Ableton Tutorial: Making beats with Arpeggiators

Mr. Bill – Tutorial 2 : Making complex drumbeats using arpeggiators from Bill Day on Vimeo.

It’s interesting to peak into someone’s left brain meets right brain work flow. You can pick up a few Ableton tips and tricks in this video and see how pushing pixels turns into sound.

“So in this tutorial i have used Ableton’s Simpler, Arpeggiator and utility to create some complex beats out of simple ones. The idea here is you don’t have to program everything by hand if your more into the idea of chance music or your just lazy or want to control things in a different way!” – Bill Day

I never knew that dragging a audio selection onto a MIDI track would automatically create a Simpler with the audio set up. Did you learn anything new?

For more tutorial from Mr. Bill:

Sugar Bytes Wow Tutorials

“WOW’s Modulation System is versatile but intuitive. The modulation signals can be mixed individually for each parameter – but they can just as well modulate each other! So for example, the LFO-rate can be modulated by the Envelope Follower, while the Stepsequencer modulates the Envelope Follower´s Gain. So besides a new way to get exactly the sounds you want, you will as easily be able to see surprising effects and something new every time you get your WOW on!” –

SugarBytes WOW is also my go to filter. If you watch the second video above about half way in you will see why. The only other ITB filter I really like it my TC Powercore’s Filtrator.

What are you using for filtering?

Sonic Wire Sculptor

Zach Gage the creator of synthPond and Unify emailed me this morning to let me know about his new project Sonic Wire Sculptor. Basically you draw in 3D and then the app turns your sketch into a musical sequence. The video above shows you in a clearer way than I can describe it. You can see the original hardware box this App is designed from here:

“Sonic Wire Sculptor is based on a musical instrument by Amit Pitaru which has been shown in museums and galleries world wide. The Sonic Wire Sculptor turns your 3D drawing into sound. It introduces a simple yet deep connection between visual and audio composition.” –

I love synthPond. What do you think of this new toy?

For more info:

Fairlight CMI Legacy Refill

Nothing beats the sound of the 80s. Period. At least that’s my own view. The amazing and expensive Fairlight CMI was the sampler that defined much of the 80s sound. Bands like Art of Noise used the Fairlight extensively. I once owned a Roland S-50 sampler and it had a small copy of the Fairlight’s amazing sound set. I miss those sounds so I’m happy to report that PowerFX has released a Refill for Propellerheads Reason called Fairlight CMI Legacy.

“This library collects an awesome amount of ultra clean recordings of the original sounds from the Fairlight CMI II, the world’s first real sampling based workstation as premiered some time before 1980. And this entire Reason 4 library costs much less than 64 kilobytes of memory did in 1980. The ReFill contains somewhat more than that, too. It carries 644 Megabyte of samples. You get over 2000 sounds in all, including all of the Fairlight’s 33 precious 8 inch factory discs. To celebrate the Fairlight feel, all new samples are labeled and arranged in virtual 8 inch disks as well.” –

The Refill has 491 patches, 1700 waveforms and costs $69. For a demo Refill and more:

Image: Joho345

Vengeance Metrum Kick Drum Plug-in

Here’s a plug-in from German developer Vengeance called Metrum. It’s for Mac/PC, costs $200 and gives you a computer generated sub-oscillator, mixes it with a few sample layers and has a mod-matrix and randomizer solely for creating kick drums. For those all ITB (in the box) it could be good however I think your money is better spent on a Jomox MBase 11.

“Kick Synthesizer VSTi / over 330 Kick Drum Presets / over 1800 Attack Sample Presets / over 150 Sine Oscillator Presets / ability to integrate own WAV samples / realtime & smooth graphic envelopes / flexible pitch & velocity routings / play tonal kicks! / huge mod matrix with every parameter / every presets comes with assigned modwheel and 3 GUI controls / GUI control knobs freely re-nameable / 6 high quality effects built in / 2 filters for every layer / 3 drive distortion models / 2 band parametric EQ / randomizer function / all parameters automatable / output limiter (you can turn it off if wanted) / 100% timing accurate and click free.” –

For more info:

Soundbuilders: Peaking Lights

Before I went all Kubrick 2001 looking in my studios I had rooms full of wires, pedals, computer screens, 4-tracks, christmas lights and more thrown around in my music making space. In some ways that chaos can be creative. This video from the series Soundbuilders featuring Wisconsin band Peaking Lights reminds me of those old times.

“Our new series Soundbuilders travels to Madison, Wisconsin to visit Peaking Lights, a married musical duo famed for their pulsating looped-rhythm tracks composed on re-purposed scraps, stereos, and lo-fi gear. We watch as husband and wife prepare for tour by paring their studio down to the bare essentials needed to produce Peaking Lights’ distinctive sound.” –

For more info:

Elektron Octatrack

If your a hardware sampler guy or let’s say someone who likes the idea of Ableton but hates computers the forthcoming Octatrack from Elektron is for you. I’ve never been an Elektron guy but there’s a certain group of synth geeks that swear by these things.

“The Octatrack is an elegant sampler. Recording of sounds is a breeze thanks to the intuitive user interface, but the fun really starts once the samples are inside the machine. Loops are now completely elastic. They will always stay in sync no matter if they are pitch shifted or if the tempo of the sequencer is changed. Single sounds can be molded into any shape or form. The static nature of samples are finally a thing of the past.” –

For more info:

Korg Monotron Analog Synthesizer

You’re looking at a tiny ANALOG synth from Korg called the Monotron. Those in the synth lusting world understand how interesting it is that Korg has released this. You see it’s been a while since one of the classic large Japanese electronic instrument making released a truly analog noise maker. Let’s hope this is the start of more. The best part of this little box? It the same filter as the MS-20.

“Analog synthesis returns, in the legendary KORG tradition Korg is no newcomer to the joys of analog synthesis. Back in the 1970s, our astounding fully polyphonic PS-3000 Series and our affordable semi modular MS Series set the bar for creative musicians around the globe. Surely one of the most popular of Korg’s analog synthesizers was the coveted MS-20, famous for its dynamic sound creation capabilities and its fat, snarly, expressive filter. Kept popular by dance and electronic artists, this legendary MS-20 filter came back to life using the Component Modeling Technology in Korg’s Legacy software collections. Now you can experience the glorious, evocative MS-20 filter along with true analog synthesis in Korg’s new monotron Analogue Ribbon Synthesizer!!” –

It will be available in the summer with an MSRP of $85.00.

For more info:

Back from Germany, 1 Song and 5 Movie Reviews

My trip to Germany went off without a hitch and I had a mountain of fun. Something about my music and East German’s click so the live shows always are easy. My favorite part of the night was making songs in the car ride between the two events using my iPhone and the LaLiDa App. It’s like a mini Microsoft Songsmith and I made 8 songs in the hour journey. They are as stupid as you can imagine but two will end up on my next album for sure. Here’s one of the songs called “Unlike Americans”:

Unlike Americans by thingstocome

“Look at Europe. Look at those old houses. Look at Europeans having cafe. They like eating in groups of 10 or more even when they get old the’ve got lots of friends that’s unlike Americans. Look at Europe look at the side of the road. They’ve got bicycle paths. They bicycle to work. They’re not fat like Americans. Look at Europe. It rains all the time. Look at Europe it’s cafe time. Cobblestone roads nobody knows the secrets of the Europeans and their little houses I see on the side of the road.” – The Horrorist

I couldn’t sleep on the flight to Germany or back home so I ended up reading Wired, Macworld and watching five movies. Here’s my mini reviews on what I saw:

Where the Wild Things Are – I didn’t go to see this movie in the theater because I thought the preview looked a bit dumb and the reviews made me think it would be a long music video. Well I was way off base Spike Jones did a great job here. The movie is way dark and just plain great. Must see.

All About Steve – In this movie you get to see Sandra Bullock with her new re-arranged plastic surgery face. She’s also a tad anorexic. None of these things can make up for the fact that this movie is horrible. One of the 10 worst films I ever saw in my entire life.

Rachel Getting Married – Ever go to a wedding where you don’t know the people that well. All the extra lovey dovey stuff seems creepy as hell. Well this movie gives you the same feeling. The plot tries to pull tears out of you but fails big time. Transparent and lame.

An Education – This was an super surprise. I never heard of this movie but it was sexy fantastic. A British 17 year old girl is seduced by an older man. This is the kind of movie that makes you desperately want to be a teenager in love again. Very highly recommended!

Everybody’s Fine – Robert De Niro should stop making films. He’s past his prime and can’t carry a good plotted movie let alone this absolute turd. Miss this at all costs.

Ok back to reality, the day job and Musikmesse is in a few days!

Two live shows in one night.

This weekend I am playing two live shows in East Germany in the same night. I play at The Sky Club in Leipzig from 2:00AM – 3:00AM and I play an large event called Hard & Smart in an abandoned sugar factory from 4:30AM – 5:30AM. I’ve done this kind of thing before but I always laugh a little thinking how crazy it is (especially considering I am flying from NYC to do it). Everything could go smoothly because the booking agency will be driving me and watching the clock. Howver, I do wonder if I will start my show on time at the Alte Zuckerfabrik (Old Sugar Factory). Reason being I played there before and it get so crowded it’s hard to get to the stage and set up without people stopping you to chat. Here’s a photo from the last time I played there:

I will test out a few new songs and if I am not too sweaty I will break out the iPhone and use sampleToy (iTunes link) live. Before each show I send out a Madmimi promotion. I highly recommend Madmimi for email marketing. You can see the latest one here:

Madmimi recent also created mini sign up forms you can embed on your websites like this one below the contact form on my record label’s website:

If I have internet in my hotel I will surely report in!