A friend loaned me a Sensel Morph last week. Just as I was settling in to sorting out MPE from the Morph my friends over at Synthtopia blogged about the a KVR video offering an intro to MPE. Perfect timing Synthtopia!
It ends up this is a video series on MPE so I’ve embedded the playlist below which starts with the “00 An Introduction to MIDI Polyphonic Expression”.
I’ve really enjoyed working with the Morph and will soon have one of my own. I especially like the Buchla template. I also appreciate you can be expressive with only light touch and light pressure. Here is more info on the Morph https://sensel.com/pages/the-sensel-morph..
Stay Tuned for More on Morph and MPE
More on the Sensel Morph and MPE to come so subscribe if you’d like to be notified of upcoming posts by email.
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Lately I’ve been getting back into live vinyl sampling & slicing sessions using Ableton Push 2. The Push 2 workflow lets you slice by beat division, region, transient, and has a rapid flow for manually slicing.
I know quite a few people who own the Push but in past conversations I learned some of them were not familiar with this workflow so I thought I do a post on this to help get people up to speed.
Plus the Push is 5 years old and there are a sea of videos out there so I thought I’d save you some time curating a few task-specific specific videos to save you time. I also include some historical videos on the creation of Push 2 in regards to live sampling and slicing vinyl.
First up, here is a short clip from a recent session with an old lute album :^) All the melodic elements were sliced. Drums were from a factory pack.
Once you get the hang of things, live sampling and slicing is an organic and fun way to build unique new tracks, instruments, and drum racks. I love this quote from Push 2 Product owner Jesse Terry in this regard.
Why is sampling important to me? For me its about the search and rescue of forgotten moments of beauty.
While Push 2 is a purpose-built hardware interface for Ableton Live it’s clear from one of the original launch videos from years back that live sampling and slicing was a primary use case. This video is not instructive bit gives you the vibe of the workflow.
Sampling Vinyl How-To Videos
First up is a video on recording audio by live sampling audio into a clip then converting to a simpler using just the Push 2 hardware.
This next video conceptually picks up where the last one left off with a sample loaded into a Simpler. The video illustrates slicing to transients and converting to a drum rack.
Behind-the-Scenes Video with Vinyl Sampling Use Case for Push 2 from Ableton Loop 2015
Now that you know how to live sample and slice check out this cool behind-the-scenes video from the Push 2 launch session at Ableton Loop 2015 with Push 2 Product owner and designer Jesse Terry. His talk starts at around 03m40s but I recommend you just start at the beginning to hear Ableton CEO Gerhard Behles tee up the session.
It’s clear from Jesse’s presentation that his love for vinyl sampling heavily informed the design of Push 2.
If you carry on the video to 21m07s you’ll see the introduction of Ableton’s program to donate Push 1’s from trade-in programs and Live to schools and educational initiatives. At 27m35s Dylan Wood talks about the Sound Team’s work and the addition of analog modeled filters to Sampler, Operator and AutoFilter. Note these have since been added to other instruments in the lineup like Wavetable. At 41m00s we hear from Michaela Burgle who talks about flow state and introduces Ableton Link.
I hope this article helped saved some time for those getting sarted with Push 2 or reinvigorated you long-time Push 2 users to go forth and slice up some vinyl. If so take a moment to subscribe or leave me a tip to buy me a beer or coffee :^)
“We chose instead to pick the best parts of each… We cut lines and paragraphs, and rearranged the order of them in some places.”
Honey, that means a human wrote this piece.
Writing is editing. It is about making choices.
So you fed a robot a prompt, got eight different “essays,” and stitched together the best parts to make a piece of writing? Congratulations, human! You’ve just outsourced the easiest parts of writing and kept the hardest parts.
When Nick Cave was asked if AI could create a great song, he emphasized that when we listen to music, we aren’t just listening to the music, we’re listening to the story of the musicians, too:
We are listening to Beethoven compose the Ninth Symphony while almost totally deaf. We are listening to Prince, that tiny cluster of purple atoms, singing in the pouring rain at the Super Bowl and blowing everyone’s minds. We are listening to Nina Simone stuff all her rage and disappointment into the most tender of love songs. We are listening to Paganini continue to play his Stradivarius as the strings snapped. We are listening to Jimi Hendrix kneel and set fire to his own instrument.
What we are actually listening to is human limitation and the audacity to transcend it. Artificial Intelligence, for all its unlimited potential, simply doesn’t have this capacity. How could it? And this is the essence of transcendence. If we have limitless potential then what is there to transcend? And therefore what is the purpose of the imagination at all. Music has the ability to touch the celestial sphere with the tips of its fingers and the awe and wonder we feel is in the desperate temerity of the reach, not just the outcome. Where is the transcendent splendour in unlimited potential? So to answer your question, Peter, AI would have the capacity to write a good song, but not a great one. It lacks the nerve.
Note today is “Bandcamp Friday” where Bandcamp waives it’s revenue share on all sales to give musicians more money from each purchase. So it’s a great day to buy indy albums on Bandcamp to support your fav artists.
The Sonic Encounters began as a podcast in 2015. After each season of the podcast completes it is released in album form. Volume 03 contains the 7 songs from Season 03 of the podcast.
These songs are a combination of electronic tonalities derived from synthesis and musique concrète using original sounds, field recordings, patterns and notes played via keys, pads, trigs, and buttons. Additional expression on these musical objects is improvised via key/pad pressure, touch strips, knobs, sliders, crossfaders and live sound design to create real-time automations.
The following review of the original podcast that does a nice job summarizing the concept of Sonic Encounters Soundscapes…
“Goosebumps and Deep Breaths… these rich soundscape “stories” sincerely do thrill my senses.
The concept for Sonic Encounters (so far, and in my interpretation) is this. You read a short text (sometimes the title is enough) on the premise of the “story” before listening. Then you listen to a purely sonic piece of field recording morphed with music, electronic manipulation, and performance, and you’re immediately transported via your own imagination’s 3D projection of his premise.
Mark’s become a consummate sound artist. He creates powerful imagery and elicits surprisingly keen emotional response from the listener without being heavy-handed. His economy and value in precision is proof of his skill. ” – BlindFlyTheater.com
I’m super excited to announce a new cover and logo for my Sonic Encounters Podcast. Once again I collaborated with friend, music collaborator, Thereminist, and co-founder of Cuttlefish Arts – Victoria Lundy to refresh the cover and align the look with my other projects.
I highly recommend Cuttlefish Arts if you never need any brand or graphic work for covers, web sites and more
Catching Up on New Episodes
I’ve released 3 new songs over the last month or so:
The 8th B-Day party concert was really fun and loaded with great performances. Special thanks to Christoph for being our virtual stage manager.
This is recording of my 10 minute set from the Rocky Mountain Synthesizer Meet 8th birthday party concert. Music and visuals are performed in real-time.
I start by playing a song called “Light Runner” performed on an Elektron Digitone playing notes via MIDI from a Novation Launchpad Pro MK3. I then improvise and mangle a sample from the 50’s using an Elektron Octatrack. This is followed by followed by an improv jam with core patterns on Digitone with lead synth and arpeggios from an Elektron Analog Four MKII being played via MIDI from a Novation Luaunchkey Mini MK3.
Here is the full concert performance (including the video above) with all 7 artists.
I composed the music first. It was an improvisation recorded in one pass. Then I shot the footage over a series of a few days. Then a half-day tranquil video editing session letting music inspire the edits and visual effects in 5 or 6 editing passes. A narrative and vibe emerged.
If you enjoyed this piece and have a moment please leave a comment :^)
Elektron has just released MAJOR updates to the Digitakt and Digitone. Of course they are free 😃.
Get yourselves ready for some serious OS upgrade fun for the Digitakt, Digitone, and Digitone Keys. Time to get elbow deep in a host of cracking features that will make each device even more powerful and your music-making experience even sweeter.
Class Compliant USB Audio has come to the Digi machines. Connect your Digitakt or Digitone to a compatible phone, tablet, or computer, and easily capture the audio recording from your unit on the fly. And this is just scratching the surface of what is possible. Hook up to all kinds of apps to add extra control in any number of ways: more effects, more LFOs, more freedom.
Step Recording mode
A new sequencing mode is available on the Digitakt and Digitones – Step Recording. This feature lets you input chords and notes into the sequencer step by step. Or use jump mode to skip to the next predetermined spot in the sequence via the Length parameter, making it even easier to control your melodies and build them a step at a time.
Adjust Trig Probability on the Digitakt and Digitones to introduce a little controlled randomness to proceedings. Chance really is a fine thing.
Stay a step ahead of the pattern with Trig Preview on the Digitakt and the Digitones. You can now preview individual trigs whenever you want, without having to wait for the track to catch up.
New Play Modes for Digitone
The Digitone Keys and Digitone now have four different Play Modes to choose from: Switch between Poly, Poly with mono LFOs, Mono, and Mono Legato and gain deeper control of envelopes and LFOs, and increased playability.
Increased sample skills for Digitakt
You can now use Parameter Randomization on the Digitakt to shuffle sample slots. And keep your sample list or sound pool better organized across all Digi machines with easier removal of unused sounds. Purging power, leveled up.
Lots more improvements & fixes
For a full list of improvements and bug fixes, check the release notes.
Note: When installing an OS please set your device to USB-MIDI mode.
Download the Updates
Pro Tip: Read the release notes within the downloads as there is a WHOLE lot more changes in the updates that aren’t listed in the summary above.
Here is a 1 minute video of my Sunday coffee in bed session with Elektron Digitone new 1.30 OS.
I started off this session thinking I was going to learn all the 20+ new features that Elektron added in the recent 1.30 update (see my earlier blog post).
I printed out the release notes and started going through the features. Then I ended up spending the entire session on a new STEP RECORDING mode called Jump which is documented on p. 33 of the updated Manual.
Jump mode allows you to the use the LEN parameter to automatically advance the sequencer when notes are received. This includes entering single notes or chords from an external MIDI controller. In this session I was using a Novation Launchkey MINI MK3 which has become my go to portable keyboard. You can also use the arrow keys to move through steps which allows you to skip steps which are now rests.
More on Jump Mode
I have to say Jump is super useful and fun feature. It’s also a bit nostalgic for me as it’s similar to the step sequencer in my first synth the Poly-800 – woo hoo! Nice work Elektron! And thanks for always bringing new value to our machines.
I guess it’s going to take quite a few more sessions to get through the new features which I’m sure will inspire many new patterns and songs.
If you’d like to be notified of future blog posts on these sessions and other synth tech & technique topics take a moment to subscribe.
If you missed my live stream a few weeks back here is an unedited YouTube live replay of my solo multimedia concert. The performance is a combination of live arrangement and live playing that features original electronic music with real-time visuals.
16:50 “Light Runner” live performance of song from a forthcoming album
22:34 End Program with audio excerpt from the song “They Walk Among Us” from album Reboot
As you can see some of these tracks will be released in the future. Follow or subscribe on my Bandcamp site to get notified of an album or single release.
All the music and sound is from Elektron Analog Four MKI, Octatrack MKII, and Digitone. The machines are not synced. I mostly play directly from the machines, but also play notes on the Analog Four via the Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 keyboard and on the Digitone via the Launchpad Pro MK3 grid. I also use the Launchkey Mini MK3 along with a Logidy UM3 pedal to control Resolume Arena 7 in real-time. Visual sources are from live camera input and other various sources.
The performance got some nice mentions by synth publications.
I got an amazingly kind mention on the Synth and Software Facebook page.
Synth & Software is an online publication and social media community for electronic music enthusiasts—anyone who enjoys listening or who plays, programs, or aspires to make music with synthesizers, samplers, DAWs, audio processors, and other instruments and software…
I view this entire rig as a multimedia “instrument”. One goal in designing this “instrument” was to accommodate the following use cases while being air locked in a performance cockpit where my performance flow would not change whether I’m performing:
Music sets in-person
Music + visuals sets in person
Music + visual sets via live stream
Music + visuals sets in person simulcast via live stream
When I’m performing in person I don’t normally use headphones and don’t look at the monitor on my laptop. Instead listen I to the P.A. or monitors. I look at the screen or wall/screen/scrim where the visuals are being projected. This incorporates the performance space as part of the vibe of the performance.
My streaming equivalent of this is to us a big screen right in front of me and perform with reference monitors at near concert volumes. Performing this way is much closer to performing on stage in front of an audience which puts more positive energy into the performance.
Conceptual Overview of 2020 Rig
Performance Cockpit – The region outlined with aqua highlighter is my performance cockpit where I play, perform, control live arrangements, and visuals.
Music Machines – All sound and music is produced via the following Elektron machines:
Analog Four – Analog synth with 4 synths and effects
Octatrack – Performance sampler, mixer, looper, effects processor, live arrangement of playback when needed
Digitone – Digital FM synth with 4 synth and effects
Live Camera for Visual Synthesis – I compose the camera shots in real-time by moving a Logitech HD Webcam which is a source for my visual software Resolume
Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 – Keys are used to play the Analog Four through hardware MIDI. RGB pads use custom MIDI modes to control Resolume through USB MIDI.
Novation Launchpad Pro MK3 – Velocity and pressure sensitive pads are used to play the Digitone through hardware MIDI. I have custom control modes that I can also use to control Resolume via USB MIDI.
Audio to the house / Audio interface with Loopback for Streaming – Yamaha AG06
Laptop for Visuals and Streaming – Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, Windows 10
Visual Software – Resolume Arena 7 software
Streaming Software – OBS Studio software for streaming
Streaming Endpoint – YouTube…
Using Midi Controllers to Decouple Visual Arrangements from Song Arrangement
In past incarnations of my multimedia show I controlled the arrangement and automation of visual effects for Resolume with Ableton Live “dummy clips” and automation envelopes. This meant the arrangement for visuals were implicitly locked with musical arrangement. For this new rig I wanted to decouple the visuals from the audio arrangement. This would allow me to perform the arrangement of the visuals manually making the experience more variable and unique with repeat performances.
I now control arrangement with the RBG pads on the Novation Launchkey MINI MK3.
Alternatively I can use the Logidy foot pedal for hands-free arrangement.
While I’m pretty busy playing and doing live arrangement, I can also use the Launchpad Pro MK3 with it’s custom MIDI modes and velocity sensitive fader grid feature to control parameters on Resolume.
FYI I’ve written past posts on these controllers in these categories:
My set list is made up of songs spread across each machine and I often perform an entire song using only one machine. In a few cases I will work across machines. For example, I perform the majority of my song “Disconnected” on the Octatrack and the leads from the Analog Four.
The machines are not synced and are not connected via MIDI. This allows for complete freedom to do live arrangement, change my set list on-the-fly. I might have corresponding patterns with matching tempos across machines but I select them and trigger them on-the-fly so I can play around with the pocket, tap tempo to shift or even change tempos or free-form play to add more tension.
Having no cross-machine dependency also means if a machine where to go down during a performance or have to be rebooted (which has never happened), the song and show can go on.
Fits in One Case and a Backpack
Another design goal for the rig was it had to fit into a Pelican 1510 case and backpack. This allows me to fly with the rig as well as load in to local shows with only one trip from the car.
I flew with an earlier version of this rig to Asheville, NC to perform at Mountain Skies in 2019 and manage to jam all this into a Pelican 1510.
With the addition of the new controllers I’m sure I could fit it all in the pelican with some overflow into my backpack.
Thanks for following along on this long read. If you’d like to get blog posts via email opt-in below.
Also swing by my Bandcamp page if you’d like to listen to some of my audio recordings, and my YouTube page to check out move videos.
All music and sound will performed live and with live arrangement using the Elektron Analog Four MKI, Octatrack MKII, and Digitone. I will be performing on the machines directly and with the Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 and Launchpad Pro MK3.
All visuals are generated in real-time with Resolume Arena 7, with live camera input from a Logitech C922X and other various sources. I control Resolume in real-time with Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 and Launchpad Pro MK3.
I’m streaming with OBS Studio with audio routed into a Yamaha AG06 audio interface with loopback. My talkback mic is a RØDE PodMic.
Mark Mosher: Music & Real-Time Visuals, Show Design, Show Producer
Chris Barr – Associate Producer, Testing, Chat Wrangler
Lizzy Mosher – Social Media
Victoria Lundy – Photoshop assist to trim the groovy speaker array image
If you enjoyed todays performance and want to show you can leave me a tip with a secure PayPal donation…
The Launhpad Pro MK3 is an incredible deep and useful controller that goes way beyond being an Ableton Live controller. It can be used as a stand-alone MIDI Controller to send notes and chords. It also has a 4 track stand-alone sequencer with advanced features such as probability and mutation. You can have 8 custom modes where you basically make 8 different custom MIDI Controllers.
Live integration also much improved with new dedicated buttons. You can also combine stand-alone with Live using features like “Print to Clip”. Additionally you can send MIDI out 2 hardware output and USB simultaneously. The pads are full RGB, velocity and pressure sensitive. They feel great. Plus this thing is light and small.
What I’ll Be Talking About
I’m still refining my talk but here is a mind map outline of what I’m planning to cover.
Launchpad Pro MK3 In Action
I just love this thing and I’m finding all sorts of uses for it. The video below is an example of using it stand-alone. I used the stand-alone sequencer to make this pattern and recorded into the Digitone. I then use the notes and chord mode to play the Digitone live.
While the video below is the sibling Launchpad X it illustrates the use of the velocity sensitive faders in a custom mode to control an effects processor.
I’m also using custom modes to control my visual software Resolume. More on this in a future post.
10 Years with Launchpad
In a related note this year marks my 10th year using Novation Launchpads. Here are a few pics
Through the years I think I’ve owned 4 different versions (all the ones in green below). When I bought the Launchpad Pro MK3 some accused me of needing some sort of intervention (Dino and Jeff) 😂.
A Few Videos of the LP PRO MK3 in Use
Here are some videos from my archives using previous generation Launchpads. First a video from 2010.
Here is a video from 2013 where I’m using a launchpad to move patch cables on a virtual synth.
In closing I’ll say that the Launchpad series have been transformative and fun and I look forward to working more with the Launchpad Pro MK3.
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In this post I’ll offer some info on my journey to finding a good, budget-friendly, broadcast-style mic and boom solution to up my game for online meetings, online streaming concerts, podcast interviews, and voiceovers.
Note: I’m not an affiliate. Just passing on a solution that works well for me 😀
My Use Cases
I needed a broadcast-style mic and boom solution to satisfy the use cases below.
1 – Zoom and Online Meetings
Of course, we’ve all been on a zillion zoom meetings by now, and I wasn’t really happy with using what I had on-hand (more on this below).
I’ve had the pleasure of being interviewed for podcasts such as Darwin Grosse’s Art + Music + Technology Podcast#23 and #139, and Brian Funk’s Music Production Podcast #99. I have a few pending invites, so I thought I’d up my game.
4 – Voiceovers
It’s been a number of years since I’ve done video tutorials and I’ve been thinking about doing them again from time-to-time. For this use case I wanted to have some sort of standing boom, broadcast-style mic setup that wouldn’t pick up much room noise.
On a related note – here is a classic from 10 years back that is still relevant today.
My Recent Journey on Zoom Meetings for the Rocky Mountain Synth Meet
Prior to the pandemic, I was already working on plans to take the Rocky Mountain Synth Meet online. Since March 12th, I’ve hosted 9 online events. My first step was to use what I hand on hand.
In the first few weeks of being constantly online, I started with a Sure SM-57 with a foam windscreen on a mic stand that has a boom arm. The natural thing to do is have the mic pointing up at you so as to not block the screen.
This didn’t work because, of course, that then makes it hard to see what you are doing on your computer keyboard. I tried putting this set up off to the side to speak across the mic but it just didn’t sound great due to the mic’s pickup pattern.
Next, I tried using a RØDE NT1-A on a mic stand with a boom in a spider shock mount with a foam windscreen (I don’t like having the big pop filter for the meeting use case.) The spider mount allowed me to have the mic hanging from above, out of the way, and it sounded great.
Two problems arose for me at this point. First, the mic pickup pattern is broad so it was picking up sounds like my heater coming on. Also, at this point I was really over the mic stand with the boom option because I kept bumping into it or stepping on the legs which send a loud “bang” noise through the meetings.
RØDE PodMic and PSA1 Professional Studio Boom Arm FTW!
I started down the path of sifting through piles of reviews, YouTube videos, product pages, and specs of mics and boom stands. Talk about overwhelming 😯.
At some point, I said to hell with it and decided to take a chance on RØDE since I was already a fan of the NT1-A and they had a fairly affordable pairing of mic and boom arm.
I love this mic! It has a built-in pop-filter, and the mic pattern works well when you talk across the mic, yet it doesn’t pick up all sorts of background noise. If you get up on the mic you get a proximity effect giving you a nice broadcaster’s tone. Coming in at 2lbs, it’s beefy.
Here are some specs:
Broadcast-quality dynamic capsule
Optimized for speech applications
Internal pop filter to minimize plosives
Robust, all metal construction
Designed for use with RØDECaster™ Pro Podcast Production
On a related note, now that I have this mic, I noticed it’s the same mic that Nick Batt uses for the Sonic Talk Podcast 😀.
PSA1 Professional Studio Boom Arm – $99
I assume this stand is designed for use with this mic as the balance is perfect, even though the PodMic is beefy.
Here are some specs:
An ideal studio boom arm for radio, broadcast, and home use
Supports most broadcast-style microphones weighing between 1.5 lbs. and 2.4 lbs. such as the RODE Procaster or Podcaster
Full 360-degree rotation makes positioning your microphone easy
Maximum horizontal reach of up to 32″ and maximum vertical reach of up to 33″ provide ample desk coverage
Supplied hook-and-loop wraps keep your mic cables tucked neatly out of the way
Desk clamp attachment provides mounting to desks as thick as 2.16″
Insert attachment provided for use with standard desk inserts up to 2.75″ thick
Attaching the mount to the desk is just a few turns of the clamp screw. Then, you just pop the boom into the desk mount and mount the mic. Installing the boom and mic took all of 5 minutes.
So far, I’ve tested this setup in online meetings and for test streams with talkback mic. These use cases are similar enough to the others I mentioned that I feel confident this solution is going to work really well for all my use cases.
Transitioning from other use cases to the Talkback mic for Online Streaming Concerts use case is great. As I mentioned, my studio is setup so that my sit / stand IKEA desk is on the right, and my live streaming synth rig with Resolume is on the left. If I swing the boom to the left, I have a talk-back mic for live performance. If I swing it to the right, I use it for online meetings, video tutorials, and podcast interviews. When not in use, I move the boom and mic up and over the monitor and it sits out of the way.
For $200 bucks it ticks all the boxes for what I was looking for. From my perspective, the solution offers great quality and value for the money.