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


mutateful is a must-have, free live coding tool for Ableton Live

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 29 Oct 2019 2:54 pm

mutateful brings live coding – real-time musical pattern manipulation, expressed as code – to Ableton Live. And it looks like a must-have for arrangement and composition, too.

So yes, there are knobs and faders and pads and keys and wind inputs and whatnot for playing music live. And then there are the often clunky graphical interfaces found in music software. The core of live coding is all about finding that immediacy of compositional ideas – being able to get directly to patterns.

mutateful lets you do that by typing directly into the Session View of Ableton Live. That paradigm isn’t new to Live – the software already lets you enter tempo changes in scenes by including the number. mutateful just takes that idea way further out.

Type transformations into clips, and those clips then transform patterns inside the clips. You can add simple transformations, or chain a bunch together.

Some of the tasks those transformations can accomplish:

  • Arpeggiate
  • Combine clips (in various ways)
  • Change length (via cropping or setting to certain lengths)
  • Filter out notes by length
  • Remove silences
  • Remove overlaps, making polyphonic clips monophonic
  • Quantize
  • Create stuttering retriggers
  • Rescale pitches
  • Shuffle
  • Slice notes into divisions
  • Transpose

And you can do all of this by clip, musical fractions (like 1/8 notes), and whole or decimal numbers.

Watch just how cool this is:

It’s a pretty radical addition to Live, and arguably more radical than anything we’ve seen officially from Ableton Live in the software itself for years. But it’s still fairly simple.

I almost hesitate to categorize this as live coding, because it looks really useful in arrangement relative to the GUI, and you might not use it as a livecoder would onstage. (I do expect this means people will invade live coding events running this, though.)

Documentation is limited to a quick reference, but it’s fairly easy to follow and more is coming.

How it works: it’s actually a native app, made for macOS and Windows, which then communicates with the Live API via Max for Live and UDP. That means the usual qualification is involved – you’ll need the latest version of Ableton Live and a license for Max for Live (either separately or as part of Live Suite). That could open up this idea to other software with APIs / scripting interfaces of their own.

You can grab it from GitHub and check out more examples:

https://github.com/carrierdown/mutateful

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Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 is yet another tiny keyboard – so how does it stack up?

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 19 Sep 2019 8:49 pm

Mobile keyboards continue to be fruitful and multiply. But Novation’s latest includes standalone mode, so it isn’t just a computer accessory – so let’s see how this category looks now.

Novation is the company that brought you the workhorse Launchpad grid, so anyone wanting a keyboard with colored grids on it would do well to take notice. But the MK3 adds some features its predecessors lacked – starting with the ability to work with gear minus the computer. New on the MK3:

  • Standalone mode and MIDI. There’s just a 3.5mm MIDI out jack, but combined with functionality that works without a host, you can now use this little keyboard with gear and not just a computer.
  • Fixed chord mode. Even for those of us with keyboard chops, this is useful on a small keyboard or in dance music contexts. New on the MK3.
  • Arpeggiator. New on the MK3, and puts the Novation in contention with offerings labeled Akai and Arturia.
  • Pitch/mod wheel. MK3 adds these as touch strips; the Launchkey 25/49/61 have pitch and mod, but it’s new on the Mini line.
  • RGB backlight. Yes, yes, more disco lights – but this also shows more information, matching colors to clips you’re launching and indicating status. Also new on MK3.

There’s also a Capture MIDI button, which lets you grab ideas even if you haven’t hit record. That’s now in Ableton Live, too, but it’s great that with the keyboard, this works everywhere.

And existing standard features from the Launchkey mini are here too:

  • Scene/clip launch (for Ableton and Novation software – this is a Launchpad).
  • Velocity sensitive keys and pads. Also standard on the Launchkey line. Velocity is actually missing on the Launchpad mini, meaning if you want triggering and velocity, this is a better bet.
  • Bus power.

There’s additionally now a bunch of bundled stuff from AAS, Softube, Spitfire Audio, XLN Audio and Klevgrand, and Novation now does a free membership. No, that isn’t some elaborate “cloud/subscription” feature – they just send you stuff from partners “every couple of months,” which may be more what you want, anyway.

https://novationmusic.com/keys/launchkey-mini

This does make the Novation offering competitive, no doubt – not least because of Novation’s uniquely close relationship to Ableton Live, but likely just as useful with other DAWs (via Mackie HUI, which works with just about anything).

Here’s a hands-on review by loopop:

This also to me gives it a major edge over, say, Native Instruments’ keyboards, which work only when connected to a computer. That makes their Komplete Kontrol line desirable if you’re mainly interested in plug-in integration, but fairly useless if you want it to do double-duty with gear and not have to boot your laptop.

And that’s true of many other keyboards, too. Akai’s APC and MPK mini keyboards have some nice features and low prices, but they only work with a computer. (The MPK mini now has standalone sounds, but no MIDI out apart from USB.) And now Novation has added one of the features I like best on the MPK – the arpeggiator.

So this is really down to Arturia and Novation if you want something you can use on its own with your gear, as well as with a computer.

Arturia’s Keystep has a step sequencer and more dedicated arpeggiator functionality and controls. It lacks the pads and their accompanying trigger/DAW features.

So Novation gives you a still-usable arpeggiator but additional pad and trigger features.

Previously:

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Signal adds the modulation Ableton is missing – and now does steps, crossfader

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 22 Jul 2019 5:12 pm

Signal from Isotonik was already a revelation – a powerful toolkit for adding modulation to Ableton Live. But curves, step sequences, and crossfades add real motion and transformation to your music.

Darren of Isotonik Studios has been busy documenting how to use this with some no-nonsense, clear video tutorials. It’s the latest episode, adding Steps and Crossfader module, that gets really exciting:

The new module Steps alone is reason to write home. It’s capable both of the titular step-sequenced, fixed steps, but curves, as well. And while you’ll find modulation built in in tools like FL Studio, Reason, and Bitwig Studio, the implementation via Max for Live by Isotonik has some really lovely usability that stands alone.

The Crossfader is unique, too – this isn’t just a mixer for audio signals, but modulation sources, as well.

Cross-fading LFO signals.

It’s worth checking the other videos, too. Episode two looked at the cult hit VST plug-in Serum, creating sound design with Signal in combination. And even with Massive X just out, this is some interesting stuff:

You’ll probably want to start at the beginning, which introduces Freeze and LFO (since I’m listing these in reverse chronological order):

You’ll notice the Chaos Culture moniker on there; this is their creation. You’ll probably want Live 10 Suite, but anything Live 9.7.5 or later, plus an active Max for Live 8.0.2 license, will work, across Mac and Windows.

It’s so deep, it suggests whole new workflows and compositional ideas, so I’ll be sure to start some music from scratch with this one. But it’s really quite well done, and a rich enough approach to modulation that developers on other environments may well want to have a look.

Signal is €88.05 – pricey for a Max for Live creation, but then possibly even bigger than any recent Live upgrade from Ableton themselves. If you have a go, let us know how it works; I’ll try to post some more impressions in August.

https://isotonikstudios.com/product/signal/

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Music on the go – Auxy app now has tweakable sounds, Ableton export

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 18 Jul 2019 2:24 pm

For all the app choices in music, a lot feel like plug-ins crammed onto the mobile screen. Auxy may have the essential combination of ingredients – a simple, quick UI, but now the ability to make sketches you finish in Ableton Live, and sounds you can more easily tweak.

Auxy always had an elegant, approachable UI. The tool basically strips the essential function of the familiar piano roll-style view so you can quickly sketch ideas with your fingertips.

But just being simple isn’t quite enough. Mobile apps all face the common problem of having to satisfy two very different use cases or workflows. Some people want to focus on music making right on the phone or tablet, stay away from their computers (or other gear), and yet make finished tracks. Others want the app to be a rough sketchpad for ideas they can use on the go, then finish in the more comfortable environs of their computer rig or studio. The problem is, of course, those come with different demands.

Swedish app Auxy has had two updates that address some of these cases.

First, Auxy 5.4 in April added direct export to Ableton Live projects. Cleverly, this exports both audio and MIDI, so you retain your sound designs from the app as stems, but can also use patterns to work with new sounds inside Live.

Auxy 5.4 also represents a new high water mark for Ableton’s SDK. Auxy encouraged Ableton to add features for populating the Arrangement, so that song ideas and arranging choices you make on the go are reflected when you open up your project in Live. These features will be available to other developers, too, so if you’re a dev, you can get in touch with Ableton. (And that’s important, too – the better this support works in different apps, the more useful mobile-to-Live workflows become.)

5.4 also added improved import/export for samples, imported samples that share when you share projects, and updated Ableton Link support.

Auxy 6 is a major update just released this month, focusing on giving you more control over sounds and effects. And that addresses the other thing that might have kept you from adopting Auxy in the past – the simplicity is great, but you might feel constrained by the available sounds.

Auxy launched as a kind of preset machine. That makes things simpler, but might be uninspiring if you feel like you can’t shape your own sounds. That changes with some significant features:

The new tweak panel. Hmm, Build Up Stress? Been there.

More effects for instrumental sounds: distortion, delay, reverb, chorus, filter, ducker, and EQ sounds everywhere – customizable, not locked to presets.

More effects for drums, too: delay, distortion, compressor, filter, EQ, and ducker are now available on drums.

Shape sound envelopes: attack, release, glide, offset. (works on drums, too)

Free grid mode: move notes and automation freely as you edit.

Browse sounds by category.

This isn’t going to sound so revolutionary, but of course that is always the challenge when trying to keep things simple – there’s a lot to think about adding even simple features.

All in all, Auxy has really evolved into one of the easiest, most elegant sketchpads for music on mobile. There’s many things it isn’t – it’s not really about live playing, it’s not a full-featured DAW (and doesn’t try to be), it’s not really an audio multitrack. But what it is, it really focuses on. And with Live export, that could prove invaluable.

Auxy regularly select favorite user tracks, which is a nice way to get a feel for what people are doing. Here are the Staff Picks for last month:

Plus one creation made in this latest release:

Check out Auxy for iOS (no Android version, sorry):

https://auxy.co/

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Learn how to arrange your modular tracks with VCV Rack, Ableton Live

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 16 Jul 2019 1:53 pm

It’s one of the first challenges with any modular – you get a wild banging groove, but then… you’re stuck with it. One new video tutorial suggests a way to arrange your modular with Ableton Live and free VCV Rack software.

Live’s real-time arrangement and triggering features have always been part of its appeal – something exploited by everyone from live electronic musicians to those triggering sounds for radio and theater. Here, it’s a great way to take your cabled modular concoctions and actually turn them into a song structure or live performance. But it may not be immediately obvious to beginners how to go about it.

The inspiring VCV Rack ideas comes to the rescue here. It’s been updated for the just-release VCV Rack 1.0.

Now the audio advice here is actually soon to become outdated – Bridge will go away later this year, and you’ll be able to run Rack as a plug-in. But you can actually skip that part if you want to go another route, and just let Rack control your audio interface and send MIDI from Ableton Live.

(You could also apply this on Linux easily, with Bitwig Studio in place of Live – think I’ll try that myself, in fact.)

But the basic idea here is, run MIDI from Live to Rack, and use clips and scenes to trigger changes. There are some clever ideas about how to map control via CV and MIDI, and then the really important step is adding a physical controller, so you can get your hands on the live performance and improvise.

Note that while this example uses VCV Rack, you could apply the same ideas to any modular with MIDI input – or even mix in a partial or complete hardware set with the same rig. And watching this I also imagine some other ideas for where to go; this is by definition an open-ended process. Have a look:

Have you got another way of working? We’d love to hear about it in comments.

By the way, if you’re at SONAR this week, I’ll be giving a workshop with VCV Rack on Friday. (You need a delegate pass / pre-registration. But of course I’ll share some of how it goes here on CDM soon.)

https://sonarplusd.com/en/programs/barcelona-2019/areas/workshops/the-no-money-modular-synth-for-beginners-with-peter-kirn

Previously:

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Leakage is a freaky Ableton Live bass machine, Wavetable monster, from $0

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 10 Jul 2019 3:00 pm

It’s an automatic glitching bass. It’s a transformative set of 128 Wavetable sounds. It’s a Max for Live chaining device. It’s all of that – it’s Leakage, the free/pay-what-you-will Ableton Live creation from Tom Cosm.

The idea is to give you ever-changing bassline sounds each time you hit a note, for colorful and glitchy results. To pull that off, you get a number of features:

  • 128 custom Wavetable presets
  • Max for Live device that switches sounds
  • Preset switching, via chains – 128 chains, one for each sound
  • 8 parameters per sound: chain, filter amount, filter attack, filter decay, “grunt” (wavetable morphing), modulation amount, modulation rate, “special alpha” (per-sound parameter)
  • Set number of steps, up to 128, to determine rate of change
  • “Count MIDI” sets the step size to the number of notes in the active clip
  • Velocity-based switching

Watch:

An introduction to Leakage.

Tom says this is the culmination of five years of work, but he’s been waiting for Ableton Live 10.1 and the processing bandwidth of current machines to unleash this. You’ll need of course Live 10.1 with Wavetable and a Max for Live license (probably, but not limited to, Suite).

This is pay what you want, starting at $0 to download. If you do put in some money, you’ll be added to an early access list for promised future editions, with bassline, lead, and effect features.

It’s really encouraging to hear Tom talk about how well that’s worked:

“To be honest, it blew my mind how many of you made a contribution. People chipped in 1, 2 or 5 bucks… but a lot of you did! It was so much it covered my rent and bills for a month, freeing up my time so I could work on this Leakage release. I was totally blown away by the generosity, so I am going to keep rolling with this system. Even if it’s just 2 dollars, it all adds up and means I can keep pumping out new and exciting tools, without having to restrict the availability to people who have money.”

Check it out:

Leakage from Tom Cosm [Gumroad]

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How to patch 3D visuals in browser from Ableton Live, more with cables.gl

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 8 Jul 2019 6:02 pm

Now, even your browser can produce elaborate, production-grade eye candy using just some Ableton Live MIDI clock. The question of how to generate visuals to go with music starts to get more and more interesting answers.

And really, why not? In that moment of inspiration, how many of us see elaborate fantastic imagery as we listen to (or dream about) music. It’s just been that past generative solutions were based on limited rules, producing overly predictable results. (That’s the infamous “screensaver” complaint.) But quietly, even non-gaming machines have been adding powerful 3D visualization – and browsers now have access to hardware acceleration for a uniform interface.

cables.gl remains in invite-only beta, though if you go request one (assuming this article doesn’t overwhelm one), you can find your way in. And for now, it’s also totally free, making this a great way to play around. (Get famous, get paid, buy licenses for this stuff – done.)

MIDI clock can run straight into the browser, so you can sync visuals easily with Ableton Live. (Ableton Link is overkill for that application, given that visuals run at framerate.) That will work with other software, hardware, modular, whatever you have, too.

For a MIDI/DJ example, here’s a tutorial for TRAKTOR PRO. Obviously this can be adapted to other tools, as well. (Maybe some day Pioneer will even decide to put MIDI clock on the CDJ. One can dream.)

They’ve been doing some beautiful work in tutorials, too, including WeaveArray and ColorArray, since I last checked in.

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Ambient music you can time to a sunset, from Christopher Willits

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Tue 18 Jun 2019 4:55 pm

Drop the inane Spotify “chill” playlists, forget the meditation app that isn’t working … what you need to really feel some peace is the gorgeous new Christopher Willits outing, Sunset. He even suggests hitting play just as the sun starts to come down.

https://ghostly.com/products/sunset

And, yeah, you could do that. I mean, in my fantasy life, I have an incredible villa just off the Pacific Coast Highway where I watch the sun sink into the waves through my enormous glass-bottomed pool on the cliff.

In real life, I’ve already just scheduled some mental sundowns at any old time. (I might take some listening device that still has a headphone jack and go lie somewhere and watch the sun set here near home, though.)

Have a listen to the opening cut in full:

I’ve known Chris’ music a long time and – I think this is perhaps the most beautiful thing he’s ever done. It’s a real ambient landmark, each fuzzy tide of sound precisely detailed. It’s almost impossible not to experience some unusually focused color synesthesthia as you listen. (It’s not an accident that Mr. Willits is a designer and photographer, too.) There are tonal and textural nods to Brian Eno, but as pads melt into one another and oscillate across the stereo field, this also seems unique to this artist. Rather than chill as opioid as is so often peddled to us in today’s algorithmic streaming effluent waste, here letting go as focus as clarity, like breath.

It makes sense, too – Christopher is a talented musician as well as sound designer, so the sounds here are gestural as well as calculated. His live work builds on instrumental practice and pedals; here that background just reaches some clarity.

Christopher Willits. Photo Alingo Loh.

Reasonable view. Photo by the artist.

It has the sound of something you’ll want to actually keep and listen to with some real intention – the way you did when you first fell in love with albums.

It’s a salve for times when we feel the heat of the sun more than ever. He writes:

“When I was 13, I understood that my life’s path was to make music in the service of love, peace, and spiritual healing. Music is a medicine that allows us to feel, listen and surrender to the present moment. The compositions I create move through my imagination, heart, and hands, like guitar through a speaker, and light through a lens. I am continuously learning and evolving with the process; a practice of letting go of all that I create, as it creates me.”

Living stereo is how you’ll most likely experience this, but of course Chris is also using the Envelop spatial audio system he’s led in San Francisco, too. And sure enough, you can get immersive files that are 3rd order ambisonics for listening in other speaker configurations. (Someday, that should also mean more options for even personal mobile listening, as we get more headphone options.) You can even use Envelop Software in Ableton Live.

He’s also been narrating this release on his Twitter account – and why this is for his dad (and mom):

Try the Envelop tools for Ableton Live here:

http://www.envelop.us/software/

And the release:

https://ghostly.com/products/sunset

If that listen hasn’t chilled you out enough, my other favorite has to be the Ryuichi Sakamoto collaboration Ocean Fire – just one of the most gorgeous albums ever. The two make a nice pairing, too, adding some stutters and clicks to Sunset‘s carefully concentrated drones:

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The ABCs of Live 10.1: 2 minutes of shortcuts will help you work faster

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 29 May 2019 1:21 pm

A is for Ableton Live – and Madeleine Bloom can get you up and running with a bunch of 10.1 shortcuts in just over two minutes.

Madeleine of Sonic Bloom is one of the world’s top experts for staying productive in Live (to say nothing of helping us re-skin the thing so the colors are the way we want).

Live 10.1 actually added a lot of shortcuts to save you time – it’s what 10 promised, but implemented in a way that makes more sense. And she plows through them in a hurry:

via SonicBloom, which has loads more

F lets you get at fades right away.

H makes everything fill space vertically in the Arrangement so you don’t have to squit.

My personal favorite – Z, which zooms right to what’s selected and fills the Arrangement so you can focus and see easily.

And more…

This is all so much better than hunting around.

Z is so much my favorite that it just earned this:

For more on Live 10.1 and how to get started:

Ableton Live 10.1 is out now; here are the first things you should try

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Ableton Live 10.1 is out now; here are the first things you should try

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 28 May 2019 1:12 pm

Ableton Live 10.1 is here, a free update to Live 10.1 with some new devices, streamlined automation and editing, and new sound features. So what should dig into after the download? Here’s a place to start.

There’s no surprise reveal here since 10.1 has been in public beta and was announced in the winter. Here’s the full run-down of what’s in the release from February (still accurate):

Ableton Live 10.1: more sound shaping, work faster, free update

I’ve been working with the beta for some time, to the point of not wanting to go back even to 10.0 (or even getting a bit confused when switching to a friend’s machine that didn’t have 10.1).

So let’s skip ahead to stuff you should check out right away when you download:

Refresh a track in Arrangement View

I will shortly do a separate story just on getting around Arrangement View quickly, but — there’s a lot of fun to be had. (Yes, fun, not just screaming at the screen as you painstakingly move envelopes around.)

Ableton have accordingly updated their Arrangement View tutorials:

(Video is actually a terrible medium for shortcuts, but more on those soon.)

Here are some quick things to try:

Resize the Arrangement Overview (that’s the bit at the top of Arrangement View)

Draw some shapes! Right click, pick some shapes, and you can draw in envelopes. Try this actually two ways: first, select some time and draw in shapes. Next, deselect time, and try drawing with different grid values – you’ll get different corresponding quantization.

Get at fades directly. Press the F key.

Clean up envelopes. Right click on a time selection and choose Simplify Envelope.

Stretch and scale! Select some time in automation, and you’ll see handles so you can move both horizontally (amount/scale) and vertically (in time).

Enter some specific values. Right click, choose Edit value, type in a number, and hit enter.

There’s a lot more. But all of this is an opportunity to duplicate one of your projects and give it a refresh by going nuts with some modulation because – why not.

You know, conventional wisdom says, don’t mess with your existing tracks too much. The hell with that. If I were a painter, I would definitely be the kind constantly scraping away and painting over canvases. You can always save a backup. Sometimes it’s fun to mess around and take something somewhere else entirely.

Everything Freezes

Go ahead and freeze whatever you want! Track has a sidechain? It’ll freeze. It’ll even still be a source for other sidechains. (There are actually a bunch of things that had to happen for this to work – check Arrangement Editing in release notes if you’re curious. But the beauty is you don’t really have to think about it.)

Here’s a new explanation of how it works:

Try your own wavetables

User wavetables make the Live 10 Wavetable synth far more interesting.

Like arrangement, this probably deserves it’s own story, but here’s a place to get started:

And for extra help exploiting that feature, there are some useful utilities that will assist you in creating wavetables:

Generate wavetables for free, for Ableton Live 10.1 and other synths

While you’re in there, Ableton quietly added a very powerful randomization feature inside Wavetable for glitching out still more:

Added a new “Rand” modulation source to Wavetable’s MIDI tab, which generates a random value when a note starts.

Pinch and zoom

Trackpads and touchscreens (most of them, anyway) now support pinch gestures in Arrangement View, so try that out. It works for me both on a Razer and (of course) Apple laptop; lots of other hardware will work, too. It’s a little thing, but zooming is a big part of getting around an arrangement.

Try Channel EQ as a creative tool or live

There are already a lot of EQs out there. The Channel EQ however has some draw as a potential equivalent for live PA / experimental sets of what the EQ Three has been for DJ sets.

Stop futzing around with sends when you export stems

Okay, see if this is familiar:

You output stems – say for a remix artist or to mix in a different tool – and suddenly everything sounds completely differently than you expected because you used sends and returns and/or master effects.

That’s no longer an issue in 10.1, as there’s now a new export option that addresses this.

So, time to go make some stems, right?

Make some new sounds with Delay

Okay, Delay at first glance may seem like a step backward from the excitement of Space Echo-ish Echo in Live 10. Isn’t it just a combination of Simple Delay and Ping Pong Delay into one Device?

Well, it is that, but it also has an LFO built in that can modulate both delay time and filter frequency.

These modes were there before, but you now surface Repitch, Fade, and Jump modes as buttons.

So put all of this together, and the combination of things that were there that you didn’t notice, with new things that are simple but very powerful, all together in one unit becomes very powerful indeed.

That is, if you’re modulating something like delay time, then changing between Repitch, Fade, and Jump actually gives you a lot of different sonic possibilities. And yes, this is the sort of thing people with modular rigs like to do with wires but… if you’re a Live 10 owner, it’ll cost you nothing to check out right now.

Specifically, maxforcats pointed us to some cool granular-ish sounds when you choose Fade mode and start modulating delay time.

And keep using Echo. The big challenge with an effect like Echo is balancing loudness. As it happens, there’s a little right-click option that solves this for you in Echo:

In the Echo device, the Dry/Wet knob now features a context menu to switch to “Equal-Loudness”. When enabled, a 50/50 mix will sound equally loud for most signals, instead of being attenuated. In the Delay device, the maximum delay time offset is now consistent with the Simple Delay and Ping Pong Delay devices.

Discover Simpler, again

Simpler is weirdly a lot of the time a reason to use Ableton Live for its absurd combination of directness and power – in contrast to mostly overcomplicated software (and harwdare, for that matter).

Now you can mess around with volume envelopes (even synced ones) and loop time, previously only in Sampler – for both powerful sound design and beat-synced ideas:

Added a Loop Mode chooser, Loop Time slider and Beat Sync/Rate slider to the Volume Envelope in Simpler’s Classic Playback Mode. Previously, these controls were exclusively available in Sampler.

Oh, and go map some macros

You’d probably easily miss this, too – it means that now mapping macros works the way you’d expect, in fewer steps:

When mapping a parameter to an empty macro, the macro assumes the full range of the target parameter, and will be set to the current value of the target parameter.

— and while using mice for everything is no fun, macros are also a great intermediary between what you’re doing onscreen and twisting knobs on controller hardware (Push, certainly, but lots of other gear, too).

Speaking of which, that nice compact NI keyboard controller works thanks to this update, too, making it an ideal thing to throw in your bag with a laptop for a mobile Ableton Live work rig.

Where to find more on 10.1

Detailed ongoing release notes on Live 10 are here:
Live 10 Release Notes

Ableton’s overview of what’s new:
Live 10.1 is here

And to download the update, either enable auto-update or check your account:
https://www.ableton.com/en/account/

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Ableton release free CV Tools for integrating with analog gear, made in Max

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 7 May 2019 6:32 pm

It’s all about voltage these days. Ableton’s new CV Tools are designed for integrating with modular and semi-modular/desktop gear with CV. And they’re built in Max – meaning builders can learn from these tools and build their own.

The basic idea of CV Tools, like any software-CV integration, is to use your computer as an additional source of modulation and control. You route analog signal directly to your audio interface – you’ll need an interface that has DC coupled outputs (more about that separately). But once you do that, you can make your software and hardware rigs work together, and use your computer’s visual interface and open-ended possibilities to do still more stuff with analog gear.

This is coming on the eve of Superbooth, and certainly a lot of the audience will be people with modular racks. But nowadays, hardware with CV I/O is hardly limited to Eurorack – gear from the likes of Moog, Arturia, KORG, and others also makes sense with CV.

CV Tools aren’t the first Max for Live tools for Ableton Live – not by far. Spektro Audio makes the free CV Toolkit Mini, for instance. Its main advantage is a single, integrated interface – and a clever patch bay. There’s a more extensive version available for US$19.99.

Rival DAW Bitwig Studio, for its part, has taken an entirely different approach – you’ll get a software modular engine capable of interlinking with hardware CV wherever you like.

Ableton’s own CV Tools is news, though, in that these modules are powerful, flexible, and polished, and have a very Ableton-esque UI. They also come from a collaboration with Skinnerbox, the live performance-oriented gearheads here in Berlin, so I have no doubt they’ll be useful. (Yep, that’s them in the video.) I think there’s no reason not to grab this and Spektro and go to town.

And since these are built in Max, Max patchers may want to take a look inside – to mod or use as the basis of your own.

What you get:

CV Instrument lets you treat outboard modular/analog gear as if it’s integrated with Live as a plug-in.

Trigger drums and rhythms with CV Triggers.

CV Utility is a signal processing hub inside Live.

CV Instrument, with complements existing Ableton devices for integrating outboard MIDI instruments and effects with your projects in Live

CV Triggers for sequencing drum modules

CV Utility for adding automation curves, add/shift/multiple signals, and other processing tools

CV Clock In and CV Clock Out for clocking Live from outboard analog gear and visa versa

CV In which connects outboard analog signal directly to modulation of parameters inside Live

CV Shaper, CV Envelope Follower, and CV LFO which gives you graphical tools for designing modulation inside Live and using it for CV control of your analog hardware

And there’s more: the Rotating Rhythm Generator, which lets you dial up polyrhythms. This one works with both MIDI and CV, so you can work with either kind of external hardware.

I got to chat with Skinnerbox, and there’s even more here than may be immediately obvious.

For one thing, you get what they tell us is “extremely accurate broad-range” auto calibration of oscillators, filters, and so on. That’s often an issue with analog equipment, especially once you start getting complex or adding polyphony (or creating polyphony by mixing your software instruments with your hardware). Here’s a quick demo:

Clocking they say is “jitter free” and “super high resolution.”

So this means you can make a monster hybrid combining your computer running Ableton Live (and all your software) with hardware, without having to have the clock be all over the place or everything out of tune. (Well, unless that’s what you’re going for!)

If you’re in Berlin, Skinnerbox will play live with the rig this Friday at Superbooth.

They sent us this quick demo of working with the calibration tools, resulting in an accurate ten-octave range (here with oscillator from Endorphin.es).

Watch:

To interface with their gear, they’re using the Expert Sleepers ES8 interface in the modular. You could also use a DC-coupled audio interface, though – MOTU audio interfaces are a popular choice, since they’ve got a huge range of interfaces with DC coupling across various interface configurations.

CV Tools is listed as “coming soon,” but a beta version is available now.

https://www.ableton.com/en/blog/cv-tools-live-coming-soon/

What do you need to use this?

For full CV control of analog gear, you’ll want a DC-coupled audio interface. Most audio interfaces lack that feature – I’m writing an explanation of this in a separate story – but if you do have one with compatible outputs, you’ll be able to take full advantage of the features here, including tuned pitch control. MOTU have probably made more interfaces that work than anyone else. You can also look to a dedicated interface like the Expert Sleepers one Skinnerbox used in the video above.

See MOTU and Expert Sleepers, both of which Skinnerbox have tested:

http://motu.com/products

https://www.expert-sleepers.co.uk/es8.html

MOTU also have a more technical article on testing audio interfaces if you’re handy with a voltmeter, plus specs on range on all their interfaces.

Universal Audio have already written to say they’ll be demoing DC coupling on their audio interfaces at Superbooth with Ableton’s CV Tools, so their stuff works, too. (Double-checking which models they’re using.)

But wait – just because you lack the hardware doesn’t mean you can’t use some of the functionality here with other audio interfaces. Skinnerbox remind us that any audio interface inputs will work with CV In in Pitch mode. Clock in and out will work with any device, too.

The post Ableton release free CV Tools for integrating with analog gear, made in Max appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Welcome to YouTube Hell: A MIDI pack reseller silences criticism

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 30 Apr 2019 9:09 pm

YouTube is elevating new voices to prominence in music technology as in other fields. But the platform’s esoteric rules are also ripe for abuse – as one YouTube host claims.

The story begins with around a product, the Unison MIDI Chord Pack. This US$67 pack is already, on its surface, a bit strange. Understandably, users without musical training may like the idea of drag-and-drop chords and harmony – nothing wrong with that. But the actual product appears to be just a set of folders full of MIDI files … of, like, chords. Not real presets, but just raw MIDI chords. They even demo the product in Ableton Live, which already contains built-in chord and arpeggiator tools.

You can watch the demo video on their product page – at first, I couldn’t quite believe my eyes. They claim that this will help you to create chords “with the right notes, in the right order” without theory background – except most of the drag-and-drop material is made up of root position triads, labeled via terminology you’d need some theory to even read.

It’d be a little bit like someone selling you a Build Your Own House Construction Set that was made up of a bag of nails… and the nails were just ones they’d found lying on the ground. Maybe I’m missing something, but I definitely can’t figure out this product from their documentation.

Ave Mcree aka Traptendo, a well-known YouTube host, decided to take on the developers. Calling the product a “scam,” he says he pointed to other, free sources for the same MIDI content – meaning that, as it wasn’t actually original, at best the Unison product amounts to plagiarism.

As if it weren’t already strange enough that these developers were selling MIDI files of chords, they then responded to Ave Mcree’s video by filing a copyright claim. At this point, our story is picked up by Tim Webb at the excellent Discchord blog, who choose a nice, succinct headline:

Fuck Unison Audio [Discchord]

I’ve reached out to Unison for further comment.

Ave writes:

A video about Unison Audio copyright striking my “Unison Audio Chord MIDI Pack Scam” video! This is a channel strike which is affects my monetization rights and could get my channel deleted. I don’t care if that happens because I’m not going to stand for people hustling you. It’s sad that YouTube allows shills and dishonest companies to strike honest reviewers. It’s censorship at it finest! YouTube as a company has lost all of it’s charm when it stop caring about the community on here. Do I like doing videos like these? No, but it’s necessary when people are using their influence for the wrong things. I’m not knocking their hustle by NO MEANS, but offer a product that is 100% YOURS!!!!!

What makes this story so disturbing: not only is YouTube’s lax structure vulnerable to abuse, it seems to actively encourage scammers.

The copyright claim appears to be based on the the pack included for demonstration purposes in his video. While I’m not a lawyer, this should fall dead center under the doctrine of fair use as well as the royalty free license provided by the developers themselves.

Here’s where YouTube’s scale and automation, though, collide with the intricacies of copyright law requirements (mainly in the USA, but possibly soon impacted by changes in the European Union). It’s easy to file a copyright claim, but hard to get videos reinstated once that claim is filed.

As a result: there’s almost nothing stopping someone from filing a fraudulent copyright claim just because they don’t like your video. In this case, Unison can simply use a made-up copyright claim as a tool to kill a video they didn’t like.

You can read up on this world of hurt on Google’s own site:

Copyright strike basics

After all the recent fears about the EU and filtering, automated filtering doesn’t result in a strike – strikes require an explicit request. The problem is, creators have little recourse once that strike is processed. They can contact whomever made the complaint and get them to reverse it – which doesn’t work here, if Unison’s whole goal was removing the video. They can wait 90 days – an eternity in Internet time. Or they can file a “counter notification” – but even this is slow:

After we process your counter notification by forwarding it to the claimant, the claimant has 10 business days to provide us with evidence that they have initiated a court action to keep the content down. This time period is a requirement of copyright law, so please be patient.

Counter Notification Basics [Google Support]

It was only a matter of time before music and music tech encountered the problems with this system, as YouTube grows. Other online media – including CDM – are subject to liability for copyright and libel, as we should be. But legal systems are also set up to prevent frivolous claims, or attempts to use these rules simply to gag your critics. That’s not the case with YouTube; Google has an incentive to protect itself more than its creators, and it’s clear the system they’ve set up has inadequate protections against abuse.

What kind of abuse?

Fuck Jerry, the Instagram “influencer” agency that ripped off memes and helped build the ill-fated Fyre Festival, used copyright strikes to remove a video critical of its operation.

And the system has produced a swarm of copyright trolls.

And it gets worse from there: the system can result in outright extortion, with Google proving unresponsive to complains. The Verge reported on this phenomenon earlier this year, and while Google claimed to be working on the problem, observed that even major channels needed their woes to go viral before even getting a response from the company:

YouTube’s copyright strikes have become a tool for extortion

This isn’t the only problem on YouTube’s platform for music and music technology. While the service is promoting new personalities, disclosure around their relationships with sponsors are often opaque. Traptendo also observes that videos touting various tutorials on working with harmony may be sponsored by Unison Audio, with little or no acknowledgement of that relationship.

That same complaint has been leveled at CDM and me not to mention… okay, all the print magazines I’ve ever written for. But we at least have to answer for our credibility, or lose you as readers. (And sometimes losing you as readers is exactly what happens.) YouTube’s automated algorithms, by contrast, mean videos that simply mention the right keywords or appeal to particular machine heuristics can be promoted without any of that human judgment.

YouTube has unquestionable value, and to pretend otherwise would be foolhardy. Traptendo’s videos are great; I hope this one that was removed gets reinstated.

At the same time, we need to be aware of some of the downsides of this platform. And I’m concerned that we’ve become dependent on a single platform from a single vendor – which also means if anything goes wrong, creators are just as quickly de-platformed.

And regardless of what’s going on with YouTube, it’s also important for humans to spread the word – at least to say, friends don’t let friends spend their money on … chords.

I don’t believe all music “needs to be free,” but I would least say triads are. Actually, wait… I could use some spare spending money. Excuse me, I’m going to slip into the night to go sell some all-interval tetrachords on the black market.

The post Welcome to YouTube Hell: A MIDI pack reseller silences criticism appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Free Downgrade turns Ableton Live into lo-fi wobbly vaporwave tape

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 17 Apr 2019 8:05 pm

Fidelity? High-quality sound? No – degradation! And if you don’t have a ragged VHS deck or cassette Walkman handy, these free effects racks in Ableton Live will sort you out.

Downgrade is the work of Tom Cosm, long-time Ableton guru. There are five effects:

Fluffer
Corrupt
Hiss
Morph
Flutter

— plus if you give him literally US$1 or more (you cheapskate), you get an additional Stutter rack.

Basically, you get loads of controls for manipulating downsampling, tape effects, saturation, distortion, modulation of various kinds, echo, vocoder, and more. It’s a sort of retro Vaporwave starter kit if you’d like to think of it that way – or an easy, dial-up greatest hits of everything Ableton Live can now do to make your sound worse. And by worse, I mean better, naturally.

Ableton have been gradually adding all these digital downsampling features (early on) and simulated analog tape and saturation effects and nonlinear modulation (more recently). Tom has neatly packed them into one very useful set of Racks.

Notice I say “Racks,” not Max for Live devices. That means these will mostly run on different editions of Live, and they’re a bit easier to pick apart and adjust/modify – without requiring Max knowledge.

Go download them:

https://gumroad.com/l/wmIbJ

The post Free Downgrade turns Ableton Live into lo-fi wobbly vaporwave tape appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Max TV: go inside Max 8’s wonders with these videos

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 11 Apr 2019 8:20 pm

Max 8 – and by extension the latest Max for Live – offers some serious powers to build your own sonic and visual stuff. So let’s tune in some videos to learn more.

The major revolution in Max 8 – and a reason to look again at Max even if you’ve lapsed for some years – is really MC. It’s “multichannel,” so it has significance in things like multichannel speaker arrays and spatial audio. But even that doesn’t do it justice. By transforming the architecture of how Max treats multiple, well, things, you get a freedom in sketching new sonic and instrumental ideas that’s unprecedented in almost any environment. (SuperCollider’s bus and instance system is capable of some feats, for example, but it isn’t as broad or intuitive as this.)

The best way to have a look at that is via a video from Ableton Loop, where the creators of the tech talk through how it works and why it’s significant.

Description [via C74’s blog]:

In this presentation, Cycling ’74’s CEO and founder David Zicarelli and Content Specialist Tom Hall introduce us to MC – a new multi-channel audio programming system in Max 8.

MC unlocks immense sonic complexity with simple patching. David and Tom demonstrate techniques for generating rich and interesting soundscapes that they discovered during MC’s development. The video presentation touches on the psychoacoustics behind our recognition of multiple sources in an audio stream, and demonstrates how to use these insights in both musical and sound design work.

The patches aren’t all ready for download (hmm, some cleanup work being done?), but watch this space.

If that’s got you in the learning mood, there are now a number of great video tutorials up for Max 8 to get you started. (That said, I also recommend the newly expanded documentation in Max 8 for more at-your-own-pace learning, though this is nice for some feature highlights.)

dude837 has an aptly-titled “delicious” tutorial series covering both musical and visual techniques – and the dude abides, skipping directly to the coolest sound stuff and best eye candy.

Yes to all of these:

There’s a more step-by-step set of tutorials by dearjohnreed (including the basics of installation, so really hand-holding from step one):

For developers, the best thing about Max 8 is likely the new Node features. And this means the possibility of wiring musical inventions into the Internet as well as applying some JavaScript and Node.js chops to anything else you want to build. Our friends at C74 have the hook-up on that:

Suffice to say that also could mean some interesting creations running inside Ableton Live.

It’s not a tutorial, but on the visual side, Vizzie is also a major breakthrough in the software:

That’s a lot of looking at screens, so let’s close out with some musical inspiration – and a reminder of why doing this learning can pay off later. Here’s Second Woman, favorite of mine, at LA’s excellent Bl__K Noise series:

The post Max TV: go inside Max 8’s wonders with these videos appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Use Ableton Live faster with the free Live Enhancement Suite

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 11 Mar 2019 6:30 pm

Day in, day out, a lot of producers spend a lot of time editing in Ableton Live. Here’s a free tool that automates some common tasks so you can work more quickly – easing some FL Studio envy in the process.

This one comes to us from Madeleine Bloom’s terrific Sonic Bloom, the best destination for resources on learning and using Ableton Live. Live Enhancement Suite is Windows-only for the moment, but a Mac version is coming soon.

The basic idea is, LES adds shortcuts for producers, and some custom features (like sane drawing) you might expect from other tools:

Add devices (like your favorite plug-ins) using a customizable pop-up menu of your favorites (with a double right-click)

Draw notes easily with the ~ key in Piano Roll.

Pop up a shortcut menu with scales in Piano Roll

Add locators (right shift + L) at the cursor

Pan with your mouse, not just the keyboard (via the middle mouse button, so you’ll need a three-button mouse for this one)

Save multiple versions (a feature FL Studio users know well)

Ctrl-shift-Z to redo

Alt-E to view envelope mode in piano roll

And there’s more customizations and multi-monitor support, too.

Ableton are gradually addressing long-running user requests to make editing easier; Live 10.1 builds on the work of Live 10. Case in point: 10.1 finally lets you solo a selected track (mentioned in the video as previously requiring one of these shortcuts). But it’s likewise nice to see users add in what’s missing.

Oh, and… you’re totally allowed to call it “Ableton.” People regularly refer to cars by the make rather than the model. We know what you mean.

Here’s a video walking through these tools and the creator Dylan Tallchief’s approach:

More info:

LES Collaborators:
Inverted Silence: https://soundcloud.com/invertedsilence
Aevi: https://twitter.com/aevitunes
Sylvian: https://sylvian.co/

https://www.patreon.com/dylantallchief
https://www.twitter.com/dylantallchief
https://soundcloud.com/dylantallchief
https://facebook.com/dylantallchief
https://www.twitch.tv/dylantallchief

Give it a go – will try to check in when there’s a Mac version.

https://enhancementsuite.me/

PS, Windows users will want to check out the excellent open source AutoHotkey for automation, generally.

The post Use Ableton Live faster with the free Live Enhancement Suite appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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