The original microKORG genre-selecting knob, sure to baffle and delight with its nonsensical labels. Careful: you may actually transform yourself with the genres.

Okay, first, a disclaimer: the fact that the upcoming microKORG XL has a “genre” knob for selecting presets isn’t big news. The original microKORG had genre-selectable presets, too. The beauty of the original, though, was how incoherently these settings were labeled. (Retro, or Hiphop/Vintage, anyone?)

Sometimes, the labels that don’t fit are better than the real ones.

“What type of music do you play?”

“I play VOCODER!”

(From here on out, any time the mention of VOCODER comes up, it shall be in CAPS and ITALICS as will anything else we especially ENJOY. For instance: GRANULAR DISTORTION!)

Sadly, it seems Korg has – well, sort of – made these choices rational. (As rational as they can be, anyway, given “genre” is generally irrational.) I think I misread the label “ROCK/POP” as “POWER POP” – you’ll have to use your imagination. (VINTAGE SYNTH? Does that really say HOUSE/DISCO?) Korg explains:

The first selects the musical genre, while the second defines the instrument category. From the familiar "ROCK / KEYBOARD," the standard "R&B / LEAD," and the distinctive "HIPHOP / BASS," a wide range of presets are instantly available. For the diehard synthesists and sound designers, you can use the three performance edit knobs for fast, effective editing in performance. You’re also free to select and assign your favorite parameters.

No idea what “distinctive” means, but since our job is not selling lots of gear, let’s do something more fun. I suggest we chip in and imagine the Most Awesomest Genre Knob ever. You’ll be free to incorporate this into your Pd and Reaktor patches. It will have silly, awesome names on it that we’ve made up or refer to disparagingly. Get your genre brains going, and submit your ideas, and I’ll run the best answers later this week. You’ll have to print out a sticker to put on your new microKORG XL when it ships in 2009.

Now, if only we could use a “genre” knob on bands at gigs… sorry, Emo band, you’ve now just become Avant-electro-noise!

Send your answers below, or head directly to

  • dear god, no chiptune.

  • teej

    ha! awesome post. this knob layout is so laughably stupid. i would try and instead attempt to classify the sounds by character but if this helps people with tiny fingers shred then HIPHOP/VINTAGE your little hearts out!

  • Nomis

    What the hell is Electronica anyways?

  • jonnyfive

    But does it have a "talent" knob? I always need to turn that one up…

  • veeble

    We need an "Awesome" knob, for super awesome synth sounds.

  • jasonmd2020

    For the two knobs I nominate BLUEGRASS/BREAKBEAT.

  • Max

    Is this knob continuous? Would love to move it half between "Glitch-Hop" and "OSC-Pop"!

  • crust

    I'm think I'm done with Korg for awhile. I'm selling my R3 today and holing up in a dustbowl with my Micron to wear out what's left of its blank, genreless main knob in time with a skipping Buddha-Machine….

  • BirdFLU

    I've got an old drum machine (ELI CompuRhythm 7030) That has some interesting choices such as:


    I would just use nonsense genres. Remember the Lexicon Vortex effects unit? It had presets like Bleen and Aerosol.

  • godprobe

    FWIW, in the mid-90's, prior to "Indie" and "Emo", weezer was described to me as POWER POP. Think of it in contrast to "Alternative" and it makes sense.

  • Acid Dueling Banjo's!!!
    Its a sub-genre of Hillbilly Rave.
    Cowboys with glow sticks on E, often seen riding a mechanical spaceship with a saddle.

  • Adrian Anders

    I wonder what the D&B/Breaks category will be like. I imagine it will be a bank full of the "Whomp" sound used by Nu Skool and D&B artists 5 years ago. Doubt it will have much of the complex bass sounds in the style of Si Begg, Tipper, FreQ. Nasty, General MIDI, and the like. God, I never thought I would sound dated dropping those names in a conversation.

    Jeez, I don't know I suppose the next model will have "Dubstep", "Clownstep", and "Grime" as genres.

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  • AMBIENT DEATH POLKA, to borrow a KVR trope.

  • We need a knob setting for the bands that say "you can't classify us as any genre" or which baffle critics… maybe "GENRE BUSTING GENRE / DEFIES DESCRIPTION"
    Like BirdFlu says, this reminds me of old Yamaha PortaSounds and Casiotones with the Samba, Tango, Cha-cha, four types of Waltz… Hey, doesn't the Korg Karma technology do that? There must be a plan to link these all up …
    What would the patches in these Genres sound like?
    "POST POP"

  • I think you need to include all of the different possible 'House' styles. You might need a whole dedicated knob:

    "Deep House"
    "Micro House"
    "Progressive House"
    "Hip House"
    "Hard House"
    "Electro House"
    "Ghetto House"
    "Acid House"

    Same with "Trance"

    "Uplifting Trance"
    "Tech Trance"

    …you get the idea

  • I renamed my MicroKorg preset banks:

    Trance ——-> Glowsticks
    Techno/House ——-> Furry Boots
    Electronica ——-> Laptop
    D'n'B/Breaks ——-> Suburban Bass
    Hip-Hop/Vintage ——-> Bontempi
    Retro ——-> Atari/Nintendo
    SE/Hit ——-> Vicks
    Vocoder ——-> ROBOT

    They are all pretty much descriptive of the sounds within even after I replaced 90% of the presets. Except that "Bontempi" is now mostly pad patches, the original hip-hop presets did sound for the most part like an old home organ to me.

  • I LIKE Power Pop!

  • I laughed really f'n hard at this:

    (From here on out, any time the mention of VOCODER comes up, it shall be in CAPS and ITALICS as will anything else we especially ENJOY. For instance: GRANULAR DISTORTION!)

  • Perhaps they should be labeled according to the type of user:


  • Polite


  • I'm surprised there is no "Happy Hardcore"

    I'll take the model with Glitch, Broken Beat, Dubstep, Philly Soul, Circuit Bent and Post Punk.


  • sm0hm

    Heey, let's turn the dial to EXPLODE and see what happe- KaBooM!

  • Bobert

    I propose the newest Korg synth to have but one knob that crossfades between "SUCKS" and "ROCKS"

    or perhaps "MEAT" and "CHEESE"

  • Genres on sounds… gosh.

    Well, considering genres, a great site I found a few years ago, there ARE some mistakes in it, but then the overall work is still very interesting and worth spending an hour to check out all the styles & history…

  • C

    There should only be one knob that goes all the way to '11'.

    80's POP / MULLET

  • Adam smith

    According to the esteemed giant of music Duke Ellington there were only 'two kinds of music good and bad'.So a simple switch should suffice.

    By choosing the bad side in this binary equation you will probably have more chance of huge commercial success.

  • Marcel

    If I remember correctly, the Hammond Autovaria Rhythm machine had a rhythm setting called, LIVERPOOL.

  • My God, I love my microkorg, but that selector really bugs me.

    First, as cheesy as everyone says they are, the presets aren't that bad, and a lot of the time, I just want some quick phatness, and I don't wanna funk around making my own sounds (though that IS a lot of fun too).

    Couldn't they just have had instrument categories instead of genres? Bass, Lead, Pad, etc, would be a shit load easier to deal with.

    just sayin'.

  • Varjohukka

    I just link to a php script I once hacked together:

  • Varjohukka
  • jonnyfive

    Varjohukka! Your PHP script rulez!
    As a side note, some of my favorite knobs were on the original GRUNGE pedal: LOUD FACE ASS and GRUNGE. Needless to say the best sounds were to be had by turning the FACE down and the ASS up…

  • Mad Al

    Do they have a label for "pretentious git"?

  • al

    rythmic jizzim
    sloth loves chunk
    funky chicken
    guatemalan dubsteb
    jiggy check
    and eh

  • jens-oliver

    Ãœber Tech Glitch

    … yet another genre script:

  • I'm still holding out for Guitarcentershowoffcore


    More presets than that is teh suck.

  • Needs an Artschool Twaddle setting

  • Darren Landrum

    Man, mine pales in comparison to all of these. I submitted "1960s Childrens Electronic." My lack of creativity really saddens me.

  • Selectable philosophical schools:


  • A



    HMMMMMM I think


  • godprobe


  • Exitman

    bank1, bank2, bank3, bank4…. simple…