Korg was on hand with their SoundLink digital workstation, and sitting next to it was something you don't see often at a radio convention...a MIDI keyboard. Introducing, the Korg i3 Interactive Music Workstation. The i3 is a 61-note, 32-voice polyphonic, fully programmable synthesizer featuring a 16-track sequencer, integrated digital multi-effects, and a floppy drive. On the surface, it looks like another music workstation, but the i3 goes a step further and includes a hefty database of pre-programmed sequences in a large variety of musical styles. This by itself is nothing really new since pre-programmed sequences for music workstations have been available for some time, but the i3 enables the user to "interact" with these sequences in a most innovative way.


The i3 has over 10,000 tracks of pre-recorded sequences stored in its 1 megaword ROM "Style" memory. There are 48 of these musical Styles to choose from including a number of rock, dance, country, R&B, and ballad Styles. You also get Reggae, Latin, Fusion, Salsa, Bossa Nova, Waltz, Dixieland, Blues, Motown, Rap, and on and on. Now, pay attention. Each of these 48 Styles has 4 "Variations." A Variation consists of six different sequences, each containing up to six MIDI tracks (drums, percussion, bass, and accompaniment 1, 2 and 3). These sequences are referred to as Parts, and the "interactive" magic occurs when these Parts are triggered by the chords you play on the keyboard. Play one chord, and the i3 plays one way; hit another chord and the i3 will analyze the chord and its relation to the other chord, then play something completely different yet "stylistically" and musically "correct." Want to end your song? Hit one of the two End buttons and the i3 performs a perfect ending. Oh, it does the same thing with intros, too! All the Styles can be modified and saved to disk, so you can end up with quite a collection of different Styles to choose from over a period of time.

The i3 also lets you edit and store "Arrangements" which allow you to select which instruments are played, their volume, panning, effect balance and more. What does this all mean? It means the i3 does the "performing" of the music YOU create! With just the most basic knowledge of chords, ANYONE that can push buttons can create music on the i3 -- not just simple, unsophisticated noise with a beat, but music worthy of being under a spot or promo! Wow! Now we understand why the i3 was at a radio convention!

Many of you have been working with synthesizers and sequencers for years, making your own music beds for spots and promos; but making a decent bed takes at least a fair amount of musical skills, not to mention the technical skills involved in knowing how to use a sequencer and synthesizer. The i3 allows someone with no musical background whatsoever to create halfway decent music -- and here's the key word -- QUICKLY! Again, it does help to know a few things about chords, like how to make them and which ones work best with each other, but this is something that can be self-taught from an easy to read $10 book on music basics.

What is most attractive about having an instrument like the i3 in the production room is the fact that it enables the producer to write music for the voice track. Let's say you have a simple winner promo to produce. You have an announcer open talking about how Joe Listener won a million dollars from your station. Next comes the winner's voice track -- lots of screaming, etc.. Then back to the announcer close -- "keep listening for your chance...." Many of us will use three music beds on a promo like this, or a least make some sort of musical or effect change when the winner's voice track begins, then again when the announce close starts. With an instrument like the i3, you can have the same song playing under the entire promo, and where you would normally change the music bed, you could simply change chords (or do any number of other things within the same "song"). The result is a bed that sounds like it was written for the voice track. In fact, it was!

There is much more to the i3 than is covered in these few paragraphs. If you're even half interested, call your local music stores and find one that has an i3 in stock. Go by and get a demo. Play it yourself. If you're not an accomplished musician, you'll smile from ear to ear as you "create" music on this machine. If you are an accomplished musician, you'll be able to take the i3 to its limits. The i3 lists for $3,200. Korg is also introducing the i2 for $3,800. For the extra bucks you get expanded ROM on a 76-note keyboard. 

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