Last week I did a Live-Stream for Ableton User Group Melbourne, the group that I facilitate with fellow Ableton Certified Trainer Ben Murphy. We usually run once a month In Real Life meet-ups, but have been doing live stream events since Melbourne was locked down a couple of months back.
In this stream I covered a bunch of topics asked by AUGM members, ranging from sound-design to room treatment and what’s on my Master Channel.
Together, they’re a great combination that allows me to really listen more deeply to certain elements of my tracks, to be able to analyse and reference my tracks against the mix of other tracks I like.
Changes Festival has been a fantastic addition to Melbourne’s musical landscape over the last two years. The focus is on getting a snapshot at what the music industry currently looks like, and is all about having a conversation about where to next… In terms of technology, inclusivity, the environment and basically a big ‘where to?’ for the music industry.
Well, to round off a pretty crazy year, I recently became an Ableton Certified Trainer. I’ve been using Live since 2004, and this has been a pretty big milestone for me to achieve as a music and music tech educator. There are just shy of 300 Ableton Certified Trainers in the world, and it’s an exciting international community to be a part of.
I spent some time recently sampling the amazing PPG Wave 2.3 at the wonderful MESS Foundation. It is a fantastic organisation with an extensive Vintage Synth collection, and very reasonable subscription rates which allows you to access some amazing pieces of Electronic Music’s history.
The PPG Wave 2.3, is a visually striking and aurally exciting early digital/wavetable synthesiser from the early 1980s. It’s not a particularly intuitive instrument, but has a certain kind of beauty in its glitches and a very musical randomness in its timbre.
After 4 hours recording time, I felt that I only started to scratch the surface of it, but from some of these recordings I have created these 3 multi-sample sampler instruments for Ableton Live 9.2, available as a Live Pack that you can download for free.
If you’ve downloaded my “Vocoder for Push” racks, then you should understand the concept behind these racks… basically they’re performance orientated racked instruments that hack the external instrument and external effect devices to be able to pre-map the audio routings. By default audio input 1 is used as the mic source, but you can change this if you want.
In this Live set there are two instrument racks, one for Errorsmith’s “Razor”, and the other for Tim Exile’s “The Mouth”. Both devices require a license and the Reaktor 5 Player available via nativeinstruments.com.
This is my (nearly) 3 year old daughter singing through The Mouth – “Autoharmonious” Rack.
Download the LivePack file that has these Instrument/FX racks HERE.
Over the last few months, I’ve been composing and creating sound for a really beautiful meditative puzzle game for iOS called Breath of Light.
Made by Melbourne game development company Many Monkeys, Breath of Light is the sort of puzzle game that takes time to master, there is no rushing the process, It’s a slow paced game that required immersive, meditative music.
The interface is a bit like a Zen Garden, where the player must arrange and move objects within the space to allow the flow of energy from one lotus flower to another. The game is set over 4 seasons, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring, each progressively more challenging as the levels evolve.
Each season has it’s own musical underscore created from a bank of loops that are designed to both work in any combination, but also evolve and develop over time with the gameplay.
It was decided very early on that User Interface (U.I.) sounds should add to the musical score. The way we made this work was to have a series of randomised tones associated with every object and movement within the game. All these sounds were composed in a way that to match the tonality of each season’s underscore, which allows every gesture within the game-play to contribute to an interactive soundtrack.
During the development of the soundtrack, I used Ableton Live to create a performable set to play these sounds to both demo these musical ideas to the guys at Many Monkeys and to test how the U.I. sounds blended with each other. I did this by creating drum racks that housed the U.I sounds and used scenes to work out the different combinations of underscore loops for each level in the game.
Once the nuts and bolts of the game sound was finalised, I set about developing a performable live set to recorded each ‘season’ as a musical composition in it’s own right. This was done with a little extra help from the wonderful Max for Live Dub Machines audio FX ‘Magnetic‘ and ‘Diffuse‘ which added extra flow and movement.
Below are the recorded seasons of the Breath of Light soundtrack, available for free download via Bandcamp.
Setting up the Vocoder to work ‘out of the box’ with Ableton’s Push controller was a challenge that I set myself.
For anyone who has used the Vocoder in Live 9 before, you should know that you by default, need two channels, one Midi and one Audio, and they need to have channel routings set up in a particular fashion to make them work.
This doesn’t work so well when you want to load a ready to go Vocoder directly from Push. So, I worked out a way to use Live’s External FX device within an Instrument rack to allow audio to be sent into a Midi channel.
You can download the live set for free here, and watch the youtube video below for more information on how to ensure it works correctly for your needs.
Rehearsals have begun for a fantastic project I’m involved with called The Radio Hour. It is part of the Melbourne Writer’s Festival inconjunction with ABC Radio National.
This is a full scale live production – a night of non-fiction story-telling on the theme ‘When Words Fail’, presented live on stage by the writer/s/producers themselves, and scored live my some super-talented musicians. The night will be recorded live for broadcast on Radio National’s 360 Documentariesprogram.
I’m part of a band with Biddy Connor (Sailor Days, Laura Jean band) & Dan Marsh (Human Face) performing a live soundtrack.