I’ll admit to a production secret: sometimes I use MIDI files containing drum patterns. I cut my teeth in the early 90s making beats on countless records using various drum machines and sequencers. However, like an old boxer I always seem to throw the same punches. The only way for me to get some totally new grooves is to rely on Herbie Hancock or others who sold their patterns. Well ok often I use randomizers but that’s the not the point of this blog post. Today Groove Monkee released a new set of prefab drum beat MIDI files. This one’s called Twisted Beats and you get 800 for $29.95. If you order today (Wednesday Feb 10, 2010) you can get $10 off with the code: twitter10
“Twisted Beats is a unique collection of over 800 four measure MIDI loops for contemporary music with Rock, RnB World and Fusion influences. A wide range of old and new school influences are represented here: Dave Matthews, Herbie Hancock, The Mars Volta, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Meters, Paul Simon, Prince, etc. The grooves were played by a professional studio drummer or expertly programmed in order to get exactly the right feel. We’ve selected only beats with an infectious “feel” or “groove”; this is NOT just a random collection of unusable beats.” – groovemonkee.com
So I’ve been playing with Voice Band (iTunes link) for about 30 minutes and I can definitely say it’s fun. Like many iPhone Apps I will surely use this from time to time for a weird intro or background part in a song. All it takes is a simple import of the audio into Ableton Live. This does a similar trick as the now unfortunately discontinued Antares Kantos plug-in. Anyone remember Kantos? Read the Sound on Sound review of Kantos: click here
“A new iPhone app that turns your voice into an instrument in real time. You sing into the iPhone, and it turns it into a guitar or a bass, synth, etc.” – WaveMachine Labs, Inc.
I was born in 1970 and 2010 really feels like I am living in the future now. Am I wrong or has the human race’s vision of the future not gone much further than what we thought up in the 80s? It seems all we can come up with now is the end of the world. I hope we make it to The Singularity and deep outer space. For now my New Year’s resolution is to make more music. 2009 was definitely my lightest as far as finished songs but that was a bit by design. I feel fresh and ready for new things.
“A singularity is a point at which an otherwise continuous mathematical progression becomes infinite, implying that all continuous extrapolation breaks down beyond that point. Technological singularity refers to the idea that technological progress would reach such an infinite or extremely high value at a point in the near future. This idea is inspired by the observation of accelerating change in the development of wealth, technology, and humans’ capability for information processing. Extrapolating these capabilities to the future has led a number of thinkers to envisage the short-term emergence of a self-improving artificial intelligence or superintelligence that is so much beyond humans’ present capabilities that it becomes impossible to understand it with present conceptions. Thus, the technological singularity can be seen as a metasystem transition or transcendence to a wholly new regime of mind, society and technology.” – Wikipedia.org
One of my most loved audio software tools is about to reach version 2. Harmony Navigator from Germany’s Cognitone software will get some nice new features. The developer will also release a stripped down version called HN2 LE for those who don’t need the advanced features. Be sure to check out my screencast showing a few of the features of the original Harmony Navigator: click here
“After more than a year, it’s now time to bring Harmony Navigator to the next level. During the past year we more and more noticed that the needs of our users largely fall into two categories. While purists and fans of electronic music could comfortably do without virtual accompaniment bands, others wished they had more possibilities for adding their own patterns and building songs. Therefore we decided to offer two separate products for everyone’s needs and budget: A compact and very affordable product for pure harmonic work, and a more comprehensive product for drafting prototypes of entire songs. We invested a lot of work in order to enhance the features of Harmony Navigator and make it more comfortable to draft of entire songs. The new song window is the most important achievement. It features multiple parts on a timeline, which also supports loop playback. You can now maintain your entire project in a single window.” – cognitone.com
It should be released next month (Feb 2010). Read the full press release: click here
I’ve been watching Max for Live waiting for the patch that will make me buy and Schwarzonator made me do just that. Grid pattern making patches and hardware hacks don’t get me going as much as software that helps me create melodies. Schwarzonator was created by Berliner Henrik Schwarz and I am finding it very useful. I really love the random function! Check out the video above for what it can do.
“The Schwarzonator is a note twister. It’s all about helping musicians (or non-musicians) find the right notes and chords in real time. It turns one finger playing into chords that fit together well. Choose from a list of Chord Sets in a drop down menu. Then all notes you play on your keyboard will fit into the selected Chord Set.” – Henrik Schwarz (from Ableton’s website)
I believe melody is hardwired into human’s brains in a way different than hearing just sounds. We remember notes as they hum up and down scales. Every time I leave The Gap I end up singing whatever song was playing over and over in my head for hours. So I always say piano lessons beat a new Apogee interface for making your tunes better. I really like helper applications like Harmony Navigator or even something like Microsoft SongSmith. Harmony Improvisator is a new plug-in from Germany in the same vain. The cochleor website says videos and a demo download are coming soon. It’s Mac/PC VST for 99 EUR.
Improvisator is a programmable chorder and sequencer VST plugin which outputs chords as MIDI data or sound from an internal synthesizer. It can be controlled via MIDI input or by clicking the harmonic functions of the graphical user interface. The first thing in the process of working with Improvisator is to click chords with the mouse which you hear immediately. – www.cochleor.de
Here’s a sample of a new song I am almost finished with called “Modern”. Clearly inspired by my day job at Energy Management Solutions. Most of the song is real analog equipment: Vermona DRM1 MKIII and Yamaha CS5. My voice is through a Shure KSM-32 and TC Powercore.
“All the modern. Super Building. Super Building. Growing into a new day.” – The Horrorist
I was reading an interesting article on Wikipedia about a long gone practice called “Song Sharking”. Essentially there were businesses who ran ads asking poets to send in their poems which would then be turned into songs by professional musicians. In 2003 PBS produced a documentary about Song Sharking called “Off the Charts”. To see a full preview: pbs.org/independentlens/offthecharts/ It’s also available on Amazon: click here I wonder what other old music business practices that have long been forgotten.
“The business of recording song poems was promoted through small display ads in popular magazines, comic books, tabloids, men’s adventure journals and similar publications with a headline reading (essentially) Send in Your Poems – Songwriters Make Thousands of Dollars – Free Evaluation. The term lyrics was avoided because it was assumed potential customers would not understand what the term meant. Those who sent their poetry to one of the production companies usually received notice by mail that their work was worthy of recording by professional musicians, along with a proposal to do so in exchange for a fee. The early 20th century versions of this business involved setting the words to music and printing up sheet music from inexpensively engraved plates.” – Wikipedia
Microsoft Songsmith is a PC only application that you sing into and then the software creates a full song behind your voice. It uses some neat algorthms, technology from PGMusic’s Band in a Box and sounds from Garritan. You most likely already know about Songsmith but I found a really interesting website/mashup you may find new. It’s call Robert Songmith and basically it’s a good looking website that is Songsmith + The Cure + You. I spend a nice while listen to other people’s creations last night. You can also follow Robert Songsmith on Twitter: twitter.com/robertsongsmith
I just got back from a live show I performed in Denver, Colorado. I played the second day of a three day EBM, PowerNoise, Goth type Festival. Some of the other acts included Hocico, Phyclon Nine, Rome and Terrorfakt. I’ve never been to Denver before and overall it was a good experience. Denver is called the mile high city because it’s exactly one mile higher than sea level. It has more sun than L.A. and the driving from the airport Denver looks like a desert with the giant Rocky Mountains off in the distance. The city’s old area looks a bit like a cowboy town mixed with a Long Island N.Y. strip mall.
I decided to go early to the club (The Bar Standard) and hear some music. I was a bit disappointed. The bands and DJs before I played were all competent. Songs had beginnings, middles and ends. The live shows had scarred keyboard stands in front of patent leathered heavily made up freaks. The showman ship was there. They bands ran back and forth in front of the audience and the audience yelled on command. So what was the problem? It was all derivative, watered down, copy cat music. Each song had some elements of a once great song. The message was, “We sound like…” instead of “We are…!”.
I know it’s not just the EBM/goth scene that is suffering from this phenomena. One could argue all art is going through a similar type of troubled these days. All I can plead is for artists to find their own real voice based on their own real life actions. Don’t try and be interesting. Be interesting and then afterward tell us about it. Those are the only stories, songs, paintings I want to hear!