As a producer we are always looking for expressive sounds that give the music a really unique and human quality. A straight sine wave is cool, but having it become really expressive is a key to a really provocative track.One of the ways I have gone about this is with Vibrato and Pitch Bend. Animus has created a really cool effect rack using Max For Live and some MIDI effects racks to make it really easy to control your midi instrument and add a really expressive touch to the sound.
Animus, a pack creator at PerforModule, hit me up about his new rack and wanted to share it with this community. I of course said yes, because the more awesome resources we can all share the better.
To start, here is the link to the download for free.Just become a member of the site and you will see the link below and have access to all the other amazing resources and premium content in our monthly newsletter.
So now that you are downloading that, Animus has laid out some awesome info on what it is and how to use it. Some really cool nuggets of wisdom in here.
Something Joshua Penman, aka Akara told me years ago has stuck with me. He said that when making music you got to understand that it sounds bad all the way up until it’s completed. Only then, when everything is polished and complete, will you feel you have the track you wanted.
He also talked to me a lot about understanding that it’s a process and it takes time. When you are sketching out a song you should know it won't sound good, but somewhere down the line it will sound amazing. In this article I wanted to talk about my process of making my album and how I used this wisdom to take time with my process.
In a later article I showed off my steps to writing a track. I walked through the idea of making a sketch, a working composition, and then a final master. I also talked about working on many tracks so you never get stuck on one, and you're always feeling fresh.
The next step to this is how your sketches and compositions slowly turn into completed tracks.
In this image I want to show how the process unfolds. When I am first starting out I might have a bunch of sketches and ideas. It looks nothing like a completed album. I can actually spend days and weeks before actually having a completed track, let alone 8 or more.
What works for me though is knowing that I am slowly working on things and I will eventually get there. There is also a cycle to it. As I complete 5 sketches I usually take one sketch and turn it into a working composition. Then after a week I have 10 sketches, and 3 working compositions. Then I will spend a week on turning the sketches I like into compositions. From there I have a bunch of tracks that if I polish them I have a lot of completed songs.
This way I am constantly working on new sketches, refining them into compositions, and eventually I have a bunch of finished tracks. It works in waves for me. Sometimes I just can’t finish a track, but can have a hundred new ideas. The years have taught me that it’s okay, and just flow with whatever is happening and know that at some point you will polish it all up.
When you look at that graph you will also notice that I always have way more sketches than final finished tracks. This isn't even counting the ones I work on and just throw away an hour after working on it. I think this is a very important concept for producers to understand.
It’s really important to come at this non attached. It’s all about making things and moving on. In making a lot of sketches you will find that only a small percentage of them are any good. It takes courage sometimes to throw out some potential songs in the hopes for a better one to come, but it’s worth it.
Writing an album is such a complex and huge undertaking. I might be working for weeks and not have anything definitive to show for it. I might have sketches and sketches, but nothing polished. Knowing my own cycles and waves I can be a lot more relaxed with it and know it will all come to pass.
Have patience with yourself. Let the sketches flow through you. Use your taste to decide which ones are worth working with, and slowly polish your tracks overtime. If you have patience with yourself, you will be surprised how fast these random parts and ideas becomes a cohesive whole.
Then a drummer hits the high hat, each hit has a unique quality. A harder hit has a different timbre than a soft hit. There are different harmonics and ringing with every hit as well. There are some techniques you can use in Ableton Live to really capture that quality.
A common drum rack in Ableton live uses samples. They take a sample, like a high hat, and put that sample into a Sampler. Then every time you hit that note, or drum cell, it will play that sample. You can affect the playback in different ways.
You can make it velocity sensitive to effect the sound. This way, when the MIDI had less velocity it will play back the sample at a lower volume, and Higher velocity at a higher volume. This is one way you can affect velocity, and the playback of the sample.
This is limiting in the sense that it does not capture what that sound would have been like if each hit was unique. Like the example of the drummer and the high hat. The way you can set this up in Live is with Multi Velocity based instruments.
In Ableton Live you can separate the playback of a sound by its velocity. What that means is a lighter hit would play a different sample, and a harder hit would trigger another sample. This is what lets you make Multi Timbre instruments based on how hard you play / perform.
This will give your performance a much more realistic sound. A great example of an instrument like this is a drum rack by Drum Drops. This video will walk you through it and why Multi Timbre instruments separated by velocity can really add life to your production.
Separating sounds by Velocity
There are 2 main ways I like to separate my samples in both Drum Racks and Instrument Racks. I will show you both. First, lets look at using Sampler.
With Sampler I can only have a single sample. If I put it in an Instrument Rack I can then have multiple instances of the samplers. This way I can have one sampler have the light hit and one have the harder hit sample.
Now if I open up the Chain Selector and choose the Velocity Selector. Now here I can make it so the one sampler only plays high velocities and the other lower velocities. You can then basically do this for any number of samples.
To add this to a drum rack you just need to make an instrument rack within one of the drum cells of the drum rack.
Now let's look at using Simpler for all you Suite Users. Simpler basically takes the power of Sampler and the Instrument Rack and adds them to the same device. Instead of having multiple versions in a rack you can open the zones in Simpler. Now you can have the different samples put in there. Using the VEL, or Velocity Zone you can change which samples play through the Simpler at what velocity.
That is the basics on creating instruments by their velocity.
One of the best examples of Multi Velocity Drum Racks have been by Drum Drops. They make a massive collection of packs that have multiple recordings of every aspect of the drums that are then placed into racks for Ableton Live.
Here is what their site has said:
The Multi-Velocity Pack adds the highest level of realism a sample pack has to offer, and is designed for those who do not have Kontakt 5 or do not need the Drumdrops Kontakt Interface. This pack contains all the different articulations of the kit with up to 16 different velocity levels providing 400 samples to choose from. All the samples have been mixed from a combination of the individual drum microphones and overhead microphones. This pack can be loaded into any DAW, sampler or drum machine.
I highly suggest you check out there Mapex drum. Not only will you have an awesome practical example of why this is awesome technique, but you will also have a rad realistic sounding instrument. Here is there site: http://www.drumdrops.com/
Enjoy playing with the new technique!
This month I am proud to be apart of the Warp Academy Launch.
Here is what Warpacademy.com had to say:
Over 4 weekends in April we have an amazing set of free live webinars for you – that's right, free! Join us - no need for a Credit Card or payment of any sort other than karmic high-fives!
Over 7 sessions, our instructors will tackle many topics from getting the most out of your Ableton instruments through to live performance, creative inspiration, and beyond. Attend one, attend em all, learn heavy production techniques from nimble Ableton ninjas in this Warp Academy grand opening!
And as a bonus, during the webinars, we will be giving away over $1000 of free Courses! You only need to attend to be eligible to win!
Sign up for this awesome free interactive class at www.warpacademy.com. I will be teaching how to move you're studio tracks to your live performance set on April 19th. I haven't had the chance to ever talk to people visiting my site, and would love to meet some of you all, and share some awesome information.
3 years ago the project Subaqueous was born. Along the way I have shared the techniques I have learned, the lessons, and the sounds. That is why for my anniversary I am excited to bring another Subaqueous Contest.
This contest is for aspiring and established musicians. The winner of the Contest will get hundreds of dollars in free gear / software. The two running up producers will also win a lot of swag.
Big thanks to all the amazing companies that are helping support this community and sponsoring the event. Icon Controllers, Plugin Boutique, Warp Academy, Ableton, Wave DNA, Loopmasters. Audiofile, Sknote, and AfroDjMac.
Step One: Visit our facebook page, like it, and download the Live Pack.
Just visit:The Subaqueous Page and Like it to download. The Pack is is full of samples, instruments, one shots, and more. Then you can mold these sounds into your own track.
Free Live Pack Download includes:
Example of the 2 templates below:
Step Two: Create a New Track
Once you have the Live Pack you can mold these sounds into your own track. The song templates are made to help kick-start your creativity. They lay out a feel and some parts. Take it from there.
Any track you make from these packs is totally yours and you will have all royalties and ownership of them as well. You might win hundreds in Swag and get a new track for your next album.
Step Three: Submit Your Track
To submit your track just visit https://soundcloud.com/groups/tracks-made-with-subaqueous-packs and upload your track to the group.
Submit track by May 12th!
Step Four: Join the Conversation
Now that you have submitted a track feel free to comment on other people’s tracks and connect with the other producers. A great opportunity to see how other people use these tools, as well as their unique style.
Here is a quick bullet point of how the tracks are being judged.
Obvious use of Samples and Packs
Unique sounds and Arrangement
Here is a full rundown of the prizes for the winners and some prizes for everyone that enters.
Grand Prize Winner:
That is over 800 in gear and production tools!
2 Runner Ups:
Over 300 in prizes for the 2 runner ups.
To stay up to date on the contest join the website to get emails and updates on the event. I will send out a reminder email and any other information if it changes. Thanks everyone for being a part of this. Enjoy the Live Packs and can't wait to see what you create!
Yesterday I saw a really inspiring post by Info We Trust, that lays out how famous creators have spent their day. They took old correspondences and information about the person and made an easy to understand info graphic.
When we are creating and deep in our process sometimes we wonder if we are spending our day correctly. That is why I really appreciated these images. It very succinctly conveys how ingenious people throughout history has spent their time.
The First thing I realized looking at these images is that there is no standard. None... Honore de Balzac is nothing like Mozart, yet both have amazing works. If you asked every musician you loved, you will probably never hear the same answer. We are all unique and work in different ways.
There are times in the day that are more "creative" than others. That time is different for everyone, but they generally work in a pattern. I know one amazing composer that mainly writes in the morning. He gets up at 6am and writes until noon. Then answers phone calls and office work. I personally feel most creative at about 3pm-9pm.
To figure out your own schedule, just watch what you are already doing. Maybe take notes on when you are really feeling in your flow. What time is it? What have you done that day? Also look at what stops you from being creative?
This way you can start making it a habit.
There is something else that almost all successful creative people share as a habit. That is, learning to stop distractions. You will notice looking at all the way these famous artists spend their day is in chunks of time. Instead of doing everything at once they are doing a few tasks in large chunks of time. It takes us 30min to an hour to really get into our current task. It is rare that I can sit down and be fully engaged in creating music in the first 15 min.
This means cutting out on random phone calls, having to get up every few minutes for snacks, and other distractions. Get your day ready, shut off devices, and then create. This will greatly improve the quality of experience and outcome of the time you do spend.
We are more than just our work. It's important to remember that being human means we experience love, loss, fun, exercise, and more. It is also what makes us interesting. If you do nothing but work for years and go to a party and try to make small talk you will realize you are kind of a boring person.
Also, How we spend our day is how we spend our lives. We get into bigger patterns and don't even realize it for years. How you plan out your every day is how you spend your life. Try keeping this in mind as you develop your workflow as an artist.
Now that I have had my morning writing, I am off to making music again. To see the full collection of images and read more go to Info We Trust.
I have been in the studio for a few days and wanted to share my process of actually starting and finishing an album. In short, never get obsessed with one thing. Keep things moving and keep the ideas coming.
Over the past three years I have taught a private course on music production that takes you from the start of a track to completion. I've used the image below to help explain my process. If you want, you can right click and save the image. It is much bigger than shown on the blog.
What I am trying to show here is the logical process of song making to complete a track as fast as possible. I have already talked about Stage 0 in a previous post. Now if you follow my blog full of Pre Production materials like creating drum racks, creating presets, and such you will see I spend a lot of time in Stage 1. For this article I wanted to talk about Stage 2 and 3.
As I was making music the last 2 weeks I have mainly just been working on sketches. What I mean by that is little pieces of a song. Like a rhythm, a melody, and a fee to start with. Once I get one I move on. I generally get 2-3 done a day. So that means I have about 11 sketches. From that I know about half, if I am really doing well, of these sketches are rubbish. The key is to not get obsessed with anyone. Otherwise, you might work on a track for 3 weeks polishing something that was shit to start with. Then After working on a bunch I go through and move some over to working compositions.
When I am in Stage 3, composition, it is important to keep the feeling of movement. I do this is by having my hands in many creative paths. If I am working on a track for 3 hours I like to mix it up and move on to one of my other working tracks. That way I don't get in that endless loop we can find ourselves. I have found myself working on different parts of the composition over a few days. So on the first day on a track I got the intro and the main beat. The next day I work on that tracks part b section, and then move onto another track where I write a part A section. I bounce around on all my tracks for many days until they start to get completed.
The advantage of working this way is that the whole album/ep has a similar feel. Since you are bouncing around any new techniques or sounds you might like, you will probably use on a few tracks. It keeps a continuity. It also keeps the feeling of movement as compared to being overwhelmed that you only have 1 track of your Album done. This way you have 6 almost done tracks and just need to stick with it.
So here are a few pointers.
Enjoy the entire process. Take your time and know this takes a while and it's all good. After 3 days hard in the studio I am going to enjoy the fact that I am on a beautiful island, Orcas.