If you have been following my little adventure, we left off at the MS20 Legacy controller, where I began to document the steps of creating a hybrid sampling solution between Ableton Live’s Simpler and a nearly computer-less tactile interface (the Korg MS20). If you missed it, here’s a link to part 1.

Now then, let’s get right to it. Mapping the MS20 to Live was a breeze, which really shows how brilliant Ableton is. Basically, you click on the midi mapping button at the top right of the program. Everything that can be assigned a knob, switch or fader will now turn purple. You click on the thing you want to control, then head over to your controller and turn the knob you want to use. Done.

So I went ahead and used that process for the primary things in Simpler, the E301 echo unit, the reverb and the ‘bender’. Before I actually mapped things, I sat down with a plain template for the MS20 which looks like this:

I brought the plain template into Photoshop. Then I studied. Hard. I spent two nights on just notes. I went into the studio and tried a few variations, but in the end, this is the map that I wound up with:

As you can see (click the image to see it full size), there is quite a bit of stuff going on, but as complex as it looks, the mapping is quite intuitive to me. The Sample Section is where I edit the start and loop points of the sample, and to the left of this is the envelope generator. The Spread knob does a stereo widening of the sound and detunes it. Next to this is the reverb unit. To turn on the reverb, I hit my V key. Then, I use the three knobs to edit the tail of the verb. The VCF section of the MS20 does the same thing for Simpler, the exception being that I have the ability to select different filter types (follow the black line under VCF). Next to the filter is the Echo section, and all the controls were mapped on the delay unit perfectly. Under this is the filter’s envelope generator, which I can turn on or off by clicking F.

Now, under the filter envelope is the ‘bender’. To use it, I click B on keyboard and it turns that section on. There is no explanation as to what the knobs do so because they are a bit random (that’s the point of bending). The Pitch knob tunes the sample freely, and to the far left is the LFO section. The amount of modulation is controlled by the mod wheel of course.

Oh, you cannot see it, but the master volume knob controls.. volume. Comparing the MS20 Simpler Sampler to the MPC and the EPS, I find the MS20 approach far more engaging to record samples on the fly. It is about as close as one can get to the immediacy of my VSS30 without the 1 second limit and the hassles of not being able to save anything. But here’s a little bit of that toy:


It should also be noted that I did not create the MS20 Simpler to sample drum loops or cut them, as that is better handled by Wavelab, Maschine, and Battery. This is a traditional sampler with a personal twist. And right now, it has become my favorite toy of all (the MS20 itself is wonderful too). A video demo will happen soon!

The Process

  1. Load Ableton Live project (the first mouse move)

  2. hit A then R, and record something using my audio inputs

  3. Stop recording by using the space bar and click P

  4. Drag the sample into Simpler (the only other mouse move)

  5. Play around on the MS20.

OR … Skip step 2 and 3 and just drag random samples into Simpler.  OR … Click M and play around with the circuit bending instruments and record a sample by clicking R.

The next step is to add another controller to facilitate what the computer keyboard is doing, although this is honestly not needed in this case.