Archive for the ‘instrument’ Category

Play drums like a hero

In drums, music theory, push, sample, software on December 16, 2015 at 14:41

Many hip hop musicians are used to play beats with pad MIDI controllers like Ableton Push, Maschine, or MPC. To be honest, hip hop is not my favorite music style, but I’m envious of their dexterity when playing pads.

Today, I stumbled over Melodics. Melodics is an app like Guitar Hero for Mac and PC. The idea is simple, you are trained to press the right button at the right time in order to create something like  music.

The download of the app is free and there are 20 free lessons. The training starts with simple lessons (with kick and snare), but they become more complex with the time.

Yes, it’s really similar to Guitar Hero.

Melodics: guitar hero like interface.

Melodics: guitar hero like interface.

After playing a while, you get a feedback about the precision of your playing. Missed notes and too early or late ones. Gamification, do a job good and reach for that reason the next level.

Melodics: get feedback

Melodics: guitar hero like interface.

The lessons are labelled with musical styles. You get a short explanation, what’s typical for the actual  style. There are even fingering tips for each lesson. Great, although they only make sense when playing complex patters.

Melodics: fingering

Melodics: guitar hero like interface.

From that perspective, Melodics is like Guitar Hero should be. But what I do miss is the opportunity to create your own stuff with the given samples. An export function or (even better) Ableton Live integration would be nice.

The payment model is not my favourite. You have to pay for month or year. I guess, it’s suitable for beginners, who will – after a few weeks – stop learning with that app and start making their own stuff. For me, occasional users will not be pleased with subscription. I guess, Guitar Hero is paid once, isn’t it?

However, this app makes sense and is really fun. So, give it a try.


Routing NI Maschine into Ableton

In daw, drums, instrument, ni maschine on August 4, 2013 at 16:37

After discussing NI Maschine’s output routing in my post NI Maschine’s (output) routing, we able to map Maschine’s output to different Ableton channels. Let’s see what’s our plan.

Routing each group into different channels.

So, we will rout each Maschine group into a different Ableton channel. Unfortunately there is no automation for this step. You have to select each Maschine group output and choose a different output. I think, you shouldn’t use Out 1, because it’s something like Maschine’s Master channel, but I’m not sure.

Select a different output

When this is done for all groups, you can create new channels in Ableton Live. Each channel get its audio from NI Maschine’s (output) routing and one of its outputs. Don’t forget to choose Monitor in, otherwise you will hear nothing. I think, it’s a good idea to save this settings to a song, so you haven’t to do this in Ableton again. Where there is light, there is also shadow. I shall not hide that you have to map every group to different Maschine outputs for every of your existing projects.

Getting audio from different outputs

That’s all for today. Best regards!


NI Maschine’s (output) routing

In daw, drums, instrument, ni maschine on August 4, 2013 at 15:36

Hello! Yes, I’m back. Today I would like to tell you something about NI Maschine’s default output routing. I was stumbling over this subject while routing every group to a different output channel in Ableton Live. This will be the second part of this series. But everything at its time and on its place.

Maschine's default output routing

This diagram contains the three relevant types. Maschine’s sixteen output channels (green) and the groups (brown) including their sounds (blue). Maschine’s default will route everything to the ‘out 1’ output channel.

Select one of the groups

You can select one group by clicking one block in the upper left area of Maschine’s interface – for example B Synths. The middle section contains the corresponding tabs Master, Group, Sound. Don’t forget that the Master tab is effective for every group and sound. As you can see (default) every sound is routed to its group.

Each group is routed to out 1

This picture shows that every group (per default) is routed to the output channel Out 1.

Different types of sounds.

Actually you can rout every group and sound to everything. Here is an example, how to implement an effect channel.

There are different types of sounds. The normal type is Sampler, but if you choose Input, you can rout the output of everything to this sound, but the Input can not root its output to the Input itself. You can add some effects to this sound, in order to get a common effect channel for some sounds. Yes, I think the label sound in that case is misleading. Anyway… in this example the output name is Drum FX with the letter of the group G.

This channel is available for every sound

This channel is available for every  group

Finally as you can see in the last two pictures, those effect channels are available for every sound and group. I know, these concepts and naming are a bit confusing, but from now on, we can use rout every output to a different channel in Ableton Live. And – of course – there is more stuff for creative routing in NI Maschine. The first one will be shown in the next post.

Best regards!


Understanding massive’s routing

In instrument, ni massive, software, synth on January 12, 2013 at 16:28

Hello folks,

today I’d like to start a small series about Native Instruments Massive – currently one of the most popular virtual synthesizers. Just as many of you I would like to create my own Massive patches, my own distinctive sounds.
There are so many video tutorials. Most of them are step by step tutorials how you get a specific sound. But although Massive is so complex, there are only a few basic introductions. But I think, a fundamental understanding and knowing what’s going on in the background, leads you to good sound design. So let us take a closer look at the routing tab.

Routing tab (red arrow), device and symbol (orange arrow), signal flow (white arrows)

Routing tab (red arrow), device and symbol (orange arrow), signal flow (white arrows)

The routing tab shows the whole circuit diagram of the synth, e.g. the wiring of all elements. After I have shown you some examples, you will understand how the signal flows through the synth. Here is just a taster: Massive has three wavetable oscillators. You find the three symbols OSC 1, 2 and 3 on the left hand side of the routing tab. The oscillators are wired with two filters. The filter outputs are mixed and so on. I think that’s enough for the beginning.


1. Real serial filtering

1. Real serial routing

In the first example I like to route the output from oscillator 1 through filter 1 and after that through filter 2 – the classic serial circuit. Needless to say, the oscillator 1 is switched on. The switch is located at the left of the device title. The lamp light must be blue. The diagram below must be read from top to bottom and from left to right.

Real serial filtering

The fader of OSC 1 is at the top, in order to route the signal only to filter 1. The fader ->F2 at the very top (serial), because filter 2 should get the input signal only from the output of filter 1. The MIX fader is on the very bottom, in order to route only the output of filter 2 to the synth’s output. (By the way, the MIX fader can be in the central position, in case – like in the screenshot – the slider of filter 1 is down.) The white arrows in the upper picture show the flow of the signal.

The next pictures shows how the UI elements and the circuit diagram are related.

Corresponding UI elements and symbols in circuit diagram


1.1 Mixing serial filtering

1.1 Mixed serial routing

But do not let us kid ourselves, the signal flow gets easily more complicated. Just stay at example 1. Real serial filtering and add one signal flow. By pushing up the MIX fader, the output of filter 1 is routed directly to the synth output without running through filter 2. The white arrows in the lower picture show again the flow of the signal and the orange one is new signal flow.

Mixing serial filtering


1.2 Bypassing the filters

If you like to bypass the two filters in order to add a subbass. You can use the Bypass bus.

1.2 Bypassed serial routing

Let’s vary the example 1. Real serial filtering again, in order to get bypassing. I have switched the OSC 3 on and made a kind of trick. I routed the oscillator signal only to filter 2. But the ->F2 fader position shows you, that the signal never will reach filter 2, because of its top position. Maybe you noticed the white B in the circuit diagram (Click it, if it’s not white!). That means, the output of OSC 3 is directly routed to the EQ device. Now there is only one step left. If you switch on and upper the Bypass fader you can hear the output of OSC 3. This approach is generally interessting if want to avoid processing one oscillators.

Bybass the filters


2. Real parallel filtering

In this example I will use two oscillators. Oscillator 1 is routed through filter 1 and oscillator 2 is routed through filter 2 – the classic parallel circuit.

2. Real parallel filtering

The fader of oscillator 1 and 2 are set in that way, that signal of OSC 1 flows through filter 1, and vice versa. The fader ->F2 is at the very bottom, to run the filters in parallel. The two fader of the filter devices are at the top, in order to run their signal to the synth’s output. The fader MIX is in the center position, to mix the oscillators with equal volume. The next pictures shows how the UI elements and the circuit diagram are related.

Corresponding UI elements and symbols in circuit diagram


2.1 Mixing parallel filtering

2.1 Mixed parallel filtering

By pushing up the fader ->F2 a bit, the output of filter 1 is routed into filter 2. So filter 2 is processing the output of OSC 2 and OSC 1 after filtering by filter 1.

That sounds complicated, that’s the reason, why I prefere diagrams. The orange arrow shows the addition signal flow, from filter 1 output to filter 2 input.

Mixing parallel filtering

For the sake of completeness, you can enable more than the bypass (b) in the circuit diagram by clicking on the according symbol: The bypass (B), feedback (FB), inserts 1 and 2 (INS 1 and 2). Apart from the bypass, you can active the device at different places in the diagram. That means you can decide, when signal is routed through the device – for example before or after the filter. Therefore, don’t be surprised, that you won’t hear unplaced devices.

That’s all for day. To be continued. I hope that helps.


Generating drum fills

In ableton, drums, midi on January 1, 2013 at 19:54

Today, I like to generate drum fills with the help of Ableton‘s MIDI effects. My starting point is a drum rack with samples I made and a programmed drum pattern:

The drum beat sounds no so bad, but probably a bit boring. I would like to get something like that:

And here is the way I created this drum variations and fills. First of all I grouped three MIDI effect devices. Ableton‘s Arpeggiator, Randon and Scale.

Generating drum fills - The whole group

Please consult the screenshot for getting the parameter settings. Of course you can’t use all of my Scale device settings. In case you are not familiar with the Scale device, think about a matrix or filter. The horizontal axis represents the incoming MIDI note and the horizontal axis the outgoing MIDI note. Such a filter leaves the notes as they are, if all red squares are building a diagonal from the lower left to the upper right. Enough with theory – I would like to hear only the clap, snare and bass drum when the device is enabled. There is no need to say that the these settings depend on the drum rack. You have to find your own settings.

Generating drum fills - Tuning the scale

The mapping of the macro knobs is a bit tricky. After pressing the Map Mode button you should map the Chance parameter of the Random device to macro one. Then map the device on/off switch of the Arpeggiator and Scale to this knop, too. I like to switch on the Arpeggiator and Scale only, when the chance value is over 50 percent. This is achieved by editing the upper Macro Mappings table. The minimum value should be 64.

Generating drum fills - Random chance

Finally I mapped the Arpeggiator’s Synced Rate to macro knob two and the Style to macro knob three.

Generating drum fills - The arp

So, we are done. Just vary the Random Chance in order to get drum variations and fills like in the example above.

I hope that helps. Happy new year!


In hardware, instrument, synth, vocals on September 2, 2012 at 20:49

I’m not usually a fan of buying too much hardware, but I the MiniNova demo video is really impressive. It is a new compact performance hardware synth with the same sound engine as its big brother UltraNova. MiniNova also has an onboard VocalTune effect as well as a classic vocoder so you can recreate iconic vocal sounds from Hip Hop, Urban and electronic music. Perhaps more than a nice toy.


Looks like a good week for hardware, in my last post we talked about the new MASCHINE generation from the guys at Native Instruments, and now its turn for Novation to show us their new small synth called MiniNova.

This synth its small in size, but offers a huge range of features like a Vocoder (microKorg style) but it also includes a pitch correction feature called VocalTune™. It has 256 presets ready to play and edit in real time and a 128 preset bank to save your own sounds, it also includes a free software patch editor and library to tweak your patches easily and download preset packs and share with other users.

But for me the feature that sets this apart from others is the 8 animate buttons that lets you tweak and warp sounds in realtime, and features a filter knob and 4 editing knobs to tweak…

View original post 193 more words

Program your TR-808

In drums on April 22, 2012 at 00:37

Today, I like to post something different. First of all step into the 80th. You may know, that I don’t like to indulge in analog memories. But what about posters? The graphic designer Rob Ricketts made 2011 a four poster series about programming the TR-808.

For example the Afrika Bambaataa Planet Rock beat:

A series of informative posters detailing how some of the most notable drum sequences were programmed using the Roland TR-808 Drum Machine. Each sequence has been analyzed and represented as to allow users to re-programme each sequence, key for key. Rob Ricketts

The Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer was one of the first programmable drum machines (“TR” serving as an initialism for Transistor Rhythm). Introduced by Roland Corporation in early 1980, it was originally manufactured for use as a tool for studio musicians to create demos. Like earlier Roland drum machines, it does not sound very much like a real drum kit. Indeed, because the TR-808 came out a few months after the Linn LM-1 (the first drum machine to use digital samples), professionals generally considered its sound inferior to sampling drum machines; a 1982 Keyboard Magazine review of the LinnDrum indirectly referred to the TR-808 as sounding like marching anteaters. However, the TR-808 cost US $1,195 upon its release, which was considerably more affordable than the US $5,000 LM-1. Wikipedia

A3 prints are available to buy at Rob’s Shop.

That’s all for today. Maybe you got something for your studio. Bye.


Massive: Don’t waste your time

In ni massive on February 11, 2012 at 18:37

Everytime you rebuild the database of Native Instruments Massive (or Absynth) you will lose your ratings and colors. I have so many different sounds, that it is useful to have something like a rating. So here is my workaround.

If necessary press the Browser button. Right click on the header of the left table in order to edit the displayed columns. Uncheck color and rating, because you won’t edit the attributes. Instead of that check Author and Comment. Fortunately Massive remembers these settings, when you open this plugin again.

In order to edit the attributes of a sound press the Attributes button and change the Author or Comment fields. Enter stars to rate the sound. It’s needless to say that changing the author is nothing more than a workaround. Apology to all great sound designers in the world.

If you go back to the browser section you will see the changes. Click on the Author in the header section and you get a sorting by rating.

By the way. If you type *** and minimal in the search field, you will find the edited sound.

That’s of course just a workaroud. Greetings! alexander

Creating a dubstep bass with Ableton

In ableton, bass, dubstep on October 17, 2010 at 13:58

A few weeks ago I found the great video tutorial “Creating a Dubstep wobble / bass sound in Ableton Live 8” made by dubspot. The tutorial shows how to create a dubstep bass in Ableton Live using the Simpler instrument.

Here is my experience with the video instructions. I have created a MIDI track and dragged the “Simpler” instrument into it. After that I downloaded a wave file from Dubspot, which is used in the tutorial, and added the sample by dragging it into the instrument. Then I have to make some settings:

  • Activate “Loop” and “Filter” and select filter “Type” “BP12”
  • Set the filter frequency “Freq” to 290 Hz.
  • Turn filter envelop on and the “Env” field to “-20”.

We are programing a bass sound, so I have set the number of voices to one and activate the glide function. In order to get a more expressiv and more dynamic sound set the filter velocity “Vel” to about 34 % and “Attack” to 54 ms. To get a more spatial result, set the “Spread” to 35 % – this sound like a chorus.

Simpler I

Simpler settings for the dubstep bass example.

We are almost done, but there is one thing missing: the dubstep typical wobble sound. For this set “LFO” on, sync the LFO with ableton (press the “note” symbol), swipe 8th notes and set the LFO amount to about 20.

Simpler II

Simpler MIDI mappings for the dubstep bass example.

What we have done is especially useful, when you play with some parameters while playing the this bass instrumen. So I MIDI mapped some controler knobs to a few instrument parameters. In order for that select the MIDI mapping view and map this:

  • “Beat” – LFO rate (beats) – LFO synced rate (useful range: 1/4 – 1/24)
  • “LFO” – Filter < LFO – Filter < LFO (useful range: 0 – 24)
  • “Filter” – Filter Cutoff Frequency – Filter Frequency (useful range: 30 Hz – 18.5 kHz)
MIDI mapping

MIDI mapping for the dubstep bass example.

In the end I don’t want to keep my first result from you. That is how it sounds. Bye for now.


Dubstep bass workshop

In bass, dubstep on May 22, 2010 at 13:46

Today I found an interesting video workshop about making a dubstep bass on youtube. The workshop is by TST and can be found here: youtube.com/user/thesoundtutor

Although TST is working with Ableton, TST doesn’t use a live device for creating the bass sound. The tutorial plays with Massive – an virtual synth from Native Instruments. I think, the benefit of the workshop will be much more, if you own this instrument.

Massive by Native Instruments

That’s all for today! Alexander