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TAMING THE TRITON

June 1, 2001
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Korg Triton owners know that calling the Triton just anothersynthesizer doesn't do it justice. With all the Triton's functionsand features, it's more like vast, uncharted terrain, waiting to beexplored. In Triton territory the creative adventurer can travel inany direction and discover limitless musical riches.

Trying to explain all there is to know about the Triton is anexercise in futility. In this article I'll reveal someless-than-obvious maneuvers for you to try at home or in thestudio. Pointing you in the right direction will help you save timeand get your creative juices flowing in new ways.

Without getting too basic, I'll try to be as clear as possibleabout what operations to perform. If you need help with thefundamentals, a lot of information is available. Check out thesidebar “Get Linked” if you need somewhere tobegin.

COSMIC STRING THEORY

Because I'm a guitarist, editing a guitar patch seems like agood starting point. Strap on your favorite pair of rock 'n' rollshoes, and I'll call up program A037: Wet Dist Guitar.

Select the sound and then hit P8: Edit — Insert Effect, orjust press Menu and then 8. Turning off the effects makes hearingthe edits easier. There's more than one way to disable the effects,but for now, touch the Insert FX tab. You'll find that only oneinsert effect is being used, 006: OD/Hi.Gain Wah, assigned to IFX1.Touch the on/off switch on the touch screen to turn the effect off.Repeat that process for the Master Effects: hit Menu followed by 9,select the Master FX tab, and turn MFX1 and MFX2 off.

You can mute the effects from the Global menu, but I prefer toswitch them off at the program level. That lets you hear theoriginal sound — with effects — by hitting the Comparekey.

Now set up SW1 to toggle between a normal distorted guitar soundand a muted guitar sound. (That function isn't directly supportedin the Triton, but don't let that stop you.) To choose theoscillators you'll use, touch Menu, 1, and then the OSC Basic tab.That program is in Double Oscillator mode, with a velocity switchon the first oscillator.

You can leave Oscillator 1 as it is, but select a muted guitarwave for the second oscillator. Press OSC Basic and select ROM wave151: Dist.Gtr-Mute as the high OSC2 multisample. Because novelocity switching is applied to Oscillator 2, there's no need forconcern about the low multisample.

Now set up SW1 to control which oscillator will sound. Firstturn off the pitch shift that occurs when you hit SW1. Hit Menu andthen 2 to move to P2: Edit — Pitch. Select the OSC1 P.Mod taband set the LFO 2 AMS source to off, or make sure its intensity isset to +00.00.

You may wonder what LFO2 has to do with the pitch transposeeffect assigned to SW1 — a sneaky bit of programming that cancome in handy. LFO2 has been assigned a square wave that produces aconstant positive output followed by an abrupt change to a negativeoutput, which also remains constant until the abrupt shift back topositive. Hit Menu, 5, and then the OSC1 LFO2 tab to look at thatsetup.

Normally a square wave might produce a trill effect, but LFO2 iscycling at its lowest frequency, which is quite slow. Thelow-frequency oscillator (LFO) takes more than 30 seconds to runthrough the first half of its cycle and then switch from positiveto negative. When the LFO is applied to oscillator pitch and youuse SW1 to essentially turn LFO2 on and off, SW1 becomes, ineffect, a transpose switch.

You can slow LFO2 down even further, increasing the length oftime the pitch remains transposed. Assign SW1: CC#80 to AMS1 andAMS2 in the Frequency Modulation field, and set the Intensity forboth to — 99 (see Fig. 1). That will produce anextremely long LFO cycle; I stopped timing it after three minutes,and it still hadn't completed the first half of its cycle.

You can use the same trick to mute Oscillator 1. Move to P4:Edit — Amp and touch the Amp1 Mod. tab. Set the LFO2 AMSsource to SW1: CC#80, and set its intensity to — 99. Now playa note and hit SW1. The Oscillator 1 sound should mute, leavingonly the muted distortion guitar sound assigned to Oscillator 2.Tap SW1 again, and the sound should return.

THE OL' SWITCHEROO

Next, set up the patch so that the Oscillator 2 sound is mutedwhen SW1 is off, letting you switch between Oscillator 1 andOscillator 2. You might assume that a variation of the controlsetup you used for Oscillator 1 works, but it doesn't, because ampmodulation is applied as a multiple of initial amp level. If youstart with a level of 0 and multiply it by applying LFO2, you canguess what happens — nothing. It doesn't matter by how muchyou multiply a volume of 0; the result will still be 0.

You can, however, use LFO2 to modulate the amp envelope. PressSW1 to mute Oscillator 1. Move to P4: Edit — Amp and pressthe Amp2 EG tab. From there, you can adjust the envelope so itsounds a bit more like that of a muted guitar. I like thesesettings:

Level Start +99 Attack +99
Break +00 Sustain +00
Time Attack 05 Decay 50
Slope 00 Release 30

They provide a quicker, more mutelike sound. Now get tricky andchange the Start and Attack values to +00; leave the other valuesas they are.

With the Amp envelope levels set to 0, no sound is produced whenyou play the keyboard. In the screen's Level Modulation section,set AMS to SW1: CC#80, Intensity to +99, Start and Attack to +, andleave Break at 0. That drives the Start and tack levels to +99 whenSW1 is pressed, and when you play, you'll hear the muted guitarsound. Turn off SW1 to hear the sustained guitar sound and turn onSW1 to hear the muted guitar sound (see Fig. 2).

Wondering why you went through all that to drive the Oscillator1 Amp level with LFO2 when you could have used SW1 directly tomodulate the Amp envelope levels, as you did with Oscillator 2? Thereason is apparent if you try it: there's no control input for theAmp envelope sustain level. Either you have to set sustain to 0,causing your guitar sound to eventually decay, or you have to leavesustain set to some positive value. Unfortunately, that causes thesustaining sound to eventually fade back in if you hold the keysdown when you play the muted sound. The method I chose might seem abit roundabout, but it produces the best result.

Finally, if you prefer to have the mute function available onlywhen you hold down SW1, change SW1 from Toggle to Momentary at theController tab of P1: Edit — Basic. That edit also allows youto use SW1 like a real-time tremolo control: just hold a note orchord on the keyboard and bounce your finger up and down onSW1.

WHAMMY-BAMMY

Next, make a few more changes to the sound of your guitar. Withits dual-axis joystick, the Triton is well suited for whammy bareffects. You can use the x-axis to control standard bends— whole-step, for example, as in your current patch —and use the y-axis to play the virtual guitar's whammybar. In this case, leave the joystick's positive y-axisalone; it can continue to control LFO1 vibrato. Assign the negativey-axis to control downward pitch bend.

If you pull the joystick down, it increases Oscillator 1 attacktime, so disable that modulation routing. Move to P4: Edit —Amp, touch the Amp1 EG tab, and set AMS2 (in the Time Modulationsection) to off. Attack time will remain constant no matter how youmove the joystick.

Next, head to P2: Edit — Pitch and touch the OSC1 P.Modtab. Oops! An Alternate Mod Source (AMS) — the Slider, CC#18— is already assigned to control pitch. You can reassign it,but that's for wimps.

Because LFO2 is already set up as a parameter driver (you havebeen following along, right?), you can assign the joystick tocontrol the effect on oscillator pitch. For LFO2, set the AMS toJS-Y: CC#02 and set Intensity for the effect you want to produce.For downward bends — analogous to what real whammy bars do— use negative numbers. That sets up the whammy effect forOscillator 1. To apply the effect to Oscillator 2 as well,replicate the setting for Oscillator 1 (see Fig. 3).

THROUGH A STACK

Here is something I have learned as a guitarist: if you can'tget the effect you want out of a stompbox, plug in more stompboxes.With five inserts and two master effects processors, the Triton isjammed full of stompboxes.

For a sound that isn't possible with just one effect, trystacking two or more of the same effect or similar effects. Forexample, stacking two or more distortion effects makes it possibleto produce a much nastier distortion than you can get with a singledistortion. Go to P8: Edit — Insert Effect, touch the InsertFX tab, and turn IFX1 back on (you turned it off at the beginning)by pressing the button in the upper-right corner of the IFX1window. Assign the same effect to IFX2; touch the triangle next to000: No Effect, hit the Filter/Dynamic tab, select 006: OD/Hi.GainWah, and press OK. Touch the Chain checkbox next to IFX1 to passthe signal to IFX 2. Turn IFX2 on and listen to the result (seeFig. 4). Pretty gnarly, huh? Now get the effect undercontrol.

Use SW2 to bring the effect in and out, but first switch SW2from its current function — portamento control — to itsbasic switch function. Go to P1: Edit — Basic and touch theController tab. Select SW2 in the upper-right corner and change itto SW2 Mod.: CC#81. Return to P8: Edit — Insert Effect andselect the IFX2 tab.

Change the Wet/Dry mix parameter to Dry. Just to the right,select the source parameter (Src:) and dial up SW2: CC#81. Set theAmount to +100, or less if you don't want so much distortion. Whenyou hit SW2, the extra distortion effect will kick in —perfect for that death-metal polka you've been working on!

For even more fun, assign SW2 to turn on the Wah effect. Switchon the Wah parameter, set its source to SW2 CC#81, and make surethat the switch parameter (Sw:) is set to Moment (see Fig.5). The switch will toggle the effect on and off even thoughit's set to momentary, because SW2 is already configured for togglemode at the Edit-Basic page.

Set the Wah Sweep Range to something such as — 4 andchange the Wah Sweep Src: to Aftertouch. Notice that Aftertouch isalready being used for LFO-controlled vibrato. To turn that routingoff, go to P2: Edit — Pitch. On the OSC1 and OSC2 P.Modpages, set AMS to off for LFO1.

EFFECTIVE DISORDER

As you might suspect, the Triton effects can do a lot more thanwah-wah. The immense flexibility of the effects and the busingsystem can be a bit overwhelming, particularly in Combi(combination) mode. The following examples are someless-than-obvious applications.

Because you have two or more effects chained together doesn'tmean you have to use all the effects in the chain to process anypart in particular. For example, call up combination A112: AcousticMix. That combination has six assigned sounds, two of which areused to produce the arpeggiator pattern. Track 1 has an acousticpiano, and track 2 has an acoustic guitar; the other sounds areirrelevant.

Move to P8: Edit — Insert Effect and touch the Routingtab. Look at the FX Routing diagram in the upper right of thedisplay. You'll find that all five effects are used, with IFX1chained into IFX2, and the other insert effects are running inparallel. Check out the IFX/Indiv.Out Bus Select settings on thepage to see that the piano is routed to IFX1 (an EQ) and the guitaris routed to IFX3 (another EQ). IFX1, in turn, is routed into IFX2(a reverb) on its way to the output. IFX3 is routed directly to theoutput.

To run the guitar through a reverb, route the guitar to IFX2.That processes the guitar through the reverb used by the pianowhile bypassing the piano's EQ stage.

Now make things a bit more obvious. First, turn off the soundsassigned to Combi parts 3 and 4; you're only interested in theguitar and piano. Hit Menu and then 0 to move to the Play page.Select the Status tab for part 3 and set it to off; likewise, turnoff part 4.

Now go back to P8: Edit — Insert Effect. Touch the InsertFX tab and then touch the checkbox to the left of IFX2. That sendsIFX2's output to IFX3's input. Next, touch the effect-selecttriangle in the IFX1 field and switch the effect from 008: St.Graphic 7EQ to 020: Stereo Flanger, which you can gain access to bytouching the Pitch/Phase Mod. tab. Similarly, change IFX2 to 054:Reverb Wet Plate and IFX3 to 056: Reverb Room. Finally, touch theRouting tab and route the piano into IFX3 and the guitar into IFX1.If you listen to the result, you'll hear that the guitar is flangedand drenched in reverb, but the piano is relatively unprocessed.You can also send the piano signal to IFX2, which routes it throughthe plate reverb and the room reverb.

Chaining a pair of reverbs together often produces a more lush,animated sound. Don't think of an effects chain as an entity with asingle input and output; it's much more flexible than that. Forexample, imagine that you have only two internal effects availableand two or more sounds that require reverb — one of which isan electric guitar. You'd love to use distortion for only theguitar, and you want to have a reverb available not only for theguitar but also for other sounds. Simply chain a distortion effectto a reverb; then assign the guitar to the distortion at thechain's beginning and other sounds to the chain's reverb part. Theguitar will have distortion and reverb, and the other sounds willget only the reverb.

MIX MONSTER EFFECTS

Can't decide whether to spend your paycheck on that vintage drummachine or the latest outboard effects? Get the drum machine. Youcan use the Triton's effects to spice up audio tracks, not justinternal sounds. Here's how to make the hookup.

Plug the Triton's main L/R outputs in to a stereo aux return ora pair of channels on your mixer; that serves as your stereoeffects return bus. Next, plug at least one of the Triton'sindividual bus outs in to an input of your mixer. To send stereosounds to the mixer, you need to use at least two contiguousoutputs, such as 1 and 2, or 3 and 4. Then plug a couple of cablesfrom your mixer's stereo effects send or a pair of aux outs in tothe Triton's audio inputs. Be careful — with that sort ofsetup, it's easy to lose track of where you are and bus an auxoutput back to its input, sending yourself a surprise dose offeedback. I recommend turning all pertinent mixer faders down untilthe setup is complete and then gently testing everything.

That completes the physical routing of signals (see Fig.6), so move on to the Triton's internal routing. First, touchGlobal, then Menu followed by 0, and finally the Audio Input tab.At this point route the audio input signal to the effects. In theInput1 and Input2 fields, set the Bus (IFX/Indiv.) Select to L/R;that routes the audio input to the Triton's L/R bus. Set each inputLevel to 127 and set Pan to C064 (center). Centering the pan letsthe effects operate in full stereo.

Finally, in the Input1 field, set Send1 (to MFX1) to 127 andSend2 (to MFX2) to 000. Then do the opposite for Input2 by settingSend1 (to MFX1) to 000 and Send2 (to MFX2) to 127. That sets upeach of the Triton's audio inputs to function as a separate effectsbus. Input1 is routed to MFX1, and Input2 is routed to MFX2.

By now you should be able to add Triton effects to any of yourmixer inputs. To try that out, send a signal to a mixer input— maybe a drum machine or CD, for test purposes — andraise the effects send (or aux send, if that's what you're using)associated with that input. Check out the Triton's input levels byhitting Sampling, selecting the Input Setup tab, and pressing theRec/Write button. That displays the Triton's input meters, whereyou can see your input signal level. (The signal from the L/R outsis muted during metering; it comes back when you leave samplingmode.) If the signal is too high or too low, you can use the inputtrim knob on the back of the Triton to make adjustments, not therecording-level control on the sampling page.

Once you've set the level, press the Combi button and select acombination with a couple of master effects you like. CombinationA001: Lonely Moon might make a good starting point because it usesa delay for MFX1 and a reverb for MFX2. Slowly raise the level ofwhatever you're using for effects returns at the mixer and makesure the Triton's volume slider is up. You should hear the Triton'seffects applied to your source material. After you set anappropriate level, listen to the effects with only the first mixersend turned up and then only the second mixer send. If everythinghas gone according to plan, one send should control the reverbamount and the other should control the delay amount.

Now that you can control the Triton effects levels from yourmixer, you can set the master effects bus in the Triton to full onand fully wet. Move to P9: Edit — Master Effect and touch theMaster FX tab. Look at Return 1 and Return 2 in the display; ifeither level is below 127, you get dry signal mixed in with theeffected signal. Also pay attention to the chain setup; if the boxto the left of the MFX1 and MFX2 fields is checked, one effect'soutput will be chained into the other, which probably isn't whatyou want. Touch the MFX1 tab to check the setting for Wet/Dry atthe bottom of the page. If that isn't set to Wet, you'll be mixingdry signal in with the effected signal. Be sure to perform thatcheck for MFX2 as well.

TAKE AN ALTERNATE ROUTE

If you try to do any playing or sequencing with the Triton afteryou make those changes, you will discover that sounds from theTriton appear at the L/R outs, which send them to your mixer'seffects return inputs. That problem is easy to remedy — justreassign any wanted Triton sounds to the individual outs.

Reassigning output routings is probably best done from Combimode; that lets you avoid rewriting individual programs with newoutput bus settings. You can either send a sound directly to one ortwo of the individual outs or bus the insert effects to theindividual outs. The latter is probably quicker, because it islikely that every sound in a combination will be routed to at leastone insert effect. Move to P8: Edit — Insert Effect and touchthe Insert FX tab. For each of the insert effects assigned to theL/R output (found in the Bus Sel. column), switch the routing to anindividual output or, for stereo sounds, to a pair of outputs. Forexample, select the tab to the right of the IFX1 field and changeit from L/R to 1/2 (you could use output 1 alone, but this wouldn'tpreserve the stereo image generated by the chorus effect assignedto IFX1). Repeat that procedure for any other insert effects thatthe combination uses.

Check that none of the other sounds in the combination arerouted to the L/R or individual outs. Touch the Routing tab; you'llnotice that sounds 6, 7, and 8 are routed to the L/R outs. However,if you check the Play page, you'll see that those sounds are turnedoff. If any sounds had been routed directly to the L/R outs, youwould have wanted to redirect them to the individual outs so theywouldn't be mixed into your effects bus.

Once you've assigned the IFX buses to the individual outputs— as well as any sounds you want to bus directly, bypassingthe internal effects — it's a simple matter to run cablesfrom the Triton's individual outputs to your mixer's inputs. Toapply the master effects to those sounds, just increase yourmixer's effects send for the inputs you're using with the Tritondirect outs.

JACK THE RPPR

Listen up, trance fans. The following procedure concerns usingthe Real-time Pattern Play Record (RPPR) function to generatecomplex control data. You already know that with the RPPR functionyou can trigger pattern playback by pressing keys on the keyboard.But those patterns don't have to contain note data; they can justas easily contain sequences of complex controller moves. Recordedcontroller moves can be applied in real time to any sound youchoose. Think of the RPPR as an extremely sophisticated functiongenerator capable of controlling nearly any parameter orcombination of parameters you wish.

Press the Seq button, create a new song, and assign a synthsound to the first track. Choose a Program with interestingcontroller variations — perhaps something such as A008: Rez.Down. Move to P6: Pattern/RPPR and touch the Pattern Edit tab.Either select a blank User Pattern to record or erase an unneededUser Pattern. Touch the pull-down tab in the upper-right corner ofthe screen and choose Pattern Parameter. The screen that resultsprompts you to set the length and meter of the pattern. Set thepattern for something not too short — eight measures or so— and leave the meter set to 4/4 (you can try other timesignatures later).

Now set the tempo to something not too fast and hit theRec/Write button. You should hear the metronome start up. Whenyou're ready, hit the Start/Stop button, and after the count off,play and hold a single note. While holding the note, mess aroundwith the controllers: tap your finger up and down on the ribbon,move the joystick around, vary the real-time control knobs, and soon.

When you're done, hit the Start/Stop button to stop recordingand touch the RPPR Setup tab. Put a check mark in the Assign box inthe RPPR Setup section. In the lower part of the screen arecontrols for selecting the pattern to assign to any particular key.Assign the pattern but make sure it's the pattern you've beenworking with. (If you want to follow my lead, I recorded into UserPattern 01 and assigned it to C# 2 on thekeyboard.)

To test your new pattern, go back to P0: Play/Rec. Make sure theRPPR box in the upper right is checked, and play the key yourpattern is assigned to (in my case, it'sC# 2). If all of that has gone well, youshould hear your pattern play back.

Get ready for the cool part. Go back to P6: Pattern/RPPR, touchthe Pattern Edit tab, and select Event Edit from the pull-downmenu. In the resulting Set Event Filters dialog box, uncheckeverything except Note; you don't want to wade through all thecontroller data stuffed into that pattern (see Fig. 7).Touch OK, and you should see an event list with a single event— the note you played when creating the pattern. Select theevent and touch Cut to remove it (see Fig. 8). Now touchDone.

Return to P0: Play/Rec and select the track used for the newpattern — in this case track 1. Play a few notes to see thatthe Triton functions normally. Hold a note or chord and then hitC# 2; that triggers your prerecordedcontroller data, which is applied to whatever you're playing on thekeyboard. In addition, you can change the sound assigned to track 1and the controller data will be retained, letting you use it withother sounds. Change the sound assigned to track 1 and apply theRPPR-generated controller data to it — cool, huh?

Data you generate with that technique can have all sorts ofpractical applications. You can create RPPR presets for fades,ultraquick pitch bends (record the data at a slow tempo and thenspeed it up for playback), and syncopated tremolos and filtersweeps, or you can radically alter a sound instantly or over a longperiod. You can come up with dozens of applications.

TERRA INCOGNITA

I've only covered a fraction of the things you can coax theTriton into doing, but hopefully I've given you a springboard tolaunch some of your own ideas. After all, there's still a lot ofuncharted territory in Triton country.


Clark Salisbury's so-called life is based in Portland,Oregon, with an excellent wife and four cats. Special thanks toJerry Kovarsky at Korg USA.

GET LINKED

Triton enthusiasts abound, and lots of them can be found on theWeb. Here are a few sites featuring Triton resources, includingmailing lists, archives, and shareware applications:

Kevin Goodman's

Trinitro Editor-Librarian (Win)
http://magi.com/~goodmank

Korg
www.korg.com

Korg Triton Online Resource Center
www.paxtani.com/triton

Triton Archive
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/triton_archive

Triton Central
www.tapesh.com/triton

Triton Galaxy
www.tritongalaxy.com

The Triton Hardware Corner
www.pvv.ntnu.no/~knutinh/tritonhardware

Triton Haven
www.trinhaven.com

Triton Users
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/triton_users

The Triton Zone
http://209.35.182.75/trinityhaven/HTML/tritonHOME.htm

Vancesoft Triton Librarian (Win)
http://vancesoft.com/triton

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