Wire to the Ear has a iPhone optimized site.

Wire to the Ear - iPhone

As good as the iPhone is at rendering web pages it’s nice when a site is optimized for it. I’m pleased to announce that if you do have an iPhone (or other mobile device) you will get a specially rendered version of Wire to the Ear.

As you can see the posts and comments render nicely. The only drawback is the iPhone’s lack of Flash support which means many of the audio clips I post and Vimeo videos won’t show. Rumor has it Adobe and Apple are on the case to get Flash going (let’s hope!).

Wire to the Ear - iPhone Site

If you want the old site there is an option button. Don’t forget to add a Wire to the Ear icon/bookmark to your Home Screen! Now I am with you everywhere…

Use the Impulse Time parameter in Ableton Live.

Ableton Live - Impulse Time

Here’s an easy technique that I use often to add tension to a chorus. I create an instance of the Impulse drum module in Ableton Live and load in a kit. In this example I am using a free kit called “Cassette 808” which is available for download at goldbaby.co.nz. Next, I create a my drum pattern. Inside Impulse I adjust the individual drum volumes, pannings and filters for each of the samples. I then dial back the Time parameter to -38%. The Time parameter affects all the samples inside Impulse at once. Cutting back the overall Time percent makes each drum each shorter and tighter. I like to keep my drums tight like this during the verses of my songs. I then automate the Time parameter to +30% when the chorus hits. This adds a sense of excitement and power to the chorus. You could use this method instead or in addition to adding rides or open hihats to a chorus (which creates a similar feeling). It’s also a good idea to automate the Time parameter further at key points in your arrangement. For example, if you want to focus on the last word of a verse try dialing the Time parameter to -90% for just a few syllables.

“The Time control governs the time-stretching and decay of all samples, allowing you to morph between short and stretched drum sounds.” – Ableton Live User Manual

Don’t stop playing with the Time knob there. Try duplicating your drum channel by hitting COMMAND-D. Now Pan your duplicated channel all the way left or right and turn the Time parameter to +100%. Cut the bass out of your new channel and you have a nice new color poking at your listeners ear. You could keep your new fully Time lengthened channel Panned Center and throw an Autopan plug-in on it. Why not also add a flanger or distortion? It’s great fun duplicating and adding effects to channels.

Here is an audio example:

Are you using time stretching as a songwriting element?

Huh what? Audiometry iPhone app to test hearing.

AudiometryWhen I was younger I would blast headphones into my ears for hours on end. Nothing could stop me from drowning anything that had to do with the real world. These days I make sure the volume never goes past eight. When I perform my ear holes are fresh to the wind but for the rest of my time in any venue I have Etymotic ER20BP earplugs securely in place. That said I recommend that any musician get a proper hearing test at least once in his/her life. Besides knowing how deaf you maybe, dramatic hearing loss could be the sign of other real diseases.

I always say my secret to my own mixing is that my ears are so dulled out with hearing loss that when something sounds good to me it must sound really good to everyone else. I’m sure that’s b.s. but I’m sticking to my story. If you don’t want to head to the doctor for a proper test yet you could try out a new iPhone app called Audiometry (iTunes link).

“An effective hearing test that measures your threshold of hearing for sounds of different frequencies. Find out just how far your ears can hear ranging frequencies. Most of the people should be able to hear up to around 15kHz. From around 17kHz upwards, we get into a range that only the under 20s can hear.” – igoapps.com

For more info: www.bna.co.il

via tuaw

Related post: How loud is loud? Learning about dB will help you.

Use an iPhone to bring sounds into your DAW.

iPhone concert

Over the past few weeks I’ve been bringing in a lot of sounds into my productions from my iPhone. In fact, I can say it’s now part of my daily music making routine to have the audio out on the phone plugged into Ableton Live. As I type this, I realize it’s time to name a Live channel “iPhone” and save it into my start-up template. Most of us work completely “in the box” these days and bringing in samples and instruments from external devices is the best way to get an original sound.

Here’s a few ways I’ve incorporated the iPhone into my set-up: I used pieces of voicemail messages friends have left me. I synced the tempo in synthPond to Ableton and recorded loops from it into my arrangements. I have a channel loaded with effects and PocketGuitar going into it; at select places in my arrangement I strummed and recorded in a few bars. I used sounds from trains and restaurants I recorded using Griffin iTalk. I sampled pieces of my composition from my Macbook Pro’s internal speaker using Tapestri and then played/recorded the sample back in a stuttered (SK-1) fashion. I played and recorded sounds from Noise.io,  iStylophone, Ocarina and Bloom. I created full sequenced loops and pulled them into Ableton from IR-909, BtBx, iDrum and Beatmaker.

It’s true that I could end up with similar results solely using software on my Mac but the iPhone is a hand held inspiration machine. It’s with me everywhere I go and the touch screen is a joy to use.

Having you added iPhone audio to any of your songs yet?

photo credit: bareform

FabFilter introduces Twin 2.


A few years back a new high-profile software synthesizer was being released every week. That digital transition has cooled off a bit so I get excited when one of my favorite companies releases a new version of one of their sound making toys.

“A short introduction to FabFilter Twin 2, a great sounding and innovative software synthesizer for vst, rtas and audio units.” – Fabfilter

1500 presets, 3 OCS, 2 Multi-mode filters, 2 delay lines, 2 more filters, fun to use futuristic GUI and modulation section.

More info: fabfilter.com

The Death Cab for Cutie iPhone application.

Death Cab for Cutie - iPhone

The American indie-rock band Death Cab for Cutie made some waves in the geek world last week by releasing an iPhone app. The application’s release was well covered in the blogosphere and a reoccurring theme was, “Every band should have their own app!”. So today’s post is a question to you. As a self described iPhone junkie I want an app for my own band… but is there a way? I see two barriers to make this happen. First, unless there is a white box way to make iPhone apps (is there?) then I would need to hire a programmer. Second, even if I had an official app I would have to have it cleared by Apple before it enters the store.

With those two barriers in mind I think the best way forward would be a web app/interface. So if you know any bands who created web interfaces for the iPhone send me the links in the comments please. I wonder if there is a service like sites.google.com or Rapid Weaver specifically for iPhone web interfaces. By the way, the next version of Wire to the Ear will include an iPhone optimized site.

Take a closer look at the Death Cab for Cutie iPhone app: click here

Sunday Sounds: The Liquid Sky Soundtrack


Growing up, my father showed my brother and I films from a reel to reel machine that he owned. Looking back I’m pretty shocked at some of the stuff he subjected us to including the movie Liquid Sky. Liquid Sky (1983) was a sci-fi flick directed by Slava Tsukerman where the alien was searching for drugs but discovered orgasms were better. Now imagine all the actors as club kids and the sound track was all real analog electronic. One of my favorite films of all time? You bet!

“Invisible aliens in a tiny flying saucer come to Earth looking for heroin. They land on top of a New York apartment inhabited by a drug dealer and her female, androgynous, bisexual nymphomaniac lover, a fashion model. The aliens soon find the human pheromones created in the brain during orgasm preferable to heroin, and the model’s casual sex partners begin to disappear. This increasingly bizarre scenario is observed by a lonely woman in the building across the street, a German scientist who is following the aliens, and an equally androgynous, drug-addicted male model. (Both models are played by Anne Carlisle, in a dual role.” – Marty Cassady, imdb.com

Liquid Sky

You can hear four of the crazy songs from Liquid Sky in full on the following MySpace page:

1. Noon
2. Me and My Rhythm Box
3. Aliens Theme II
4. Margret’s Apartment

Come on now scream it with me: “It is pre-programmed. So what!” – Me and My Rhythm Box

Follow Ableton Tweets on Twitter for tips.

Ableton Tweets

Here’s a great idea worth mentioning. I received an email this morning letting me know “AbletonTweets” was following me on Twitter. With a name like that I had to click over and see what they tweet about. Happily it’s “Unofficial Ableton Tips and Updates”. So like peanut butter and chocolate, Ableton and Twitter go great together so why not follow too: http://twitter.com/AbletonTweets

Don’t forget to follow me too: http://twitter.com/thingstocome

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