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.
In part 1 I perform an extended version of "Gonna Rise Up" from the album Fear Cannot Save Us" markmosher.bandcamp.com/album/fear-cannot-save-us. For this piece, I was doing live arrangement on the Octatrack plus playing lead synth on the Waldorf Blofeld. The lead patch is an original patch from INIT using OSC2 & 3 for sync with mod wheel. The original lead patch on the album version was done with Zebra 2. To retain some of its character, I used Extreme Sample Convert to multi-sample the Zebra patch then import into the Blofeld for the source for Oscillator 1.
Rig Notes: This set was performed only on Octatrack dynamic performance sampler with original field recordings and sonic elements from albums plus a Waldorf Blofled keyboard with original presets.
Recording Notes: Live audio was recorded on a Zoom H2n fed by my sub-mix to house via Mackie 402VLZ3. Main footage is from a GoPro with secondary foot from my friend Chris Frain.
Visuals Notes: The ONLY video source is from live camera input being run through layers of custom Resolume presets controlled by an Arturia Beatstep live.
In my last post, I mentioned the formation of a collaboration with Darwin Grosse called (no)poem. When we where putting this project together a few months back we started by defining a set of creative limitations which would inform the art for our first mini-tour through Lincoln and to Des Moines.
Waldorf Blofeld Desktop with custom presets from init, custom wavetables, and custom samples as oscillator sources via License SL
Instrumentality for Blofeld are via a custom Lemur patch on iPad (USB Midi with Camera Kit) and Octatrack (MIDI)
DIFFERENT WORKLOW = DIFFERENT CREATIVE RESULTS
Different rigs and different workflows yield different results of course. A hardware focus means our eyes are free to focus on graphical scores (more on this in a future post) and paying attention to each other's body language. No keyboards means we have to use knobs, buttons sliders, cables, visual feedback from hardware, and in my case, physics and multi-touch through the Lemur interfaces. Again, this changes the creative result – especially when playing tonal passages without being restricted by a 12-tone keyboard interface.
TRANSCENDING TECH TO SERVE THE ART
If you've been following along here on Modulate This! you know I've gone deep with both the Octatack and the Blofeld for many years now so this upcoming tour is the culmination of a lot of work to create expressive workflows around these instruments.
Stay tuned for more detailed posts on how I'm using Octatrack (see dedicated category), Blofeld (see dedicated category), and Lemur. I'll also do some posts on working with grphical scores and free-running clocks.
Lastly, tune into to Darwin's new blog All Things Modular to learn more about his rig and artistic process.
Below is a video of Panda Bear performing the song “Boys Latin” on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. If you look close in the beginning of the video you can see he’s rocking two Elektron Octatracks. This song is from his new album Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper.