Today I thought I would give you a quick look at some of my workflow. Here’s how I often start creating an EBM (Electronic Body Music) style track. I’ve started a Eurorack modular system and you can see my first two pieces in action here. I have recorded a 5V Pulse into Ableton from the Korg SyncKontrol iOS app. I loaded the click into Simpler and use MIDI to create a pattern. In this example it’s a straight 16th note. I use Ableton Live to route the 5V click out of my Motu 828 MKIII into a Doepfer Dark Time analog sequencer. The Dark Time is not in sync with my Ableton MIDI set up. The Dark Time controls an Analog Solutions Telemark (SEM clone). 8 steps of CV variation and CV filter variation loop the bassline. I also have the Dark Time send a clock out to a Korg Monotribe. On the Monotribe I have muted the drums and just have it playing some lazer zap type sounds typically where you would find a snare drum. Using MIDI I have a Vermona DRM1 MKIII playing a kick and snare. The Monotribe’s clock out goes into an Intellijel uStep which sends a 16th note clock to a Make Noise Echophone. I have a MFB-522 drum machine in sync with Ableton via MIDI playing a clap. This clap is sent into the Echophon where it’s delay shimmers in 16 synced steps because of the uStep control. I can play with the Echophon’s pitch knob for a wicked nice analog clap delay effect. Is it worth all this effort? In my opinion yes. You can’t really get a sound like this without going analog. This part would make a good verse. Because I can pitch the bassline on a MIDI keyboard the next step is to make a Chorus, maybe change the Dark Time sequence length or patter slightly, add some pads from an Ensoniq ESQ-1 and add vocals. I hope you enjoyed the peek into a world where control is everything.
“CV/Gate (an abbreviation of Control Voltage/Gate) is an analog method of controlling synthesizers, drum machines and other similar equipment with external sequencers. The Control Voltage typically controls pitch and the Gate signal controls note on/off. This method was widely used in the epoch of analog modular synthesizers, beginning in the 1960s and up to the early 1980s. It was mostly superseded by the MIDI protocol, which is more feature-rich, easier to configure reliably, and more easily supports polyphony.” – wikipedia.org/wiki/Control_voltage
I used Ableton’s Stretch MIDI function often. You can hear it clearly in my song You Are Disturbing from my 2007 album Attack Decay. The main synth line switches from single to double speed. There is another detailed post on Wire to the Ear about Stretch MIDI notes from April 2008 titled “use the stretch notes command in ableton live” which you can read: click here. I think it’s a great and useful songwriting feature so it was definitely worth a revisit.
“The Stretch MIDI Notes feature allows the user to take a selected group of MIDI notes and stretch their duration, a lot like how you are able to stretch warped audio. You can either lengthen or shorten the duration of the selected notes, and even better is that you don’t have to select every single note in the clip in order to start stretching… that way you can stretch the timing of the kicks and hi-hats without altering the timing of the snares for instance. All you need to do is select a note (or several, or all notes) in your MIDI clip, then right click in the clip, and at the bottom of the contextual menu you will see Stretch MIDI Notes!” – Thavius Beck
There are a few ways to very easily get sidechaining going in Ableton Live. Sidechaining triggers a compressor on the master bus or channel using a kick from a different channel. This causes a pumping effect ala Daft Punk. Used subtlety it can make sure the sharp transients of you kick always sit above the mix by itself. Live’s built in Compressor has sidechaining and you can also simulate the effect using Autopan. The Point Blank Music School has a nice free Max For Live drag and drop device available to download: click here. If you have Max For Live why not grab it? Take a look at the video above for the demo.
“Point Blank instructor and course developer Daniel Herbert has created this Max For Live custom auto sidechain plugin for use in Ableton Live. Watch the video to see how it works, what makes it unique and and how to set it up.” – pointblankonline
I’ve become internet friends with Brian “AfroDJmac”. In passing I mentioned a possible idea for one of his incredible free Ableton Live packs. Basically I love cassette tape hiss. I suggested that if he access to some old tapes I would certainly like a “pack of hiss”. Well a week later and viola Brian surprised me with this nice gift: Free Ableton Pack #60: Tape Hiss Vinyl Crackle! Watch the video above because this isn’t just some samples. Brian has spent time making things work properly and also added vinyl crackle. Eat that Slate Digital!
“An Ableton Live Instrument Rack that turns any synth you have into a synth that sounds like it came from tape or record!” – afrodjmac.com
I use feedback often in my own productions. In fact the “bat” sounds you here on TTC-001’s track Dark Invader is me holding an SM58 microphone in front of a speaker, sampled and reversed (2.21 in the SoundCloud clip above). The DJ Techtools video shows a hot tip on how to get it all going in Ableton Live with a distortion pedal.
“When sitting in front of a DAW with limitless software possibilities, it can be easy to forget that some of the coolest sounds and effects you can make can come from external effects processors. In today’s video, Mad Zach takes us through one of his favorite hardware wirings, an external distortion pedal setup. ” – djtechtools.com
I’ve used this technique with drum racks for a while. It’s a great way to to get changing grooves that surprise people and are very dancey. You can download the rack in the video above: here.
In this tutorial Danny J Lewis shows you how to create a rack that emulates the mechanics behind the way the drum patterns switch in the recently released ‘Figure’ app.” – youtube.com/user/pointblankonline
I sat on the fence for a long while before purchasing Max for Live. I now find it an indispensable tool in my arsenal. I’ve yet to try this new Supacut freebie but it looks tasty.
“Inspired by the classic beat effect plugins LiveCut and SupaTrigga, Ned Rush designed Suparcut for Max for Live. Suparcut’s parameters, including beat loops of various lengths and classic stretching and pitching effects, can either be sequenced or controlled by probability sliders.” – ableton.com
There have been so many attempts at putting musicians in separate locations together. For various reason so far none has really taken hold. The video above shows that it does seem we are getting closer to that reality though.
“Here’s a quick demo of a how to record peer to peer using albeton as our software. We then use google+ and other google products to communicate, organize and essentially recreate the studio environment but from anywhere in the world. Welcome to the future friends, this is just the beginning.” – lucai
Here’s another great tip from Dubstop’s Thavius Beck. I always knew you can remove a Session View Clip’s stop button. I thought it was a safety type of measure for those using Session View in a live scenario. Often when I record vocals I do different takes on a channel and they grow down vertically. To launch each take I click a Scene Clip (the right most column in Ableton Live’s Session View). In order to have my music going I have to copy my music loop down vertically too. Now with this tip in the video above all I have to do is kill the stop buttons on my music loop channel. Thanks for the time saver.
“He explains how by simply removing the stop buttons inside empty clip slots, you can launch clips and jump through scenes without having to interrupt your groove. This is something that is essential and practical putting a track in the Session View without committing it to the Arrange view.” – dubspot.com