Let’s Deep Dive Into the Teenage Engineering EP-133 K.O. II

Introduction

Unleashing your creativity on the Teenage Engineering EP-33 (KO2) sampler sequencer is an absolute blast! The device’s impressive sound quality and intuitive beat-making capabilities often inspire users to explore its full potential, crafting intricate beats and even entire songs. Despite lacking a traditional song mode or method for chaining patterns into automated songs, the KO2 does offer a unique tool known as ‘scenes’. These are essentially snapshots of specific pattern sets, enhancing both the performance and creative aspects of the device. But before we delve into the world of scenes, let’s understand the foundational elements of the KO2.

The Beat Structure

To fully grasp the concept of scenes, it’s crucial to first understand the hierarchical structure of sequences on the KO2. This structure includes sounds, patterns, groups, scenes, and projects.

Starting at the top, we have ‘projects’. The KO2 allows you to work on nine separate projects, each represented by one of the numbered pads. You can effortlessly switch between these projects, with all changes being auto-saved as you work. To navigate projects hold MAIN and hold-press a number 1-9 corresponding to the project you wish to navigate to. Each project consists of four sound groups labelled A, B, C, and D, akin to tracks. Each group can house up to 12 loaded sounds, one for each pad.

Within these groups, you create ‘patterns’, which are essentially sequences of notes. You can generate up to 99 patterns in each group per project. You can navigate through these patterns using the plus and minus buttons or by directly entering the pattern number.

Each pattern can span up to 99 bars, offering ample room for your creativity to run wild. And here’s where things get really interesting…

Scenes Unveiled!

With your patterns in place, you can concurrently play four patterns – one from each group. These simultaneously selected patterns can be saved into what we’ve been leading up to – scenes! You can construct up to 99 scenes per project, each being a unique combination of patterns from the four groups.

Understanding Scenes

Now that we’ve introduced scenes, let’s delve deeper. In essence, scenes are a workflow accelerator, especially in creative mode. The KO2 assumes that you, as a musician, will want to gradually build and modify elements, remember these changes, and then progress to further edits. It’s like embarking on a journey, making several stops along the way, with your destination being a complete set of patterns.

Scenes essentially remember the pattern you’re playing in each of the four groups at any given moment. They’re memory slots for four patterns at a time, one from each group. That’s all there is to it – simple, but incredibly powerful for hands-on music making fun!

Creating Scenes in an Empty Project

Creating scenes starts with selecting a project. For this example, we’ll use Project 9, which is currently empty. When you navigate to the scenes and attempt to move forward, you’ll notice only one initial scene, and all patterns are empty. However, an empty project also means no sounds.

Copying Sound Groups between Projects

To work around this, you can copy and paste groups of sounds from one project to another. To do so, first navigate to a project with sounds, like Project 7. In this project, we have sounds in Group A, percussion in Group B, bass in Group C, and lead sounds in Group D.

Our goal is to copy all sounds from Group A in Project 7 into Group A in Project 9. To do so, start by using the Shift + C command while on Group A in sound mode. This will copy all sounds from that group.

Next, change to Project 9. With Group A selected and in sound mode, press Shift + D to paste the copied sounds. Repeat this process for any other groups you want to copy.

Creating a Pattern

With sounds now loaded into your project, it’s time to create a pattern. Let’s start with a simple percussion pattern in Group A. After recording a bass drum, a clap and a high hat, you now have a pattern you like in A1, and it’s part of Scene 1.

Committing a Scene

Committing a scene saves all patterns playing in that scene and duplicates them into the next scene. In this case, committing Scene 1 will save A1, B1, C1, and D1 (though B1, C1, and D1 are empty) and duplicate them into Scene 2. To commit, press Shift + Commit. You’ll now find yourself in Scene 2 and Pattern 2 for each group.

Building Another Scene

Now, let’s add a bass pattern in Group B. After recording a two-bar pattern and ensuring you’re happy with it, commit this scene. You’re currently in Scene 2, but there’s no Scene 3 yet. Committing will create Scene 3, and you’ll find yourself in Pattern 3 for each group.

Next, add a lead pattern in Group C. After recording and committing, you’ll be in Scene 4, ready to add more elements or refine your existing patterns. Remember, each time you commit, you’re essentially saving your progress and creating a new ‘snapshot’ of your project that you can revisit at any time.

Muting a Pattern in a Scene

While working with scenes, you might want to mute a specific pattern. For instance, in Scene 4, you can change B4 (bass) to B5, which is empty, effectively muting the bass in Scene 4.

However, this is where scenes can start getting confusing. If you stick with alignment (i.e., the same pattern number in each scene), it’s not too complicated. But as soon as you start shifting and changing patterns within different scenes, it can quickly become confusing.

Scene Number Confusion

If you commit Scene 4 to Scene 5, you’ll find yourself in A5, which makes sense, but also in B6. This is because when committing Scene 4, the device jumped over B5 (since it was empty in Scene 4) and moved to B6. You can realign them by going back to B5, but this is where things can get a bit tricky.

Empty Pattern Muting

Another important point to note is that choosing an empty pattern is essentially a way to mute a group. In Scene 1, for example, we only had percussion playing, meaning groups B, C, and D were essentially muted. By creating patterns on every commit, the KO2 remembers which groups are empty, acting as a mute that will carry forward until you fill it in the next scene.

Erasing a Scene

You can erase a scene by holding the Erase and Scene buttons simultaneously, but this can’t be done in play mode. Subsequent scenes will shift down by one number. So if you erase Scene 3, Scene 4 becomes Scene 3, Scene 5 becomes Scene 4, and so on. It’s crucial not to rely on scene numbers if you plan to erase any scenes, as the numbers will change.

Editing Scenes

In Scene 5, we had B set as an empty track, effectively muting it. Let’s say we want to change this but also keep a scene where B is muted. We can simply commit this scene and move to Scene 6, where we can create a new bassline for B. Now, Scene 6 has the new bassline, Scene 5 has the muted bass, and Scene 4 has a different bass pattern.

Playing Scenes

When playing your scenes, you can change from one scene to another at the end of a bar instead of immediately. This allows for smooth transitions between scenes. For example, Scene 1 only has percussion, Scene 2 introduces the bass, and the next scene brings in the lead.

Remember, scenes only remember the patterns. They won’t remember fader settings or other effects. Each time you change a pattern, it affects every scene that pattern is in. To avoid confusion, it’s best to either use scenes consistently or not at all. If you do use them, consider creating a ‘playground scene’ – a specific scene where you can freely experiment without affecting the rest of your project.

Playground Scene

A ‘playground scene’ is an experimental space where you can play with different patterns, rhythms, and sounds, without affecting the rest of your project. For instance, in Scene 1, you could change the pattern to B6, creating a unique sound just for that scene. This won’t affect Scene 1’s original percussion pattern, allowing you to revert back at any time.

Duplicating a Pattern

You can also duplicate a pattern. Let’s say you want to copy B6. While in the ‘B’ group, press Shift + C to copy the bar. Press it again to copy the entire pattern.

To paste this copied pattern into a new location, go to B16 (for ease of remembering). Still in the ‘B’ group, press Shift + Paste. This duplicates the B6 pattern into B16.

However, be aware that when you do this, the scene you’re currently in (in this case, Scene 6) will now use B16 instead of the original B6 because you’ve navigated there. Therefore, it’s beneficial to have a ‘playground scene’ where you can create and play around with patterns without affecting other scenes.

Faders & FX with Scenes

Fader levels are not determined by the scene or pattern you’re working with. Instead, they are group-based. This means that the fader settings you choose apply to the entire group, regardless of the pattern or scene you’re in.

For example, let’s say you decide to add some delay to a bass sound. While it may seem like this effect is being applied to the B6 pattern, it’s not exclusive to that pattern.

To illustrate this point, switch from Scene 6 (where you initially were) to Scene 5, then 4, then 3. Each of these scenes contains different bass patterns. Despite changing both the pattern and the scene, the delay effect can still be heard on the bass. This confirms that fader settings apply to the entire group, not just specific patterns or scenes.

This concept might be a bit confusing, especially when moving back and forth between different scenes and patterns. While it may seem disorganized, this is simply how scenes function within music production. Be careful out there!


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I am Briyan Frederick (aka Bryan Baker), probably best known as the publisher of GAJOOB and a founder of Tapegerm Collective I’m collecting all of that and more on dabodab, where I write about and document my life as a graphic arts professional, songwriter, experimental recording artist, zine and web publisher, local and personal historian and silver creative. read more.

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From the first moments, listeners are enveloped in a muffled blanket of magnesium oxide, where random audio snippets—voices, sounds, mechanical clicks, and clacks of Walkmans—create a collage that feels both familiar and disorientingly novel.gajoobzine.com/albums/x1-the-art-of-k7-vol-2/