My Ableton Live workflow for recording vocals.

It’s 90F/30° in Berlin today (hot!) so instead of my normal routine of office work in the morning and then afternoon in the studio I had to reverse things. The only cool time on days like this is early so as soon as I got up I walked over. I’m recording vocals for an artist group from Milan, Italy called Biokip ( They are a fashion label, a group of visual artists with a gallery and an electrohouse team.

I was wondering if other people who use Ableton Live record vocals in a similar way as I do. See the screenshot above? You can click it to view it full size. What I have here is a very basic drum beat and two simple melodies for the verse and chorus. I set up a scene for each and leave a bunch of empty clip slots in between them (vertically) so I can record a bunch of takes. I usually record 2-4 takes per verse. The blue arrows are pointing to the takes, white arrows are on the scenes. If I’m feeling crazy I will label them Verse 1-1, Verse 1-2, Verse 2-1, etc… More importantly I leave a blank clip slot between each verse.

After I have my takes I then switch over to Arrangement View, duplicate the Vocal channel three times, comp the vocals (take the best bits from each take) and then consolidate all the perfect bits by hitting Command-J.

So what else can I note here? Well, I usually record vocals right after I get the basic melody and drums. First off, your CPU is happy there isn’t much going on so you can knock down the CPU latency to 96ms while you monitor yourself singing. I also find it best to work out the melody and voice in a pure or simple state. If you get too far into a song and then try and add vocals there’s a chance they may just not work. Lastly, in case your wondering 90% of what I keep comes from the first verses I record. I guess I’m best when I’m not thinking too much.

I remember Cubase had some nice comping methods. I also know in Live you can record multiple takes in one shot and then slide the start flag in Clip View around but I still like seeing my takes separate.

What’s your method?

10,000 MySpace friends and a surprise.

Last night I reached 10,000 friends on MySpace. I’ve never tried to hack the system or send a bot out to friend people. It’s true a large percent of those 10,000 maybe fake, spam or who knows but you can bet a whole bunch are real fans. First off I created a MySpace bulletin (blog post?) saying thanks and I really do mean it. Without an audience there is no artist or musician.

The surprise came when I logged in this morning and I got a message stating I could: Automatically Approve Friend Requests. So getting to 10,000 actually got me something cool. Who knew?!

I know a lot of people knock MySpace and there are plenty of competitors but I still use and love the site. There’s no better way to get an instant view of a band. MySpace is in talks with Amazon and the major labels creating a deal for a new MySpace Music store. They plan to launch in September and I think it could be big. Check out the article on TechCrunch: click here

Four synthesizer comics from Wire to the Ear.

Comicon was last week so I got inspired to make some strips for Wire to the Ear. I hope you find them somewhat entertaining. Feel free to share and repost them. I used the excellent Comic Life Magiq from Plasq. You can download the high resolution PDF of all four strips by: clicking here

Or view the next three after the jump…
Continue reading Four synthesizer comics from Wire to the Ear.

Why imeem is great. Crazy weird playlists!

Yes my friends, above is a playlist I found on imeem. It was posted by Attchort and it’s titled, “USSR 1980-1990’s”. I can see why imeem is so popular now! The past nights I’ve been spending more and more time there and I found a serious amount of great music.

I set up my own artist profile so if your signed up there feel free to friend me: I’m still setting up my profile so it’s sparse at the moment.

So what about your own music on imeem? Well if your a known independent artist chances are you will find some of your music on imeem in violation of your copyright. Fans have most likely have uploaded entire songs of yours. Don’t get upset as this is just a good sign people like you. So what to do? Imeem suggests register at imeem then head over to Snocap (who they now own), sign up there and register all your songs. Once all your music is registered at Snocap you can choose where Snocap allows your music to be sold. When I say “sold” in reference to imeem I mean paid a share of imeem’s ad revenue each time the full song has been streamed. I read the Snocap Terms of Service and it’s non-exclusive.

As a registed artist with SNOCAP, you can control which songs you want to be streamed at full-length to everyone on imeem. imeem uses a filtering technology to check whether you have permited full streaming for these songs. If you did not register your songs in SNOCAP, your song could be claimed by another artist/label or misidentified.

In our efforts to bring artists and labels access to new and innovative ways to promote, control, and earn more from their music, SNOCAP has partnered with imeem. Artists and labels who stream their music on imeem will earn income by sharing some of imeem’s advertising revenue.

The SNOCAP technology will automatically identify tracks uploaded by our users and determine if the artist/label of the song permitted the full stream.-

I would like some feedback if anyone is signed up with Snocap and/or is using imeem. I know Snocap has had a bad reputation in the past. I wonder if I am missing something in the TOS. I have yet to sign up myself and am looking for a bit more info. What do you think?

Chris Pirillo talks about lyric website Lyricsfly.

Chris | Live Tech Support | Video Help | Add to iTunes

Uber geek Chris Pirillo lives his life online. He’s talks about all things tech while streaming live video using Ustream. He names, tags and archives the best clips. This morning I noticed he posted a clip about a Lyrics website called Lyricsfly.

When you a hear a new song for the first time, you want to know all the words to it. How exactly do you find those words though? –

It’s true that most lyrics sites are full of pops up, spyware and crazy blinking adverts. He likes Lyricsfly because the ads are minimal, there are options to print or save the lyrics and they have an API.

Do you ever use a lyrics site? Which one?


An interview with Ionic Vision.

An Interview with Ionic Vision. from thingstocome on Vimeo.

One of the best ways to promote a band on your record label is to create a video interview with them. It really doesn’t take much skill, time or money. In fact, the video above was shot using the video mode on a single point and shoot cheapo camera. I used iMovie08 which uses Core Video so any image adjustments, transitions and titles all happen in real time, no rendering! This makes the entire process actually a lot of fun. Sure the video would be better if I was using a better camera, external mic and some lights but you know what? If I had to lug all that stuff to the club I probably would not have bothered. Showing up and creating something is the most important thing. I actually own quite a lot of video equipment including Final Cut Pro but workflow always wins in my book so I went for the fastest way to the finish line. I mentioned before on this blog I love Creative Commons and here’s why: See the images I cut during the interview? They are all CC licensed so I’m not stealing anyone’s art to create my own.

The style was characterized by hard and often sparse danceable electronic beats, clear undistorted vocals, shouts or growls with reverberation and echo effects, and repetitive sequencer lines. At this time important synthesizers were Korg MS-20, Emulator II, Oberheim Matrix or the Yamaha DX7. Typical EBM rhythms are based on 4/4 beats, mainly with some minor syncopation to suggest a rock music rhythm structure. –

Sven Lauwers and Andy de Decker are great live which is extremely important for an EBM band. Be sure to check out Ionic Vision’s release on Things to Come Records: Beatport, Junodownload, Things to Come Records

For more info about the event they played:

Audio Damage’s new plug-in Automaton looks hot.

I really enjoy Chris Randall’s blog Analog Industries. He’s definitely got his own voice. Some people would say he’s rude but I like that he tells it like it is. More importantly his company Audio Damage makes some great plug-ins. The next release from AD called Automaton has peaked my interest. In fact, I’ve left some money in my PayPal designated for this new baby.

Chris describes it as, “…cellular automata plus buffer effects = complete and total chaos.” Check an an audio sample he posted: Automator MP3

From what I see and hear it has some Tenori elements, cool iPhone style icons matched with some audio mangling ala Smartelectronix DestroyFX dfx Buffer Override.

On a side note I can’t leave comments on the Analog Industries blog. I’ve signed up and logged in but a message tells me “You must have an access level of 1 to post a comment.” Anyone know why?

Create song and sound folder shortcuts in the finder.

Here’s a quick tip that may save you a few thousand mouseclicks over a year period. This will work for any folder you use often. Since we are musicians let’s focus on our song and sounds folders.

Drop those into your Mac’s finder window under “Places”. This maybe obvious but if your not already doing it give it a try and see how useful it is. I like to keep all my most used folders alphabetized. If I am working on a massive project which I know I will need fast access to for a few days Ill drop it in the Places area temporarily. This gets really useful when your inside Open/Save dialog boxes or dragging things in and out of folders from your desktop.

Remember the better your workflow the less time it will take you to get from idea to composition.

Write Rhymes is a site that helps you make lyrics.

Write Rhymes, is a new site that can help you when lyric writing. Type a word, option-click it and a bubble pops up with words that rhyme. I have a bunch of these kinds of sites book marked including my favorite Write Rhymes also has convinent save button which quickly shoots a .txt file of your text onto your desktop.

If your looking for a full featured song writing helper and database check out MasterWriter: