MPC5000 Performance Tools: Part I of II
The MPC5000 not only features great tools for song and beat production, it’s also a powerful live-performance instrument. From dirty, gritty, in-your-face distortions to wacky modulation effects, the MPC5000’s effects engine could easily replace an entire suitcase of pedals and other effects units. On top of the effects engine, the MPC5000’s Q-Link assignable controllers, sampling engine, and of course, the velocity and pressure-sensitive MPC pads make for an incredible live performance tool. In this article, we will showcase a handful of live performance tricks.
This article, split into two volumes, will cover the following topics:
- Keying/Ducking audio
- Robo-Voice effect
- Manipulating Filters w/Q-Links
- Remixing and stuttering a sample using Chop Shop and Note Repeat (with a twist)
- Using Random Zone Play to trigger random samples at any tempo
Method 1: Tremolo effect
Select Tremolo Sync from the Effects list (Mode Pad 11) and assign it to any available effects buss. Choose the program you want to apply it to and turn the Send value up all the way in the PrgMIX tab of the Mixer (Mode Pad 7).
Use this effect on long sustained notes such as a pad or single-note bass to have it duck in and out in time with the song. You can also apply this to both Synth and Sample Programs for other effects.
Method 2: Using the Amp ADSR to Add Attack-Delay to the Beginning of a Sample
In Program mode (mode pad 6), press F5 (AmpEnv) and set the attack to 55 as a starting point, reducing that setting for faster response.
This will enable you to manually set the amount of attack you want to roll off the kick drum. This works especially well if you are using drum rhythms that aren’t locked into a steady quarter-note pattern. Set Sample Play mode to “Note On” by highlighting the sample in Program Mode, pressing Window, then changing each layer that has a sample assigned from “ONE SHOT” to “NOTE ON”. This forces the sample to only play as long as you hold the pad down, which is crucial for longer samples.
Tip: Try also raising the Delay parameter to around 25 to move the entire sample forward in time by 25 milliseconds, giving the bass drum “first dibs” to the downbeat of the measure. Experimentation is important here.
Live Tip: Want the ability to instantly shut this effect off as the track is playing? Try keeping the AmpEnv window open and punching in Attack values of 0 and 55. Or you can assign the Attack of the AmpEnv to a Q-Link control.
Another way to control this in real time is to duplicate the Track into another Track. Duplicate the Program into another, but with the ADSR Attack time of 0. Assign the second track to this new version of the Program. Then use TRACK MUTE to turn the versions of the track on and off.
You can use this same duplication method with the Tremolo method by duplicating the pad data into another. Assign only one of the pads to the Tremolo, and control the two with the PdMUTE (F3) tab of the TRACK MUTE screen.
Method 3: Use a Hardware Compressor With Sidechain
This is the most difficult, and best-sounding method. For this technique, you will need an external compressor with a sidechain option, such as the Alesis 3630.
Route your kick drum, synth, or other signal you wish to use as the sidechain’s modulation source from one of the MPC’s outputs into the compressor’s sidechain input.
Open the Mixer page (mode Pad 7), highlight the OUT for the pad that has the kick drum and set the OUT to 1 (or any desired mono output). Using a mono patch cable, line the chosen output of your MPC into the sidechain on the compressor.
The audio you want to compress must be sent out another of the MPC’s outputs into the compressor’s input, so repeat the above steps, choosing a different output and patch the cable out of the second output into the input of the compressor.
The compressed signal comes out of the compressor’s into the MPC’s RECORD IN, enabling you to sample the compressed signal, record it to a HD Audio Track, or if you are using an external mixer, route it directly out of the compressor into an available channel on the mixer.
On the compressor, set the attack to 25-50ms, the release to 200-500ms, and the threshold according to how drastically you want the audio to duck out. As you manipulate the ratio, you are effectively managing your mix, allowing the kick drum to do its job without muddying the mix.
Stay tuned for next month’s Tips And Tricks for more live-performance MPC notes! Thanks for reading and, as always, we welcome your feedback.