f.lux – Software to soothe your eyes during those long studio nights

While not directly related to making music, this little utility f.lux has been a blessing for me in the studio lately. It automatically changes the colour balance of your screen to be ‘warmer’ at night, which much easier on the eyes. It took me a little getting used to but now I can’t live without it. Free for PC, Mac, Linux and jail-broken iOS.

f.lux makes your computer screen look like the room you’re in, all the time. When the sun sets, it makes your computer look like your indoor lights. In the morning, it makes things look like sunlight again.

Tell f.lux what kind of lighting you have, and where you live. Then forget about it. F.lux will do the rest, automatically.

ATT: People having trouble with MEGAMaschine IMAP Macro Controls

***ATTENTION PEOPLE HAVING TROUBLE WITH THE IMAP MACRO CONTROLS ***

Download and use this alternate Maschine template:  http://goo.gl/a8C3D
This template does not need the IMAP script so no need to set ‘Maschine-IMAP’ as a control surface. The downside is the knobs will not automatically snap to the correct value, instead it will ‘pick-up’ like a standard midi controller (depends on your settings).

New Remixes

I’m part of a collective of crazy talented producers called Tape Death and we recently teamed up with Melbourne Hip-Hoppers Down For The Count Records to produce a remix album.

You can download it for free here or grab a hard copy for $10. http://music.dftc.com.au/album/dftc-x-tape-death (Sorry the bandcamp player won’t embed here).

This is my remix ‘Ordinary’, I’m really happy with this one, future hip-hop styles.

I’ve chucked the instrumental to my remix ‘Ordinary’ up on Soundcloud, for those that prefer that sort of thing.

I did a bass heavy remix for Hermitude‘s remix competition, but then fucked up and didn’t submit it in time for the comp. I was happy with how it turned out though and it got a spin on the radio.

MEGAmaschine Version 2 Release

I Finally got around to updating my MEGAmaschine template for Ableton Live. It’s just hit 400 downloads! So I’m glad it has been popular. I’ve updated the MEGAmaschine page with descriptions of the new buttons and features. A lot of time went into thinking out the placement of the buttons, I hope to write a more detailed usage guide when I get the spare time, as I think it might be more useful than another stuttering YouTube video.

Change Log:

  • Changed Scene select to ‘TEMPO’ knob (having Track/Scene select on knobs next to each other makes sense – thanks to Citizen for the suggestion)
  • Added clip quantisation to ‘SWING’ knob
  • LP/HP filters in the EQ8 Rack now only activate when the knob is turned (thanks to Zarkov for the suggestion)
  • Added dummy bars to maschine vst, Group H (can be used to easily keep Maschine in sync with Live, using Loop Scene, without the need to adjust the lengths of
    the patterns you are working with)
  • Added utility rack for volume automation (I find it best to use the Utility Gain to make volume automation, leaving the Volume control for trim)
  • Removed master track selection (unnecessary, just use ‘VOLUME’ knob to a select track)
  • Changed Sequencer/Arrangment view to ‘GRID’ button-Removed Scrub Left/Right ‘<‘ and ‘>’ buttons and replaced them with Undo/Redo (I found scrub was uselss, it makes sense having Undo/Redo with transport controls)
  • Changed Clip fire/stop buttons – ‘PAD MODE’ fires the next clip, ‘NAVIGATE’ stops clips on selected track
  • Added un-arm all to ‘DUPLICATE’ button (useful to un-arm tracks before recording automation)
  • Added keyboard shortcuts for locators, number 1-8 (handy for navigating Live when in Maschine mode)
  • Added metronome on/off to ‘STEP’ button
  • Changed Sends page to also include Volume and Pan controls for currently selected track, now only sends A-F (to free up other knobs)
  • Added Location buttons to Sends page, as well as Macro page  (so that they are always handy)
  • Changed ‘NOTE REPEAT’ button to ‘back to arrangemnt mode’
  • Removed Device Select button (unecessary, can just use Device Left/Right buttons ‘SNAP’/’AUTO WRITE’)
  • Changed ‘BROWSE’ button to ‘expand automation lane’ (useful for recording automation into arrangement view)
  • Changed ‘SAMPLING’ to Device Detail button

foobar2000: An iTunes Alternative for Windows

For the first time since Winamp 2.wateva I’ve found a music player that I’m completely satisfied with. I’m not a fan of iTunes, it’s bloated and I don’t really like the way it manages your library.

Foobar2000 has been around for a while. It’s known for being light on system resources, and infinitely customisable through it’s use of plugin components and it’s flexible theme system.

After messing it for a while I’ve finally come up with a layout I’m happy with, with all the features I need, with only minimal external components to keep it as lightweight as possible.

Download foobar2000 here.

I had a hard time finding a theme I liked that didn’t require 20 other compents, or that was up to date with the current version of foobar2000. So I spent a bit of time and came out with the above layout using no external components, except one to get the track and artwork to display properly in the Windows 7 task bar.

If you like the bare bones layout you can download it here: MEGAlite-foobar2000. (To install: Preferences>Display>Default User Interface>Import theme)

Add your folders to the library with Library>Configure>Add… Then you can filter by album, artist, folder etc. instantly. Then just right click and select Create Autoplaylist, which will create a new tab for the album.

Open any other audio file from your hard drive and it will open in the Default playlist (there might be a setting you need to tick for this), leaving your other open play lists in tact. I like to think of my open play lists like a stack of records, and set the play mode to Default so you have to get up and change the album when it’s finished. I just think it’s a good way to listen to music.

I have a whole selection of meters and visualisations prominently displayed down the bottom. I really like the spectrum analyser, it’s fast and accurate and with the number of bands I have it set to I find myself learning a lot about different mixes by just paying attention to it while I’m listening.

Remixes 1 [EP]

A compilation of my remixes from 2011.

MEGAMaschine – A workflow-oriented Maschine template for Ableton Live

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NOTE: This template has been superceded by a newer version. Click here to go to the MEGAmaschine++ page.

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 To get updates on MEGAmaschine, please use the email list signup form , or  follow me on FacebookTwitter, or subscribe to the RSS Feed.

MEGAMaschine is my Maschine template for Ableton Live. It has been designed to give you hands on control for the functions that will facilitate a good workflow while you’re jamming out your tunes. It leaves out many of the functions of other templates so that you  focus only on what matters most while you’re composing.
Note: There have been some minor changes to the button layout since I made this video.

Features

  • All features are on just 2 pages, no endless menu-diving
  • 8 Macro knobs to control any Ableton Live rack, automatically mapped using Live’s IMap feature
  • Buttons to navigate devices/racks to assign Macro knobs
  • Buttons to control the parameters of the currently selected track, e.g. Arm, Mute, Solo, Volume, Pan
  • 8 buttons permanently mapped to locators in the Live project for easy navigation
  • Easily change the currently selected track with the ‘VOLUME’ knob
  • Navigate Scenes with the ‘TEMPO’ knob
  • A Sends page for 6 knobs to control Sends A – F
  • Transport controls including Play/Pause, Play/Restart, Record, Overdub
  • Handy buttons for Undo & Redo, to switch between Sequencer and Arrangement views, and to bring up the Maschine plugin window
  • Buttons to navigate and fire/stop the currently selected Scene or Pattern, allowing on the fly mouse-free recording
  • All pads are reserved for MIDI notes, and group buttons for changing octaves, no confusing hidden features on pads

Installation

1. Download and install Selected Track Control for Ableton Live following the instructions on their website. Please consider donating to STC if you use MEGAmaschine, because all the brains for this template are thanks to them.

2. Download MEGAmaschine here: http://goo.gl/L1lW2

3. Unzip the file and install the Maschine template by dopening it in the Controller Editor (File > Open Template…)

4. Install the IMap script by copying the ‘Maschine-IMap’ folder to the appropriate User Remote Scripts folder for your OS. In Windows 7 Ableton’s User Remote Scripts folder is at ‘C:Users[USER NAME]AppDataRoamingAbletonLive [VERSION]PreferencesUser Remote Scripts’. On a Mac it is something like ‘Macintosh HD>Users>[USER NAME]>Library>Preferences>Ableton>[VERSION]>User Remote Scripts’. (NB: This folder may be hidden, do a google search to find out how to show hidden folders in your operating system)

5. Open the MEGAmaschine template project in Live. Go to Options > Preferences > MIDI/Sync and set it up like this:

6. You’re done! Test that your IMap macro knobs are controlling the racks in Live, and that all the other track control buttons are working. If you find MEGAmaschine useful, please head over and throw in a few bucks for my latest release ‘Remixes 1′ featuring my competition winning Icebird remix and Australian MCs remixed with my future styles. Or if you are low on coin, enter $0 and still get the tunes for free.

***ATTENTION PEOPLE HAVING TROUBLE WITH THE IMAP MACRO CONTROLS ***

Download this alternate Maschine template:  http://goo.gl/a8C3D
This template does not need the IMAP script so step 4 above is unnecessary and you do not need to set ‘Maschine-IMAP’ as a control surface. The downside is the knobs will not automatically snap to the correct value, instead it will ‘pick-up’ like a standard midi controller (depends on your settings).

Usage

  • Use the ‘VOLUME’ knob to select a Track
  • Use the ‘TEMPO’ knob to select a Scene
  • Use ‘SAMPLING’ button to bring up the Device Detail area
  • Use ‘SNAP’ and ‘AUTOWRITE’ buttons to navigate devices left/right
  • Use the 8 knobs (knob page 1) to control the currently selected device/rack
  • Use the 2 knobs left knobs for Volume and Pan, and the other 6 (knob page 2) to control the 6 sends of the currently selected track
  • Use the ‘CONTROL’ button to select the Maschine track
  • Use the ‘STEP’ button to trigger the metronome, and the ‘SWING’ knob to select the clip quantisation
  • Use ‘BROWSE’ to open the currently selected track’s Automation lane
  • Use the 8 buttons across the top to jump to the 8 Locators in the Live template project
  • Use the ‘SCENE’ button to fire the currently selected Scene, and ‘PATTERN’ to fire the currently selected Clip, and ‘PAD MODE’ to stop the currently selected clip
  • Use ‘PAD MODE’ for Next Clip, and ‘NAVIGATE’ to stop the currently playing clip on the selected track
  • Use ‘DUPLICATE’ to un-arm every Track, ‘SELECT’ to arm the current Track, and ‘SOLO’ and ‘MUTE’ for the currently selected track
  • Use ‘GRID’ for Sequencer/Arrangement view
  • Use the left ‘<‘ and right ‘>’ for undo and redo
  • ‘RESTART’ for Play/Restart, ‘PLAY’ for Play/Pause, ‘REC’ for Record, ‘ERASE’ for Overdub
  • ‘NOTE REPEAT’ to go back to the arrangement
  • Watch my Workflow Tips video  to learn how to use MEGAmaschine effectively (syncing Maschine and Live, Locators, etc.)

  • Refer to the controller editor:

This is what the Ableton Live Project looks like:


Change Log:

Version 2.1

  • Changed ‘BROWSE’ to bring up the device detail, and ‘SAMPLING’ to select device
  • Changed ‘STEP’ to fold/unfold tracks in arrangement view

Version 2

  • Changed Scene select to ‘TEMPO’ knob (having Track/Scene select on knobs next to each other makes sense – thanks to Citizen for the suggestion)
  • Added clip quantisation to ‘SWING’ knob-LP/HP filters in the EQ8 Rack now only activate when the knob is turned (thanks to Zarkov for the suggestion)
  • Added dummy bars to maschine vst, Group H (can be used to easily keep Maschine in sync with Live, using Loop Scene, without the need to adjust the lengths of
    the patterns you are working with)
  • Added utility rack for volume automation (I find it best to use the Utility Gain to make volume automation, leaving the Volume control for trim)
  • Removed master track selection (unnecessary, just use ‘VOLUME’ knob to a select track)
  • Changed Sequencer/Arrangment view to ‘GRID’ button-Removed Scrub Left/Right ‘<‘ and ‘>’ buttons and replaced them with Undo/Redo (I found scrub was uselss, it makes sense having Undo/Redo with transport controls)
  • Changed Clip fire/stop buttons – ‘PAD MODE’ fires the next clip, ‘NAVIGATE’ stops clips on selected track
  • Added un-arm all to ‘DUPLICATE’ button (useful to un-arm tracks before recording automation)
  • Added keyboard shortcuts for locators, number 1-8 (handy for navigating Live when in Maschine mode)
  • Added metronome on/off to ‘STEP’ button
  • Changed Sends page to also include Volume and Pan controls for currently selected track, now only sends A-F (to free up other knobs)
  • Added Location buttons to Sends page, as well as Macro page  (so that they are always handy)
  • Changed ‘NOTE REPEAT’ button to ‘back to arrangemnt mode’
  • Removed Device Select button (unecessary, can just use Device Left/Right buttons ‘SNAP’/’AUTO WRITE’)
  • Changed ‘BROWSE’ button to ‘expand automation lane’ (useful for recording automation into arrangement view)
  • Changed ‘SAMPLING’ to Device Detail button


20 Brief Reviews of iPad Apps for Music Production

I posted this screenshot up on my Facebook page a while back hoping to have the time to actually try all these apps soon. Well I’ve just got back from travelling about and plently of bus, train and plane trips means I’ve had time to give each of them a good look over. I thought some quick reviews might help folks decide where to spend their iOS cash.

touchAble – For controlling Able Live, if you have Live get this app. It has this bouncy ball thing that you assign to automate any parameter you want, yeah it’s pretty cool.

touchOSC – A customizable control surface for MIDI and OSC. Very useful, heaps of pre-made templates online, cool looking GUI.

nanoloop – One of the original chip-tune programs for Gameboy on iOS, how can you not love it. Interface takes a little getting used to.

SoundPrism – Really cool MIDI controller app that organises notes on a grid in such a way that makes it easy to put together chords. I quickly come up with ideas that I would never stumble across on a keyboard. You can a free version to test it out then buy the ‘pro’ version to get MIDI output.

sampletoy – A fun sample mangler for iPhone.

Beatmaker – Now superseded by Beatmaker II. I just got Beatmaker II and it’s great, seriously powerful sampler/sequencer app (an MPC in the iPad basically). I can really see myself using this on the regular, especially for quick ideas, chopping samples, and putting together drum kits. I wish this is what iMaschine was…

Filtatron – The idea of having a virtual Moog filter in my iPad didn’t really excite me at first, the whole point of a Moog filter is it’s analog, right? Well the other factor is that it’s hands-on, and after playing with this app I loved it. The interface is a pleasure to use, and just begs you to freak it out, something you just don’t do the same clicking around on a screen. It actually makes me want to buy one of these Alesis IODock things so I can incorporate it into my studio workflow easily.

Alchemy – One of my favourite VSTs as an iOS app, what could go wrong? Well the fact that it is just a glorified ROMpler, and the ‘pro’ version is a glorified ROMpler that also controls the VST… whoo hoo. I suppose it’s good if you’re into their presets, but I was pretty disappointed by this much hyped app.

MultiTrack – A pretty serious DAW-like app. Pretty impressive really, you could easily record and mix a jam session, and get it sounding pretty decent using the built-in EQ and compressor. I bought it to paste in tracks using audio copy from other apps, but haven’t really used it that much, Beatmaker II is more my thing. Still, it’s a quality app and will probably come in handy one day.

GriidPro – Another app to control Ableton Live. Also awesome, though I’d probably give the edge to touchAble because I like it’s GUI and it’s got a few really cool features. Griid is better for for clip-triggering duties, and I’ll probably use it in my live setup.

iMaschine – I was really excited about this, because I’d really love to use my iPad to make drum kits and simple loops, that I can later import into Maschine and flesh out into a whole track. iMaschine is useless to me, because there is no ADSR envelope, and no filter per pad. It really is pretty shit, though I hold some hope that they’ll make it less shit in the future.

Polychord – Similar idea to SoundPrism, in that it’s an alternative interface for creating chord progressions. It’s got a totally different interface however, and is equally awesome.

CrystalSynthXT – An iOS version of the popular freeware VST Crystal. I love the idea of being able to create synth patches on the go, then import them into the VST plugin later and get to work on a track. This isn’t some cut-down peice of shit like Alchemy, it’s a proper synth and I can actually use it how I described. The interface is a little fiddly at times, but all-in-all a great app.

Animoog –  An excellent synth for iPad. Not only does it sound great, it has an excellent interface, and a range of features that make it quite unique. Moog have really taken advantage of the touchscreen, and made an instrument designed for the iPad, not just copied the standard virtual analog software synth paradigm.

iMS20 – A great app that recreates the legendary MS20, plus adds a sequencer and drum machine. As a veteran of Korg’s DS-10 for Nintendo DS (check out my EP made entirly on the DS-10), I was expecting a lot from this app, probably too much. I was a little disappointed that there is only 1 synth + 6  drum parts, as opposed to the DS-10’s 2 synths + 4 drum parts, which seriously limits your ability to make a whole track inside the app. I really enjoyed the limitations of the DS-10, which is why I made an EP with it, and I don’t know why but iMS20 doesn’t excite me enough to try a similar project… maybe I don’t have the patience, or maybe I’m just spoilt for choice. Still one of the best apps, especially if you think of it more as a kick ass drum synth/sequencer.

iElectribe – I was hoping for some deeper synth capabilities (hmmm recurring theme?), but the iElectribe is still tonnes of fun. The fact that you can sequence the effect type and all the parameters makes it more versatile than it looks from first inspection, I even took it into glitch territory by freaking FX parameters. Not a lot to it, but lots of fun for what it is.

SoundyThingie – An app that translates drawn lines into music. Pretty weird but very fun. I’m not sure if it’s that ‘useful’, but that’s not always the point. Could probably use it for making some riser and fx/glitch stuff.

TweakyBeat – A really simple drum machine synth, but lots of fun to play with.

TNR-i – After being burnt a couple of times, I was half expecting another cut-down app to cash in on some hardware hype. But after a quick play, I was pleasantly surprised and realised that some serious effort had gone into this app. You’ve really got to read through the manual to get the most from it, there is a lot there and I’m excited to explore this one some more.

iKaossilator – Ther’s no way to import your own sounds (as far as I can tell), which is a shame. But I put my aversion towards presets away for a minute and really enjoyed playing with this app.

I think I’ve covered most of the popular iOS apps for music production, and a few that get less coverage. Anyone have any other suggestions? I’m looking forward to giving this a go next: Sunrizer Synth. Shit got real the other day when I realised I can have Beatmaker II playing in the background, load up another synth like Animoog or Sunrizer, play, record and audiocopy/paste. I think that’s a pretty cool combo. You can also can use core MIDI to use Soundprism/Polychord to control Animoog. Pretty fucking amazing how powerful some of these apps are, but I think the best bit is that you come up with stuff that you wouldn’t sitting in front of your PC with a MIDI keyboard. Plus you can do it sitting at the beach.

The Sound Of The Sky – Sound Design with Photosounder

I’ve been interested of the idea of using ‘natural’ noise in place of white noise for synthesis, for example using field recordings of the ocean/wind/rain, tape hiss etc. So I was just thinking about using Photosounder and pictures of the night sky to produce some sort of semi-random noise. Then I found this picture and it’s much more interesting, it’s of ‘stars and passing aircraft’, with ‘1 hour exposure at f/5.6 taken later that night. The Milky Way is rising over the mountains.’

After a bit of tweaking I really like how this turned out, it makes a perfect riser, and much more interesting than a white noise build up!

I AM WINNER


It just got announced that I won Icebird’s Charmed Life Remix contest!
Many thanks to RJD2 and Aaron Livingston for putting on the comp. Rockin my shiny new Soudcloud account now!