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(Mark Mosher Music News) Octatrack Performance Videos Synth: Octatrak Video

Psychedelic Octatrack Soundscape – “I’m Going to Mary’s Party Tomorrow Aren’t You?”

Take a trip through a wormhole where captured signals from a 50’s PSA come streaming through your space helmet. You try to tune to some techno, but it doesn’t work.

Watch embedded YouTube video

Sample mangling with Elektron Octatrack MKII making heavy use of scenes and Designer LFO’s. Some manually tuning of the Comb Filter with slider as well.

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(Mark Mosher Music News) Elektron Elektron Analog Four Elektron Digitone Improvisation Live Streaming Live Streaming Concerts Live Streaming Event Octatrack Performance Videos resolume Synth: Analog Synth: Analog Four Synth: Octatrak

Video Replay of My May 22nd Live Stream Multimedia Concert with BTS Notes on Using Elektron Machines , Novation Controllers, and Resolume

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.

More live streams are coming, so subscribe to my YouTube channel and click the bell icon to get notified of upcoming videos and streams.

Set List

The video is 23 minutes long but if you just want to jump to a particular song you can use the links below. Let me know in the comments which was your fav ūüėÉ.

  • 0:00 Stand By (Recording of soundscape “Slipping Into Stasis Entering Jump Gate 42” from album Sonic Encounters Volume 02
  • 0:35Gonna Rise Up live performance of song from the album Fear Cannot Save Us
  • 4:27 “Replicant’s Dream” live performance of a song from a forthcoming album
  • 7:42 “Techno Planet 01” live performance of a song from a forthcoming album
  • 11:49Disconnecteda Bandcamp single performed live
  • 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.

Performance Notes

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.


Mentions

The performance got some nice mentions by synth publications.

Synthtopia

The video was featured as a Synth Sunday Jam. Thanks Synthtopia – woot!

Synth and Software Magazine

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‚ÄĒanyone who enjoys listening or who plays, programs, or aspires to make music with synthesizers, samplers, DAWs, audio processors, and other instruments and software…

https://synthandsoftware.com

Performance “Instrument” Notes

I view this entire rig as a multimedia “instrument”. One goal in designing this ‚Äúinstrument‚ÄĚ 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:

  1. Music sets in-person
  2. Music + visuals sets in person
  3. Music + visual sets via live stream
  4. Music + visuals sets in person simulcast via live stream

Performance Cockpit

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

Click image to see large version of diagram
  1. Performance Cockpit – The region outlined with aqua highlighter is my performance cockpit where I play, perform, control live arrangements, and visuals.
  2. Music Machines – All sound and music is produced via the following Elektron machines:
    1. Analog Four – Analog synth with 4 synths and effects
    2. Octatrack – Performance sampler, mixer, looper, effects processor, live arrangement of playback when needed
    3. Digitone – Digital FM synth with 4 synth and effects
  3. 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
  4. MIDI Controllers
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
  5. Audio & Visual Monitoring – Screen + reference monitors.
  6. Audio to the house / Audio interface with Loopback for Streaming – Yamaha AG06
  7. Laptop for Visuals and Streaming – Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, Windows 10
  8. Visual Software – Resolume Arena 7 software
  9. Streaming Software – OBS Studio software for streaming
  10. 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 ‚Äúdummy clips‚ÄĚ 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.

Carousel image

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:

Juggling Machines with No MIDI Sync

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 ‚ÄúDisconnected‚ÄĚ 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.


In Closing

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.

Categories
(Mark Mosher Music News) (Modulate This) Events Improvisation Musique concrète Octatrack Sound Design

“The Beauty Comes Out of the Spider‚Äôs Nature” Improv on Elektron Octatrack by Mark Mosher

The Natures of Siders.jpg

This is a an audio board recording of a live improvisation using only the Elektron Octatrack. It was recorded at the Jan. 25th, 2018 Beat Cypher event at Madelife.

Thanks to Justin Forthuber at madelife for organizing this event and Chris Sessions for the board recording.

Thanks for listening,

Mark Mosher
Synthesist, Electronic Musician, Producer
Boulder, CO
ModulateThis.com


If you enjoyed this recording click here.

Categories
(Modulate This) Octatrack Sound Design

Octatrack MKI & MKII New OS 1.30B is Here! Check out What’s New.

OT 1.30b

The wait is over! Elektron has released a new OS for the Octratrack MKI & MKII.

Download the new Octatrack MKI OS 1.30b here https://www.elektron.se/support/?connection=octatrack#resources

What’s New

Here are some highlights I grabbed from the release notes included in the download.

Sequencer Trig Conditions & Fills

A trig condition parameter has been added to the TRIG COUNT/MICRO TIMING menu. Open this menu when you are in the grid edit mode, by pressing and holding a trig key, and then press [LEFT] or [RIGHT]. The condition is changed using the LEVEL encoder. It can be set to (and defaults to) OFF, and 64 additional settings. Each setting is a condition, which will decide whether or not the sequencer note should be triggered.

  1. X % is a random probability condition. There is an X percent chance of it being true.
  2. A:B will be true on the A’th pattern iteration, then true again after B iterations, repeating indefinitely. You can use this setting to program periodically recurring notes, where the period can be longer than the actual pattern. If you for instance set it to N:4, the note will be triggered every fourth loop of the pattern.
  3. FILL is true when the sequencer is in fill mode. Fill mode is activated for one pattern iteration by pressing [DOWN] + [PAGE]. It will activate when the pattern loops and remain active until it loops again. It is also possible to momentarily activate fill mode by pressing [UP] + [PAGE]. The fill mode will then be active for as long as [PAGE] is being held down. To latch the fill mode, press [UP] + [DOWN] + [PAGE]. The fill mode will remain active until you press and release [UP] + [PAGE].
  4. FILL is true when FILL is not. You can use FILL to program pattern variations. The notes which should played only in the variation should be set to FILL, and notes which should be excluded from the variation to FILL. The variation is then easily accessible from the [PAGE] key.
  5. PRE is true if the most recently evaluated trig condition on the same track was true.
  6. PRE is true when PRE is not. If you program a pattern variation using PRE and/or PRE, but set the first note of the variation to use a probability condition, then the whole variation will depend on whether or not the first note triggered.
  7. NEI is true if the most recently evaluated trig condition on the neighbour track was true.
  8. NEI is true when NEI is not. If you program a pattern variation using NEI and/or NEI on track 3, and have a probability trig before the variation on track 2, then the whole variation will depend on whether or not the note on track 2 triggered.
  9. 1ST is true the first pattern iteration (ie. until the pattern has looped). You could use this setting for instance to program a one-shot percussive hit in your pattern. Or just any note that you do not wish to have repeated.
  10. 1ST is true when 1ST is not

Other Changes

  1. Unsaved RAM recorder slices are not discarded at startup.

Bug fixes

  1. VU meter would sometimes get stuck at max.
  2. Scene locking XDIR to MIN had no effect.
  3. Rec button LED would not flash in real time recording mode.
  4. MIDI output buffer overflow would make the unit freeze.
  5. Encoder/fader input overflow would cause irregular UI behavior.
  6. Reconfiguring the flex memory would make it impossible to trigger flex samples, unless a manual reload of the samples was invoked.
  7. The Part Edit command would edit the last selected part, rather than the active part.

OS Changes to Support MKII Hardware

The released notes contained in the OS download also document the changes to support changes to MKII hardware.

Mark Mosher
Composer, Synthesist, Electronic Musician, Multimedia Artist
Boulder, CO
MarkMosherMusic.com
ModulateThis.com

 

Categories
(Modulate This) Octatrack Sound Design

Elektron Octatrack MII vs Octatrack MKI – A Deeper Look Beyond the Bullet Points

[update 2017-11-01 The New OS is Here!!! Here is a new post on what’s new with a link do the download.]

This rather lengthy post offers a comparison of the original Octatrack vs the Octatrack MKII from my perspective as a long-time Octatrack user. [Update 2017-10-07] The MKII has release and the manual is online here. While I wrote this article in July info below is still helpful. I’ll offer an update post on the new OS once it releases and I install it. The PDF manual isn’t online yet and I wanted to get beyond the marketing bullet points so I swapped some messages with Elektron support (excellent responses and response times btw) to get clarifications on some of the new features. I’ll also offer some thoughts on what the MKII means for existing and new users as well as some tips.

My History with the Octatrack

I’ve been working with the Octatrack for over 4 years. It is the cornerstone of my hardware rig and my primary instrument for my improvisational solo work and for my collaborations with the (no)poem, and A.I. Winter. The Octatrack was also featured heavily on my recent studio release¬†Sonic Encounters Volume 01¬†and for the singles “It Doesn’t Have to Hate Us to Use Our Molecules” and the recent “Space-Time Distortion Near Track Number 8“. I also like to use the Octatrack to emulate exotic instruments like the Swarmatron.

I’ve written about the Octatrack on Modulate This! using the category¬†https://modulatethis.com/category/octatrack/.¬† I’ve also had the pleasure to teach other artist how to make music and perform with the Octatrack.

My favorite (and perhaps most unusual) use for the Octatrack is with the Denver’s¬†Carbon Dioxide Ensemble¬†with Copper Heartist Thomas Lundy and Theremist Victoria Lundy. I use the Octatrack to process and¬†live sample Tom’s copper heart play played with dry ice build sample based instruments on the fly. In other words real-time¬†Musique¬†concr√®te. Here is a short behind-the-scenes and performance snippet video.

 

For more, check out this playlist on my YouTube channel which feature the Octatrack.

My most recent work with the Octatrack was for my single “Space-Time Distortion Near Track Number 8” (available on bandcamp). Here is a video of the piece.

The primary source video for 90% of the visuals is from the overhead view of the live studio session. It’s mangled pretty heavily in this piece put if you listen closely, you can hear an automated voice informing you that you are at track 8 and 10. Interestingly, the speakers at the station are not directional and the audio is at different loop lengths – so just wandering about between these gates is a trippy polyrhythmic treat.¬†The piece is a combination of live sequencing and live performance. The Octatrack is used to host drum samples and recording. It is also used to MIDI sequence 3 synth slots on the Nord Lead 4 including MIDI automation.

Octatrack MKII is a Mechanical Upgrade

 

 

According to Elektron support the MKII is a mechanical upgrade. They needed to change out some components (they didn’t mention which ones) that were end of life. Since they needed to do some redesign to accommodate¬†the new parts, they also took the time to upgraded the mechanics and some other parts within machine plus add more buttons to the panel.

The redesign to add the Digitakt-style buttons and encoders, more buttons,  plus the update of Audio-In to balanced inputs make this more than simply a hardware guts and cosmetic refresh.

Operating System & Data Storage are the Same on Octatrack MKII and MKI

Elektron support verified the operating systems are the same.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Octatrack, ¬†one of the best¬†things about it from a backup and data management¬†perspective is that system¬†config information is stored in the individual projects end therefore there are no external¬†dependencies.¬† If your move your card to another machine and turn it on, this other Octatrack becomes your Octatrack. If your¬†machine breaks, move the card to a friend’s machine ‚Äď done. No drivers, no missing VSTs, no missing files.

In the MKII specs, they indicate “Fully compatible with Octatrack MKI projects/data“. Since the OS is the same and the MKII still uses Compact Flash, this is NOT an import. It means you can work natively with your project data on Compact Flash cards on either a MKI or MKII and move the cards back and forth.

[update 2017-07-05] For clarity, I’m including my questions and responses from Elektron on the OS.

Q: I saw this in the specs “Fully compatible with Octatrack MKI projects/data”. So this implies I can open MKI files on a MKII. I’m hoping I can also open projects I create on a MKII with my MKI so I can use the MKI as a backup. Is project data compatibility work both directions?

A: Elektron Support –¬†
They will run the same software – the MKII is a mechanical upgrade and has the same features and OS as the MKI.

Q:¬†Elektron announced Octatrack was “Feature Complete” on the OS side a while back. Will you start developing new features for both machines again?

A:¬†Elektron Support –¬†We have nothing to comment on OS features at this time. We will however address some bugs and issues – which will benefit both MKI and MKII users since they use the same OS.

Same OS, same data format, and same storage format means the next paragraph still holds true unless at some point they fork the code or change the data formats. 

The upside of all this for existing owners is that if you buy a MKII, you could use the MKI as a backup or for a dual-deck setup without having to mess around with import/export and be concerned about feature parity.

[update 2017-10-07] As anticipated, the MKII shipped with some new features which will also work in the MKI as they are in fact running the same OS. Elektron has not posted the OS yet, but the support page has a notice that it’s coming soon.

I scanned the MKII manual and it looks like Conditional Locks and Fill Mode is in the future for us MKI owners :^)

ot-mki-os-update

New/Re-Purposed Backlit Buttons and New LEDs

While the operating system under the hood is the same, the user experience has been enhanced by “Increased amount of dedicated buttons enabling quicker workflow”. The buttons are described as “Ultra durable back-lit buttons. Rated for 50 million presses”. These buttons add new affordances for tasks that used to require menu diving or more complex shift-presses include:

  • AED/Slice Grid – AED (which I assume stand for “Audio Editor”) get’s it’s own button – yay! On MKI you access the audio editor by pressing [TRACK]+[Bank/Edit] which isn’t the most obvious button sequence in the world. So much so that I find when I’m giving lessons on the Octatrack that many people don’t even know the OT has an audio editor :^0. So this is a biggie. Slice to Grid is also a tab interface from there on MKI – which is quite a few steps away from how it’s surfaced on the MKII. Excellent!
  • PROJ/Save Proj button – this was burried in [FUNCTION]+[Mixer/Project].
  • MIX/Click– There was already a mix button, and because Project has been surfaced as it’s own button, the shift function is assigned to Click settings. You used to have to use¬† [CUE] + [TEMPO] to toggle click (assuming you had metronome configured to “Active”).
  • PART/Part Edit – a click instead of a shift-press with access to part editing as the shift-press.
  • MIDI/MIDI Sync – MIDI was a dedicated button, but it’s Function shift mode was “Part”. Now that Part has it’s own button, MIDI Sync has been surfaced as a function-press.
  • ARR/Arr Mode¬†– Arranger get’s it’s own button. BTW did you know you can set different tempos per pattern in arranger? Yes it’s true! The “B” parameter is for BPM.
  • PTN/Pattern Settings – Pattern has it’s own button on the MKI so that’s not new. Since Arrange has it’s own button now, the shift-function of PTN is now Pattern Settings.
  • REC3 – ¬†Earlier available in the REC setup menu for internal resampling.
  • -Int- – Two new LEDs¬†for monitoring the resampling input¬†level.

Button Brightness

The back-lit buttons look plenty bright when you watch Digitakt videos. Just the same, I asked Elektron support:

Q: Question about Octatrack MKII back-lit button brightness. Do you find that if you were using the MKII in daylight that the button states expressed as color are more or less visible than the MKI LEDs? Not direct sunlight, but say under a tent at a festival in the daytime.

A: The lit area is larger, and the lighting is a tad brighter Рso the new buttons (same as Digitakt) should be more visible in a very bright environment.

New and Improved Labeling

The button naming convention has changed with the label for the primary function being all upper case now. New labels have been added on to the panel for the shift functions to reveal some [FUNCTION] presses that were already there or to make the function more obvious. This will help shorten the learning curve a bit. They include:

  • Arrow Keys ¬†– Trig mode and nudge. Tip: Trig mode is how you set trigs work operation for real-time performance. Possibilities are TRACKS, CHROMATIC, SLOTS, SLICES, QUICK MUTE, DELAY CONTROL.
  • Yes/No – labels for arm and disarm (ex. rearm a one-shot)
  • Cue/Reload Part – used to say just “Reload”. Reload what? The “Part” of course.
  • A-F Encoders ¬†– New labels for audio editing control…Start Position, Loop Position, End Position, Zoom up/down, Scroll left/right, Zoom left/right. Holy shit is this helpful!¬†I’ve been using the machine 4 years and I sometimes get still confused with this set of controls – haha.
  • Tap Tempo/Pickup Sync – There was a tempo button before. It opened up the Tempo page so you could adjust tempo with an encoder. Tap tempo was achieved by holding [FUNCTION] then tapping tempo. I assume (as I don’t have the manual yet) that pressing Tap will bring up the Tempo page and tapping it will do Tap Tempo – more immediate and obvious than the MKI. [update 2017-07-05] [FUNCTION]+press is still serves pickup Sync a new function-press¬†and the labeling properly reflects this.
  • Level – has a sub-label for Cursor position – in case you didn’t realize the level button was your data scroll control. Tip: Holding [FUNCTION] when turning Level allows you to adjust your Master Volume.
  • REC1/REC2 – now has handy labels for pickup machine overdub, play/stop.

OLED Display

“A crisp OLED screen with fantastic viewing angles.” In the picture the black and white are inverted for my high-contrast viewing – like Digitakt. Looks pretty great. Both machine’s specs say the screen dimensions are 128×64.

Better Encoders

I felt the MKI encoders were great. Seems like these are even better. Tip: Turning an encoder offers fine control. Press [FUNCTION] and turn offers more gross control over a parameter, and if appropriate will snap you to virtual detents, For example, if you hold [FUNCTION] and turn the knob for pan Balance, the value will snap Left (-64), Center (0), and Right (+64). If hold [FUNCTION] and turn a know when setting a sample position you will snap to a zero crossing.

New Crossfader

The MKI spec is “Infinium optical crossfader”. The MKII spec says “Contactless silky smooth performance crossfader”. I verified that this is a new component ¬†as the older Infinum is no longer manufactured. According to Elektron, “the throw are a few mm shorter and the friction is a bit lighter.”

Power Supple Change

[Update 2017-07-05] Alvaro Villalobos on facebook pointed out that the power supply changed. MKI is 6V DC 3A positive tip. MKII is 12VDC 2A poitive tiop. Label those power supplies!

Better Audio In

The MKI already had¬†4 √ó 1/4‚Ä≥ impedance balanced audio out jacks. The the audio in’s where not balanced. The MKII hardware offers an upgrade to the external inputs so they are impedance balanced as well.

No Overbrdige

No Overbridge support. This makes sense now that I know its the MK1 and MKII share the same OS.¬†Personally this is not a show stopper for me. I use the Octatrack when I’m not using Ableton Live. I use it because I don’t want to be on a computer. There it is.

The End Result РSurfacing More Features with Quicker Workflow While Shorting the Learning Curve

At quick glance all this doesn’t look very different, but when you look deeper you can see a lot of design went into improving the UX and hardware to surface more features with quicker workflow. All this will help shorten the learning curve as well. I for one know that the update will have me using more features in real-time that were burred a few clicks away. I could see using features such as resampleing and slicing – which I used in the studio – more in performance.

Overall, it’s pretty great Elektrton could overlay all that on top of the same OS!

What’s In It for Existing Octatrack Users

Think iPad Upgrade

Getting an Octatrack MKII if you have a MKI is more like getting an iPad Pro 10.5 when you already have an iPad. You get a better screen, better mechanics, better stuff under the hood, better design, some new User Experience affordances, but the OS under-the-hood is the same OS. I suppose the analogy breaks down on things like processor speed, but you get the idea.

Your chops and data will transfer to the new machine – done. If you keep your old machine, it can act as a backup or 2-deck system since the OS is the same and you can swap cards back and forth. If you sell your old machine to a friend, you’ve just helped the community grow.

The OS “It’s Alive”- Again

There is another benefit¬†to the MKI users even if they don’t buy a MKII. Until this announcement the Octatrack OS was “feature complete” – as in NO more updates. I asked Elektron support if they were planning updates. They said “nothing to comment on OS features at this time” but indicated if there were bug fixes it would benefit MKI and MKII since they use the same OS.

The release of MKII leaves the door open for fixes or issues where as before it was closed. Being ever the optimist, it seems possible that on the way to V2 they could sneak in features that the current hardware could support – say trig conditions.

What’s In it for New Octatrack Artists

Elektron Support’s take on this update is that…

“The Octatrack still stands as a unique and great instrument, this upgrade lets it continue being just that.”

I agree completely – and now the machine has new revitalized life for a new set of artists. Even considering Digitakt, the Octatrack MKII has a unique spot in the the Elektron lineup – and in the market.

Cheers to Elektron for Circling Back and Extending the Life a Fantastic Instrument

Elektron is a small company and I’d imagine creating new products like the Heat and the Digitakt required all-hands-on-deck for the past few years.¬†It’s pretty cool (and extremely rare in the music tech industry) that a company would circle back and take a pass at getting a piece of hardware that first launched in January 2011 back into a producible and supportable form. Their strategy rewards loyal customers who worked to gain virtuosity with the instrument by extending the Octatrack’s life as well offering current Elektron build quality and features that those with newer products are used to. Smart.

I would much rather have this MKII update than to have waited 2 or 3 years for a V2 product.¬†MKII has the potential to renew interest in the instrument which would help grow the Octatrack community building more support for a V2. [Update 2017-10-07] This is already happening and there are a flurry of new videos popping up on YouTube with folks showing off the MKII. It’s alive!

Octatrack MKII – A Machine that STILL Makes Music

I’ll leave you with the original and epic original Octatrack video.

Oh and Elektron, if you are reading this, now would be a great time to do another episode in the story with Hector with the new Octatrack MKII!

Thanks for Reading,
 
Mark Mosher
Boulder, CO

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(Modulate This) Digitakt Elektron Elektron Analog Four Elektron Rytm Octatrack Sound Design

New Performance by Dataline “Oscillations”

dataline-cenk-oscillationsSpreading the word of a cool¬†new live performance video by Elektron’s Cenk (aka Dataline).

Categories
(Modulate This) Concerts Events Festivals Musique concrète Octatrack Videos

Video: Carbon Dioxide Ensemble (CO2E) Live at Denver Noise Fest 2016

The Carbon Dioxide Ensemble (CO2E) had the honor of opening night 2 of the Denver Noise Fest 2016 on December 22nd, 2016 at Globe Hall. Here is a video of our performance.

As I mentioned in a recent post, the focus of our ensemble is on live improvisational performance of¬†musique concr√®te. Thomas Lundy uses blocks for dry ice to cause the copper heart to vibrate (through rapid cooling, strikes, drags‚Ķ). I then use the Elektron Octatrack dynamic performance¬†sampler to live-sample the Tom’s performance via a contact mic on the copper heart. I then simultaneously performs and does real-time sound design with the captured audio. Victoria Lundy accompanies on Theremin and Reaktor.

Audio is from room via the Q4N video camera.

Rig Photos

Links:
CO2E: https://markmoshermusic.com/portfolio…
Denver Noise Fest: http://www.DenverNoiseFest.com

Categories
(Modulate This) Musique concrète Noise Octatrack Preformance Sampling Sound Design

Notes on Octatrack’s Role in Carbon Dioxide Ensemble’s Upcoming Set for Denver Noise Fest 2016

I’ll be performing with the Carbon Dioxide Ensemble¬†(Co2E) at Denver Noise Fest. The fest starts today on Dec 21st and our set is on the second night on the 22nd.

See my recent article¬†Spread the Word ‚Äď Denver Noise Fest VII 2016 is On!!! December 21-22 Globe Hall.

The Carbon Dioxide Ensemble is a collaboration with myself, Thomas Lundy, and Victoria Lundy, and . In this ensemble we focus  on live improvisational performance of Musique concrète. In this unique act I use the Elektron Octatrack dynamic performance sampler to live sample Thomas Lundy as he manipulates a Copper Heart and other objects which with dry ice. Victoria Lundy accompanies on Theremin and Reaktor.

Octatrack Is Essential for Live Sampling and Improvisational Real-Time Sound Design

The Octatrack is aptly named as a “Dynamic Performance Sampler” and is perfect for this sort of gig. The Copper Heart has a contact mic on the bottom. When Tom articulates the heart with dry ice, the metal start shearing at a microscopic level causing the heart to resonate. He can also bang and scrape the ice on the heart. I capture this in real-time and then build instruments on the fly to compliment what both he and victoria are playing. I have some percussion samples in the wings and some other fun oddities that I can quickly can pull into the equation if the improv demands it.

I¬†find it more fun, challenging, and interesting to perform without a safety net in this regard and forego a cue mix and just program the Octatrack “tracks” live in the PA – mostly performing in real-time in chromatic or slots mode.¬†I use scene morphing to do things like pull the harmonic content of the heart into bass territory so I can “light up” the sub-woofers in the room. One fun “move” is to use the crossfader mapped to sample playback rate to tune the sub-harmonics to achieve sympathetic vibration with the room. It’s pretty epic to hear in person :^)

Video

It’s all pretty unusual and fun. Below is a video of a past performance. Audio is from GoPro mic¬†so doesn’t really do the audio justice – but will give you a sense of the act.

Safety First

Oh, and if you working with dry ice, don’t forget to wear your safety goggles.

dsc00457

Links

Carbon Dioxide Ensemble.

Denver Noise Fest on Facebook

Denver Noise Fest Web Site

Categories
(Modulate This) Octatrack

#MarkOctatrackDiaries – Celebrating Three Years of Octatrack

MarkMosher-Octatrack-Gates-Concert-Hall-UniversityofDenver

My Octatrack turns three this week. In taking a moment to look back over these years I'm blown away at how transformative this instrument has been for me. It has become THE most used instrument and workflow in my rig second to Ableton Live.

The Octatrack was also the catalyst for my journey into the improvisational side of electronic and experimental music. A big thanks to Darwin Grosse who encouraged me to dig deep with the Octatrack and offered his mentorship along this journey. Also thanks to live-sampling pioneer Dino J.A. Deane who offered insight and inspiration into this world. Thanks to all my friends and fellow artists who I drug into Octatrack sessions in the early days while I was getting my chops together Рespecially Mike Bryant. Lastly, thanks to Victoria Lundy and Thomas Lundy for throwing me into the deep end of the musique concrète pool using the Octatrack as my flotation device :^)

The Octatrack is extremely difficult to master (and I still learn new things about it each week) but offers very unique capabilities and expressive possibilities that I've rarely found in instruments over the last 30 years. It is one of the few instruments I've used that allows me to create, switch, and morph between complex "states" on-the-fly without a computer.

MarkMosher-Octatrack-ConcreteMixer

My work with the Octatrack has offered experiences creating music and sound in real-time I never thought possible. More importantly, it has opened doors to incredible improvisational opportunities Рboth solo and in ensembles. Before the Octatrack I was on no ensembles orduos and now I'm in four РThe Carbon Dioxide Ensemble (Concréte Mixer concert series) , (no)poem, A.I. Winter, and the Denver Synth_Drone Collective. It's also allowed me play in ad-hoc ensembles while at festivals like Electro-Music Asheville and NY.

I'll be taking a walk down memory lane and posting out some audio and video recordings of past work with the Octatrack ‚Ä™out on Twitter @markmosher and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/markmoshermusic

To kick things off, here is some live concert footage from January 30th, 2015 at Concr√©te Mixer IV concert in Denver https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlKOg8Nu-3k . In this clip I'm performing as part of the Carbon Dioxide Ensemble. I am live-sampling a big copper heart which is being played with dry ice by Thomas Lundy (don't try this at home kids) with accompaniment by Victoria Lundy on Theremin. The only audio source for Octatrack other than drum samples is the input from a contact mic on the copper heart routed into the Octatrack.

 

More adventures to come!

Categories
Ableton Live Octatrack Synth: Rayblaster Synth: Zebra 2.x

Using Ableton Resampling to Distill Custom Zebra and Rayblaster Programs Into Octatrack (or any Sampler)

Mutiny-drone-2015-12-27

I've been invited to perform as part of a drone collective this Sunday a the Textures Ambient Showcase in Denver (Facebook invite). The show has these rules.

1) one synthesizer per player

2) all inputs into main mixer/pa (no indie rigs)

3) play single note holds only ‚Äď focus is on sound manipulations & effects processing

4) music from 7-9:30 or so.. continuous with all players as inspired

5) players can break or not as desired

I went back and forth trying to decide what synth to bring. I know some of the other performers will be bringing Moog Sub 37, a Korg MS20, and Euroracks. The obvious choice for me was my Nord Lead 4. It's perfect for this sort of thing. But then again, there is already going to be a lot of oscillator based fire-power there. 

Going with Octatrack

Instead, I decided to play the show using only my Octatrack so I could compliment all those synths with some unique textural drones. I have developed techniques around using the Octatrack more like an organic synth making heavy use of morphing and LFO automation to make source material unrecognizable. I  can also get some great movement within drones as well by manipulating the loop length and such. 

Rather than live sample at this show (although that might happen), I want to bring in some prepared sources. I already have a lot of original Absynth content in my Octatrack audio pool but I wanted to add some new original Zebra 2 and Rayblaster content as well. 

Ableton Live Resampling to the Rescue

A fast way to go about distilling some raw waveform content from custom programs is to use Ableton Live's resample features. In a nutshell:

1) Insert a plugin into Live

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2) Create a MIDI clip that plays a single note. In my case the note lasts 8 bars so I can capture some motion in these original presets. 

3) Remove any effects you put on your virtual instruments so you can add effects later on Octatrack (or your sampler of choice)

4) Create a new Audio Track in Ableton.

5) Rename the track to the name of the synth your sampling. Example – "Rayblaster". What this does is name all the subsequent clips you sample in that track to that name with a number in front of them making them easy to find later – and easy to identify once you import them into your sampler. Below is a little video I did a while ago on using shortcuts to rename elements in Live.

 

6) Set the Audio From to "Resampling".

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7) Arm both the plugin and audio track.

8) Stop all clips to make sure you'll only being playing the clip mentioned in stop#4.  Play the clip from step #4. Stop. Over on the audio track you are resampling into, click on an empty circle on empty clip slot. This will start playback and record the audio from the plugin into an audio clip.

9) Hit space bar when you want to stop.

10) Go back and trim the sample to the number of bars you want, then right-click and "crop".

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11) Repeat 7-10 till till you capture all the content you need.

12) Save your project, then do a "Collect All and Save".

13) To quickly get to the samples you created, go to clip, right-click, then select "Show in Explorer"

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14) Now you'll see the pool of audio samples from this session and can them import them into your sampler. 

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Use with Clips, Ableton Simpler or Sampler

You've probably figured this out already, but this same technique gives you food for clip launching, Ableton Sampler and Ableton Simpler.

Why Go Through All this?

 Because the Octatrack is instant on, has incredible real-time synthesis and effects with super expressive automation and a very nice and accurate slider. Different user interfaces and wokflows yield different results. I get a different result staring at a screen than I do with using a piece of hardware. I also used this technique in my duo A.I. Winter to bring a ton of custom Absynth patches to the Octatrack for a performance that turned into the EP Instantiate.

 

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=2200318234/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/artwork=small/transparent=true/

Categories
(Modulate This) Octatrack

Elektron Releases Octatrack OS 1.25G – What’s New

Elektron has released a minor update for the Octatrack – OS 1.25G.

What's new:

  • A regression caused static samples to be assigned a tempo of 300 BPM when loaded. Fixed.
  • Trigless locks in the currently active bank were incorrectly converted into trigless trigs when restarting the machine. Fixed.

You can download the update here:

http://eu.elektron.se/support/?connection=octatrack

Mark Mosher
http://www.MarkMosherMusic.com

www.SonicEncounters.com/podcast

Categories
(Modulate This) Octatrack Podcasts Sonic Encounters Soundscapes Podcast Synth: U-HE Bazille

Catching Up With Sonic Encounters Podcast – Episodes 005-007

It's been a while since I mentioned my soundscape podcast Sonic Encounters so I thought I'd catch you up on a few episodes. FYI – you can subscribe to the Podcast in iTunes, or use this RSS Feed for your favorite podcatcherDetailed show notes for each episode including notes on synths I used and production techniques at https://markmoshermusic.com/category/podcast/.

Episode 005 – "Irreversible Transcription Errors During Consciousness Transfer"

005 Irreversible Transcription Errors During Consciousness Transfer v2

 ‚ÄúWelcome to transfer station 11203. Your consciousness transfer is about to begin and soon you will enjoy immortality in your new custom body. The process is 100% foolproof thanks to your personal technician who will be actively monitoring the process for transcription errors. In the unlikely event of a transcription error, your technician will be manually executing corrective rewrites well before the 6 minute margin where these anomalies would become part of your permanent consciousness in the target vessel. This ‚Äúhuman touch‚ÄĚ is just another way Transfer-Con goes the extra mile for our clients…[more story background and notes on production using an Octatrack with field recordings]"

Episode 006 – "When the Whales Take Back the Ocean"

006 When the Whales Take Back the Ocean

As humans and their technology have evolved, they have encroached more and more on the domain of the whale and other sea life. Of course the whales have been evolving as well ‚Äď and ‚Äď unbeknownst to us, they have been patiently plotting and waiting for the right time put things back in balance. Listen as a group of humpback whales execute phase 1 of their plan to take back the ocean…[more notes on background and production using an Octatrack with public domain recordings of humbpack whales].

Episode 007 – "Descent Into Ancient Ice Cave"

007 Descent into Ancient Ice Cave Cover

This is the soundtrack of an expedition to an ancient ice cave. As you descend deep into the cavern hear surreal sound of the wind blended with your own scanning equipment reverberating through massive cave system. At around the 7:00 minute mark, your systems start picking up some movement in the cave. You‚Äôve got a bad fielding about this ‚Äď so you initiate emergency ascent at 8:20.

Recorded in a single pass with no edits using a single custom U-HE Bazille Patch…[more show notes on background and production].

Categories
(Modulate This) Blofeld Octatrack Touring

Flight-Friendly Hardware Synth Rig Part 2 – Backing Into Your Synth Rig from the Pelican 1510 Case

Photo Aug 23, 1 44 27 PM

This is a follow-up to post "Flight-Friendly Hardware Synth Rig Part 1 – Switching to Hardware Rig for my Solo Set". 

Over the last 5 years or so I've had the opportunity to fly to festivals. It's always a challenge of course to get your gear from here to there.

One strategy I'd recommend is to back into your show rig from what will fit into the luggage you are going to travel with. Something to consider here is that you want to bring enough essential gear as carry-on so that you could perform your set even if your checked luggage doesn't make it with you to the venue. So a backpack and a case that will fit in the overhead bin are the way to go.

Pelican 1510 Carry On Case – $160

Photo Aug 23, 1 41 06 PM

It's important to get a tough case for the overhead bin in case you are asked to gate check the bag or end up on a regional jet where approved sizes won't fit. This has happened to me multiple times over the years. In this scenario they'll put the bag right into the cargo hold so you at least know your gear will make it to the destination with you.

My friend and amazing artist Dino J.A. Deanne (http://jadeane.com/blog) who's done many tours turned me on to the Pelican 1510 Carry On Case. Here is Dino's post on cases.

  • Meets the FAA MAXIMUM CARRY ON SIZE!
  • Retractable extension handle
  • Strong polyurethane wheels with stainless steel bearings
  • Easy open Double Throw latches
  • Open cell core with solid wall design – strong, light weight
  • O-ring seal
  • Automatic Pressure Equalization Valve
  • Comfortable rubber over-molded top and side handles
  • Stainless steel hardware and padlock protectors
  • Pick N Pluck‚ĄĘ with convoluted lid foam
  • Personalized nameplate service available
  • Lifetime Guarantee of Excellence
  • WATERTIGHT, CRUSHPROOF, AND DUSTPROOF
  • INTERIOR (L x W x D) 19.75" x 11" x 7.6" (50.1 x 27.9 x 19.3 cm) 
  • EXTERIOR (L x W x D) 22" x 13.81" x 9" (55.9 x 35.1 x 22.9 cm) 

This case is just amazing. I ordered the version with the Pick N Pluck foam so I could customize the case for my desktop rig. The biggest challenge is deciding how you'll lay out your gear to fit. Here is my case from the inside out.

Photo Aug 23, 1 43 40 PM

Pick N Pluck comes in two sheets that lay on top of each other. Place your gear on the sheets and use chalk or toothpicks to mark  where you'll need to punch out the foam to fit your gear. Then just pull the little rectangles off. 

The picture above shows the bottom layer punched out to fit the Octatrack, Blofeld Desktop, and Mackie Mixer. Hang on to all those scraps as they com in handy. For example, I used Elmers Multi-Purpose Spray Adhesive to glue Pick N Place scraps to create one more layer of padding on the bottom of the case for the Octatrack. I also sprayed adhesive on q-tips and used it to glue the thin run of foam along the top and for other miscellaneous padding.

In this next photo, you can see I've placed the Octatrack and Blfoeld Desktop into the case. Note that there are slots cut out for the blofeld knobs. It looks a little precarious at this point but adding the next layer tightens things up. Also note that I have Elektron's Protective Lid PL-2 on top of the Octatrack. The lid is expensive at $59, but I consider it a  MUST BUY for Elektron users who take their instruments out of the studio. I'm also a fan of the Elektron ECC-2 soft-sided carry case (which includes the lid) if you just want a way to carry your Elektron unit around by itself locally.

 Photo Aug 23, 1 43 15 PM

In this next photo, you'll see I dropped in the next layer of Pick N Pluck foam and this time I glued some extra scraps to put tension on the top of the blofeld where there are no knobs or LEDs which also ensures that there is not pressure on the knobs. I also inserted the Mackie 402VLZ3.

Photo Aug 23, 1 41 48 PM

I then carved down into the foam so I could add an Akai Professional MPK Mini Mk2 to the rig.

Photo Aug 23, 1 41 36 PM

I used some scraps to put a layer over the drum pads so the lid wouldn't crush the joystick. 

Photo Aug 23, 1 41 30 PM

When you button the case up, nothing moves at all! 

If you really mess things up and need to start over, or you want a different configuration of padding for a different rig, you can buy replacement foam on Amazon.

Backpack

Osprey-ozone-46

There of course an incredible number of choices for backpacks. Ultimately, you just need something you dig that will fit all your gear and still fit under the seat in front of you. I used to use a North Face Surge and last year switched to a consumer backpack – the Osprey Ozone 46. While there are many fine choices in DJ backpacks, I prefer the consumer backpacks so I can use them for things other than toting musical gear. In other words, they are lighter when you are doing other things but it's up to you to add padding to fit most musical journeys.

Carry the essentials to pull off a show in this bag – plus items to keep you going during the travel day.

  1. My laptop and power supply (which I use for visuals)
  2. Essential audio and power cables for the rig
  3. Any recorders you need to document the show like a GoPro, Zoom H2N.
  4. Flashlight
  5. Spare batteries for gear
  6. Spare audio adapters
  7. Any perscription meds, pain relievers, allergy pills, Bandaids…
  8. Phone charger
  9. Square or payment reader
  10. A few copies of your CDs
  11. Business cards
  12. myPower ALL Plus MP3450i Battery to charge my phone and run the Octatrack if need be
  13. Snacks in case the flight gets delayed (happens all the time of course)
  14. Nalgene OTF Water Bottle with locking lid. You can open and close it with one hand. Even if you  kick it over on stage you won't soak your cables or rig. Fill it up on the other side of security for the odd chance that you get stuck on a tarmac somewhere.

Checked Bag

If it's a quick in-and-out show, you might be able to fit your change of clothes and toothbrush in the backpack. If not you'll need to check a bag. I also use the checked bag for:

  1. Backup cables for the rig
  2. I sometimes bring stands in this bag like the Roland SS-PC1 Laptop Table
  3. If I can spare the weight, a Furman AC-215A power conditioner
  4. A stereo Hum Eliminator
  5. Merchandise
  6. Sometimes LED lights like a Simppar 56
  7. Clothes

——————–

MarkMosherMusic.com << Artist Site and Podcast

Categories
(Modulate This) Blofeld Octatrack Touring

Flight-Friendly Hardware Synth Rig Part 1 – Switching to Hardware Rig for my Solo Set

In my last post "Part 1 – Mark Mosher Cinematic Electronic Live – Boulder Synthesizer Meetup August 11, 2015" I shared a video of a solo set I played at the Boulder Synthesizer Meetup earlier this month. For years now when I've played my solo sets I've used an Ableton controllerism rig on the audio side. Hot off the heels of the (no)poem tour where I had great luck using all hardware in a collaborate and improvisational context, the meetup gig was a test of using all hardware on the audio side and only using the computer for interactive visuals. The instant-on and quick setup of the all hardware rig was really great and allowed me to play a continuous set combining composed piece from my albums plus do improv.

At the meetup gig, I used a Blofeld keyboard.

Blofeld+octatrack

I wanted to be able replicate that same gig for away gigs where I fly so I added an Akai MPK Mini MK2 to be paired with the Blofeld Desktop.

MPKmini_angle_web_lg_700x438

 Here is a sketch of my solo rig now.

Photo Aug 24, 8 21 17 AM

By having a home and away rig with the same technology I can develop more muscle memory for the rig and focus on a small set of instruments.

Note that if I happen to have the computer along for visuals, I can turn this into a hybrid rig and use the laptop to run Percussa MIDIBridge and run audio cubes as gestural controllers.

I'm currently testing the rig in hybrid mode and will add an iConnect MIDI interface soon so I can completely break the tether to the laptop if needed.

Coming up in Part 2 – Backing Into Your Synth Rig from the Pelican 1510 Case

Photo Aug 23, 1 44 27 PM

Categories
(Modulate This) (no)poem Blofeld Concerts Octatrack

Introducing (no)poem – A New Collaboration with Darwin Grosse + Heartland 2015 Tour

Nopoem-fb-banner-v2

Things have been a little quite over here at Modulate This! HQ because I've been super busy working with my my good friend Darwin Grosse to form a new duo called (no)poemStay tuned for some upcoming behind-the-scenes posts where I'll share some insights into how we put the duo together as well as some notes on the tech and artistic elements of the our upcoming tour. For now here is a little background on the project.

For those who don't know Darwin, he is director of education and customer services for Cycling ‚Äô74 (Max). He is the  creator and host of the art+music+technologypodcast. Darwin also launched a brand new blog called All Things Modular.

We're striking out from Boulder on a mini-tour of the Heartland.

Categories
(Modulate This) Blofeld Octatrack Sonic Encounters Soundscapes Podcast

Sonic Encounters Episode 004 Features Brand New Piece – “A Day In The Life Of A Krell Technician”

Cover-a-day-in-the-life-of-a-krell-technician

This next soundscape in Episode 004 is a 20 minute long soundscape. One thing I love about the podcast format is I can present these longer form works that you can listen to as you go about your day. If you need to pause the show, you can pick up where you left off.

So thanks to all of you who subscribed to the podcast in iTunes. If you haven't subscribed click here to Subscribe now on iTunes so you never miss an episode. Please leave a rating or review if you are enjoying the podcast. If you use a different podcatcher, paste this RSS link.

On to Episode 004…

Episode 004 A Day In The Life Of A Krell Technician

A Brand New 20 Minute Original Soundscape

To learn more about this episode visit the Soundscape Journal Page here.

Episode-004-show-notes

 

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Thanks for listening,

Mark Mosher
http://www.SonicEncounters.com
http://www.MarkMosherMusic.com