Ive been writing quite a bit of music over the past 18 months, but not that much of it has been making it out into the world. My Work In Progress/Sketch folder is just getting bigger and bigger. After recently spending some time listening through this folder, I quickly realised that there is a lot of interesting music in there, that I still quite like (which is always a good sign). Some of it is rubbish, but overall I was pretty, even found a few almost finished gems that I had forgot about. Not a bad problem to have, but it's a shame they are all sitting there collecting digital dust. So I've decided I need to do something about it.
What I've found over many years of making music, is that the stuff I tend to release, via a label or independently, tends to be there stuff that comes together very quickly, usually less than a week from start to finish. Generally speaking the longer I spend on a piece, there the less chance I will finish, no matter how strong the musical ideas are. To combat this Im trying two different approaches, starting this month (July 2020). Firstly I've started a little project/series called Don't Overthink It, the premise for this project, is that each track takes no longer than 1 week to write, mix, self-master and release. Work fast, don't deliberate, just get it done and do so as regularly as possible. The second approach is to revisit at least 5 old pieces that are yet to see the light of day, over the next month or two, with the aim of creating an EP. I typically find it pretty challenging to come back to old Ableton sessions and finish off tracks, but I figure this is a good skill to work on and develop. This first piece from the former approach is below. Check it out and let me know what you think.
It seems like the the last few blog posts have gone something along the lines of " Hey Guys, Sorry for the hiatus, I've been busy, things happened, and now I'm back and I'll write more posts I promise" and then 12 months past between posts. So needless to say, It's been a proper moment or two between posts, but I promise there is plenty of good news amongst the ongoing onslaught of bad news we have all be facing lately and this time ill be making a concerted effort to put something up here once a week. I can't guarantee it will be good, but it should be better than your average Trump Tweet.
So, on to the news... the real stuff, none of that fake stuff.
Firstly, I now have a beautiful 17 month old son (Yep thats how long its been between posts). He keeps us super busy and he even dances to my music every now and again, he's lots of fun, and yes being a parent is awesome.
Secondly, I've now got my own real-deal proper studio space in Sydney's amazing Inner West. Like a legit, not my bedroom space where I can make plenty of noise and leave my gear setup without fear of a toddler pulling it down on himself. Ive been there about 2 months now, and I've finally got it setup nicely and more importantly sounding good. So expect a lot more music over the coming few months, some singles, a couple of mixes, a remix or two and at least one EP.
And finally I've been cooking up some cool tutorials/posts/videos on music making and creativity which I'm looking forward to sharing with you. Hopefully they will inspire you and at worst help you kill time in iso wondering why the music guy who loves tech and is talking about mixing can't get the balance right between the dialogue and the music.
2020, what a time to be alive! Stay safe and well.
PS. Here's some new music
Wowser! It has been a long time between posts... Needless to say it has been a busy 12 months, I've been writing plenty of music, some of which has been making its way out into wild via labels like Yin Yang, Emotional Content and Seppuku Records. However I have been a bit slack keeping on top of the blog, but hopefully I can turn that around. On the plus side I have almost finished a new EP, so keep your ears and eyes peeled for it in the second half of 2018.
As I am sure you know, Live 10 was released back in Feburary and I was fortunate enough to be part of the the Ableton test team for this big update, so ive been working with the new devices for quite some time now and I really like them. Wavetable, Echo and Drum Buss in particular are all over my new music and have been finding their way into nearly all of my sessions. So I thought I would share a little instruement rack that combines them together, along with the newly revised Convolution Reverb device to create a dubby minor chord stab with some nice movement. It's relatively simple, but shows the potential of these great new devices. Check it out!
Wow! First post of 2017, and we are already half way through February. Needless to say, it was a very busy end to 2016 and start of 2017, but things are a little more under control now and I have been finding some time to write music and work on sharing some cool creative tools and techniques. Hope 2017 is off to a great start for you.
I was lucky enough to get over to Berlin back in November for Loop 2016, Ableton's amazing summit for music makers. I got to celebrate my 30th birthday on Saturday at Day 2 of Loop, which was a great added bonus. It was such an inspiring and creatively invigorating experience, so many great ideas presented, brilliant people and amazing performances. All housed in a fantastic venue, the Funkhaus which is situated beside the Spree river in East Berlin, and is one of the worlds largest purpose built recording facilities. Anyway that is enough reminiscing for now, onto the good stuff.
I first started exploring Tilt filters back in the middle of last year, primarily through Softube's Tonelux and Sweetone from Sonimus. In essence a Tilt filter is a simple EQ, that allows us to rebalance the frequency spectrum of a sound. A great tool for quickly adjusting the tone of a sound, before we move on to the more detailed tonal processing with a parametric EQ.
I really enjoyed using both of the plugins, and found them a useful part of my workflow, but instead of purchasing them I wondered if I could recreate a similar result using Ableton's EQ8 Device, with two bands; a low and high shelf respectively and utilising the scale control for the Tilt amount. After a bit of experimentation with the Q values and frequencies for each band, I managed to come up with a curve that worked well and gave me the desired outcome (Not exactly the same but near enough). I have now have combined it into a rack that provides quick access to the important controls, adds low and high pass filters and has all parameters restricted to a musically useful range.
As you will see in the image below, there are only three controls so it is very easy to setup. I usually use it as the first insert effect on a track, if I need to adjust its tone or limit the bandwidth (Remove low or high frequencies).
You can download the Audio Effect Rack preset here below.
If you open up the rack and have a look inside you will see there are actually two EQ8 devices, one for the Tilt filter and another for the low and high pass filters.
Hopefully you find it useful, I don't use it on every track , but it can be very handy for making quick tonal adjustments to get in the ballpark range you are looking for.
Lots more stuff coming on here over the next few weeks, so keep posted for some more goodies. :-)
Ps. There are a few photos below from Loop!
I enjoy reading about creativity and hearing other peoples perspectives. This manifesto from Afro Dj Mac is brilliant and aligns well with my own ideas and experiences. Check it out here The Origins of Inspiration (Also worth exploring the rest of the site, as they have some great stuff)
Update: November 14th, 2016 - As Vidar has pointed out below in the comments, the link was not working. I have fixed it now, so it should open correctly in a new window. Happy reading :-)
I just wanted to share one of my favourite recent discovery's... Ethiopia Beriti coffee from Sample Coffee (Surry Hills/ St Peters) .
This coffee is amazing ! It has a lovely light flavour with citrus notes and is great as a filter or brewed with an Aeropress.
I have been a little bit quiet on here of late, I would love to say it's because I have spent the end of the Australian Winter hibernating in the studio, but that would not be true. Instead I spent a fair chunk of time marking exams and assessments over the last couple of weeks in August, and didn't find a great deal of time to write music, although my students put in some stellar efforts and produced some amazing music. So that makes it all worthwhile ;)
Of course, when I finally got some momentum going writing music again, I managed to fall off a bike in Tasmania and break my right arm. So I have been learning to type one handed and control Ableton Live with my left arm, which felt incredibly awkward at first but is now feeling quite natural. The good news is it was a clean break, and secondly I had almost finished a new 3 track EP during the week prior to breaking it. So now I just need to put the finishing touches on the tracks later this week and it will be ready to find a home. Look forward to sharing it with you all when it is ready.
Creating Pads and Textures with the Ableton Reverb Device
The Ableton Live Reverb device tends to cop a bit of flack for sounding sub-par and metallic, and granted some of the presets probably don't do it justice, but once you start tweaking the parameters you can actually get some very nice spaces. But today I'm not interested in creating realistic room and hall sounds, instead I want to use it to create some interesting pads and textures using the fantastic FREEZE button.
The freeze button works by freezing the diffuse part of the reverberation signal, sustaining it almost indefinitely. By default the FLAT and CUT buttons will probably be active, these have the following effect;
FLAT: Disables the high and low shelf filters on the Diffusion Network. If you would like to apply filtering to the frozen reverberation, you should deactivate this button.
CUT: Prevents he input signal from adding to the frozen diffuse reverberation signal. If deactivated you can overdub and input additional signal that will add to the frozen sound.
I usually like to have both of these options deactivated. It is also worth noting that DECAY TIME, will have no effect, once FREEZE has been activated. Now the best thing to do is experiment, I like to feed all sorts of weird and wonderful sounds into the Reverb device with FREEZE activated and see what I get. The easiest way to capture the resulting texture, is to setup an additional audio track with RESAMPLING activated, or the reverb track routed directly to it.
Try it with synths, vocals, percussion and field recordings, anything you can think of. You can also get some even better results when you combine it with other effects, placed either pre or post reverb. I like bit crushers and sample reducers (REDUX), heavy saturation, frequency shifters and resonators.
Map to Siblings
Ableton Live has some nifty features hidden away, which can be easily unlocked by creating an ‘Options.txt’ file which unlocks specific features in Live. Detailed instructions on how to do this can be found here Options.txt
There are currently around 12 additional features that can be unlocked and one of the most useful is ‘Map to Siblings’. To enable this feature create an Options.txt file as per the instructions above and place it in the correct location (This will mostly depend on your operating system). Once you have done that add the following text to the text file on a new line -EnableMapToSiblings=1. Once you have done this, save the file and start Ableton Live.
Now for a bit of background on what the 'Map to Siblings' functionality actually does. Basically it allows us to copy parameters and macro mappings to all of the simpler devices within a Drum Rack. This might seem trivial at first, but given a single drum rack can house up to 128 seperate samples, it can be extremely time consuming going through each sample to assign macro's and adjust parameters when creating a complex rack.
The Drum Rack shown above has four samples loaded into it. By default the filter is turned off on all of the simpler instruments which play back these samples. I would like to enable the filter on all of the instruments, then map the filter of all four Simplers to the first macro. I can achieve this in two simple steps. Firstly I enable the filter (Or any other parameter) on any of the simpler devices, I then right click (Control click on Mac if you don't have right click enabled) on the filter and select 'Copy Value to Siblings'. This will copy it to al the other Simpler devices housed within the rack (You can see in brackets that there are 3 other similar devices). Now I right click on the filter cutoff and select 'Map to Macro 1' and then choose 'Map to all Siblings'. This will map the filter cutoff of all of the Simpler devices to the first macro control.
This is an extremely useful feature, that can save you a lot of time when setting up custom Drum Racks.
Drum Rack Return Chains
Many Live users don't realise that drum racks have there own built in sends and return track chains. This allows us to setup a number of return tracks within our drum racks and send any sound within the rack to them. It is also possible to use the return chains to send out to the main return tracks in our session. This can be really useful for some mixing applications.
To start setting up return tracks within a drum rack, we first need to show the ‘Return Chains’. Then if we would like to send the signal out of the rack to our main return channels, we also need to show the I/Os. These can all be shown and hidden, using the icons in the bottom left hand corner of the drum rack device (Highlighted by the red rectangle below) (These won't be available unless you have selected 'Show Chains'). We then have two options; we can either drop audio effect devices onto the return chain section (Highlighted by the blue rectangle), or alternatively right click in this area and select the 'Create Return Chain' option. The latter option will create an empty return chain.
Once we have create an empty return chain, we can then use the I/O's to route it to our main return tracks in our Live session. This is shown below.
If you have a template session setup in Live, you could set this routing behaviour up as the default for all new Drum Rack's. Once we have setup our return chains in a Drum Rack, we can access the sends either in the rack or on our mixer in session view, by expanding the Drum Rack's chains. Both approaches are shown below.
Use the buttons in the red rectangle to display the send and return controls/sections. Drop effects into the section highlighted by the blue rectangle to add effects and create return chains.
This is where I share my ideas on music making and creative process, along with tips for the getting the most out of Ableton Live . You will also find this space interspersed with off topic, but equally interesting posts about coffee, food and single malt whisky.