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Beyonce’s Break My Soul sounds like a love letter to the Korg M1 synth

The launch of a new Beyonce project is always noteworthy, but if you’re familiar with Korg’s classic M1 synth, your first listen of new single Break My Soul might give you a strange sense of - ahem - deja vu (opens in new tab).

That’s because the track - a thumping ‘90s house-inspired banger (opens in new tab) - features two sounds that will be forever associated with the M1: its organ bass and bright piano patches.

As far as we can tell, the bass in Break My Soul is played using the M1’s Organ 2 preset - the one that became iconic after its use on Robin S’s classic Show Me Love (opens in new tab). It’s not entirely clear whether a direct sample has been used by Beyonce and her co-writers - who include Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) (opens in new tab) alumni Terius Nash and Christopher Stewart, incidentally - but Show Me Love writers Allen George and Fred McFarlane are also given credits, so the influence is clear.

As for the piano, that sounds like the tacky Piano 16’ preset - another M1 patch that’s very much back in vogue right now.

Released in 1988, the M1 was Korg’s response to Roland’s legendary D-50. It offered 4MB worth of multisampled instruments (trust us: that was a lot back then) and also boasted effects and an eight-track sequencer.

The M1 became a smash hit, with many of its presets now etched into music history. As well as that organ bass and piano, who could forget the SlapBass patch, as used in the Seinfeld theme tune?

If you fancy a second-hand M1, you should be able to pick one up for less than $500, but the easier and more affordable option would be to pick up one of Korg’s own authentic software emulations. There’s an M1 plugin for PC/Mac that includes all the sounds from the original and its expansion cards, and an (opens in new tab)iOS version (opens in new tab)

I’m the Group Content Manager for MusicRadar, specialising in all things tech. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 20 of which I’ve also spent writing about music technology. 

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