Categories
(Modulate This) Ableton Ableton Live ableton live 10 Synth: Zebra 2.x

Spending More Time on My Music Laptop & Dusting Off Some Original Presets for Synths like U-HE Zebra 2

I find I’ve been spending more time making music and sound with my laptop while in isolation than with hardware. Of course I’m still making music and sound with my Elektron boxes, but I’m just noticing the laptop is getting more use in my day-to-day.

Perhaps it’s because I can just take it anywhere in the house and wherever I end up sitting becomes my creative space. While in the past I might have used my iPad for this sort of thing, I find I’m on my iPad more for reading books, blogs, news and connecting with people so the laptop seems like a break. Topsy-turvy times for sure but a good reminder of the the amazing sonic arsenal of tools that sits within most of our laptops.

As you’ve probably seen in recent posts I’ve been spending a lot of time with Ableton Live and Push 2 along with all of Live’s devices and instruments. Over the years though, I’ve created 100s of presets for some amazing virtual instruments.

So I’ve started a new project to dust off some original presets for Live and other commercial synths and get all the sounds out of the archives and back in play on my laptop.

I just restored my collection of original Zebra presets. Here is a short video from my Instagram of a sound that is quite Krell-like. I’m just holding a single key 😀.

Categories
(Modulate This) Synth: Zebra 2.x Videos

Video: Original Zebra 2 Patch – Computing for You Now

 

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This is a follow up to my previous post,”Winter Projects with @uheplugins Zebra 2: Sound Design, New Max for Live Device, and Refining Lemur Patch“. In the video embedded below I offer an example of a patch I’m working on for Zebra 2 called “Computing for You Now”.

As you’ll see in the video, this patch is made up of a fairly large number of modules laid out in all 4 lanes of the main grid. The patch makes extensive of use of of all 4 X/Y performance pads including use of the pad to modulate effects parameters as well as the crossfading between lanes 1,2,3 and lane 4.

Leave a comment if you dig this. Many more videos to come so subscribe to my YouTube channel if you want to see more. Also let me know if you’d be up for a patch library.

Mark Mosher
Composer, Sound Designer, & Consultant
www.ModulateThis.com

 

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 – 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) Synth: Zebra 2.x Synth: Zebralette

U-HE Celebrates the 10th Anniversary of Zebra by Releasing 2.7 Update Which Includes New Distortion Module and Parameter Locking Feature

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U-HE Celebrates the 10th Anniversary of Zebra by Releasing 2.7 Update Which Includes New Distortion Module. Here is what’s new.

  • A new Distortion module
  • Howard Scarr’s anniversary sound set
    image
  • AAX support for Pro Tools 10 & 11
  • Parameter locking feature. A recent feature added to all u-he plugins, parameter locking lets you stop the values of any controls from changing when you switch presets. So one example of how you might use this is to lock pitch bend up to +2 and down to –12. Just rightclick
    on a control and select ‘Lock’. To unlock again, right-click and untick ‘Locked’.

    image
    Another example is to  lock microtuning when browsing presets.

  • Improved installers
  • Zebralette no longer displays "enter serial number"
  • … and many more minor bugs and niggles fixed!

Dark Zebra’s zip has 2.7 as well, although it’s still labeled as a beta.

Looking Back

Checkout this post on U-HE’s news to see a brief history of Zebra – http://www.u-he.com/cms/143-zebra-turns-10.


Zebra 1.0 Performance and Synthesis (2003)

Free Soundset

My Outpost: Airlock soundset works great with Zebra 2.7. You can grab it here – https://markmoshermusic.com/synth-sound-sets.

Download Zebra 2.7

http://www.u-he.com/cms/zebra

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician | Composer | Sound Designer | Performer
Boulder, CO
www.MarkMosherMusic.com
www.ModulateThis.com

Related articles

U-He Releases Dark Zebra Soundset with ZebraHZ FTW!
Zebra 2 Tip: Adding Spectral Effects with "Osc FX"
BBC Interview "Brian Eno on Apps and Albums" with Zebra 2 Cameo
U-He Releases DIVA 1.3 + Update to DIVA Synthesizer Anatomy Mindmap

Categories
(Modulate This) Maschine Synth: Zebra 2.x

NI Maschine Tip: Setting Default Plug-in Parameters for VST / AU

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One of the best features of Maschine is it can host third party VST/AU plug-ins. Instruments and effects are assigned to modules at the pad, group, or master level. The plug-in parameters are exposed to Maschine in the order the manufacture specifies and auto-assigned to pages in groups of 8. You then use the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the parameters in groups of  8.

You can custom configure the parameters assigned to each knob by right-clicking on the knob in the software and selecting “Learn Plug-In Parameter” followed by changing a control in the plug-in to link it to the knob. There also menus for cutting and pasting to change the auto-assigned order

If you want to save custom settings as the default for the plug-in by selecting the modulate pull-down then clicking  “Save As Default…”. Then the next time you insert the plug-in in the current project or future projects it will remember the settings.

maschine-zebra-mark-mosher

For example, using this technique you can map the 8 performance parameters of Zebras 4 X/Y pads to the first page on Maschine. So now every time you insert an instance of Zebra, you get instant expressive control.

Mark Mosher
Boulder, CO
Synthesist, Composer, Performer
www.MarkMosherMusic.com

Categories
(Modulate This) iOS iPad iPhone/iPod/iTunes Synth: Zebra 2.x

BBC Interview “Brian Eno on Apps and Albums” with Zebra 2 Cameo

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I just watched this interesting BBC interview “Brian Eno on Apps and Albums”.  I don’t see a way to embed so click here to watch it..

His latest venture is the app Scape, a follow-up to 2008's Bloom app. Scape not only contains his most recent 'album' of the same name, but is also a tool allowing people to compose their own music on mobile devices.

He developed it with Peter Chilvers, known for his work creating music for computer games in the 1990s.

The app promises "deep access to the musical elements" that the composers used to make the album itself.

I thought it was pretty cool to see one of my desert island synths Zebra 2 on the monitor behind him :^ ).

Scape

Here is a video on Scape.

You can buy Scape for 5.99 on iTunes.

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO

www.ModulateThis.com
www.MarkMosherMusic.com

Categories
Ableton Live Effects Plugins Synth: Absynth Synth: Zebra 2.x

How to Trigger Absynth 5 FX Envelopes with MIDI Notes in Ableton Live

absynth-midi

In a previous post I mentioned the use of stand-alone FX versions of synths like Zebrify,  Absynth FX, and Predator  FX as effects processors. Here is a tip for you Absynth FX fans who are using Ableton Live and want to process the output of a another virtual MIDI instrument and then trigger envelopes in Absynth FX.

MIDI Won’t Pass Through By Default

If you drop Absynth FX into a MIDI track  that already has a synth in it – say ZebraHZ – the audio will be processed as you’d expect via the patch settings. MIDI notes however are not passed through to Absynth FX which means the envelopes won’t be triggered.

Ableton Routing to the Rescue

  1. Drop Absynth FX into '”A Return”
  2. Route the ZebraHZ audio to with the “Send A” knob.  I set the track to “Sends Only” so I only hear audio routed through Absynth FX.
  3. Create a MIDI Track in Live and route the MIDI to “A Absynth 5 FX” return. (Click the image above to see the screen shot full screen).
  4. At this point you can arm both the MIDI Track and the ZebraHZ track and play in real-time and notes will go to Absynth FX as well. Instead, I created a MIDI clip with a note pattern that repeats and…
  5. triggers the Absynth FX Envelope while I’m playing different notes in ZebraHZ.

Ok, give it a go and expect crazy and interesting results from the most epic Absynth FX and monster envelopes implementation.

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO

www.ModulateThis.com
www.MarkMosherMusic.com

Categories
(Modulate This) iOS iPad Lemur Synth: Zebra 2.x

Working on Lemur Interface for U-HE Zebra

DSCN4934

In recent posts I mentioned I was experimenting with the iPad with Alchemy, Slim Phatty, and iTnri. The Dark Zebra (ZebraHZ) release got me back into synthesis with Zebra in a big way. As I dug into the patches by Hans Zimmer and Howard Scarr,  I discovered they not only map XYs but Aftertouch and Breath controller. In considering how to map to this, I bumped into this article by Audio Newsroom Interview with Zebra creator Urs Heckman called “Off-the-record: Urs Heckmann (u-he)”. They asked:

About Zebra, in the past I remember you told me there was a remote chance to see an hardware product out of it. Did the idea evolve somehow and are you still interested in it?
I'm all for it but I can't do it alone. I've spoken to some people but I found nothing yet appealing enough to take a risk. I'd love to provide the industrial design for a zebraesque controller keyboard with 4 joysticks though.

While I think a dedicated hardware controller would be epic, it seems unlikely any time soon – so started working up an interface on Lemur with 4 XYs and thought I’d share the photo above.

Lemur Template Notes

I started with the “iPad – Studio Combo” template and:

  1. Scaled the keys and octave button down to make room for more objects
  2. In addition to Mod Wheel and Pitch Bend, I added sliders to the right for Aftertouch and Breath Controller
  3. Along the top you can see 4 XY (Multiball objects). Below the first one you can see 3 horizontal sliders that I’m going to map to physics params for the XYs for Friction, Attraction, and speed.
  4. I added 2 ADSRs (red and green) which I map to Envelope 1 & 2 in Zebra.
  5. Top right I have two custombutton objects. The first is mapped to a note so I can trigger a drone or arpegio (Zebra doesn’t have a “hold” on the arp). The second is mapped to MIDI sustain and toggle sustain on and off.
  6. Just to the right of the last XY there is a set of horizontal bars. I don’t have these quite working right but they are for the “VoiceMode” which will allow me to turn the arp on and off.

MIDI Mapping Notes

To map the Lemur to Zebra I use MIDI Learn by right-clicking on the target controls in Zebra then change the value of the corresponding object on the Lemur. This actually saves these mappings to com.u-he.Zebra2.midiassign.txt file so they work even after you close and re-open the host or add Zebra to a new set.  Note that this file is shared between Zebra 2.5 and ZebraHZ so once you map Lemur works for both which is a real time saver. Note you can edit this file in a text editor (backup before you mess with it) and delete it if you want to reset mappings (it will be re-created when after you re-launch your host and start Zebra).

In Use

Like my experience with Alchemy Mobile as a controller for Alchemy VST, using Lemur running wirelessly on the iPad to drive Zebra  is really captivating. It’s very organic and the ability to add physics with say XY ball movement takes performance to the next level.

As a result of my great experience with these controller interfaces, I find myself using iPad more  and more in the role of controller instead of iOS synth platform.

Moral of the Story

iPad interfaces to PC synths make me use the PC synths more :^)

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO

www.ModulateThis.com
www.MarkMosherMusic.com

Categories
(Modulate This) Synth: Zebra 2.x

Zebra 2 Tip: Adding Spectral Effects with “Osc FX”

Zebra is on my mind with all the news of Dark Zebra. Zebra is all about pure synthesis – no samples. I found the interface a bit daunting at first but once you push through the initial learning curve it makes a lot of sense. It’s perfect for those who want to a strong set of sound shaping tools in a semi-modular form. The layout exposes a lot of flow and params on one page. That being said there is just a crap load of features under the hood as well so I encourage to RTFM and/or click on labels and explore.

OSC FX

For example, in the Oscillator Module there are sub-menus.

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If you select the “Osc FX” the panel to the right allows you to select two different internal spectral effects "routed in series (left > right) for processing the oscillator waveform

To select an effect, click on the label. Adjust the value and/or modulate
to taste. The speed/smoothness of most spectral effects, when modulated, is highly dependent on the value of oscillator Resolution.

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List of Spectral Effects

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Keep Poking Around

As you can see Osc FX alone provides a staggering amount of possibilities. Time to explore.

Links

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO

www.ModulateThis.com
www.MarkMosherMusic.com

Categories
(Modulate This) Synth: Zebra 2.x

U-He Releases Dark Zebra Soundset with ZebraHZ FTW!

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U-He has released a new soundset for Zebra 2.5 called Dark Zebra which includes over 400 presets resulting from a collaboration between Hans Zimmer and Howard Scarr .  Here is a video teaser.

Why This is Worth a Look

Even if you are not interested in having the Batman soundtrack palette, there are some reasons to consider this $99 update. First off  you get a special version of Zebra made just for Zimmer called ZebraHZ (more on this next). Second, there are some very cool patches by Hanz Zimmer and Howard Scarr that will both inspire and teach you new ways to use Zebra to create your own signature sounds.

What is ZebraHZ?

ZebraHZ is a  customized version of Zebra 2.5. According to the manual, ZebraHZ adds “classic analogue filter models like in Diva, a resonator
effect module like in the old Polymoog, polyphonic compressors (especially good for
drum sounds) plus two more modulation mappers.”

Yum! Of course yum with more of a CPU hit – but as with DIVA you can throttle accuracy.

I really like this idea because I’m much more fluent in programming Zebra than DIVA so it’s pretty fantastic to get to those DIVA bits through the familiar Zebra GUI.

A Precursor to Zebra 3?

Over on KVR someone asked if this was a fully supported product and that would continue to be maintained and Urs’s reply was:

Yes, we'll keep a parallel build available with Zebra2 updates/maintenance/compatibility fixes.

Then the question was asked will ZebraHZ provide any features Zebra 3 won’t. Ur’s replied:

Well, Zebra3 won't exactly have Diva's filters. We're merely aiming at filters of same quality but not necessarily very same authenticity, so we can make them process stereo and less cpu draining.

I think Z3 will sound much more refined (if that's audibly possible), with more options to add character. Z3 won't sound the same as Z2, and presets might not be easily transferred.

I think most people will use both – Zebra2/ZebraHZ for the vast existing library, Zebra3 for things new and things to come.

Screen Grabs from Manual

Here are some screen grabs from the manual to wet your appetite. First the Low Pass filter.

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Next the compressor.

“Each lane in the main grid has its own polyphonic (i.e. per voice) compressor.” !!!

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And how about this? A resonator!

”One of the very first polyphonic synthesizers ever included a 3-band peaking filter that could be used to dramatically shape the overall sound… The ZebraHZ version is similar, but has an extra full-range band. To see the Resonator, click in the effects grid and select the Res1 module from the very bottom of the list.”

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Back Story – Turn to P. 9

Page 9 of the Manual documents the back story of how all this came about and is worth a read.

Coexistence with Zebra 2.5

You need a Zebra 2.5 license to use this update. So how does the install work?

Although you will need a Zebra2.x license to run ZebraHZ, they will appear as separate plugins with separate preset folders. You should never try to install them in parallel. If you already have installed Zebra2.x, simply install ZebraHZ over the top. No worries, the ZebraHZ installer also contains Zebra2.5, Zebrify, Zebralette and Zrev. Note: Whenever ZebraHZ-specific updates are ready, they will be available in the user area at u-he support. We recommend setting up an account there.

Last But Not Least Here isWhat you need to know”

  • you need a valid license of Zebra 2.x to use these sounds
  • upon purchase you will receive an email with the download link
  • the download contains installers for Mac and PC
  • The Dark Zebra and ZebraHZ install alongside Zebra 2.x
  • ZebraHZ is VST2 and AU only (no RTAS, but AAX and VST3 are in the works)
  • presets have been made to suit Hans' workflow – read patch info on how to use them!
  • Although ZebraHZ has prototype character, it worked flawlessly during scoring sessions
  • ZebraHZ features CPU-expensive Diva filters but does not have Diva's multicore support

Links

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO

www.ModulateThis.com
www.MarkMosherMusic.com

Categories
(Modulate This) Synth: Absynth Synth: Predator Synth: Saurus Synth: Zebra 2.x workflow

Sound Design and Workflow Tip: Make Better Use of the Stand-Alone FX Versions of Your Virtual Instruments

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When I’m producing I use a lot of Ableton Live’s built-in FX. I do this because a) I like them and b) they adhere to the same workflow in everything else in Live so I spend more time making music. Of course sometimes I also want to use a third-party effect for variety or to take advantage of a cool feature. The down-side is that they all have unique workflow and you may find yourself scratching your head a bit rather than making music.

One way to have your cake and eat it to is to make more use of the effects within your favorite virtual synth as stand-alone processors. For example, in my rig, Absyhth, Rob Papen Predator, Slayer 2, Zebra 2 (Zebrify) all have FX only versions of their plug-ins allowing you to route signal through the FX processor sections of these synths.

The advantage of this is your synth chops can now be applied to your FX work and you can get more unique sounds in less time.

The Soul of a Synth in the Effects Processor

In many synths, it’s hard to separate the effects processor from the soul of the synth. Absynth for example has some very unique effects such as the wonderful Aetherizer which is used heavily in many factory patches. By using it as a processor on another synth or audio source you can combine the unique sonic character of the input with this wonderful granular effect.

More on External Input

Want to use your audio input as a modulation source? Both Absynth FX and Zebrifiy have envelope followers. Zebrify also has a pitch follower so you can map the pitch of an incoming signal back to synth parameters.

Below is an example of  my Theremin routed through an audio track in Ableton live with Zebrify in the device chain. As I slowly pitch up on the Theremin, Zebrify processes this signal with two comb filters and modifies the pitch of these filters with a step LFO.

Modulation Mania

Another advantage of using FX from your virtual synths as processor is that most modern virtual instruments are structured to make heavy use of modulation and a modulation matrix. This offers a lot of possibilities for automation and real-time control that often aren’t possible with many stand-alone FX processor plug-ins or even FX in your host.

Unifying Color

I also sometimes apply effects from a single synth FX plugin to all tracks (or a group of tracks) in a mix to help unify the palette of the piece. For example, in my recent track Ambient Drone track “Orbiting Miranda”, I used one instance of Absynth and three of Tone2 Saurus and then used Rob Papen’s Predator FX to do multi-effects with automation on every single track. One of the effects I used is a comb filter which nudged and shifted the timbral character of these synths more towards a center of color I wanted for the piece.

Download MP3 of “Orbiting Miranda”  here.

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=109433115/size=medium/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/t=5/transparent=true/

Presets to Get you Started

When you load the FX only version of these synths, you’ll see factory presets dedicated to just the FX parameters. Jump in, route audio through, and poke around. I was personally blown away at what is possible.

Maximizing Your Investment

I’ll close this by saying you’ve already invested money and time into learning these instruments. If you’ve not explored the use of the stand-alone FX capable plugs in your rig , your really missing out.

Happy producing – and workflow FTW!

Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Boulder, CO
Official Web Site: www.MarkMosherMusic.com
Listen/Download Albums: www.MarkMosherMusic.com/music.html
www.ModulateThis.com

Categories
(Modulate This) Synth: Zebra 2.x Synths & Instruments (Virtual)

U-He Zebra 2.5

zebrify

I’m just now getting around to experimenting with some of the new features in Zebra 2.5 which was released in December. A couple of big new features worth noting are:

  • New effect plugin Zebrify that allows you to use Zebra 2.5 effects on any synth. In the picture above (click to enlarge) I’m using it to add effects to U-HE ACE but it would work with any device. I love the idea of mixing FX from one synth with sound sources from another.
  • XMF Filter module with 15 filter types
  • Improved preset management (Favorites, Junk, drag'n'drop organisation, collapsible folders)
  • Unlimited undo/redo for parameter
  • New "SR Decimate" filter mode
  • 100+ new presets by Howard Scarr
  • ModMatrix now supports up to 12 slots
  • Glide2 parameter which offsets Glide for modules with an even number (Osc2, Osc4, FMO2 etc.)

Bottom line, the new features take an already fantastic and classic synth and improve it allow for even more sonic possibilities.

I’m currently exploring the new XMF Filter module which is quite fantastic. Checkout this video overview from Urs.

Watch embedded video.

http://www.youtube.com/v/RTRr5JXPaYU&hl=en_US&fs=1&&hl=en</embed></object></div>";” src=”https://modulatethis.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/08433-6a00d83451cae869e201347fc1c31c970c-pi.jpg&#8221; style=”BORDER-BOTTOM-STYLE: none; BORDER-RIGHT-STYLE: none; BORDER-TOP-STYLE: none; BORDER-LEFT-STYLE: none” />

Links:

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder, CO
www.ModulateThis.com
www.RebootAlbum.com
www.MarkMosherMusic.com