Producers Blog

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Dispelling the Haters

Being a creative person has its hidden dangers. Being outward and public with it adds a whole new level of complexity.  How do you present your music? What will people think of it? All that stuff bubbles up to the surface. Of late, I have been dealing with having “haters”. People that look down at me for one reason or another.

I wanted to share the story of how I perceived it and what I learned from it.  I also found a way that I can personally change that story in myself.

This video is also the start of a new project. I created a new Youtube Channel to share my process as an artist. It’s about the creative process and the lessons I have learned on this path. I wanted to separate it from my more technique oriented videos at my Subaqueous Channel.  If you want to see more videos like this, please subscribe.

Parallel Processing with Ableton Live

One of my favorite things about electronic mixing and Ableton is the power of effects. I can morph a sound into unimaginably different new sounds with effect processing.  You can layer effects and change a simple sine wave into a complex sound with pulsing auto filter, unique chorusing, and undulating phasing.  A big change in my sound design has been learning a new technique called Parallel Processing.  This opened even new dimensions to my sound design.

Processing What?

So to start, let’s define what Parallel Processing is and Serial Processing.

If you have a sample and you add an effect in Ableton, you start by processing in Serial. You can add a Chorus, then a delay, a reverb, you name it. What is happening is the sound is being processed in a series, or one after another. The sound goes through the chorus, and then it goes into the delay and so on. That is, a linear, or right to left way of processing the sound. This is Serial Processing.

Serial Processing

There is another way of processing and that is Parallel Processing.  Parallel Processing lets you take a sound and separate it to multiple new chains. Each chain, then processes the signal separately and at the end, it all comes back together.  This approach lets you do all sorts of new creative things. You can separate a sound to different frequency ranges. You can then add different effects to different frequencies.  Or you can do all sorts of new creative effects.



We can easily do this in Ableton Live by adding an Audio Effect Rack. An Audio Effect Rack lets us add new chains. Each Chain can process the same original sound differently.

Create Chain

The video below will show off the basics of Parallel Compression and then some more advance techniques in using it.

I’ve collected Audio Effect Racks that I’ve used in my own productions.  Some were shown in the video, and I also added some other creative ones. The presets are by donation, free if you like.

Enjoy using the Presets. Parallel processing opens up a whole lot  of new possibilities. If you have ways you like to use this technique, please comment below.

2k Halfred Free Sample Pack

If you want to hear some strange lasers from another dimension, then Halfred is your man. I am honored to be apart of Merkaba Music with Halfred, aka Alfredo Treccani. His sound design is top notch. When he hit me up about releasing a new sample pack I was stoked. Alfredo has collected an amazing collection of samples and sound design bits that he has created. To give you a taste, check out his music:

Here are some words from Alfredo about the free Sample Pack: (more…)

By |May 27th, 2015|Free Music Tools, Producers Blog|2 Comments

Free 808 Style Tom Instrument Rack

I’ve been loving music that uses 808 style toms. You see this in hip hop, electronic music, which house, and all sorts of music. The 808 style tom sound can be used as a bassline, or an added percussion element.  On of the best examples of this is the track Hazey by Glass Animals:

In my own music production I have been using this instrument. To make things easier I created an instrument rack in live to get the exact sound I am looking for. This video walks through the instrument rack and how I use it. Below the video you can download the instrument. It is by donation / free on gumroad.


By |May 22nd, 2015|Ableton, Free Music Tools, Producers Blog|1 Comment

Building Instrument Racks – Note Release

I absolutely love making instruments in Ableton Live. I love the challenge of coming up with an idea, or turning a sample into a new instrument. There are a few techniques that can help you make a really realistic and dynamic instrument. One of these is playing a sample on Note Release. In other words, if you want to play a different sample when you let go of the note, then you can use Note Release.

Here is a video showing off the technique and why it can be useful in making an instrument.

Steps for creating a Sample that plays on Note Release:

1. Add a new chain for a new instrument that will play on note release. (called Release Chain)
2. Add any sampler, vst, or instrument to that Release Chain.
3. Add a Note Length Midi Device to the Release Chain.
4. Set the Note Length MIDI device to Note Off. (more…)

By |May 12th, 2015|Ableton, Producers Blog|2 Comments

Nepal Instruments – Musicians Helping Nepal

The news of what is happening in Nepal really hit my heart. My thoughts are with the Nepalese people and everyone affected.  As a musician and music producer I wanted to help in the way that I could.

Years back, I was working with Tibetan music for some ambient albums I was working on. On the way I got a lot of recordings from instruments traditionally found in Nepal.  I have now gone back to these recordings and turned them into Ableton Live Instruments. These instruments will be available for By Donation. I set up a new Gumroad account just for this, so all donations will go directly to relief funds to help the people of Nepal.

Donations will go to UUSC organization as well as some organizations on the ground doing direct food and rebuilding projects.  I am working directly with organizations that work to help the people of Nepal.

Download the Pack

I wanted to put this pack togeather to both share the beautiful culture of Nepal, but also give resources to musicians making compilation albums or tracks for sale to help the Nepalese people (like I am working on).
Learn More about the Instruments: (more…)

Creating Tension and Resolution in Music

Getting a good chord progression is one of the foundations of a good track. Understanding the movement in the Circle of Fifths can help you get a really good chord progression. I have written a few articles on the Circle of fifths, but invited Umang Bhat to share his knowledge of some advance techniques.

Enjoy the article on how to spice up your chords and music with the Circle of Fifths. Also make sure you check out Umang’s blog at Guitar Cover.


Why Teach Ableton Live?

Teaching Ableton Live can be a really rewarding experience. It can not only let you distill your knowledge, but it can help propel your career in a whole new way.

isaac Cotec teaching ableton Live

Here is a list of benefits of teaching Ableton Live:

1. Better Learning Through Teaching

As any teacher will tell you, when you have to teach somebody something you become way more proficient at it.  You have to know the in and outs of the subject so it opens up whole new avenues you might not ever have known about.  Also, because your students ask questions it opens up new learning opportunities for you.

2. Added Income

Teaching has definitely helped me as a musician. It’s helped me turn to a full time musician a lot faster than if I was 100% depending on the gigs. It gives a nice side income to help support any level of musician.

3. Deeper Connections in the Industry

Being a teacher will open a lot of opportunities.  You might find your local community college asking you to teach. There you could run into professors that do art grants, or students that are going to be the next Skrillex or other connections. In the last 7 years I have connected with MIDI controller companies, software developers, schools, festivals, and you name it.

4. Added Bonus to your Booking

Getting booked can be quite hard these days. There is a lot of competition. Anything you can do to stand out will help. I have found offering a workshop has been something that tipped the scale. In some cases it was mine in on a festival that wouldn’t have me to begin with, but after they have me as a teacher they booked me as an act.

Don’t get me wrong, teaching takes a lot of effort, but I think it’s worth it.  There are over 2 million Ablation Live Users out there and new users every day looking to pick it up.

If you are interested in connecting with other Ableton Live Teachers and learning about the industry, then check out the new Facebook group I put together: Teaching Ableton Live and Music Technology

Join the group and share you experience or questions around Teaching Ableton Live.

The Creative Process and Depression

Finding a balance in your creative drive, your friendships, and your life can be quite a task. We can easily get trapped in a spiral of self doubt, overworking ourselves, and can have a hard time breaking out.

This subject has been on my mind a lot of late. I had a friend and fellow producer decided to end his life recently. It really shook me into thinking about how hard the creative process can be sometimes. Especially if we are looking externally for validation of our art. Music has the power of bringing us so much closer to each other, but in the digital age our striving to be heard can also make us feel more distant.

I made this video to help express some of these ideas.

I want to keep a community discussion about this.  If you have ever experienced depression as a musician and struggled with this, please comment below. Even if you have not, I  would love to hear your thoughts.
By |April 20th, 2015|Creative Process, Producers Blog|1 Comment
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