As I ever rummage the internet for all things music electronic I often come across very interesting items. Not everything I find deserves a post but are cool tidbits nonetheless. To share these kinds of findings with you I joined del.icio.us.
del.icio.us which is owed by Yahoo is a social bookmarking “platform”. Basically you sign up and instead of keeping your bookmarks in your browser they appear on the del.icio.us website. Why do this? To share of course! So you can now see whatever cool findings I come across on a given day here: http://del.icio.us/wiretotheear
But guess what? You don’t have to leave this website to see the latest 5 things I looked at. Just move your eyes to the right side column and scroll down to where it says “wiretotheear’s latest del.icio.us bookmarks”.
Still want to know more about social bookmarking? Check out this video great video at the de.icio.us blog: click here
Why not allow some of your music to be free? Free for others to use on podcasts, radio shows, remix, mashup or simply free to listen to? This can be a great promotion tool. Creative Commons is a non for profit organization that offers CC licenses from their website.
You log on, answer a few questions and they give you the license. The service is free. You can specify some variables you would like in your license. For example, you can allow people to use your song but require they attribute the work to you. You can choose if you allow your song to be used commercially. You can specify if you don’t want to allow modifying your song. When you get your license you can simple have some text displaying the type or display one of the cool CC icons.
The video above from Veronica Belmont and Maholo Daily shows the basics of using Creative Commons in reference to the music world. It shows some websites you can use to promote your newly licensed music. Also in the video is a lame attempt at a mashup in Ableton Live which is worth watching just for a laugh.Here is a song I offer for free. It was also released on a 9/11 Tribute album:
The first software I ever used to create music was Dr. T’s KCS. I used it on an Atari 1040ST. The software was strictly to control external hardware midi devices. Hard disc recording and virtual instruments were years away from hitting the mainstream. A guy named Emile Tobenfeld (see photo) was the man behind Dr. T’s and KCS and he created this software in 1984.
Take a look at the screen shot above of the “Track Mode”. You see those 48 “clip slots”? Each one would play back a midi part. You could mute and un-mute parts to try different musical ideas. You could also record midi into any part. Sound familiar? It’s an early version of Ableton Live’s session view! Amazing no?
KCS also had an “Edit Mode” where you could transform parts. You could do quiet a lot with your midi data including change the pitch, velocity, controllers, pitch bends, compress and expand length, reverse, and much more. I have strong memories of using the “Step Time Track” feature to make drum patterns.
The “Step-Time Track” is used to enter notes one at a time. You specify the value of the note, (half-note, quarter note, etc.) and its length, and then play the note on your MIDI keyboard. Velocity can be recorded from the keyboard, or it can be preset. Step-time tracks can be appended to existing tracks. – myatari.net
We have come an amazingly long way from those days. Yet we were still able to create some good music. It’s really not what you use but how you use it!
Here’s a quick tutorial on how to make a bassline pump using Ableton Live 7 and the built-in Auto Filter plug-in.
Step one. Create an Audio or Midi channel and put a kick drum on it. Use an audio loop or any drum machine plug-in like Ableton Impulse or Native Instrument’s Battery. If your not using an audio loop then make a one bar pattern with four kick drums on it.
Step two. Create an Audio or Midi channel and put a bass sound on it. You can use a virtual instrument like Ableton Simpler or Fabfilter’s Twin or an audio loop. Make the clip loop and have your bass sound mostly solid without breaks in the volume.
Step three. Add the Ableton Auto Filter plug-in to the bass channel and click the small right facing arrow next to where the plug-in is titled “Auto Filter”. This opens the the Sidechain options.
Step four. Click where it says “Sidechain” to turn it on. Where it says “Audio from” click and from the drop down menu select the Kick Drum channel.
Step five. See the knob titled “Envelope”? Move that knob to the left until it reads approximately -75.
Step six. Staying inside Auto Filter plug-in you will now adjust the filter. Grabbing the yellow circle which controls the kHz and Q of the filter simultaneously and drag it to the left. As you drag you will start to hear the filter open and close.
Congratulations you are now Sidechaining in Ableton Live 7. Now you can further tweak the sound. Try moving the Release knob to the left. Try the high pass filter by clicking second button from the left under the filter grid display. Try using other sounds instead of the bass. The Ableton compressor and gate also have sidechain capabilties and the routing mechanism is the same.
Imagine showing up to perform at a nightclub and there is no table for you to set your equipment up on. Imagine there are no monitor speakers. Imagine the stage is accessible to anyone in the club so you have to stand there all night watching your stuff. Sounds bad huh? In fact, there is a list of items I need to be happy and if any single one is missing I will be miserable.
There are three strong reasons to make your Kit List / rider with images instead of just text. First, if you perform in a another country and they don’t speak your language and you send only text well your screwed. Even if the promoter spoke English to you in emails that doesn’t mean his tech guy will understand you. Next, be aware that some items are called different things depending what country you are in. For example in the USA we say LCD Projector. Everywhere I have been in Europe calls them “Beemers”. In the USA we call patch cables 1/4″. In German they are called Klinke. Don’t learn this the hard way. Lastly, believe it or not a lot of nightclubs are permanently dark. Give the sound guy an easy to see visual guide and he will reward you with bass!
You can use a number of programs to make your visual guide. Over the years as I updated my own Kit List I went from Quark Express to Adobe InDesign to now Apple Pages. Whatever you use to create it export it as a PDF so anyone can open it. Name the file something like “The Horrorist Kit List.pdf” this way who ever you send it to will easily find it on their computer.
I create two sheets. The first is titled “What we bring with us.”. This is everything we use in the live show. This give the tech guys a good idea of what your doing. The next page is called “What you are required to provide.”. Yes this is the important page and yes here you list all the things you need or the show won’t happen.
Another thing to mention is it’s a good idea to bring a copy of your kit list with you. If something gets stolen you have a visual guide to show the local police. Finally, if your returning from your gig and you get stopped at customs your Kit List is proof you brought these items with you. Especially important if your laptop looks new.
A few weeks ago I walked out of my apartment in Berlin and down SchÃ¶nhauser Allee to Alexanderplatz. At Alexadnerplatz sits one of the coolest analog synthesizer stores in the world called Schnieders Buero. It’s full of amazing toys and Herr Schneider loves to show them all to you.
At Schnieder’s I got focused on the Doepfer R2M Midi Ribbon Controller. It consists of a control box and the Ribbon Controller itself. The Ribbon Controller is fantastic. It’s rests nicely inside a sculpted metal bar. The “position sensor” as Doepfer calls is a substantial 50cm long. The sensor is also pressure sensitive. The control box allows you to hook the Ribbon up to any Midi sound source such as a hardware synth, software synth, or effect plug-in. Being that this is a Doepfer product it also allows the Ribbon to control things via CV hence any real analog synth with such inputs.
I began to realize the R2m could breathe new life into my workflow. It can see myself arming a long track in Ableton Live’s arrangement view and rocking out an extended solo part. The control unit allows you to set up different modes such as Trautonium.
“Trautonium” mode: in this special mode only a single note on message is generated when the position sensor is touched. After that only pitch bend messages are generated until the finger is lifted off.”
You can also adjust the Ribbon’s scaling, Pitch Bend resolution, Pitch Bend width, quantization and Gate parameters. Are you getting some ideas yet?
More and more desk and laptop musicians are looking for new fresh ways to interact with there music. I highly recommend trying the R2M out.
The Rex audio file format was created by Swedish software house Propellerhead in June 1994. Rex files are audio loops with slice information data attached to them. This allows a Rex file to play back at any tempo. It also allows the individual slices of the loop to be re-arranged in creative ways. With modern DAWs you can get away without the Rex format because of audio warping and slicing tools. However, Rex files continue to be relevant because they come prepared and ready to manipulate which is extreme fun. I often load Rex files into Propellerhead Reason’s Dr. Rex player. I then re-arrange the slice order, slice decay, filter and pitch to make something unique to my project.
A recent exciting development is that Ableton Live 7 now supports Rex files natively. Because of this I thought I’d mention Zero-G Total Rex. This is a two DVD set of Rex files. It’s 10 Gigabytes and has over 15,000 loops!
“…Covers every imaginable base… in a wide range of styles… thanks to the flexibility that the REX format offers, you can easily use loops that are intended for one style in another. The quality of the content is superb, but given that this is essentially a ‘best of’ from one from one of the most reliable sample production houses around, that’s to be expected… Highly recommended. Rating: 9 out of 10” – Computer Music
I can’t see a better way to get a mass of useful sounds in one shot. Personally I find Rex files far more useful than basic sample sets. Grab an external hard drive and load this baby onto it. On the left side of the Ableton Live interface is the browser area. It has three snapshots for places on your hard drive. I alway keep the middle one pointed to this Rex collection. While working on a project just scroll through the loops and they play back in time with your project. With such a large library on hand it’s rare you wont find something that improves the song.
Do you use Rex files? Are there any Rex collections you really like?
The past two days I’ve been dealing with the flu. I’m not a happy sick person and my mind simply aint right.
Being ill brings to mind a good tip. Pack all sorts of (legal) pills with you when you perform. There’s nothing to say that even though you feel great when you step outside your apartment on the way to the gig your going to return that healthy. You can go from Joe Weider to Droopy the Dog in less than a few hours.
I also pack throat lozenges. Often I find a long sound check mixed with pre-show loud “talking” in the club to kill my voice right before show time. Make sure you chuck them in the bag of wires so your sure to have them.
I also pack Sedonium (300MG) which is basically concentrated Valerian Root. It’s a natural sleep-aid. Too often I get back to the hotel at 5:00 AM and Im still way pumped up from the night. I’d stay clear of Ambien unless your prepared to miss your flight home.While your at the pharmacy also grab some Saline Solution, wet naps, moisturizer and lip balm. It’s a rough world out there!
Here’s my advice if you are sick before you even leave for an event, don’t cancel! One hundred percent of the time you will get through the show feeling fine and survive. Be strong because rule number one is, the show must go on!
Here I download a drum loop from Soundsnap.com and open it in Ableton Live 7. I then crop the sample and use the new Slice to Midi feature. Once done the audio is in a new Drum Rack with all the sounds on separate audio channels. I re-arrange the midi notes, add a Ping Pong delay and use the Drum Rack’s macro controls.
I’m really enjoying Live 7, Leopard and even iMovie which I used to quickly piece this together. Have you upgraded yet?