Creating patterns on the Korg Monotribe is a piece of cake, and here’s how to do it…
The Korg Monotribe is one of the most instantly gratifying pieces of gear to land in our stores in recent times, alongside the acclaimed Monotron series and the more recent Volca line. Its combination of analogue synthesiser and drum machine is capable of delivering the fattest acid bass lines, with classic analogue drum sounds, to boot. One the unit’s key design features responsible for just how gratifying and inspirational it is, however, is the interface, and how easy it is to get great sounding results. Here’s a mini guide showing how to get create a pattern…
The Monotribe’s Controls
- Part Select Buttons – located to the bottom left corner of the unit on the row above ‘Flux’, record, play and ‘Gate time’. Labelled ‘Synth’, ‘BD’, ‘SN’ and ‘HH’, These select which sound/ part you are currently editing via the step sequencer
- Step Buttons – These buttons are located to the right of the part select buttons. Numbered 1-8, each button corresponds to a sequencer step, with the LED above lit when a step is set to play something
- Ribbon controller – this strip is located below the step buttons, with a piano keyboard printed onto it. This is the means of entering synth notes into the unit.
- Tempo control – this is fairly self-explanatory. Turning to the right increases the tempo of the sequence, turning to the left decreases tempo, with the pulsing light indicating the current tempo.
- Rhythm volume – just above the tempo control, this adjusts the volume of drum sounds
- Synth volume – under the VCA label
- Octave control – located at the top left of the front panel, this adjusts the current octave that the ribbon control is set to.
- Ribbon range switch – adjust the range of pitch and mode of the ribbon controller. In wide, this is six times the range of in narrow or key mode. In these two, the pitch corresponds to the pitch of the piano key marked. In Key mode however, the pitch changes in chromatic steps (like a piano keyboard) whereas in narrow the pitch changes continuously (like, say, a Stylophone)
- Active Step button – next to the part select buttons, these control which steps in the sequence will be played. A red LED above indicates that step will be played
The majority of the Monotribe’s other controls relate to shaping the synth sound.
Creating a pattern
- Adjust the tempo until it’s at the speed you want it to be. It’s easily adjusted later, so don’t get too caught up in fine tuning it
- When the Monotribe is switched on, there is a pre-loaded pattern. To get rid of this, press a part select button, then press any of the Step Buttons that have a red LED lit above. Repeat this process with each part select button in turn, until there are no red LEDs lit, and nothing is heard when play is pressed
- I always like to start with a kick drum, so press the ‘BD’ part select. Pressing the Step Buttons will select where the kick drum will be played (a red LED above the step indicating this). An additional eight ‘in-between’ steps are available by holding down the relevant part select button, before selecting the step. If you want a drum part that sounds quite ‘regular’, then it’s a good idea to at least have a kick on step 1. But hey, there are no rules here 😉
- Select the other drum parts and repeat in the same manner. You should now have a drum loop
- Now press the ‘Synth’ part select button
- There are two main modes when entering notes- step mode and ‘Flux’ mode (selected via the button in the bottom right hand corner). Put simply, in step mode, any note entered will snap to the nearest full step. In ‘Flux’ mode, it will record the notes exactly as entered (i.e. not necessarily perfectly in time). Select the one you would like to use.
- Select which ‘range’ you would like the ribbon set too. If you would like notes to be exactly chromatic, select ‘Key’ mode
- Hit the record button, located next to the play button. The red LED should begin to flash. Now press play, and it will begin to record
- Use the ribbon controller to enter your part.
- Press record again when you are happy with your part.
- Tweak the synth controls to your heart’s content…
There are many ways the step sequencer interface can be used and abused to creative ends. For example, switch the unit into flux mode, and set it to narrow or wide ribbon mode, then record some sweeps across the ribbon. Now switch it back to ‘key’ and switch off Flux. Voila- instant burbling acid bassline.
Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.