Video: 4 Fun Things You Can Do With Your Minilogue

As far as sonic flexibility and price go, few analog synthesizers are as attractive as the Korg Minilogue. The 4-voice polyphonic synth can create any number of sounds and rhythms, and while its filter isn’t as dynamic as a Moog filter, the Minilogue is deep and encourages all sorts of tweaking.

As with anything, it’s all about knowing how to use it. While not exactly tricks, we’ve detailed a few fun ways of approaching your Minilogue that can be useful to you regardless of what genre of music you’re working in.

Play with Voice Mode Depth

Unless you’ve read the manual cover to cover, what the Minilogue’s Voice Mode Depth function actually does might not be immediately clear to you. In fact, it took this author a year to find the sub oscillator buried in the Voice Mode Depth (Mono) function. What's more is that it was an accident—I was doing other things with the synth at the time.

Voice Mode Depth (VMD) works across each of the Minilogue’s eight voice modes: Poly, Duo, Unison, Mono, Chord, Delay, Arp, and Sidechain. In Poly mode, Voice Mode Depth inverts chords that are being played, giving them an unexpectedly interesting tonal quality.

In Duo mode, the VMD knob allows players to detune the oscillators, which will be attractive to lovers of Boards of Canada. In Unison mode, which puts all four voices into a single note, the VMD knob also allows players to detune.

In Mono mode, however, is where things get interesting. As noted above, a Sub Oscillator sits in the VMD mode. By turning the knob up, the sub oscillator is activated, giving the Mono voice some lovely analog grit and depth. In Chord mode, the VMD knob defines the chord that can be played, whether that’s a 5th, a minor 7, a major, and so on. When in Delay mode, turning up VMD correspondingly turns up the amount of Delay.

The Minilogue’s Arp is pretty standard—that is, until you turn the VMD dial. This gives you various types of arpeggiators including manual, rise, random, and others. The Sidechain Mode drops the volume of the note you’re playing in favor of the new note. By turning up the VMD knob, you increase the depth of this function, which allows you to highlight the current note you’re playing.

Un-Sync LFOs for More Complex Ambient Music

Low-frequency oscillators modulate a synthesizer’s signal at a frequency below what human ears can pick up. For that reason, they are ideal for modulating things like filter and pitch and for creating effects like tremolo, vibrato, and other sweeping, rhythmic pulses.

By default, the Minilogue’s four LFOs' waveforms, rates, and intensities are synced. It’s not that this isn’t cool, but part of the charm of analog synthesis is when the results are unexpected. While the LFO’s waveforms, rate, and intensity can’t be unsynced, the LFO’s phases can be.

This can hold true for a lot of genres, but if you're creating ambient music for instance, un-sync the LFOs. This will ensure that each of the four LFO’s phases drift out of phase, adding complexity to the sound.

Korg Minilogue Analogue Polyphonic Synthesizer | Reverb Demo Video

Add a Touch of FM

On the Minilogue, one can turn up the Cross Modulation knob, causing VCO1 to modulate VCO2's pitch creating an FM-like effect. Again, it’s not true FM synthesis, but what it does do is add some interesting and occasionally strange harmonics to the signal, which can be useful for synth pads and leads or even percussive sounds. These sounds can be further sculpted by adjusting the oscillators’ pitch and wave shapes.

Another way of approximating FM on the Minilogue is to turn to the LFO section. By turning up the LFO’s rate and intensity knobs when set to pitch, the LFO gets close to the audio range (audible to the human ear), which can create FM-like harmonics. The LFO’s rate can also be controlled by the Envelope Generator for added effect. You can also experiment with combining Cross Mod and a high LFO rate/intensity, which would give you additional sonic depth.

Use the Sequencer as a Modulation Source

One of the most powerful tools on the Minilogue is its Motion Sequencing function. As with other Korg offerings, such as the Monologue and Volca line, the Minilogue features a 16-step sequencer.

First, program a sequence in any of the Minilogue’s eight voice modes. When in Motion Sequencing mode, the Minilogue allows you to record movements in four lanes, creating motion sequences that are similar to what Aphex Twin does, or what you might expect with an Elektron device’s parameter locks.

The great thing about this sequencing function is that motion sequences can be recorded whether or not notes are being played. You can record filter sweeps, filter pole switches, the addition of delays, and other signal modulation. Taken together, this creates variable modulations in the sequences—unique ones that would be great live, but also in the studio.

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