Hey Gang! New track is up. This one was fun to do. All the drum sounds at :48 were gathered running around my work’s basement garage with a ping pong ball, metal pipe, and a field recorder. Only 1 person came down and gave me angry looks while I was recording! You can hear the angry look at :52.
I just got back from spending the weekend with my brother in NYC building this contraption:
It’s a FTIR multitouch table that I’ll be performing with next Tuesday @ The Phoenix Landing. This is v2 of a much jenkier device I built a couple years ago. This time, instead of being propped up by plastic tubing, it has a solid wood foundation that folds flat for transportation. Also, instead of balancing the projector precariously on a shoebox, the projector is housed inside and a mirror is used to bounce the projections onto the screen:
The whole idea is that the music interface is also the visual entertainment so there’s parity between what I’m doing, what you’re hearing, and what you’re seeing. Also it looks freaking cool. I’ll throw some posts up later about how it works. Come out on April 3rd to see it in action!
I put this mix together recently for a friend who doesn’t listen to any electronic music. While each of the artists below have a lot of boundary-pushing avant garde material, I picked their “safe” tracks to provide an introduction to the genre(s).
Don’t forget to look these artists up if you like what you hear!
Last Tuesday I played in a fairly eclectic line up which included girl-punk band Whorepaint, noise rockers HexMap, and hip-hop group Immigrant. I’d forgotten how great it is to play at a venue with a legit sound system and a keen sound engineer.
Check out the video below for some pretty sweet button mashing. Mike G from HexMap took the video and asked me the name of the songs contained within. Truth be told, my live set is a cannibalization of a ton of different parts to different tracks, most of which are unnamed. After consulting with my friend and unpaid music agent Eric Mill, we settled on “3000………..0000000″ as the most appropriate name.
In switching from makingthenoise.com to floader.org, I’ve had to deal with the mess of creating new online identities on Vimeo, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp. Most of these types of services only allow one unique email address per account which causes a dilema – do I create a new gmail account for every additional service?
Meltmail.com solves this problem on a temporary basis by providing an email address with a random string of numbers and letters that redirects to your real address for up to 24hrs. But that solution will leave you vulnerable if you ever need to use a ‘forgot password’ feature or need any other communications from the vendor.
What I ended up doing was using a little known feature of gmail that lets you append words to your email address with the + sign, while still receiving emails in your inbox. For instance, if your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, you can sign your latin-jazz-fusion group up for SoundCloud as email@example.com and your nap-rock band as firstname.lastname@example.org.
SoundCloud sees those 2 address as unique enough to create separate accounts, even though they both send mail to email@example.com. This is how I created both soundcloud.com/floader and soundcloud.com/floader-samples. I intend to use the “samples” account to post shorter samples of works so that the main “floader” account contains only full-length songs.
A nice side benefit of this technique is that you can easily add Gmail filters to these separate addresses. If you go to Mail Settings -> Filters -> Create New Filter you can create a filter that applies a “NapCats” label to mail sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Similarly, if you know you’re signing up for something that’s going to send you junk, you can use your email@example.com address and create a filter that archives or junks it.
Hope some of you find this tip useful. Does anyone have any similar email hacks they’ve found useful? Are there any services like meltmail that last longer than 24hr?
A couple months back, I was approached by Edison to do a remix of his track My Ex-Fan Gary off of his album People are Bad Animals. Here’s the original track. I’ll share my remix at the end of the post:
I showed how you can receive monome presses into Ableton and how you can send MIDI data from Ableton to MLRv … why not do both? While you’re at it, why not add an arppegiator in-between??
That’s exactly what I did in this video clip:
Now, if you take the setup I showed in the clip, but use a “free” arpeggiator (as opposed to sync’d), you can trigger your MLRv loops at speeds up to 10.0ms. Next, turn MLRv’s “Tempo Slave” option to “Off” so you can control the tempo (and thus pitch of the sample) freely of Ableton’s tempo. This allows you to create some pretty amazing samples, in part because your ear isn’t used to hearing samples pitch down while triggering faster -or- pitch up while triggering slower. That’s the technique I used for this sample:
There you have it. Some people may think that advances in technology have made music production easier. I like to think this shows you can still make it as obnoxiously difficult as you like. And now your remix:
In my last post, I suggested that MLRv could be used to enhance your production workflow, outside of its abilities as a live performance tool. In this post I’ll cover the configuration necessary to get MLRv set up for automation with Ableton. In the post following this, I’ll give an example of how this setup was used to create a remix of Edison’s “My ex fan Gary”.
To get started, you’ll need:
- Max/MSP installed. A free runtime version is available for Mac/PC here
- MLRv downloaded and extracted
- Ableton Live installed
- (PC Only) Virtual MIDI software such as LoopBe
Before we start remotely controlling MLRv, we need to make sure Ableton can play the audio coming from MLRv. To do this, we must fist enable Rewire:
- Open Ableton
- Open Max/MSP
- Load MLRv by opening “_mlrV.maxpat”
- Enable rewire mode by clicking on the “Setup” icon in MLRv and then turning Rewire to “On”
- Add 4 tracks to Ableton to capture the audio from the 4 groups in MLRv. Set their “Audio From” source to “Max” channels “1/2″, “3/4″, “5/6″, and “7/8″. Then, set their monitor mode to “In”. (view image)
At this point, audio should be able to flow from MLRv to Ableton. However, you can’t test this until you’ve configured the MIDI routing.
MIDI Configuration (PC)
The MIDI configuration for the PC is a little different than with a Mac. Mac’s, by default, have a virtual MIDI port that can share data between Max and Ableton while PC’s need a separate virtual MIDI utility that must be configured. The following steps are how to configure Ableton to send clip launch commands to MLRv from MIDI clips on a PC.
- In Ableton, set a MIDI output port with the “Track” option enabled in the MIDI preferences dialog. In my screen shot below, I’m using “Internal MIDI port 3″. (view image)
- Create a MIDI track in Ableton and set its “MIDI To” setting to the same port you selected in step 1. Then make sure you set the output channel to 15. (view image)
- Set up the corresponding input port in Max to receive the MIDI data from Ableton. Go to “Options -> MIDI Setup”. Make sure that the port you chose in step 1 has its input enabled. I’ve also given this port an abbreviation of “b” which I’ll explain in a minute.
- Open up the MLRv settings dialog and turn the “Remote control via MIDI” option on.
- There is one last crucial step for PC’s. MLRv was hard-coded to send/receive MIDI data from a virtual MIDI port that exists on Mac OSX, but does not exist on PC’s. Before any MIDI can be routed, we need to change this to match the input port we selected in step 3. To do this, you can either follow the instructions below to edit the necessary patch yourself (which will require the full version of Max/MSP), or you can download a modified version of MLRv here.
- In MLRv, turn off presentation mode so you can see the guts of the patch. Double click on “p 40h_osc” (view image)
- In this sub-patch, you’ll see that the monome button presses are being captured from a UDPReceive object, being passed to the “p rmidi” sub-patch, and then continuing on to do work in the application like launching clips and stopping groups. Open up the “p rmidi” sub-patch.
- In this sub-patch, we see that the incoming column/row data from the button presses are being converted into MIDI notes sent over channel 15. Similarly, incoming MIDI notes from channel 15 are being converted into column/row numbers and then passed to the application. However, because the ports selected by default are “MAXMSP2″ which doesn’t exist on a PC, this won’t work unless we update the ports. Here, I’ve changed the output port to “a” and the input port to “b”. These abbreviations can be set up under “Options -> MIDI options”
- Save the sub-patch and re-enable presentation mode
MIDI Configuration (Mac)
Note: This configuration is untested as I don’t have a Mac. However, I’m fairly certain this will work and will update the post once I can confirm.
- Open the Ableton MIDI preferences and make sure that the “Track” option is enabled for the MAXMSP2 input and output ports
- Create a MIDI track in Ableton and set its “MIDI To” setting to the MAXMSP port. Then make sure you set the output channel to 15.
- Open up the MLRv setup dialog and turn the “Remote control via MIDI” option on.
Testing the Setup
At this point, you should able to create a MIDI clip in Ableton that launches events in MLRv. To test your setup:
- Drag an audio file into the first row of MLRv.
- Create a MIDI clip in Ableton that plays any notes between D#7 and C6 (these notes correspond to the first row in MLRv)
- Play the MIDI clip
You should notice that as the MIDI notes are triggered, so is the clip in MLRv. The 16 notes between C6 and D#7 correspond to the 16 segments of the loop. Also, because MLRv thinks that these MIDI notes are actual button presses on the monome, we can send MIDI notes that correspond to the top row of MLRv as well, triggering the group stop and pattern record buttons. The note mappings are as follows:
- Top Row Functions – G8 to E7
- Row 1 – D#7 to C6
- Row 2 – B5 to G#4
- Row 3 – G4 to E3
- Row 4 – D#3 to C2
- Row 5 – B1 to G#0
- Row 6 – G0 to E-1
- Row 7 – D#-1 to C-2
Here’s a video showing what this looks like:
Adding the Monome
At this point, we have 1 direction of MIDI communication with Ableton sending fake button presses to MLRv. To get the most out of our setup, we’ll also capture real button presses on the monome and send them to Ableton so our jam sessions can be recorded and played back.
To do this on a PC:
- In Ableton’s MIDI preferences, enable the “Track” input of another virtual MIDI port
- Create a new MIDI track that is listening to channel 15 of that port
- In Max/MSP, enable the output of the port chosen in step 1. Give this the abbreviation “a” as that is the abbreviation used by the modified MLRv patch I described earlier.
To do this on a Mac:
- In Ableton’s MIDI preferenes, enable the “Track” input for the “MAXMSP2″ MIDI port
- Create a new MIDI track that is listening to channel 15 of that port
Now run MLRv with your monome plugged in and when you press buttons on the monome, you should see that MIDI events are captured into the Ableton MIDI track. This allows you to record your button presses and play the recorded MIDI clip back into MLRv. Here’s a video of what that looks like:
This post was necessarily a little dry, but in the next post I’ll show some more concrete examples of the interesting things you can do with this setup.
MLRv is a great tool for live performance, as proven by a number of talented button mashers such as Galapagoose and Daedelus. It creates an immediate feedback loop between button presses and sounds that audiences just “get”. But if you’re only using MLRv for button mashing, you’re missing out on a ton of potential it has as a production tool that can be readily tied into your workflow.
Let me first back up and explain what I mean by workflow. Workflow is your
generalized process for creating a song. A typical workflow might be:
A) Record MIDI tracks
B) Arrange tracks
C) Add effects
So what makes the difference between an efficient workflow and an inefficient workflow? An efficient workflow allows you to go back to any earlier step in the process and make a change that flows down to future steps. In our example above, if I realize that a single instrument would sound better in a different register, I can update the appopriate MIDI track and, with minimal effort, I’m back at step D.
So what is an innefficient workflow?
A) Record multiple instruments onto 1 track
B) Play the recording through an effects unit and record the results
This is a difficult workflow because if a change needs to be made to a single instrument, all instruments need to be re-recorded, and the whole song has to be re-played to add the effects.
While there is no single “correct” workflow, you can see how someone using the first workflow has more freedom to experiment because the cost of making a mistake is lower.
So what does this have to do with MLR? I suppose that lots of people are using an ineffient workflow. If you are simply recording yourself playing MLR, you have no opportunity to go back and fix 1 mistaken button press without re-recording your session. Additionally, you’re limited to playing as fast and as skillfully as your fingers allow. What if you want to chop 1/32 notes? By incorporating Ableton and MLR’s “midi remote” capability, you can record your sessions into Ableton MIDI clips that can then be tweaked to your liking.
In my next post, I’ll walk through the workflow I used to create a remix of Edison’s “My ex fan gary” and show you how I configured MLR and used automation to create sounds that could never be made with normal button mashing.
Launching a new blog immediately before 2012 may be a lot like installing a spice rack while your house is burning, but I’ve had the itch to start something new for a while and that something is this – Floader.
Some people have asked why I’ve discontinued using the mtn moniker. While I’m still hugely proud of the work I accomplished under that name, including my album, software, and live work, it simply had no focus. If you scroll down to the bottom of the mtn homepage you’ll see songs stretching back all the way to 2001 when I was annoying the shit out of my freshman-year roommate by experimenting with reverb and compression effects through 2011 when I switched gears towards beat-driven music ready to play live. It’s now 2012 and I feel as though a break from the past is in order. This blog will give me an excuse to create and share while I try to live up to my newly formed standards of quality and originality.
In order to provide incentive for coming back, I’ll be posting my creative output (music, code, visualizations, etc) here moving forward. I’ll start with a track I produced recently that seems fitting with the theme of new beginnings. It reminds me of Vangelis and Carl Sagan and makes me want to launch a star-ship or at least a fast-food chain.