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

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.


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.

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CHORDimist is an insane Max for Live chord-generating MIDI effect

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 3 Jan 2020 7:11 pm

Chordmaker, arpeggiator on steroids, harmonic processor – CHORDimist is another of the powerful Max for Live tools for composition.

I figured yesterday’s blitz of Max for Live news would bring out something I missed. Chris Hahn pointed us to this one, by South Korean-based developer Leestrument.

It’s a chord generator, but it’s also really an advanced arpeggiator / MIDI harmonizer, with modes for firing off, sustaining, or arpeggiating harmonies. Add in lots of parameters for direction and variation – both of the chords themselves and how they’re played – and you have a sophisticated MIDI effect.

CHORDimist is US$49 and requires the latest Max for Live, meaning you want Live Suite 10.1 or greater (or an equivalent Max for Live license).


Ha, also – I love that the filename for the screenshot on Lee’s site is _E1_84_89_E1_85_B3_E1_84_8F_E1_85_B3_E1_84_85_E1_85_B5_E1_86_AB_E1_84_89_E1_85_A3_E1_86_BA_202019-10-02_20_E1_84_8B_E1_85_A9_E1_84_8C_E1_85_A5_E1_86_AB_204.13.04.png.

That’s… specific.

The post CHORDimist is an insane Max for Live chord-generating MIDI effect appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

J74 SliceShuffler lets you chop up and transform audio in Ableton Live, in real time

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 2 Jan 2020 10:57 pm

Take live audio in, slice it up, reshuffle it, manipulate it, all beat-synced – SliceShuffler is a new Live slicer-dicer, for just a few bucks.

I’ve covered developer J74’s stuff before. (J74 is the Max-developing alias of Fabrizio Poce.) This one looks really special, though.

The basic idea is, you take a live input, toss it in a buffer, and then slice and re-sequence and transform the sound, all as you play, synced to the clock. It’s intended particularly for use with rhythmic materials, but it’s potentially interesting for almost anything.

And since we’ve seen this basic idea in Max for Live devices before, what sets SliceShuffler apart is an elegant interface and a ton of features. This is a seriously nice wishlist of stuff crammed in there:

– Free slice re-sequencing of the captured audio buffer.
– Tempo synchronized, with up to 32 steps (32 beats, 2 bars of buffered audio)
– Probability sequencing lanes to add variations and evolutions over time.
– Sequenced-slice can independently be reversed, muted and/or panned.
– Slice direction can be sequenced with probability of variation.
– Parameter Locking: it can sequence any parameter in Ableton Live
– Drive gain & compressor at the output stage (for overdrive and saturation).
– Snapshots: save and recall snapshots, also for mixing during performance (hitless recall)
– Performance functions: randomize, freeze, shift, reverse. All possible in real-time

The developer says it’s performance-oriented – all those features and snapshot morphing and such can be done as you play. There’s an undo you can use even live in performance, too.

You’ll need Live 10.1.x or later to support this, and as with Max for Live Devices generally, either Live Suite or a suitable Max for Live license. It’s a 12EUR purchase.


And some video guides:

The post J74 SliceShuffler lets you chop up and transform audio in Ableton Live, in real time 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).



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.

HEXO for Live is an arpeggiator transformed into a polyphonic compositional tool

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 2 Jan 2020 7:02 pm

Somehow, it started as an arpeggiator. But this Max for Live tool by K-Devices is now an advanced, polyphonic, polymetric tool for dreaming up rhythms and melodies.

We’ve got you set up for your new year’s food coma / hangover / days off / whatever, with a series of Max for Live tools to tinker around with into the winter (southern hemisphere summer) evenings of January.

HEXO is an important departure for K-Devices. If all you want is a tool that lets you generate rhythms and melodies parametrically or even randomly, HEXO does this – just like its predecessors.

But if you prefer to play live, HEXO can do that, too. In ARP mode, all its pattern generation is built live on incoming notes, meaning you can feed your own patterns or jam on a keyboard or other controller.

In RIFF mode, the tool is a polyphonic step sequencer. But that has a Thru function, too, meaning you can add notes live to the pattern.

Here’s a view of what that means – in ARP mode, you’ll see the pitch tracks are relative; in RIFF mode, they represent specific notes. It’s to me the best interface K-Devices has done yet – an intuitive brick grid giving you independent access to multiple tracks of notes with velocity, length, and probability controls always visible and editable.


Either way, HEXO is a great way of generating complex and even polymetric patterns. K-Devices keep topping themselves with each new creation, making advanced IDM-ish sequencer generators to spawn new ideas or elaborate live. This time, they’ve even added some unique instruments to play right inside the package.

But by the way, the K-Devices creations are ideal for sequencing software modulars – routing into tools like Reaktor Blocks or VCV Rack, you get some really beautiful sound generation facilities. It’s all working via MIDI, so any software, plug-in, or hardware will work.

Impressively, this works in both Live 9 and Live 10, so even if you’re putting off that Live upgrade, you can get to work.


Per-step probability, on-the-fly variations

Six tracks, 2-32 steps independently per track

4 snapshots with modulation

AutoSnaps with probability-driven variation

Each track has independent number of steps and time resolution for polyrhythms and polymeters

Global velocity, length scaling, and delay per track

Bend parameter (which lets you bend out of the Live grid)

Rule-based randomization of note, velocity, chance, and length

Included presets, Ableton clips, and two Simpler-based instruments (the “atmospheric” Pluck and “acid stab” Hyperism)

There’s an intro sale on now with steep discounts on everything they make – or 24EUR (regular 39EUR) for this instrument individually. Everything is here:

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It’s made from Santa’s Fire Trucks, but this free Ableton Live pack makes chilled-out sounds

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 26 Dec 2019 9:12 pm

Brian Funk aka AfroDJMac continues his epic run of sound packs for Ableton Live, with a Christmas freebie made from sampled fire trucks.

Ranking up there with “how does Santa deliver all those presents in one night?” has to be “how does Brian actually make this many Live sound packs?” Seriously, the guy might actually have produced more sound content for Ableton Live than most of the makers of the internal packs at this point – I’ve lost count.

But while the mention of fire trucks evokes blaring chaos, this addition is soft, sweet, and melodic. Brian’s local fire department escorts Santa’s sleigh on a lit-up fire truck convoy. He captured that sound and transformed it into something ideal for wintry ambient melodies and the like.

Not only does this make a lovely free download, but it might inspire you to do some sampling of your own, particularly if you get some days off or travel over the holidays.

And there you go, it’s free pack #189, so feel free to put a YouTube yule log on, and fall down a link hole of sounds for Live if you so choose:


This is the sixth annual hristmas giveaway, more if you count each sound individually.

And hey, while Hannukah is coming to a close Monday (happy Hannukah, too, by the way!) — Orthodox and Russian Christmas is still some a week and a half away yet, so there’s time to get your own sounds together. Go!

The post It’s made from Santa’s Fire Trucks, but this free Ableton Live pack makes chilled-out sounds appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Bitwig Studio just added a free vocoder, because Xmas

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 24 Dec 2019 8:27 pm

Blah blah, more holiday greetings, oh and — yay, some software asking for an update. But lo, a miracle – this one is just there to give you a free vocoder.

Yes, I have to admit at first I was annoyed by a YouTube video that was just telling me “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.” (Feiertage is the somewhat neutral German term if you want the holiday, right? Not to start a War on Christmas or anything.) And I also swatted at the update notification when I launched Bitwig Studio, swapping as I do between different DAWs, because updates – bah, humbug.

But Bitwig actually has a very cool vocoder in this release. And… that’s it. They’re just giving it to you, automatically in the update, one small enough (183M) I downloaded it over my phone in the studio. This is how it should be, no?

It’s 3.1.1 we’re talking about, hot on the heels of microtuning-enabled, enhanced version 3.1 which just came out of beta.

It’s also relevant that this is an internal vocoder, because it can then take advantage of integration with Bitwig’s own routing for modulation, audio, and pitch – the thing that tends to make using plug-in vocoders annoying.

I just downloaded it, plugged it in on a track and – oh yeah, this thing works right away (even auto-routing carrier/modulator) and sounds utterly brutal on percussion at 8 bands.

From the release notes:

  • Chains for both the Modulator (signal analyzed; defaults to device’s audio input) and the Carrier (signal filtered with the Modulator’s spectrum).
  • Simply add the Audio Receiver or Note Receiver devices into the chains to configure routing as you please.
  • Formant and Brightness adjustments, to twist and skew the spectrum.
  • Between 8 and 80 bands for each section, and the option to go full stereo.
  • Slope and Bandwidth controls, for band-pass tuning.
  • Attack and Release times for the envelope followers, plus a Freeze toggle to hold modulator levels.
  • Default preset with noise as carrier, and 20 more presets.

People already like it; here’s Polarity Music with a tutorial:

I am pleased. This is a ton of stuff to play with to avoid any seasonal depression.

And kudos to all my neighboring Berlin-based software and hardware engineers and support staff, working for makers big and small. It’s been at times a very strange year here in the German capital, but also I really appreciate the work everyone does. Gluhwein on me.

Bitwig Studio 3.1


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Get a free plug-in version of the 1176 Peak Limiter

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Sat 21 Dec 2019 6:59 pm

The pre-Christmas week is turning out to be a great time to load up your plug-in folder. Next – an IK Multimedia rendition of a landmark dynamics processor.

After two versatile and essential reverbs for free this week, now you get one of the most effective dynamics processors of all time, too. Broke producers, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to us!

Through Christmas, you can get IK’s Black 76 Limiting Amplifier via Audio Plugin Deals. You’ll need to fill out a form, but you can opt out of any marketing use. Then you get an authorization code and use IK’s own Authorization Manager to download and install.

The 1176 is a 1976 classic from Universal Audio. (At the time, UA was operating under the name UREI, or United Recording Electronics Industries. Uh… we’re glad they went back to the original name.)

It uses a FET (field effect transistor) wired in a feedback configuration to reduce gain. The important thing about that technical detail is that it also colors the sound in a way that a lot of people then – and now – find pleasing. It is actually a Bill Putnam Sr. original, with later revisions by UA’s Brad Plunkett. So if you want a faithful copy, you can get either a hardware reissue or software DSP-based recreation from UA themselves.

IK Multimedia’s recreation here is accurate but pretty basic – it’s an older plug-in, so it’s possible you have a better rendition already in your arsenal. For instance, in addition to the UA plug-ins, I’m a big fan of the Native Instruments – Softube collaboration on the Vc 76. That one deviates from the original hardware by adding a dry control (for parallel compression) and a sidechain input (for… various ideas).

That said, if you don’t have an 1176 amplifier, this one is a versatile and characteristic dynamics processor you can use all over the place. You get the most popular rev, revision E of the 1176LN (low-noise, signifying that Brad improved the circuitry).

And crucially, IK did a good job of the “all button mode” or more serious-sounding “British mode.” That’s a fancy way of saying that sound engineers discovered that they could mash all the compression ratio buttons together at once, and get a unique, squashed sound. They also found a “no button mode” – that is that they could get all the buttons to release at once. That lets you just color the sound with the 1176, but I think it may be missing on the IK.

Let’s pause, though, and reflect – some of the most famous sound engineers in history were mucking about with the buttons on their insanely expensive gear. Hey, what is sound tech if not something you can intentionally misuse, at random? Some things never change. Here’s an example of what you get, but – you’ve heard this everywhere, you just may not have known it:

Actually, I guess this is the funny thing about plug-ins… there is a certain alchemy to all of this. By the time you’re at mixing and mastering, you probably want to know what you’re doing, or hire someone who knows what they’re doing. But I don’t know that there’s any scientific way to describe “hey, let’s mash buttons together and see if we like what we hear.”

And that’s a very good reason to go download this.

IK Multimedia product page, where this is 99 bucks. For a better buy, get their T-Racks tool that’s got a bunch of different choices in a single, integrated interface (but still with skeumorphic interfaces so you feel like you’re looking at the real thing).

While we’re at it, Universal Audio has some tips on using their 1176 collection – and it’s possible you got a version of this bundled with your hardware, if you bought from them. But you could apply these tips to other plug-ins that model the 1176.

I’m going to try this one just to compare its all-button and no-button sound to the Softube Vc 76. And of course sometimes this really is trial and error on source material, as accuracy may or may not be important to what you want to do. Someone who does have the original hardware or, like, actual engineering skills, I’m glad to hear from you.

More free holiday stuff – I’ll put together a full list if there’s more.

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Free reverb: Arturia has a holiday giveaway of their take on the classic EMT-140 plate

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 19 Dec 2019 4:36 pm

I’m dreaming of a reverberant Christmas / with EMT plates I used to know / where my yule log’s combustible / and pre-delays now adjustable / to tweak plug-ins in the snow…

Uh, yes, as if it weren’t enough that Native Instruments has a giveaway on their new Raum plug-in, Arturia this week also announced they’re giving away the new REV Plate-140 if you download by Christmas day (December 25). And while I put some hard-working DSP developers at risk by saying this, the combination of these two plug-ins covers a whole lot of bases in reverb generally.

The original. You’ll need some … friends to lift this. Also, you may want to sell your house.

Let’s talk about this plate, because the EMT 140 is sought-after in production because it is fairly magical. The original is a late 1950s/1960s West German invention that was a hallmark in studio production, as it has a specific, lush “gloss” it adds to everything from vocals to percussion to (nowadays) stuff like synths, too. It’s very possible you already have a model of it or an impulse file for it (for instance, there are 140 impulses in the convolution reverb in Ableton Live). But even if you do, adding another model could be worthwhile – there are a lot of variations of this, and Arturia has added some of their own, very useful, twists.

The democratic power of computation seems a very good thing in this case. The original cost as much as a house and weighed around the same as four people, fascinating engineering as it was. Now it’s some free software. And that’s good, because the studio system – well, let’s just say Phil Spector was not the nicest man, bless his heart.

Incidentally, “plate reverb” really does mean a physical, metal plate – the vintage plate reverb is genuinely not only an “analog” invention but an electro-acoustic, physical device.

Arturia’s version looks promising. (I just downloaded it.) They’ve modeled a vacuum tube preamp, so this is best thought of as the original EMT. There’s now a high pass filter to apply before the reverb processing, which is essential so that you don’t make too much low-end mud in your mix.

And the Arturia approach here as in a lot of their instruments tends to be a software hybrid approach – not slavishly recreating the old gear, but combining accurate models of portions of its sound with new features. The new features could be what drive you to add another EMT to your rig – and for those new to this device, they mean you can simply treat it as a modern sound design tool rather than worrying about records people made decade ago.

So in this case, that means:

  • An adjustable predelay, which is useful for creating space in the mix (along with that highpass filter for frequency space)
  • Integrated chorus, which is just, well, cool and useful (I waxed poetic about Ableton having added this to their reverb since the start)
  • Post-reverb EQ, so you can shape the results right in the mix (again, something in Ableton’s often-overlooked default reverb)
  • Modulation

Plus you get three different EMT models to play around with, and that vacuum preamp, as well as the necessary time, stereo width, and blend controls. This is 99 bucks after Christmas, so now is the time to go grab it.

There’s an advantage to this being a free plug-in. If you get all your friends and collaborators to grab it right now, you have a plug-in you can use on tracks you’re sharing. Because it runs in AU, AAX, and VST, you can run it more or less elsewhere (well, except natively on Linux, but – let’s push developers on that in 2020). And because the EQ and chorus are built-in, you can store those settings as your own presets, too (which is harder if you combine multiple plug-ins).

You know the deal: go to the website, login, head to the download page to indicate you want this, then open Arturia Software Center and it should appear. If you’re new to Arturia’s stuff, yes, this requires free registration and downloading another tool. But ASC these days is reliable, so fear not.


Then there’s an extensive video tutorial, but – I like to read the manual.

Oh yeah, and this vintage plate reverb is very different from the delay network approach of the NI plug-in I wrote up yesterday – but both have tools to tame the results in your mix. Taking some time with the two over the holidays would be a good exercise for newcomers and advanced users alike.

Because, I mean, I don’t know which holidays you intend to celebrate, but for me some cozy times with reverbs and the people I love pretty much equal happiness.

And speaking of great ways to pass the time in winter (or summer, southern hemisphere folks who are now at the beach), this is one of a number of fascinating histories of the EMT and plate reverb (plus its successor, the digital EMT 250) :

EMT is no more, but it’s one of the many audio companies to call Berlin home; see the history of Elektro-Mess-Technik. That’ll be 1930s Berlin, though, so let’s not talk about it too much.

Also this week:

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Now that MOTU’s DP does clips, here’s a video explaining how to use them

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 16 Dec 2019 1:16 pm

If you normally leave a DAW like DP in order to do non-linear clip triggering with other software or hardware, MOTU have something they’d like to show you.

There’s no mistaking what this looks like – this really is the Session View from Ableton Live. Then again, we’ve had some glimpse of that for nearly 20 years, so it’s surprising – given the usual leapfrog and borrowing DAWs do in music production – that no traditional DAW has really pulled off the same thing. (Cakewalk’s SONAR tried, as did Cakewalk’s little-known tool called Project5, but their implementation didn’t really catch on, making that more historical footnote than anything.)

Deja vu?

And we’re not only talking about Live – this same sort of non-linear clip triggering is also something familiar in samplers and other tools.

So it is a big deal that MOTU has added clips, with some twists of their own – a couple I wouldn’t mind Ableton picking up on. And I think it’s telling that you aren’t hearing a lot of complaints that this rips off Live, which says to the Live user base and the DP user base are likely fairly independent – or that these tools solve different problems. (Feel free to give more feedback on this, though.)


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FL Studio 20.6 does what FL does best – adds more great toys to play with

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 12 Dec 2019 9:37 am

It’s still tough to beat FL Studio when it comes to, well, playing with stuff – in a tool in which that play can get very advanced indeed.

There are some great new toys here:

Distructor is a new pedal-style distortion and multi-effects plug-in. What’s especially nice is you get four slots, each of which can be assigned to one of four modules. There are different distortion models and then filters, chorus, and speaker cabinets. Those different distortion models (Blood overdrive, Soft Clippor, Harmor, Distructor, and Crusher) each have their own various algorithm choices, so this thing is deep. And the filters give you every shape you would want.

This reuses some existing FL stuff, but in a very nice way, and you can mess around with all the different bits and re-route them. In fact, it occurs to me that this is really what the scattered distortion and cabinet devices in Ableton Live probably should have been. Advantage, FL on this one.

If you want to go even crazier, the amp/cab bit is based on Fruity Convolver. So you could instead of limiting yourself to Distructor alone, chase the Distructor plug-in with Fruity Convolver and then load any impulse you want for some serious mayhem.

The Euclidean Rhythm Generator lets you fill in patterns with this now weirdly ubiquitous mathematical means of generating symmetrical rhythms, which work well as polyrhythms and in techno. Right-click a channel, and choose Advanced Fill.

Control Voltage is a new Fruity Voltage Controller for integrating with analog gear. It works with any DC-coupled interface – which now includes those affordable MOTU boxes I looked at recently for a low-cost solution. (Or just use a Eurorack rig with an audio interface inside it.)

“Burn” MIDI. Got an interesting pattern coming out of the Arpeggiator, note effects, or other plug-ins? Now you can right-click the channel and record to MIDI. Yeah, this already works in DAWs like Logic Pro, but it really fits the FL workflow perfectly.

NewTime time warping. Warp, quantize, and groove shuffle audio. This is a far cry from the early days of FL Studio where everyone seemed to be making terrible trance tracks with only the default step sequencer options in the main view. FL now gives well-known, much more expensive DAWs a proper run for the money.

Oh speaking of mangling audio – the Fruity Granulizer now has a display and visualizations so you can see what you’re doing, so together with NewTime, you can mess with sound really easily.

Plus there are tons of other improvements – convert playlist tracks to audio, “don’t show this in the future” checkbox for popups, and a ton of little details. (FLEX has a modulation speed for reverb time, for instance.)

Both Image-Line and SoundCloud sent me press releases emphasizing that you can upload directly to SoundCloud from FL. I have a feeling if you have the patience to read my writing, you already know how to upload to SoundCloud, but … now you know.

More importantly, Image-Line continue their lifetime free updates tradition – think of it as the reverse of horrible subscriptions in certain pro graphics apps. The subscription model: pay continuously, see updates that you mostly don’t want. The FL Studio model: pay once, see updates you want, continuously. (You need a supported account, but it can be worth it.)

The latest – and there’s a lot of it:

FL Studio 20.6 released [Image-Line news]

The post FL Studio 20.6 does what FL does best – adds more great toys to play with appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

L7 is what the Loop Station would be like as an iOS app, not hardware – and now it’s just $4

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 10 Dec 2019 4:22 pm

For years, musicians have asked for software to do what the BOSS RC-505 Loop Sta­tion does, and make looping easy. The Audiokit L7 does just that.

Okay, before this sounds like it’s an emulation of the RC-505 with some fake pedals and knobs and such, don’t worry – they didn’t do that. Coming from the makers of iOS sound framework Audiokit, the L7 has the sort of simple, standard visual interface you’d expect from an app, not hardware. So you get high-contrast visuals and waveforms and all that.

But they did adopt the RC-505 looping workflow, combining it with the convenience of touchscreen, visual interface, and – so long as you’ve got an iPad or iPhone handy, always-available mobility. (Heck, since this makes sense as a dedicated device, it might even be worth picking up a cheap iPod touch so your phone doesn’t do double duty.)

So you layer loops successfully as you play – the magical Loop Station formula. The difference is, now you can also layer effects easily on top of that, without losing track of what you’re doing (since there’s more visual feedback on both audio layers and effects).

Step one: layer loops as you play, Loop Station style.
Step two: add effects to each layer, and perform with them live.

And yes, if that seems like a missed opportunity for Roland/BOSS – it is. (There’s still time. They have to call this L7, not Loop Station, so Roland still has an opportunity – plus Audiokit don’t support popular Android phones.)

Meanwhile, Audiokit are a model for other developers. You buy the app once – no ads, no subscriptions, no in-app purchases, no nonsense. US$19.99 is the regular price, which seems reasonable – major caveat, I haven’t tested it fully yet. But they’ve got an intro price on for US$3.99, which basically means you shouldn’t wait for my review. (That’s the point where I start to just pay four bucks to save the trouble of waiting for a promo code.)

And wow, the features definitely show they’re listening. I can’t wait to give this a spin on the iPad.

+ Record up to 16 tracks
+ 8 ef­fects per track + mas­ter ef­fects & in­put ef­fects
+ Pan
+ Re­verb
+ Tremo­lo
+ Tem­po de­lay
+ Pitch shift (± 12 semi­tones)
+ Comb fil­ter
+ High pass fil­ter
+ Low pass fil­ter
+ “Voice ­tune” (inspired by Auto-tune) with 144 dif­fer­ent scales, con­trol amount & speed
+ Au­to­mat­i­cal­ly trig­ger ef­fect changes hands-free
+ Vari­able loop length with auto-stop
+ Mute / un­mute in­di­vid­ual sec­tions of a track
+ Over­dub tracks
+ Save ses­sions and ex­port wave files and mixdowns to use in your fa­vorite DAW
+ Im­port au­dio from any file for­mat (wav, mp3, aiff, m4a, etc.)
+ Au­diobus com­pat­i­ble
+ Sync with oth­er apps us­ing Able­ton Link
+ Works with most USB au­dio in­ter­faces
+ Best with wired head­phones

Hardware is still desirable in a lot of situations, but I bet a lot of people will just do both.

US$3.99 on the App Store, starting now. Check out this app, their other work, and their stuff for developers, on their site:


Here is, I hope, a great looping performance (I am embedding this from 40,000 feet on Japan Airlines, so you’ll find out probably before I do what happened):

iPad Pro is how I would use this – and it looks really great in large format.
Effects look even more usable on iPad.
Of course, having this in your hand is also great.

What do you think? Got a looping app (or hardware) you prefer, and want to hold it up against this? Let us know in comments.

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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.)


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:


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

The most popular and up-to-date is 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.


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?)


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.

Reaper 6 is here – and even more the everyday, budget DAW to beat

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 5 Dec 2019 6:47 pm

It’s got a $60 license for nearly everyone, you can evaluate it for free, and now Reaper – yet again – adds a ton of well-implemented power features. Reaper 6 is the newest edition of this exceptionally capable DAW.

New in this release:

Use effects plug-ins right from the tracks/mixer view. So, some DAWs already have something like a little EQ that you can see in the channel strip visually, or maybe a simple compressor. Reaper has gone further, with small versions of the UI for a bunch of popular plug-ins you can embed wherever you want. That means less jumping in and out of windows while you patch.

You get EQ, filtering, compressor, and more. (ReaEQ, ReaFIR, ReaXcomp, graphical JSFX, etc.)

Powerful routing/patching. The Routing Diagram feature gives you an overview of how audio signal is routed throughout the environment, which makes sends and effects and busing and sidechaining and so on visual. It’s like having a graphical patchbay for audio right inside the DAW. (Or it’s like the ghost of the Logic Pro Environment came back and this time, average people actually wanted to use it. )

Auto-stretch audio. Now, various DAWs have attempted this – you want sound to automatically stretch and conform as you adjust tempo or make complex tempo changes. That’s useful for film scoring, for creative purposes, and just because, well, you want things to work that way. Now Reaper’s developers say they’ve made it easy to do this with tempo-mapped and live-recorded materials (Auto-stretch Timebase). This is one we’ll have to test.

Make real envelopes for MIDI. You can draw continuous shapes for your MIDI control adjustments, complete with curve adjustment. That’s a bit like what you get in Ableton Live’s clip envelopes, as well as other DAWs. But it’s a welcome addition to Reaper, which increasingly starts to share the depth of other older DAWs, without the same UI complexity (cough).

It works with high-density displays on Mac and PC. That’s Retina on Mac and the awkwardly-named HiDPI on PC. But the basic idea is, you can natively scale the default theme to 100%, 150%, and 250% on new high-def displays without squinting. Speaking of which

There’s a new tweakable theme. The new theme is set up to be customizable with Tweaker script.

Big projects and displays work better. The developers say they’ve “vastly” optimized 200+ track-count projects. On the Mac, you also get faster screen drawing with support for Apple’s Metal API. (Yeah, everyone griped about that being Mac-only and proprietary, but it seems savvy developers are just writing for it and liking it. I’m honestly unsure what the exact performance implications are of doing the same thing on Windows, though on the other hand I’m happy with how Reaper performs everywhere.)

And more. ” Dynamic Split improvements; import and render media with embedded transient information; per-track positive or negative playback offset; faster and higher quality samplerate conversion; and many other fixes and improvements.”

Honestly, I’m already won over by some of these changes, and I had been shifting conventional DAW editing work to Reaper as it was. (That is, sure, Ableton Live and Bitwig Studio and Reason and whatever else are fun for production, but sometimes you want a single DAW for editing and mixdown that is none of those others.)

Where Reaper stands out is its extraordinary budget price and its no-nonsense, dead-simple UI – when you really don’t want the DAW to be too creative, because you want to get to work. It does that, but still has the depth of functionality and customization that means you feel you’re unlikely to outgrow it. That’s not a knock on other excellent DAW choices, but those developers should seriously consider Reaper as real competition. Ask some users out there, and you’ll hear this name a lot.

Now if they just finish that “experimental” native Linux build, they’ll really win some nerd hearts.


Those of you who are deeper into the tool, do let us know if you’ve got some tips to share.

The post Reaper 6 is here – and even more the everyday, budget DAW to beat appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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