And…..Done. Final Blog Post

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It’s hard to believe I’ve been running my blog for 6 years now, even more difficult to believe that I’ve done 282 posts in that time period.  But, as they say, all good things must come to an end, and I’ve decided that now is a good time for me to step away from the blog and focus on other avenues for sharing my views on creativity and audio production.

It’s been really enjoyable talking to everyone and sharing your views on how you approach all the struggles and joys of writing music.  I can’t thank everyone enough for all the insightful comments, indepth replies, and most especially for all the donations you’ve made to help make all this possible.

As a way of saying thanks one final time, I’ve collected all of the best blog posts into one document, which you can download here:

BEST BITS OF THE BLOG (Zip File)

The zip file contains both PDF and epub versions of the document so you can view it on any of your devices.  I’ve made a few changes here in there in the text to update my recommendations on gear, and make it easier to read all of the posts front to back.

Thanks again everyone!
Tarekith

Electribe Blank All Patterns File

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I saw a few people asking for something like this recently, so I figured I would sit down and create a couple all patterns files for the new electribe and electribe sampler that has only blank patterns for people:

http://tarekith.com/assets/BlankElectribe.zip

The all patterns file for the grey synth electribe is called “electribe_allpattern.e2allpat”. The all patterns file for the black sampler electribe (or the OS hacked grey electribe) is called ”electribe_sampler_allpattern.e2sallpat”. You must use the appropriate file if you want the electribe to recognize it correctly.

Copy the appropriate file in the zip folder to your SD card for the electribe, it can be placed in any directory you want.  You can then import the patterns via the Data Utility Menu in the Electribe, make sure you use the “Import All Pattern” option.

The Patterns set up as such:

– Tempo set to 120, Swing and Groove amounts set to 0%,
– Key set to C, Scale set to Chromatic, Scale Mode Off, Trigger Pad Velocity On, Pattern Length of 4.
– All effects and filters off, MFX and AMG EG deactivated for each Part.
– Part Priority Normal, Voice Assign set to Mono2 for all Parts, Alternate 13/14 and 15/16 set to Off.
– Part Volumes set to 100, Pattern Level set to 110.

I figure these are the most generic settings for a blank pattern, you are of course free to change the settings for all 250 Patterns as you see fit for your own needs.

Hope this help, enjoy!
Tarekith

Hacking The New Electribe

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Recently a user on the Korg forums was able to hack the OS for the new electribe and electribe sampler.  This effectively lets you load the OS from either unit onto the other one, giving you all of the functionality of each.  Well, almost all.  We’ll go into that in a minute.

First, here’s a thread from the Korg Forums where you can read a little more about this, and how it’s done:

http://www.korgforums.com/forum/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=99902

Feeling a bit adventurous I figured “why not?”, and gave it a go fairly soon after it was announced.  I’m happy to say that it worked fine for me, and now I have the ability to switch between the two OS’s right from the unit itself whenever I want.  It really is like having both units at once, with the caveat that it appears the electribe’s PCM data, and the sampler’s stock samples are both stored onboard the units themselves.

This means that when turning the electribe into the sampler version, you only get the 16 basic OSCs until you load your own samples.  Not a big deal though, as it is a sampler after all and most people probably don’t want the stock samples anyway.  Also, just like with the stock electribe sampler, you only get 1 basic filter model for the highpass, low pass, and band-pass filter types.

I should point out that if you have the grey electribe and use the sampler or import samples from the card, there’s an error where some of the user samples get listed again as factory samples.  If instead you use one of the electribe sample managers to load up your samples (I highly recommend this one: http://www.appification.de/ElectribeSampleManager/ ), then this doesn’t happen however.  The sample managers make loading samples into the electribe SOOO much easier anyway, I think it’s a must for any electribe sampler, hacked or original.previewHowever, if you own the black sampler version and you want to load it with the grey electribe OS, things are a little less rosy.  Primarily, because you don’t have access to any of the PCM data from the grey electribe, you only can use the very basic 16 analog-modeled OSCs.  This severely limits your sound pallette.  You get all the functionality of the grey electribe, but a tiny fraction of it’s sounds, and no way to load more.

As you can see, the hack definitely seems to benefit the owners of the grey electribe as a result, which has some sampler owners a bit peeved to say the least.  🙁

I spent the last couple of days prepping samples to use in sampler OS version loaded onto my grey electribe, and so far everything has been working fine.  It’s definitely nice to have my own sounds to play with in the electribe, though at the same time you only get 24.7MB of memory and that does feel a little stingy. By the time I get a decent selection of drums, synths, and other samples in that much space, they’re all real small snippets of audio anyway.  Also, the all of the samples take a couple minutes to load each time you power on the sampler version, which I find kind of takes away from the spontaneous aspect of the electribes.

In some ways it just makes the regular synth electribe more appealing for me, though I’m struggling to say why at this point.  No need to prep samples?  Quicker to grab when I have ideas I want to capture?  Not sure.

I need to experiment with putting longer samples in there and not using it for all the sounds in a song. Just to see what I can do to mangle single samples and longer loops.  And I will admit, I like being able to use stereo samples as well, it definitely makes my electribe songs a bit more spacious now.  It’s a cheat to get more reverb in my tracks without giving up the master effect for it.  🙂

All in all it’s pretty fun to see how this all came together, and to suddenly have both electribes available in one box.  It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, Korg does next.  Do they release a super feature rich OS update to tempt people, even if it breaks the hack?  Or do they find a way to embrace the concept and make it official, along with being able to load the samples and PCM data correctly from each unit?

It’ll be interesting to watch, and if nothing else, it’s certainly made owning an electribe right now sound like a great idea 🙂

Peace and beats,
Tarekith

Electribe2 Tips & Tricks Video

A quick video showing some tips and tricks for the Korg electribe2. Some of these are briefly (or poorly) mentioned in the manual, and some were discovered by other users on the Korg forums or electribe Facebook group. I’m not claiming to have created these all, just demonstrating them so others can learn some new techniques for studio and live use.

Enjoy!
Tarekith

Electribe Live Set 05-30-2015

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Video:

http://youtu.be/4TboTDpd28M

Audio:

http://tarekith.com/mp3s/Tarekith-ElectribeLiveSet.m4a

Well, I knew I was going to start working on an electribe set after I wrapped up my Maschine Studio live set, I just didn’t expect it to be the very next day!  Sat down a few times throughout the day to polish up what I was working on in the electribe lately, and decided to cull a few songs that just weren’t fitting the vibe I wanted.

I started getting an idea for a new electribe project while I was doing all this, but I knew that I had to put some of these current songs behind me before I could wipe everything and start from scratch on a new project.  So, I decided to record a short live set with some of my favorite patterns at the moment.

I was mainly using the Wet Reverb master effect to help with transitions between patterns, I haven’t been able to figure out a smoother way without knowing the track order ahead of time.  This is probably a good bit more basic sounding than my Maschine Studio live set, but I still enjoy working this way and seeing what kind of music I can write when using tools a bit more limited.

Happy that I was able to use some of these ideas I’ve been carrying with me as I journeyed from one continent to another, but also looking forward to starting over on a new electribe project now that I’m settled.  Expect some more grey Korg box music shortly!  🙂

Enjoy!
Tarekith

PS, you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter too, if that’s your thing:
https://www.facebook.com/innerportalstudio
https://twitter.com/Tarekith

Maschine Live Set Follow Up

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I’m glad that a lot of people have been enjoying my new Maschine Studio live set:

Even more surprising how few people are using Maschine like this to perform, and how many people have thought about it.  I’ve had a few more questions about some of the specific of the set, so I figured I’d talk some more about it.

All of the sounds came from the Maschine Library, except for an atmospheric texture in each track.  These were live recordings I made at various forest preserves here in Luxembourg, using my iPhone and the Rode iXY-L mic I recently purchased.  It does great stereo recordings, doesn’t seem overly sensitive to handling noise from the phone, and the Rode app is something I’ve been using for a long time since it’s based on Audiofile’s old FiRe iOS recorder.

So in this set typically I would layer one of these recordings over everything else, side-chain it to the kick, pile on some effects and play with the pitch to make it sit well with the other sounds.  It was a hair-brained idea one day I thought, but it actually worked out better than I expected.  Nice evolving sounds, and it’s got something that’s a more personal connection to my memories of making the set since I was the one who recorded all the samples. I’ll probably do some more of this in the future, turned out to be a neat technique.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, each Group in Maschine was what I would consider a separate song.  That gave me up to 16 different sounds per song, though I didn’t ever use that many.  Typically each song had 9-10 tracks.

To switch from one song to another, I would in turn mute all the sounds from one group, while un-muting sounds from the next group.  This of course meant before I played the set, I had to go and manually mute each sound in Maschine ahead of time, then save this as my performance template.  Sometimes I would first turn the volume down on a sound, then un-mute it.  This would allow me to fade in some sounds, and not have everything sound too much like it’s just being muted and unmuted.

I also had 8 macros assigned to the master channel, and I would use these during song transitions too.  I had a high pass and low pass filter, some dynamics shaping tools, and a stereo delay assigned to the macros, allowing me to filter, chop, and delay the audio from the entire set in one go when I needed to.

I was originally going to create macros for each Group too, but I realized that most of the controls I would likely want to map were already on the front page of each synth.  Easy enough to get to those, so most of the hands on tweaking was done on the synths and effects directly.  This worked out better than I figured it would, so not too sure how much macro making I’ll be doing in the future.  Fine with me, that’s one of the few things you can only do on the laptop and not the controller 🙂

Video recording.  People are curious about this more than I expected.  In this video, I’m just using an iPhone6 attached to a mic boom arm with a Joby Gorilla-pod for the above shots.  The side-angle shots were done with an iPad Air2 set on top of my speaker.  I used Airdrop to transfer the videos to my laptop.  Easy.

The set audio was recorded by hosting Maschine in Ableton Live, and routing the host track to the input of an audio track.  That’s why you can see me closing and opening the laptop lid at the start and end of the set, I needed to start Live to get the Maschine plug-in to start playing.  Monitoring was via my Lynx Hilo and Tyler D2x’s, no headphones needed for this set.

To combine the audio with the two camera angles I just used iMovie.  It’s a little fiddly at times, but usually pretty simple to use and exporting the final movie is fast on my MacBook Pro.

Anyway, that’s the rest of the story.  Next up most likely will be recording an electribe live set similar to this one.  At least, that’s the plan.

Until next time, peace and beats.
Tarekith

The Best Laid Plans… S8 Live PA

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I seem to be on a roll lately when it comes to prepping a new live set, lots and lots of work that seems to ultimately not pan out the way I intended.  This time I had decided that it was time to explore using the Traktor S8 controller as the center of my live rig, indeed as my entire live rig actually.  Ever since I got the S8 I’ve been intrigued by the idea, since it gives you so many hands-on controls for the Remix Decks in Traktor.  Not to mention a 4 channel mixer, 4 seperate effects units, and built-in soundcard.  It’s not a small device by any means, but if it’s all you’re carrying to a gig, it’s really not as bad as setting up multiple bits of gear either.

It’s been awhile since I played live of course, not since I sold off my Elektron Machinedrum and Octatrack a couple years ago really.  I realized that even with that set up, I was rehashing material that was by now 3-4 years old anyway.  I’ve released quite a few songs since then, and I had been slowly gathering them all this last year with the intent of grabbing stems from them for a live set I’d perform one one way or another.  With the S8 live pa once again coming to mind, seemed like a good way to kill two birds with one stone as it were.

So for the last few weeks I’ve been going back to my old song projects.  Stripping things down, combining sounds, adding new fills, enhancing things to work better in a live setting, revisiting mixdowns, and generally doing what I could to capture the essense of each song in 8 stems that were 32 bars long.

Long enough to avoid being repetitive sounding, but not so long as to be wasting disk space for no reason.  It really forces you to get to the core of each of your songs and see what’s important.

After weeks of work I had my stems balanced, level-matched, tagged, and finally imported into two Traktor remix decks, one for each side of the S8.  Drums and bassline on the left deck, synths, guitars, and pads/fx on the right deck.  This was not easy actually, as Traktor is a bit clunky when it comes to assigning lots of sample loops to the remix slots.  For one thing, there’s no way to delete a sample if you make a mistake and put it in the wrong place.  WTF?

Also, Traktor guessed the tempo of my perfectly trimmed loops wrong every single time.  Literally, all of them.  Surprising in a lot of ways as it’s excellent at guessing the tempo of whole songs and setting beat grids these days.  So it was a pretty arduous process getting it all set up, but I kept plugging away and eventually it was done.

Once I started practicing the set though, it became apparent that things were not as ideal as I had thought.

For starters, I was having issues triggering all 8 stems at once and actually getting them in sync.  Of course I had Traktors Snap and Quantize on, but for some reason even though I KNOW that I was pressing all the remix pads at the same time and hard enough, one or two of them wouldn’t trigger at the same time as the others.  They would be late by whatever the quantize value was set to (usually 4 beats).  Or worse, hitting them all at once would cause a slight hiccup in the audio no matter what my latency was set to.

All in all, just didn’t feel reliable enough for a live gig.  Who wants to build up a song to an epic point and then have the critical sound not trigger on time?

The other thing I wasn’t expecting, was that when you use the Remix Decks in Traktor, the only way you can apply effects is using the performance knobs set to send mode.  Basically this means that you get a send knob for each column of loops, and it controls the send amount for that column to all effects units the deck is assigned to.  If you don’t use Traktor I’m sure that doesn’t make sense, so I’ll explain it another way.

I had planned on using two effects units for each of my decks, and each deck has 4 loops playing.  Because each effect unit can also be a group effect with three effect types, this means I could have up to 6 seperate effects for my drums and my bassline, and 6 additional effects for my synths, fills, and pads.  When you’re working with only audio loops, you need as many ways to manipulate them as possible, otherwise it’s just a some what rather boring to perform DJ set.

But with this send effect limitation, that means I could only apply all 6 effects at once to each sound via a wet/dry control.  There was no way to send the kick and snare to one effect, and my high hats to different one.  This greatly reduced my ability to shape and manipulate the sounds the way I was intending, and more or less put me back into a DJ mentality (to be fair, this IS a DJ controller afterall).

At the end of the day, it just seemed a little too limiting for what I was trying to achieve, so I might just have to write this one off as experimentation and move on to something else.  I’m going to mull over some other ideas over the next few days to see if I can still make this work, but it’s looking less and less likely.

Oh well, sometimes you have to fail to learn, and at the very least it helped me prep some stems in case I think of another sample-based method for playing live.

Now if only Korg would release that bug-fix update for the new Electribe.  Hmm…..

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Stay tuned for more adventures in prep work!
Tarekith

And…. Maschine Studio again.

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It’s been almost a year to the date since I last owned a Maschine Studio, so I figured it was time to buy one again.  🙂  Ok, maybe it wasn’t for that reason alone.   What led me back to this piece of gear, especially when I was planning on spending most of my time working on the new electribe?

Well, unfortunately, the electribe hasn’t quite worked out the way I had hoped.  I’ve been having a ton of fun using it, don’t get me wrong, definitely not selling this one!  But my intention from the get go had been to use it as a standalone box for doing live sets, and more and more it was looking like that might not be possible for a few reasons.

The biggest issue I was having was due to voice-stealing, hitting that 24 voice limit the electribe has.  To be honest, I was concerned about this before I even bought the electribe, I know I tend to like richer soundscapes in my live sets.  But I figured with careful programming and limiting myself to using only 8 parts at once, I could probably get by just fine.  The Korg website also says that certain OSC types and effects might reduce the maximum voice count.  But it doesn’t really tell you much more than that, so it’s hard to know exactly what to realistically expect without using it.

It turns out that in use it’s actually really easy to reduce the voice count with those features, and I started running into sounds dropping out or effects being cut off with only 5-6 parts playing at a time.  Usually 3-4 simple drum parts, and 2-3 complex synths.   Occasionally I’d have voices drop with only two parts playing, obviously some kind of bug going on when that happened.  I was planning on keeping things minimal anyway, but that’s just a bit TOO minimal for the music I like to make.  Shame really, as I was getting some really awesome sounds out of this little box, just not enough of them at once.

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While that’s the main thing holding me back from using the electribe the way I wanted, there were a couple other small quirky bugs I’d occasionally run into.  A few hard freezes requiring a power cycle to fix, some clicks in certain sounds almost like you get when samples have non-zero crossing points, and the master effect level occasionally jumping around for no reason (I wasn’t recording motion sequencing for it).  And of course the obvious one where parts could be unmuted when you only selected them in some Trigger Pad modes.   These were usually very rare, but still a little annoying for something I wanted to use live.

The good news is that other electribe owners had been in contact with Korg about these, and Korg had told them a new OS update is on the way shortly that will fix the bugs.  In the end I decided to hold off on going much further with the electribe until the OS update is released and some of this stuff gets sorted.  Like I said, I’m really enjoying using the box otherwise, and I didn’t want to end up in a position where I was just beyond frustrated and tempted to sell it.

You know how I can be 🙂

So for now I’ll just use it occasionally for synth parts and coming up with cool riffs, perhaps some solo drum machine duties, much lighter use that I know it can excel at.  Of course that leaves me in the position of still not having a live set, and at the same time really not wanting to just work on single tracks in a DAW on the laptop.  So I started relooking at what my groovebox options were, everything I had used in the past, and some other options I hadn’t yet explored like the Dave Smith gear or the Roland Aira range.

In the end, they all had certain limitations that I felt I didn’t want to work around at the moment, and more and more I kept remembering how impressed I was with the Maschine Studio.  I said back in my original review of it that it was probably the best groovebox I’ve ever used, and I kept remembering how few limitations it had in terms of sound quality, the number of sounds you can use at once, and the way you chain endless effects.  I hadn’t been happy that it was still something that was tied to the computer then, but I think more and more I’m coming to realize that for the kind of music I want to make, that’s probably an inevitability anyway.

So, once again the Maschine Studio found it’s way into my studio (err, what will become my studio anyway) and I’m already happily writing away on it.  I still plan on creating and performing a live set using just the controller, and luckily my time away from it has given me a few new ideas on how to do this now that I own it again.  I’ll share the specifics as I get further along.

In the meantime, I’m refreshing the Korg page daily waiting for that OS update to drop (errr… not really) and I can’t wait to get back on the little grey box once things are a little more settled down.  I can’t wait for my monitors and the rest of my gear to get here either, I swear they shipped them on a sailboat or something….

That’s it for now, stayed tuned for more about the new live set, as well as further adventures setting up a studio in Luxembourg.

Peace and beats,
Tarekith

We’ve Arrived

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It took 4 days of driving across the US, 1 record snow storm in Chicago, 2 flight delays, 14 hours stuck on a plane, 3 hours of hair-raising driving in Germany, along with whole bunch of other adventures, but at long last we have arrived in Luxembourg!

The journey has been tiring more than anything, long days learning to adapt in a country where you don’t speak the language(s) combined with jet lag will do that though.  This first week has been mainly getting ourselves integrated into a new government, learning new rules of the road, trying to find places to get food, and working on getting the last of my business change completed.

Oh yeah, the week before we left Seattle I converted my Inner Portal Studio business from a sole-proprietor based company to an LLC corporation.  I mean, why do things the easy way?  🙂  Mainly on the advice of other business owners I talked to who moved overseas, hopefully it means less issues with the Luxembourg government when it’s tax time.  It was something I was planning on doing in 2015 anyway before we decided to move, so other than the stress of trying to get it all done before we headed overseas, no surprises there.

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At the moment we’re in temporary housing in a hotel until our apartment is ready at the beginning of March.  The good news is that it took us less than a week to find a place to live for the next two years, and it’s a brand new building with incredibly thick walls so I can still work from “home” for my mastering business.  Well, once all my gear arrives sometime in April anyway.  The bad news is that I’m finding it really hard to make any music or be creative in a location like this.  Lots of noise from other people in the hotel, and there’s a TON of construction in Luxembourg during the day near where we are staying.

A least I have the electribe with me though, and since it’s battery powered, I’ll be able to take it just about anywhere once I find some good places to get away for a bit.  Plus it provides hours of childish fun when I get bored.  🙂

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Aside from trying to get a new live set written, I’m hoping to finally make some more progress on my audio production book.  Hopefully when we move into the new apartment in 3 weeks, things will be quieter and more conducive to creative writing.  I was never one of those people who could zone out in a busy coffee shop for instance.

Well, that’s about it for now.  Just wanted to give everyone a quick update on my move!

De paix et battements,
Tarekith

We’re Off!

Well, the movers came on Friday and packed up the house and my studio, and luckily it went very well.  I felt bad for the guy assigned to my room though, it by far had the heaviest items, oops.  🙂

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Of course, I couldn’t stop working until the very end, but at least I had a guard dog to keep the movers away until the very end.  Definitely a bit sad to leave the room I’ve come to know so well behind, but I’m hopeful the next space will be even better.

A few last things to take care of in Seattle, then we start our journey to Chicago, and finally to Luxembourg.  The weather in Seattle is unseasonably warm, mid-60’s (15C) in January.  At least with the house all packed, we have a little bit of free time.  It was nice getting to sit outside and jam with the new electribe a couple times over the last few days.  Really enjoying this little box, some of the sounds I’m getting are amazing.

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At this rate I’ll have enough patterns written by the time we get to Luxembourg that I’ll have both a more uptempo set ready to go, as well as a more chill downtempo set.  Good stuff, now I have to figure out how I’ll do transitions, hmm…

Until next time, peace and beats.
Tarekith