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Roland MC-500 incoming!

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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Adam Inglis » Tue Jun 25, 2019 11:26 am

Still using my MC-50. The great thing about these sequencers is you can lock their timing to your DAW via FSK when you need to get some audio happening alongside your midi - way better than midi clock!
http://mezzoauto.blogspot.com/2014/08/r ... encer.html
Very fast way of writing phrases and rhythms, once your cerebellum gets the hang of the key combos - no mouse!
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue Jun 25, 2019 12:08 pm

That idea intrigues me. I am using Logic Pro X and after a quick search couldn’t find anything under FSK/FSK sync. Going to have to take a closer look.
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Adam Inglis » Tue Jun 25, 2019 12:31 pm

Some of the info here may help...

http://www.adambaby.com/studiotech_sync.html#smartFSK

HTH
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue Jun 25, 2019 12:37 pm

Groovy, thanks!!

Edit: that blog is @ treasure trove!
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby nathanscribe » Wed Jun 26, 2019 9:02 pm

I still record a clock from the LinnDrum as audio into the DAW, then run that back out and send analogue triggers to step sequencers and whatnot. I've had way too much trouble with MIDI working differently on different devices with how they respond to start/stop/continue etc. Can't be bothered. Give me the simplicity of having to do everything the long way round!
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby BillB » Wed Jun 26, 2019 9:52 pm

This is really interesting. It sent me scurrying off through my manuals, to see which of my old gear might play the game. Answer: TR-626 and SQ80, but both seem to require tape synced from start of song, no ‘smart FSK’ to MIDI SPP here. But am I missing something? Why not set a piece of hardware (drum machine, sequencer) as the master MIDI clock, and have the DAW slave to that? Or is the problem still that the sync signal is transmitted by MIDI? And perhaps that DAWs don’t slave well to Sync signals? Not explored this issue either way around, but I’m curious.
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Adam Inglis » Thu Jun 27, 2019 3:18 pm

BillB wrote:Or is the problem still that the sync signal is transmitted by MIDI? And perhaps that DAWs don’t slave well to Sync signals? Not explored this issue either way around, but I’m curious.

Yes, both.
Midi being a serial protocol doesn't do timing clock accurately. Even if you can guarantee there will be no other messages on the bus i.e. you have a dedicated midi clock cable, there can still be significant jitter. Using audio sync signals minimises jitter enormously, and keeps your midi busses free for notes and CCs etc. My standard DAW template has a sync track that drives two Innerclock Sync locks, an FSK track that drives a Roland MC-50, and an audio clock for the little Korg SQ-1. Once the latencies were adjusted for, it's set and forget.
And yes DAWs are generally pretty terrible at smoothly following a tempo clock that might be running at 24 pulses per quarter note.
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby BillB » Thu Jun 27, 2019 4:26 pm

Thanks Adam, good to know.
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:50 am

Had my first check using the MC-500 last night. It ran out of memory! Fortunately, I was able to get the finishing touches done. So, lesson learned: check Available Memory often and plan bounces out carefully!

Fortunately the MRP-500 let's me stack songs. :)

FYI, I was able to fit about 80 measures with 7-8 MIDI channels of continuous data before it ran out of memory.
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:31 pm

Had a crack at using the R-TRK and R-PTN settings last night. On the plus side, it works hand in glove with my BOSS DR-550 drum machine, as one would expect. On the minus side, programming drums 1 measure at a times can be very tedious! A simple pattern clone feature would have been a great addition. Aside from that, it's quite intuitive and adds another layer of sounds (and complexity) to the MIDI/modular hybrid!
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Adam Inglis » Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:09 am

Yeah, the Rhythm Track editing is a bit clunky, but the Rhythm Pattern writing is really quick if you use a sustain pedal with your keyboard controller - it erases whatever note you are holding down.* This way you never have to drop out of record, you just build it up while looping, and if it get's too messy or busy, just hit the pedal and hold the notes to make some space or start over.

And you do know you can copy rhythm patterns of course (just gotta get used to those key commands). This allows you to do the following to speed up the rhythm writing process:
Write a "Rhythm Track" quickly by entering Write and hitting... [Enter] [1] [Enter] a bunch of times to put Rhythm Pattern 1 in the track (you can use the Edit Copy commands if you need to extend this further). Now in Rhythm Pattern write, copy pattern 1 to somewhere else and keep editing or tweaking Pattern 1. When you get something you like, copy it again and then erase or tweak Pattern 1. You're basically using Pattern 1 as an edit buffer, without having to mess around with changing the Rhythm Track. This way you can test your patterns against the rest of the music. After a while, you'll have a bunch of patterns saved that you can then sequence into a Rhythm Track.

*on the MC-50 at least. The "Super MRC" operating system is almost identical in it's implementation on the 500, so I would expect it to work there as well. There is a manual called Super MRC Advanced Course that would detail this, however I can't find it on the webs, just the Basic Course. The MC-50 manual explains it.
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Fri Jul 19, 2019 4:47 am

Ha, that’s pretty much how I ended up using it as well!

I have both the Basic and Advanced Super MRC books, and I even scored a sealed, NOS MRP 500 disk and manual. That basically makes the MC-500 useful to me because my songs tend to be on the long side. :)
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue Jul 23, 2019 4:11 pm

Well, yesterday was Do or Die day -- after weeks of programming, arranging, tearing down, and re arranging, I had two songs programmed into the MC-500 and laid out in the NerdSeq. To prove that this can be performed live I had to chain them together press play, and hope it worked.

After several rounds of trial and error, I was able to get everything to work! It was mostly due to discovering a few of the idiosyncrasies of the MC-500 and then finding out how to work around them.

NOTE: I am using the MRP-500 Performance Data OS for Chain Play of the songs.

There is nothing in the manuals about this stuff aside from telling you how to access it, no considerations of how important they are or how they impact performance, so I am setting it down for posterity here. :)

IDEOSYNCRACY NO. 1: ADDITIONAL MEASURES. When you record in real time with the MC-500, it automatically adds a measure to the end of the track you are recording on. This is fine on its own, but when you are chaining songs together, that extra measure sends clock to the modular and throws the sync off when you switch songs. You have to remember to trim the song down to the actual measures used so that the transition will be smooth during Chain Play.

IDEOSYNCRACY NO.2: 'BASIC TEMPO'. There is NOTHING basic about this setting! Without saving the tempos of your song, the MRP-500 will not play your songs in the correct tempos! So, whilst you are still in Mode 1 (MIDI Recorder) of the MRC-500, you MUST save the Basic Tempo setting if you want it to play correctly when you use the MRP-500.

IDEOSYNCRACY NO.3: AUTO-PAUSE. Auto-Pause essentially works in reverse; not only do you have to disable it on every song in a Play List if you are chaining them together, but it sets the Pause command before the song in question, not after it. So, logically, you may think -- okay, I have five songs and I want it to pause after Song 4, so I will set Auto-Pause on 4 ... nope, you would need to set it on Song 5!
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:00 pm

The new piece of music is coming along, I am putting the finishing touches on the third and fourth parts (it will have around five parts in total). I bought a couple of things to make my life easier — a new 6U/104hp case and a BOSS RV-500; that prompted a synth shelf re org which was actually a nice diversion from all this madness! Everything is within better reach now, less precariously stacked, and neater. So, win/win!

However, I did want to post another revelation regarding MC-500: R-PTN and R-TRK use up a LOT of system memory! So when you are planning out your song, unless you need very intricate drum parts, it’s best to keep it simple. I suppose since R-PTNs are polyphonic, they add significantly to the overall note count. LESSON: press AVAIL MEMO often! And have an exit strategy!

Fortunately, the tempo for this song is 85 bpm so even though each part has a low measure count, it takes a couple of minutes to get there! :)

I did want to say something about using this old gear as well. The more work I do away from the computer, the happier I am. I definitely feel that making music DAWlessly is more immersive to me. In particular to how this relates to old gear, however— old doesn’t mean useless! The MC-500 is (overall) intuitive to use, gets the job done, and there are plenty of them floating around! I would rather see them used than adding to the rubbish heap.

There is a sense of tactile satisfaction from the oversized futuristic looking boxes, the clacking mechanical keys, and just a weighty presence. (I will still be gigging with backup stems on my iPad, however!!!!)
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby MC 500 » Mon Aug 19, 2019 8:34 am

Hi,
i also bought a Roland MC 500 some time ago. It is really a great hardware sequencer.

I am also interested in knowing how to copy the rhythm tracks of the MRD-500 Rhythm Bank Software package demosongs to tracks 1-4 in order to modify them with my Waldorf MicroQ synth. Unfortunately the manual for MRC 500 OS is of no help here.

Have you ever tried that ?

Thanks in advance and best regards from Berlin,
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon Aug 19, 2019 1:08 pm

I haven’t accessed the demo material but will have a look!

I am now using the MC-500 every day and it’s slowly revealing its secrets. :)

I did a small series on memory-saving strategies on Instagram and am also documenting my songwriting process with the MC-500. My Insta handle is @postcardsfromjupiter8 if you’re interested.
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Adam Inglis » Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:53 am

MC 500 wrote:I am also interested in knowing how to copy the rhythm tracks of the MRD-500 Rhythm Bank Software package demosongs to tracks 1-4 in order to modify them with my Waldorf MicroQ synth.

It might have to be a two or three part operation. I've not tried this myself, but on the MC-50, you could use a UTILITY function ("Copy Rhythm Patterns") to get the pattern data into a new song, and then use Mode 3 Song Link, to link those songs together, to get access to the Rhythm Track data, which can then be copied to a Phrase track for further editing.

In theory... ;-)

Actually, maybe you wouldn't even need to do the first stage, Song Link might be all you need.
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Re: Roland MC-500 incoming!

Postby Adam Inglis » Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:02 am

Hang on, why doesn't simple EDIT {10} COPY work? Click thru the defaults til you get to the track page, then hit the Rhythm track's mute button to select it, and cursor to the destination track, hit a track number, specify the bar number, usually 1 (unfortunately defaults to "End") and..done! Save as a new song.
If you need to spread the drum voices out over several tracks, you would then use the EDIT EXTRACT function.
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