Tempest Recipes: 1-voice chords

February 26, 2012

On the Tempest, as with any decent synthesizer, we can create 1-note – and thus 1-voice – chords by tuning our oscillators to the correct intervals. We can mix-and-match between these chord types as you play, and record them on-the-fly. In 16 tunings mode, notes pressed will play the relevant root chord.

This time I’m providing a template patch. (Download via right-click). The sysex is a Beat because at the moment the Slider FX configuration is not saved for individual sounds. The Beat has a Kick on Pad1 and the Chord stab patch is on Pad 16. Pad 16 is already set-up to output the following chords using the FX sliders:

minor (0,3,7) – Default – slider 1@0, Slider 2 centered.
minor 7th (0, 3, 7, 10) – Slider 1 affecting Osc1/2 mix, miniumum=100/0.
minor 6th (0,3,7,9) – Slider 1@100, Slider 2 affecting Osc2 pitch @ minimum (all the way down).
min/maj 7th (0,3,7,11) – Slider1@100, Slider 2 @ maximum.

The sound itself is very basic, using 4 saws, but you can use whatever waveforms you want, along with all the other goodies that Tempest provides, to make your own chords, be they stabs or sustained. Be aware though that there are still issues with sustained sounds and stuck notes, especially whilst changing parameters when holding notes. Hopefully this will be rectified.

Note that I left left the delay on in this example – everything is on voice 4 (kick is voice1). However, if you de-assign voice allocation, there is plenty of room for the delays to spread out, creating a much bigger sound when there are enough voices. Try it with different delay times/amounts. During patching the delay should be turned off.

But the important aspect here is the relative Oscillator tunings.

Knowing how to do it yourself will open a whole world of 1-voice chord progressions, using almost any chord and in any root/key. Essential when your voice count is only 6. In this case we make the chords using the oscillators, thus requiring only one keypress to sound correctly.

Here’s how the patch is constructed.

  • Start with a saw wave on each of the 4 OScs. The digital Oscs 3+4 are always louder than the analogue Oscs by default. It’s alway a good idea to start with a low level and introduce them for the optimal oscillator mix. But for now, turn Oscs 3 and 4 right down and set Osc1/2 mix to 100/0. Also set the Envelope mode to ADSR and shorten the decay. Now only a sustained Osc1 should be sounding.
  • Just as we did for the LFO’s previously, it’s good exercise to work-out at what amount Slider FX needs to be applied to raise or lower the pitch of an oscillator by one semitone. Again, using Gtune I could see this value to be 4 for the FX sliders. This is approximate only – the oscillators don’t track exactly the slider scale  – they’re always a little out of tune, but in this case it’s not really a problem, as our chord stabs can benefit with a little detuning.
  • I want to start with a basic minor chord. According to my chart the Oscillators need to be set at intervals at 0, 3, and 7. My preference is to use the digital Oscs as the ‘backbone’ of the sound, with the analogue Oscs being changed to give different chord types.
  • In this case, the backbone I want to use is the interval 0,7 – because this is common to the chords I’m aiming for. Turning off Osc2 for now and, leaving Osc3 alone, I pitched Osc4 up by 7 semitones, and Osc1 up by three semitones (to D#3). Switching to 16 Tuning mode, any key I press will be a minor chord whose root is the note just pressed.
  • OK good, but this is still only minor chords. For excitement we might want to mix-in some different intervals, and maybe extend the chord with the fourth Oscillator. The FX sliders are perfect for the job. We want Osc2 play the 10 interval and be able to pitch it up to 11 and down to 9 for different chord flavours. For this example I will use slider 1 in unipolar mode to control Osc1/2 mix, and slider 2 in bipolar mode to move the pitch of Osc 2 up and down by one semitone. I set slider1 to about 64 (I don’t want to to completely dominate with this Osc – just mix it in). Slider 2 is set to a value of +4, corresponding to 1 semitone. Note that at present the FX sliders only work at note-on. The sliders do not change already-recorded chords.
    EDIT: This is incorrect. If you press the ‘Playback’ button over the sliders, you can then manipulate and overdub sequenced lines.

By default, here is how the Oscillators are pitched in this example:
Osc1 +3
Osc 2 +10 (inaudible)
Osc 3 +0
Osc4 + 7

This is a minor chord. The relative volumes of each oscillator are important to tweak – each one’s pitch must be clearly audible in conjunction with the others in order to hear our chord correctly. Remember that the digital Oscs are louder? Well I set them down about half-way or lower to balance with the Analogue Oscs.

By bringing-in Osc2 using slider 1, this changes the chord to a minor 7th chord – a recognisable staple of a zillion house musak choons. Adding a litttle glide doesn’t hurt. In this example I pitched Osc2 down an octave to make chord inversion. Inversions should be explored.

Moving Slider 2 fully up pitches Osc2 up a semitone, making a min/maj 7th (0,3,7,11 -not my favourite chord, but..). Moving Slider 2 fully down gives a minor 6th chord (0,3,7,9 much nicer).

Now it’s possible to sequence these 4 chords as we wish. Slider latch helps. Press latch again to deactivate and return to default minor chord.

We’re not confined to using the sliders. Chords can be changed in other ways – for example, with Osc1 Pitch knob in this example we can turn it up one semitone (for sus 4th chords) and down one (for sus 2nd chords).

By changing the relative pitches of the Oscillators we can come up with any chords we want, and, with a little thought, devise simple ways to manipulate them into other chord forms. Pitching individual oscillators up and down by octaves allows the construction of chord inversions, greatly increasing the pallete. I only used 2 sliders in the example.

To help you on your way, here are the common chord intervals for you to try. Each number represents a semitone interval.

major 0,4,7
minor 0, 3, 7
diminished 0, 3, 6
diminished7th 0,3,6,9
half diminished 0, 3, 6, 10
augmented 0, 4, 8
5th 0, 7
7th 0, 4, 7, 10
minor7th 0, 3, 7, 10
major7th 0, 4, 7, 11
min/maj7th 0, 3, 7, 11
suspended 4th 0, 5, 7
suspended 2nd 0, 2, 7
7th sus 4th 0, 5, 7, 10
7th sus 2nd 0, 2, 7, 10
added 2nd 0, 2, 4, 7
added 9th 0, 4, 7, 14
added 4th 0, 4, 5, 7
6th 0, 4, 7, 9
minor 6th 0, 3, 7, 9

In 16 Tunings mode try different scales as you modulate through the chord shapes. My fav right now is the Diminished scale – nice and moody. Change the root to the key of your track of course. Also the SID arpeggio trick can work well here – on the entire chord or just one Oscillator.

All up to you. A touch of external reverb/delay/flange and it’s ‘hands in the air’ time.


5 Responses to “Tempest Recipes: 1-voice chords”

  1. BD Says:

    Fantastic, the link , is that for a sysex download, its just a page of code, any chance you could kindly repair it

  2. Jazz Says:

    Hi this is great but the link seems not to be working, I’m on a mac BTW . Is it anyway to still get the template patch ?

  3. Anti Chris Says:

    Brilliant and helpful once again


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