If there’s an award for something, I really feel I should get it. I’m excited to write up my whatnot from the past weeks, and also chuckling at myself for the wide range of subjects I’ve broached. But Let’s do it anyway…
- The Launchpad Pro videos on YouTube by Novation. In particular, this one, coming in at 18 minutes, was especially useful.
I’m glad I waited to watch the videos, I tend to explore on my own for a while. There are opportunities for maker-esque creativity with the LP, and many other open platforms out there. They allow for an individualized workflow, enabling the opportunity for a personalized sound. For me, experimentation up front makes it my own, and then it really comes alive when I then go and formalize on the knowledge. I had never even launched a clip from the LP until I watched the video – I just hadn’t gotten to those arrows!
Din is Noise –Din is Noise is a stunningly brilliant C# open-source, cross-platform. I’d characterize it as a bezier-curve synthesizer. To me, it conjures the sounds of the tabla, and innumerable musical forms I’m not knowledgeable of. I’ll make a bold statement though, it makes every other synthesizer I’ve tried seem utterly simplistic. Din is not a plugin, it’s a standalone program that even works on LInux. Check out the videos.and
Polyphylla by Mellisonic. Polyphylla is a plugin I am looking into. I’m really fascinated by randomized, or algorithmically derived synthesis, and especially sequencing. Polyphylla seems to let you quickly manipulate sounds in some highly creative ways. It has a cool looking UI as well. I haven’t decided to go with it yet as there’s but one video
Since I mentioned sequencers, I guess that’s as good a reason as any to talk about my research on that front. Sequencers seem to be hip right now, and I can see why. It’s the appeal and strength of good programming, which allows on the fly creation like never before. Some of the more exciting offerings right now are:
The Beatstep Pro by Arturia
Pyramid by SquareP
Circuit by Novation
Cirklon by Sequentix
252E Buchla Polyphonic Rythm Generator
And of course there are others. In my opinion, they are all exciting, yet all leave plenty of space for increased sophistication, simplicity of use, interoperability, and the normal platform opportunities. I only listed 2015 releases and pre-releases, leaving out other staples like the Elektron series and others.
Along with the Sequencers, I’ve also been studying synthesizers, both soft and hardware. I enjoyed I Dream of Wires which is streaming on Netflix as of now, and I share in both the nostalgia for Moog sounds, and what’s possible with new technology. I went through a solid class on Lynda Synth Programming Basics. I gained a better understanding of the different wave forms, ADSR envelopes, and other acronyms common to synthesizers. I’ve been thinking of eventual live performance workflows a good bit. Right now, with the LP Pro and the LaunchControl XL + Ableton Suite, I can get a good amount done. But I do feel there’s room for a hardware sequencer/synthesizer of some sort. I just haven’t found what feels like that sweet-spot for that device yet.
As I mentioned above, I checked out Din is Noise, a bezier-based synthesis program. I’ve still been using Synthmaster within Live, and controlled with the LP Pro and LaunchControl XL, using Isotonik’s LaunchControl XXL python scripts. I feel like I’ve enough possibilities in the studio – but not enough for performance.
Ableton Live Suite continues to be a source of learning as well. I expect this to continue indefinitely. But there were exciting progressions the past 3 weeks. For one, I learned to apply audio and midi effects to tracks for the first time. Again, this is so basic – but I really had no idea what any of that was about in the first three weeks. Here I can give some credit to another Lynda Course – Dj’ing in Ableton Live with J. Scott Giaquinta. Much of this course is outside my skill level, but I picked up some good pointers on instruments and effects. I also learned a bit more about Sends – but I still have no real clue about their intended use.
Despite my continued studies, I still find I’m unsure of whether and when I should be in Session and/or Arrangement modes. I’m not too worried about this yet, as I’ve still not really tried laying out an entire song along a musical timeline. I’ve still just been making loops, and recording my practicing with Synthmaster. Making great sounds at this point is very rewarding, blending them across an entire song, intimidates me – and is definitely an area for study.
Melodics has proven to be very useful, and fun. I came across this platform via Twitter. Melodics teaches you how to play Pads, and it makes it fun, competitive, and you play good music. It synced right up with my keyboard, LP, and LaunchControl. And I was surprised and excited to learn that I got some additional free packs for Melodics by registering my Novation Products. You get some customized free lessons, good stuff. I have no drums experience, and I find that after repeated practice, I can play sequences I never would have thought possible. It makes the pads feel even more instrumental to me, and of course, improves my playing.
Listening to music. I did that too. I watched a 3 hour long documentary on Kraftwerk called The Electronic Revolution. It was definitely one of the best music docs I’ve seen. I also listened to Kraftwerk, 1969’s Organisation – Tone Float, which I enjoyed. I’ve never heard these sounds except from some early Pink Floyd versions of Careful with that Axe Eugene, Interstellar Overdrive and the like. I love that musical discovery still occurs, nothing beats inspiration.
I also entered The World’s Largest Arduino Maker Challenge. My idea was accepted for Generative Music via Proximate IOT devices. This is a project I’m devloping with Microsoft Azure. Maker culture is really proliferating, and I’m glad to have a part in it – I think there are amazing opportunities for musical development on these fronts. Sonic Pi, Algorave, Din is Noise, Makey Makey, and Drum Pants. Maker culture enables sonic awesomeness, while helping disabled communities, and across every other discipline. Plato was really onto something with that whole harmony-of-the-spheres idea.
LaunchControl XL. As I mentioned above, I’m using this coupled with Isotonik’s XXL script. For me, working soft synth knobs is a chore. Those types of mouse movements exacerbate my carpal tunnel. I get more granularity of movement, and the ability to use multiple knobs simultaneously with the LaunchControl XL. Coupled with the LP Pro, I save a lot of bad wrist movements. I also like mapping the 8 sliders as crossfaders and the like. That being said, I’ve not yet used functions like Record Arm, or Send Select. I had some initial challenges installing the python script for the XXL Controller, but once I did I was able to perform some great midi-mappings. There’s plenty more sophistication for me to be gained with the XL – I think I caught a video of it as a sequencer, which is compelling.
That’s it for now. I look forward to reporting back!