Tag Archives: beats

The Classic Beats.

For all the amazing futuretech I get to use every day, I do love the sound of classic (I hate calling them vintage) drum machines. There’s a neat piece on Wired explaining the importance of some of these classic sounds. I’ve used samples from almost all of these; yet to own any sadly. The closest I have is the MC-303 seen in the Hand At Emotion. It does a great job of emulating the 607/808/909 sounds, way better than most software. Removing my rose-tinted specs for a moment, I have to admit they’re a ball ache to program, but man; nothing sounds quite like an eight oh eight…

More at Wired.

Me + Jess + Ableton Live = Yeah!

My other partner in crime when I’m not working with Lee is of course the wonderfully talented Jess Sutherland. We make a lot of music together, as I’m sure you know…

A while ago Jess showed me a little video of a group called a:squared performing with Ableton Live. It got us both intrigued about the possibilities it offers.

Now that I’m officially an Ableton artist (long story *still* to come) we’ve finally got our hands on the tools to start playing live with Live. This is our first bit of something; a jam through Peggy Lee’s Fever. As you can hear, even our first attempt is a gear change from acoustic guitar and vocals.

Jess is on vocals and percussion live looping, I’m playing piano and beats, and it sounds like this:

Making Electronica Happen Live.

I’ve spent the best of the day trying to solve some basic live sound issues. I need to bring electronic elements into my live set. It’s proving to be a little trickier than I first thought.

The ideal set-up will allow me to manipulate at sequenced beats and basslines, and ideally some synth parts too. I’m specifically trying to avoid pre-programming whole songs, conveyor belt fashion; that’s just a fancy backing track. I need to be able to improvise and change structures; the sequences need to be broken up into verses, choruses, all that stuff. You’re already thinking “well, isn’t Ableton Live what you need?” – you’re right; but I’m trying to avoid laptops in the live setup for now.

I’ve spent a few hours playing with my trusty MC-303 Groovebox, a staple of my studio setup. It *could* be the solution. It sounds great and allows for a lot of live manipulation. Dowwnside, it’s a BALLBREAKER to program. Like, so bad. It would take weeks to prepare even a short set on my current schedule. Not terribly practical.

I’m really holding out for an iPad based solution. There are some amazing music apps out there. Fingerlab’s DM1 drum machine app has replaced all my other drum machiiine plugins. There are some beautiful synths, like Animoog. What I haven’t found yet, is a single app that reliably solves at least the beats and bassline issue. As great as DM1 is, it only offers drums, and is lousy at syncing with other apps. I’m surprised that no developers have squarely aimed at recreating the groovebox workflow. There are a few apps that claim to be just that, but they’re really just toys IMHO.

I’d expect it to be an easy problem to solve. Sequencing basslines and beats at least) in the same app, and easy song structuring. A Groovebox app that works, basically. Suggestions/recommendations most welcome..!


%d bloggers like this: