Ableton tip: Keyboard control of faders.


Here’s a few small Ableton Live tips I use all the time. When in Session View you can click on the small left facing arrow on any mixer channel and move it up or down using the Arrow keys. This is a great way to fine tune the volume of a Channel. If you hold Shift down while pushing the up or down Arrow Key the volume will jump negative or positive 3.12db. If you want to return any Fader to 0db simply click once on the small left facing triangle and hit the Delete key. Lastly, if you hold down Control and click the Left or Right arrows you will move to the next Left or Right Channel Fader.

Remember you can find all the Ableton Live keyboard shortcuts in Chapter 28 of the user manual. Happy music making!

For more Ableton tips and tricks: click here

The Vamps from Japan at Irving Plaza.


Last week my father called me and said his wife Yoshimi wanted us to all go to see a concert at Irving Plaza (also called the Fillmore). The band was called Vamps and like Yoshimi are from Japan. I had no idea what to expect and was surprised that when we reached the venue the line was around the block reaching Union Square! Most of the people online where Asian or NYU students in their early twenties. The music itself seemed like some sort of very safe rock n roll copy. However, as you can hear by the audio recording these guys have a serious fan following.

I was at Irving Plaza twice before the Vamps concert. The first time was 1988 Halloween night. I went to the West Village Halloween parade with my first girlfriend and after to Irving Plaza to see Skinny Puppy live. There was a cheesy new wave opening band and then Skinny Puppy came on and dissected a fake dog with blood gushing and all. Some of my friends in the front where covered in blood by the time the concert was over. Thinking back it must have been the VIVI Sect VI (iTunes link) tour. Year’s later I looked at my ticket stubs and noticed the name of the opening band: Nine Inch Nails.


The other time I was at Irving Plaza was to see Granddady (iTunes link). I heard them on WFDU 89.1 earlier the same week for the first time and fell in love with the music. I had no idea if they had any fans or not but went by myself to see them play. I was pleasantly surprised to see hundreds of hipsters also knew this band was incredible and it wasn’t too long after that they became very popular. Too bad they broke up because I sure would still be buying their tunes.

David Letterman checks out synth toys in 1980.

Here’s my notes on this video: The old Letterman intro is way cooler than the new one. What an incredible sound at 6:30. Quite ironic when Dave asks, “How to you make a living?”. Does a Prophet 08 sound like the the old 5? Really?

via Matrixsynth

Use Audioboo to broadcast your sounds.

Walking through Audioboo
from Mark Rock on Vimeo.

There is a great new web and mobile service called Audioboo. It’s an iPhone app that lets you record a short snippet of audio, take a photo, add a name and some tags to it and then upload it to Audioboo’s website. When your “Boo” ends up on Audioboo’s site it also displays a Google map where you recorded your audio. Audioboo sends your Boo to Twitter and your Boo has embed codes ready for you to copy paste. All these features have been available in various forms but Audioboo puts it all together in a nice package. Audioboo announced just this week that that are working with Spinvox to transcribe spoken work Boos to text.

As a musician there are clearly some clever ways you can utilize this service. Besides recording my own Boos I’ve been enjoying listening to other user’s Boos and following a few famous tech geek’s Boos such as Leo Laporte.

Check out my Audioboo page where you can hear me chat about Walnut Cake and PowerPoint:

For more info:

The Audi Bosendorfer Piano.

Audi Bosendorfer

My number one all time tip on how to improve your own music creation is to take piano lessons. I’m constantly amazed when I read Gearslutz forum threads like “Neve vs Vintech” or “Apogee vs RME”. I understand that quality of sound counts but melody far trumps its importance. I’d rather listen to a great song on an AM radio station in mono rather than a bad song in HD. I know I’ve said this before on this blog but it’s worth repeating over and over.

Now that we established you have to take piano lessons we can get back to gear lusting! I don’t recommend the Audi Bosendorfer Piano as a something you plop your kid down in fron of next to a teenage piano teacher. This Piano belongs to you and your very own fingers. If I owned this baby I certainly would not let anyone else touch it no matter how good they play! That’s right Stevie Wonder: hands off!

“Of course, the same general shape had to be retained for the sake of acoustics, but one look at Audi’s Bosendorfer tells you this is no ordinary grand, and chief designer Wolfgang Egger says the process will help his design team take a fresh look at automotive design as well. The Bosendorfer Audi Design Grand Piano will make its world debut at Audi’s 100th anniversary celebration at the Audi Forum in Ingolstadt on July 16, after which it will be available to the public for a princely €100,000 (about $140,000).” –…

For more info about this German wonder:…

The great synthpunk keyboard: Korg 700s MiniKorg

Korg MiniKorg

Long before the hipster Microkorg hit Williamsburg there was the Korg 700s Minikorg. It was one of Korg’s first synths and to this day it’s one of my favorites. Every time I hear one of its raspy detuned aggressive sounds it makes my brain jump to it’s evil side. Daniel Miller used a 700 to create one of my all time favorite records TVOD/Warm Letherette by The Normal (iTunes link). Daniel soon went on to found Mute Records and sign Depeche Mode.

“It has three ring modulators for some strange sounds and noises. Sometimes a decent bass sound for techno music can be achieved using the MiniKorg’s hi-pass and low-pass filters. The two oscillators can be de-tuned and they offer triangle, sawtooth and square waveforms. There are some strange analog effects built-in as well such as portamento, a rudimentary repeat-delay, auto-bend (bender), vibrato and Chorus and Noise waveforms.” –

You can find the Korg 700s MiniKorg on eBay from time to time for a decent price. It’s on my wishlist!

photo credit: drsquidd

Microsoft Surface as Turntables.

I know this won’t be “the” touch screen turntable killer but it does show one will arrive someday. It’s crazy Microsoft doesn’t get the price of Surface to something reasonable and push it to consumers.

“Eric Havir chats with Joe Engalan about their DJ 2.0 alpha application, a fun DJ tool for the novice on Microsoft Surface.” – mssurface

Related post: Scratch. A documentary about scratching.

Flickr Synthesizer Slideshow

Oh Monday how are you? What’s that Monday you say I have to wake up early and get to work? Sit in traffic you say? Work hard all day? Ok fine Monday but before I leave my house let me remember the reason I have to hit the street so hard. Show me a bunch of pretty synthesizers all that money will buy me! Oh thank you Monday. Thank you very much.

To view these photos directly on flickr: click here

Find me on flickr here:

Metasonix KV-100 Assblaster

Metasonix KV-100

Would you pay $900 for a yellow box called “Assblaster” with a “disgusting and juvenile cartoon art by Dave Lovelace” on it? When it sounds as great as the video below you would. Right? Take a look as some of the specs:

“5 real new-old-stock VACUUM TUBES, The basic preamp stage of the Metasonix TM-7 Scrotum Smasher, driving the waveshaping (pulser) and ring modulation functions of the TM-1 (minus the ring-modulator carrier oscillator), which then drives a VCO derived from the Metasonix TM-3. (the oscillator is NOT intended for use as a synthesizer pitch source, only as a special effect for signal degradation), leading to: All new wide-sweeping bandpass filter, with envelope filter function plus wah capability (external pedal). Envelope follower, which also makes a gate signal. Noise gate on the output, which is always active and is driven by said gate signal. Relay-based, true bypass for the main circuit. Relay-controlled activation of the VCO and pulser. Controllable with manual switches or external Fender-type amp footswitches. Plenty of processing inputs and outputs for control voltages.” – Big City Music

Your really not going to get a sound like this from plug-ins. You can get the “idea” using Izotope Trash and say TC Electronic’s Filtroid together but honestly it’s not going to make your neighbor’s pitbull run and hide like the KV-100 can.

For more info:

Do you allow 30 second previews or full song play?


Here’s a choice I am running into that I need help making a decision for. When you post your commercial, for sale music online do you allow the full song to stream or only allow a 30 second preview? The large online music retailers such as iTunes and Amazon only allow 30 second previews. Do they know something about buying behavior? Does allowing just a short clip tantalize a listener so he wants to hear the rest of the song and clicks buy? Could it be iTunes and Amazon believe people will “rip” or record a full song stream even if just 128k quality?

Some websites like give you the choice. I had my music set for 30 sec play and I received the following comment:

“30 second clips? can we get anymore of a rip off thats like showing half of the picture you painted, but if you want to hear the rest youll have to buy it if people like you enough, they will buy your music stop being such a rip off” – mnmcandiez

After a little thought I switched my settings to full song play. Is that the right decision? I think everyone knows it’s easy to record any sound your computer makes. I also know my publisher Strengholt music group doesn’t approve. There are some sites such as Bandcamp who rely on people buying music in order for them to survive yet they only allow full streaming songs.

So what do you do? What are the pros and cons here?

[poll id=”4″]

photo credit: mag3737