Posts tagged howto
Synthesis Made Simple
Sound treatment

I've been busy lately re-doing my “studio” (aka office). First thing was to get a new desk (out with the Jerker, in with the Galant). After that it was an Eina night stand and a Galant drawer unit. The most recent thing has been building my own acoustic panels to deaden the sound in here a bit for better mixing and recording:

IMG_5635

I had researched acoustic panels a bunch and there was a ton of conflicting information out there. It wasn't until I found this great how-to that it seemed approachable. The big issue for me was that the rigid fiberglass Americans use is Owens Corning 703 or 705 and figuring out what the equivalent was up here in Canada was difficult. (Turns out it's OFI 48).

After locating the right rigid fiberglass, I found some black muslin fabric and cut up some plywood I had laying around. I've made two panels so far – the second one is far uglier than the first because I am not skilled, but both of them provide a startling amount of sound dampening. I've been making non-sound nerds speak against my regular wall and then into the panels and they've been shocked at the difference even if they don't care about acoustics.

I'm going to build a few bass traps for behind my monitors and then a few free-standing panels I can move around and use for whatever and then I should be good for a while.

LED belt buckle guitar

A while back I thought it would be cool to install one of those LED belt buckles in my guitar. And now my dream has finally become reality:

It was easier to do than I thought. Take one slightly abused guitar:

 

Take one LED belt buckle:

Flip the LED belt buckle over and there's a piece jutting out that's supposed to go into your belt:

Drill a hole in your guitar (not too big or the buckle will flop around):

Push the belt buckle into the hole.

Video:

It's pretty sturdy but I'll probably tie it to my guitar strap hook to make sure it stays attached to the guitar if it falls out. Also I may install a switch so I don't have to pull it out to turn it on and off.

Brad Turcottegear, howto, idea
Configuring Windows for Maximum Performance Follow-up

There were some great replies to my CDM question about configuring a laptop for live performance. The best stuff:

  • Autoruns - I hadn't heard of this program but I'll certainly be using it from now on. You can monitor and alter your loaded drivers, DLLs, services, startup programs and much much more. Great stuff.
  • MusicXP.net - This site has a lot of great tuning techniques for audio.
  • XPLite - I mentioned this in my question along with nLite but one person recommended XPLite.
  • Process Explorer - I've been using Process Explorer for at least a year now and it's fantastic, I can't go back to the default Windows XP task manager.
  • Process Monitor - I haven't tried this one but it looks useful.

And there's this awesome tip from art:

Ableton Live custom windows interface

When I use Live in a live environment, I run it as a ‘Custom user interface’ or ’shell’ in Windows XP Professional. Basically what this is if you aren’t familiar with it, is replacing Explorer with Live as a shell. This means there is no desktop environment, no taskbar, no start menu, no applets running, etc.

There are many advantages to this when using Live - improved stability, free memory, improved performance, etc. The disadvantage is you lose a practical way to multi-task. (But who needs multi-tasking when you only need to run Live live?)

To accomplish this in Windows XP Pro, type ‘gpedit.msc’ in the run command. This brings up the ‘Group Policy Editor’. Under ‘User Configuration’ / ‘Administrative Templates’ / ‘System’, there is a setting called ‘Custom user interface’. By default this setting is ‘Not Configured’ (meaning Explorer).

If you select ‘Enabled’ and type in the path to Live (or any application), Windows will boot into Live upon startup without anything else running.

You must include parenthesis if the path to Live contains spaces - ex. “C:\Program Files\Ableton\Live x.xx\Program\Live x.xx.exe”.

Restart computer!

If you do the above & wish to change the setting back, just hit CTRL+ALT+DEL to bring up the Task Manager, hit New Task (Run), type ‘gpedit.msc’ and change the setting back to ‘Not Configured’. Restart and you’re back to Explorer. If you use a sound device that requires an applet to be running all the time, then I don’t really know what your success will be. I used to use an Emagic EMI USB card that installed itself as a system service and always ran at boot-up. I never had any problems running Live as a shell. If you decide to give it a shot, it won’t mess up your system in any way. If for instance you enable this setting & the path or program is not found upon boot-up, Windows$ will load the default Explorer shell.

Hardcore! This is an awesome tip and the sort of thing I was looking for. I used to use Litestep and some other Explorer shell replacements so I know how bulky just having Explorer running is. And pointless if all you're doing is running one program.

I do wonder if it'd be better to use that approach but also dual boot to protect against whatever crap is already in your registry, pointless drivers and services, etc.

Thanks to Peter for posting my questions and for the readers for dropping knowledge like bombs

liveBrad Turcottegear, howto
Solo Singer/Songwriter Ableton Live Setup

I think I may be able to declare success in the singer/songwriter versus Ableton Live and the Behringer FCB1010 Midi pedal board. It took a lot of thinkin'. I can't say this is the best way, but I've got it working and boy will it be boring for you to read about! So here's what I wanted:

  1. My songs divided up into scenes (verse, chorus, etc) and for Live to automatically advance through them with no input from me.
  2. A pedal that repeats the current scene (for those extended solos or when I screw stuff up).
  3. A pedal that plays the previous scene.
  4. A pedal that advances to the next scene.
  5. For Live to control my Boss GT-6 guitar effects throughout the arrangement.
  6. For Live to automatically apply effects to my voice throughout the arrangement.

Here's the screenshot of my live Dirtbag set in Live for those who want to follow along at home:

Also used: Midi Yoke and two instances of Bome's MIDI Translator.

SCENE FOLLOWING

First thing was to set up automatic scene progression as Live retardedly does not have this functionality. For this I simply selected all the clips in the scene, entered how many bars I wanted it to play for and selected the Next action.

The problem with this method is that if you have gaps in your arrangement (say a section where the bass doesn't play), the missing clip will stop the progression dead in its tracks and nothing else will play on that track.

So you need to pad it out with dummy clips -- all the black clips in the arrangement in the first screenshot. I used a file with a couple seconds of silence and filled all the gaps in with them. That way you can assign follow actions to those clips and it works fine -- but is tedious to set up (and annoying when you're trying to modify your arrangement).

PEDAL TO RESTART THE CURRENT SCENE PART 1

So we're progressing through the scenes automagically now, should be easy to just restart the current scene, right? NO.

Since we're using the individual clip follow actions (as no scene actions exist), when the clips advance to the next scene, the master clip selection does not. Which means that from a remote triggering point of view, Ableton has no idea what scene you're playing. So there's no way to re-trigger what you're currently doing. Awesome!

My hacky solution was to install Midi Yoke and a copy of Bome's Midi Translator. I then made MIDI Track 9: "scene sync" and routed that out to MIDI Yoke's 1st virtual output. I filled the trick with clips playing note C2 at 100 velocity at the very beginning of the clip.

I set up an instance of Bome's Midi Translator to receive on MIDI Yoke's first input and set it to hit the Down cursor key every time it receives note C2 at 100 velocity.

What this means is that if you launch the first scene in the set, the clip in the scene sync track fires a C2 into Bome's Midi Translator which then simulates the user pressing the down cursor key, which moves the currently selected scene down one. So your scene selection will now advance with your song.

PEDAL TO HOLD THE CURRENT SCENE PART 2

Now that Ableton has an idea of what scene we're playing while we're advancing automatically through the scenes, what we want is actually possible.

First I switched the Select Next Scene on Launch preference off. Then I mapped my Midi pedals on the FCB to another instance of Bome's Midi Translator with the input set to my regular Midi port:

So these are set to the keypresses relative to where our follow scene puts our cursor (which is always one scene below the currently playing scene):

  • Repeat scene = Up + Enter
  • Next scene = Enter
  • Previous scene = Up + Up + Enter

CONTROLLING MY GUITAR EFFECTS AUTOMATICALLY

This one's easy enough. I created a "gt6" Midi track and set the output to my Midi controller going into my Boss GT-6. After that all you have to do is send program changes:

Look in the Notes section in the middle. Bank / Sub-Bank, Program. Program is set to 4, so this clip will jump my GT-6 to its fourth patch when it starts.

CONTROLLING MY VOCAL EFFECTS AUTOMATICALLY

This isn't so bad either. I made a vocals audio track, set the input to my microphone and switched Monitor - In on so that my vocals are always heard. Then I filled the channel with empty MIDI clips. I then can modify the clip automation where I want to add effect -- turn insert effects on or off, modify variables, modify sends, etc.

For now I chose to map my FCB expression pedals to the sends so that I can mess with my vocal effects if I want to, adding delay whenever I feel like it, etc. I'll think about this more during actual performances.

THE END

Well, it works. I can have the backing tracks going, play guitar and sing, have Ableton modify my guitar patches and vocal effects automatically and I can alter the arrangement on the fly as well as my vocal effects with my feet -- but holy lord.

Ableton Live is nice and all, but that was hard and I still haven't combined everything into one big set (because Live has no ability to switch between sets via Midi). I've made three sets for different songs of mine now and have tried to keep the track template the same so hopefully that will help.

I'm also not sure how I'll be able to jump between songs as I've started to dislike doing pre-planned sets when I play live. Possibly I'll wind up programming a bank on the FCB per song, so I can switch songs by switching banks.

I get the impression the folks at Ableton could use some more time around singer-songwriter types and full bands. They've got the DJs covered, time to see what the other lads need because while the features lacking are tremendously important, I can't imagine it's actually very much code-wise.

Adding scene follow actions would simplify this entire process a ton and seems easy. Also building in a MIDI->keyboard macro system like Bome's Midi Translator also seems trivial and would add a ton of flexibility to the program.

Now I'm pretty sick of saying the word "clip". That is all.