Category Archives: News

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).

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Beatmaker – Now superseded by Beatmaker II.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!

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

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.

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 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!