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


Bionic synthesis: artists make music with a prosthetic arm, eye motion

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 17 Feb 2020 6:47 pm

Accessibility in music can mean expanding expression beyond what is normally physically possible. For one artist, that means jacking a prosthesis as CV – for another, overcoming paralysis to make music with eyes alone.

Bertolt Meyer was already producing and DJing, even with a birth condition that left him without the lower portion of one arm. But he hacked his arm prosthesis to jack control voltage straight into his modular – connecting to synthesis more directly than most before would even imagine.

In the case of Pone, a seminal French hip-hop producer, the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) left the artist without muscle control of his body. Using an eye interface, he has managed to publish a book on the disease.

But he has also turned to music production, connecting open, hackable eye tracking solutions to Ableton Live. The eyes act as a (very slow) mouse – in this case, the screen-and-pointer GUI paradigm of the software is an aid to accessibility. Inspired by Kate Bush, he has made an instrumental album called Kate & Me entirely using his eyes.

And … wow – it’s everything you’d expect from a hip-hop innovator like Pone, astonishing as you think of the effort that went into production. It’s a testament to the power of musical imagination, and the potential of that imagination to connect in any way it can with the outside world.

The album is a free download from the album site:

Check the release party:

The Guardian has an extensive article on his story. There’s some sobering information, too – like the lack of French insurance support for the condition.

Pone: the paralysed producer making music with his eyes [The Guardian]

There’s not nearly enough attention paid to accessibility in the music tech industry. It’s not some novel edge case – it hits right at the core of what music technology for expression is fundamentally about. (And even accessibility defined in narrow terms is bigger than you think – so for instance 1 in 20 KOMPLETE KONTROL users take advantage of features for the visually impaired.)

I wrote about this in a blog story for Native Instruments, which deals with their products but also a lot about the process for developing these features – it’s relevant to anyone reading here who makes music products. (And even though this deals with vision accessibility, there are lessons relevant to other matters, too.)

Designing for the visually impaired

It’s also worth reading Ashley Elsdon’s writing on the topic, like this story for us:

The post Bionic synthesis: artists make music with a prosthetic arm, eye motion appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Someone made a Pomodoro timer for Ableton Live, so you can stay productive, take breaks

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 12 Feb 2020 5:45 pm

Productivity engineering has come to music production. A popular method for timeboxing is now available as a free Live add-on.

Have you ever sighed in relief to have a big, uninterrupted span of time – only to wind up wiling it all away with procrastination? And then have you found yourself with a particular deadline – like an hour left in your music studio before your partner arrives to kick you out – and suddenly find you’re focused?

The basic principle here is that, paradoxically, even as we hate schedules and deadlines, constraints can help us focus. By constraining our time, or timeboxing, we can concentrate more easily on a particular task.

The Pomodoro Technique is this boiled down to a really simple cycle. It’s named for a kitchen timer – you know, the thing often called an egg timer because it’s shaped like an egg, but in this case apparently with a model shaped like a tomato. It’s the late-80s invention of Francesco Cirillo, who I understand even liked the ticking sound. I hate ticking – uh, especially while making music – but sometimes setting a timer can make it easier to tackle a task you’re putting off.

While invented in the late 80s, Pomodoro Technique has spread more widely in the productivity craze of the Internet age. Of course, there’s a Lifehacker guide to getting started. (It was even updated as recently as last summer.) And yes, Francesco is around and will gladly take your money.

Now, it may seem a little strange to do this when you’re working on music, which most of us think of as a diversion. Isn’t music supposed to be endlessly fun and something we can concentrate on without any challenge? But apart from more rote work or making a Max for Live patch or carefully editing envelopes, anything that requires you to focus your brain benefits from breaks.

And that’s really what the Pomodoro Technique is about. It’s not actually the 25 minutes of focus that is the most important. It’s the break. (Perhaps part of why you’re so eager to procrastinate is a legitimate impulse by your brain that you’re overly and unnaturally focused on something.)

There’s plenty of science to back this up. Selecting just one useful overview:

Brief diversions vastly improve focus, researchers find [ScienceDaily summary; original paper in Cognition, 2001]

There are lots and lots of Pomodoro-themed timers out there – or you can use any timer (as on your phone, wristwatch, a physical egg timer, whatever). (The Pomodoro timers sometimes have special features dedicated to the technique, and at least pictures of tomatoes, which as a fan of the veget— erm, fruit – I enjoy.)

pATCHES, a site and Patreon subscription creating resources for producers, has an experimental Max for Live plug-in. Apart from letting you run the thing inside your session, it even stops your transport when you’re due for a break – if you find that useful.

https://patches.zone/max-for-live/pomodoro

I’m curious to hear if people find this useful. It is easy to forget that, as much as we mystify music process, what we’re really taking care of is our brain.

The post Someone made a Pomodoro timer for Ableton Live, so you can stay productive, take breaks appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Map anything in Ableton Live’s Browser to MIDI, keyboard with Max for Live

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 2 Jan 2020 10:33 pm

Get push-button access to your favorite stuff in Ableton Live with this clever Max for Live tool.

Continuing our new year look at some of the coolest Max for Live stuff, flowstate has come up with a tool that lets you map anything in Live’s Browser. If you find yourself frequently using the same instrument, effect, sample, or whatnot, you can now map those to keyboard or MIDI.

The solution is a combination of MIDI Remote Script with Max for Live Device. And it works with almost anything – devices, sounds, third-party plug-ins, basically anything except Live Packs (which don’t support this mapping).

The package is name-your-price, with a £5 minimum.

The developers says instructions and an example set are included, plus 64 button slots pre-mapped to all of the internal Live Suite stuff (MIDI Effects, Audio Effects, and Instruments), including 5 user slots (or remap the whole thing as you wish).

https://gumroad.com/l/SgohV

https://maxforlive.com/library/device/5884/browser-mapper

It’s overkill for me personally, but I imagine it could be really useful to some. And it shows some of the potential of using the Live API and MIDI Remote Scripts to customize Live, so I imagine it might inspire other ideas, too.

The post Map anything in Ableton Live’s Browser to MIDI, keyboard with Max for Live appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Here’s how to add proper dark themes for Ableton Live, SoundCloud, embrace darkness

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 10 Dec 2019 2:31 pm

Dark themes are all the rage these days, from phones to desktop OSes. Now it’s time for stuff you use every day to go properly to black, too – hello Ableton Live and SoundCloud.

Ultra Dark. And you can grok what I’m listening to on SoundCloud, as well. Yes, I go and then buy stuff from Bandcamp et al.

Okay, dark themes actually have inspired some controversy when it comes to usability and even eye fatigue. But it’s pretty understandable why they’re using in music. Let’s face it – we’re commonly in the dark. Dark themes save battery life, and they’re less disturbing when you’re listening in bed, in darkened studios, onstage – you get the idea.

macOS Mojave added Dark Mode for apps; Windows 10 is (as usual) following piecemeal but has now largely caught up. Recent iOS and Android versions and apps also have added support.

Two apps I use a whole lot – Ableton Live and SoundCloud – weren’t quite there. Live’s dark themes are grayish, but not black (without customization); SoundCloud seems to have adopted its color scheme from the garish white and orange of easyJet. (I swear this was because early on the founders were commuting between Berlin and Stockholm on that airline. I’ve never confirmed this with them because it’s more fun to just make up the story. You know.)

Let’s take these two Berlin-based music tools and drain them of color and light so they’re ready to queue at Berghain. (And probably get rejected, but still, on-message.)

SoundCloud

For websites, Stylish has been a favorite of customization lovers since its debut for Firefox way back in 2005. It’s now graduated from hacker status to something anyone can use, with versions for the new faster Firefox, Chrome (and any Chrome-compatible browser), Safari, Opera, and whatever else you may use. (I’m using it now in Vivaldi, and there’s even a new Android app.)

The official site from developer Jason Barnabe has what you need:

https://userstyles.org

And then you’ll find various options for SoundCloud when you search.

The most popular and up-to-date is Quite Dark:

https://userstyles.org/styles/143738/soundcloud-quite-dark

But I’m partial to “Ultra Dark.” I do find this makes me enjoy using SoundCloud more, recalling black album colors and high-end studio electronics. And in Stylish you can swap themes or disable customization if you find a portion of the admin side when uploading that isn’t skinned.

https://userstyles.org/styles/176264/soundcloud-ultra-dark

Ableton Live

Live for me is more necessity – the wrong theme can be blinding under weird club conditions, and I find equally hard to focus on in the studio.

Wait, I’m writing that, and lately I haven’t been playing with Ableton Live onstage. So, okay – maybe it’s just aesthetics. But let’s do it anyway. Sometimes just varying the scheme can help you get over two decades of using this tool.

We’ve covered Live skins before – the most comprehensive source remains the wonderful Sonic Bloom site, which also handles customization techniques and other information. But I wanted something extreme, which right now means going to long-running fan art gallery Deviant Art. (It’s another holdover from the Beforetimes, when the Internet didn’t totally suck so much.)

And Dark 2 is totally delicious for those of us who want extreme blackness. (Blackest ever black?)

https://www.deviantart.com/anthonymilano/art/SKIN-Dark-2-for-Ableton-Live-10-735023504

Thanks to creator anthonymilano, whoever you are, for this gem. Image from his page, which also includes install intructions.

More ideas?

What else do you want to go dark?

Bitwig Studio already has a pretty blackened scheme by default; I actually haven’t gotten as far as customizing it yet. (Anyway?) Ditto Renoise.

I was going to add Reaper to the list but they went and overhauled the customization of the themes in Reaper 6, so it’s a little premature.

But I bet our readers have loads of ideas. Fire away.

Now someone really needs to bring back the reverse-lettered “evil” t-shirt for Ableton Live. I love that I even got asked by an airline flight crew about that.

The post Here’s how to add proper dark themes for Ableton Live, SoundCloud, embrace darkness appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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:

The post Ambient music you can time to a sunset, from Christopher Willits appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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

The post The ABCs of Live 10.1: 2 minutes of shortcuts will help you work faster appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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.

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