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:
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.
Recently I started to get the itch to put together a new hardware-based live set, using all of my favorite tracks from the last three years or so. These would be a collection of studio songs as well as portions of my more recent Maschine Studio live sets, so I knew a bit of remixing would be in order to get them all to gel together as a cohesive live set. Given that I already had most of the important parts of the songs separated as stems, I knew that most likely the Octatrack was the only tool for the job.
It’s been three years since I last owned an Octatrack, regretfully sold following some reliability issues that Elektron refused to cover under warranty. However, I decided that it was time to revisit the black beast one more time, and give things another chance.
So for the last few weeks I’ve been taking all my stems and carefully preparing a live set that would let me focus on solely the Octatrack (OT) during the performance. No other gear would be used. Luckily, even after a 3 year break, I was still pretty quick and proficient on the OT, so it didn’t take me too long to get something together that both sounded good and gave me enough performance options in the moment.
The OT is set up as follows:
Track 1 – Kick
Track 2 – Percussion
Track 3 – Cymbals
Track 4 – Bassline
Track 5 – Lead Synths
Track 6 – Pads and effects
Track 7 – Recorder Track sampling from the output of Track 8
Track 8 – Master track.
All of the audio loops on Tracks 1-6 are sliced and mapped to linear note locks, which lets me do things like shorten notes and reprogram drum patterns on the fly. Track 7 is basically set up to do the “OT transition trick”, and is constantly resampling 4 bar loops from the OT’s main output. This means that at any time I can instantly switch to an audio recording of the last 4 bars, giving more tweaking possibilities and letting me transition from one song to another smoothly. Each of my 16 “songs” in the set uses one part and one pattern, organized across 4 banks. I also created a few scenes that are identical in all my parts, allowing me to tweak things in a consistent manner with the crossfader on the OT.
This is the first iteration of the live set, I’m sure there’s a lot more I’ll be tweaking and adding to it based on future performances. I already have some new ideas based on this recording, so hopefully I’ll have a new version of the set to share in a couple months after I implement them and practice some more performance techniques.
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately playing with my new Novation Circuit, and I have to say I’m still really impressed with it. Finally managed to record something too, a little mini test of how I might play live with just the Circuit. This is more a proof of concept than an actual performance, I just wanted to see if this way of working is something I want to pursue more of in the future.
Since there’s no way to copy synths and their patterns from one Session to another on the Circuit, I instead ended up writing the set linearly. That is, I start with one Session, get it sounding the way I like, then copy it to a new part. From here I replace one of the synths with a new sound (and patterns) and make some slight tweaks to the drums for variety. Then I copy this one to the next Session, replace the first synth sound, tweak some drums, rinse and repeat.
This gives me enough flexibility to tweak things during the set, and makes sure that transitions from one Session to the next aren’t too abrupdt. Of course the downside is that you have to play all your songs in the same order every time too, otherwise the transitions don’t work. Oh well, it’s not a huge deal for me and I have a feeling that I’ll likely be pairing the Circuit with something else anyway soon.
Enjoy the music, and I’ll write some more long-term thoughts about the Circuit once I’ve had a couple more weeks with it.
A few months ago I put my entire back catalog on Bandcamp, all of songs and live sets I’ve done over the last 10+ years. Partly as a way to archive all my music to date online, and partly as an experiment to see if people would actually buy any of the older songs. I was a bit surprised to see that, yes, people will in fact buy some of my older music. In fact it ended up selling better than some of my newer material. Though I guess that’s not a huge surprise as some of the newer music is a bit more experimental.
Anyway, I considered that experiment a success, so I decided to expand things and release those same albums on the more popular sites like iTunes, Amazon, etc as well (I use CDBaby.com as an aggregator if people are curious). After a long wait to get all the albums approved, I’m happy to report that all of my music from 2004-2014 is now available at all the major online retailers.
As before each album covers 1 year of original songs and live sets, and are priced according to how much audio I released that year. Of course you can always still name your own price on Bandcamp as well if you prefer.
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.
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.
Kind of weird how the date almost slipped by me, but as I was preparing my entire back-catalog for Bandcamp, I noticed that it had been almost exactly ten years since I started using the name Tarekith for my music-making. Time flies and all that.
I have to say, going back through all the tracks I’ve written over the last ten years has been a real trip. So many simularities I can make out, and at the same time I was exploring all manner of gear and workflows continuously. Plus there was a consistancy to my output that surprised me, bar one or two years where life events intervened. It’s been a lot of fun hearing stuff I wrote that I practically forgot about 🙂
Anyway, as I mention, this all came about because I wanted to get all of my tracks and live sets online somewhere not just for people to buy, but also lossless as a form of additional backup if you will. I’ve been really happy with Bandcamp over the last few years, so I figured that was the best place to start. Eventually I’ll get them all on the primary retailers like iTunes, Amazon, etc, but for now Bandcamp it is:
The tracks and live sets are group by year into invidual albums, and each album is only $1. You can of course pay more if you want.
The album covers are all pictures I took over the last ten years, each one in the same year of the album just for fun. Kinda fun for me to see those too, lots of places all over the world, who would have thought I’d be a world traveller some day?
Enjoy the music, and thanks to everyone who’s supported me, my music, and this blog over the last 10 years.
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!
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! 🙂
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.