Author Archives: Jimmy Allison

Prologue and Ableton Live

The Prologue is an amazing Flagship polyphonic synthesizer that Korg released in early 2018.

The synth comes in an 8- or 16-Voice model, each containing analog oscillators, with the extra addition of a digital oscillator. In this article, I am going to explain how to incorporate the Korg Prologue into an Ableton Live production or performance set.

We live in an amazing time for music production.

One of the major benefits of using a modern analog synth in conjunction with a DAW is that you have the benefits of phat analog oscillators as well as the ability to easily record midi and automation. If you set up your project in a certain way, you can preserve your initial patches and ideas as well as retain the option to make edits after recording. The examples I provide use Ableton Live with the Korg Prologue, but you can apply these techniques to other DAW and hardware combinations that have similar tools.

To get started, you will want to set up your Midi channels in Ableton Live’s midi preferences.

Open preferences in Ableton Live. 
Select the Link/Midi tab on the right side of the preference window.
You will see a list of all your Midi Ports.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make sure that Input Prologue (KBD/KNOB)
is set to “on” for Track and “Off” for the rest

 

 

Scroll down and Set the Output Prologue (Sound) to On for Track,
On for Sync, and Remote off.

This will allow you to send and receive midi information from the Korg as well as send clock sync to the Korg to sync arpeggiators and LFO’s. You will also notice (midi out/in) ports for the Prologue.
These ports will send information over the 5 pin din ports on the back of the Prologue.
The physical midi ports may come in handy if you have older midi gear that does not have a USB.
If you need them, you can set them on as needed. Otherwise set the midi in and out ports to off.

 

Make sure that the Korg Prologue’s audio out is connected to the inputs of your Audio interface and that your needed inputs are enabled in Ableton Live’s Audio Preferences.

It is best to only enable the audio inputs and outputs that you need to preserve CPU power.

You do have a few options when you set up your track layout for the Korg Prologue in your Ableton Live set. You could of course just set up an audio track and record just like you would any other instrument.

Doing it so is quick and easy but your editing will be somewhat limited.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more options use a midi track with an External Instrument device loaded.

Ableton’s External Instrument device can be located under the Instrument tab in Live’s browser.

 

 

 

 

 

Click the drop-down menu for the “Midi To” and select “Prologue (SOUND)”. Then set the “Audio From” to the Audio channels associated with how the Prologue is connected to your audio interface. I recommend connecting the Prologue using inputs stereo if you can.

 

 

 

 

Now the Prologue will work a lot like any other Ableton midi Device or VST. You can record midi and CC automation into the clips live or program it by hand.

 

But it is a good idea to make some adjustments on the Prologue.

If you are using the Prologue’s Keyboard as the midi input, you will cause a double midi event. When a note is played it will play the synth directly. Then within a few milliseconds, the note will run through Ableton and sent back and play the Prologue again. We can deal with this in one of two ways.

 

One way is In Ableton, you can simply set the Monitor to “Off”.

This method will not allow the live midi notes played on the keyboard to pass through to the Prologue. You will still be able to record the midi into a clip. Any clip that is recorded or programmed will play through to the Prologue.

 

 

Another way is to turn “local off” on the Prologue.

Korg Prologue Local Off

Enter Edit Mode on the Prologue. Then use the “Program / Value” Knob to select “Global Edit. Next, locate the “Program Sort / Edit Page” buttons to the right of the “Edit Mode” button.  Push the 3rd button from the right to select “Global 3”. Then Turn the “Program / Value” Knob to select “Off”. Lastly, make sure to exit edit mode by pushing the “Exit” button.

When you set “Local Off” the keyboard will no longer directly play the Prologue. Instead, you will need to route the midi via the DAW. You will then need to set the track monitor state to “Auto” in Ableton Live. The Advantage to this is you will be able to use the “driver error compensation” if needed and you will be able to seamlessly move from keys, to Push, to whatever input device you want to use. The disadvantage is you need to remember that “Local is off” if you play the Prologue without Ableton Live.

 

Syncing the Prologue’s LFO’s and ARPS to Ableton Live.

Enter Edit Mode on the Prologue. Then use the “Program / Value” Knob to select “Global Edit. Next, locate the “Program Sort / Edit Page” buttons to the right of the “Edit Mode” button.  Push the 5th button from the right to select “Global 5”. Then Press the same button three times to select “Clock Source” Turn the “Program / Value” Knob to select “Auto (USB)”. Lastly, make sure to exit edit mode by pushing the “Exit” button.

Now the Prologue will auto sync to Live if you set up Ableton Live’s midi preferences to send “Sync” out to the Prologue like I mentioned above. The cool thing is when you are not connected to the DAW the Clock will Automatically be internal. So you do not need to mess with this parameter ever again.

 

Now back in Ableton Live, to record midi notes just arm the track and trigger a clip in session view.

 

 

 

 

 

You can also record the midi CC automation of most controls on the Prologue. All you need to do is manipulate the parameters on the Prologue either while doing the initial recording or by enabling the “Session Record Button” on the top middle of Ableton Live.
This really allows for a level of creative flexibility on par with using a VST but instead with an analog hardware synthesizer. Welcome to the future! who really needs flying cars when you can automate an analog synth.
Another awesome feature is the ability to manually set the patch number with the clip under “Pgm Change” this way when you trigger the clip it will trigger the patch on the Prologue.
Everything will function pretty much the same way in Ableton Live’s Arrangement view except you will be on a linear timeline like in other DAW’s.

I would like to add another very important tip.

Set up an Audio track next to the track that the Prologue is on.

open your input/output preferences by clicking I-O on the bottom right side of Ableton Live.
Select the midi track that the Prologue external instrument is on and then select post mixer.
Set the monitor state to “off”

Now you can quickly bounce your clips to audio and save the midi. With the midi saved you can go back to edit the clips later if you need to. Always bounce your clips to audio. Someday you may sell or not have accesses to your synth. This tip applies to softsynths as well, where at some point in the future you may not have the same version, or you may experience other incompatibilities. Printing to audio future-proofs your sessions. By recording the audio you will also be able to quickly create more audio tracks to add more layers of sound using the same synth. Make sure to store the Program Change info with the midi clip. This will allow you to quickly load the patch and edit any part. Don’t forget to save any pre-editing you did on the Prologue too.

Personally, my general workflow is to record the idea. Then do any patch editing and save the patch. Then record any automation into the midi clip. Finally bouncing the idea to an audio clip in Ableton Live. Doing so frees up the synth for other parts as well as gives me the flexibility to go back and tweak apart if I need to.

 

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Korg Prologue 49 key 8 Voice

Korg Prologue 61 key 16 Voice

 

 

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Beat Tools: a creative toolkit for beatmaking

Beat Tools: a creative toolkit for beatmaking

BeatTools_PacksBanner_HiRes_BlogImg.jpgNow included with Push and Live 9 Suite, Beat Tools is a new creative toolkit with all the sounds you need for beatmaking. The Pack is a complete collection of drum kits, instruments, loops and effects that’s set up for hands-on creation.

Watch Beat Tools in performance:

Now included with Push and Live 9 Suite, Beat Tools is a new creative toolkit with all the sounds you need for beatmaking. The Pack is a complete collection of drum kits, instruments, loops and effects that’s set up for hands-on creation. Watch Beat Tools in performance: The Pack […]

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What is local? Perspectives on music-making in a hyper-connected world

What is local? Perspectives on music-making in a hyper-connected world

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At the most recent Loop event in Berlin, music makers from all over the world came to share experiences and explore new ideas and approaches at the historic Funkhaus complex. For all the forward-looking ideas and novel perspectives presented and discussed at the summit, the format of the event […]

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Review: Remotify Makes Ableton Control Surfaces Scripts A Snap

THE GOOD

  • Free tier for basic functionality; Pro version for your wildest scripting dreams come true
  • MIDI Learn support (with Chrome)
  • Shift + Modes available to create virtual banks (Pro only)
  • Easy troubleshooting messages + comprehensive documentation
  • One-to-one support with great response times

    THE BAD

    • No easy way to change feedback color for RGB devices
    • Could use a script wizard with common scenarios (similar to how XtremeMapping does for Traktor)
    • Missing copy/duplicate commands to replicate similar parameters
    • Commands sorted randomly in the main list – you’ll have to hunt to find the command just added

      THE BOTTOM LINE

      If you’re new to scripting in Ableton, this tool is a must. It will not only save you a massive headache, but also allows you to learn how it works as you go since Remotify also gives you an uncompiled “.py” version of the files so you can have a look at the code. This app will make basic mapping tasks a breeze.

      For the more experienced user, the app can help tame complicated scenarios and perhaps provide the inspiration needed to finish that ambitious project you’ve been continually putting off until you really “get it”.

Remotify is a platform to challenge the unknown void of scripting in Ableton and bring custom control surfaces to the masses. To many, Ableton scripting is a dark world full of confusion and endless frustration. In this complex world, it seems like only the truly worthy are able to […]

remotify-review

Remotify is a platform to challenge the unknown void of scripting in Ableton and bring custom control surfaces to the masses. To many, Ableton scripting is a dark world full of confusion and endless frustration. In this complex world, it seems like only the truly worthy are able to unlock the mysteries coded in Python. Why can’t every controller Automap like an APC40 or a Push 2? The reason for all this heartache boils down to one thing: there’s no UI available for Ableton scripting.

Product Reviewed: Remotify
Price: Free version with basic functionality, Pro (with extended functionality) is $57 (one time purchase), 1-month subscription at $9
Platform: Web-based

 

Click here to view original web page at djtechtools.com

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Transient Machines

Transient Machines

Click here to view original web page at www.ableton.com

Transient Machines is a Max for Live Pack that allows for deep sound-shaping possibilities. Modelled after the transient designers found in professional recording studios, Transient Machines is a versatile tool for reshaping the dynamics of drums, loops, and much more.

Ableton today introduced Ableton Live Set Export – a new software development kit for iOS that’s designed to make it easy for developers to add ‘Export to Live’ functionality into music apps.

As their intro video demos, Live Set Export addresses a growing need for Live users. As more musicians are jamming with iOS music apps, they want to be able to move their musical ideas to their desktop DAW.

In the demo, Patterning developer Ben Kamen and Triqtraq developer Sebastian Schatz demonstrate how an iOS jam session, using multiple devices and apps, can be saved to a Live Set and then arranged in Ableton Live.

These iOS apps have been updated to support Live Set Export:

Details on the Live Set Export SDK are available at Github.

We expect Live Set Export to be added to the ‘must have’ feature list for iOS music apps that do sequencing, because of the popularity of Live with electronic musicians.

What do you think? Check out the video and share your thoughts in the comments!

Images

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Keith Mcmillen Instruments BopPad!!

BopPad Editor Software

BopPad is the expressive electronic drum pad for drummers, percussionists and producers. BopPad gives you accurate hit detection (2.4 millisecond latency), velocity, continuous radius and pressure. Four independently programmable zones output MIDI notes, velocity, pitch bend, pressure and location CCs.

boppad_zones

BopPad has an extremely wide dynamic range and measures strike velocity from the softest hand drumming to the most brutal percussive assault. A robust tuned elastomer surface covers a 10” circle of our patented Smart Sensor Fabric to give you traditional feel and a new dimension of expressivity.

BopPad can also operate as a conventional practice pad with a realistic feel and portable, lightweight design.

Artists Love BopPad

We were able to send prototype BopPads out to some incredible artists to get their insight and impressions. We’re continuing to work with the best drummers to fine-tune BopPad’s performance; stay tuned for updates!

“The BopPad just works. It has a great amount of useable sensitivity and control.”
– Dan the Automator (producer, Gorillaz, Deltron 3030, Dr. Octagon)

“You can only play a drum a few ways, and BopPad allows you to take that skill set and play drums in a way you’re never played before.”
Alex Swain (drummer w/ Deltron 3030, Dan the Automator)

“With the ability to play six notes at a time in addition to six mod lines for expression, the BopPad is a fantastic addition to the world of percussion controllers!”
– Amy Knoles (percussionist, LA Philharmonic, CalArts)

KMI works with the world’s greatest artists and performers, check out a list of our endorsing artists on the KMI Artists Page.

boppad_editor

The BopPad Editor software will be available as a desktop download and iOS app, but for ultimate accessibility we’re also developing a WebMIDI app so you can design presets for BopPad from a web browser. We’re big fans of the Web MIDI and Web Audio APIs, check out our Web Audio / Web MIDI tutorials if you’re interested in making music in your browser!

Smart Sensor Technology

bebop_logo

BopPad takes advantage of Smart Sensor Fabric Technology from BeBop Sensors, a leading supplier of fabric sensors & winner of the 2015 Frost & Sullivan Technology Innovation award. At the core of BopPad is a single large sensor made from the 8th generation of BeBop’s Smart Sensor fabric. BeBop develops sensors for OEM clients in Automotive, Sports & Fitness, Safety and Consumer Wellness.

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Mapping the Sounds of the World Through the Global Synthesizer Project

Mapping the Sounds of the World Through the Global Synthesizer Project

Sound artist Yuri Suzuki and Moog Music proudly present “The Global Synthesizer Project”, an interactive electronic musical instrument installation where users can synthesize environmental sounds from around the world. Utilizing an archive of atmospheric field recordings from diverse geographies, The Global Synthesizer Project empowers users to create new sonic environments through manipulation of the source material.

Read more at Wired.com.

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A Brief History of The Studio As An Instrument: Part 2 – Tomorrow Never Knows

 

A Brief History of The Studio As An Instrument: Part 2 – Tomorrow Never Knows

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In Part 1 of our History of The Studio As An Instrument, we looked at the earliest pioneers of composing with recorded sound and traced some of the forerunners of modern sampling, looping and creative recording techniques. The story continues below with ground-breaking producers’ work finding its way onto television screens, commercials and to the top of the pop charts.

George Martin and The Beatles

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George Martin at the EMI Abbey Road studios

It almost goes without saying that The Beatles are one of modern music’s most influential groups. And this is not just due to the band’s immense commercial success; the Liverpool quartet ushered in the British Invasion, brought psychedelic music to the masses, transformed pop music from a singles market to an album-based one, and completely eschewed every music business rule when they decided to no longer perform live, and only exist as a recording project. Perhaps then it should come as little surprise too that within the realm of studio and recording innovations The Beatles are also considered one of the most influential groups, in large part due to the visionary producer who matched the band’s artistic visions with technical ability and inventiveness: George Martin.

Considered the fifth Beatle, Martin (who passed away early in 2016 at the age of 90) began working with the group in 1962 after having been a house producer for the Parlophone label working on jazz, skiffle, classical and comedy records throughout the late 1950s and early 60s. Soon into their partnership, Martin recognized that one of The Beatles’ strengths was their desire to constantly push themselves creatively, and so under his guidance the studio became a tool to express their ever more ambitious compositions. In particular, Martin began to see the multi-track tape machine as the best tool to achieve the sounds the group was looking for; much like the musique concrète pioneers, Martin understood that the tape machine was not just a static device for storing audio, but something that could be actively manipulated in the creation of compositions. An early example of this is the harpsichord-like solo that appears in the middle of “In My Life” – played by Martin himself, the solo was actually originally played on piano to a half speed recording of the song, but when sped up to match the rest of the song, the solo was imbued with a new tonal quality that made it sound much like a baroque harpsichord.

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Producer George Martin occasionally played instrumental parts on Beatles Songs

Working closely with Martin, a growing awareness of the studio’s creative possibilities was took hold of The Beatles. On 1966’s “Rain,” Martin again played with tape speeds, recording the instrumental portion of the song at a faster than usual speed, and then slowing it down for playback to achieve a somewhat slurred, sludgy sound befitting of the stoned, meandering lyrics of the song. Martin also did the exact opposite with John Lennon’s vocals, which were recorded at a slightly slower speed and then sped up for the final product. In addition, the song marked the first time that Martin and The Beatles employed reverse-played tape in one of their compositions. Martin later told the BBC that, “From that moment they wanted to do everything backwards. They wanted guitars backwards and drums backwards, and everything backwards, until it became a bore.” Still, the group effectively used backwards-tape elements in some of its more painstakingly produced songs such as the dreamy guitar of “I’m Only Sleeping” or Ringo Starr’s cymbals in “Strawberry Fields.”

“Tomorrow Never Knows” is another great example of Martin’s brew of production techniques. Thick, heavily compressed drums pump and breathe beneath distorted guitar lines; frantic tape loops rip through stereo image between Lennon’s warbly, unsettling vocals, which themselves were run through a Leslie speaker cabinet (a rotary speaker usually used in concert with B3 Hammond organ) before they were recorded to tape.

Though they were not exactly the first to manipulate tape machines or to use studio equipment in unconventional ways in an effort to create the sounds they had before only dreamed of, The Beatles and Martin nonetheless brought these techniques to the forefront of popular music. In the process, they once and for all changed the relationship between the artist and the studio: it had now become a place for experimentation and composition, and the aim of recording was no longer to merely capture a performance for playback. As a result, for The Beatles and countless others who followed in their wake, the album became more than just a collection of songs; it was now the canvas for ever more ambitious and personal artistic statements, within which the quality and inventiveness of the production became a marker of artistic merit.

Delia Derbyshire and the Science of Music

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Delia Derbyshire at the BBC in the mid-1960s

In 1962, four years after Daphne Oram co-founded BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop, Delia Derbyshire would also join the ranks of the sound effects laboratory. Armed with a degree in both music and mathematics, Derbyshire had an uncanny ability for understanding and constructing audio, which Workshop co-founder Desmond Briscoe once put simply as, “The mathematics of sound came naturally to her.” Though she was responsible for well over 200 pieces throughout her 11 years at the Radiophonic Workshop, Derbyshire’s best known work for the BBC remains the 1963 score for the Dr. Who series. Originally written by Ron Grainer, Derbyshire was tasked with realizing the score, which called for sounds such as “wind,” “bubbles,” and “clouds.” Without the synthesizers which would become available a few years later and with multi-track tape still in its infancy, Derbyshire went about creating these sounds using raw recordings of real-world sounds and simple sine and square-wave oscillators. Molding the crude material using the limited tools available at the Workshop, Derbyshire filtered, combined and recorded (to single-track tape), filtered again, re-recorded, and tweaked some more until the theme’s sounds matched the otherworldly atmosphere of the sci-fi show. When she had completed the score and presented it to its original composer, Granier, he asked her, “Did I really write that?” To which Derbyshire reportedly replied, “Most of It.”

While the Dr. Who theme brought both Derbyshire and the Radiophonic Workshop much acclaim, many consider her most profound accomplishments to be those she pursued outside of the normal jingle work for the BBC. Her collaborative works with the poet and dramatist Barry Bermange are of particular note. Her accompanying sound creations for Bermange’s Dreams (a collage of people describing their dreams) and Amor Dei (a piece which focused on people’s experiences of God and the devil) were as haunting as they were ambitious; often the results of intense, week-long sessions in which Derbyshire would manipulate raw oscillator tones, recorded sounds, and even snippets of her own voice – the resulting audio pieces were some of the most innovative and immersive sound collages of the time.

In addition, in the mid-’60s Derbyshire worked with fellow Workshop artist Brian Hodgson and composer and synthesis pioneer Peter Zinovieff as Unit Delta Plus; later Derbyshire, Hodgson, and David Vorhaus set up an independent studio where they collectively worked on an album, Electric Storm, which was released under the name White Noise in 1968 and is today considered a classic of electronic pop music. The album also is notable for its use of the first British synthesizer, the EMS Synthi VCS3.

In his 2001 obituary for Derbyshire, collaborator Brian Hodgson points to the visionary artist’s compositions for the BBC documentary series The World About Us as a perfect summation of Derbyshire’s creativity and technical abilities. In one particular episode, on the Tuareg people of the Sahara, Derbyshire used snippets of her own voice to serve as the sound of camel hooves, and “a thin, high electronic sound using virtually all the filters and oscillators in the workshop.” Describing the process behind the piece herself, Derbyshire recalled “My most beautiful sound at the time was a tatty green BBC lampshade. It was the wrong colour, but it had a beautiful ringing sound to it. I hit the lampshade, recorded that, faded it up into the ringing part without the percussive start. I analysed the sound into all of its partials and frequencies, and took the 12 strongest, and reconstructed the sound on the workshop’s famous 12 oscillators to give a whooshing sound. So the camels rode off into the sunset with my voice in their hooves and a green lampshade on their backs.”

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Raymond Scott at his Manhattan Research Inc. studio in the late 1950s

Here’s an unexpected fact: The man responsible for much of the music heard in the classic Looney Tunes cartoons is also credited with building the first-ever music sequencer. That man is Raymond Scott (actually Harry Warnow, “Raymond Scott” was his pseudonym).

As leader of the Raymond Scott Quintette (which actually counted six members), Scott wrote zany compositions that – though not by design – proved a natural fit for the slapstick calamities and over-the-top adventures that Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and co. found themselves in. Scott himself was not much of a fan of cartoons, in fact, the American musician and composer was known as an exacting bandleader who expected his musicians to memorize the music exactly as he had written, often working them for long hours and fuelling much resentment towards him. To that point, Scott dreamed of a way to make music where he was not reliant on fallible human beings to achieve his ideas. “In the music of the future, the composer will sit alone on the concert stage and merely think his idealized conception of his music,” he wrote in 1949. “His brain waves will be picked up by mechanical equipment and channelled directly into the minds of his hearers, thus allowing no room for distortion of the original idea. Instead of recordings of actual music sound, recordings will carry the brain waves of the composer directly to the mind of the listener.”

Scott would pursue this dream for most of his life, designing and building music machines in his own home studio, “Manhattan Research Inc”. It was here, as part of his work producing jingles for radio and television in the 1950s and 60s that Scott built what he called a “Wall of Dazzle,” a 30 foot long machine with hundreds of lights and switches that allowed him to control electronically generated sounds. By today’s standards he could only control the basic parameters; pitch, volume and playback speed, but for the late 1950s, this was on the leading edge of musical technology. Other custom Scott creations included the Videola (a piano that made it possible for him to play and record movie scores in real time), the Clavivox (an early version of an electronic keyboard), the Karloff, a massive sound-effects generator that was actually Scott’s first electronic music creator and the Rhythm Modulator, a very basic early pattern generator.

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Raymond Scott’s Electronium

Scott’s most ambitious machine was the Electronium, begun in 1959, he reportedly spent close to a million dollars on improving the machine over the course of a decade (Scott later built a second version for Motown Records founder Berry Gordy). The Electronium was his attempt to build a machine which could compose and play music simultaneously; generating and performing musical ideas based on the the parameters Scott had set, making it one of the first instances in which artificial intelligence was used for musical creation.

Scott’s specific musical achievements are perhaps not as well remembered as his foresight into the technological music revolution to come and the fearlessness with which he pursued ideas which must have seemed quite absurd, if not downright crazy at the time. However, it seems Scott’s appropriately titled 1964 Soothing Sounds for Baby record series bucks that trend. A three-volume set intended to provide pacifying electronic sounds to comfort newborn children (at various stages of development), the unlikely series is considered one of the first longform electronic compositions intended to be used for a specific purpose and within a particular setting; in other words, it is one of the first records of electronic ambient music. Perhaps another unintended consequence of a man who dreamed bigger than most.

Stay tuned for part 3 of The Studio As An Instrument, featuring King Tubby, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Conny Plank, Patrick Cowley and others.

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