NAMM 2006 Day 1

January 20th, 2006
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Yes, it’s once again that time! Winter NAMM 2006. I’ve arrived fashionably late this year, leaving me with only a few hours to see the show on the first day. The first interesting change is the new Propellerheads booth which no longer sits in the highly coveted software row. The new booth is situated to the south in what i call “Limbo”. It’s a space between Hall A and the Arena. The new booth is a cozy bar room setting. The old disco lounge feel has grown up!

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Of course, i had the chance to catch up with my old friends and meet the new crew from Sweden along with the people from Line 6. Magnus Lidström of Sonic Charge maker of the µTonic and developer of the Malström has also come. I was one of the few lucky recipients of the new Tin Tonic edition of the µTonic plug-in which comes packaged in a cool little can. Packaging designed (naturally) by Bitplant.

I took a quick stroll around and ran into Mike Prager, author of the Reason 3.0 Power! book, who is now working for cakewalk. I didn’t have the chance to take a look at the new products, so I’ll head back over today to take a look at Rapture (yet another bitplant GUI). Mike introduced to me his publisher at Thompson who happened to be checking out a demo, who extended an offer for future projects. So maybe another book might be in my future…who knows.

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The day ended with a few drinks at the Electronic Musician Magazine Party. Ben from Camel Audio and Magnus were trading tips on how to deal with Software Piracy. Both guys are basically one man operations who develop software and manage their businesses simultaneously. They don’t have massive profits, nor do they have the budget to contract protection systems, so piracy has had a serious impact on their businesses.

We finished the night off with our regular tradition with the Merkles at this italian restaurant, “Bella Marri” with a Pizza Napolitano: Anchovies, Capers, and Black Olives. Yes it’s really tasty, but only for the gastronomically adventurous :-)

Well I’m off to the show again.

Cirobiq & Random Reasons MP3s

January 15th, 2006

I have these two MP3 files online for a few weeks, but haven’t had the chance to explain what these tracks are all about. Cirobiq is something that took me months to work on. I started working on it while writing back in July 2005. I had the idea of coming up with a strange melodic track that I would mangle using an Oval-ish CD skipping technique. First I tried destroying the CD-R with a magic marker, but the results would cause the error correction to shut the cd player down. I found an old CD player that I was experimenting with and located a few contact points that would induce skipping. I also tweaked with the tracking fine tune controls which led to some interesting results, but nothing was consistent. In the end it was a fun distraction, but led nowhere. Eventually i rendered the clean version and processed it with some analog stuff, but it was not what i had in mind.

Right after I finished writing the Discovering Reason article (on the props site), I started toying with a method of fading between a dry mix of the track and a processed signal. I incorporated an old combi effect patch (that I contributed to Factory Soundbank 3.0) called “Freeze Stutter”, and customized the settings to match the tempo. This added a some but not all of the effect ornaments that I originally had in mind. Then I added yet another effect layer which was also blended using the equal power crossfade technique using a sample and hold combinator patch i devised. The effect is nothing new or spectacular. If one were working in Pro Tools, you would simply copy and paste the audio for several adjacent beats, but with the fader and combi effect, this beat repeating effect is applied in real-time.

Random Reasons also uses the beat repeating effect, but the entire track, including the effect is driven by a series of random LFO curves. For even more tweakhead results, I bumped up the tempo to 480 BPM so the repetitive artifacts shaped into new timbres themselves. This experiment only took a few hours to finish ;-)

Both tracks also use special self-modulating equalizer effects that change the frequency response of passing signals to boost the low frequencies and add some warmth and character. These patches are based around the MClass equalizer, and work in a manner similar to the Vintage RDK with input signal levels inducing subtle changes to the eq center frequencies for an inconsistent/unpredictable “analogish” sound.

Cirobiq.mp3

Random Reasons.mp3

I’m going to work on these patches a bit more and eventually post them.

Equal Power Crossfader

January 14th, 2006

The attenuation characteristics of both the ReMix and MicroMix mixer pan pots is not linear like the crossfade example above, instead the pan pots have a scaled attenuation rate called constant-power or equal-power. The output level of the two panned signals is constant between the left and right channels. The scaled attenuation of the pan pots can be used to create an Equal Power Crossfader.

Follow the link below to read the tutorial and download the example files:

Discovering Reason Article on Building a Crossfader

Not so Happy New Year…

January 12th, 2006

Yes, I’ve been strangely absent from the site, which normally means I’m working on a project. Unfortunately, a seemingly endless series of personal tragedies has occurred. This entry goes a bit off the theme of this site, but I just needed to get this off my chest.

A family friend tragically lost a battle with cancer right before Christmas, and the first few days of the New Year was spent at the hospital as my Grand Uncle George faded. I was busy helping my Grand Aunt and her family work out the details for the services held on Monday night. Now I’m in the 808 State for a couple of days for the funeral of another close family friend who passed away last week.

This is not exactly the way I’ve planned to spend my New Year. So I apologize if I haven’t been able to reply to messages or emails. I’ve just been a little too busy to play technical support.

My Holiday did have a nice moment: I had a really great New Years Eve with my family and friends. Everyone cleaned themselves up, and we went out to enjoy a really lovely dinner and rang in the new years together. It was a great opportunity to become better acquainted with my cousin Jasmine’s new “friend”, Chris. So i did enjoy a few moments of 2006.

Amazon UK Error

January 6th, 2006

the UK version of Amazon has the incorrect book title listed for my book. It says “Power Tools Reason” and inadvertently omitted the “for”. People searching Amazon UK are given an error. If you’re looking “for” the item, it can be found here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0879308613/

Power Tools for Reason 3.0

December 12th, 2005
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For those who placed orders with Amazon.com, it looks like orders have started shipping. Again, I’m sorry for the delay, and I hope people will not be disappointed with the second edition of Power Tools for Reason. The amazon page does not provide all of the accurate information. Pictured here is the actual cover. The number of pages is 294-not including the index which brings the total to 312 pages). Please remember, that my book is NOT INTENDED FOR ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS!

Commonly asked questions fielded my way are “what’s different from the previous edition?” and “is it worth it to pick up another copy?” The short answer is probably not. If you’ve managed to fully grasp the concepts in PTR-2.5, then programming the Combinator should be second nature to you by now.

Most of the projects were merely updated to adopt the Combinator Modulation routings instead of using Control Voltages. For example, the ‘Screamin Filterbank’ project is now a combinator project rather than an overwhelming rack of devices in a song. Naturally there were a few modifications which use the MClass compressor and limiter.

The only aspects which may benefit people who read PTR-2.5 are the new chapter on Mastering, and perhaps the rewritten Dynamics, Synthesizer and Sampler programming chapters.

The chapter on Dynamics is revised to explain the principles of compressors better as well as examples on how to use the features of the MClass compressor and Maximizer. The COMP-01 is still a handy devices and a brief example is included to explain when to use it instead of MClass comp.

The Synthesizer and Sampler chapters now include step-by-step projects which explain how to manipulate parameters to create different timbres from the basic walkthroughs of programming subtractive synthesis patches to FM and Phase Diff on the Subtractor, to creating lush stereo Malström patches. It’s a lot slower paced than the chapter in the first edition, and breaks down the different parameters and how they affect the resulting sound from the Subtractor and Malström. It’s not an exhaustive discussion, but the projects are pretty detailed. The same concept is applied to the Sampler Chapter as well, so that people who have very little experience with samplers can grasp the concepts behind creating a multi-sampled NN-XT patch.

I spent the weekend adapting an excerpt from the book to be published on the Propellerhead Software Website as part of the “Discovering Reason” series. Like the previous article “Filter Up” (misspelled in the reference in the book), published with the release of the first edition, the new article is a bit different with another bonus project not printed in the book. Unlike the book that only provides the procedures for creating the project, the article will have Reason Song files with the completed examples.

If you’re on broadband, please visit the PT-Reason site to see even more examples, and check out the credits for all of the people who contributed to the samples and material included on the CD-Rom. The desktop wallpapers created by my cousin, Miles, are really cool, and are available on the download section of PT-Reason.com.

Oh, and if you’re in San Francisco, you can pick up a copy at Robotspeak!

Corteo

December 9th, 2005

Cirque du Soleil has become somewhat of a holiday tradition. Some people do the nutcracker, but for my friend, Michela, and me, heading over to the pacbell park parking lot is the ticket. This year’s visiting production, “Corteo” was definitely not a disappointment. Despite the subject matter being the death of a clown, the music and tone was anything but somber.

There were some interesting musical highlights to this performance. One scene featured musical water glasses as part of the arrangement. When amplified through the tent the water glass tones created this fantastic ambient texture. The other impressive performance was a whistling virtuoso whose range rivaled a soprano playing the role of Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte. It was quite amazing to see someone whistle at such a high pitch with such control over dynamics.

This kind of performance is about spectacle, but it would be trite without the interesting musical compositions. I’m not one of those people who will go on raving about the music, playing the CD all of the time, but in the context of performance, it really is fantastic. As a gift at the end of the show, we were given copies of the “Delirium” Dance Remix CD which features cirque compositions remixed by the greats like Lil Louie Vega, Roger S, Sasha & Tiësto! It’s quite good.