Odds and Ends

photo

Well, as I mentioned when I released my last song “TH1”, I’ve been spending a lot of time making music on the iPad the last few weeks.  Not just messing around and coming up with interesting sounds or grooves, but making serious music.  I figure if something is interesting enough to keep me working in a particular way for more than a couple weeks, then likely it’s something I need to keep exploring as long as I can.  Most of the time these exercises where I limit my tools might only last a week or two before I get bored, but not in this case.

While not an entirely care free experience (still the odd bug or crash), it’s been a really exciting way of crafting full songs.  I’m really enjoying using Auria as a DAW, it’s a much more interactive experience arranging and editing songs just by dragging things around by your finger.  The biggest issue so far has been the iPad4 getting a little sluggish when navigating Auria’s Edit (Arrange) page when I have a lot of tracks in the songs.  I had hoped that upgrading to the iPad4 would fix this, but while it’s much better than the iPad3 was, there’s still a bit of slow down at times.  Nothing too major, but it’s the only really negative thing I can think of so far.

So, my plan remains to keep working on the iPad and try to get a new EP done in a couple of months.  So far I have 3 songs well on their way, and a few ideas for a couple more, so I feel right on track.  I do find myself wanting a new drum app though, anyone have any suggestions?  At the moment I’m using the excellent DM1 primarily, but I also have Bleep!Box and the sample-based apps like Beatmaker2 and NanoStudio.  Not really looking for MPC style composing though, I’m more interested in unique drum machine style programming.  Any suggestions are most welcome!

——————

In other news, a friend and local Seattle producer I know is working on a pretty interesting Kickstarter project I thought I would let people know about.  From the producer:

“It’s been my life goal to get people collaborating on art and music. I’ve been able to do that through my Subaqueous website, but I wanted to take it a step further with a new product that helps bridge the gap between musicians and other music producers. This lead me to create the USB Splash Drive. It’s an 8gb custom usb drive that is loaded with music, remix stems, samples, Ableton live sets, and more.

This remix album isn’t just about releasing a few produced tracks. It’s about releasing the information on how I made a lot of my music. I want to share with my community, fellow musicians, and friends the knowledge I have acquired along the way.”

As most of my readers know I’m really into sharing HOW people make music, and this looks like a great way to get some more insight into that from another producer. You can find more info about this project here:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cotec/subaqueous-usb-splash-drive-and-remix-album?ref=card

—————-

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 8.25.18 AM

Finally, I’ve had a few people ask me about my live gigs this summer.  At the moment I’m currently only booked for Photosynthesis 6, on July 19-21st.  It will be a downtempo/midtempo gig, and I have a lot of brand new material prepped that I will be playing out for the first time.  This is one of my favorite festivals of the summer, so it’s definitely worth coming out to if you want to hear some amazing music in a beautiful location.

I’ll post more info about this show, and some other ones I’m still working out once I get more specifics.

Thanks, until next time!

Tarekith

 

 

TH1 – New Track

TH1-300

Tarekith – TH1

Over the last few weeks I’ve had a bit of a turnaround when it comes to making music on portable devices (iPhone, iPad, etc).  While I’ve always been a fan of making music on the go, over the years I realized I was far more productive if I just focused on coming up with simple ideas and grooves, versus trying to do complete tracks.  I’ve done it a few times, but honestly it was usually very tedious work done just for the sake of saying I could do it.

With the release of the Audiobus app however, that has completely changed for me.  And when I finally decided to take the plunge on Auria as my main DAW for the iPad, suddenly I had a very powerful and extremely compact music set up.  Even better, I was actually having a lot of fun using it.

So I decided to focus on making music with the iPad for awhile, though I do have a Qunexus arriving any day now that I plan to pair with it.  I’m hoping over the summer I can record enough material to release another EP or even a full-length album in the Fall.  Fingers crossed.

TH1 is the first of my new iOS music making efforts, done entirely from start to finish in the iPad.  Auria was the main DAW, and it works fabulously, I’m a huge fan now.  Drums were from DM1, Bassline is done with Figure, Thumbjam did the little acoustic sounding bits, and the rest is a combination of Alchemy Mobile, Sunrizer, Animoog, iKaossilator, and Addictive synths.  I used the built in Auria (PSP) dynamics processors when mixing and mastering the song.  I do plan on eventually buying some of the Fabfilter add on plug-ins to handle this in the future.  The PSP stuff works fine, I’m just used to the Fabfilter plug-ins I guess.

——————

In other news, I’m once again going to be playing live at the Photosynthesis Festival in Neah Bay, WA.  Stay tuned for more info on dates and details.

Oh, and Ableton featured my new DJ EFX Racks on their home page last week, which I thought was pretty cool.  Glad so many of you are enjoying using those new EFX Racks, thanks for all donations!  That really helps, so I appreciate it no matter the amount.  Hopefully I can find the time to create some more racks for Live 9, sooner rather than later!  🙂

Tarekith DJ EFX Racks version 9

Well, it’s taken me a little while to revisit my DJ EFX for Ableton Live, but recently it was brought to my attention that some of the DJ EQ Racks I had created no longer functioned properly in Live 9.  It seems that the new Adaptive Q in EQ 8 was causing some pretty massive spikes in the signal, and the EQ curves no longer matched my original models.  Now all of the EFX Racks are compatible with Ableton Live 9, and you will need Live version 9.04 (or newer) for them to work properly.

Tarekith DJ EFX v9

I also create a couple of new racks as well, called “Lock & Key” and “Red Shift”.  These are a little on the weirder side, so look in the included READ ME file for the details.

Lock & Key

 

Red Shift

Hope you enjoy the new effects, and that the ones I fixed solved any issues people were having. If you notice any issues with any of the other Racks when using Live 9, please let me know and I will try and fix them ASAP.

Thanks, and have fun!

Studio & Stage DIY Ideas

Over the last few years I’ve shared some useful ways to improve your studio, or simplify your stage set up, all for not much money.  I thought I’d compile some of the more popular ideas into one post, along with a couple of new ones too.

Bread Tabs

1. Bread Bag Closures.

This is one of my favorite tips because it’s so simple, and it works equally well on stage or in the studio.  Nice way to keep your cables labeled, and unlike some of the more permanent options like adhesive labels, you never need to worry about removing a sticky residue later on if you need to label something differently.

 

Stand1

2. Build Your Own Speaker Stands.

I’ve been building my own speaker stands for years using this method, because not only is it cheap and easy to do, it’s also allows you to make the stands the perfect height for your particular listening environment.  The basic idea is simple, there’s a flat wood base made out of 3/4″ (or thicker) hardwood.  Local home improvement stores often sell oak pieces made for installing stairs in your home that are not only finished already, but also the perfect width for most small to mid-sized monitors.  One piece is enough for both bases.

The main support is a piece of 4×4″ lumber, I prefer using nicer hardwoods for this (typically Oak as well) as they seem to be not only stronger, but often much straighter than outdoor lumber.  The top of the stand is another piece of 3/4″ thick lumber.  I recommend NOT using plywood for the base or the top piece, it tends to flex more under the weight of heavier monitors, which can lead to all sorts of stability problems. On the very top of the speaker stand, I like to glue one of those super cheap mouse pads upside down.  This puts the rubber side up (fabric side down), which keeps the speakers from sliding on the top of the stands at all.

Stand 2

For the best results, consider using decent speaker spikes to not only decouple the stands from the floor, but also to make placement on carpet or slightly uneven surfaces easier.  I like the ones similar to these:

http://www.dedicatedaudio.com/inc/sdetail/3565

Sometimes you can find them for slightly cheaper on Ebay too.

Ideally you want the tweeter of your monitors to be at ear level, so cut the center 4×4″ piece to the desired height to achieve this.  Don’t forget to factor in the thickness of the base and top pieces, as well as the mousepad and speaker spikes!  If you don’t have woodworking tools or a saw to cut these yourself, most lumber stores like Home Depot or Lowes will cut the wood for you for something like $0.25 a cut.  Easy.

Assembly is simple, 4 long screws can hold the base and the top to the center pole.  Use quality wood screws or lag bolts at least 4 inches long, and pre-drill the holes to prevent splitting the 4×4″ upright support.  Finish them with whatever color spray paint you want (I find flat black looks the best), or if you got nicer woods feel free to stain them instead.  The cost for two stands is about $30-40, maybe a little more if you get more expensive speaker spikes.

3. Artsy Acoustic Treatment.

Typically acoustic treatment for studios has been a rather dull thing to look at, maybe you get a few color choices and that’s it.   While some acoustics treatment companies are now letting you send them artwork to print onto the fabric that they make your panels from, typically it’s very expensive for custom artwork like this.

I found a simpler solution thanks to a company called Spoonflower.com.  They are a craft fabric supplier that lets you upload digital images which they will then print on the fabric of your choice (usually they have 5-6 different choices).  For acoustic reasons, I recommend going with the lightest weight fabric they offer, which is typically almost as thin as a gauze material.

Artsy

The best part is that it’s REALLY cheap!  I had a photo I took on vacation one year printed on a 2 yard piece of fabric for only about $20.  Easy enough to place it over my acoustic panels, and staple it to the back to hold it in place.  Works great for traps you build yourself, or ones you buy pre-made.  Much nicer and less boring to look at too!

4. Painters Tape For Stage Set-Ups.

One last tip for people who play live or set up gear on stages.  Usually gaffers tape is what most people use to tape down cables or secure things on stage.  It works great because it doesn’t leave a residue when you remove it (unlike say Duct Tape), but it’s also really expensive and not something you can easily find at a hardware store.  However painters tape works just as well, and it too doesn’t leave a residue when you remove it.  While it’s still not as cheap as say masking tape, it’s much cheaper than gaffer tape and you can find it at any home improvement store.

Tape

Here you can see it holding the power cords to my Elektrons to the table at a recent gig to keep them from accidentally getting pulled out.  I always tape my cables for my stage gear to one of the legs of any table I’m set up on.  Just adds a nice safety measure to keep people from tripping over cables on stage in the dark and pulling them out of your gear (or worse, pulling your gear off the table!).