LoFi Buttery Piano – Akai MPC X Program

Let me start by explaining the patch a bit, and how I got here…

Life started off on the Akai S950, using piano multi samples from G1 through C4, every sixth note… My goal was to get some of that S950 12-bit grit and artifacts, but still keep it relatively free of the crazy stretching artifacts you can get by just sampling a single note and stretching it across the entire keyboard. This way, it maintains a lot of the characteristics of a piano, instead of heading into the field of creating what sounds like a more synthetic instrument.

From here, I routed the audio output into my guitar pedal board. The output on the S950 was a bit hot coming out of the mix channel though, requiring me to get the output level down to about halfway so that I wasn’t hearing any clipping or distortion on the output signal from the S950. A little bit of strategic EQ’ing helped to round out the sound through Brothers, I wanted to get a bit of that old school Casio sound, though I don’t have one handy any more for reference, so I was going from memory what of “that sound” was.

Once I settled into how I wanted to EQ the audio, I routed it to the Generation Loss. You’ll definitely hear the Flutter the most, but there is some Wow in the background as well. I also switched on the Noise, I really wanted it to sound like the piano was recorded from an old school tape that had been played quite a bit, and the tape player was about to fall apart. This definitely shines through in the samples recorded.

Everything was sampled in through the Autosampler on the MPC X, and here I recorded every note, as I didn’t want the Wow or Flutter distortion to get further distorted through the sampling engine on the MPC. Although the noise exists in the samples, I decided to tame it a bit by adding a low pass filter into the program. It helps pass through that strained sound without the piano sounding so harsh. If you want to add the noise back in just go into program mode and modify KeyGround->All and open that filter up.

Anyway, feel free to play around with this program, I had fun sampling it, and may end up adding some variations as I play around with it. I’m not sure you can tune anything to it or with it, but it definitely has a vibe all its own.

Who’s Home – PO-33 #Jamuary

I’m not really happy with this, but I also had a bit of a gap for #Jamuary. Guess it was too much to think I’d put something together every day. On the other hand, it is freeing to have just taken a few takes, and going for the best of them so that I can move on.

There really isn’t anything too special here, and I actually sampled way more than I ended up using. Some of the other tracks I’ve posted I’ve been thinking of going back and actually tracking them out and mixing them up a bit, but this one I was super into last week, and now it just kind of falls flat for me.

Another thing of note, I decided not to use any of the PO-33 FX, and it was probably the right call in this case, I wasn’t exactly feeling the track, and while the PO-33 FX can add some fun, it helps to enjoy jamming with the track.

My last note, I usually spend time balancing out the guitar pedal effects, but you can very clearly hear that the audio levels bounce around. I am not proud of this, but again, probably best to just get something down and out sometimes. It’s now time to move on from this track and start recording in some more samples 😀

Heavens Gate – OP-1 Track

I’ve had this audio sitting on my OP-1 for a while (okay two weeks), and while I’d like to have sampled and chopped it up some, I figured I’d send it out into the universe. I had sent the loops over to my father and brother in-law to see if either of them wanted to try and play some guitar over it. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. Maybe they were too intimidated, I mean this is super awesome! If you’re interested in playing around with or adding something to this track, I’d love to hear it, so link something in the comments!

For those who are curious, this was created by playing a couple of sounds from Reason, I wanted to check out some piano sounds and effects, as well as the Humana Vocal Ensemble. I played the two different tracks at different speeds, and ultimately ended up slowing the OP-1 tracks down six semitones. Running at 1:1 speed it’s a bit too chipper, but I still find this track to sound uplifting and fun.

I think there something interesting that can be done on the PO-33, so don’t be surprised if you hear this coming up in another song in the future!

No More Technology – #Jamuary

No eurorack modules were harmed in the making of this video. The PO-32 (Tonic) makes up the drums, the PO-35 (Voice) is how I got the “No More Technology” hook, and… the lead/bass came from some Eurorack mess. I recorded all of this into Ableton Live for some FX processing. All of this was recorded back in October/November, and I’ve meant to create a finished track.

In the spirit of #Jamuary though, I figured I’d break out some gear and refine the track a bit more. I’m really trying to cap myself to about 30-60 minutes of production time this month for each song. This is good in some ways because it’s forcing me to get ideas down, but it is bad in a few other ways since I’m really not mixing/mastering anything. Leaving this track with a bit more of a tinny sound than I’d like, but hey it is what it is.

I used to be a master with Ableton Live back in the day, but I haven’t touched it much lately. First, I have been kind of a hardware snob… so there’s that. Second, most of my productions were done between Live 1.1 and Live 6.0. I’ve really fallen quite behind in a lot of features, so I’m going to have to learn the software again.

Its my Jam – PO-33 Track

The image is courtesy of a road trip I did with my family from the East Coast out to Montana. On the way back we stopped at an amethyst mine, and I got some really cool pictures of some older beat up vehicles. There was some really cool stuff going on here, and we got some neat amethyst crystals to bring back home with us.

As for the song, nothing too fancy here, just using samples of thumps and bumps from everyday objects. A lot of the magic is just pitching things up and down, using filters… and then just jamming it out. I’m going to stick with the PO-33 a bit longer, but a lot of the initial magic playing around with the FX again is a bit gone, it has now gone from being novel to producing some pretty similar sounds to my ear. The device is still fantastic, and it might just be time for me start considering what I am going to move on to for a device to keep going on making tracks.

This is also another track I struggled with sounding like two different songs from the two four bar patterns I created. To remedy this I tried to create a couple two bar transitional sections to get it a bit more under control. I’m pretty happy with the results, and decided to take it for a spin through the Chase Bliss Audio effect monster. I’m pretty happy with it, but I think it’s time for me to play around with the ordering of the pedals soon. They weren’t put into any particular order other than what I thought might be interesting a couple of months ago.

I don’t think I have hit the end of creativity with this little device by any means, and I’ve definitely spit out more content in the last week than I have in the last few months, but it is also what it is. Maybe I’ll try and knock out another six to ten tracks, and actually write up more thoughts on it. Where I am is perhaps just a six or seven day slump. Too much creative energy expended?

Glass Mythology – PO-33 Track

The image comes courtesy of a business trip to Bangalore. The pool with the blue lights looked amazing so I had to take a picture. I’ll have to keep an eye out for more of these eye catching images… and maybe I can do a better job getting a “live” photo on my phone… or a video… so I can work out some neat video tricks versus just having a video of me clicking on guitar pedals and such.

The friendship bracelet is courtesy of my daughter. While my wife has been away on vacation, my daughter decided to make friendship bracelets for the family. She has taken it away a few times, when I’ve been more parent than friend, but for the time being I have it back 😀

The plucking string/harp sound really kicked off this song. I heard it, and new I had to use it in a song. For whatever reason it reminded me of the glass bells sound you used to find in a lot of older hip hop songs, which meant this had to be a hip hop track. I mean seriously… listen to that sound, in all its glory!

Today I really only constructed ten patterns. Two four bar loops, and a couple of transition/drop patterns. I liked how it came out, but it felt like it needed a bit more FX so I processed it through my mad Chase Bliss Audio science lab. Mistakes were made in the recording of this track, but an artist is supposed to take the mistakes a build on them. I’ve built a tower!

Listening to the track again, I think the Condor could have been used to reinforce the bass for most of the track, the bass is a bit wimpy and could use some additional oomph. The Wombtomb added some really awesome phaser effects, but you’ll hear when I was turning the knob the slow sounds great, the fast sounds great, the middle part… not so much. When I practiced a little to get some good knob settings, I definitely got some great sounds out of the Generation Loss, but I wasn’t as impressed in the recording… I am chocking it up to the difference between Wow and Flutter, and I picked the wrong one in the recording. Well Generation Loss wasn’t bad, I just know it can do better. What else? Oh, Mood scares me in live situations… I had some really cool sounds when I was practicing, but it is totally hit or miss when you’ve got complex sounds going and when you engage/disengage the sample really matters. This try, Mood missed… *sigh*… some day I will learn to control it better.

Afternoon Breeze – PO-33 Track

The image is from my daughter. While we took a trip out to Montana she kept borrowing my phone to take strange pictures with odd filters. This is one of many featuring one of our dogs. It looked intense enough to be a good track image. Enjoy the image of my dog slowly zooming in while listening to a electro song plays!

Funny thing… I was going to do another house track, and I’m not sure I’d place it quite in that genre, is it electro house? I don’t think it is fast enough for Techno… Somebody who has more refined taste might be able to clarify the music genre for me. I just thought it sounded cool!

I did give an honest try to using the existing patterns as I said I would, and it sounded like pure garbage. If I took the time to think about the PO-33 sample layout I could probably get something passable, but as it exists, the trial was a failed experiment. Doh… but hey I learned something that I sort of already knew.

What really bit me producing this track was the limit of 4 voices, I have a whopping five samples, and when I added in my next track section… oh boy, it was dropping notes all over the place. This sounded bad, so I essentially just removed one of the instruments. It gives it a nice transition without having obliterating the structure like I have done a few times in past tracks making it sound like several songs.

A key component here is that I started by chaining 4 patterns together, and then recorded content in real time as the beat played out. With sixteen patterns, this gives you room to record four four bar measures, or two eight bar measures if you so desire. In this case I went with four by four, and it worked well, but didn’t leave any room for intros, drops or other glue sounds. As a result, I’d say the track is a bit less dynamic, but on the other hand feels a bit more together.

As usual… here’s the backup of the PO-33 if you want to play around: