This is NOT my MiniMg.
But it IS a LOT “like” it. The first glaring difference is a basic MODWHEEL function: VIBRATO. The work around is included below, but first, indulge me: some synth philosophy, a small tirade. I like this software a lot. It is what it is.
Bob Mg’s concept for the MiniMg was electronic MUSICAL EXPRESSION for Everyman. Some of the most fundamental elements of musical expression using voice or instruments (of any kind) are pitch, tones, and the movement between them over time to create a phrase or sentence in the telling of an enhanced or complementary vocabulary to human speech (morph? envelopes? portamento? filter sweep?). Being as VIBRATO (and the control of it) is so basic to this concept, Bob Mg understood the importance of allowing the musician control over vibrato in the MiniMg design. He used Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO) routing to provide for it.
The original MiniMg (if you turned it upside down and took off the bottom cover) has thin metal rods about the width of a pencil lead that are mounted vertically under the keyboard and, like wires between electric company power poles over a street, span from the lowest key (at the left of the keyboard) to the highest key (on the right of the keyboard). Attached under each plastic key on the keyboard are metal springs, similar to what you find inside a retractable ball point writing pen. These springs stand vertically along the rods spanning the length of the keyboard. Picture a straight row of new trees growing along the distance of a fence.
The MiniMg applies voltage into one end of the rods and is looking to see where the voltage comes out. When a key is depressed, the springs attached to that key bend to make contact with the bars (like one of those thin trees in the wind bending to touch the fence). Voltage runs along the bars (fence) until it hits the spring (tree) and then routes into the MiniMg circuitry (ground)…. More or less. So, voltage taking a shorter path to the first spring under the lowest keys results in lower pitch, voltage running all the way along the rod (fence) to the highest spring (tree) bent by key depression equals a high pitch. All the keys on a MiniMg keyboard have their unique pitch derived from the electrical measurement of the actual physical path length along the bars under the keyboard.
Analog synthesis is a beautiful thing.
The path measurement along the keyboard length is also the essence of “KEYBOARD TRACKING”. Aside from basic pitch, keyboard tracking can be used in a variety of ways, including our beef with this softsynth emulation, VIBRATO control.
On the MiniMg, the Mod Wheel is hardwired exclusively for mixing in modulation sources (Control Signals) to the audible oscillators (Sound Source). The MiniMg allows Oscillator Three (OSC3) to be used as an LFO to modulate the other two oscillators (OSC1 and OSC2). NOTE: OSC3’s blue “on/off” rocker switch and volume knob in the MIXER section provides the choice of actually hearing the tuning of OSC3 when being used as a modulation source (or otherwise). But in our discussion, we are using OSC3 as an LFO to modulate the pitch of the other oscillators for a vibrato effect. We don’t want to hear OSC3 itself. We just want to hear it’s vibrato EFFECT upon the other (sound source) oscillators.
The keyboard tracking function of OSC3 is able to be used OR disengaged on the MiniMg’s front panel. With keyboard tracking engaged (via the orange rocker switch just left of OSC3 on the front panel) the depression of an upper key routes a faster modulation speed (eg: for a faster vibrato), and a lower key pressed on the keyboard derives a slower modulation frequency (eg: a slower vibrato). So then, if you are playing a high note and you mix in the LFO control signal with the Mod Wheel for vibrato, you’ll get a very fast vibrato, but if you play a low note you’ll get a slow vibrato. That’s NOT enough musical control.
So Bob says, let’s allow the LFO (OSC3) to disengage keyboard tracking (via the orange rocker switch), allowing OSC3 to stand free and tune independently of anything being played on the keyboard. Then, the musician can set a CONSISTANT RATE (speed) of modulation for a consistent vibrato speed across the entire keyboard range. NOTE: OSC3’s blue “on/off” rocker switch and volume knob in the MIXER section provides the choice of actually hearing the tuning of OSC3 when being used as a modulation source (or otherwise). But in our discussion, we are using OSC3 as an LFO to modulate the pitch of the other oscillators for a vibrato effect. We don’t want to hear OSC3 itself. We just want to hear it’s vibrato EFFECT upon OSC1 & 2. So the blue rocker AUDIO OUTPUT switch is “off”. OSC is still active, only the AUDIO output function is off.
Herein lies this glaring omission of Arturia’s MiniMg V softsynth. You can‘t use OSC3 as an LFO to get the same vibrato rate across notes on the entire keyboard!! It is so simple on the original (3 dimensional) MiniMg.
Rant time.. but it’s short, because I really like the “V“.
If this is such a basic function of Robert Mg’s fundamental concept of the MiniMg, why doesn’t the MiniMg V emulate it? Huh? Ahh… programmers… whatever. At least there’s a work around.
So, I want to get my favorite David Sancious Mini lead sound outta this thing. I gotta have that vibrato! MiniMg V ain’t working like my old baby does (purchased new 1975 for $1040 in Whittier, CA).
I found a patch with mod wheel vibrato that does work the way I want: “CE_DarkSolo1”. NOTE: the patch is NOT using the front panel modulation routing. You can tell by noting the orange rocker switches for Oscillator Modulation (which we’re talking about) and Filter Modulation (which we’re not talking about) are rockered left (off). This patch is using the MOD MATRIX. The Mod Matrix can be turned on and off (read your manual). So we’re working around the software emulation’s front panel inaccuracy by opening and using the MiniMg V’s “open mode” extension (manual… read it!).
To better understand the Mod Matrix’s implementation, I set every Mod Matrix source in that patch to “off” and saved that patch UNDER A DIFFERENT NAME (don‘t just change the patch and re-save it under the same name or you‘ll lose the original patch). Then I looked for the settings that gave me the results I wanted by comparing between the two patches.
In the Mod Matrix green windows (I don‘t think it matters which of the six window-sets you use, thus the term “matrix“) I set source “Wheel” to destination “lfo AM” (Low Frequency Oscillator Amplitude Modulation). The “Amount” knob between them is set for “+0.5882”. This “should” be the adjustment for how much your wheel turning effects where you are sending that control signal (the lfoAM). After completing this patch you can fiddle with this to your preference.
Next, I established what the “lfoAM” controls by routing it to VCO1 and VCO2 (Voltage Controlled Oscillator numbers 1 & 2. The original MiniMg has a total of 3 VCOs). Do this by using another green window-set in the Modulation Matrix. Set “source” as “Lfo” and the destination as “VCO 12 FM”. I like the Amount set at “+0.0023”. You’ll note when placing the mouse cursor over the amount knob between the source/destination fields (windows) a pop-up window appears. That pop-up states the designation for which of the 6 windows you are using and is NOT based on what you have assigned to any particular window. The 6 window-sets don’t care what you put in them or what sequence you use them (as far as I know, I could be wrong, guess I should read the manual, too, eh?). I used fields (window-sets) 4 & 5. All the others were set to “off” at the beginning, remember?
We’re coming home, now.
Because of this short coming in it’s emulation of the original MiniMg, all of this work around uses the “added features” of the MiniMg V that are found in the “open” mode. Instead of OSC3 on the front panel being used as a free standing LFO to modulate vibrato of OSC1 & OSC2, we have routed an LFO function via the matrix which utilizes the additional LFO of the MiniMg V not found in the original. That additional LFO (seen in the “open” display view) I have set for “5.65” and use the sine wave setting/shape (it looks like an upside down letter “V“). It gives me a nice natural human vocal vibrato speed that I can invoke (mix in) with my mod wheel consistently on all notes across the entire range of the keyboard.
One more bit for Newbies, as the first Analog Age has passed:
In the beginning there were “sound” modules and “control” modules which could in fact at times be interchanged depending on function. Look at the visual representation of Arturia’s “Mg Modular V”, or Google until you find that great b&w picture of Bob Mg in a room with a gazillion modules patched together with cords to create electronic sounds from a variety of modules (“patch cords”, “patches”… get it? The MiniMg, for poor working slobs like me, is sitting there too). The oscillator oscillates and creates the fundamental electronic sound (air across your larynx), and everything else CONTROLS what happens to that sound. So in electronic sound you can’t say OSC1 creates the sound and the LFO does not create the sound. Air moves across your larynx and vibrates, but how fast it moves (pitch) or how the frequencies are filtered with your lips and tongue (control functions) all work together. In this work around, we’ve been talking about the “CONTROL” function of an LFO: controlling (by frequency modulation, or the variation of a pitch) the audible output of an oscillating electronic sound producing device. Sound signals and Control signals are (usually) two different things, but both are used to, and create a sound.