Soundsnap is another great free samples resource.

Snap - photo

Last week I talked about the Freesound Project’s great website for free samples. Shortly after I received an email from Tasos Frantzolas from Tasos wanted to let me know about a similar site they have. When I traveled over to the site I realized I have been there before and even downloaded some sounds from it.

It’s another good place to look for royalty free samples. It looks a bit more slick and up to date than the Freesound Project. One difference I notice is in the license Soundsnap samples come with.

– To remix or transform the sounds in any way

– To copy, distribute and transmit the sounds

– To use the sounds in any music, film, video game, website etc. whether commercial or not, without paying royalties or other fees

See that last one? You can use Soundsnap samples in commercial projects. The Freesound Project’s Creative Commons license requires you to contact the sample Zoom H2 - photoowner if you want to use the sound commercially. Allthough I never had an issue with getting rights without any fee attached from Freesound Project members it worth noting.

Remember if you have some spare time to give back to these sites. A few samples from your old analog synths, a vocal here and there or grab one of the awesome new portable recorders that recently hit the market.

photo credit: troy -a life-

Free soundset for the Way Out Ware TimewARP 2600.

TimewARP 2600 - screenshot

My absolute favorite soft synth is a recreation of the ARP 2600 from Way Out Where. It’s called the Timewarp 2600 and it screams, bleeps, grinds and explodes. No other plug-in I own has such detuned madness happening inside it. Today I give you my first free sound set for the Timewarp 2600. If you don’t own this synth you owe it to yourself to head over to Way Out Where’s website and try the demo.

ARP 2600 - photoThe ARP 2600 is without a doubt one of the finest analog synthesizers ever. It is very popular and has been used by artists for over 20 years in all forms of music, especially today’s electronic music. The 2600 is a professional, semi-modular, monophonic, patch-cable synthesizer that competed directly against the first professional Modular Moog synths during the early 1970’s. Unlike other modular systems of the time which required you to pick and choose modules that you (or the manufacturer) then had to mount inside a case and wire together, the 2600 is semi-modular with a fixed selection of basic synth modules internally pre-wired and ready to go! Most of these connections can be “re-wired” with patch-cords and clearly labeled patch-points. – Vintage Synth Explorer

Here is an audio run through of some of the presets I created:

So what are you waiting for? Download the sound set: Click here

photo credit: Ian Varley and check out Ian’s ARP music blog

Soundcheck checklist. Are you ready?

The Horrorist soundcheck - photo

Above is a photo I took on Saturday night during soundcheck. I played at Club Maria in Berlin. It was packed and overall a great evening. Other acts included Thomas P. Heckman, Adam X, Luc Van Acker and Dan Monox. If you click the photo it will take you to it’s flickr page where I labeled each piece of gear using the “notes” feature.

Things to Come Records - bannerThe show is an hour long and a woman named “Festes Weiss” is on stage with me. When I run around the stage she takes over the computer. She also sings two songs in the set. As mentioned in this post there is a video that plays in sync with the music during the entire show. Ableton Live controls everything. There are several audio channels of music, a video channel and a mic channel with several effects on it. I use an M-Audio Firewire 410 audio interface which outputs directly to the house or DJ mixer. I have the venue prepare a monitoring system for me which I control from the Firewire 410’s system preference control panel. I use a Shure PGX-24 cordless microphone system connected to Continue reading Soundcheck checklist. Are you ready?

Synthetic speech in your music.

Robot Hed - photo

Have you ever used a speech synthesizer in your music? I’ve used a 1970’s Texas Instruments Speak & Spell, Apple computer’s built in MacInTalk text to speech synthesizer, Magnavox Odyssey² video game peripheral “The Voice”, AT&T’s “Natural Voices” for telephony, Commodore Amiga’s “Soft Voice” synthesizer and a handful of other talk making algorithms.Speak & Spell - image

You can hear synthetic voices in a lot of popular music. Most recently Benni Benassi’s song Satisfaction highlights Apple’s MacInTalk speech synthesizer.

In my own music I sometimes have the synthetic voice mirror the last few words in a verse acting as a robotic backup singer. In my live version of the song “One Night in NYC” I have a synthetic female voice tell her side of the dark story. I recorded a futuristic minimal track with German producer Miro Pajic titled “Gigabytes Numbers” and the last minute of the song a male synthetic voice with a British accent rambles gibberish and well large numbers. To increase the futuristic effect on his voice we put it through a TC Electroinc’s Filtrator plug-in and then automated some delay effect times using Ableton Live’s standard Ping Pong Delay plug-in. Here’s an audio sample:

Here are a few online places you can go right now and create some synthetic voices:

What’s next? Software that creates real singing vocals of course. Yamaha’s Vocaloid software takes a stab at it but the technology really is not ready for prime time. However, I could see using Vocaloid for interesting sounds. You can jump over to Sound on Sound Magazine to hear a sample.

Keep in mind we are not “talking” about vocoding in this article. Vocoding uses a carrier signal and a real human voice and will be a subject of a different post in the future. For a current stream of updated info on Text to Speech check out the Text to Speech blog!

photo credits: redomestication and inju

The Freesound Project resource for samples.

Free - photo

When I work on a song a open a few websites to help me out. In different broswer tabs I load a Thesaurus, Rhyming Dictionary, a Keyboard Chord helper website and The Freesound Project website.

Freesound Project - logoThe Freesound Project is a online database of audio samples all released under a Creative Commons Sampling Plus License. This means you can use any sample you download as long as you attribute the work to the author. They make this easy by providing a users attribution page  “which lists all samples you’ve downloaded in the past with their details”. You are free to mangle the original samples as you like and you can use the samples in a performance. If you want to use the sample in a commercial project you must contact the sample author. I’ve done this a few times and each sample author only asked to be credited.

You can search for samples by keywords or by geotags. If you select geotags you get a map of the world you can search around on which is neat. A really great feature they have is “Random Sample“. You click it and guess what? Yes, a random sample pop ups which is great for inspiration.

After a while of getting free sounds don’t forget to be a good citizen and upload some of your own! Do you use another resource for free audio samples? Let me know.

photo credit: klabusta

The best codec for video in Ableton Live on a Mac.

Ableton Live video window - screenshot

Let’s face it, every good song you write should have a music video. Every PC comes with easy to use free video editing software. The MP3 players and phones we use to listen to music on all play videos. YouTube and dozens of other popular websites are ready to help you spread your video all over the net. Why miss such out on such a great promotion tool? As I mentioned in another post every musician also has to be a performing musician. Since you have all these videos why not play them behind you when you perform live? I’ve been doing exactly that for years. Here’s a video of me performing in Stuttgart: The Horrorist Live, Stuttgart See my LCD projector shooting my record label’s logo behind me?Things to Come Records - logo projection

I just bought a new Macbook Pro and I decided to completely redo the video I project during my shows. Ableton Live allows me to use any Quicktime .mov file. Simple right? Well no because within the Quicktime format there are dozens of Codecs and options you can choose when rendering your video file.

Codec stands for Coder Decoder and in this subject it’s refering to Coding and Recoding compression. Why do we want compression on our video file? If you were to export your video from your editing system (Final Cut Pro) without any compression the file size would be huge. Wikipedia says about one Gigabyte every four minutes. Besides taking up hard drive space large video files Continue reading The best codec for video in Ableton Live on a Mac.

A tip to explore and find new music on iTunes.

Cat and iTunes - photo

Here’s a little tip on how to find new music on the iTunes Music Store. The front page on iTunes has the popular stuff. However, I’m not really into Kanye West or Carrie Underwood. I used to go to the iTunes Music Store and look at the main pages of the genre I wanted to explore (like electronic) to see what’s new. Rarely would I find something I like. Sure, I can search an artist I already know but I already know about them so what’s the use?Front 242 - photo

I found a way to explore iTunes and find new music. First, search your favorite artist. Click on your favorite release by that artist. Now see the reviews below? Find someone who agrees with you. You see “Jackrabit99” is saying very similar things to what you would say about this release. Click on his name. Now you get a list of all the records he reviewed. Already you see releases you may like and you see things he highly recommends so go and listen. This maybe all obvious but I found countless great songs this way.

Here’s an example. One of my favorite albums is “Geography” by Front 242. On the iTunes Music Store there is a review that says “Groundbreaking Industrial Classic” and the reviewer named Psinex gives the album 5 stars. I agree with Psinex 100%. I click his Continue reading A tip to explore and find new music on iTunes.

Smartelectronix Super Destroy FX Transverb sample.

Transverb - screenshot

Smartelectronix is a group of programmers making audio plug-ins. Most of the effects are completely free and available for Mac or PC. My favorite bundle are the Destroy FX plug-ins by Sophia and Tom 7. These plug-ins are experimental, glitch crazy wild. Today’s focus is Transverb. There’s no reason for me to describe the parameters or sound to you. Above is a screen shot and below is an audio sample. Now go to the website and get for free copy then hit the random button! The mp3 below is simply D16’s great TR-808 emulator Nepheton and Transverb as an insert.

Transverb is like a delay plugin, but it can play back the delay buffer at different speeds. Think of it like a tape loop with two independently-moving read heads. There are lots of parameters to control and a parameter randomizer for the impatient. Tom’s first “released” plugin. Fun! –

Transverb waveform - screenshot

Photos from Sound & Drumland. Berlin, Germany.

Sound and Drumland - photo

There are a few good places to buy pro-audio equipment in Berlin. If your looking for a personal touch and boutique equipment head to Kruezberg and visit City Sound Pro. Berlin has the worlds greatest analog synthesizer store at Alexanderplatz called Schneider’s Buero. When you walk in a Theremin will track your moves and greet you. From there Mr. Schneider himself will show you his vast collection. For used vintage stuff you can try a small shop on Schönhauser Allee called Musikinstrumente & Design.Moog Voyager - photo

But the main go to place is called Sound and Drumland. It’s basically Germany’s version of Sam Ash or Guitar Center. They have three stores in Berlin and a large online presence. According to their website they have been around since 1978. The store that sits in between my apartment and recording studio in Prenzlauer Berg is in the Kulturbraurei. The Kulturbraurei used to be a beer brewery and its been renovated to house a concert hall, movie theater, art galleries and more. It’s a great place because you walk into the complex and there are no cars. In the summer they host outdoor classical concerts and in the winter a great Christmas market. For Popkomm I saw Nitzer Ebb and Black Strobe perform at one of the venues in the Kulturbraurei called Kesselhaus.

Please click here to enjoy the full photo set from Sound and Drumland. Please note I put a Creative Commons license on these images so feel free to use them as long as you link back to this article. Be sure to check out the photo of the worlds largest Roland Jupiter-8 synthesizer! Have you been to Berlin? Have you done any pro-audio shopping here?

The Magnetic Fields and Stephin Merritt.

The Magnetic Fields - photo

It’s very important when talking music tech and production to remember that the finished song is the most important thing. For those of you who know the band The Magnetic Fields read no further because you already know what I am about to say. Stephin Merritt is one of today’s most prolific song writers. His solo work and his productions with his band The Magnetic Fields are darkness divine.

Mr. Merritt writes downer music which is right up my alley. He’s a short thick set New Yorker who’s demeanor is not far off from comedian Steven Wright. People often believe he is being facetious in his song writing but I whole heartedly feel he means every overcast word. From a production standpoint The Magnetic Fields are not afraid to use synthesizers, drum machines, mandolins, household items and spring reverbs. His music has appeared in television commercials (Volvo), films (Lemony Snicket) and several theatrical events.

Here’s a few of my personal favorite songs by Stephin Merritt and crew. You owe it to yourself to listen to the audio samples, be blown away and then buy everything they ever recorded.Stephin Merritt - photo

Underwear – The only description for this song is “wicked”. The first verse is like a flame thrower and when the second verse hits you the world explodes. This song has a twisted surprise. Check out the lyrics to find out what is it.

The Book of Love – This is fast becoming the number one song played at weddings. Beautifully romantic without the cheese. You will play it over and over and wish you were the one who wrote it.

Smoke and Mirrors – Be warned this song will make you want to go to a bar and drink. If your in AA don’t listen to this. “… a little fear a little sex that’s all there is behind the tears”. Oh Stephin I want to stalk you and kill you for releasing this song into my life.

All My Little Words – Sometimes you fall in love with someone that will never love Continue reading The Magnetic Fields and Stephin Merritt.