1 1/2 years alone with an AnalogKeys

It all started march 2020, in the “New gear and your intentions” thread:

The obsession part has been achieved, yep, and much else. What did I learn from all this?

First, general goals: perform music that I like with just the AK. “That I like” was left pretty open. I don’t make any particular sort of EM, it’s just synth music to me. And that’s pretty broad. It could be improv, ambient, Berlin, world music influenced, folk, whatever. And the music would be written for the AK so I didn’t have to worry about doing impossible things.

Overall, I’m happy so far with the progress. I have 25 or so videos that I think are decent, and more coming.

My big takeaways:

  • Could not have done it without selling all the other gear, I would have have gotten distracted.
  • I found it best to focus on one function and get it down. I’d make the song with something specific in mind to do: “use the performance knobs for morphs”, “use instant change instead of bar queing for pattern change”, “use all the mappings in the joystick”, that kind of thing.
  • I also found it’s better to have fewer, more flexible patterns, most songs were fewer than 12.
  • I can only really work with Direct Change on permanently. With that, the whole tyranny of the bar is blown to bits.
  • I make variations for “fills” of each pattern, and assign them to adjacent patterns. Each main pattern is on 1, 5, 9, 13 so I know I can go to one of those for the next big change, and one of the in between patterns for “fills”. They work as fills because I use Direct Change and only switch over for a moment.
  • Probabilties and Fills, I use pretty much all the time. Fills, oddly enough, I usually use to thin out a pattern, because I use other patterns for fills.
  • The AK’s unique ability to track voice changes and handle note off messages properly, along with the fabulous voice stealing make the whole sound very smooth.
  • Kits are your friend: I make a new kit for each pattern and just assign it. If later I find I want to join the kit to another pattern, I just reload it. But 9 times out of ten I make timbral changes with each pattern. These can be very subtle and when so make the whole track breathe.
  • I’ve never had to manage Kits at all, I just access them through the pattern. If they get orphaned later, so what you have 128 of them.
  • Copy and Paste of all sorts needs to be memorized throughly, nothing will break your flow in a bigger way.
  • As you slowly master a beast like this, be sure to enjoy the effect of vastly opening vistas with each new hurdle you cross. I’ve got things in mind for this guy I just never would have had before.
  • It CAN be done. It doesn’t have to be perfect, doesn’t have to be x, y or z. It just has to be cool and sound good. Find a way!
  • Making my songs by performing vs multi-tracking is like 1000 times better, more fun, more engaging, more fun to share, and just all around energizing instead of draining.
  • To my surprise, I like making videos. I’m a vinyl LP guy, hater of MTV since it launched. But YT allows you to share things in a pretty low key way if you want. Also, shooting off a video when the tune is sounding good is so much faster than DAW work. And it forces a performance. I only ever do one take, if I flub it, I’ll try again some other day.
  • A great use of the Performance Controllers: I assign A to all decays, with just a modest amount, and B, to all filters, again modest cut, C to volume. This way I can make “the whole band” layback or get a little tighter, or brighter and splashier, or whatever, behind me while I play the keyboard. This is another thing that make a track “breathe” and sound alive

That’s about it. Anyone thinking of taking a plunge into a minimal setup, I’d encourage you. Be flexible about what you want to do, explore, and then explore some more, always looking for that little thing that’ll open it up. And you can always buy more shit later (hello? TipTop/Buchla? Stop winking at me!)

This has the video “evidence”: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDtRiceIdi5W0TDVbhgPABw


Huge congratulations on finding focus and productivity.

When you manage to do everything in one box, suddenly big changes to all parts becomes possible like what you just described. Trying to orchestrate many instruments together with that type of macro change would be, like you said, draining. This is why I love just working in the machinedrum, you can turn limitations into strengths and speed and potentially reach that bliss point where it’s an instrument, an extension of your body and mind.

Sounds great too!!


I’m loving your tracks, very “pure” for lack of a better word. You get a lot from just four voices!


Brilliant…you have mastered it perfectly.


Listening to your YT playlist Meditations. Just wow. I never heard the A4 sound like this, and it just sounds beautiful in it’s own right. Instant sub :slight_smile:

Going to check your albums out as well :pray:


Great stuff - just listening to mixolydia now and groovin’ here :grinning: :+1:

Gorgeous sounds… I’d say you’ve mastered it :slight_smile:

Very inspiring! Excellent work!!

Actually alone? As in no human contact, locked in a basement, cut off from civilisation?

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Great work. I knew those sounds were in the AK somewhere. I must experiment with Direct Change.

Thanks for sharing. I have been reflecting about all these videos where musicians have tons of synth/gear/effect pedal and don’t seem to use any of these gear to their maximum potential. Each machine creating one or 2 sounds. But your post is so inspiring, where you seems to be using the full potential of 1 synth alone and creating a complete sounding track.

I’ve been using/studying the Mopho for almost 8 years now and I do feel I now know it completely, although I am not mastering it how you are playing your Analog 4.

Very inspiring thanks for posting and beautiful work!


I checked most of your videos…great stuff. The variety of sounds you get out the A4 is amazing. Seems like there are more varied sounds in there than what I heard from the Digitone.
Made me really wanna get an Analog 4….keep it up!

Awesome insights, and music. Thanks for sharing.

Guessing the only logical upgrade, if even needed, from the analog keys your so proficient with, is another analog4 for extra sauce.

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Awesome work man, congratulations! Love the calm mood in the tracks I’ve heard so far. Really cool to see how much you’re squeezing out of the 4 voices.


Uhhh, very great advice. Thank you for laying it all out in bullet points- I learned a shitload just now with your macro tips and main pattern changes on 1,5,9,13 and fill patterns in between. Woah. I experienced a very unexpected appreciation for the Analog Keys when I picked one up on a whim for cheap locally. It inspired me in ways no other synth had and I ended up breaking down and covering 4 songs, something I never had the patience to do before. Your post just now has got me really thinking about fully embracing the AK similarly to how you have.



Thanks man. I’m coming to think some kind of “scene snapshot” and deep multitimbral ty are the future.

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Thanks for listening, and stay tuned

Awesome, thanks

Funny, that’s how I got mine too, showed up on Craigslist and I jumped on it. Incredible instrument.

Using just the four voices is more like juggling than multitracking: think of the tracks as a kind of platform where you can place any sound at any time. Rather than build layers you swap things around. It’s not easy at first but it has the advantage of keeping the sound clean.


Thank you for the kind words. Mopho is a great synth, maybe a Mopho x4 is in your future?

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