Korg Minilogue XD
What began as the search for a basic piano, resulted in the purchase of something else, entirely—The Korg Minilogue Xd.
I had been composing an original tune on my shamisen (Japanese banjo), struggling to get a Western groove out of an Eastern instrument, with an equally Eastern sound. I muddled through the process, feeling as though whatever I played was just “not working." Attempting to work through this musical slump, I decided to pick up another instrument.
The instrument would have to play lead, without sounding too technical. This of course ruled out just about every string instrument I own, nudging me towards the purchase of a piano, while my desire for elbow room pushed me towards something smaller. A quick search with the keywords “mini keyboard” yielded the Korg Minilogue Xd. I did no further reading than making sure it had a USB, it was relatively new, and could fit on a stool if necessary. Done. How hard could it be?
Well, for starters, it had no manual. The Korg arrived complete with a single page (as in 1 page) setup diagram in English, a link to download instructions online, and the device itself. I was not thrilled. An electronic device without a manual is usually a device on it’s way out the door and into a dumpster.
Setting aside any preconceived notions about the device, I began my setup. During the process, what I discovered had me feeling a little less than enthusiastic about my purchase, at this point. The online instructions were simply the PDF version of the printed one I had in front of me, which urged users to watch instructional videos on Youtube.
Video after video, I watched users enthusiastically blaze through features of this new device. After a series of pauses to adjust my knobs and switches, I finally got a feel for what this device—correction, this instrument— could really do. In short, it's awesome.
Until this point, I had never picked up any kind of instrument that could produce a beautiful sound, with minimal effort or musical skill required of the player. It’s fantastic! The new step sequencer allows you to program a series of sounds that will add a rhythm to your melodic noise, further adding to the Minilogue’s appeal. The sound out of the headphone jack is truly beautiful, providing an almost three-dimensional listening experience, via headphones. The best part about using the Minilogue is that the player need only press a key and turn a knob, to use. Bring on the noise!
For all of it's musical splendor, I did experience one drawback with the Korg Minilogue— After my session, the song I painstakingly produced was completely erased, due to a firmware update/sync with the desktop software. Unfortunately, I cannot recall what I had played to any level of exactness enough to reproduce the idea I had recorded, during that session of insane knob turning, experimentation, and playback. Needless to say, I will take measures to avoid this issue again. It’s too cool an instrument, not to.
Prior to acquiring the Minilogue, I had zero interest in recording music with solely electronic instruments. I had an even lesser interest in electronic music as a genre. I believed the pursuit of electronic music to be a soulless endeavor, reserved for Youtubers and would-be musicians who lacked the ability to play a real instrument. After using the Korg Minilogue, I can happily say otherwise.
While I currently prefer the sound quality of handmade natural wood instruments (and the unmistakable punch they pack), I cannot deny the role of fully electronic instruments or their usefulness. At the end of the day, it is safe to say that anyone who plays an instrument in this day and age is an electronic musician. At some point, a person is bound to plug their bass or guitar into a jack, turn a few knobs here and there to get the sound they want, press record, play, and rely on the use of a power outlet, to communicate their musical ideas. If that is not an electronic musician, I don’t know what is.