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Akai MPC 3000 MIDI Production Centre (part 7)



Before I describe the sequencing abilities of the MPC 3000 I should mention
the pads and associated controls, since this is where much of the input will
be carried out, rather than at a MIDI keyboard which for the drums will prove
to be rather less suitable. There are sixteen large rubber pads which are velocity
and pressure sensitive. Since sixteen drums and cymbals are never enough for
real drummers there is no reason to suppose they would be enough for the sequenced
equivalent. But rather than setting up a ton of wood and metal on scaffolding,
all you have to do is press the pad bank switch and you have four sets of sixteen
sounds at almost instant disposal. If subtle dynamics are not to your liking
in sequenced drum tracks – and why should they be? – then there is a ‘Full
Level’ button to set the volume of each pad always to maximum. Another
possibility is to set the sixteen pads to play the same sound at sixteen different
velocities, tunings, decays or a couple of other options. This style of operation
can be combined with normal operation in a single sequence, on the same instrument
on different overdubs if you like. ‘Note Variation’ is an interesting
trio of controls which allow continuous real time variation via a short slider
in the tuning, attack, decay or filter setting of a sound. This can be done
during recording or afterwards as an overdub, and once again this style of operation
can be combined with the standard method.

As a sequencer, it is probably obvious that without the luxury of a computer
style display, sequencing is going to be a matter of working in numbers rather
than graphic objects. I once used to complain about this style of working and
I used to say things like, “One day, computers will show the MIDI data
graphically rather than as long tedious lists.” Well, I haven’t changed
my tune, but I do now realise that there is a lot to be said for working in
bars and beats, and after all, composers have been doing it for hundreds of
years (and Mozart still gets more airplay than Wet Wet Wet!). At the bottom
right corner of the MPC 3000 is an array of larger keys which offer transport
functions and five major functions you will want to have close to hand. Let
me list these…

Obviously Erase is going to be a very important key, and as you would expect
it will scrub out anything recorded on any note you hold as the sequence plays,
or you can erase by track or by bar number. You can even identify a particular
type of data as something to be gotten rid of. Timing correct sets the quantise
level, and the MPC 3000 can quantise as you record or after, and it can swing
too. I remember that on the old version of the MPC, when you tried to advance
or retard a whole track then there was a tendency to mess up whatever clever
quantising you had done earlier. Here this is corrected and overall track timing
can be adjusted either way without changing the quantisation.

David Mellor

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David Mellor