Thursday, June 16, 2022

Roland MC-707: Drum programming, Gotchas, Updated Features

You work with one drum kit at a time. A kit can have up to 16 instruments (samples). Each instrument is assigned to a pad. Next to the pad area, there is a row of 16 buttons that represent the sequencer steps. The MC-707 reference calls a drum sequence a "Clip".

The MC-707 lets you choose between selecting one kit for the entire Track (this is the default) or selecting one kit per Clip in your Track, which allows you to change drum sounds from Clip to Clip. Note that if you pick a kit for your first Clip of the Track, then later change your mind and change the Track settings to allow for each Clip to have its own kit, you may have the preset reset to "Init Kit" for some Clips. 

One downside of the MC-707 is that a lot of settings must be accessed by button combinations that may require many of repetitions to memorize. The Measure settings for the current Clip is one such case. The magic combo is Shift and either the "<" or ">" buttons which are both labeled "Measure". The settings are:
  • Step Len - The length of the Clip, which can be 1-128 steps
  • Scale - The value of one step within one Measure, which can vary from eighth notes to 16th note triplets
  • Mode - The order that the steps will be played(forward, backward, random, etc.)
  • Shuffle - The manual just says it adjusts shuffle/bounce. Seems a bit subtle to me.

To edit the current drum kit, press Shift+Sound to access the Kit Edit screen.

If you already know which pad in your drum kit you want to edit, just press Shift and the pad, then press Enter. This takes you to the Instrument menu, where you can choose to edit the instrument in various ways, or replace it with another instrument.  If you want to press a pad to select an instrument but don't want to hear the instrument being played, for some reason - like being onstage; just hold down Note while pressing the pad.

 Unfortunately, if you want to add the Instrument to a Mute Group, you have to remember to select Pad Edit instead of Instrument Edit.

The MC-707 provides 5 Total Effects, which include Reverb and Delay, for the entire Project, one MFX effect for the drum kit. The FX settings for the Drum Kit are accessed by entering the Kit Edit screen then navigating to the MFX and Set screens. If the Track type was set to Drum+Comp, there will also be a Comp screen. The Set screen lets you set Level, Pan, Reverb Send, and Delay Send for the entire kit. The latter two control how much of the kit sound goes to Total Reverb and Delay - note both default to zero. The MFX option lets you switch on/off the "master" effect for the kit and select the effect - you have a choice of about 90 effects.

You can edit effects levels for individual instruments in the drum kit, so that you can, say, set the kick to be totally dry, set the snare to have some reverb, run the clap through some Auto Wah (with MFX set to Auto Wah), etc. If the Track is a Drum+Comp type, you can set up 6 different compressors, and set individual instruments to go to any of these 6. Confusingly, if the Track is set to just Drum type, you still have the option of sending instrument outputs to any of the compressors - it's just that nothing will happen because there won't be any available, unless you select a compressor in the MFX settings.

The length of a drum pattern - aka a "Clip" in the MC-707 reference manual - can be 1-128 steps. Hardcore music theorists may dispute Roland's definition of "measure" here, but as far as MC-707 sequencer programming is concerned, one Measure is 16 steps. Thus the MC-707 shows one Measure (16 steps) at a time in the step button area If there are more than 16 steps in the pattern. If the Clip is longer than 16 setsps and the sequencer is not playing, you can use the Measure "<" and ">" buttons to page through the Measures.

A new Clip defaults to a length of 16 steps, which is one Measure. If, however you have Clip that is already playing on a new track, and that Clip happens to have more than 16 steps, your new Clip may default to a different number. For example, I had a 4-Measure Clip playing on a bass Track when I selected an empty Clip on a Drum Track, and it defaulted to 32 steps in length.

There are multiple ways to change the length of a Clip. One way is to duplicate the measure by pressing Func and ">". Another is to halve the measure by pressing Func and "<". Another is to access the Measure settings screen by pressing Shift and either Measure button. There, the Clip length can be changed.

The basic ways to program a drum pattern:
  1. Real Time - Record yourself playing the pads (assigned to drum instruments) in real-time.
  2. Step Sequence/Step Record - Tap an instrument pad, then pressing the step buttons to indicate when you want that instrument to be played within the current Measure.
Real Time recording is ideal for entering drums with the velocity and time-feel that you want, if you are willing to practice your live-playing. Quantize can be used to automatically adjust the timing of the drums. Step Recording is ideal for entering drum parts that you are sure will be playing regularly, such as a classic "four on the floor" pattern in which the kick plays on every beat of a 4-beat measure.

Each instrument in the drum kit effectively gets its own sequence pattern, regardless of what method you used to create the pattern, although you cannot set its pattern length to be different from that of the overall Clip. For example, if you created a pattern for the kick (instrument) in which the kick plays 4 times per Measure at an even beat, if you tap the pad assigned to the kick, you will probably see the buttons for steps 1, 5, 9 and 13 light up. If you created a hi-hat pattern in which the hi-hat plays on the even-numbered step, you will see all the even-numbered step buttons light up when you tap the pad assigned to the hi-hat. Press Shift and a step button to edit the settings for the step, which are:
  • Vel - The velocity (loudness) of the drum hit
  • Start - Controls when to actually start the drum hit in relation, time-wise, to the step. So you can program the drum to play a little early or a little late.
  • Mute - The probability, in percentage, that this step will be muted. This is useful for drum hits that you want to play occasionally, but not all the time, which in turn is useful for adding variation to the drum pattern.
  • Sub Step - When set to any value other than OFF, it seems to introduce a kind of drum roll or flam. Extreme Shuffle settings for the Clip, however, may reduce this behavior .
You probably want to exit out of the Edit Step screen if you want to resume adding or removing drum hits. If you forget to do so, you'll get confused.

The way I build up a Scene is to create a one-measure Drum Clip first that will play main beat, then create the Tone Clips for the bass, chords, etc. I am too lazy to calculate how long the Clip for each Track should be, so I just skip the calculations and increase the Clip lengths as I go along.
Press the Shift and Motion Rec buttons to access the First/Last Step screen. This is where you can shorten a Clip by setting the First Step to something greater than 1, setting the Last Step to something smaller than the Clip Length, or both. First Step/Last Step manipulation probably works better for a secondary Drum Track or a Tone Track than for the Drum Track providing the main beat. It's a quick way to introduce variations to the Clip

Behavior of cursor buttons and the C1-4 knobs is not consistent. For example when you delete a Track - usually to change a Track from a Drum Track to Tone Track or the other way around - you have to press the C4 button to delete, because the Enter button does not work here.


Before you attempt to change a sound preset for a clip, be sure the clip is actually highlighted in the grid display. Otherwise you'll change the preset for a different clip

Notable Features added in from OS 1.02 and up

Total number of Scenes was increased to 128. You have a choice of Type1 and Type2 workflows for saving and recalling Scenes. Select Type1 or Type2 in system settings. Type2 looks more intuitive to me because the step buttons are used for accessing Scenes, and are lined up left to right. It does require an extra step or two, compared to Type1, in that you have to select the Bank where you will save your Scene, before you select the slot for saving your Scene. On the other hand, this may help prevent you from overwriting an existing Scene by mistake.

System Settings include Count-In, which can be set from 1-128 steps, and Metronome Level.

Copy/Paste Step which is handy for quickly laying down repeating chords. You do have to make sure the Edit Step screen is showing before you start.

A lot of operations on the MC-707 are like this - you have to memorize the right button combos to get to the settings that you want to edit
While holding the FX button, you can use the encoder to select PCM waves. This works also in conjunction with SHIFT in steps of ten.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Calisthenics: Week 17

Monday - Squat Chain Complex, 3 rounds. Lateral Chain Complex (minus dynamic side plank), 3 rounds

Tuesday - Push Chain Complex, 2 rounds. Flexion Chain Complex, 2 rounds

Wednesday - Mobility session influenced by GMB's Shoulder Prehab video.

Thursday - Pull Chain Complex, 3 rounds.

Friday - Squat Chain Complex, 3 rounds.

Calisthenics: Week 16

Monday - no workout

Tuesday - Pull Chain Complex, 3 rounds. Extension Chain Complex, 2 rounds. Switched back to clutch curls. Forearms/elbows felt ok.

Wednesday - Squat Chain Complex, 3 rounds. Lateral Chain Complex (minus dynamic side plank), 3 rounds.

Thursday - Push Chain Complex, 2 rounds. Flexion Chain Complex, 2 rounds

Friday - Pull Chain Complex, 3 rounds. Extension Chain Complex, 2 rounds.

Random finds of the week:
He Shou Wu (Fo-Ti - Chinese medical herb): Benefits, Dosage, and Side Effects
Top 6 Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements