One Synth Jam Session With The Roland Jupiter-Xm

Sunday Synth Jam: Synthesist and sound designer Alba Ecstasy shared this one synth jam session, Tangent One, featuring the Roland Jupiter-Xm.

“This morning at 4:00am, I suddenly woke up and made this track on the Jupiter-Xm,” he explains.

The live performance makes use of the Xm’s I-Arpeggio function, which uses artificial intelligence to analyze your performance and create rhythms and sequences that react to your playing.

“The I-Arpeggio is amazing, offering me the drummer I always wanted,” he notes. “It’s like I’m controlling this drummer with my mind!”

10 thoughts on “One Synth Jam Session With The Roland Jupiter-Xm

  1. This video was my introduction to I-Arpeggiator. Having been a big fan of the Karma implementation in the M50, M3 and Kronos Korg synths, this thing looks like fun. Surprisingly, I can’t seem to find a comparison of the two systems (of course, I admit that this could be another one of my problems with correctly Googling things). Since the X(m) has/have been around for quite a while now, it seems like that would be a natural thing for somebody to compare, or do I have it all wrong and are the I-Arpeggio and Karma concepts so different as to draw comparisons?

  2. Still have and use my Karma. One of the most fun of the many many synths I have owned over the last 45+ years. Geezus, I have become my grandfather.

    1. I never had a Karma. I probably still had my M1 when they came about and I guess that I never knew anything about Karma Labs and Karma until I bought an M80 in the mid 90s. Had I known about what Karma was capable of (even in the early first implementation in the Korg Karma) I probably would have gotten one. I still think about picking one up just to have some fun with it, but I really don’t have room for another full sized 61-key synth in my studio. I really hope that somebody who is familiar with both systems comments on their similarities and/or differences.

      1. I have a KARMA synth that I got into KARMA with, also a Titan rack and Kronos. Then I bought a couple of his packs to run on a netbook. It’s fun to play along with, but I would never record with it – when I was into recording.

        AI’s are for bad chatbots. period. Turing would have LOL’d.

        1. I think that, in general, you’ve summed up many people’s reaction to KARMA (the acronym, not only the Korg synth). Given the presets on the synths and Stephen’s wonderful preset packs, that is what it is all about, FOR STARTERS. I go back long enough to remember what were, arguably, Orbehiem’s most ambitious contribution to electronic music creation… the Perf/x series.

          I think that there were, technically, five pieces that made up the Perf/x series, i.e., Strummer, Drummer, Cyclone, Systemizer, and Navigator, although I have only had experience with the first three. Strummer and Drummer were MIDI effects units whose functions were indicated by their names. Cyclone, however, was the most outrageous, and most relevant to the current discussion. While by that time (late 80s) many synths and controller keyboards offered arpeggiators that weren’t too dissimilar from what is on offer today, Cyclone (that was advertised as a “MIDI arpeggiator”) offered an enormous variety of “effects” that went far beyond up, down, up-down, etc arpeggiation sequences. Given that this discussion is kind of off-topic, I refer anybody interested to the best available description of the Cyclone and what it could, theoretically, do (URL was removed, Google “Oberheim Cyclone”). Briefly, the the way Cyclone worked with MIDI was something between a completely programmable arpeggiator and an extremely sophisticated polyphonic sequencer. It handled transpositions, syncopation, etc, as well as many other modulations of MIDI information. Unfortunately, much of it never really worked in practice, but with a little effort and luck, sometimes it was possible to coax the amazing out of it.

          Anyway, about 20 years later, Stephen Kay gave the world KARMA. KARMA completely fulfilled the vision of Cyclone, Strummer, and Drummer, all at once. It was, from its inception, a tool to be used by musicians to achieve things that might reside in their “heads” but beyond their ability (and the ability of the machines they were playing) to effect. While it was meant to be a tool, for a reason only known to Stephen Kay, instead of being released as a unified independent MIDI controller product, KARMA initially got tied to release only in hardware products developed by Korg (Korg Karma being the first). Since KARMA was introduced as an integral part of the synthesizer that featured it (i.e., essentially, the Korg Karma was a Korg Triton with KARMA added), the presets to which you, I believe, are alluding were developed to (1) advertise the synth and (2) show the kinds of things KARMA could do in a way that was fun to “play along with”. What KARMA always was/is though, is just a collection of generated MIDI effects. Independently from the presets that use some of them, the things that KARMA effects can do are enormous. In KARMA 2 (Oasis, M50, M3 & Kronos) there are over 2000 of these Generated Effects (GEs). How they can be used is totally up to the musician using them. While to say, “It’s fun to play along with, but I would never record with it” may apply to using presets that are KARMAfied, it, clearly, doesn’t apply to KARMA itself (or to a simple arpeggiator generated effect that I’m guessing you WOULD USE while recording). In my opinion, KARMA was one of the biggest advances in electronic music technology ever accomplished. It’s too bad that it was never developed to its full potential as a “Cyclone/Strummer/Drummer-like” product that could be added to any synth. I can only imagine how much more versatile my K2700 would be if it incorporated KARMA.

          Now, after going off track for another verbose post, the point of the question I am asking about I-Arpeggiator is regarding its usefulness as a KARMA-like addition to Roland synths, and how it compares to KARMA in the role of a MIDI effects generator.

          1. As a child, I loved auto-accompaniments and mastered them pretty well. Might still be fun for throwing ideas around, but I wouldn’t nowadays use one on a recording. I sort of worried that Karma would be like that. But it sounds like it is more interesting than that. Is there any way of trying it now without buying an old workstation?

            PS Thanks for your discussion, I appreciated the connection with the Oberheim devices too.

            1. No (to can you get Karma without an old synth it is added to), and that’s really a shame. Back around when I decided to upgrade the M50 to an M3, I had an email discussion with Stephen Kay. I was already a diehard Kurzweil fanboy by then and asked him about the possible release of some kind of generic version so that people who played synths other than Korg workstations could make use of it. Apparently, KARMA as it was then (and judging by how it it is still implemented on the Kronos) is too interdependent with the hardware its built into. However, that discussion was about 2006 and we’ve come a long way in computer technology since then. In my opinion, a portable KARMA-like device would be a no-brainer. After all, it really isn’t AI, or anything like it, really. KARMA is just a MIDI effects generator/modulator. Given that we’re now seeing whole synthesizer platforms being developed using Raspberry PIs it doesn’t seem like too much of stretch to think that you could build a box around a small single board computer that could generate a couple thousand MIDI effects without too much additional hardware. I mean, Oberheim almost did it 30 years ago. Hell, I’d give it a try myself if I wasn’t going blind and could still use a soldering pen with some confidence 🙁

            2. Another thing I forgot to mention was, that although you need a synth that incorporates KARMA as a starter, you can achieve a decent amount of KARMA control of other synths using the KARMAfied synth as a pass through. I had a K2661 in the rack/stand above my M3, and with some MIDI routing magic I got the Kurzweil to respond to some of the KARMA effects. Again, you would need a KARMAfied synth to make that work.

          2. thank you for the thoughtful reply John. The reason why I wouldn’t record with it more has to do with my philosophy than any attempt to cast dispersions upon Karma, truly an innovative product. I’ve personally always emphasized playing foremost. when I recorded, I would do one track in one take. I never edited, it was always all or nothing. so, I never recorded anything I couldn’t play painstakingly accurate and reliably. the process was pretty brutal. now I just relax and play, never recording in any way. so, Karma doesn’t fit with my music as a prerecorded, or algorithmically generative performance – since I’m not playing it, nor could I play better than it – since I do use simple sequences.

            for me it’s about the performance, MY performance, anything beyond that is an opportunity cost I would rather spend.. just playing, working on performance.

            I also don’t directly copy other folks music i.e. read charts. never have, never will. I’m more interested in exploring the whole sonic, melodic, harmonic space of my own, than figuring out someone else’s songs.

            for me, it’s the performance experience, not trying to create a product – for whatever use cases yall tend to day to day.

            sometimes just watching clouds is the best use of your time. :0)

  3. Nice track! Very T-Dream style.

    The Jupiter XM is an interesting little synth and as demonstrated, it has oodles of polyphony. I guess it is time to check Reverb and see how the prices trend.

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