Can i use one synth to lay down tracks that are wildly different?

trying to see if i understand workflow properly:

  • i have a volca fm. it can create very different sounds.
  • i set track 1 on my pyramid to channel 1 - connected to the volca fm
  • i create some crazy sounds and a nice beat with euclidean
  • while playing the track in track mode, if i change parameters on volca it changes the sound
  • now on track 2 i want the volca fm again, but i want very different sound - not just a different note, but a completely different sound
  • so i want track 1 to be the “old” parameters, and when i select track 2 i want to control different parameters

is this possible? doe sit even make sense


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With the Volca FM it’s not possible as it’s not multitimbral. With a multitimbral synth it would be possible, and certainly it makes sense.

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which synths are multimbral? any volcas? can i do multitimbral with volca sample?

There are many multitimbral synths. You can do a search. I suppose the Volcas are not.

Yes multi timbral instrument have more channels to can input their polyphony into.
so let’s say if you have 4 parts ( channels will be maximum 4 ifor this synth)
so let’s 16 parts of Virus and Blofeld can handle till 16 channels . and you can set each instrument to a channel. so with the virus there would be 16 different instruments playing together. the limit of the notes per step in your track instrument will depends of the polyphony from you synth or drum machine or sampler

MANY GROOVE BOXES can act as multitimbral modules: Roland MC series, Korg electribes new and old
MPC 1000 , has now 16 channels thanks to the JJ OS…
and there are quite a bit around…
though, there is still no much working on multi timbral synths by the companies, unless they are made for working as standalone like grooveboxes indeed.

The best you can do to obtaina full nice compositions from your multi timbral instrument is to get a one that has proper recalling of sounds within dedicated buttons or knobs… like mostly you have on grooveboxes, drum machine and very few synths like NOVA, where you find the “button per part”. those are easy to play in Pyramid!! this is the best you can do,… working with multitimbral deskyop like blofeld still nice but of course you miss the interactivity with the live performing out of you pyramid. and is very nice to be performing on all machine you have instead that only on your sequencer.

This is possible but you could only play the patterns sequentially. Technically using midi CC’s you could have multiple notes in a track of a sequence and have the CC values change each step, effectively changing the sound it plays, but the sounds can never overlap.

Multitimbral synths let you play more than one type of “sound” at a time and sometimes with multiple outputs on the hardware. Pretty fun!

Multitimbre synths I own: M1, Microwave XTk, Blofeld, Tetra, Circuit. All drum machines are multitimbrel. Polyphonic samplers are also multitimbrel (each sample is a timbre). And since all Moogs are monosynths, not a single one from Bobby boy is multitimbrel.

Not knowing how the Volca FM responds to program change messages, I can’t say if this will work well, but if you program into your sequence some prog. changes on the VM’s channel, you can have it swapping patches constantly during play. This can achieve some nice timbrel bouncing. Program (of choose) some vastly different patches on your FM then set running on a melodic internal sequence. Now program a sequence on your Pyramid that is purely MIDI program changes every so often over a period say 4 times the length of the FM sequence’s length, then run the two sequences at the same time.
Or (after reading your post again) make some euclidian loops and team them up with a prog. change pattern on a different track of your Pyramid.

That technique will work on any synth that recognises prog. change, but like I’ve already mentioned, it will be spoilt by any glitching a synth may make when receiving sysex or prog. change data.

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Volca FM doesn’t respond to program change messages, unfortunately. That’s my main problem with it as well. I always have to change the program manually if I open a new project or want different sounds within a song.

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You could always trade up to a Yamaha Reface DX! I always found the Volcas to be fairly Toy Like and especially when found to be missing features like program change.

Ahhh the VBeat is okay and the VKick is pretty kick arse, but I’m not going to buy any more of them. There’s no denying the Volcas are more like toys than instruments, but what I wouldn’t give to have had toys like them as a 14yr old.
The Volcas are great for jams and having a bit of fun making loops, but for the sound designer, they are not very deep. I’ve come close to getting a VFM but yeah, the limited engine and lack of MIDI control for many of the parameters, I think the Reface DX would be a much better purchase for that sort of thing, but I’d really like a true programmer’s FM synth like a Montage.

@megamarkd i had a similar experience. once i got the pyramid, i could suddenly sequence VASTLY more complex stuff… i mean the euclidean sequencer is the whole reason i bought it. i think its a killer feature.

the circular “clock and polygon” notation that squarp uses (and that godfried toussaint ‘invented’/started in his many excellent writings on polyrhythms) is brilliantly intuitive and league ahead of any “linear” sequencer. it is almost surprising how much better the experience is simply by (a bit) better interface design.

anyway - now my volca’s sound thin, or even limited. won’t be buying them again. they are fantastic for what they do and at their price point. anything more - no way jose.

@dumdumdedum I’ve had a fair few drum machines now and at the point of not really caring what the sounds are like if it’s a sample-based drummer and more what the sequencer is like. There is one Roland drum machine that, for programming rhythms live and in step-mode, is the killer machine, but due to dumb design tends to die if left on for 12mths at a time. Weirdly enough, many Roland drum machines after the TR range didn’t allow the user to edit more than one track while playing, requiring the player to stop the sequence, select a new track, then press start again to continue playing. From memory the Boss Doctor Rhythms might have; I didn’t own but had possession of a DR-550mkii for awhile and I remember it being a very nifty box, but my DR-660 died fairly quickly and I didn’t use is for much more than a drum bank.

The R-70 let the player swap between tracks and change instruments assigned to it in real-time, so you could have assign a cowbell to a track, then mid-sequence change it to a woodblock, or swap out a closed hihat on a run of 16th for a half-closed hat. And with the incredible library of instruments, all I needed for a nice minimal techno track was it and a reverb (four audio outs: main L/R and assignable individual outs 3/4).
Since mine died I have been chasing another, that is until I got my Pyramid. Now all I need is a good polyphonic sampler to load all the classic drum samples that will fill the hole left by analogue drums (and there is a big hole there in my mind).

My RY30 is probably the best digital drum bank I’ve owned. Far more tweakable than the Rolands and really convincing digital resonant filters for each voice. It’s dead too now…

I like the euclidian loops for more dress percussion, like congas, bongos, cowbell and woodblock rhythms that don’t really change more than drop in and out of the mix, but prefer the piano roll for the usual suspects like bass, snare and hats. The ability to easily change the MIDI note the loop is playing on-the-fly gives the same flexibility I had with the R-70.

As for analogue drums, I have a Rhythm Wolf, Volca Beats and Kick, Vermona Kick Lancet and an ADX-1. As for the two kick synths, I felt like crying when I got my VKick home as it almost made the Kick Lancet redundant. Although it claims to use the “resonator” from the MS-20, it’d be hard to recreate it’s sound on an MS-20 (it can be done with some patchwork but I’m not telling :zipper_mouth_face:). I found it’s limits though and have decided the Vermona is still a unique thump generator.

The Volca Beats a half decent drum machine also, but I don’t use it’s sequencer. Forget the snare on it, it’s weak as pus (say that in an NZ accent for the word I’d rather use), but the ago-go makes great cowbell when using the Pyramid to modulate the sample rate via a square wave LFO synchronised to a short division of the tempo. The clap is not bad either, but I back it up with a clap-like patch on the ADX-1 to get a better decay. Which brings me to one of the sorta tricks for percussion: multi-layers.
No one kick is the only kick you will ever need, nor will one kick ever really sound as punchy and fat and clicky as you want it to sound. All that early techno wasn’t just an 808 kick, there generally was some other sample or a 909 kick (a sampled kick) under there also to give that drive through the mix. An 808 kick by itself would get lost due to it’s lame attack and a 909 kick would let you hear the click in the attack phase but then disappear during decay. A little secret is to layer samples of both analogue and digital kicks and tailor them to behave in an analogue fashion using amp and filter envelopes. I remember one DJ I knew used an 808 sample with the sound Sonic the Hedgehog made when he rammed into the bad guys with great success. You can set-up to run using both your sources triggered via MIDI also, just if one of the sources is a 1990’s videogame console, that might be hard to do :wink:

Oooh better give a tl;dr for that: Keep your Volca Beat and Kick but sequence them with the Pyramid.

Oh a pity