I think it’s fair to say at this point Roland did create a proper modern day replacement for the TB-303. The TB-3 is a box we can bring out and toss around and while it doesn’t sound quite as good as the original it is far more versitile. Back in the day if I wanted to create a random pattern on a real 303 I would have to take the batteries in and out. On the TB-3 you hold the [PTN SELECT] and press [SCATTER].
“Based on the wildly influential TB-303, the new TB-3 Touch Bassline is a performance-ready bass synthesizer with authentic sound and intuitive controls engineered to play. The TB-3 contains the unmistakable character of its predecessor, wrapped in a modern package with a pressure-sensitive touch pad that makes both playing and programming a total joy.” – rolandus.com
I use Melodyne often on my own vocals. Sometimes I use it to correct pitch and other times for creative strange things. On my song I Stand with You (link) I sent my vocal to my friend Gabri Negro in Italy and he created a few harmonies of my own voice using Melodyne on specific words. He’s a classically trained musician and knew exactly where on the scale to place my “other” self. In the video above you can see Melodyne’s Random Deviation function which speeds up creating variations of original material.
“Simply copy the vocal track, insert slight deviations in pitch and timing, and place the tracks in the stereo image. And with the clever functions of Melodyne, you don’t have to move every note by hand.” – celemony
Mr. Alias Pro is a broken screwed up synthesizer. Mr. Alias was designed that way and it’s a perfect soft synth for anyone into ciruit bending, noise or headaches. I actually think this synth is very useful when it comes to creating easy interesting intros or breaks. It has an Auto Randomizer so I am happy. Mac/PC, AU/VST plug-in or Standalone. It’s Donationware so any amount gets you the pro version.
I think it’s very important in electronic music to be extra wary of letting any part repeat without any change for too long. I like to add little variations all over my music. There are thousands of ways to make mini-breakdowns and fills interesting. Here’s a technique I use from time to time that involves hihats and Ableton’s Random plug-in. You can click the image above to enlarge it.
This is a fairly simple trick. In this example, I open a Drum Rack and load in a set of Sequential Circuits Drumtraks samples. You can get the same sample pack free from: http://samples.kb6.de. Next, I click on the Show/Hide Chain List icon to reveal all the samples being used and click/highlight the closed hat. I also click the Show/Hide Devices icon which reveals the closed hat’s waveform. I grab an instance of the Ableton Random plug-in and drag it in-between the waveform and the Drum Rack module. Inside the Random plug-in I set the Chance parameter to 93%, Choices to 12 and the Scale to 1.
Now whenever I want to add a little spice to a fill I drop out the kick, change a few snares, add some more HiHats and automate the Random plug-in to turn ON. Here’s an audio example. Listen to bar 4 and 8:
You can have the Random plug-in effect many different elements including filters, pans, and note lengths. If you keep the Chance Parameter set low you can add a subtle unique mark on your music.
Today I present to you a highly fun Reason beginner tip: Instead of placing notes into Reason’s fun Matrix Sequencer use the Randomize function. But don’t give yourself carpel tunnel syndrome by pushing the mouse pointer to the Edit menu and selected Randomize Pattern. Simply hold down the Command (Apple) key and hit R. Now… do it over and over until you get something you like.
I like random sequencers of any type. I’m always adding little variations in my music using Ableton’s Random plug-in. In Buchla form a random sequencer in action is video worthy. With bright blue digital numbers, red and green buttons and yellow cables who wouldn’t stop for a few minutes and watch this.
“I did this when i first got the 200e. The stages of the 250e are being selected by the random voltages from the 266e. The tip of the sonic iceberg that is the 200e and the lovely uncertainty that Don so thoughtfully provided us! The old SFTMC 100 is helping out.” – Joe Pascarell
Here is a screencast I put together showing a few features of D16‘s incredible Roland TR-909 emulator Drumazon and their new distortion plug-in Devastor. I really like both of these. After watching the video I encourage you to head over to the D16 website and download the demos.
I’ve owned a real Roland TR-909 for many years. In fact I bought mine from Chaka Kahn! I can honestly say Drumazon is a better replacement. It’s a joy to use and you get all the nicesties of software (presets). You also get features a real 909 doesn’t have like random and automation. When you add a quality multiband distortion unit like Devastor to it you can’t help but smile. This is audio software at its best.
Did you know that most American’s eat sushi the wrong way? Many of my friends put the ginger slices on the sushi or sashimi itself. Your actually supposed to eat a piece of ginger in between different sushi bites to cleanse your palette. Sometimes this concept is good for audio too!
In between songs the placement of a random melody, FM radio chatter or even an orchestra tuning up can make the song that follows have more impact, more color. Many great albums use this technique of course. As an example Depeche Mode inserts snippets of chants or synth drones often between songs.
Random adds an element of the unknown to the otherwise commonplace pitch parameter. The Chance control denes the likelihood that an incoming note’s pitch will be changed by a random value. You can think of it as being something like a dry/wet control for randomness. – Ableton Live User Manual
Because my own music styles range from electro all the way to hardcore on my first album Manic Panic I put actual answering machine messages I received in between songs. Today I use Ambrosia’s Wiretap Studio to record snippets of audio from weird things I find on Youtube. You will hear some of my findings on my next album for sure.
Here’s a quick example of something you could create as a pallete cleanser. Grab a vintage drum machine loop. I used a loop I got free from Rhythminmind.net. Next I put on Fabfilter’s Twin, turned up the Noise generator and put Ableton’s Random Midi Effect before it: