One of the best features in Korg’s workstations over the past few years, has been the addition of KARMA. A lot has been written about it, with many people saying that it’s “difficult to learn” and “you need a PHD to understand how to use it”. Well, it may take some time to understand exactly what is going on when you press that KARMA button, but the musical benefits are well worth taking the time to do that. After all, you did not learn how to play keyboards overnight (right?) and this is very much the same thing. KARMA is like unraveling the DNA of music and can go very deep when it comes to programming sound. If you like to tweak, then KARMA is definitely for you!

KARMA can bring you in directions that you normally would not go and bring new life to your music in ways would never have thought of – so I would recommend anyone who has a Korg keyboard with KARMA included to dig in and see what’s going on under the hood. There is also a lot of great tutorials on how KARMA works at the KARMA LAB WIKI to help you along.

While this is not a tutorial on how KARMA works, I wanted to mention that the music in the video was all done using the KARMA “Atonal GE’s”. A “GE” is a KARMA Generated Effect. It is the name for a single KARMA algorithmic effect. Other keyboards might refer to this as an arpeggio, pattern or phrase, but there is much more to KARMA then what you would find in the simple ARP or pattern. With KARMA, the sky’s the limit!

For those not familiar with the term “Atonal Music” or “12 Tone Technique, Wikipedia defines it as: Music that lacks a tonal center, or key. Atonality in this sense usually describes compositions written from about 1908 to the present day where a hierarchy of pitches focusing on a single, central tone is not used, and the notes of the chromatic scale function independently of one another. More narrowly, the term describes music that does not conform to the system of tonal hierarchies that characterized classical European music between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries.

In other words, it’s not your typical pop music that’s in the “Key of C” – so don’t expect to write your next billboard top 100 hit using the KARMA Atonal GE’s!

The inventor or twelve tone technique was the Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg, who first described it in 1923. The method was used during the next twenty years almost exclusively by the composers of the Second Viennese School – Alban Berg, Anton Webern and Schoenberg himself.

Atonal technique works best if your composing modern classical music or doing movie soundtracks – so if your doing that or interested in getting into it then check out our upcoming release for the Kronos titled “Soundtrack Mix”. It’s going to be much like the Soundtrack Mix for the Korg M3 which features many of the best sounds from that collection – including many of the programs and combis that use the KARMA atonal GE’s including the mind blowing “Mind Of Cheney” combi.

The demo contains a combi that we call “Schoenberg Orchestra”. It has five parts included – the four KARMA GE’s and a drum track.

Part 1 – Acoustic Piano
Part 2 – String Section
Part 3 – Orchestra Hits
Part 4 – Percussion
Drum Track – Timpani

The first three parts all use the same “Atonal 1” GE, while the other two parts are the rhythm that holds everything together. KARMA has eight different “scenes”, where you can set up different instruments and rhythms on each one. It makes it easy to create an complete arrangement in a combi just from switching from one scene to the next. As you can see in the video, you don’t need to play a lot of notes to create a cool effect. Just hit one or two and let the GE’s do the rest!

Soundtrack Mix for the Kronos will include 64 New Programs and 32 New Combis and will be available February 2012. More info on all our Korg Kronos sounds can be found HERE.