10], [11], [12] light which indicates that Elements 1, 2, 3, 4 are active in the VOICE>
Press [SOLO]
Press [1] To select ELEMENT 1 (light [9] flashes)
Play the keyboard.
You will hear the PAD as long as you don’t exceed its velocity range – (no arpeggio)

Press [2] to select ELEMENT 2 (light [10] flashes)

Play the keyboard.
You will hear an arpeggiated Element repeat for Elements 3 and 4

Press [MUTE] to release the SOLO function and hear them all together.

The ‘pad’ Element (EL 1) is triggered (direct) any time you play a note within the velocity range of 1-104.

The three Elements that are arpeggiated (sorted), are responding to a velocity altered arp type… notice they are mapped with velocities of 105-127, 106-127 and 96-127. The arp types is in the “HYBRID” category and the VELOCITY RATE has been increased (200%) so that only sounds set to respond to high velocities, will react.

So you can conclude that in order to respond to the arpeggio an Element would have to be greater than 105; ELEMENT 1’s Velocity Range is 1-104. This is how the PAD Element goes without being “sorted” by the arpeggio pattern… all the arpeggiator’s notes have a velocity much higher than 105… so the PAD Element is unaffected and the ARP Elements respond.

COPY the “TekkNow” Voice to two USER VOICE locations. Say USR1:001 and 002
_Press [STORE]
_Target the USER location USR 1:001
_Press [ENTER] to execute.

Make another copy:
_Press STORE target location USR 1: 002

In the first USR VOICE: USR 1: 001
Turn OFF Elements 2, 3 and 4
You do so as follows:

Press [EDIT]
Press [2] to select ELEMENT 2 for editing
Press [SF1] WAVE
Press [3] to select ELEMENT 3 for editing
Press [4] to select ELEMENT 4 for editing

TekkNowPadThis will create the PAD portion of the “TekkNow” Voice. NAME it something appropriate “TekkNow PAD”
You name a VOICE by pressing [COMMON] > [F1] GENERAL > [SF1] NAME
[STORE] it…. you can tweak it more later, if you wish.

Call up the second Voice copied location: USR 1: 002
Press [EDIT]
Press [1] to select ELEMENT 1 for editing
Press [SF1] WAVE
Name it something like “TekkNow ARP”
Press [STORE] to store your second Voice.

Now create a new USER PERFORMANCE with these two newly created Voices in it as PART 01 and PART 02… tweak to your liking.

(Remember to use “Param. with Voice” when selecting the second VOICE. It will be the arpeggio PART you want it with come in with all of their pertinent data). Here’s how:

Initialize a PERFORMANCE
Press [JOB] > [F1] INIT > select ALL > Press [ENTER] to execute.
Press [EDIT]
Press [1] to view PART parameters
Press [F1] VOICE
Press [SF1] VOICE
Set the BANK = USR1
Number = 001 TekkNow PAD
Press [2] to view PART 2 parameters
Set PARAMETER with VOICE = ON (this will copy the 5 arps to [SF1]-[SF5] buttons)


then select BANK = USR1
Number = 002 TekkNow ARP
By setting PARAMETER with VOICE ON, and then selecting the VOICE the arpeggios for this second VOICE will be assigned to the PERFORMANCE PART.


Turn the main ARPEGGIO ON/OFF Switch = ON
Press the [ARP EDIT] button
Press [F3] ARP MAIN
Make sure the SWITCH = OFF for PART 1 and is ON for PART 2
The selected PART is listed just below the “PERF” in the extreme upper left corner.
Set the TEMPO = 130 to match the VOICE.

Additionally, you may want to tweak the relative Volumes of the PAD versus the ARP’d PARTS to your taste.


Now you can use DIRECT PERFORMANCE RECORD to record this sound to the sequencer without any problems. It is a bit of work but I find I am actually able to make some subtle improvements to the data along the way and as I mentioned these are among my favorites and I find it well worth the trouble.

You can customize this routine to your own taste… but this is what Direct Perfromance Record allows you to do with the “sort+direct” and/or “thru+direct” conundrum… you simply use the architecture to find a way around it.

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