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Archive for February, 2009

“Killing your darlings”

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

guest article by John P.

It’s a rainy day, perfect for holing yourself up in your room to work on a new song—and if you’re like most of the music-making world, that means firing up your Mac or PC, connecting your MIDI keyboard, hunching your neck and shoulders, and playing endlessly with your virtual drum machines, pianos, and saxophones.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Computer power has liberated home music producers in too many ways to list in this short article. Pair up some modest multi-tracking software with a basic six-hundred dollar PC and you can create sonic wonders. But this very blessing can be a curse. How would “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” sound if Eno and Byrne recorded it today? It would sure be easier for them. Maybe too easy. Without limitations to overcome, artists get lazy and bored.


Huge, free audio sample library

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

I just had to make a mention of this great resource available for free: Over 8GB of free samples under creative commons license.

Loops, Grooves, Licks, Stings, Hits, Pads, Melodic Motives/Themes/Phrases, Sound-Effects, City and Country Soundscapes…, Motors, Machines, Toys, Guns, Explosions, Swords, Armor, Cars, Jets, Pot & Pans, Acoustic and Synthetic Noises, Acoustic and Electronic Drums, Voices, Western and World Instruments, Real and Human Animals, Industrial and Natural Ambiences, Film and Game Foley, and more, more, more! This huge collection of new and original samples have been donated to Dr. Richard Boulanger @ specifically to support the OLPC developers, students, XO users, and computer and electronic musicians everywhere. They are FREE and are offered under a CC-BY license for downloading and use in your teaching, your demos, your research, your music, your remixes, your songs, your games, your videos, your slideshows, your websites, and your XO activities. Each of the 7000+ samples is 16-bit, WAV, Mono, normalized to -3dB, and provided at 3 sample rates – 44.1K, 22.5K and 16K.

How to control Ableton Live with your iPhone [updated]

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

osculator and touchosc
With a new iPhone version comes a new method of using it to control Ableton Live. This post is an update to a previous post that is now obsolete. The best new method of controlling your iPhone doesn’t even require you to jailbreak your phone.


TouchOSC is an iPhone / iPod Touch application that lets you send and receive Open Sound Control messages over a Wi-Fi network using the UDP protocol. Using this program on your phone along with Osculator for Mac, you can control Ableton Live with your phone.


  1. Wireless Router to create a wireless network for the iPhone to send OSC messages through
  2. An iPhone with 2.0 or newer software
  3. Purchase of TouchOsc and Osculator



Creating beat mashups with Live

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Editing the volume envelope on an audio clip in Live
If you have  a lot of  audio loops laying around your hard drive, then this tip is for you. You can be more creative with drum beat loops by splicing and dicing them instead of just looping them over and over.

  1. Open up Ableton Live, and use one of the the file browsers in the left panel to browse for some loops. This works great for drum beats.
  2. Drop several loops into their own audio tracks. Let’s start with 4 or 5 for now.
  3. Double click on one of the clips and you’ll see a waveform display at the bottom of the screen. To the lower left of the waveform is a tiny “E” buttom, which shows you then Envelope Editor. Click that, and then click the now-visible Volume button (right under the Transpose button).
  4. Now right-click on the waveform to choose the grid size. Select any resolution you want (1/8 or 1/16 is a good start) and press Ctrl + B or Cmd + B to turn on the pencil, and start drawing on the volume envelope. This is a great way to take out parts of drum beats that you don’t like. Try leaving just the kick or just the snare , or maybe just the hi-hats.
  5. If you want to isolate just the hi-hats, another way to do this is to add an EQ and cut the low frequencies. Another fun thing to do is mess with the transpose envelope to pitch certain hits up or down.

    Keep doing this to all of the loops/clips. Now when you play them together simultaneously, you should have a drum beat that is a mashup of many different loops.

  6. Now if you want to record all these beats together to create a single loop, the easiest way to do this is to create a new audio track and make sure the “I-O” button on the right is on. Now turn monitor to “off” to avoid any feedback issues, then change the “Audio From” to “Master”. Arm the track with the red button at the bottom of this audio track, make sure all your tracks are playing, and then click record (either in the session view or the arrangement view). Let it loop once or twice then stop recording. Now you should have a clip that is a recording of your mashup beat.