Step Sequencer

XW Live Clinic now posted on Youtube

Mike Martin’s Ustream clinic from late June is now available on Youtube.  Get deep into Solo Synth editing, Step Sequencer automation and more:


Casio XW Synths and the big blue LED.


So it’s hard to miss, the giant blue LED on the left hand side of the XW-P1 and XW-G1. So besides looking very cool on stage or in the studio, what is it for? Simply put the LED indicates the function of the sliders below.

In the XW-P1 the LED will light up depending on which of the three specialty sound engines you’re using – Solo Synth, Hex Layers or Drawbar organ. In each of those modes the sliders function almost the same way. In the case of the Solo Synth or Hex Layers, the first six sliders provide volume control of the oscillator or layers, the 7th slider provides total volume control and the 8th and 9th control effects. In Drawbar organ mode, all 9 sliders are used for the organ.

The buttons to the left of the LED also provide an additional way to switch between categories of sounds.

If you press the STEP SEQUENCER button, the big LED will be off but now the sliders will now provide control over parts in the Step Sequence (more on this next week).

In the XW-G1 the big LED indicates which part of the solo synth can be manipulated in real-time. Since the G1 doesn’t have HexLayers or Drawbar organs you get additional control over the Solo Synth.

Step Sequencer: Using the keyboard to play parts


So you’ve used the switches and sliders to quickly build a drum part, now you’ve reached the bass part and you want to play that part from the keyboard.  Not a problem let me show you how.

Make sure you have the STEP SEQ button to the left of the display selected then press EDIT.  Scroll down once and now select STEP EDIT on the screen.  If the Step Sequencer is running, you can now enter notes from the keyboard and they’ll snap to the 16 step grid.

So why does it work this way?  The XW’s are designed to always keep your primary keyboard sounds live. By doing this it allows you to build a sequence using the buttons and sliders while the keyboard is always available for a melody or other instrument part.  Pretty cool.  So if you’re not performing or building sequences live you can simply go into STEP EDIT to use the keyboard for all of your Step Sequencer parts including drums.  Just stay in STEP EDIT mode and use the Part +/- buttons to switch between each of the tracks as you play the parts from the keyboard.

Changing Tones in the Step Sequencer


So you’ve bought a new XW-P1 and you’re ready to put down some parts in the step sequencer.  You dial in a blank or untitled step sequence and begin but you don’t have the kick or snare part that you want.  Don’t worry, changing tones is easy.  Your first instinct may have been to press the TONE button, but that only allows you to change the sound that is live on the keyboard.  The answer lies in the mixer.

Press the mixer button and it will take you to the MIDI channel that corresponds to the part you’re working on the step sequencer. Use the cursor button and select TONE on the screen then use the +/- (yes/no) buttons or the data wheel to dial in the sound you want.  Scroll down further using the cursor keys and you’ll find the volume, pan and effects settings for this part.  You even can use the Part +/- buttons to switch between different parts.

The parts in the Step Sequencer run on MIDI channels 8-16.  Here is a quick summary:

  • Drum1 – MIDI channel 8
  • Drum2 – MIDI channel 9
  • Drum3 – MIDI channel 10
  • Drum4 – MIDI channel 11
  • Drum5 – MIDI channel 12
  • Bass – MIDI Channel 13
  • Solo1 – MIDI Channel 14
  • Solo2 – MIDI Channel 15
  • Chord – MIDI Channel 16

Don’t get confused by the names “Solo1 and Solo2”, they simply mean that these are monophonic tracks that can only play or trigger one note at at time.  The Solo1 track can be used to play a “Solo Synth” tone instead of one of the regular PCM tones.  We’ll teach you that trick in an upcoming post.