20 Ableton Live Tips & Tricks in 8 Minutes

March 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

10 Tips to Fight Writer’s Block & Increase Studio Productivity

March 15, 2012 § 4 Comments

Sometimes it’s writer’s block. And sometimes it’s simply procrastination. But some days in the studio don’t seem to flow like others. Often we feel inspired to start (or continue) a project but feel that something’s not working. Maybe the sounds don’t come like they did last time. Maybe you just can’t get in the groove. To help we’ve got some tips that can get you back on track the next time you’re feeling the lack of mojo in the studio.

10. Clean your workspace. A clean physical space creates a clear slate in your mind for creation. I find that when I clean the house, sweep the floors, dust off my equipment and delete a lot of junk from my computer desktop I feel much more enticed to work.  I also gain a lot of ideas through the process and my mind feels clear as a result. You can apply the Chinese art of Feng Shui to your studio layout, which is said to bring harmony, balance and a better flow of energy. On a smaller scale, I take a moment once a week to clean down all my gear, using a horse-hair paintbrush to get dust out of the smaller spots.

9. Disconnect yourself from the internet. Close Explorer, Firefox, Safari, iChat and any other apps on your studio computer that are online. Facebook and instant messages confuse your workflow and will get you off-track. Make your studio time streamlined and productive and you are less likely to lose your inspiration in the process.

8. Listen to something very different. This tip comes from Oliver Chesler who runs the very insightful Wire to the Ear blog. Oliver adds,“Four hours into any mixing section and your brain starts to believe it’s being exposed to a torture test of some sort. Stop and click iTunes open and then play the cheesiest, happiest song you can find. Besides realizing how much better any song you choose is better than the one your working on your brain will reward you with some new ideas.”

7. Take a break. Your ears are doing a lot of work when you sit between the monitors and scrutinize each sound. Eventually your perception of the sounds changes and it’s important to take breaks to let your ears rest. 5-10 minutes after 45 minutes of working (at lower volumes) should be adequate to let your ears bounce back.

6. Write your ideas in a notebook (with a pen.) I was working at an Ad Agency a few years back when my boss gave me a really good tip. She suggested that when I come to work in the morning I should grab my coffee and a notebook and “sit on the couch and write for an hour.” It turned out to be a habit I kept long after that job. Most of us turn to the computer for our first move with just about everything these days. But the computer offers too many choices and too many chances for mis-direction. I found that writing my ideas on paper helped me to refine ideas and workflow before I got started. With a clear direction of where you want to go before you begin, the process becomes much quicker and enjoyable. If you keep these ideas in a notebook they can become a reference for more ideas when you read over them again. I continue to find new inspiration in things that I wrote and forgot about.

5. Try your hand at a new genre. Most of us get stuck in one or two modes of beat creation when we start, leaning on a certain tempo and kick pattern to begin the session. To inspire creativity when you’re in a rut – change it up. If you usually make house, make hip hop or dubstep. If you usually make drum and bass, make techno. By attempting a new beat pattern you will conjure new ideas while learning how to produce outside your own box.

4. Apply time-compression. This idea comes from Dubspot’s Matt Shadetek who wrote a great piece on his blog entitled: “Creativity: How To Turn Lack Of Time & Resources Into An Asset.” The basic idea is that when we are very busy (working a full-time job, going to school, etc) we are the most productive. This is because we are constantly at a fast pace, trying to get the most out of all the time we have. When we are not working or not so busy we are less productive because we are moving at a slower pace. To get the most out of our time it’s best to apply deadlines to things that we do in order to be more efficient. Matt explains further:

The basic idea is how when we are forced to do something in a tight frame we suddenly become very focused and fast and get it done.  The example is when you were in high school and had six months to write a report and then wrote it in five hours the night before it was due, and still wrote it really well.  I think more people do this than not. By working constantly under time pressure and deadlines you can actually majorly improve your productivity.  I find I work REALLY well this way and get a ton done.  I don’t fuck around and check my email or twitter in the middle of working, or stare into space or allow myself to get distracted.  Instead I WORK LIKE CRAZY and get things done.  As I mentioned in my Zen Calligraphy post I like to sometimes use the site e.ggtimer.com and set tight artificial time limits during my work day to push myself into this race against the clock mind state.  It’s awesome.

3. Apply Oblique Strategies. In 1975 Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt created the Oblique        Strategies card set. Subtitled “Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas,” the cards offer new perspectives in our approach to creating art. The idea is that when you are stuck you can pick a card and then use the message to move forward in your work. For an example of how it works you can check out an online version of the card set, download the iPhone application or pick up your own deck directly from Brian Eno.

2. Give yourself some limits (and make a manifesto). Some of the best artwork created is made using minimal materials. Dabrye and Prefuse 73 have created albums made entirely on an MPC, for instance. One of my favorite house 12’s was made with (just) a Roland MC-505. You don’t need a lot of gear to make music. Furthermore a lot of us are overwhelmed by the choice of VSTs, presets or even DAWs to choose from. By setting some limits on what you are using you can save time and get down to the business at hand. One way to do this is to create template files that have your presets and plug-ins loaded and ready to go. Another way to approach this refinement is to make a manifesto. This idea comes from Matthew Herbert who has a personal contract for the composition of music which includes rules such as:

The use of sounds that exist already is not allowed, In particular: No drum machines. All keyboard sounds must be edited in some way: no factory presets or pre-programmed patches are allowed. Only sounds that are generated at the start of the compositional process or taken from the artist’s own previously unused archive are available for sampling. The sampling of other people’s music is strictly forbidden. – Matthew Herbert

1. Stop Complaining. My favorite tip is directed at procrastination. It comes from the insightful and musically prolific Mike Monday, who writes some great pieces on music production, motivation and productivity on his site. He also makes some killer dance music. The advices continues as follows:

You’ve wasted too much time complaining. The game has changed and you can either sit on the sidelines or start playing. This is as big a revolution in the way we consume and distribute music as there’s ever been in history. As big as sheet music. As big as recorded music. As big as radio. If not bigger than the lot. And you’ve spent way too long whining about it instead of getting your head around it. You’re missing a golden opportunity. Or more accurately – lots of them. Because the writing’s on the wall for selling recorded music it doesn’t mean the same is true for music as a whole. Our new currency isn’t vinyl, cds or even mp3s. It’s attention. So how are you going to get mine? – Mike Monday

(Originally published on Dubspot.com)

DJ Vespers’ 5 Secrets to Writing Better Music Faster

March 15, 2012 § 4 Comments

Korg iMS-20 for iPad looks like a heck of a lot of fun

November 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

Of all the music apps I’ve used on the iPad, the Korg iElectribe was by far the most polished and refined offering. So I was eager to see the announcement of Korg’s iMS-20 for iPad, now selling for $15.99 at the iTunes app Store. The videos and clips (below) look incredible. Multi-touch re-routing, sequencer and analog power on your iPad. (Personally I can’t wait to run this through a KP3 as well.)

How to use your iPad or iPhone to control Logic Pro (with version 9.1.2 update)

October 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

 

You’ve probably seen the music interface TouchOSC by now.. the iPhone/iPad/iPod software that works as a remote midi control device with customizable user interface. It’s very cool. But unless you are into downloading midi-maps and getting your hands a bit dirty in setup, they are not (yet) perfectly integrated into the studio workflow. But this is about to change – last week Apple announced support for TouchOSC in their latest update to Logic Pro. This marks a big turn for the OSC protocol which has been gaining momentum but has not (until now) seen much integration from the leaders of the industry. If you have Logic and you have an iDevice, I highly recommend picking up TouchOSC and firing up Logic to see how they work together. Below is a how-to guide from Sam Greene on setting this up.

Update your device to the latest version of TouchOSC and you should now see a layout called LogicPad or LogicTouch.  Choose that layout and Logic will prompt you to use it.  If you are not prompted for it, go to Logic Pro > preferences > control surfaces > Setup…

Dive down into the control surfaces setup:

Add a New Device:

You should now be hooked up.

A quick review of the layouts show that they can control the track volumes, pan, send levels and other more advanced aspects such as the automation mode.  You can also apply eq to each track, which will automatically enable the eq for the track, which is intuitive, but somehow still amazing.  The iPad layout has a page for instrument settings, which I’ll be investigating as soon as I can.

So very nice of them to get this working.  Works without any OSC to MIDI converters.  Start the app and it’s on.  I haven’t been able to get the iPad to transmit to Logic yet, but haven’t given it any effort aside from changing the ports to 7000/7001.  Hopefully a little prodding at it should do the trick.

Teenage Engineering OP-1 update: product is 90 percent complete, Street price of $799 announced

September 26, 2010 § 1 Comment

As a gadget fan and a synth geek I’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of Teenage Engineering’s OP-1 synthesizer. Originally announced at Musikmesse in 2009, this all-in-one unit gained a lot of attention for unique (and awesome) interface design as well as lots of unique features for tweaking on the go. The OP-1 is an all-in-one portable Synthesizer, Sampler and Controller. It also has features such as an FM Radio and a G-Force sensor for pitch and bend effects, a tape emulator and built in speaker. Teenage Engineering consists of seven guys from Stockholm, Sweden who have set turned the audio/gadget world on it’s head waiting to play with this very cool device. This week we got some updates from Teenage Engineering who have finally announced a street price of $799 and some updates to production.

Some updates from Teenage Engineering:

When it comes to functionality, 90% percent is completed and working. Some parts of the system is still being fine tuned and optimized. Overall we are extremely happy with what we have. The OP-1 will be shipped with 6 synthesizer engines and 2 sampler types. Pulse was shown at the NAMM show, the other synthesizer engines are DrWave, FM, Phase, String, Digital, Cluster. Further it will include 8 effects, 3 LFO types and 3 original sequencers. The Mixer section has a dedicated EQ and Drive as well as Master Balance and an additional Master Effect slot. The Sequencers can be matched to the tape speed with a feature called Beat Match. The Tape also have additional ONE-KEY features added that will be revealed at launch.

[Hardware] We just received the golden sample for the keyboard module / plastic parts from the factory. And we are very satisfied with the look and feel of it. The complexity level of the OP-1’s electronics makes component sourcing a bit tricky. As soon as we get the missing chips we will go into production with the first beta batch. Shortly after, the first full production run will be started. So keep your fingers crossed that all this works out.

We have gotten a lot of mails lately regarding the shipping date and the final price of the OP-1. So we felt it’s time for us to provide you with some details:

Estimated street price: $799 / Euro 799 (includes EC-VAT)
Estimated release date: TBA (Depending on the last components to arrive)

OP-1 Technology Specs

  • 400 MHz Processor Core (800 MMACS) performance
  • 64 MB Low-Power SDRAM (12ns)
  • 512 MB Nand Flash storage
  • 24-bit 96kHz ADC/DAC
  • USB 2.0 high speed (OTG)
  • 3.5 mm Input, Output
  • Built-in microphone
  • High output mini speaker 8 Ohm 1 Watt
  • 3-axis accelerometer (G-force) sensor
  • Worldwide FM band support (64-108 MHz)
  • Amoled display running in 60 fps
  • 320 x 160 pixel resolution
  • Color Depth: 16.7 M
  • Contrast: 10000:1 (good for outdoor use!)
  • Viewing Angle: 170°
  • Life Time: 30,000 hrs
  • 2500mAh li-ion Polymer Battery

Android platform music production apps are getting better..

May 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

This video captures a demo of a step sequencer application, Monotroid, running on an Android mobile phone-controlled Korg Monotron:

  • Android is connected with Arduino by Bluetooth.
  • The Arduino is connected with Monotron.

Adding the iPhone app to the Monotroni creates a surprisingly potent combination.

TheCryingGadgets — May 18, 2010 — A matrix sequencer application on android mobile phone controlled Monotron.
Android is connected with Arduino by bluetooth.
Arduino is connected with Monotron.

Android programming and Arduino programming : S_Ishimaru
Monotron pitch control circuit design : Denkitribe
Video edit and musics : S_Ishimaru

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