Ableton Live and Ableton Push afford new ways of working, allowing you to put loads of parameters beneath your fingertips. Of course, the means of doing that may not be immediately obvious, behind the dance between grid, encoders, and automation envelopes.

Leave it to Montevideo-born, virtuoso dance music maestro Gustavo Bravetti to show us how it’s done.

Gustavo pairs the MeeBlip SE, the enhanced “digital freak” original version of our synth, with Live and Push. To connect the hardware with automation of the external synth, he uses a Max for Live patch for the MeeBlip (which you’re free to download yourself if you own the MeeBlip/MeeBlip SE).

(The MeeBlip is not the first open source synth, as the video might imply, but could be considered the first widely-produced, ready-to-play hardware synth to be under a fully open source hardware license; others were available in kit form.)

The lessons here, though, work in any hardware synth. And you could also apply them to controllers other than Push, if you prefer.

In particular, note some particular tips:

  • The Max for Live device automates sounds on a single voice by associating melodic steps with different sound presets.
  • Preset automation will overwrite live tweaking, so you can tweak variations freely.
  • Built-in morphing in his patch creates still more variations.
  • You can use this as either a live performance tool or an arrangement tool – and even get obsessive with the latter, since it writes automation envelopes into your arrangement.

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sofia3

Half Greek, half Peruvian, born in Lima but raised between Germany and New York, Sofia Kourtesis is a fresh, emerging voice. Her music interweaves shadows and introspection with smart grooves – seductive melancholy. Her mixes, too, cross similar territory, aided by her broad knowledge of music as a globe-trotting DJ and booker.

So, it’s a perfect start to our week this week, with some listening and a peek inside a studio. This is what’s so exciting about being in music now: we get to hear those new artists find original paths.

Apart from being a sci-fi movie addict and teenage veteran of a hip-hop band, Sofia is an obsessively hard-working DJ, now turning her style to a more minimal, restrained approach in her own music. And in those productions, you’ll hear the chime of toys and lo-fi flea market finds alongside more – innocence and experience. That mix of styles finds new clarity in her single, “Killa,” which to my ears is a strong indication this is an artist to watch, in advance of a release coming soon. You can check in later to see if I was right.

In the meantime, I was curious to talk to Sofia a little about how she works. Continue reading »

Morpheme excerpt [Electric Indigo & Thomas Wagensommerer] from Electric Indigo on Vimeo.

Journey into “Morpheme,” a half-hour audiovisual odyssey by Electric Indigo (aka Susanne Kirchmayr) and visualist Thomas Wagensommerer. An exercise in granular extremism, it begins as a delicately crackling mist of noise, as if atoms were dancing. Just about five and a half minutes into this excerpt, someone switches on a light, and it buzzes with pounding, angrily-vibrating rhythms.

Electric Indigo’s music is a regular feature here because I never cease to be amazed at the breadth of her musical output, ranging from darkly-grooving club-ready material to more idiosyncratic experimental voyages, over a 20-plus-year career. On top of that, her female:pressure project continues to spotlight deserving and under-appreciated women in electronic music. (For more of what you can dance to, if you need to move around a bit at the moment, read on.)

“Morpheme” with Wagensommerer is a literal, imaginative microcosm. Continue reading »

In an episode last week, South Park took on 17-year-old producer Lorde. The punchline: Stan’s Dad is actually Lorde. (For some reason, publications like SPIN think the writers are serious about this. In the immortal words of MST3k, guys, just repeat to yourself, “it’s just a show. I should really just relax.”)

What makes all of this interesting to us is that the show did go to some detail creating a realistic DAW UI. Eagle-eyed readers may figure out which UI elements were modelled here. It’s closest to SONAR, I would say, though with a GarageBand / Tracktion-style loop browser and a very clear Pro Tools toolbar at top.

And, yes, it does take an amusing shot at how production tools can mask … a lack of talent. (Guilty as charged.)

autotuner Continue reading »

I love wires. You might even say I dream of them. But it’s time to stop thinking of MIDI as being a wire. MIDI has always been transport independent; that is, it’s a protocol that can run over anything.

Apple has been doing more than anyone lately to exploit that potential, building wireless MIDI capabilities into iOS and (with the upcoming Yosemite) OS X. Now, here’s where wireless starts to look appealing – when you go mobile. Bluetooth is now capable of more reliable, low-latency, easy-to-configure setup than before, which means you might want to wipe your brain of your previous impressions of what going wireless means. We’ll do a full test as this stuff comes out (I’ve just received a PUC, and need to do some proper performance testing). But here are some previews of some of the tricks this setup can pull off. And they all work today – well, in some form, though not always on released software.

“Wej,” at top (pronounced “wedge”), is the most ambitious Bluetooth MIDI-based solution of those here. Cable lovers, it’s blasphemy. All MIDI and even all audio communication from the iPad is wireless, using bluetooth MIDI and AirPlay, respectively. Instead, you use the connector on your iPad exclusively for power. The Wej base station performs other functions, instead: Continue reading »

There is a mysterious and wonderful appeal to the dangerous power of music.

Music can come from the harmonious sound of the spheres, yes. It can sound like a sunny summer picnic. Or – it can sound like it’s trying to kill you. Not every genre goes there, but speaking for Germany’s label Snork Enterprises, Neil Landstrumm and Syntax Error refer to that murderous quality of techno.

Today’s words and sounds therefore come from Snork.

The interview at top I felt had to be published on CDM just for this quote from Syntax Error, aka label boss Christian Schachta. But keep watching. At two and a half minutes, you think it’s over, but stick around for one- (or three-) word answers. And it seems to want more than

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Click.

It’s incredible how much sound is part of our world, sometimes in ways so profound we actually somehow miss them.

Tech site The Verge wanted to spice up a story on the anniversary of IBM’s Model M keyboard, a product for which sound was an integral part of the experience. (That’s so true, in fact, that people will pay a premium for products like Das Keyboard that emulate it.)

The result will come as beautiful music to touch typists everywhere, an etude in spacebars performed on a dizzying array of gadgets of the past.

Producer John Lagomarsino goes into the how-to — the project involved extracting typing noises, then playing them back on Apple’s EXS24 sampler in Logic.
How we turned 12 clicky keyboards into a music video

That workflow falls apart when it comes time to add the videos back – the effect is beautiful, but the process is quite a lot of manual labor. My answer to this would have been Sony’s Vegas; that editor treats audio and video on level playing field and has thus been a tool of choice for AV mashups for the likes of Eclectic Method. (There’s a reason for this: Vegas was originally created by audio folks.)

There’s a deeper issue here: too many creative apps treat visuals and sonic as unrelated entities. (They’re distinct, but very often you want to do something … well, like make music out of people typing.) I’m curious if readers have other ideas for how to accomplish this? Regardless, fun to feast on this.

typewriter