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SP808 Step Modulator tips.

Roland’s SP-808 has been all the rage recently among the pro DJ and remix folks. One of its more unique features is the step modulator. Today’s Tech Tip covers some of the basics of getting it going.

The Step Modulator is a virtual recreation of the analog sequencers found in the early1980s. When combined with the virtual analog synthesizer, you can create great techno-like patterns (up to 16 notes) without a MIDI keyboard. The tempo of the Step Modulator can be controlled manually or by the Tempo Map of the current song. There are many preset sequences already programmed into the SP-808 or you can create your own. Use the following procedure to set up and record your own patterns into the Step Modulator using the Analog Synth preset:

1. Press FX INFO, use the VALUE/TIME dial to select “P66 SY: StepTk3,” and press ENTER/YES. This is a preset effects Patch for the Step Modulator that is 16 beats in duration.

2. Hold SHIFT and press STEP MOD (SET UP) to display the Step Mod setup screen (see Fig. 6).

3. Use the VALUE/TIME dial to select “REPEAT” for the trigger type. In this setting, the step modulator will play continually while STEPMOD is turned on.

Other trigger type settings include:

1 STEP: Plays only one note every time you press the STEP MOD button.

SINGLE: Plays through the sequence once when you press the STEP MOD button.

MEAS: Plays one measure of the sequence when you press the STEP MOD button.

SngPLY: Plays the sequence every time you play the song.

4. CURSOR down to VALUE and use the VALUE/TIME dial to select the first note to be played by the Step Modulator.

5. CURSOR right once and use the VALUE/TIME dial to select the second note to be played. If you want the first note to play longer, rotate the VALUE/TIME dial counterclockwise to select “TIE.” If you want a pause before the next note, select “RST” (REST).

6. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to program additional notes as desired. If you want the pattern to be shorter than 6 beats, CURSOR up to EndStep and use the VALUE/TIME dial to select the desired length.

Tip: You can have two step progressions play at the same time by selecting an EndStep value of 8 or less. Steps 1-8 become the first progression and 9-16 becomes the second. This is referred to as “parallel motion.”

7. CURSOR down to BPM and use the VALUE/TIME dial to select the desired tempo for your pattern. You can also select SONG to have it follow the Tempo Map of the current song.

Use the procedure for writing a user effects Patch (page 13 in the manual) to save the sequence you created. The sequence will be saved with the effects Patch. The STEP MOD button will flash when the Patch is recalled indicating there is a sequence stored with the Patch.

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