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Welcome to the support section.

Tweak of the Week: Bluesy Clean Legato

The thing about programming your own Voices is YOU must make the decisions about what sounds right. Here we’ll discuss how the “legato” articulation works at the Element level within a VOICE and why.

The XA CONTROL (eXpanded Articulation Control) is a function that takes place to influence Element behavior. An Element is a set of parameters applied to a Waveform. It defines how the VOICE will sound when you perform it. Each VOICE can have as many as 8 Elements. Each Element can be a different component of the total sound. They do not all have to sound at once - in fact that very rarely happens. Each Element can have specific instructions that tell it to sound only when a specific range of keys are struck, and only when they are struck within a specific range of key-on velocities. Some Elements only play when you release a key. And as we’ll learn some only sound when you specifically play “legato”. Each Element has its own Filter and filter settings, its own Amplifier and amplifier settings, its own Pitch and tuning parameters, etc., etc., etc. Exploring how each Element contributes to the whole sound is the key to learning how to program - and can be helpful in discovering how to play some of the more complex VOICES.

Legato as you know is a musical gesture where on instruments that principally play one note at a time (like most piped or string instruments) where several notes can be generated from just one attack… As on a flute or sax where one breathed attack can be used to generate an entire phrase of notes - they do so simply by fingering the notes all based on that one attack. The important thing is that there is no new breathed attack. On a string a “hammer-on” is an example of a legato gesture: where one plucked attack is used to start the string moving and then the “fret hand” is used to finger additional notes on that vibrating string.

In both examples, several notes are generated from one attacked note. So the second note’s attack does not have the same pitch and harmonic movement as the others. As you know, all sample-based instruments are constructed of multiple recordings of an instrument - and typically when you turn notes on one after the other each has an attack. As a piano (percussion) player this is normal - as with a piano you cannot do the same kind of legato an instrument that produces one note at a time. And so when you play a sampled flute or sax every note is typically an attacked note. Attack - attack -attack - attack for every single note. This is why phrasing on these instruments does not sound exactly right.

The XA CONTROL as found on the MOX can be used to place a LEGATO Element as one of the sound sources. It will only sound when it detects you are attempting to turn on a new note while a note is already being held. (legato gesture). Instead of re-triggering the Element responsible for the attack, the Voice selects the “legato” Element - typically you will find that this is a sample of the instrument sans (without) the attack portion. (When no such Waveform has been included you can edit the AEG (Amplitude Envelope Generator) of the Element so that the INITIAL ATTACK is 127 - this will turn the note ON with full volume - zero rise time).

Depending on the instrument the attack Element could contain specific noise, or pitch change and definitely has the rise in volume common to the instrument being emulated. The Legato Element (typically) is just the sustaining portion of the instruments wave - no rise in volume, no attack noise component, etc.

The synth will recall the legato Element - allowing the sound to behave like a true legato gesture would cause on instruments that support a single tone at a time. A pipe supports one pitch at a time, a single string can support a single pitch at a time - these are the legato behaviors being mimicked.

If you explore a VOICE that has a LEGATO setup - for example Pre 2:088(F08) - Bluesy Clean Legato
Here you have an electric guitar lead sound for articulating a blues melody. Notice how when you hold down an E and trill to an F there is no re-attack of the envelope. You can emulate a guitar “hammer-on”.

Press [EDIT]

Notice the lights 9-16 indicating the active Elements in this VOICE.
The buttons [1]-[8] SELECT an Element
buttons [9]-[16] directly below them, MUTE and UNMUTE the Elements 1-8.

Press [3] to select ELEMENT 3 (this happens to be the LEGATO Element
Press [F1] OSC
Press [SF1] WAVE
You can deactivate this Element by turning OFF [11] (the corresponding Element 3 MUTE switch.
When you turn OFF [11] Element 3 you can hear the Voice without the LEGATO ELEMENT.

Try the same trill: Hold the E while triggering the F on and off (hammer-on) notice how now the Voice behaves like it normally would - every time you lift the F the E automatically re-triggers - even if you are still HOLDING it down.

This behavior is how samples normally behave - they re-trigger with each key-on event. But when the LEGATO Element is active, the Voice will switch to it anytime the keyboard detects you are executing a legato phrase. The Waveform that is used in ELEMENT 3 is a sample of a guitar with the ATTACK portion of the sample removed.

When you go through VOICES, look for a reference to Legato in the name. Sometimes a solo Voice will have legato set to one of the [AF] Assignable Function buttons, allowing you to switch between polyphony behavior and legato behavior. Remembering that legato here is referring to the musical situation where the vibrating device creates just a single tone (mono) - as when a single string is played “hammer-on” style, or a column of air (all wind/horn instruments) typically support a single tone at a time: Legato as a monophonic phrase gesture - where the connection between notes has a distinct smooth behavior.