By Paul Armento
When I perform with New York-based ’80s cover band Rubix Kube, a great
deal of my energy is devoted to reproducing the keyboard sounds of well-known
songs. I get a lot of mileage out of a compact keyboard rig:
The Triton is my only sound source, but it features eight layers in Combi mode, and packs a variety of sampled and analog-style sounds, plus
effects that I tweak and combine to emulate signature ’80s sounds. I play the Triton itself for songs that require aftertouch or a sustain pedal.
The AX-7 is set to MIDI channel 2, and I put it above the Triton on a two-tier stand for songs requiring more sounds than I can play on one
keyboard. For simpler parts, I sling the AX-7 over my shoulder and join the party. The MidAir lets me interact wirelessly with the Triton and
roam among the band. There are lots of ways to get the following five sounds, but here’s how I do it with Triton Extreme factory patches and
a bit of effects programming. I’ve included both patch names and banks/numbers.
61-key Korg Triton Extreme workstation.
Roland AX-7 keytar controller.
M-Audio MidAir wireless MIDI interface.
Europe, “The Final Countdown”
LAYERS: “DynaBrassStereo” (M041) for brightness and attack, and “Horns & Ensemble” (K057) for fullness and body.
I set both at equal volume, and to forced monophonic mode, whichmakes the patch a little harder to play but more authentic.
EFECTS: I route “DynaBrassStereo” through “Multitap Delay” (FX045), with tap time 1 at 350ms, tap time 2 at 220ms,
and wet/dry mix at 17:83. I then link it to “Reverb Hall” (FX052) with wet/dry mix set to 7:93. I send “Horns & Ensemble”
through “Limiter-Mt.Delay” (FX073) with tap time 1 at 350ms, tap time 2 at 600ms, and wet/dry mix at 17:83.
Van Halen, “Jump”
LAYERS: “Double Sawtooth” (E017), “Detuned Square” (G081), “Power Saw” (M089), and “Analog Pad” (M057). I set
the first two layers down one octave. All layers are at the maximum volume of 127, except “Detuned Square,” which is at 110.
EFFECTS: I link three effects in a chain, and bring the layers in at different points. The linked effects are “Rotary
Speaker” (FX040), “MultiTap Chorus/Delay” (FX018), and “Reverb Smooth Hall” (FX053). “Double Sawtooth” and “Analog
Pad” are sent only to FX053, while “Power Saw” goes through all three effects. I use no effects on “Detuned Square.”
Eddie Money, “Take Me Home Tonight”
LAYERS: I only need two layers for this memorable patch: “Pop Synth Pad” (K032) for body, and “Nu Goa Synth”
(C085) for attack. Volumes are 102 and 117, respectively.
EFFECTS: A chain of “Stereo Compressor” (FX002) and “Reverb Hall” (FX052). I set the compressor output to 61,
sensitivity to 40, and attack to 50. The reverb is at a wet/dry mix of 6:94. I send “Pop Synth Pad” through both effects,
but “Nu Goa Synth” goes through the reverb only.
LAYERS: The fact that this sound only uses one layer demonstrates how effects can really make a difference. The
patch is “Brass Oct Synth” (C004).
EFFECTS: “Multitap Delay” (FX045) with tap time 1 at 350ms, tap time 2 at 500ms, and wet/dry mix at 3/97. Then
(serially), “Reverb Hall” (FX052) with a wet/dry mix of 5:95. Rather than use the joystick for modulation, I modified the
patch to trigger the LFO via aftertouch. This lets me add Prince-like synth vibrato while keeping my left hand on those
fat bass notes.
Journey, “Don’t Stop Believing”
LAYERS: Many bands cover this song with a single piano patch and some chorus, but to make it sound spot-on, I
use two layers with detuning and effects. The sounds are “BD Grand Piano” (A000) and “Power Piano” (A004). I set volumes
to 127 and 120, respectively, because I want A000 to lead the ear with pitch, as I detune A004 seven cents sharp.
EFFECTS: A chain of “Stereo Chorus” (FX016) and “ReverbWetPlate” (FX054). I send A000 through both effects,
and leave A004 dry. The chorus waveform is set to triangle, depth to 40, and wet/dry mix to 50:50. The reverb is at a
wet/dry mix of 11:89.
- Audio examples (in the style of the original songs indicated - notes not identical)
Keyboardist and sound designer Paul Armento, (a.k.a.
Sky), grew up in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, and began
studying piano at age six. Armento’s years of computer
music production developed his ear for reverseengineering
keyboard sounds for a series of tribute
bands. His rock CD The Ism/New World was
recently released independently. Find out more
at the-ism.com and paularmento.com.