TouchAble 2.0 Has Arrived!
For those of you who have used the iPad application TouchAble or those who have seen some promotional posts on what the new Ableton controller has to offer, the wait is finally over!
This will be a free upgrade for all current users and for new users, you will essentially be getting a Push controller for a fraction of the cost! Below are some links and videos to give you a walkthrough of what this iPad application is capable of.
Here’s the YouTube Video playlist (10 videos)
Here’s the New TouchAble installer for Mac/Win
* Mac OS X touchAbleInstaller-2.0.0.zip
* requires Java 1.6
* Windows touchAbleInstaller-2.0.0.exe
* requires Java
* requires Apples Bonjour (please install Java first, then Bonjour!)
Here’s the App location for your iPad TouchAble 2.0
(or simply search TouchAble in the app store)
Works on ALL versions of iPad!
Happy music making,
Not enough time for music? Bullsh*t
This post has been a long time coming & it’s time we had a 1 on 1 sit down.
I’ve been spending years telling you why you can make some serious strides in your music making. While many of you feel that initial boost of energy & motivation, a large percentage of you start telling me why you can’t do it. Since whatever you say to yourself & others ends up being the truth in your reality, it seems extremely counter productive to allow anything but thoughts of what is possible into your mind.
Your excuses are largely laziness. This is not to say that you are a lazy person in general, as many of you have very busy lives. Where laziness comes into play is in changing your routine & better managing your time for your creative endeavors. Let me explain..
Your brain is usually running on autopilot. 90% of the things you do today are things you did yesterday, and the day before. This of course includes breathing & heartbeat, but also includes very deeply ingrained habits. Your brain relies on these autopilot habits to conserve energy. Any type of new challenges that require a new set of thinking skills is going to be rejected pretty fast to free up energy resources.
Thinking requires energy
To think a new thought or to solve a new problem or to explore a new interest is comparable to getting an airplane in the air. You have to have a lot of consistent energy to reach a comfortable flight level. You often have to pull energy from other sources temporarily to get lift off. Lift off is when your new action becomes habit & gets added to your autopilot, requiring much less energy.
Making music is the ultimate process of repeatedly facing new difficult challenges that the brain doesn’t want to give energy to. Ever notice how much you want to take a nap or just gel out when you are trying to work on something new?
I assert that the real reason many of you start slacking or give up all together is that you haven’t put in enough consistent effort to change your current challenges into solutions on autopilot.
Why tutorials can be bad for you
You may think I am shooting myself in the foot here since I make tutorials for a living, but I see what I do differently. My true purpose is not to get you to watch tutorials or read my posts (although I appreciate both), it’s to empower creative people to find their spark & transform themselves into productive & successful music makers.
Tutorials can be the invisible enemy disguising itself as your friend, especially when you aren’t feeling confident in your current skill set. Instead of fighting through a track & learning from personal experience, you convince yourself that you are being productive because you are teaching yourself new tricks. Unfortunately, unless put to immediate use, you’ll forget 80% of what you watched.
To back up this claim, I have found myself watching some of my own tutorials to remember a technique I shared. True story! See, we only have a good memory of the techniques we put to use regularly, not the ones stuck in our heads dormant.
Remember, working on your song is an active experience. It’s putting something new into the world. Learning is very passive & it is taking something that already exists in the world. Can you see the major difference?
Opening your DAW and listening to your 16 bar loop for 20 minutes is NOT making music. It’s just procrastinating.
Your big excuse: not enough time
Well, of course you don’t have any time. You have a busy life & you are spending all your music making time doing 1 or more of the following:
1. Reading about making music
2. Watching tutorials about making music
3. Listening to music instead of making it
4. Staring at your computer screen
5. Listening to an unfinished idea on eternal loop, but not engaging further
6. Making more unfinished loops because it’s the only songwriting skill you have mastered
7. Succumbing to anything that makes for a good distraction
These are some of the things you do & then complain that you put a ton of time into your craft & get nothing out of it. Duh!
You have plenty of time, what you don’t have is the willpower to get off of autopilot and start using your brain properly.
I don’t care how little time you claim to have. If you perform even 10 minutes day of pushing your song forward, you will finish music. Can you turn your loop into an 8 bar song arrangement today? 4 bars? 2 bars?
Just start with the intro & add at least 2 bars of music every day. Need to learn something? Great. go directly to what you need to learn & immediately apply it to your 2 bars of music goal for the day. If you do ONLY that, you can make at least 1 song every 4 months.
As a nice side effect, every time you solve a production problem while creating, you will be sending it to the autopilot part of your brain. That means it will take less brain energy every time you perform the task.
All it takes is just 10 minutes of actual work. When you close your song session, it will be at least 1% further than the day before. That is enough. You always have time for what is important.
Yes, I know, there are only 24 hours in a day. Yep, I totally get this. Here’s the thing, who’s life is it? If it’s not yours to control, then who? You need to take that power back. I’m not saying neglect your family or your job. I am only asking you to evaluate your non-essential time.
How much time do you really spend on the following:
Your mobile phone
I’m going to bet that if you were to take a notebook & for a couple days write down every time you stop doing one thing and start another, you would be shocked how much time is wasted. It’s pretty easy to do. Part of your list might look like this:
9am wake up
9:20 get out of bed, go to restroom
9:25 drink a glass of water
9:26 check email
9:40 check facebook
10:30 answer phone
11:35 check email
11:44 check facebook
12noon – check today’s To Do list
and so forth…………
Your day might be drastically different, but this information could be life altering.
Is there something you do every day? Sometimes 5 or 6 times a day? I bet it breaks your focus & takes you a good amount of time to get back into your groove. Is it possible to batch your email & Facebook to just 10-15 minutes once in the day time & once a night? That alone can give you up to an hour of productivity a day.
Do you spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing food? Is it possible you can prepare certain foods all on 1 day that you can enjoy for up to a week? I personally cut up a weeks worth of salad stuff & put them into plastic containers, so every day it takes no more than 2-3 minutes to make a salad. I do this for steamed veggies,rice or beans as well. Huge timesaver.
Take a look at what daily errands you might be doing that can be batched into just once or twice a week.
Welcome back to your music life
As I said from the beginning, your excuses are bullshit & the solutions are plenty. There are really only 2 things left to do:
1. Create time
2. Create your own dent in the universe.
Happy music making,
Sonic Charge – Microtonic 3 – Drum Synth
Microtonic is all about Analog sounding drums, and boy does it deliver! Since all the sounds are synth driven, you get much more flexibility than with samples (although adding samples as extra layers can give great results as well).
For those familiar with the programing style of the vintage Roland Drum machines (606, 707, 808, 909 etc), you’ll find it quite easy to get started. There is also a pattern setup similar to Propellerhead’s Rebirth style (r.i.p.).
You are given 8 separate channels to work with which can be made into any drum sound you like, or even synth tones. There is a Multi version of the vst that allow you to separate all the sounds on their own audio track in your DAW of choice. This makes for fantastic flexibility!
If you like to change patterns & tweak parameters on the fly, Microtonic gives you the ability to easily set it up to a midi controller.
There are an amazing amount of great drum sounds to choose from & they are VERY usable. The quality is top notch & would sit well in any professional production. Keep in mind that each sound is not a sample, but is driven by a synth at the source. Once you get the hang out how these sounds are made, which only takes a couple hours of tweaking parameters, you’ll be easily tweaking presets & building your own sounds from scratch.
There is no shortage of drum patterns to get inspiration from as Microtonic gives you loads of patterns not only inside the program itself, but also has it’s Patternarium online where the whole community shares & votes on drum patterns. It’s not your typical set up, as the patterns tend to evolve & spawn new patterns. Pretty innovative stuff!
Other cool features
Sound morph – This allows you to to tweak all the synth parameters in extreme ways and then use a slider to morph the sound to whatever degree you like. Incredibly cool.
Pattern Alt – This slightly alters your pattern but still keeps it recognizable, allowing you to easily vary your patterns.
Drag as midi Clip – This is a favorite feature of mine which allows you to create a pattern & then drag it into your DAW as a midi clip that you can further tweak & alter. I especially like using this feature in Ableton’s session window, allowing me to drag multiple patterns in & jamming them out. Loads of fun.
Swing & timing sliders – Creating a more humanistic groove has never been easier with the Swing slider. Just slide it until it gives you a satifying groove & you’re done. The timing slider (I’m sure it has a better name but..) let’s you change you whole pattern to 16th note or 8th note triplets without any extra programing as well as 32nd, 16th & 8th notes. Give this a try & see what happens. I like to jame things out for a few minutes & cut out the bits that sound good to me for variations.
I’ve just scratched the surface of how flexible & straightforward this drum synth can be. Check out the video below & pick yourself up a copy of Microtonic if it looks cool to you. For what it is offering, the price is fantastic!
Happy Music making!
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How to Re-edit a song in Ableton
In this post I walk you through a simple approach to re-editing a song for DJing. Obviously, this is also an exercise in personal taste but I hope it empowers you to do your own edits?
In the video at the end of the page, there is no voice at all, just me going through the process of a re-edit.
Here are some techniques I am using
1. Cut Copy Paste Duplicate – These are be FAR the most important editing techniques. If your song is properly warped, these simple tools make editing a breeze.
2. Effect automation – In the same way you can draw in your volume levels, you can also draw in and automate any effect parameter you like. Some very simple but effective effect are using reverb or delay are a send/return track & ramping things up in big sections. Once you get the hang of it, you can move on to more complicated effects. Remember though, your goal is to make people dance, don’t overdo effects and lose the dancefloor.
3. A spare audio track – This can be really important. Say you are editing a section out of your track but there is an element in the part you are cutting out that flows into the next section that is now missing. What I will do is copy from 1 to 4 bars previous to the new section and paste it onto a new audio track. Since there is a part already playing on the main track, I’ll cut out the low frequencies with EQ, then I’ll ramp up the volume that leads to the next section, often also adding a bit of reverb. This makes for a much cleaner transition.
The things you can do in a re-edit are really only limited be your imagination but remember, if you are over editing a track, maybe this track isn’t something you would really want to play & you’re just trying to compensate. Stay focused on the real goal, a great set & a great night out for those who come see you.
Why re-edit a track?
There are a number of reasons, but I’ll tell you my personal reasons for doing a re-edit.
1. I like a 16-32 bar intro, preferably without melodic elements. This makes it easier to blend tracks & be able to predict when elements are going to kick in. It also allows me to mix in a track that is not in the same key without causing a lost of clashing.
2. I like a 16 bar outro, preferably without melodic elements – This reasoning is the same as above. I also like to keep a solid kick up until the end, this way I can loop the section if I want & choose when I want to switch the kick energy from one track to the next.
3. I want to remove a vocal part I’m not vibing with – I do this quite a bit as I find songs with an amazing groove but feel a vocal part kinda kills the vibe (again, personal taste here). What this means is that I’ll copy a non-vocal part and paste it over the vocal section.
4. I want to shorten or eliminate a breakdown – I hate to say it, but the art of a purposeful breakdown seems to be lost on some producer’s even though otherwise their tracks are excellent. A lot of producer’s think they need a breakdown just because “that’s what you do”. For me, I find a lot of breakdowns cause some serious boredom on the dancefloor. For this reason, I like to shorten breakdowns or add elements that keeps people nodding their heads and waiting for the big payoff. If you can’t deliver this as a DJ, your audience will stop trusting you when songs break down & take it as a sign to leave the dancefloor.
5. I want to extend a section that I think is too short – Many producer’s are afraid to let a part run too long. While in the studio, things can seem like that are getting boring while on the dancefloor, they hypnotize you & further lock you into the groove. By changing things too soon, it loses some of the vibe that is building.
6. I want to shorten or remove a section that I’m not feeling – This can happen too, where I love 75% of a track but a certain section or element kills the vibe for me. Instead I’ll duplicate the parts that work or just shorten the track by removing the offending parts.
7. Edit elements that make mixing difficult - Sometimes a song with have a great bassline or melody that is a bit complex or has changes that make it hard to introduce a new song on top of. In these cases I’ll find a simplified loop section that I can repeat toward the end of a track to make mixing much more smooth.
8. I want to beef up drums or other parts – At times I’ll find a track I really like but find the kick is getting lost in the mix or there are some sections that can use a bit of white noise or percussion to make things more danceable. This borderlines on remixing but I find it very effective in making an unusable track usable.
9. I want to add interest – Often when DJing live you might add some effects like reverb, delay, beat juggling, filter’s and a number of other things to make big moment bigger. I like doing this as well, but I find the effects available to be a bit limiting or distracting when wanting to do something complex. I find it a lot of fun to tweak the song ahead of time. For me, Ableton gives me so many options, that I can do endless things not really possible in a live situation. Also, although I do a bit of tricky routing, I like to keep things fairly straight forward when performing live. Getting lost in effects and routing can take your focus away from the beauty of picking the right songs and finding a perfect way to mix them in the moment.
Here’s the video. If you are a Producer’s Playground member, I’ll be uploading 2 more videos (about 30 minutes of footage) showing other techniques with a bit more complexity.
Happy music making!
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