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

The Pull Of Spheres Live Set

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The Pull Of Spheres Live Set <- Audio Link
https://youtu.be/YUj9ItTTpVE <- Video Link
Dub and Deep House Live Set 08-27-2015

This set is the last of three pieces, all intended to explore using the Maschine Studio for live performances. All of the music in the set was created strictly on the hardware, and as you can see it was performed using just the hardware controller too. Link the studio dog has a supporting role as well.

All of the sounds in the set came from either the Maschine stock library, or Komplete 9. Just like in the other two sets, the exception is the one field recording I used in each of the 8 ”songs” in the set. These were recorded using a Rode iXY at various places around where I live in Luxembourg.

Of all three of the sets I’ve done this way recently, this one by far used the most CPU power and I was constantly fighting for every free bit I could get to keep things from breaking up and crackling. The downside of getting Komplete 9 before I started writing the set, great sounds, but a bit more CPU hogs than Massive typically is. I’m still amazed at how well this combo is for writing live material though, even if the hardware itself is a bit hard to see outdoors in brighter light. 🙂

As usual, hope you enjoy.
Tarekith
http://tarekith.com

The Fields Around Us Audio Version

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The Fields Around Us Live PA <- Audio Link
https://youtu.be/xPt4tVFEFUw <- Video Link
Dub Techno & Deep House Set 06-19-2015

I posted video of this set roughly a month ago, and since then I’ve had a lot of people asking if there was an audio only copy of it.  Sorry it took me so long to get one uploaded, but via the link above you can now grab a 320kbps AAC version of the live set.

I also wanted to take a second to thank everyone who watched my original Maschine Studio live set, I just realized it’s now up to over 6,700 views!  I think that’s a new record for me, so cheers to everyone who enjoyed that set and commented on it as well.  I have another Maschine set well on it’s way to completion, if all goes well it will hopefully get recorded in a couple weeks.  After that, I’ll likely move on to a new project.

Perhaps… more Octatrack?  We shall see!  🙂

Peace and beats,
Tarekith

Another Maschine Studio Mini Live Set

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I had so much fun doing my last Maschine Studio live set, that I had to dive right in and make another one right away.  This is another short set, only 16 minutes long:

I’ll likely combine the material from this set with my last one, giving me an hour of music to play with.  Expect a new recording once I get it all tweaked and ready to play.  Until then, enjoy the trippy textures of the new set!
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

Maschine Studio Live PA 05-29-2015

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YouTube version of this set:

http://youtu.be/D7V8HvRLXfo

Audio version of the set:

Maschine Studio Live PA 05-29-2015

This live set has been a long time coming, something I’ve been trying to do with different gear for awhile now.  After bouncing around for what seemed like forever trying various different set ups, I finally decided that the Maschine Studio controller would be something I could really dive into.

This entire set was created and performed entirely using the Maschine Studio controller, the laptop was closed the entire time as I wanted to treat the set as if it was purely done on hardware.   There was an NI limiter on the master channel in Maschine, otherwise this was recorded directly from Maschine with no additional processing after the fact.

An earlier attempt at doing this showed me I needed to really pay attention to my CPU usage, it’s easy to get carried away using lots of the bigger plug ins from the library.  I have Maschine set up so that each Group is a basically a separate song, so I need to have enough CPU available to load 8 songs at once in effect.

I started by keeping the drums mainly sourced from samples, both in the Maschine library, and some of my own found sounds (more on this later).  Other than the kick drums, most of the percussion and cymbal noises are various odd sounds I sampled in various forest preserves near where I live.  Editing, tweaked, effected, and pitched all over of course.

I used “Group I” in Maschine to host a global delay and reverb, and sent just about everything through that to save more power.  There was also a few filters, EQs, a transient shaper, and delay on the master channel.  These were assigned to Master Channel macros so that I could effect the entire sound of the set if I wanted to.

This left me plenty of CPU I found to get a bit more indulgent with some of the instrument sounds.  Time to dive into Massive and some of the new content in the Komplete Select sounds from the Maschine v2.3 update recently.

This video was actually my very first trial run of the set.  I was mainly trying to see if the cameras would record long enough, and if Maschine could handle running that long as well.  I ended up having so much fun I just went for it, and happily all the camera and audio aspects worked as expected too.  I still have quite a bit more I want to do to fine-tune the set and a couple of the songs, but I’m still really happy with how it turned out.

Maschine Studio ended up being a lot better than I expected from a performance standpoint.  Doesn’t take long to really start knowing your way around, and with things like the mixer, macros, and synth tweaking only one button press away, I was surprised at how quick I could move around to keep the set as fluid as possible.  Good stuff, and I look forward to doing some more live music with this set up!

Hope you enjoy the music!
Tarekith

http://tarekith.com
https://twitter.com/Tarekith
https://www.facebook.com/innerportalstudio

Building A New Live Set

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Now that things are settled down a bit from the move, I finally have the time and mindset to really focus on getting some new music written and recorded.  Probably even performable if all goes well.

The Electribe live set I was working on was giving me a few issues so I decided to shelve it for a bit, and the Traktor S8 live set didn’t pan out the way I wanted, so that was a dead end too.  I figured it was time to dive back in on the Maschine Studio as a live tool, see if I could come up with a way to use it to write and perform and entire live set from.

I won’t lie, this video of Dapayk Solo helped kick my interest back into high gear:

He’s basically using the exact same way of organizing the set that I was planning on, and despite a couple CPU dropouts he said, everything worked fine for up to 8 songs.  At least now I knew it could be done, and I wasn’t so hesitant to spend the time prepping something of this magnitude.

I set myself a self-imposed deadline of June 1st to finish the set.  Well, slightly self-imposed anyway, I might actually have a live set to play that night.  Details pending.

The basic idea was to use each group in Maschine as a self-contained song, so that I could have multiple songs all in one self-contained project.  After some experimenting and talking to other Maschine users trying something similar, it sounded like limiting the set to 8 groups (songs) was the best way to go.  Beyond that you start running into CPU load limitations, it’s just pushing things too much IMO.

Even then, I knew I needed to try and be as bare-bones as possible when building the set, the more CPU in reserve the better.  If nothing else it gave me plenty of power later in the process when I really wanted to fine-tune things.  By sticking mainly with samples for my drums and a few instruments per song, I was able to write 95% of the set with my CPU meter barely lighting up in Maschine.

Oh yeah, the set came together really fast too, the bulk of it created over maybe a week?   Plenty of time to meet my deadline now!   I think it helped that I had just gotten back from a nice relaxing vacation to Amsterdam (my first time) a few days before.  But I also know that it had been awhile since I had written and released any music I was happy with, and the itch was there to just get it done.

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I’m still impressed every time I use the Maschine Studio, I admit it.  Other than a few things I can do quickly at the start of a session like start a new project, everything can be done from the hardware.  And it’s really fun to do so.  The more used to Maschine I get, the more I realize there’s so much potential there with how quick it is it to write and EDIT your music. Didn’t help that the new 2.3 update for Maschine hit right before I dove in, new goodies are always fun to play with of course. 🙂

In a couple busy days in the studio, I managed to get the core of 8 new songs written for the live set.  It’s mainly a dub techno, deep weird house sort of set, dance or nod, it’s your choice.

I still need to do some final mixdown tweaks, figure out exactly how I want to video record a run through of the set (everyone loves YouTube versions after all), add in a few fills here and there, and start assigning all the controls I want to tweak when playing the set to Macros for each group.  6 days, easy.

If all goes to play, hopefully I’ll be playing a new live set on June 1st, or at the very least have a practice run through of the set online.  Back to it!

Peace and beats,
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

Welcome To The New Blog!

Woo hoo, welcome to the new blog location.  Sorry if you got multiple notifications for this blog post the last day or so, still working out a couple last minute bugs with notifications.  Ummm, that’s all I have, but more soon!

(Strymon Timeline review…..)

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DDP – New Downtempo Track


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 Tarekith – DDP <- Right Click to Save or Play.

Well it feels like ages since I managed to finish up a track, though looking back that’s probably because it has been a few months since I have!   This track was something I started in Maschine Studio, using that to do all of the beats and most of the synths.

The backwards edited guitar parts were recorded through my older pedal board using the Xotic EP Booster, Boss Tera Echo, and TC Flashback x4 pedals.  I’m not sure how parts of that lick got reversed, it happened randomly when I was slicing the audio in Maschine.  One of those happy accidents I guess!

The other guitar parts were recorded with my newer pedal board using the EP Booster again, the TC Hall of Fame reverb, and my new favorite delay, the Strymon Timeline.  Beautiful delay, you can hear it doing all sorts of weird things on the intro guitar for instance.

The main synth melody was recorded using the OP-1.  It was just played in realtime, then tweaked a bit with EQ in the mixdown.

Since I sold the Maschine Studio before I was done with this track, the rest of the arranging and mixing was done in Ableton Live.  Used mainly the built in EQ to tweak things during the mixdown.  Mastering was done in Triumph using DMG Audio’s Equilibrium, Voxengo MSED, and Fabfilter Pro-L.

Now that I actually remember how to finish a song, let’s see if I can get some more of the ones I have started wrapped up and online soon!  In the meantime, hope you enjoy this one!

Tarekith

(and no, I have no idea what “DDP” means in this case, it just popped in my head while writing the track and refused to leave!)