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Manny's FM-Xplorations: Article 3

Manny's FM-Xplorations: Article 3
Welcome to the third article in the Manny Fernandez FM-Xplorations series! A longtime FM programmer who contributed sounds to the DX7II, SY77, SY99, FS1R and DX200, Manny has lots of tips and tricks to share in this highly informative series. Let's join Manny now . . . 

Motion Sequences in Depth.

Hopefully in reading the prior articles (see links at bottom of article), watching the videos, and taking the time tweaking around with the tutorial Performances, you have gotten familiar with the core building blocks of the FM-X synthesis engine and Motion Control. With this article, I’m going to do a deep dive into Motion Sequences. In addition to explaining some specific tutorial example Performances, I will also deconstruct some finished Performances to show how it was all put together in practical sound design.

So, how deep is deep? Hold your breath:
  • There are 14 native Controllers on the MONTAGE itself – eight Knobs, two Switches, Ribbon, Aftertouch, Pitch Bend and Mod Wheel.
  • There’s the ‘master’ Performance Motion Sequence for the SuperKnob with up to eight variations.
  • Then there are the four Motion Sequence Lanes per Part, each having up to eight variations.
  • Those are all routed within each FM-X Part -up to 16 Control destinations, which can each be assigned to 29 synthesis parameters within FM-X synthesis engine.
  • Then you can have up to 16 Parts within a Performance that can be layered or split into keyboard zones and/or velocity ranges.
There is a minor restriction that to maintain timing accuracy only a total of eight Motion Sequences can be active within a Performance across all Parts, but even so we have the ability to have a humongous / epic amount of modulation, morphing and sonic control going on! (NOTE -- There are additional external Controllers as well -- two Foot Pedals, Breath Controller and a Footswitch, plus all the Envelope Followers – we’re drowning in possibilities here!) So, let’s begin assembling a sound using Motion Sequences to control FM-X synthesis parameters. Remember to have the accompanying Performance Library file loaded, then go to the Live Set “Manny FMXplr “ and select the Performance “MFMX MultiMS Example”. Play and hold some notes and you will hear a basic slow pulse width modulation (PWM) style pad. I’ve set up Knob 3 to control the overall Envelope – as you increase the Knob value, the slow pad attack & release contours change to a more percussive comp style envelope:
1
For this sound I choose Algorithm 67 with 4 separate two-Operator stacks, in which I’m using Operators 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 to create the pad base (three stacks, detuned, similar to three oscillators in an analog synth):
2
I’ve set the Modulator Ops 3, 5, & 7 each to the All 1 Wave with a Skirt of 4 and the Carrier Ops 4, 6 & 8 each to the Odd 1 Wave with a Skirt of 6. This creates a basic FM simulation of pulse width modulation (PWM) by having a sawtooth wave shape (Modulator = All 1 Skirt 4) FM-ing a square wave shape (Carrier = Odd1 Skirt 6). The Modulator Index – the Level of the Modulator Operators – will control the narrowing of the resulting pulse wave, meaning at Modulator Level = 0 we hear just the basic square wave sound of the Carrier’s Odd 1 Wave Skirt 6. Side note for the mathematically savvy FM heads out there – yes, to exactly recreate the harmonic structure of proper PWM, the modulating saw wave should be phase shifted 90 degrees from the carrier square wave. This example gives more of a blended saw/pulse hybrid timbre structure as we don’t have control of Operator phase in FM-X, but it still sounds very nice with same overall character of PWM. Part Motion Sequence Lane 4 is controlling these Modulator’s Level:
3
This Modulator Level control is what creates in our resulting FM-X sound the slow modulation from square to narrower pulse then back to square. There also a slight amount of Modulator Operator detune to enhance the effect. I’ve used the Sigmoid Curves for the sequence’s Pulse A and Pulse B shapes with PRM1 set to 2 and Prm2 set to 3, with the overall Smooth set to 96 for an even modulation effect:
4
This covers just the base pad portion of the sound. Exit to Home from Edit Mode (back to Performance mode) and turn Knob 1 all the way to minimum and Knob 2 all the way to maximum. This turn down the base PWM base pad sound and turns up the fourth stack of Operators 1 & 2:
5
Play and hold a few notes for about 8 – 10 seconds. You’ll hear a very extreme wave-sequency, FM-y, hard sync attack type of sound that will loop through a series of metallic harmonics for as long as you hold the note. This effect is created using three separate Motion Sequence Lanes. To show what each is doing, let’s go to Edit-Part 1-Common and choose the Motion Sequence Lane page:6
We’ll begin by turning off Lanes 1, 2 & 3 (you can leave on Lane 4, it controls the PWM effect for the base pad sound that we’ve turned off with Knob 1):
7
If you now play some notes you’ll hear just a static, generic FM type of timbre. New, lets turn on only Motion Sequence Lane 1:
8
Play and hold note C2 (the C one octave below middle C) for about 4 -5 seconds. What you are hearing is Lane 1 controlling the Level (Modulation Index) of our Modulator Operator 1, along with the Resonance amount for the Operator 1 Res1 waveform:9
This Lane is set to play once in 1st- On mode (Loop is ‘off’) synced to Tempo but playing at half the speed (200%):10
Next turn off Lane 1 and turn on Lane 2:
11
Again, play and hold note C2 for a few seconds. You will hear a repeating, stepped metallic harmonic sequence that loops for held notes (Loop mode is ‘on’) also synced to Tempo and playing at half speed. Lane 2 is controlling the Ratio Frequency of our Modulator Operator 1:
11
Next, turn off Lane 2 and turn on Lane 3. Again play C2, and you will hear Lane 3 controlling the Spectral waveform of our Carrier Operator 2 and the Level (Modulation Index) of the Modulator Operator 1 in an 8-step sequence synced to Tempo at normal (100%) speed:
121314
Combined all together these three Motion Sequence Lanes create a very complex modulation in the timbre of the sound. Finally, to hear how it all can work together, turn back on Lanes 1, 2, 3 so all 4 Motion Sequences Lanes are active, and press Home to exit back out to Performance Mode. When you’re back to the Home screen, turn Knob 1 back to Maximum to bring in the base pad sound, and also press the Arpeggio off/on button to activate the Arpeggiator:
15
Now, Play and hold a chord and listen of the interplay of our Motion Sequence modulations interplay with the sequencer pattern. Because the Motion Sequence Lanes have a mixture of looping mode and 1st-On mode, there is a different attack articulation with new discrete chords vs legato played chords. OK, take a breather before we move on... 

Need to catch up on the first two lessons? Check them out:

Article 1
Article 2

Questions/comments about this article? Join the conversation on the Forum here.

Ready to move forward? More about FM-X, Motion Sequences and Arps in the next article here!


Download the library file for all the Performances referenced in the article series here: MannyFMX_2 

Synthbits: More Fun with "thebrackett" and the MOX...
Glorious Stereo!

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