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Ableton Live Performance Videos Synth: Tenori-On Theremin Videos

Free Music Friday: “Dark Signals” Electronica Track and Video by Mark Mosher

Watch Embedded Video (I recommend watching in HD!)

 

"Dark Signals" is a song from my album I Hear Your Signals. This is an original dark electronica song with driving big beats, bit-crushed high-hats, a dash of ambient texture, and distorted synth leads. It's one of my favorite songs off the album and is becoming a crowd favorite at live shows.

In the spirit of Free Music Friday you can get this song, or the entire album over at http://markmosher.bandcamp.com name your price (enter $0 for FREE).

The song and video are Copyright 2010 Mark J. Mosher and are under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

Listener/Viewer Notes
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This video is in HD and I captured the audio full fidelity right from my sound card.  So I recommend you listen with some good headphones or on a good system. You can play full screen, and or stream to your home theater via Tivo, Apple TV.

The video and audio were captured in one continuous take with no content edits so you can here a few artifacts and – dare I say it – teeny mistakes here and there which I left in as it’s part of the “character” of live performance. The only editing is on the video side where I added camera movement, camera mixing and visual effects.

Composer/Producer Notes
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The song is original and was composed and produced entirely Ableton Live 8 with virtual instruments and lots of native Live effects. I either played all the notes, hand programmed the notes, or played them live.

The song is peformed in Session view. I have all the scenes laid out so I can control the arrangement on the fly in session view. I’ve mapped a foot controller plugged into my Novation Remote SL MIDI mapped to “Scene Launch” leaving my hands free to play and configure the Tenori-On function on the fly while advancing the arrangement. This also means I’m not locked in and can change the arrangement or extend scenes if I like.

It’s a little hard to see, but when I’m playing keys, I’m riding the modulation wheel to add grit. I’ve also use after touch to add distortion like effects.

The Moog Etherwave Theremin signal is converted from pitch-to-MIDI using a VSTand is driving a textural pad from a virtual synth.

At the 1:42 mark I’m playing lead using Tenori-On matrix controller sending MIDI notes to a virtual synth running in Live. I also use a different “layer” in the Tenori-On to play the nasty metalic pad sound.

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The blinking cubes are Percuss AudioCubes. Normally I use these as controllers, but in this song they are light sources which I programed and control using RGB MIDI clips from live.

I created a copy of this set for performance and then froze and flattened tracks with virtual instruments that were either not being played live or were not being modulated live. As a result, I got my set load time down to about 6 seconds and my CPU load down to around 10-20% peaking at around 25% even though I’m playing some VSTs live.

Enjoy,

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

Categories
(Mark Mosher Music News) Ableton Live AudioCubes Computers & Laptops Contollerism Launchpad Midi/USB Keyboards & Controllers Novation Remote SL Synths & Instruments (Virtual) Theremin Video Blog

Overview and Time-Lapse Video of My Ableton Live Laptop Music Rig + Controllers

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Over the years I’ve played hundreds of shows as a keyboardist using my trusty Apex column with various hardware synths.  In late 2009 I had a vision to create a new Ableton Live laptop-centric rig using only virtual synths running in Live.

While I wanted to play some keys, I was really excited to add alternative visual, tangible, and spatial controllers and selected Percussa AudioCubes, Tenori-On, a Novation Launchpad. I went with my trusty Remote SL 25 for keys as it also doubles as a controller for Live. In the 11th hour I added a Moog Ehterwave Theremin which was clearly necessary to play “They Walk Among Us” live :^).

I’ve played enough shows to know that you can’t always count on basic lighting and P.A. to be adequate, so I added these elements to my requirements as well – just in case. My goal was to be able to run a room of 80 people if needed with just my rig. My other goal was 4 trips from the car load-in max with a 15 minute setup time or less.

The sketch above shows all this on paper (click the image to see a larger view). After months of slowly building up gear, the reality – sans lighting – is shown in the fun little time-laps video embedded video below.

Here is a list of what's in the rig:

  • Laptop: Windows 7 32-bit, HP DV6t-1200 Pavilion w/Core2 Duo P8700 @ 2.53 GHZ, 3G memory, 7200 RPM Drive (Update I now use an HP Envy 14 I5)
  • Soundcard: Novation NIO 2|4
  • DAW Software: Ableton Live 8 Suite
  • Primary Controllers: Novation Remote SL 25 (updated to MKII), Launchpad | Tenori-On | Percussa AudioCubes
  • Primary Virtual Synthesizers: Tone2 Gladiator 2| Native Instruments Absynth 5 | Camel Audio Alchemy | U-He Zebra 2, ACE | Ableton Sampler, Operator… | SonicCharge Synplant | Lennar Digital Sylenth1 | reFX Vanguard, Slayer2 | Image-Line Harmless, Toxic Biohazard | Cakewalk Dimension Pro | FAW Circle | DCAM: Synth Squad…
  • Hardware Synthesizers: Moog Etherwave Theremin, Waldorf Blofeld (not pictured)
  • PA: Bose L1 Compact
  • Stand: Odyssey ATT2 Table, Odyssey L2 Laptop Stand

Links to lots of the software I use here:
https://markmoshermusic.com/links.html

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder, CO
http://www.modulatethis.com
http://MarkMosherMusic.com

Categories
Ableton Live Synth: Tenori-On Tutorial

Tutorial: How To MIDI Sync Your Tenori-On with Ableton Live

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In this post I offer some tips on setting up the Tenori-On for use with Ableton Live as a Synth Rack. I’ll also cover how to compensate for MIDI Timing Issues.

CONFIGURING THE TENORI-ON FOR USE WITH ABLETON LIVE
When I use the Tenori-On with Ableton Live, I don’t use it’s internal synthesizer engine. Instead, I route MIDI output from Tenori-On layers to corresponding virtual instruments hosted out of Live.

  • To mute the Synth Engine in the Tenori-On use menu Preference Menu->Local Control and set the parameter to “OFF”
  • To configure Tenori-On as a MIDI Slave use menu Preference Menu->Syncrhonize and set the parameter to “SLAVE”
  • I then send MIDI to Ableton LIVE via a the MIDI ports on my Novation nio 2|4 Sound card. Any MIDI port that Ableton Live can see will do. The nio is configured to receive MIDI input, output and sync. image

CONFIGURING ABLETON LIVE TO RECIEVE NOTES
Each of the 16 layers within the Tenori-On transmit on a different MIDI channel.

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In Live, I configure corresponding MIDI tracks for each layer on the Tenori-On I want to receive MIDI data from. In the example on the left, you can see that I’ve created three tracks within Ableton Live with and instance of Gladiator, and two instances of Alchemy. Note that the MIDI from is set to the nio 2|4 and a specific MIDI channel is used for each device to isolate MIDI note data for each track.

Don’t forget, you could also use Instrument Racks, Sampler, or drum racks to map multiple samples and/or instruments to Tenori-On notes.

Categories
(Modulate This) Contollerism Midi/USB Keyboards & Controllers Synth: Tenori-On

Hands-On with the Tenori-On: First Impressions + Integration with Ableton Live

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Now that REBOOT has released, I’m gearing up to perform these songs live. One of my goals it to make the performances more visually interesting, help the audience connect with what I’m doing musically, and not spend an entire set hunched over a laptop.

I just added a Tenori-On White to my rig to help achieve this goal and to use as a controller and sequencer for composition. In this post I’ll offer some first impressions and notes on use.

Favorite Features

  • Built-in Synth engine, integrated sequencer, built-in speakers and SD card for composition and performance on the go
  • Runs on batteries
  • You can use it as a MIDI controller
  • Fantastic user interface and work flow
  • Visual representation of music
  • Ability to load 48 samples allowing you expand the palette when you are not using it as a controller

First Impressions on Design
image I was actually surprised when I unboxed the Tenori-On. The unit was like 20% smaller than I thought it would be after seeing it in picture and videos – and that’s a good thing. Tenori-On is clearly designed to be held with both hands using the thumbs and fingers to access function buttons plus reach inside to hit "LED" buttons. This being the case the small buttons allow for a smaller matrix so you can access a more with thumbs and fingers on either hand. The case is made of metal and machined by robots. All the controls are flush even with the rounded contours – very nice!

LED Buttons
One of the main reasons I got Tenori-On White was because the LED lights are visible on the front and the back. So when you play, the audience sees the lights as well. This feature is unique to Tenori-On white.

Learning Curve
Tenori-On is a proprietary system and the navigation and functionality is pre-configured. One advantage of pre-configured control schemes like the APC-40 (assuming you don't remap) and Tenori-On is that the learning curve is quite short. With both of these products time from setup to being productive and creative was extremely short for me.

In Use
Tenori-On is simply a blast to play. Beginners will be able to get something musical going right away. Advanced users who spend the time to “transcend” the navigation system will be able to create interesting musical and visual performances as well as use the Tenori-On as a sequencer and controller.

Of course like with any instrument, practice is what’s going to make this a great performance tool. In only about an hour I had 80% of the features memorized. In about 3 hours I was navigating layers, blocks, modes, and tweaking parameters in real-time without looking at the function buttons.

Using Your Own Samples  and Storing Data
Using a free Windows/Mac utility, you can build three customs instruments with up to 16 samples each. Each sample is limited to 900ms and you can’t edit much. Even though it’s no replacement for your sampler, it’s enough to allow you to transform the Tenori-On’s pallet support your needs. Revision… Samples, songs, blocks, layers can be saved and loaded from an SD card. Sample memory is non-volatile so samples remain in memory even if you turn the unit off and back on again! That is good news since it takes about 3 minutes to load 1 user voice containing 16 samples. You definitely will want to get your samples all installed before you perform – either that or you’ll need a Tenori-On roadie :^).

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In Use As a Controller with Ableton Live tenori-driving-absynth5
You can go way beyond the built-in sound set plus add some visual sizzle to your performance by using Tenori-On as a MIDI controller. The picture above is of the Tenori-On and my laptop running Ableton Live 8. The Tenori-On is in slave mode and Ableton is the Master clock. I’m using the MIDI ports on my Novation NIO Sound card to connect the Tenori-On to Ableton.

Each of the 16 layers within the Tenori-On transmit on a different MIDI channel. I created tracks with instances of Gladiator 2, Alchemy, Sylenth1, and Absynth 5 each listening on a different MIDI track number.

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By default different performance modes (Score , Random, Draw, Push, Solo) are hard-coded to each layer. There is a “hack” to override this (see links at bottom of post).

In my test set, I used Solo Mode to sequence a bass line into a MIDI clip in a Gladiator 2 track. The above picture illustrates my use of Draw Mode to play some awesome motion pads in Absynth 5. Push Mode is also great for synths like Alchemy and Absynth.

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In some cases I wanted to switch modes and record all note data into one MIDI clip. When going this route set the track MIDI input to “All Channels”.

Sync
I’ve read that some people have has issues syncing with DAW’s. It must be true as there is a firmware update coming to improve sync.  In my limited use I’ve not had much trouble and it works just fine. My guess is those having trouble are pumping out lots of data from multiple layers.

Price and Tenori-On Orange
Tenori-On White has been out for a few years. The price has slowly dropped and it goes for $999 today. Yamaha recently announced Tenori-On Orange for $699 with availability in January. To get the price down they changed the case to plastic, took the LEDs of the back and took away the battery power capability. All other features are the same. Of course these are some of my favorite features for White was a clear choice for me.

Where these the right choices? Are these prices too high? There are lots of discussion about this on sites like Synthtopia and Create Digital Music. While I would loved to have paid less, I don’t regret the purchase at all.

Conclusion
So far, the Tenori-On has exceeded all my expectations. Once I got it out the box I found it hard to put down. I’m enjoying using it as an alternative to my computer and for making music on the go. Using it as a controller definitely boosts my creativity. It’s unique features make it a it a nice compliment to my ACP 40.

Links:

Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Composer, Sound Designer
Louisville/Denver/Boulder

http://www.modulatethis.com
http://www.markmoshermusic.com
http://www.twitter.com/markmosher

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Download/Buy my album REBOOT