Before triggering clips and samples on the computer, Pantha du Prince and The Bell Laboratory “trigger” the musicians.
Yes, before there were machine clips, there were human patterns, and in performing Terry Riley’s legendary classical new music composition “In C,” the ensemble has to do just that. In a beautiful chorus of chiming tones, that orchestra is augmented with digital embellishment.
The result makes for a live performance that expands the role of the computer into a large-scale instrumental ensemble, venturing into territory perhaps not as often associated with Ableton Live as genres like dance music are. But Ableton has lavished attention on electronic composer Pantha Du Prince and his ensemble in a series of videos that amount to a complete documentary on the work and how it was produced.
Pantha du Prince’s music has always shimmered with beautiful sounds, but here, percussion form an otherworldly realm of glittering rhythmic waves.
Ableton’s film begins with the artist side, and in fact less discussion of the gear. (I’ve heard people chattering about that lately, and pleasantly surprised that this isn’t an in-your-face promo video.)
Pantha Du Prince & The bell Laboratory, Centraltheater, Leipzig 2013
© R. Arnold/CT
Via the project’s Facebook page.
But let’s do a bit of gear spotting anyway, just to parse how the setup works. In the “cockpit” of Hendrik’s computer rig arrive feeds from all the instruments for sampling, looping, and effects, plus a couple of contact mics for adding close-miked sounds of hand percussion. These are routed through hardware effects (delay, reverb), and then sampled and looped in Ableton, which is in turn controlled by an APC and MPD hardware controller. The full rig:
Akai MPD32 pad controller
KORG Kaoss Pad Pro 3
Eventide Space Reverb
VERMONA PERfourMER mk II analog synth – maybe the most interesting piece of gear in that lineup, actually
But the real stars here are the acoustic instruments. Microphones bring you closer to the delicate sounds, but this is otherwise timbral design in the world of physical sound. I actually had the pleasure of wandering the Drum hall for a few minutes at Musikmesse with Dave Hill, Jr. of iZotope, himself a talented drummer (and Ableton veteran) – thanks for that, Dave. We spent some moments handling cymbals and talking about their design. Coming from the realms of code and electronics, there’s something comforting about discussing the hammering of metal (and at least I’m not entirely inexperienced there, having played in a gamelan ensemble for some years).
It’s actually my favorite video of the set – create acoustic music:
Here’s the music video for “Spectral Split” with The Bell Laboratory:
And the piece Photon:
And from four years ago, the artist talks to Rough Trade Records whilst touring Teufelsberg, the abandoned US listening installation in Berlin.
The post Learn How Pantha Du Prince Combines Acoustic Instruments with Ableton Live, In C appeared first on Create Digital Music.
Tony Andrews is a renowned soundsystem designer and the owner and founder of Funktion-One, perhaps dance music’s most famous soundsystem manufacturer. The company has influenced global electronic music in countless ways with its groundbreaking technology, superb sound quality, and enormous bass, but undoubtedly clubbers and DJs will know Funktion-One best from its giant stacks in the world’s top clubs, including Space Ibiza, Berghain, Output, and Trouw.
Part of the appeal of the Roland TR-8 drum machine and TB-3 bassline synth is their hands-on control. But apart from the normal reasons you’d additionally want external MIDI control, you’ll need it for certain kinds of automation recording.
The problem is, the AIRAs (at least with their current firmware) lack the ability to record automation internally. You can record patterns on the TR-8 and TB-3, but not changes to sound parameters, effects, or that Scatter thing. So, if you’re making a pattern and find a shifting timbre or glitchy effect you like, there’s no way to save it easily for performance (apart from recording audio, of course).
The solution is to make use of MIDI Control Change messages. Yet, for a company that almost always fastidiously shares its MIDI implementation in documentation, Roland has mysteriously not done so on AIRA. Fortunately, my colleague NERK, with whom I make music as the dubious, shady techno duo NERKKIRN, has gone through and worked out what the MIDI messages are.
A complete list (so far) for both the TB-3 and TR-8 is below. These aren’t official, so it’s possible there are more messages missing; we’re in touch with Roland to try to find out, but if you’ve discovered any more, or any more tips or hacks, we’d love to hear them.
NERK, aka Benjamin Weiss, has also built some Max for Live remotes for each device. The TR-8 is available as both a Drum Rack and a remote control surface, for convenience. Download them free at maxforlive.com:
With those patches, it’s even easier to take control of parameters by mapping them to other hardware, including Ableton’s own Push, as Ableton LiveSchool demonstrates in a recent tutorial:
Now, on to the MIDI implementation. So far, if it’s an onboard control on either device in the form of a knob or fader, you can automate it with MIDI.
There are some more frustrating limitations that it appears can’t be solved with this approach, however. On the TB-3, for instance, my understanding is that you can’t transmit slide changes when playing patterns. Slide is recorded in step mode, but not in real-time recording (which is a bit bizarre, as it seems you’d want it even more in the latter) – that I’ve confirmed with Roland. If I’m correct that you can’t transmit these via MIDI, it limits the TB-3′s usefulness as a sequencer for external gear and means you can’t use this to record.
That said, I still think these two boxes deliver phenomenal value. They sound great, they have lots of controls, they’re great fun to use, and they look … well, okay, I’m going to look into how to cover up those green edges. I’m hopeful for a firmware update that fills in the gaps, but it’s still pretty easy to recommend the two – especially when armed with this MIDI knowledge the docs forgot.
Here we go:
See De:Bug Magazine for the complete German versions and coverage:
FREEWARE: MAX FOR LIVE-PATCHES FÜR AIRA TB-3 UND AIRA TR-8
AIRA TR-8 und TB-3 in Live modulieren und die Liste der MIDI CCs
Note that this is both send and receive. The TB-3 I think is a pretty useful controller for outboard gear, so that works nicely.
91, Reverb Level
89, Reverb Time
90, Reverb Gate
16, Delay Level
17, Delay Time
18, Delay Feedback
12, Ext In Level
13, Ext In Side Chain
20, BD Tune
21, BD Attack
22, BD Comp
23, BD Decay
24, BD Volume
25, SD Tune
26, SD Snappy
27, SD Comp
28, SD Decay
29, SD Volume
46, LT Tune
47, LT Decay
48, LT Volume
49, MT Tune
50, MT Decay
51, MT Volume
52, HT Tune
53, HT Decay
54, HT Volume
55, RS Tune
56, RS Decay
57, RS Volume
58, HC Tune;
59, HC Decay;
60, HC Volume;
61, CH Tune
62, CH Decay
63, CH Volume
80, OH Tune
81, OH Decay
82, OH Volume
83, CC Tune
84, CC Decay
85, CC Volume
86, RC Tune
87, RC Decay
88, RC Volume
For more NERK:
And for German speakers, De:Bug lives online:
The post AIRA Secrets: Here’s How to Take Command of Roland’s TB-3 and TR-8 with MIDI appeared first on Create Digital Music.
In a world without tape, the audio interface has become the gateway to preserving sound for many people. Having your inputs, outputs, and conversion in one small box provides a cost effective alternative to discrete units. However, with such a saturated market, finding the right audio interface is now harder than ever!
Understanding Inputs and Outputs
Most people consider the number of inputs and outputs to be one of the biggest criteria for choosing an audio interface. The problem with this assumption is that not all ins and outs are created equal. Further, different situations call for different connections, and in different numbers. Advertising a 16x12 interface does not really say anything about the connections themselves!
XLR Ins and Outs
When most people think of audio interface inputs they think XLR. Why? Because this is what we plug our microphones into. A lot of units also use what are known as combi-jacks. These special XLR inputs actually have a 1/4 inch jack in the middle of the XLR. This allows you to easily connect guitars, keyboards, or other line level devices straight into the audio interface.
An XLR out is sometimes included as well. These are typically used for connecting to balanced studio monitors, however some are AES/EBU digital connections. Make sure you know which it is!
1/4'' Ins and Outs
Unlike the combi-jack XLRs above, a dedicated 1/4'' input is usually reserved for strict line level signals. Also, these connections on an audio interface almost never have a gain control. Why? Because often times you send external mic pres, compressor effects, etc. through these inputs, all of which have their own gain controls. This effectively makes 1/4'' inputs a path for digital conversion, not gain control.
1/4'' outs are also typically line level, and are often used to go various speaker sources. However, some units do have 1/4'' outs that are never converted to digital. These are excellent for headphone monitoring mixers given they are usually zero-latency. You can also go to a dedicated A/D unit as well.
Digital Ins and Outs
These inputs come in a wide variety of various connection styles and formats, but traditionally come in AES, ADAT, MADI, or SPDIF. Since these signals are already amplified and digital, they are instead used to sync and combine various audio interfaces.
Why? Because ASIO does not directly support combining unsynced signals, and while Macs can do this via Core Audio, it generally is not as stable.
What to Watch Out For...
As you can probably guess, the ins and outs on an interface are an easy source of marketing confusion and manipulation. For example, an interface might advertise as being 16x12, 16 in and 12 out. However, eight of those outputs might be via ADAT and another two might be the stereo headphone jack, meaning there would only be one L-R output! Are they lying to you? No. But is it deceptive? You bet!
Additional Features and Tools
If inputs and outputs were all that mattered, then things would easy! Unfortunately audio engineers need more than just a few ins and outs. Understanding what the available options are, and how they impact our workflow, can make the decision process much easier.
Probably one of the most useful features to find on a audio interface is a pad. When tracking drums or other loud sources, especially with condenser microphones, the risk of clipping your inputs runs high. There is also a risk when running line level into the unit and not having a gain control on the other end.
While just about every audio interface with mic inputs has phantom power now, how it is implemented can be quite different. It is not uncommon to see phantom controlled in banks of 4 or 8. While phantom power will not hurt modern ribbon or dynamic microphones, it can be problematic with older mics. Thankfully some units do include individual phantom power control on each channel.
If you do not have a direct box, but want to record a lot of direct guitar, having a Hi-Z input can be a wonderful thing. These special 1/4'' inputs mimic the impedance of a guitar amplifier, and can render a more true guitar tone. Typically a interface with this feature only has one or two inputs that are Hi-Z.
This fancy input is actually a special version of ADAT. Normally, when you double your sampling rate, you cut your channel count over ADAT in half. (8 channels of ADAT becomes 4 at 96k.) However, a S/MUX capable audio interface will maintain full channel count over one cable up to at least 96k. This makes connecting multiple units much easier when recording at high resolutions.
Some audio interfaces offer on-board effects processing similar to a live mixer. This is especially useful for tracking when you need a little reverb, but your computer does not have enough oomph to do it in real-time. Further, if you are recording a small show and the act really needs some basic effects, boom—you are ready to supply!
What to Choose?
Different situations call for different needs. Furthermore, at some point we're all limited by a budget. While it is always safer to over-buy for future proofing, that is not always a viable option. Here are some recommendations.
- Two or four channel mic inputs - Good for stereo mics, plus maybe a spot or two.
- High resolution availability - If you intend to release your movie in true high def, you will need high def audio to go with it!
- Available Phantom power - Almost all broadcast and movie mics are condensers, which need power.
- Multiple Headphone Outs - Most likely more than one person on set will need to hear what the mics hear.
The Drum Interface
- Eight channel mic inputs - Drums always require a lot of mics. You need eight channels minimum, unless you only are going for the Beatles sound.
- Mic pads - Drums are loud loud instruments. As soon as you throw up a pair of condenser overheads you will need to pad them. I guarantee it.
- Phantom power - As above, you will need phantom power for drum mics.
The Live Recording/Studio Expandable Rig
- Eight channel mic inputs - More than likely you will need to record a lot of sources. You will need mic inputs.
- Line level inputs - Being able to capture keys and a live feed from the mixer can always crop up in a live situation. Be prepared!
- On-board effects - Sometimes you might end up being the mixer! Being able to add effects to the monitor outputs is a great backup if the whole mixer goes out from a rogue beer. Studios with less-than-capable computers will highly benefit from on-board effects for the musicians.
- Connectivity - Usually you will need anywhere from 16 to 32 channels to cover a live show. This means connecting more than one audio interface. Having S/MUX, MADI, or special protocols (MOTU firewire daisy-chaining for example) makes everything much easier both live and in the studio.
Finding just the right audio interface can be tricky! When it doubt always make sure you can expand your rig later so you do not have to try and resell your old units.
You also need to take into consideration driver stability. Having your unit fail mid recording is no good! Unfortunately there is no good way to check driver stability other than reading reviews and forums.
Remember, always think about what you may need down the road! Thanks for reading!