I’m finding that I am really interested in modular synths, especially the idea of driving them with step-sequencers. Sometimes using a traditional piano keyboard and editing midi is no fun. When I troll the user library on the Reaktor site, I download all the oddball sequencers I can find. Inspired by this terrific video of The Subliminal Kid, I thought I’d just set up something in Reaktor and record the output.
This is the Monoliner sequencer running a patch in Carbon. The drums are a simple set-up in SineBeats. I mixed them together with a little mixer and recorded it in RecorderBox. It was more than five minutes long so I edited a bit in Ableton and added a little BeatRepeat in the middle part.
I have books on deadline, but I’d spend an entire week doing this if I could.
Here are a couple pieces that I made in 2003. They’re among my first attempts with this stuff and with Reason. Most of the sounds you hear are my voice in ReDrum. The other sounds, like the bells, are from the NN-XT sampler.
The second piece was used a soundtrack in an animation I made in early 2004.
The video is from last August, 2008. The main melody was one of my many hundreds of little unfinished 4-bar pieces of things that I have tucked in my Ableton folder. When I shot this video, I knew I needed something perky. I randomly opened a few Ableton projects and came across this one called at the time “Beep Repeat.” Yes, I name things so that months later I have zero idea what they are.
It got elaborated upon and after messing with the timing, it fit pretty much perfectly. A friend said it sounds like busy.
A soundtrack for a snowfall, in honor of the storm that came through here yesterday. The electric piano is Ableton’s “Electric” synth, and the whirly odd reverby noises in the second half are from that loop being dragged through my Korg Kaoss Pad.
And the video it goes with. Please forgive the overly long intro.
I first discovered Reason back in 2003 and spent a good deal of time playing with the demo of version 2.5. I was working on an animated promo for a book I had written and illustrated that was to be shown at a French book festival in Paris. With the idea of “driving” in mind, I meant to make something that would feel like it was in motion. This song, Drive, was the result. Eventually, it got replaced as the soundtrack to that animation, and I spent a little time making different versions of it over the years.
In 2005 I made one with a more synthy beepy feel. I used Reason for this as well, this time with Matrix running Malström for the bell in the background, and Subtractor as the main synthesizer. This was used by my friend Barbara as a soundtrack to a movie she made for a graduate thesis project. It worked well for that.
Two years later, I had made a little movie following my son around a playground on our bikes and I needed a soundtrack. So once again, I repurposed “Drive.” This time, I exported the MIDI from Reason and brought it into Ableton Live, using Operator as the main synthesizer. I added drums and made it much more complicated.
Here are the three versions of “Drive,” followed by the movie that used the third version as a soundtrack.
“Robot Daughter” is basically two samples, one of my daughter saying “I am robot daughter” and one of me saying “I am robot daddy”. Here is the former: [audio:robotdaughter.mp3|titles=”robot daughter sample”]
The files were chopped up in Recycle, then sequenced first in Reason, then in Live. I’m a big fan of the stutter-edit and this was my first try at using it.
[audio:robot-daughter.mp3|titles=”Robot Daughter”|artists=Dance Robot Dance]
I also have a thing about running vocal samples through various effects and recording the results. The idea is that if I listen closely, and if I’m as creative as I like to think I am, I’ll be able to use it in something later. This is the robot daughter sample looped in a Reaktor sample-player ensemble called “Pitchfomer.”
I recorded the results as I turned the knobs.
I hope to post a lot of this kind of thing in the future. The song, the origin of the song, and variations of themes.
And again, if you have any thoughts on the audio players, feel free to comment.
A remix of HELP ME SOMEBODY, off of the 1981 David Byrne/Brian Eno album “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.” This was done for a compilation of remixes for Marc Weidenbaum’s Disquiet.com. Find more from this project here: archive.org
The synth you hear is Reaktor’s Carbon. Just working the filter cutoff with the LFO until it falls into line with the beat. The idea was something I had in my head this week but I don’t think it’s there quite yet. I ended up with some clipping, for instance. The main idea was working this wave, getting it quantized, and chopping it up.
This was originally created to be a soundtrack for an animation about robots. Yes, robots. Go figure.
Instead it found life accompanying a movie I made in 1997, riding my bike from my apartment in San Francisco to Ocean Beach. Here’s that.