As well as the obvious Moog analogue sounds, the MMV will make quite a lot of sounds you might not expect. Plucked strings and so forth can be heard on Rainfall in Kyoto on my website, and there are odd little tricks like the modwheel controlled bowed string patch that I got from David Vorhaus via someone who worked with him. I'll discuss that patch in another topic. For now it's worth considering what the MMV can do using FM.
A good FM synth like NI's FM8 will do a lot of things that you probably won't get with the MMV. The trumpet sounds on my Reflections are a good example. The probably FM-generated clarinet-like solo on Jean-Philippe Rykiel's Conversation from his Under the Tree album would be harder to achieve, but perhaps not impossible.
But basically the MMV offers a good deal of overlap into conventional FM territory and a range of unique possibilities with it. The MMV will make a host of DX7 like clangs and chimes, with the added bonus of Moog-type filters and so on, and with easily tweakable envelopes.
Anyone who's tried using the FM facility on the Moog Voyager probably won't expect much from Moog synth FM. The original modular obviously did a lot more, like the MMV, but because it was monophonc the uses were of course limited when it came to keyboard work, especially, obviously, with chords. The MMV doesn't have those limitations, so new areas can be opened up. As well as really chimey keyboard sounds, the slightly ethnic sounding melody lines that I rather like from FM synths are also available. And because the MMV is polyphonic, it's possible to have the overlap between notes in lead lines that a purely monophonic synth can't get.
There are a number of ways to get the most beautuful bell sounds using the MMV. Some of my favourite bell patches are MMV produced, and done without using the FM inputs on the oscillator drivers, so there are a number of ways bell and chime sounds can be made. But to get into DX7 territory, take one or two sine outputs from one of the oscillators, and patch the sine from a different oscillator to the FM input on your oscillator controller. So if your sine outputs producing the sound are coming from oscillator bank one (the three oscillators after the first driver), take the controlling sine output from an oscillator in bank two. Altering the oscillator ranges will provide a host of variations, as will patching through a filter or two. You can try variations such as adding another set of sine outputs from bank three and FM modulating them from another of the oscillators in bank two, for richer sounds.
Using other waveforms than the sines may be too complex and distorted, but then again, that may be just the sound you want.
One of the things I like to do with the DX7 is to leave it in edit mode and change the sound while playing, smoothing the results out using echo, as heard in my piece Frog Hollow. The MMV offers a range of other ways to vary the sound while playing, and the filters provide a digital-analogue hybrid type range of sounds. I'm not very familiar with synths like the PPG Wave, but this set of possibilities should move into that kind of sonic area.
The MMV is full of sonic suprises, and it's worth passing these on from time to time as they may not be what we might expect this synth to do.