Monday, January 31, 2011

Eat the Beaterator

Here is a new one. Sorry for the horrible noise though. I hope you'll like it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Journey

Ive been very busy the past few weeks and i have been away from my DS for quite sometime. But during the nights that I got a chance, I make music with it and after sometime tinkering with it, here's what Ive got. Perhaps I can continue my tutorial during the Christmas break. So help me God. :)

This song was originally titled "Picture's a Bitch" in connection with Decktonic's comment why he dislike pictured illustration of how a song/or a melody is written on a Korg DS, which is one of the reasons why I decided to come up with "Tablets" in the first place. If I were to write the notes used for this song, pictures would be complicated especially to the portions where pitches are between 2 to 3 octaves away from each other. However, I dont have the guts to title it that way, and besides, most of these melodies came up to my mind during my trips to different places while I was away, I decided to title it The Journey instead. So here it is. Please forgive the hisses as I dunno how to control it anymore.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Korg DS-10 "Tablets" in replace of Notations

Changing Directions

Thank you very much for your continuous support in reading my blogs despite the delays. You see,  I have just put up a business and me and my wife are currently occupied at the moment. Please bear with me :).

I was supposed to continue on with the baby steps in learning how to make melodies using the Korg DS-10 through "Notations" which I have been thinking for the past few weeks. I asked the korg ds-10 community ( regarding their suggestions on my proposal of "standardizing" the methodologies of creating "Notations" for it. It has been a week since I asked for suggestions and I am overwhelmed and very happy by the community's suggestions. The link to the discussion is at

If you are interested to participate and let your voice be heard, you can sign up and make suggestions.

Now for my topic this day: There will be slight changes to my previous "Notations" of billy jean. This is the synthesis of what Ive learned from the ds10forum forum. I have realized that the word "notation" is a very BIG word which lead me to the conclusion of changing the term notation into "Tablets" so as not to create any confusion for the musically inclined audiences. What are these tablets, you say? Well it is similar to my previous notation I posted but with slight changes. Instead of using numbers to identify the location of the note, I will be using real "Notes". I will use the term tablets because it works similar to a guitar "tab" wherein the notes are represented by numerical values.

Dont worry, it wont be cheesy. Actually, the reason why I am doing this is to enable Korg DS-10 users share their musical pieces without much pain on figuring out how to do it, especially if you are not familiar with proper "notations" OR if you dont have the time or patience to learn it and just want to go ahead and do it with least effort.

NOTE: If you are the musical type, you can follow the thread

as it discusses clearly how to read real notations regardless if you're making music for Korg DS-10 or a real instrument.

Again, some of you might disagree to my methodology on using "tablets" instead of "notations" but then again, this is perhaps the simplest way to do it without the need of using any pictures or without the need of learning musical "notations".

I must admit though that I am promoting musical illiteracy so if you dont like where these Korg DS-10 tablets tutorial are going, Im very sorry but with my busy schedule, this is the best thing that I could offer. Note that this tablets are not intended to replace musical notations. Notations are and will always be the best way to do it, but for those who just want to keep it simple, read on.

So for today, I would simply re-write my *wrong* notations of billy jean and will incorporate the principles of Tablets already. But first things first: below is an image which would serve as your reference in finding the note that I am referring to:

From my previous tutorial, I uploaded a snapshot of the "Square" area wherein we tap the squared areas to enable DS-10 play the note. On its left side, there is an image of a keyboard which serves as a guide to the user. Now imagine the image above as that keyboard so that you can have a reference of which octave to be used. Below, I have plotted the billy jean notation from my previous issue side by side with my finalized tablet methodology so that you can compare the difference in how i wrote it. And from that point onward, my tutorials will be based on it.

Billy Jean Revisited:

Bass Line on SYN1 SEQ at BPM=120, SWING=50, STEP=16

Old Method    |    New Method

1-C3(8)    |   G3              
2-X(X)    |    x
3-C3(3) | D3
4-X(X)   | x
5-C3(6)    |    F3
6-X(X)    |    x
7-C3(8)    |    G3
8-X(X)    |    x
9-C3(6)    |    F3
10-X(X)    |    x
11-C3(3)    |    D3
12-X(X)    |    x
13-C3(1)    |    C3
14-X(X)    |    x
15-C3(3)    |    D3
16-X(X)    |    x

How did I convert it? Its simple, lets take the very first note C3(8) which translated into G3. What I did was, I started counting from C3(1) which is the very first note of of the 3rd Octave (or should i say, the very first key of the keyboard picture that I've uploaded ). From that note, count 8 steps or keys from the keyboard (including the black keys) and you will arrive at G3. This way, it is a lot more simple to write it down rather than my previous version.

Notice that the horizontal version is now easier to read and less cryptic.


as compared with my old version :


Now you maybe wondering how do I translate, lets say the "black key" located on the upper right of C3?  For this kinds of keys, there are 2 ways to write it. We can call it either C3# (read as sharp) or D3b (read as flat). Either way is correct.

My concerns on legato is ongoing (which can easily be addressed if I was using real notations, but what the heck :) ) and the issue on how to plot the drum patterns. These tablets can solve them but I am thinking of a proper way to call (or write) them.  There are other stuffs going on the and i suggest you check it out also.

Photos courtesy of an active member of, Syscrusher. Thanks for your contribution on Korg DS-10 Notations :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lesson 2 - Korg DS-10 Notation

"Sorry for the *slight* delay dear readers. I had to finish a project which came in last week. It is still on going perhaps until the end of this week so I'll do my best to deliver what Ive promised."

The Notations

If in case you have no idea what notations are, they are simply code patterns on how to play a certain melody. For the case of Korg DS-10, we need to access the SYN1SEQ (button #4 from my previous lesson). Pressing that button will lead us to the screen below.

To understand how a "notation" works for a Korg DS-10, lets try to make a notation from the image depicted above.

Inside the highlighted "Square Area," you will see a "keyboard like" drawing. And on one of those keys, you will see a guide labeled "C3". Our point of notation would start from there. If we would scroll the key slider way "UP", there would be C4,C5,C6 and C7 markers. All in all, there are 8 Markers (C0 to C7). These keys are octaves (same note but with a different pitch) of a real keyboard. Also, in each octave, there will be a total of 12 keys. The last thing that we need to understand is that in each pattern, there are, by default, 16 steps. The number of steps is equal to the number of notes that can be executed per pattern. Dont worry of you do not understand some technical terms yet. In time, it would all make sense as we make more melodies.

For our first notation, let us try to convert the image from the sample above into a notation:


Now, lets analyze the notation. The number "1" is the step indicator. If you would count them all, there are a total of 16 steps per pattern (it can be trimmed though, but for now, lets leave it as it is). Next, there is a minus "-" separator and is followed by "C2" which represents the key octave. Beside the octave we have number inside the parenthesis which serves as the note indicator. Now, each notation is separated by a comma "," which means that on the 4th step, "4-X(X)", it means that there are no notes to be played.

Now, for a little exercise, we will make the bass line of billy jean (this was supposed to be for a future issue, but I would like to make this issue meaningful already). By the way, instead of a comma, I decided to make each notation separated with a return key to make it easier to understand. Please tell me which notation is better (separated by a comma or an enter key)

Billy Jean Notation (Bass Line on SYN1 SEQ at BPM=120, SWING=50, STEP=16)


After plotting the notation, hit the Play button (button #4 as depicted by the image above) and here the bass line play.

Please leave a feedback on the rules of the Korg DS-10 notations. Email me at

Next Issue: Drum Pattern Notations.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lesson 1 - Navigation

Since NDS have 2 screens, I will call the screen on top as an "inactive work area" and the lower screen as the "active work area". Some of you might disagree because the top screen is also active and can be navigated using the D-Pad. But since it would be easier to work using the Touchscreen  portion, I will call the top screen an inactive area because most of our activities will be done on the touch screen.

1.a Single Player Single Mode

The first thing that you will be prompted with is the main menu (see the picture below for the quick start  guide). 

Click Single Player. Since I don't own a DSi, it would not ask me for dual mode. If you are using a DSi, select Single Mode only.

1.b Load a Song

Since Korg DS-10 Plus has a pre made song pattern already, (and I am)assuming you have not saved any songs before, click S-01 (or any slot that you wanna use). Immediately you will notice a question will be asked whether you want to "Load this Session?" Click Yes.

1.c The Map and the Virtual Keyboard

For this portion, please refer to the MAP image shown below to quickly find the button that i am refering to.

WARNING: If you are not yet familiar with the MAP environment, I suggest that you dont click any other button aside from the "button" so that you wont get disoriented following this tutorial. If you get lost along the way, turn your ds off then back on again and follow step i.a onwards.

At this point, on the inactive screen, you have the MAP, on the active screen, you have a virtual keyboard. Note that the virtual keyboard also has a "button" button. clicking it will toggle the display of the active and inactive screen. You can also swap the display on both screens by pressing the "L" button of your DS.

Now toggle the screen so that the MAP is on top and the virtual keyboard is active. Notice that beside the "button" of the keyboard, there is a play button. click the button and you will a simple beat with a beep sound that loops forever. At this point, try to familiarize yourself with navigation. Experiment with the map but please dont change any thing yet. Do not turn the virtual knobs just yet. we will do that in the next lesson. For now, just try to navigate and then see if you can go back to the virtual keyboard on the active screen with the map screen on top. If you are done playing with it, we are now ready create our very first beat. Michael Jackson's Billy Jean. be continued next week!!!

Next week's lesson

Lesson 2 - The Korg DS-10 Notations 
Lesson 3 - Notation # 1: Billy Jean (by Michael Jackson)
Please leave comments if the images here are unreadable. 

you can email me at :

Baby Steps Korg DS-10 Plus Course Outline (draft)

Curriculum for the Korg DS-10 Plus (draft)

1 Navigation
1.a Single Player Single Mode
1.b Load a Song
1.c The Map and the Virtual Keyboard

2 The Korg DS-10 Notations
2.a Reading Synthesizer Notations
2.b Reading Drum Pattern notation

3 Notation # 1: Billy Jean (by Michael Jackson)
3.A Drum Pattern Notations
3.B Synth 1 Pattern Notations
3.C Synth 2 Pattern Notations

4 Synthesizer Effects
4.A Sample Synthesizer effect
4.B Other sources of patches & fx

5 Going Beyond the Baby Steps
5.A Where to go next?

This curriculum is subject to change depending on the feedback received.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Demos Using Korg DS-10 Plus

Cowboys From Hell (eight9 Mix) - No Overdubs, Single Mode Play

More to come next time