First new music recorded in Ableton Live 11, also featuring a great new Kontakt instrument Swarmitar from Paul Koch which provides the pads which underpin the track.
Couldn’t sleep last night. Kept having ideas on how to improve the sequencer, so in the hope of having a better nights sleep tonight, I announce version 1.1!
First addition is variable pattern length for each of the 4 sequencers, so you can create polyrhythmic patterns.
Next, I’ve added a toggle to switch between the original note-in trigger mode and a new host mode, synced to Ableton’s tempo. This allows for sustained notes to be played with the parameters being changed over time, rather than per note.
Then there’s a clock divider so you can choose what speed the host mode runs at.
And finally, I’ve changed the purple colour of the fourth sequencer to pink, because, why not 🙂
Hope you like the changes, I’m really quite pleased with them! Here’s a quick (and noisy) demo…
Only had one more idea, namely a slew level to sweep between the parameter changes rather than jump to them, but not even sure if that’s even possible yet. I’ll leave that for another time though.
… is too many?
I’ve got lots of things on the go at the moment, so thought I’d take a step back and summarise what I’m up to.
Korg NTS-1 editor
I recently picked up a Korg NTS-1 synth and have had a lot of fun trying out all the user oscillators, particular those from Sinevibes. There are one or two shortcomings, such as the custom controls for the user oscillators not being controllable via MIDI and some audible noise when powering the NTS-1 from my computer. Running on a USB battery pack sorts the latter issue out though I’m pleased to say. And as the user interface is a bit basic, I thought I’d build an editor in MaxforLive.
I decided to revisit the patch randomiser I coded for my Meeblip Micro editor, but this time, triggering it with incoming MIDI notes. That way, each note will fire off a completely different sound. The seed for the idea came from a twitter post from Finlay Shakespeare, detailing his time working for Novation. The end result is something a bit like the AFX mode on the Novation Bass Station II, but completely random each time as opposed to cycling through presets. Sounds really good – most of the time!
To add some predictability though, you can control which elements are randomised using the toggles. With just cutoff selected, it works a bit like a Sample and Hold.
Still have a bit of work to do, not least to add more elements for randomisation and controls for the effects, but hope to have it available to download in a couple of days. Then I’ll be using it for a 1 synth challenge
Gotek Floppy Emulator
My first sampler was an Akai S2000 and I’ve been meaning to back-up my old sound library for some time now. For years, this was my main sound source and whilst it’s true that nowadays, we’re spoilt with the abundance of gigabyte sample libraries and soft synths, I have fond memories of what I could achieve with much more limited resources at my disposal.
I also know there are some sounds in there from equipment I no longer have, such as the dying EDP Wasp Deluxe that I found dumped outside a neighbours house (true story).
So, I’m going to install a Gotek floppy emulator and back up all my sounds to that. Not exactly sure how to do it yet, but I’m a fast learner!
But, just to be contrary, I’ve also succumbed to the Black Friday sales and bought lots of gigabyte sample libraries including Spitfire Audio’s BBC Core!
Guru Gara Synth Modules
I’ve purchased more PCB’s and Panel’s from Guru Gara Synth and already have a single full voice up and running in my Eurorack system (Oscillator, VCF, VCA and Envelope). Calibration was pretty straightforward and it tracks nicely. I also went with the more expensive CEM3340 reissued chips, as used in the Roland SH101 and MC202, and the oscillator sounds all the better for it!
I have another 2 oscillators and a second envelope to build next as well as a ring modulator.
Although I’ve been using Ableton for many years now, my sequencer journey started back on Cubase on the Atari ST (That is if you discount the Cheetah SpecDrum module I had with my ZX Spectrum before that). I stayed with Cubase until around version 5, then made the move to Sonic Foundry’s Acid, before finally settling on Ableton.
So why the history lesson on my sequencers? Well, as I’m writing more cinematic stuff at the moment, I thought I’d revisit Cubase 11 and have been really impressed. It’s certainly a different way of working, but it’s amazing how much of it feels familiar too.
One of the main reasons for trying Cubase again was to build up the obligatory orchestral template, and finally make some sense of the various Kontakt sample libraries I’ve bought along the way. It’s a slow, laborious process, and getting the different libraries to play nicely together is a bit of challenge, but it’s strangely rewarding too.
Of course, the downside of a mammoth orchestral template is how you navigate the thing, and this was another factor in choosing Cubase thanks to it’s powerful visibility agents (which I’m not going to even try and explain – lots of head scratching to work those out I can tell you!)
But even then, navigating through menus wasn’t much fun, so I’ve built an editor using TouchPortal that allows me to hide and unhide sections of the template, manage tracks etc. as well as having transport controls. Unlike other similar tools such as Touch OSC or Lemur, it’s a lot more straight forward to program too, although it is at heart, a glorified keyboard emulator. But, it works brilliantly for my purposes and is definitely a good alternative to something like a StreamDeck controller.
Incidentally, I did consider the StreamDeck controller app too, but was put off by the annual subscription for that. Plus, the limitation on 15 buttons.
Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to. Oh, and I also need to finish my third Meat Beat Manifesto mix tape too. So I better get on, lot’s to do…
Have been working on Max For Live patches to sequence my Drum Skiff.
This outputs three channels of drum triggers (or gates) through the CV Pal module, all perfectly synced to Ableton Live. So I wanted to do something creative with the unused fourth CV Pal output.
I came up with a simple Max For Live patch which outputs a MIDI note at regular intervals ranging from half-notes through to 32nd notes. By using this in-line with the Grids emulation and CVPal controller, it acts as a clock source for the Pico Trigger module giving me lots of trigger options for my drum modules.
Have updated my Max for Live, Meeblip editor to include a couple of Bass presets and also a new randomise function.
The randomise function also includes a handy matrix which allows you to control exactly how much of the sound is randomised.
You can download it now from maxforlive.com
Just created a new max for live device to edit my Doepfer Dark Energy synth. This let’s you get easy access to the goodies in the ‘learn mode’ including the arpeggiator. It goes without saying (hopefully) that you’ll need a copy of Ableton Live and Max for Live to make use of this. Enjoy!
You can download it now from www.maxforlive.com where you’ll also find the editor I wrote for for the MeeBlip micro