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The Tap Tempo key is a great way of setting the tempo without having to clog up your brain with numbers. Your taps can be averaged over two, three or four hits according to your preference. When it comes to creating music loops, the tap tempo function really shows its worth. Trying to set a tempo to get a loop to cycle in a regular and glitch free manner is usually a matter of trial and error (unless you do everything at 120 BPM). With Tap Tempo what you do is create a sequence with the same number of bars as the loop, which will repeat automatically unless you instruct it not to, and hit the pad to which the sample is assigned on the first beat of the first bar. Then, as the sample plays, hit the Tap Tempo button in time with the rhythm and amazingly enough the tempo will be very nearly right for the loop. Youll have to make some fine adjustments of course, but you have saved in an instant half the time and effort it usually takes.
The Main Screen key has the obvious function of taking you back to the main sequencing display from wherever you happen to be. It has the secondary function of acting as a life saver in case you are halfway through doing something you didnt really want to do. In which case, just press the Main Screen key and nothing is spoilt. I could still use an Undo key though!
When you are a newcomer to the MPC 3000, the next key will receive a lot of use. This is the Help key which provides information on whatever screen and cursor position you happen to be in. When computer sequencer users find themselves in difficulties they need to bring out a large ring bound manual, which probably doesnt have all the information for the latest update, and half the pages will fall on the floor just to draw added attention to the predicament. What an embarrassment! With the MPC 3000 if you find yourself in difficulties in the midst of a sweaty studio session, just surreptitiously press the help key and no-one will even know whats going on. The help given is clear and concise, and usually adequate, unlike most computer manuals (on all three counts).
The lower two rows of keys are for transport and locate. There is a three position autolocator as well as two types of fast forward and reverse to move through the sequence by quantisation interval or by bar. Two record keys are provided, one to record and erase existing material and one to overdub. There are also two play keys: one to play from the beginning and one to play from the current position.