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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » Ableton-Live


Akai Force: hands-on preview of the post-PC live-in-a-box music tool

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 17 Jan 2019 4:24 pm

The leak was real. Akai have a standalone box that can free you from a laptop, when you want that freedom. It works with your computer and gear, but it also does all the arranging and performance (and some monster sounds and sequencing) on its own. It’s what a lot of folks were waiting for – and we’ve just gotten our hands on it.

Akai have already had a bit of a hit with the latest MPCs, which work as a controller/software combo if you want, but also stand on their own.

The Akai Force (it’s not an MPC or APC in the end) is more than that. It’s a single musical device with computer-like power under the hood, but standalone stability. It’s a powerful enough sequencer (for MIDI and CV) that you some people might just buy it on those merits.

But it also performs all the Ableton Live-style workflows you know. So there’s an APC/Push style interface, clip launching and editing, grids for playing drums and instruments, and sampling capability. There’s also a huge selection of synths and effects (courtesy AIR Music Technology), so while it can’t run third-party VST plug-ins, you should feel comfortable using it on its own. And it integrates with your computer when you’re in your studio – in both directions, though more on that in a bit.

And it’s US$1499 – so it’s reasonable affordable, at least in that it’s possibly cheaper than upgrading your laptop, or buying a new controller and a full DAW license.

First – the specs:

• Standalone – no computer required
• 8×8 clip launch matrix with RGB LEDs
• 7″ color capacitive multitouch display
• Mic/Instrument/Line Inputs, 4 outputs
• MIDI In/Out/Thru via 1/8″ TRS inputs (5-pin DIN adapters included)
• (4) configurable CV/Gate Outputs to integrate your modular setup
• (8) touch-sensitive knobs with graphical OLED displays
• Time stretch/pitch shift in real time
• Comprehensive set of AIR effects and Hype, TubeSynth, Bassline and Electric synth engines
• Ability to record 8 stereo tracks
• 16GB of on-board storage (over 10 gigs of sound content included)
• 2 GB of RAM
• Full-Size SD card Slot
• User-expandable 2.5″ SATA drive connector (SATA or HDD)
• (2) USB 3.0 slots for thumb drives or MIDI controllers

Clarification: about those eight tracks. You can have eight stereo tracks of audio, but up to 128 tracks total.

And there’s a powerful and clever scheme here that lets the Force adapt to different combinations of onboard synths and effects. Akai tells us the synths use a “weighted voice management” scheme so you can maximize simultaneous voices. Effects are unlimited, until you run out of CPU power. Since this is integrated hardware and software, though, you don’t fail catastrophically when you run out of juice, as you do on a conventional computer. (Ahem.)

All that I/O – USB connectivity, USB host (for other USB gear), CV (for analog gear), MIDI (via standard minijacks), plus audio input / mic and separate out and cue outs.

US$1499 (confirming European pricing), shipping on 5 February to the USA and later in the month to other markets.

I’ve had a hands-on with AKAI Professional’s product managers. The software was still pre-release – this was literally built last night – but it was very close to final form, and we should have a detailed review once we get hardware next month.

The specs don’t really tell the whole story, so let’s go through what this thing is about.

In person, the arrangement turns out to be logical and tidy.

Form factor

The images leaked via an FCC filing of a prototype did make this thing look a bit homely. In person with the final hardware, it seems totally logical.

On the bottom of the unit is a grid with shortcut triggers, looking very much like a Push 2. On the top is a touch display and more shortcut keys that resemble the MPC Live. You also get a row of endless encoders, which now Akai call just “knobs.”

The “hump” that contains the touch display enables a ton of I/O crammed onto the back – even with minijacks for MIDI, the space is needed. And it means the displays for the knobs are tilted at an angle, so they’re easier to read as you play, from either sitting or standing position.

There are also some touches that tell you this is Akai hardware. Everything is labeled. Triggers most often do just one thing, rather than changing modes as on Ableton Push. And there are features like obvious, dedicated navigation, and a crossfader.

In short, you can tell this is from the folks who built the APC40. Whereas sometimes functions on Ableton Push can be maddeningly opaque, the Akai hardware makes things obvious. I’ll talk more about that in the review, of course, but it’s obvious even when looking at the unit what everything does and how to navigate.

Oh and – while this unit is big, it still looks like it’d fit snugly onto a table at a venue or DJ booth. Plus you don’t need a computer. And yeah, the lads from Akai brought it to Berlin on Ryanair. You can absolutely fit it in a backpack.

Workflows

What impresses me about this effort from Akai is that it takes into account a whole range of use cases. Rather than describe what it does, maybe I should jump straight into what I think it means for those use cases, based on what I’ve seen.

It runs live sets. Well, here this is clearly a winner. You get clip launching just like you do with Ableton Live, without a laptop. And so even if you still stick to Live for production (or Maschine, or Reason, or FL Studio, or whatever DAW), you can easily load up stems and clips on this and free yourself from the laptop later.

You get consistent color coding and near-constant feedback on the grid and heads-up display / touch display about where you are, what’s muted, what’s record-enabled, and what’s playing. My impression is that it’s far clearer than on other devices, thanks to the software being built around the hardware. (Maschine got further than some of its rivals, but it lacks this many controls, lights, and display.)

That feedback seemed like it’s also not overwhelming, either, because it’s spread out over this larger footprint. There’s also a handy overview of your whole clip layout on the touch display, so you can page through more clip slots easily.

Logical, dedicated triggers and loads of feedback so you don’t get lost.

Full-featured clip launching and mixing.

It’s a playable instrument – finger-drummer friendly. Of course, now that you can do all that stuff with clips, as with Push, you can also play instruments. There are onboard synths from AIR – Electric, Bassline, TubeSynth, and the new multifunctional FM + additive + wavetable hybid Hype. And there are a huge number of effects from lo-fi stuff to reverbs to delays, meaning you can get away without packing effects pedals. It’s literally the full range of AIR stuff – so like having a full Pro Tools plug-in folder on dedicated hardware.

That may or may not be enough for everyone, but you can also use MIDI and CV and USB to control external gear (or a computer).

The grid setup features are also easy to get into and powerful. There are a range of pitch-to-grid mappings, from guitar fret-style arrangements to a Tonnetz layout (5th on one axis, 3rd on another) to piano and chromatic layouts. There are of course scale and chord options – though no microtuning onboard, yet. (Wait until Aphex Twin gets his, I think.)

And there are drum layouts, too, or step sequencers if you want them.

Two major, major deviations from Push, though. You know how easy it is to accidentally change parts on Push when you’re trying to navigate clips and wind up playing the wrong instrument? Or how easy it is to get lost when recording clips? Or how suddenly a step sequencer turns up when you just want to finger drum a pad? Or…

Yeah, okay well – you have none of those problems here. Force makes it easy to select parts, easy to select tracks, easy to mute tracks, and lets you choose the layout you want when you want it without all that confusion.

Again, more on this in the review, but I’m thoroughly relieved that Akai seems to understand the need for dedicated triggers and less cognitive overhead when you play live.

Tons of playing options.

It can replace a computer for production, if you want. There’s deep clip editing and sampling and arrangement and mixing functionality here. Clips even borrow one of the best features from Bitwig Studio – you can edit and move and duplicate audio inside a clip, which you can’t do in Live without bringing that audio out into the Arrangement. So you could use this to start and even finish tracks.

The Force doesn’t have the same horsepower as a laptop, of course. So you’re limited to eight stereo tracks. Then again, back in the days of tape that bouncing process was also creatively useful – and the sampling capabilities here make it easy to resample work.

Powerful clip editing combines with sampling – and you can use both the touchscreen and dedicated hardware controls.

Or you can use it as a companion to a computer. You can also use Force as a sketchpad – much like some iPad tools now, but of course with physical controls. There’s even an export to ALS feature coming, so you could start tracks on Force and finish them in Ableton Live – with your full range of mixing an mastering tools and plug-ins. (I believe that doesn’t ship at launch, but is due soon.)

Also coming in the first part of this year, Akai are working on a controller mode so you can use Force as an Ableton Live controller when you are at your computer.

There’s wired connectivity. You can set up MIDI tracks, you can set up CV tracks. There’s also USB host mode. Like the grid, but wish you had some MPC-style velocity-sensitive pads? Or want some faders? Plug in inexpensive controllers via USB, just as you would on your computer. You only get two audio ins, but that’s of course still enough to do sampling – and you get the sorts of sampling and live time stretching capabilities you’d expect of the company that makes the MPC.

For audio output, there’s a dedicated cue out as well as the stereo audio output.

On the front – SD card loading (there’s also USB support and internal drive upgradeability), plus a dedicated cue output for your headphones.

The full range of AIR effects is onboard.

Powerful audio effects should help you grow with this one.

And there’s wireless connectivity, too. You can sync sample content via Splice.com – which includes your own samples, by the way. (Wow, do I wish Roland did this with Roland Cloud and the TR-8S – yeah, being able to have all my own kits and sample sets and sync them with a WiFi connection is huge to me, even just for the sounds I created myself.)

There’s Ableton Link support, so you can wirelessly sync up to your computer, iPad, and other tools – clocking the Force without wires.

There’s even wireless support for control and sound, meaning that Force is going to be useful even before you plug in cables.

Yeah, it’s a standalone instrument, but it’s also a monster sequencer / hub.

Bottom line. It replaces Ableton Live. It works with Ableton Live. It replaces your computer. It works with your computer. It’s a monster standalone instrument. It’s a monster sequencer for your other instruments. It does a bunch of stuff. It doesn’t try to do too much (manageable controls, clear menus).

Basically, this already looks like the post-PC device a lot of us were waiting for. Can’t wait to get one for review.

The post Akai Force: hands-on preview of the post-PC live-in-a-box music tool appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Like a studio onstage: Orbital tells us their live rig synth secrets

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 4 Jan 2019 7:57 pm

It’s a dazzling audiovisual show, with eye-popping visuals, plus an overflowing connection of synths. Orbital share their secrets for live performance and jamming with CDM’s David Abravanel.

The timing is perfect: Monsters Exist was a 2018 production highlight. Now we get to hear how all that studio complexity translates to live jamming: -Ed.

Photos: Matthew Bergman for CDM.

Orbital live in New York. Photo: Matthew Bergman

As soon as the two men wearing glasses with headlights on the side come on stage, there’s no question that you’re at an Orbital concert. Even before brothers Paul and Phil Hartnoll take the stage, however, they’re preceded by another tell-tale sign: a live set up featuring copious hard- and software at their fingertips.

For decades, the Hartnolls have made a name for themselves defying expectations for live electronic performance – bringing a sizable chunk of their studio on tour and deftly weaving through live sets that allow them the flexibility to jam. It’s only fitting that Orbital have started releasing regular recordings of their live shows since their 2017 reunion.

Orbital’s live US rig:

Arturia Matrixbrute
Roland Jupiter-6
Sequential Prophet-6
Access Virus TI
Novation Bass Station II
Novation Peak
Roland TB-303
iPad x 3 (two for Lemur, one for timekeeping)
Novation Launch Control x 3
Ableton Live 10

Ed.: Got to watch a similar – even slightly larger – rig for Amsterdam Dance Event. This is a truly epic stage show from the kind of veterans with the chops to pull it off. -PK

I caught up with Orbital’s Paul Hartnoll for a walkthrough of their stage setup before a recent show at Brooklyn Steel. It was the group’s first set of American dates in six years (accounting for a lengthy hiatus during which the brothers weren’t in communication), and, despite jetlag, spirits were high.

CDM: Between the Wonky tour and this one, you’ve switched from using Liine Griid on your iPads (now discontinued) and using the original [JazzMutant] Lemur hardware. What are you using now?

Paul: The original replacement for the Alesis MMT-8 [sequencer] was the old-fashioned Lemurs, which – this is better. The touch screens were a bit iffy on those, it was early technology. Then we went on to Griid on the iPad, and now we’re back to Lemur, but on the iPad.

Each track is a Lemur template along the top. The buttons trigger Live – the big buttons are scene changes, and the little buttons are clips.

Paul with Ableton Live.

One of the Lemur templates for “Halcyon”, featuring the infamous Belinda Carlisle/Bon Jovi sample triggers.

And a little more dynamic than the MMT-8s?

Oh yeah. When you look at the Lemur, the big buttons that do the scene changes – that’s like changing a pattern on the MMT-8, but we can also turn things on and off within.

Also, you’ll notice that this [points to three Novation Launch Control XL controllers] pretty much looks like an MMT-8 as well. These are our virtual mixing channels, and each song gets threaded through to these channels. It’s a combination of bringing things in and out on the iPads and the Launch Controls.

What I can do – depending on different parts of the set and how I’m feeling – is go through and mute [the Launch Controls] and do it old-school MMT-8-style as well. You trigger things on the Lemur and obviously they start where you want them to, whereas on the Launch Controls, if you’ve got something muted, you might lose count and bring it in halfway through a riff.

I’ve got the drums broken down here [gestures to Launch Control], to punch them all in and out if I want to, and the “stop all” button which is great.

So you’re mixing on stage with the Launch Controls and the Ableton Live set?

It’s all coming out of here [points to interface] and going to the front of house. We’ve got control of volume of all the channels, so we can ride things – if we know that something’s coming in, we might want to pump that up a bit. And then that happens over the PA, but if it’s too much, [our front of house mixer] can bring it down. Or he can EQ each channel to suit the room. Obviously, front of house is the best place for the overall EQ for each channel because he’s hearing it through the PA and we’re not. We’ve got control of the mix of the balance of things, but then it’s also a safety thing. If I push the drums too much, and it’s too much in the room, [the mixer] can tweak it.

How do you decide which synths come on the road with you internationally? I know you’ve performed with the MacBeth M5, but it’s not in the rig this time around.

I still like the MacBeth – I’d love to bring it! But I’d need to do something do it, because we can’t fly with it. Most of the MacBeth box is empty, it’s just part of Ken [MacBeth]’s thing of, “it’s a performance synth, it needs to stand up and be proud!” So what I want to do is take the case off and put it in a different box, a really thin box. Maybe put a gilt-edged picture frame around it? [Laughs]

This tends to replace the MacBeth – the [Arturia] MatrixBrute. It’s kind of angry, like the MacBeth. It’s got more drive stages and things like that than the MacBeth – it’s probably angrier but kind of thinner, but that’s good because it cuts through in the mix live. Whereas the MacBeth is just – it’s fun, bringing something like that, because it hasn’t got any presets so you’ve got to work on the fly, and I love that. The MacBeth kind of forces you to make each sound tailor-made for each gig. But [the MatrixBrute] is good fun live! And of course, so much control – so much fun to be had.

[Starts playing the beginning of “Tiny Foldable Cities”] Most of the sounds in this track come from the MatrixBrute.

And is that how you did it on the studio version as well?

Yeah. [Cycles through sounds]. Obviously I have to sample some of them live.

Do you have audio backups of all of your hardware synths in case one of them goes before or during a show?

We say we’re gonna do it, but we never do it. [Laughs]

We’ve got a backup computer if that one goes down – but that’s, y’know, “hello everybody, sorry we’ve had a computer failure, we’re just going to be five minutes while we change computers. Talk amongst yourselves, and have a drink at the bar.”

Paul points to the essential crossmod section on Orbital’s Roland Jupiter-6.

So are these the more robust synths that you tour with then – like the Jupiter-6?

This is actually a new one to us. My old one I bought in ‘92, and it’s kind of died now – it still works but it’s a bit flaky. We bought this [new synth] to replace it, because it’s been live with us since ‘92. Is the Jupiter-6 the best synth in the world? No, but it’s got a lot of character, and a lot of our old songs rely on it. I’ve tried to replace with things, but it doesn’t quite work.

Orbital – “Lush 3-1” and “Lush 3-2”, featuring Jupiter-6 on the airy lead sound.

What are some of the Jupiter-6 sounds?

[Starts playing lead sound from “Lush 3”] That! I can never get that out of anything else. Not like that.

Orbital – “Impact” live, with the Jupiter-6 sync/crossmod sound.

The other one that I cannot do without is in “Impact” [Starts playing] when you sync it and then crossmod it stays in tune – it would be a terrible noise if you had it synced the other way. I just had my Jupiter-8 modified to sync the right way; Jupiter-8’s sync in the other direction. In this bit it’s kind of like a wavefolder, you know? Crazy sounds that you can’t get anywhere else – very techno-y, kind of clangy.

Orbital – “Belfast”, featuring ascending bubbly arpeggios from the Jupiter-6.

The last thing is in “Belfast” [starts playing], I always need a Roland synth to get that. That’s three of my big sounds.

Phil Hartnoll’s notes for tweaks to the Novation Peak.

What’s the division of labor like between you and Phil when you’re performing live – do you have defined roles, or are you often reaching over each other?

We do have roles – I arrange. I’m in charge of a lot of the synth manipulation around this end [points to left side of the stand]. We keep this and this [points to Novation Peak and Roland TB-303] exclusively for Phil, he plays with them.

Orbital’s TB-303 – yes, this is the original one from “Chime”.

Is that your original 303?

Yeah [laughs] can you tell? It’s not even silver any more, it’s brown, it’s like a lot of our gear. Our 909 is held together with love and tape.

So Phil does those. I leave him in charge of the drums at this end [points to Launch Control on the right], but I kind of use these here [points to left Launch Control iPads, and synths]. You know this [points to middle Launch Control] is our crossover point.

If I’m busy arranging then Phil might lean over and do some more mixing – [the Launch Controls and middle synths] are the grey area between the two of us.

Orbital live, main table, front-facing view – Paul stands to the left, Phil to the right.

I would like to start bringing the 909, but it’s just a box too far at the minute. I will do it, it’s the only thing I miss live – we use it a lot in the studio.

Instead of using generic 909 samples, I’ve meticulously sampled my own 909. I think they all sound different, 909s – I can spot mine.

They say the same thing about 303s – that’s why no one emulator gets it totally right.

That’s interesting, because I haven’t noticed that with 303s. We’ve got two and I can’t tell them apart – but maybe they’re from the same batch?

With 909s, there’s definitely different batches of them that sound different. I think it’s more like, there’s three different sounds to 909s, and I’ve had two of them in the past. When I sample my 909 – I don’t round robin it, I keep it very simple – but it sounds right, because it’s my 909.

I do notice the difference if I plug a real 909 in. They drop out as well – they do weird shit! They just lose a kick every now and then, and you kind of turn around and it goes “no no, I’m still here!” [laughs]

So you’re playing the Prophet-6 and the Virus TI a fair amount.

It’s weird – it’s a strange old synth, I like it. It tends to thin woolly pads and sharp things quite nicely. I use it in some tracks quite distorted, as well – I really use the distortion on it. It cuts through like a guitar.

The horn sounds on “Hoo Hoo Ha Ha” from Monsters Exist, is that a wavetable from the Virus?

That’s actually samples from a session we did for the 2squared album with Vince Clarke. I just cut tiny bits of it, and made a new riff with it.

[Starts playing “Hoo Hoo Ha Ha”, mixing in parts and effects]. One of the things that I really like is this side chain kind of effect. One of the send effects is a big delay, another is a big reverb. But this [points to knob on Launch Control channels] is a sidechain from the kick, but it isn’t sidechaining any of the instruments, it’s just sidechaining the effects return.

What’s playing the “Hoo Hoo Ha Ha” chords?

That’s a lot of people, actually, that I recorded coming out of the pub. I got them all to go “uh”, “hah”, “huh”, and then I made a round robin kind of thing and processed it in Kontakt to make it sort of a robotic constant-pitch thing. And then played chords on it.

As a musician, you’ve got Orbital, you’ve got your solo albums, you’ve got 8:58, you’ve got soundtracks, and a couple years ago you had the album 2squared with Vince Clarke. Is there a difference in the compositional mindset when you’re working on material for different projects?

I’d like to pretend there was but there isn’t. I just go and do my thing, wherever I’m doing it.

Clarke:Hartnoll – “Do A Bong”

There’s a kind of Paul Hartnoll sound signature – like on “Do A Bong” with Vince Clarke, I thought “oh, it’s got Orbital chords”

[Laughs] Yeah! That’s what I said to Vince when we were doing that. He played with these kind of…for want of a genre, “nu disco” kind of things, and he said “what can you do?” I said “I wanna bring some live, sort of wild synth passes” – what I call “stadium house” – to it. You know, that kind of big rave, big chords – with a lead line that’s kind of simple over the top.

Paul next to the Ableton Live set (visual trigger clips to the right), Arturia Matrixbrute, and Jupiter-6.

How does the live set work visually?

[Points to Ableton Live set] There’s some video triggers here. When I hit certain scene changes, it triggers off a run of a certain visual. So we can set up things perfectly in time, and [our VJ] doesn’t have to worry about when we’re going to do drop downs.

A show like no other

Ultimately, I’m left with the same thought I had when I saw them in 2012 in Berlin, or when watching the DVD of highlights from their 90s/00s Glastonbury sets: Orbital put on an incredible show. The technology might change – and the visuals are certainly more engaging and impressive than ever – but at the core, it’s the same gorgeous stadium-sized emotional melodies that have kept audiences enthralled for nearly three decades.

With the release of the excellent Monsters Exist, Orbital are exiting 2018 on a high note – and 2019 sees 30 years since the release of “Chime”. We’ll certainly be keen to see what happens next!

https://orbitalofficial.com/

The post Like a studio onstage: Orbital tells us their live rig synth secrets appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Ableton Live as standalone hardware? Leaked Akai APC Live

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 2 Jan 2019 3:55 pm

It’s what a lot of people wanted – an MPC crossed with an Ableton Push – which could mean it’s too good to be true. But the APC Live leaked in images looks viable enough, and it could signal big changes for electronic performance in 2019.

Standalone hardware that does what software does – it’s a funny thing. It has seemed inevitable for a long time. But lots of hardware remains tethered to the ubiquitous computer (Ableton Push, Novation Launchpad, Native Instruments Maschine, Native Instruments Traktor) … or is exceptionally expensive (Pioneer CDJ). Then there was Akai’s own MPC Live, which seemed to be both affordable and flexible – you can use it with or without a computer – but failed to catch on. That may be because the MPC Live was too late to win people over to a new workflow. It wasn’t really like the original MPC hardware, and computer users had opted for Maschine, Live, and other tools.

That makes these leaked photos of the supposed Akai APC Live so interesting. Ableton, with a user base literally in the millions, doesn’t have to convince anyone of a new workflow. If the APC Live does what the MPC Live does – work as a controller with your computer plugged in, but then switch to standalone mode for onstage use – it could be a winner.

The ever leak-savvy sequencer.de get the scoop, in a forum post (which seems to get these from an FCC filing):

https://www.sequencer.de/synthesizer/media/apc-live-3.976/

Behold:

It seems to have everything you’d need:

A Push-style grid surface with shortcuts.
Encoders and heads-up display for parameter editing.
An MPC-style workspace with edit buttons.
USB connection (locked, so it doesn’t come out accidentally) and 2-port USB hub for expansion (or storage, hard to say).
SD card slot (load samples, sets?).
Separate cue mix for your headphones.
4 outs (so you can also have a separate cue line mix/monitors out, or easy quad output, or whatever)
CV and gate, MIDI – though crammed on minijacks, so you’ll need some dongles, no doubt.
XLR input for a vocal mic.

The only thing that’s odd about this is that the MPC-style screen is tacked rather awkwardly on top, giving this a really tall footprint.

The other big question will be what happens with plug-ins. Akai for their part first came out talking about embedded Windows on their MPC Live, but eventually shipped a Linux-based application. That makes their MPC software behave the same as a self-contained app on the hardware as it does on your computer. But Live users are accustomed to using third-party plug-ins; will they have to stick to Live internal devices when running in standalone mode?

Another possibility – maybe the “live” moniker doesn’t really mean this works on its own. This could just be an oversized controller for Ableton Live, but still tethered to the computer. That would make sense, too – it would be a lot of work to get Live to run on its own, and just shipping another controller would be an easy solution.

Just don’t rule out standalone as a possibility. It’s technically possible, and we know Ableton has posted some Linux and embedded engineering jobs on their site – plus Akai has done this once before, meaning they have the talent in-house to work on it.

I expect we’ll know later this month, either at the NAMM show or slightly before.

The post Ableton Live as standalone hardware? Leaked Akai APC Live appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

More surprise in your sequences, with ESQ for Ableton Live

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Sun 30 Dec 2018 5:39 pm

With interfaces that look lifted from a Romulan warbird and esoteric instruments, effects, and sequencers, K-Devices have been spawning surprising outcomes in Ableton Live for some time now. ESQ is the culmination of that: a cure for preset sounds and ideas in a single device.

You likely know the problem already: all of the tools in software like Ableton Live that make it easy to quickly generate sounds and patterns also tend to do so in a way that’s … always the same. So instead of being inspiring, you can quickly feel stuck in a rut.

ESQ is a probability-based sequencer with parameters, so you adjust a few controls to generate a wide variety of possibilities – velocity, chance, and relative delay for each step. You can create polyrhythms (multiple tracks of the same length, but different steps), or different-length tracks, you can copy and paste, and there are various random functions to keep things fresh. The results are still somehow yours – maybe even more so – it’s just that you use probability and generative rules to get you to what you want when you aren’t sure how to describe what you want. Or maybe before you knew you wanted it.

Because you can trigger up to 12 notes, you can use ESQ to turn bland presets into something unexpected (like working with preset Live patches). Or you can use it as a sequencer with all those fun modular toys we’ve been talking about lately (VCV Rack, Softube Modular, Cherry Audio Voltage Modular, and so on) – because 5- and 8-step sequencers are often just dull.

There’s no sound produced by ESQ – it’s just a sequencer – but it can have a big enough impact on devices that this “audio” demo is just one instance of ESQ and one Drum Rack. Even those vanilla kits start to get more interesting.

K-Devices has been working this way for a while, but ESQ feels like a breakthrough. The generative sequence tools are uniquely complete and especially powerful for producing rhythms. You can make this sound crazy and random and IDM-y, but you can also add complexity without heading into deep space – it’s really up to you.

And they’ve cleverly made two screens – one full parameter screen that gets deep and detailed, but a compact device screen that lets you shift everything with single gestures or adjust everything as macros – ideal for live performance or for making bigger changes.

It seems like a good wildcard to keep at your disposal … for any of those moments when you’re getting stuck and boring.

And yes, of course Richard Devine already has it:

But you can certainly make things unlike Devine, too, if you want.

Right now ESQ is on sale, 40% off through December 31 – €29 instead of 49. So it can be your last buy of 2018.

Have fun, send sequences!

https://k-devices.com/products/esq/

The post More surprise in your sequences, with ESQ for Ableton Live appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Generative music from Shanghai’s AYRTBH: interview, download

Delivered... David Abravanel | Scene | Mon 17 Dec 2018 9:07 pm

The mysterious, murky, glitchy-future sounds you hear from, AYRTBH, Shanghai’s Wang Changcun, emerges from an algorithm. That software can make this album over and over again without sounding the same. The artist explains – and shares a specially generated exclusive for CDM readers.

Here at CDM, we’re no strangers to experiments with iterations in music. Icarus’ 2012 release Fake Fish Distribution used custom Max for Live devices to produce 1,000 generative variations, each sold to one customer and providing an individualized experience.

Six year later and Shanghai-based Wang Changcun aka AYRTBH has released Song of Anon, an album available in two formats: as an eight-track traditional listen, or as a stand-alone generative app.

Listen and download (M4A) via SoundCloud:

Or download lossless FLAC from WeTransfer.

I spoke to Wang about creating such a unique listen, and how it challenges our perceptions of authorship, what constitutes a piece of music, and composition.

Generative app.

How does the Song of Anon app work?

The focus of Song of Anon both App and album is the construction and dividing of rhythm. The App is not a “tool” software; it can only make Song of Anon-alike music. After a pattern is played many times, the App will re-generate a new pattern based on the packed-in JavaScript file. The synth parameters of the App are also randomly locked in a specific range. The listener can toggle the App on and off 🙂

Why did you decide to distribute Song of Anon as both an app and an album?

The App is a prototype of the album track’s rhythm algorithm, though for convenience all sounds in the App are synthesized through [Max/]MSP. Before recording Song of Anon tracks, I use the prototype system for testing.

Inside the Max patcher for the Song of Anon app.

Where would you draw the line of authorship using algorithmic software with user controls? If I adjust the controls on the Song of Anon app, is the song mine? Is it yours? Is it a collaboration between the two of us?

Song of Anon app is not a “tool” software. It’s not supposed to be controlled, it runs in its own world outputting sounds. I think outputs of the app belong to the Song of Anon album. Yeah the app can be adjusted and interfered with, but after a certain duration of time it will go back to its own logic again.

Song of Anon the App is composed and synthesized entirely in Max. Do you normally prefer synthesis over samples, or was this a choice relating to making Song of Anon its own system?

Song of Anon Prototype the App is made entirely in Max, but not the album. In the album I also used the Madrona Labs Aalto synth for more complex sounds. For Song of Anon yes I only use synthesis, but in my 2017 EP MTK I mainly used samples.

Is performing Song of Anon different from performing around previous albums?

Yes, it’s a new performing system I built for Song of Anon. But basically the software (Live, Max, Numerology) are the same; the ways of using them are changed.

Currently my performance setup is: Ableton Live as the central host, some selfmade M4L devices, [Five12] Numerology which is synced to Live’s clock, and sometimes Terminal and Max for generating parameter values of Numerology’s sequencer.

AYRTBH live.

How does Numerology fit in to the workflow? Are you using the generative/algorithmic features of Numerology, or just the basic step sequencing?

I’ve been using Numerology since maybe 2009, and it’s still my favorite go-to sequencer if I want to quickly implement a sequencing idea. The modulation system of Numerology is very powerful, and you can even make a synthesizer in it using the LFO as an oscillator; there are envelopes, VCAs, and filters after all. Normally I use Numerology and Max together, learn things/transfer ideas from each other. Yes I also use the generative/algorithmic features of Numerology, and sometimes if doing something is not easy in Numerology I’ll make a Max patch as a helper.

Have you thought of making/selling software (standalone, plug-in, or perhaps Max for Live devices) based on your sequencing work for Song of Anon?

I do have a plan on making/selling software (standalone and Max for Live device) with another Shanghai-based electronic musician Gooooose, but not the patches I used in Song of Anon. It should be something can be easily “shared” to others, patches/devices from Song of Anon are too personal, they can only make Song of Anon tracks.

What are you working on next?

I just finished the work for my first solo exhibition in Shanghai’s OCAT museum last month. Now I’m working on two live computer music sets next month in Shanghai and Beijing, improving the Song of Anon system.

AYRTBH live.

During the interview, Wang directed me to Zhao Yue, who runs the Beijing-based label D-Force, on which Song of Anon was released. I spoke briefly to Zhao about her label, and she offered some perspectives and excellent recommendations for further exploring what D-Force has to offer.

How do you go about marketing a release like Song of Anon, knowing that there’s also an algorithmic app version of it out there?

The algorithmic app is a major part of our promotion actually. To us, the release works on two levels: the musical level and the conceptual level. On the music side it is a bit weird, but humorous and chill, and it speaks to fans who already know and trust Wang. But we did put more emphasis on the concepts and technology behind the record, which has more of a wow-factor.

>We deliberately contacted more media in the IT, art and academic circles than what we’d usually do for a release. They responded very well to this and helped a lot with putting out press releases and giving us interviews. To be honest we were expecting obstacles “selling” this to media and platforms but their enthusiasm gave us a pleasant surprise. One contact from a major media platform gave us this feedback: “Of course we are tired of reporting on the idols and pop stars everyday. Something fun like this is refreshing for us too.” We have since realized that the Chinese audience have a very open mind when it comes to technical ideas, and this “art meets algorithm meets AI” idea really fires up people’s imaginations. Perhaps we should thank the general emphasis on tech and science in the Chinese society for this? The strong concept helps to get Wang Changcun’s idea over to more people than our usual music fans.

How did you first get connected to Wang?

We have heard of his name quite a long time ago. He’s considered to be one of the gurus in the field of experimental electronic music. Then we were introduced by one of our other artists called Han Han (he also produces and performs under the name Gooooose, and is the frontman of the band Duck Fight Goose). Han Han connected us because he felt that we were one of the few labels that were open to more experimental releases and, simply, that we could be personal friends. And he was proven right.

What are some other artists/albums that you’re working with that you’d recommend, especially for fans of Song of Anon?

For fans of Song of Anon, we could certainly recommend:

Synthetic China Vol.1 by Various Artists
This is a compilation curated by Han Han, and it is a collection of tracks from the pioneers of Chinese electronic music. Wang Changcun and Han Han (Gooooose) all contributed.

They by Gooooose
This is a concept album about an imagined synthetic alien lifeform that exists in Han Han’s mind. Each track depicts one aspects of their lives.

Listen to Song of Anon on Spotify

Download the standalone app [Cycling ’74]

The post Generative music from Shanghai’s AYRTBH: interview, download appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Datalooper lets you play Ableton Live with your feet

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 15 Nov 2018 5:27 pm

It’s a looper, it’s a Session View controller. It’s USB powered, and you play it with your feet. But unlike other options, Datalooper integrates directly with how you work in Ableton Live – and it doesn’t require Max for Live to operate. Here’s a first look – and an exclusive discount.

http://www.datalooperpedal.com/cdmspecial

Ableton may have called their event “Loop,” but that doesn’t mean there’s an obvious way to control the software’s looping capability via hardware out of the box. And that’s essential – Ableton Push is great, but it doesn’t fit a lot of instrumental and vocal uses. It’s too complicated, and involves too much hand-eye coordination – stuff you want to focus elsewhere. I’m not sure what Ableton would have called their own foot hardware – Ableton Tap? Ableton Toes? But instead, users have been stepping up … sorry, unintentional pun … and giving Live the kind of immediacy you’d expect of a looper pedal.

Demand seems higher than ever – there were two projects floating around Ableton Loop in LA last week. I covered State of the Loop already:

Ableton Live Looping gets its own custom controller

That project focused mainly on the Looper instrument and the use of scenes, all via Max for Live. It also seems well suited to running a lot of loopers at once.

Datalooper – the work of musician/creator Vince Cimo – is a similar project, but finds its own niche. First off, Max for Live isn’t required, meaning any edition of Live will work. (It uses a standard Live Control Script to communicate with Live.)

We got hands-on with Datalooper at Ableton Loop this year.

Datalooper will use the Looper device if you want. In that mode, it’s basically a controller for the Looper instrument – and supports up to three at once by default (which will be enough for most people anyway).

But there’s not much difference between the Looper device and other plug-ins or dedicated looping tools. “Natively” looping in Live still logically involves Session View. Before Ableton had a Looper, the company would advise customers to just record into clips in the Session View. That’s all fine and well, except that users of hardware pedals were accustomed to being able to set a tempo with the length of their initial recording, so the loop kept time with them instead of having to adjust to an arbitrary metronome.

Datalooper does both. You can use Session View, taking advantage of all those clips and arrangement tools and track routing and effects chains. But you can also use the looper to set the tempo. As the developers describe it:

If you long press on the clear button, the metronome will turn off, and the tempo will re-calculate based on the next loop you record, so you can fluidly move between pieces without having to listen to a click track. Throughout this process, the transport never stops, meaning you can linearly record your whole set and capture every loop and overdub in pristine quality.

Datalooper is also a handy foot-powered control system for working with clips in general. So even if you weren’t necessarily in the market for a looper or looper pedal, you might want Datalooper in your studio just to facilitate working quickly with clips.

(And of course, this also makes it an ideal companion to Ableton Push … or Maschine with a Live template, or an APC, or a Launchpad, or whatever.)

Session Control mode lets you hop in and record quickly to wherever you wish. I imagine this will be great for improvisation not only solo but when you invite a friend to play with you.

For users that are more familiar with the clip system, the Datalooper also features a ‘session control’ mode, built to allow users to quickly record clips. In this mode, the Datalooper script will link up with a track, then ‘auto-scan’ and latch on to the first unused clip slot. You can then use the first the buttons in a row to control the recording, deletion and playback of the clip. Best of all, when you want to record another clip, you can simply press record again and the script will find you another unused clip slot. This is a game-changer if you’re trying to quickly record ideas and want your hands free.

Videos:

You get all of this in a nice, metal box – die-cast aluminum, weighing 3 lbs (1.4 kg), micro USB bus-powered standard MIDI device. The onboard LEDs light to show you status and feedback from the metronome.

By default, it uses three loopers, but all the behaviors are customizable. In fact, when you want to dive into customization, there’s drag-and-drop customization of commands.

A graphical controller editor lets you customize how the Datalooper works. This could be the future of all custom control.

US$199 is the target price, or $179 early bird (while supplies last). It’s now on Indiegogo; creator Vince Cimo needs enough supporters to be able to pull the trigger on a $10k manufacturing run or it wont’ happen.

Vince has offered CDM readers a special discount. Head here for another $20 off the already discounted price:

http://www.datalooperpedal.com/cdmspecial

(No promotional fee paid for that – he just asked if we wanted a discount, and I said sure!)

Having gotten hands on with this thing and seen how the integration and configuration works … I want one. I didn’t even know I wanted a pedal. I think it could well make Live use far more improvisatory. And the fact that we have two projects approaching this from different angles I think is great. I hope both find enough support to get manufactured – so if you want to see them, do spread the word to other musicians who might want them.

The post Datalooper lets you play Ableton Live with your feet appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Ableton Live Looping gets its own custom controller

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 8 Nov 2018 12:45 am

A crowd-funded custom controller has just arrived on the scene, designed to assist live triggering and looping in Ableton Live. And there’s already a free download for Max for Live to get you started, even without the hardware.

Hardware like Ableton’s Push lets you play Live with your fingers – but what about your feet? (Ableton Sole?) And what about looping? Pierre-Antoine Grison, Ableton Certified Trainer and producer/musician signed to Ed Banger Records, has come up with his own solution – just in time to show it this weekend at Ableton’s aptly-titled Loop “summit for music makers.” “State Of The Loop” is a custom MIDI controller for Ableton Live’s built-in Looper device.

The Looper in Ableton Live has been around for a few versions, after loads of requests from users. It delivered the kind of looping workflows you’d expect form a looping pedal. But that doesn’t mean everyone knows how to use it, or use it effectively. There are some nice resources online, including:

Ableton Looper Cheat Sheet (Free Download) [Beat Lab Academy]

Ableton Live Devices – How To Use Live Looper [Loopmasters.com articles]

and a ton of tips here:
http://looping.me.uk/category/ableton/

The stomp-style hardware controls not only the Looper device itself but also scenes. So it works for both controlling entire sets and for pedal-style looping, and you can use multiple (software) loopers so you can layer using different on-screen devices.

Features:

Display and control the state of Live’s Looper
Unlimited number of loopers !
2 Expression Pedal inputs with “dynamic mapping”
Scenes Mode to launch Scenes and display their color and name
Sturdy metal case
100% Made in France
USB or MIDI connection for longer distances (up to 15m/50ft)
USB powered
Very light on the CPU
Easy configuration
Weight : 1.7 kg / 3 lb
WxLxH : 30 x 13 x 6 cm / 12 x 5 x 2.5 inches

There’s even a free download that adds some features Ableton Live forgot – the equivalent of follow actions for scenes, plus a heads-up display so you can see what’s happening without hunching over your computer screen. (Seriously, Ableton, those belong as standard features in Live!)

You can use that download as long as you have a compatible version of Live and Max for Live; no hardware needed.

http://kblivesolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Scene-Launcher.zip

Dig this custom version too:

Pricing starts at 240EUR for an “early bird” price, 260EUR after that. (There’s also a 350EUR limited edition still available as I write this).

Project info on Kickstarter:

http://kck.st/2SH5gJE

The post Ableton Live Looping gets its own custom controller appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Free Snare Designer for Ableton Live, Logic, and Kontakt

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 2 Nov 2018 8:25 pm

If you’re obsessive about snares, this free download is for you. If you totally haven’t been thinking about snares at all, and want to let someone else obsess about it for you, this download is also for you. Meet Snare Designer.

Sound and sample house Puremagnetik has been doing sound design right back to the early days of Ableton Live. Now you get a couple hundred megabytes of acoustic snares to mess around with, whether you’re in Live, Logic, or Kontakt. You’ll need Live 10 or the full version of Kontakt 5 or Logic 10.4 to use the tailored versions, though if you’re willing to put in a little more work, you can also work with the raw samples directly.

With the full versions, you get some clever features that make this more usable. In Live and Kontakt, you can select direct, overhead, room, and “trashcan” mics via a graphical UI. Logic uses Track Stacks for those different microphones.

And you get some nicely chosen drums: the 60s Ludwig Acrolite, Mapex Birch, and Pork Pie Squealer. I don’t know anything about drums and even I know those.

Give up your email address (opt in, natch) for the download:
https://puremagnetik.com/products/free-snare-drum-pack-ableton-live-kontakt-logic

The post Free Snare Designer for Ableton Live, Logic, and Kontakt appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Novation’s SL MkIII has it all: sequencer, CV, MIDI, software control

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 10 Oct 2018 5:45 pm

One upon a time, there was a Novation keyboard called the ReMOTE SL. That’s as in “remote control” of software. Times have changed, and you’ve got a bunch of gear to connect – and you may want your keyboard to work standalone, too. So meet the SL MkIII.

The additional features are significant enough that Novation is dropping the “remote” from the name. Now it’s just SL, whatever those letters are meant to stand for.

The story here is, you get a full-featured, eight-track sequencer – so you no longer have to depend on a computer for that function. And Novation promise some higher-spec features like expanded dynamic range (via higher scan rate). With lots of keyboards out there, the sequencer is really the lead. Circuit just paid off for keyboardists. Novation gets to merge their experience with Launchpad, with Circuit, with Web connectivity, and with analog and digital gear.

Features:

  • The 8-track, polyphonic sequencer is both a step and live sequencer, it records automation, and you can edit right from the keyboard.
  • Arpeggiator onboard, too.
  • USB, MIDI in, MIDI out, second MIDI thru/out
  • Clock/transport controls for MIDI and analog, which also run standalone – route that to whatever you like.
  • Three pedal inputs
  • Eight faders and eight knobs, handy for mixing (there’s DAW support for all major DAWs, plus dedicated Logic and Reason integration)
  • Color LCDs
  • RGB everything: yep, over the keys, but also color-coded RGB on the pitch and mod wheel as track indicators. (I’m waiting for someone to release a monochromatic controller. You know it’s coming … back.)
  • Those RGB pads are not just velocity sensitive, but even have polyphonic aftertouch (more like higher-end dedicated pad controllers)
  • Cloud backup/restore of templates and sessions – a feature we saw unveiled on Novation’s Circuit

And of course there’s more mapping options with their InControl software and Mackie HUI support.

(Some notes from the specs: you do need separate 12V power, so you can’t use USB power. I don’t have weight notes yet, either.)

Novation must know a lot of their customer base use Ableton Live, as they’re quick to show off how their integation works and why those screens are handy.

Here it is in action:

We also see some cues from Native Instruments’ keyboards – the light guide indicators above the keys are copied directly, and while the pads and triggers are all Launchpad in character, we finally get a Novation keyboard with encoders and graphic displays. Unlike NI, this keyboard is still useful when the computer is shut off, though.

And wait – we’ve heard this before. It was called the AKAI Pro MAX25 and MAX49 – step sequencer built in (with faders and pads), plus MIDI, plus CV, plus remote control surface features. You just had to learn to like touch strips for the faders, and that garish racecar red. That AKAI is still worth a look as a used buy, though the hardware here is in a more standard layout / control complement, and a few years later, you get additional features.

The big rival to the Novation is probably Arturia’s KeyLab MKII. It also strikes a balance between studio hub and controller keyboard, and it comes from another maker who now produces analog synths, too. But the Novation has a step sequencer; Arturia makes step sequencers but left it out of their flagship controller keyboard.

Oh yeah, and if you just wanted an integrated controller keyboard for your DAW, Nektar have you covered, or of course you can opt for the Native Instruments-focused Komplete Kontrol. Each of those offerings also got revisions lately, so I’m guessing … a lot of people are buying keyboards.

But right now, Novation just jumped out to the front of the pack – this keyboard appears to tick all the boxes for hardware and software. And I’ll bet a lot of people are glad to do some sequencing without diving into the computer. (Even alongside a computer for tracking, that’s often useful.)

£539.99 49 keys; £629.99 61. (Both share the same layout.)

https://novationmusic.com/keys/sl-mkiii

What keyboard strikes your fantasy at the moment? What do you want a keyboard to do for you? Let us know in comments.

The post Novation’s SL MkIII has it all: sequencer, CV, MIDI, software control appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Control all of Ableton from iOS, Android, Windows: touchAble Pro

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 5 Oct 2018 1:13 pm

Ableton Live: lug along hardware, or … be forced to use a mouse or touchpad. No more: touchAble Pro continues to unlock more and more of Live’s functionality, and now it’s available across touch platforms – iOS, Android, Windows.

That last bit in itself is already news. iPad owners have had plenty of great stuff, but … what if you’ve got an Android phone instead of an iPhone? Or a Microsoft Surface? Or what if you want controls to jam on a big touchscreen display – in the studio, for instance?

It’s possible to target all three of those platforms; the fact many developers haven’t tells you they haven’t yet figured out the business case. But with Ableton Live a massive platform, numbering millions of active users, and use cases that focus on making things happen, uh, “live,” the touchAble devs could have a winner.

And whichever platform you choose, there’s simply no way to put this much control of Ableton Live at your fingertips, with this much visual feedback. We covered this release in full earlier:

touchAble Pro for Ableton Live: touch control on iOS, Android, Windows

But here’s a recap of why it’s cool, whether you’re a returning user or new to the platform:

Piano Roll editing (top), and custom Devices (bottom).

New:

  • Audio clip view with waveforms, including side-by-side waveforms
  • Piano roll view for pattern editing
  • Draw and edit automation
  • Track I/O
  • Custom layouts with Template Editor
  • Custom Device templates (even with third-party plug-ins and Max for Live, via an In-App Purchase coming soon)

And this matters. Now you can quickly whip up a custom template that shows you just what you need to see for a live performance – without squinting (it’s all scalable). Add in side-by-side waveforms to that, and you could twist Live into a DJ tool – or certainly a more flexible live performance tool, especially if you’ve got other instruments or vocals to focus on.

Plus a lot of other good stuff:

Transport, metronome, cues, and quantization
Clips and scenes and control looping
Arm, mute, and solo tracks
Adjust monitoring
Mix, pan, crossfade, and control sends and returns
Play instruments with grid or piano-style layouts, with scales, note repeat, aftertouch, and velocity (based on finger position)
Control device parameters, using faders or assignable X/Y pad modules
X/Y Pad: assign physics, make and morph snapshots or record full gestures,
Navigate Live’s Browser, and drag and drop Devices or Samples to the set

Enlarge stuff – like this clip overview – and make the custom layout you need.

Side by side waveforms, and a bunch of clip options. Oh yeah.

Touch on Windows isn’t just about devices like Surface – it’s also big touch-equipped displays, so ideal for studio work.

Three new videos are out now to walk you through how it’s all working.

More:
http://www.touch-able.com

The post Control all of Ableton from iOS, Android, Windows: touchAble Pro appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Free pack of sounds from the Polish Radio Experimental Studio

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 2 Oct 2018 3:53 pm

Think of it as the BBC Radiophonic Workshop of the east: the Polish Radio Experimental Studio produced unparalleled electronic sounds and inventions for decades. Recognition of those accomplishments is growing – and now Ableton are collaborating to produce a free pack of sounds and tell the PRES story.

Vital stats on this project:

Who’s behind this: Poland’s national cultural institution Instytut Adama Mickiewicza (IAM) commissioned the library from Ableton and contributors.

Where do the sounds come from: Works made at the studio by composers Krzysztof Knittel, Elżbieta Sikora, and Ryszard Szeremeta, 1970s-80s, comprise the original sound material.

Who built the pack: Project coordinator Michal Mendyk worked with Ableton Certified Trainer Marcin Staniszewski.

What’s in there: 300 sounds, loops, and effects organized into Drum Racks, plus custom Effect Racks, all pre-mapped with macros (making them easy to use with Push or other controllers)

Check out the pack and a full article on the studio and its history at Ableton’s site (plus more on Marcin Staniszewski and his music):

Sounds from the Polish Radio Experimental Studio

Lots more links there, but the history to me is the most compelling. Paralleling the hot-and-cold relationships of experimental sound and music technology in East Germany and the Soviet Union in the same period, there was a precarious relationship of electronic sound to the government in Communist Poland. Michal Mendyk tells the story of studio founder Józef Patkowski to Ableton:

Paradoxically, a couple of years earlier, it was Sokorski who introduced social realism and radical political and aesthetical censorship in Polish art and culture. He was famous for having said about Witold Lutosławski, one of the leaders of Polish music vanguard that “he should be thrown under a tram”. So, in 1957 the same guy was responsible for creating the most experimental music centre in the whole Eastern Europe! He later said that Polish Radio Experimental Studio was his way to redeem his previous sins. This is one of many example of how paradoxical cultural and intellectual life in an authoritarian system can be.

Here’s a great documentary on the studio:

And for an imaginative take on the studio’s work, see our previous story:

The retro-futuristic Apparatum draws from Polish electronic music history

Plus more on the ongoing legacy in Poland:

This 1971 Dancing Rectangle from Poland Predicts Modern Techno, AV

Live techno after Polish punk and communism: Dyktando of Brutaż

The post Free pack of sounds from the Polish Radio Experimental Studio appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Max 8: Multichannel, mappable, faster patching is here

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 25 Sep 2018 8:15 pm

Max 8 is released today, as the latest version of the audiovisual development environment brings new tools, faster performance, multichannel patching, MIDI learn, and more.

Max is now 30 years old, with a direct lineage to the beginning of visual programming for musicians – creating your own custom tools by connecting virtual cables on-screen instead of typing in code. Since then, its developers have incorporated additional facilities for other code languages (like JavaScript), different data types, real-time visuals (3D and video), and integrated support inside Ableton Live (with Max for Live). Max 8 actually hits all of those different points with improvements. Here’s what’s new:

MC multichannel patching.

It’s always been possible to do multichannel patching – and therefore support multichannel audio (as with spatial sound) – in Max and Pure Data. But Max’s new MC approach makes this far easier and more powerful.

  • Any sound object can be made into multiples, just by typing mc. in front of the object name.
  • A single patch cord can incorporate any number of channels.
  • You can edit multiple objects all at once.

So, yes, this is about multichannel audio output and spatial audio. But it’s also about way more than that – and it addresses one of the most significant limitations of the Max/Pd patching paradigm.

Polyphony? MC.

Synthesis approaches with loads of oscillators (like granular synthesis or complex additive synthesis)? MC.

MPE assignments (from controllers like the Linnstrument and ROLI Seaboard)? MC.

MC means the ability to use a small number of objects and cords to do a lot – from spatial sound to mass polyphony to anything else that involves multiples.

It’s just a much easier way to work with a lot of stuff at once. That was present in open code environment SuperCollider, for instance, if you were willing to put in some time learning SC’s code language. But it was never terribly easy in Max. (Pure Data, your move!)

MIDI mapping

Mappings lets you MIDI learn from controllers, keyboards, and whatnot, just by selecting a control, and moving your controller.

Computer keyboard mappings work the same way.

The whole implementation looks very much borrowed from Ableton Live, down to the list of mappings for keyboard and MIDI. It’s slightly disappointing they didn’t cover OSC messages with the same interface, though, given this is Max.

It’s faster

Max 8 has various performance optimizations, says Cycling ’74. But in particular, look for 2x (Mac) – 20x (Windows) faster launch times, 4x faster patching loading, and performance enhancements in the UI, Jitter, physics, and objects like coll.

Also, Max 8’s Vizzie library of video modules is now OpenGL-accelerated, which additionally means you can mix and match with Jitter OpenGL patching. (No word yet on what that means for OpenGL deprecation by Apple.)

Node.JS

This is I suspect a pretty big deal for a lot of Max patchers who moonlight in some JavaScript coding. NodeJS support lets you run Node applications from inside a patch – for extending what Max can do, running servers, connecting to the outside world, and whatnot.

There’s full NPM support, which is to say all the ability to share code via that package manager is now available inside Max.

Patching works better, and other stuff that will make you say “finally”

Actually, this may be the bit that a lot of long-time Max users find most exciting, even despite the banner features.

Patching is now significantly enhanced. You can patch and unpatch objects just by dragging them in and out of patch cords, instead of doing this in multiple steps. Group dragging and whatnot finally works the way it should, without accidentally selecting other objects. And you get real “probing” of data flowing through patch cords by hovering over the cords.

There’s also finally an “Operate While Unlocked” option so you can use controls without constantly locking and unlocking patches.

There’s also a refreshed console, color themes, and a search sidebar for quickly bringing up help.

Plus there’s external editor support (coll, JavaScript, etc.). You can use “waypoints” to print stuff to the console.

And additionally, essential:

High definition and multitouch support on Windows
UI support for the latest Mac OS
Plug-in scanning

And of course a ton of new improvements for Max objects and Jitter.

What about Max for Live?

Okay, Ableton and Cycling ’74 did talk about “lockstep” releases of Max and Max for Live. But… what’s happening is not what lockstep usually means. Maybe it’s better to say that the releases of the two will be better coordinated.

Max 8 today is ahead of the Max for Live that ships with Ableton Live. But we know Max for Live incorporated elements of Max 8, even before its release.

For their part, Cycling ’74 today say that “in the coming months, Max 8 will become the basis of Max for Live.”

Based on past conversations, that means that as much functionality as possibly can be practically delivered in Max for Live will be there. And with all these Max 8 improvements, that’s good news. I’ll try to get more clarity on this as information becomes available.

Max 8 now…

Ther’s a 30-day free trial. Upgrades are US$149; full version is US$399, plus subscription and academic discount options.

Full details on the new release are neatly laid out on Cycling’s website today:

https://cycling74.com/products/max-features?utm_source=press&utm_campaign=max8-release

The post Max 8: Multichannel, mappable, faster patching is here appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

touchAble Pro for Ableton Live: touch control on iOS, Android, Windows

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 23 Aug 2018 7:12 pm

touchAble was already the benchmark app for controlling Ableton Live from an iPad. Now touchAble Pro has been recoded from the ground up with new features like custom layouts and waveform views – and it supports iOS, Android, and Windows touch, too.

Berlin developers Zerodebug are announcing a beta today for their new app, touchAble Pro. And so we get a first look at what they’ve been up to. The software sports a new, cleaner UI, but also comes a lot closer to being Ableton Live with complete touch support – or at least as close as you can get with the APIs Ableton make available.

You can edit patterns with an overhauled piano roll view, and audio clips using a waveform display.

There are new layouts, letting you view modules side by side or fullscreen.

You can draw in or edit automation inside clips.

It’s really starting to look like the touch app Ableton forgot, complete with full device support (including those pretty new Live 10 graphics), and even little details like being able to access I/O setting on channels right inside the app.

Plus, you can customize exactly the layout you need, which means touchAble shines for live performance. Years ago, I caught the early live show by Glitch Mob, all on original JazzMutant Lemur hardware (that is, before the iPad was released). They were able to make giant buttons so they could trigger stuff in Live without distracting from a live drum routine. You can do that with this if you want – or any number of other layouts. Need specific clip triggers, huge? Want a particular mixer or clip launch layout? Draw it right on the device.

Watch:

The limitations of touchAble really come down to limitations of Ableton Live itself – connectivity with external devices, Live’s archaic scripting installation, and restrictions on the API. touchAble Pro is a good demonstration of why it’d be great to see Ableton add a complete API for their Arrangement View, in particular – even if that doesn’t make sense on their own Push hardware. But that said, this works. (I can’t evaluate final stability, because I’ve only had a pre-beta build, but it’s definitely promising.)

Initial pricing: US$29.99.

Nice Live 10 support, but Live 9 is also compatible.

http://touch-able.com

That’s actually touchAble Pro running on Windows – giant touchscreen, go!

The post touchAble Pro for Ableton Live: touch control on iOS, Android, Windows appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Free Ableton Live add-ons will f*** up your mixes and insult you

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 22 Aug 2018 5:18 pm

That headline isn’t a mistake. If you’ve ever wanted a plug-in to f*** up your mixes, sabotage you, insult you, or “get passive aggressive,” this free collection of Max for Live Devices is for you.

Not to completely spoil the results here, but as I write this, my screen is covered with virtual bees. I cannot make the bees go away. I thought the “bees” instrument was going to make some sounds, but instead it has brought bees onto my screen, both inside and outside Ableton Live.

That’s the sort of results you can expect from Really Useful Plugins.

ru.bomb will take your mix and completely f*** it up, as my headline promises.

ru.no is basically an onscreen version of the nagging doubts inside your head.

Sad.

That is way too much f***ing reverb.

And that’s just the beginning.

Simon Kitmine and David Synth bring you 12 instruments, audio effects and midi effects for Ableton Live, featuring:

Insults!
Games!
Bombs!
Self importance!
Sabotage!
Ways to magically sound like everyone else!
The Chuckle Brothers!
Annoying insects!
Exploration!
Passive aggression!

Really Useful Plugins Set #1 now available!

How much would you pay for such a collection? $99? $299? $999 for a multi-seat license? Well, it’s … free, for some reason. (Can’t imagine why. Free as in bees. Erm, beer.)

Max for Live is required, so Live Suite or Live with the M4L add-on. I’ve said before that’s worth it. Now, there’s no doubt.

You know, it really is too much reverb.

Sigh.

PS, if you appreciate this kind of insight, definitely check out #gothscreenshots:

https://www.instagram.com/goth_screenshots/

It’s the curated collection of digital artist Sougwen, who has also participated at Ableton Loop, bringing this all full circle.

By the way, if you were disappointed that those bees aren’t making any sound, I give you this free download from the Reaktor User Library:

Insect Invasion

The post Free Ableton Live add-ons will f*** up your mixes and insult you appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Watch an Ableton Live sequence made physical on the monome grid

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 6 Aug 2018 6:05 pm

The monome made history by transforming the virtual world of the computer into a low-fidelity grid of lights and buttons. But it’s no less magical today – especially in the hands of stretta.

Watch:

Matthew Davidson has been an innovative developer of patches for the monome since its early days. And that’s a principle innovation of the hardware: by reducing the “screen” to a minimal on/off grid, and lighting buttons independently from your input, the monome becomes a distillation of the ideas in a particular computer patch. Just like a fretboard or the black and white keys of a grand piano, a music box roll or the notes on a staff, it’s an abstraction of the music itself. And its simplicity is part of its power – a simplicity that a mouse and a high-definition color display lack.

Matthew is using some features the first-generation monome didn’t have – the varibright lights, and a recommended 128-format grid. But otherwise, this riffs on the original idea.

And remember last week when we covered Berkelee College of Music introducing study of electronic instruments? Well, Davidson has developed a whole series of these kind of clever inventions as a set of studies in grid performance.

That is, the choice of Bach is fitting. This is classical grid from a virtuoso, a Well-Tempered Monome if you like.

Check out the full gridlab collection:

https://github.com/stretta/gridlab

Previously:

What do you play? Berklee adds electronic digital instrument program

Updated: so what about other grids?

Via social media, Matthew Davidson elaborates on why this setup requires the monome – which still says a lot about the uniqueness of the monome design:

First up is 64 buttons versus 512. It’ll work on a 128 kinda, barely, but it is awkward. An implementation of a fold mode might make that useable.

Second is the protocol. The monome protocol provides the ability to update a quadrant with a simple, compact message. This is what is used to achieve the fluidity. If you want to update the entire grid of a Launchpad, you have to send 64 individual messages, one for each LED.

Lastly is the issue of MIDI devices and M4L. The monome uses serialosc to communicate. Because of this, a monome M4L device can send and receive MIDI data at the same time as sending a receiving button/led data.

[Reproduced with permission.]

Of course, if you have other DIY ideas here, we’d love to hear them!

The post Watch an Ableton Live sequence made physical on the monome grid appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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