Korg iKaossilator Tutorial

Korg iKaossilator Tutorial

Jun 12, 2020 | Resources | 0 comments

Another application available for iPad and iPhone that we have found useful at OmniMusic is the Korg iKaossilator

The iKaossilator is a software version of the Korg Kaoss Pad and uses an intuitive X-Y pad to provide expressive musical control.
The iKaossilator is good for creating beats as well as playing live solo instruments.
The iKaossilator has five instrument tracks where the different instrumental parts can be recorded.

The iKaossilator can be used simply as an extra soloing instrument by selecting one of the tracks, choosing a sound from the ‘Lead’ or ‘Acoustic’ menu, setting the required musical key, and then playing the sound by moving a finger in the x/y pad region. (Selecting and changing settings is covered later in this tutorial)
Used in this way the iKaossilator is similar to Thumb Jam; however the acoustic sounds are not as natural as in Thumb Jam. The iKaossilator is designed with contemporary electronic music styles in mind.

The useful aspect of iKaossilator that we have found is to allow participants to choose beats and sounds that they like, then record each part using the x/y pad to create their own backing track which can be exported into other software like Ableton or Cubase and provide the foundation to build a piece of music.

In this tutorial we will create a backing track in a Techno style using four of the channels and select a lead instrument on the fifth channel that can solo over the top of the backing.
The tempo of the piece is to be 130 bpm and the key will be set in a C minor Blues scale and the pattern will be 2 bars long. (8 beats)

To start with an empty project touch the file icon on the left hand side of the top toolbar; a drop down menu will appear. Select ‘New’ and a dialogue box will appear ‘Create New Loop’ confirm ‘OK’
Nnow all the parts are cleared ready to begin.

To start with set up the pattern length, tempo and key for the Loop.
Touch the bottom right of the screen where it displays ‘length’
A new page will appear showing the length options for each track. Select 32/16 for each track.
In this image the right hand red button is selected and the length has been changed. Repeat the process for each track by selecting each coloured button and choosing 32/16. The colours of the buttons vary depending which instrument is selected for that particular track.
Note: it is possible to have each track with a different length within the whole ‘Loop’

Once all tracks display the correct length close this page and the ‘Loop’ is set to 2 bars.

Next set the tempo by tapping on the tempo figure in the bottom left of the screen.
Again a new page will appear. Increase the tempo to 130 bpm by tapping on the + sign next to the tempo figure.
This page also shows the quantization which by default is set to 16ths. Leave that on 16 for this project but the options are there for turning quantize Off or quantization values of 4,8,16,32,8th Triplet and 16th Triplet.
Change the ‘Loop Quantize to 32/16 to match the pattern length already set.

Once these three values are set close the page and return to the main screen.

To set the musical key for the project; tap on the key and scale icon above the tempo icon. This will reveal a new page.


Now select the required scale ‘mBlues’  from the scale list and ‘C’ from the key list below.

Note: in a ‘New Loop’ C is the default setting. If any other key is required simply tap on the letter.

The iKaossilator is now set in C minor blues at 130 bpm with a global pattern length of 8 beats and is ready for a new loop to be created.

Let’s begin by selecting the drum beat that is to be used for the techno track. (This is where participants can be engaged in the process)
On the main screen tap on the right hand track button. It will light up in its colour and pulse.
Now tap on the instrument selection on the right below the track buttons. In this example it reads D.116 ElecHouse. A new page will open displaying ‘Sound List:All’.


Scroll through and at the bottom of the sound list in red is the list of available drum loops. Select D.122 Techno and close the page to return to the main screen.

With the right hand button still illuminated in red (as it contains an instrument from the red list of drum loops) touch the x/y pad and the techno drum loop can be heard. Now experiment moving around within the x/y region and listen how the beat changes when a different part of the x/y region is touched until ready to try recording the part.
Next tap the red record button in the centre of the lower screen: it will change from dull to bright red then tap the play button below it and the track will start running. (The counter will count the 8 beats and all track buttons will start to rotate)
Now move a finger around as desired in the x/y pad and the beat will be recorded with the variations created by the finger movement. (If a plain beat is required with no variation simply touch the relevant part of the x/y pad and keep still for the duration of the 8 beat count)
Once happy with the beat touch the record button to stop recording; the beat will keep playing.
To stop the beat press the play button. (audio 1)

Next repeat the process for three more tracks.
On the track next to the drum track select D.142 Conga. This track button will also turn red as another instrument from the red drum section of the list is selected. Experiment within the x/y/pad to find the desired variations and record the part. (audio 2)

N.B. If nothing is audible check the mute status of the track by touching the track button and dragging downwards. I f the track is muted once a finger is dragged downwards from the button a momentary message ‘mute off’ will appear above the selected button. The selected instrument can now be heard.
This method of muting and un-muting tracks can be used to create live mixes bringing instruments in and out of the ‘Loop’.

Then on the track to the left of the conga track select B.37 AnalogBass. The button will change to blue as an instrument from the blue bass list is selected.
Before recording the bass part there is a useful additional feature that can be selected from the settings menu.

Tap on the right hand icon in the top bar to reveal the Settings list then at the bottom of the list toggle the switch to turn ‘Note Grid’ on. The x/y pad will now have vertical stripes representing the notes for any track within the project with a melodic instrument selected.

Touch the Settings icon again to make the list disappear.

Then practice the bass part by tapping or moving the finger around the stripes on the x/y pad.
Horizontal movement will change notes while vertical movement will alter the filter on the sound giving the part more variety.
Rehearse and record the bass part along to the rhythm tracks. To do this make sure both rhythm tracks are un muted as described earlier; make sure the bass track is active, illuminated blue; then press play. You can now play along to the rhythm with the bass sound. Once happy with the idea press record and play your part until satisfied. Press record button again to stop recording and listen to the loop created so far. (audio 3)

If dissatisfied with any parts they can be cleared by pressing the circle icon on the left hand of the top bar; a drop down menu will appear; select ‘Clear Current Part’
N.B. Make sure the instrument track that is to be cleared is selected (In this case the blue bass track button should be illuminated) and make sure not to select ‘Clear All’ as you would lose all work so far.

Next tap on the track button to the left of the bass track and select from the track list S.107 OrchHits.
The track button will change to green as this instrument is from the SE/Hits section of the Sound List.
Rehearse and record this part along to the beat and bass. (audio4)

Once satisfied with this part the four backing tracks are complete for this loop. Before setting up the solo instrument it is a good idea to save the loop. To save the loop press the file icon at the left side of the top bar; select save and the ‘Loop’ will be saved to the next available number in the ‘Loop List’. In this example it has saved to 073 as can be seen in the image.

To access the ‘Loop List’ press the icon to the left of the settings icon on the right of the tool bar at the top of the screen. A new page will open showing the ‘Loop List’. From the image it can be seen that this Loop is saved as untitled as it was created in a new Loop.

Loops 1-50 are presets that already contain parts on all tracks. These preset Loops can be played and mixed by muting and un-muting tracks. If an existing loop is edited and then saved it will be given the next available number, maintain its name and be given an additional number at the end; in the image there are several saved versions of ‘Electro House 1-1’

Now the four backing tracks are created the last thing is to set up the solo instrument. To do this tap on the left hand track button then select L.03 RezAcidSaw from the yellow Lead list then close the list to return to main page.
The left hand track button will now be yellow. To solo over the backing loops make sure the four tracks are un-muted as described earlier and then press play to hear the backing loop.
(Any combination of the four backing tracks can be un-muted to create a different mix of the backing)
Make sure that the yellow track button is active by tapping on it; it will illuminate. The solo instrument is ready to be played over the backing.

At this stage, when working with participants, it is useful to use ‘Guided Access’ so that iKaossilator controls cannot be accidentally changed.
Draw round the x/y pad area so that only that part of the screen can be used.
(Note: see ‘Guided Access’ section of the Thumb Jam tutorial)

A good way to use the backing ‘Loop’ is to export it so that it can be played in other software like Ableton or Cubase on another device. This way the backing can be added to and mixed while the participant now has iKaossilator as a dedicated solo instrument having helped create their own backing track.

To export the audio of the four tracks in the Loop; first tap on the file icon at the left of the top toolbar. Then select ‘Create as Ableton Project’ and from the next menu select ‘Export to Dropbox’. Once complete a message will read ‘Export Successful’

Now open Dropbox on a computer to access the audio files. A folder titled ‘KORG iKaossilator’ will have been created. Within that folder will be the project folder. In this example named ‘073 Untitled 1 Project’. The Ableton  project .als file will load into Ableton as a project or audio files can be individually imported into other software like Cubase by opening the ‘Samples’ folder.

Note: if loaded into software other than Ableton the tempo of the project will need to match the tempo of iKaossilator. In this instance 130 bpm.

The backing loop can now be played from the computer while the participant can play along using the solo instrument on iKaossilator in Guided Access mode.

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