Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Patches - Overture

For years I've used a wonderful patch called Overture. It's a combination patch that combines piano with graceful orchestral undertones... until you play hard, when it turns to thundering timpanis and urgent strings and brass. I use it mercilessly in Operas (when we perform them in the classic operatic style, which is most of the time).

Overture started life as a factory patch on my Korg X5. I know I've customised it but I can't recall exactly which changes were mine. To the folks who created the original patch (not that they'll ever stumble across this blog) - thank you.

Setup on the Korg X5

Overture has four main elements that carry through the patch to give it that distinctive character. Velocity sensitivity is used to move some of those elements from one feel to another.
  • Piano: A straight piano covers the entire keyboard, sitting under everything and providing that classic piano feel.
  • Strings: Strings also span the keyboard, switching from a warm analog pad at low velocities to a more urgent bowed set of strings at higher velocities.
  • Brass: Soft english horns across the keyboard again at low velocities, changing to a brighter brass sound at higher velocities.
  • Percussion: This is where it really sings. The bottom few octaves feature a timpani at all velocities, but add an orchestra hit sample at high velocities.


Playing gently, you get the nice gentle piano, with that soft analog pad and horns carrying through on sustained notes. When playing staccato at low velocities, all you basically hear is the piano.

When playing forte, the natural build from the piano and the timpani really start to come in to play; the brass gives a bright attack, and the strings stay on and become dominant when playing sustained notes.

When you are really hammering low octaves with your left hand, that orchestra hit comes in. I use it sparingly, generally saving it for really dramatic moments and the climax of a scene.

Replicating on your own keyboard

I have the velocity switch for the brass and strings set to 101 out of 127 on my X5. As wonderful as the X5 is, I wish it let me assign more of an envelope instead of just hard velocity switching; I would give a little crossfade to the brass and strings, to help avoid jarring changes. (Hmm, this patch uses 7 slots out of 8; perhaps I can just set up a transitioned brass on that spare slot...)

The orchestra hit comes in around the same velocity level.

Volume-wise, the piano is still the dominant instrument. The brass and strings are set a little lower (other than the analog pad, on my setup anyway; the underlying analog pad sound is quite gentle). The timpani and the orchestra hit are perhaps midway between the piano and the brass/strings.

When you set this up, you'll want to experiment quite a bit to find the levels that work for you, based on the sounds you're using. Several of the sounds are from the GM patch set, so they will probably translate nicely to your own keyboard. You will also want to transpose some of your sounds around up or down an octave until you find something that works well.

Here is the basic setup from the X5 - if you want to try and replicate this, it's a good place to start.

X5 PatchA01A47G49G70A92G48G56
Keybd TopG9G9G9G9G9A3A3
Keybd BottomC-1C-1C-1C-1C-1C-1C-1
Vel Top127101127101127121127
Vel Bottom1110211021102

Photo by F J Fonseca


L said...

Wow! /out-geeked

Tom Tollenaere said...

That is so interesting. Do you have an mp3 that illustrates the result?

Anonymous said...

Very cool Kris. Not in any way at all to sound one-up-ish... I think my sound module has a similarly organised full orchestra patch.

Kudos to you though cos I don't know if I could program my keyboard with all that :-)

Kris said...

N - It might be a pretty standard sort of patch... it's been a while since I've invested in new equipment! :)

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