Ableton Live & N.I. Maschine – Workflow Tips

Here’s a vid I made a while back that has proved to be quite useful for people. It’s about some workflow tips for using Native Instruments Maschine as a plugin within Ableton Live.

This tutorial covers:
-Using Maschine as a plugin, and syncing with live WITHOUT using scene change messages
-Project organisation, using locators
-Assigning useful keyboard shortcuts

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aYgo_VB3XA[/youtube]

And here is the featured tune:

Jackie Onassis – Said and Done (Megatroid Remix) by Megatroid

Battery Brain [EP]

My recently released EP, Battery Brain, is available to listen to on Soundcloud or download on bandcamp. It is a pay-what-you-want release (including zero), released through tapedeath.com.

Battery Brain by Megatroid

My First Sony Saturater

After seeing the Cheap Tape Saturation Hack post on CDM tonight, I thought I’d post up my own pics of the same hack  I did a little while back. I had the idea to do this when I was cleaning out my desk drawers, finding both the a tape-to-cd adapter and my first ever Sony Walkman. I then spent a while filing a hole for the cord with my pocket knife, and here you have it: My First Sony Saturater. Full of lo-fi portable grungy goodness.

I’ve experimented running drums from my DS-10 through this, and also a Korg Monotron, and Ds-10 -> Monotron -> My first Sony Resampler… surely that combo gets you just a little bit wet.

Midi_Pix – MIDI triggered images with Pure Data

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0km9BWR_5U[/youtube]

A quick vid of something I did a couple of weeks ago in Pure Data. MIDI triggered images usuing Pure Data + Live + Maschine.

Edit: Here is the patch, I never finished it off with the other ideas I had for it, but I’m providing it as it was when I made this video.

DOWNLOAD: midi_pix

Wiimote to MIDI Tutorial using GlovePIE

This post is a simple step-by-step guide on how to control your MIDI devices with a Wiimote. This MIDI equipment could be a hardware synth, a DAW like Abelton Live, or any other MIDI capable hardware or software. The tutorial will use GlovePIE which is available for free download. This software is Windows only, so this tutorial only applies to Windows uses, but Mac users looking for an alternative should check out OSCulator. The other software I’ll be using in this tutorial is LoopBe1 which is a free virtual MIDI driver which I’ll explain more about later.

So some people might be wondering why you would want to control MIDI devices with Wiimote, I mean sure it’s cool if your a nerd, but what’s the point? I thought the same thing until I saw this guy:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKV_bxid_Xs[/youtube]

So the answer is performance. One of the biggest challenges facing electronic music is the performance aspect; standing behind a pile of gear and twiddling some knobs doesn’t really make for an interesting live show. With a Wiimote, you can turn your knob twiddling into dramatic waggling that the audience can see!

Now this is a lot easier then you might think, you don’t need any programming experience, just a basic grasp of what MIDI is and you should be up and waggling in no time. First of download and install LoopBe1 and GlovePIE (you’ll have to click “I already have 100% green power” and you can get the one without Emotiv support).

The Wiimote is easy to connect to your PC  because it communicates using the popular Bluetooth protocol. So the next thing you want to do is pair your Wiimote with your PC using Bluetooth. Most laptops have a Bluetooth receiver built in, but if you don’t have this you can get a USB Bluetooth adapter for a few dollars off ebay. Now the actual pairing process varies depending on which Bluetooth software you have on your PC, but the process is the same as for adding any other Bluetooth device so there should be all the info you need on the net or in help files. All you need to know is that you press tha “1” and “2” buttons at the same time so that the lights flash before you try to connect to the remote, and then select “Pair with a code” or similar if you are asked. Once you have done this successfully your software should be telling you that you are connected, but there won’t be any lights showing on your Wiimote so don’t worry.

Next load up GlovePIE. GlovePIE uses a simple scripting language to convert between different input and output. So for example you could set it up to make the “A” button on your Wiimote act as the “Enter” key on your keyboard; or a joystick, gamepad, x-box controller to act as your mouse, keyboard etc. whatever way you program it. It is a very powerful program and when you realise what it’s capable off it opens up a whole range of possibilities. The great thing about GlovePIE for our purposes is that it has built it support for both Wiimotes and MIDI!

First lets just make a simple MIDI note assignment, we’ll make the “A” button on the Wiimote play MIDI note C3. To do this we need to define our MIDI output, and we need to have something that will play this MIDI note. If you have a hardware MIDI interface and a synthesiser this involves simply connecting a cable between your interface and synth and away you go. If you want to control your software this is where LoopBe1 comes in. LoopBe is a virtual midi cable, it does the same thing as connecting a cable between your MIDI interface and synth, but all inside your PC. For this tutorial I’ll assume you are controlling software, but all the same things apply if you are controlling hardware, you’ll just be using a different MIDI output (your interface instead of LoopBe).

GlovePIE assigns a device number to each of your MIDI outputs, to work out which one LoopBe1 is go to the “GUI” tab, click “Choose Manually” and then click the “Output Device” drop-down box.

Here you can see on my PC LoopBe is Midi2. Take note of what number LoopBe is on your PC since it may be different.

Now click back to the “Untitled” tab and type this into the text area:

midi.DeviceOut = 2
midi.DefaultChannel = 1
midi.c3 = Wiimote1.A

Replace the “2” with whatever device number you noted down before. So what this is doing is telling GlovePIE to use LoopBe as the MIDI output device, to output on MIDI channel 1, and to assign the “A” button on the Wiimote to MIDI note C3. Note that GlovePIE isn’t case sensitive so you can write MIDI.c3 = wiimote.a and it won’t matter.

So now go ahead and click “Run”. If your Wiimote is paired correctly light’s 1 and 4 should light up while the program initialises, and then the only the 1st light will be lit when the program is running. If you don’t see any lights your Wiimote isn’t connecting properly. I’ve found this part of the process a little buggy but always manage to get it working. First of all check that in your Bluetooth software it is still telling you that your Wiimote is connected. If it isn’t, try pairing it again. If it is, just try clicking “Stop” in GlovePIE and then start again, sometimes it takes a couple of goes for some reason. Also try going to the “TroubleShooter” menu in GlovePIE and clicking “No bluetooth auto-connect”, I haven’t had much luck using GlovePIEs auto connect, and have found it messes up my connection sometimes, but it may work for you. After a bit of mucking around it will connect, and the good news is, once connected I’ve found the connection to be very stable, no drop outs.

So now your GlovePIE script is running, your Wiimote light is one, all you need to do is assign the midi to something. This is the same process as assigning a MIDI keyboard, which you should be familiar with in your DAW or soft synth of choice. Here I’m using Massive:

Now press “A” on your Wiimote and you will hear sound!

Ok now here’s where it starts to get fun; lets assign the pitch of the Wiimote to a MIDI control value so we can turn knobs by waving our hand around. Press stop and type this into the text box underneath what you have just typed:

if Wiimote1.B then
midi.control10 = maprange(wiimote1.smoothpitch, -90 degrees, 90 degrees, 0, 1)
endif

Let’s break down what’s happening here. The first line is called an “If statement” and is a common construct in programming, what it says is “if something happens, then do this” . In our case the something is “Wiimote button B pressed” and the this is mapping the pitch (tilt) of the Wiimote to MIDI control message 10. The number 10 is completely arbitrary here, though some soft synth’s (and most or all hardware synths) do have pre-assigned control values, so e.g. 74 might be filter cutoff. If not already assigned, most software has some sort of MIDI learn function, so you should be able to choose a parameter of your synth (e.g. filter cut off), hold “B” and wave your hand and it should automatically assign that MIDI control value to that parameter.

So now press run again, and go an assignment your MIDI control value. Spend the next 10 minutes or so waving your hand around like a idiot, like I do here:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7bPkouoLdk[/youtube]

If you’ve got this far, you’re more than capable of reading through GlovePIEs documentation and utilising all the great inbuilt functions for wiimotes, so have a look and get creative. Get in touch with me if you have any troubles, go to megatroid.com and hit me up on twitter!

A Quick Generative Experiment

Here is an experiment I did using the SKTCH application for the iPhone, and Photosounder. Just a cool little exercise in sound design.

SKTCH is a generative drawing program for the iPhone, it’s damn fun to muck around with, you draw in shapes and mess with the preset algorithms and colours it has. Photosounder is a program that allows you to turn images into sound, or turn sound into images, edit them, and turn them back into sound.  The thing I find interesting about these programs is that the output is largely out of your control, you are just there to provide some input.

I created the images using SKTCH just playing around one night with some colours and shapes I liked. I later had the the thought that it would be cool to load these up in Photosounder that I’d recently bought, and take it for a test run. It was a fun little psuedo-generative experiment, and the results are noisy, eerie, chaotic. I set a time resolution in Photosounder, and then adjusted with frequency scale differently for each image, so some sounds have a narrower frequency range than is focused in the lower frequenices (200-500Hz) and some have a larger range (80-4000Hz).

In summary, these sounds were generated by these pictures. They are CC licensed, so feel free to download and use them however you wish!

SND_1

SND_2

SND_3

SND_4

SND_5

SND_6

SND_7

SND_8

DS-10 EP: Don’t Play Games With Chemicals [KR041]

Don't Play Games With Chemicals

Download @ Kittenrock

My EP ‘Don’t Play Games With Chemicals’ is this months release on kittenrock.co.uk. It’s composed entirely on the Korg DS-10, mostly while travelling on buses around Cambodia and Laos. I found it really refreshing to work within the limitations of the DS-10 software: 2 mono synths, 4 drum synths, and only 16 patterns of 1 bar each. It means you really get experimental doing things you otherwise wouldn’t; in terms of sound design with a basic synth, and structure when you are so limited in space. The results are some minimal sounding down-tempo tracks, raw out of the Nintendo DS with no post processing.

Enjoy!

DS-10 Track on The Secret Mixtape



I’ve got a track featured on the secretmixtape.com this week. It’s off my soon to be released DS-10 EP “Don’t Play Games With Chemicals”. Created entirely on a single DS-10 with no post processing, it’s full of big bold synths, blips, wobbles and the general rawness.

Wiimote (OSC) Controlled Video Mixer Using Pure Data & GlovePIE

Last month I wrote a video mixer in Pure Data to provide live visuals for one of my sets. I thought it would be fun to control the video mixer with a Wiimote, that I could give to my friends to fuck around with while I was playing my music. This is the result. Although planning the idea for a month I left it to a couple of days before to put it together, so it is rather rudimentary, but it works, and it’s damn fun. It’s  a good starting point for anyone wanting to do a similar thing.

Here’s a very quick clip of the results:

It consists of a GlovePIE script to convert the Wiimote input into Open Sound Control (OSC) messages. The OSC messages are recieved by the Pure Data (Pd) patch, which outputs the video. So a block diagram of the system would look something like:

Wiimote->Bluetooth->Glovepie->OSC->Pure Data

GlovePIE is a great program the I’ve used before to convert Wiimote movement to MIDI messages. Here I’m using it to convert Wiimote movement and button presses to OSC messages, which is a much more flexible and easier to use protocol than MIDI. So I’ve written a simple script to provide control of the Pd patch using OSC. The ‘1’ and ‘2’ buttons select the video clips to mix between, from a random pool of clips I cut up from public domain footage (archive.org). Holding the ‘A’ button and tilting the remote mixes between the two videos; 45 degrees to left displays just the first video, 45 to the right displays only the second, and the centre is the half/half mix. Holding the ‘B’ button and titling the remote controls the gain effect, which provides the trippy colours you can see in the youtube clip.

The Pure Data patch is extremely simple, but it provides a good base to extend upon. The OSC messages are unpacked in the “osc” subpatch. The is the place you will want to focus on if you want to modify how the control works, or for example add MIDI control instead of OSC. The “load” subpatch is where the file loading takes place, and this is where you’ll want to look to adapt the patch to your own needs. Currently the patch is designed to load a random clip, that are named 1.avi, 2.avi… to 40.avi. This isn’t a very elegant way of loading a file, as requires the files to be named accordingly, but it is extremely simple. It can easily be adapted to other naming schemes, e.g. “clip1.mov” and greater or lesser numbers of clips. But if you want to get clever, or remove the random selection, here you want to do your work. Thanks goes to *someone* (can’t find the original post) on the Pure Data Forum for providing the basis of the patch, and the extremely useful FLOSS Manual.

oscvidmixer

In the future I hope to greatly expand the system, incorporating it more closely into my set, and extended its capabilitys to include many more visual effects. Better yet I hope somone else extends it for me!

You can download the GlovePIE script here and the Pure Data Patch here*.

*UPDATE: Sorry the PD patch file is corrupted, and I can’t seem to find the original. Oh well, you can still put it together from the picture. Sorry!

 

Free Portable Music Studio

Well I was going to have a series of posts to help people build their own “Dirt Cheap Software Studio” but this guy beat me to it. And done a pretty nice job. And I would’ve never got around to it anyway.

Free Portable Music Studio*

Using Reaper with a nice selection of free plugins, this little download contains everything you need in a free software studio, and because Reaper runs off a thumb drive it’s portable!

There’s a few free VST plugins that I would class as must-haves that didn’t make this list, so I’ll follow up with a few blog post + links some time soon.

* Note: Reaper isn’t exactly “free”. The evaluation version is uncrippled, and unexpiring, but after 30 days you should buy a license, which as I have mentioned before is dirt cheap! You’ll no doubt want to support the development of such a great piece of software, fork out the cash and feel good about yourself.