Sunday, August 26, 2018

And again ... the Best Octatrack Tutorial is ...

... Thavius Beck's "Elektron 203" tutorial on I watched this before my OT Mk2 came it and it helped me get ready, but I took the time this weekend to run through it again. A "beginner's mind" approach, you dig? And it hit me again - for all of the YouTube surfing I'd done to try to become more comfortable about this box, it's this MPV video that works for me.

Thavius Beck, the longtime Ableton Live and Bitwig demo dude, combines his natural laid-back delivery with a beautifully-organized walk-through of the device - and of making it work for a reasonably experienced producer-type of person. He never talks down, always enlightens and really drew me in as a fan with this tutorial. Working with the OT is part of my 'daily practice' (which some of you might have heard about on my recent Podular Modcast episode), having something like this MPV video as a learning tool is a fantastic resource.

Thanks Thavius! (Ooh - I need to get him on the podcast, right?)


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Why The Norns?

So - it's not really modular, it's not an MPC, why get into the norns world? It is a pretty easy choice for me - because of a few things that were done brilliantly in this device:

  • Despite being a Raspberry Pi in sheep's clothing, it doesn't feel like a Pi - or anything else that would be draped in big, primary-color educational world. It feels like an electronic music instrument, and that changes my approach to the thing. It feels right - like everything that comes out of the monome labs.
  • It's got just enough, and not too much. Three encoders, three buttons. A 128x64 screen. Two inputs and two outputs. But four USB jacks means it can be extended to hell-and-back (but doesn't need to be), and the included USB networking nub means that I can attack it from anywhere.
  • It's battery-powered, which is becoming more important to me at each turn. It can be played on the back porch, charged up on the iPod station in the living room, and ready to go when I have to do that darned Wisconsin run.
  • The scripting programming language (Lua) is extended with some smart libraries by the monome crew, and many of the subtle edge cases all seem to be done right. I spent a little time this morning (woke up at 4am, so I had some personal time...) working with MIDI, and it had a minimal library that just worked to plan. I love it when that happens.
  • The backing engine is all Supercollider, which sounds a lot different than any of the instruments I'm currently using. A nice addition to my system.
All these things lead me to a system I not only love, but I look forward to working on. I'm enjoying Lua (in fact, it got me to fire up the implementation for some Max experimentation, and to buy a nice little book on Lua. Not everyone is going to look as a scripting language as a anchorpoint for fun, but it is for me.

I'm loving it, and finding myself already making some music with it - one week in. I have yet to dive into MLR very much; I'm hoping to do so this weekend. In any case, there's my view of it; I hope it can help inform you!


Thursday, August 16, 2018

One Simple - but intriguing - Voice

I don't always need the biggest voice possible - sometimes I just need a thing to follow along with the Teletype's burblings, or a third voice for squeaky noises, or just a simple melody line. I recently got an ALM MUM M8 filter, and ran across a good deal on a Braids - and was trying to wedge them into my system. I was mapping things out on Modular Grid when, low and behold, I realized that (with the built-in VCA) I had the better part of a synth voice with these two modules.

Given that I could situate them near a Maths, it was a no-brainer to give it a try - and what success! The MUM is based off the digital filters of Akai samplers, and it's a really appropriate match for the digital voicing of the Braids. This is especially true when I use some of the weirder voices of the MI oscillator (like the RING, FOLD or VOSM voicings) as well as with the FM implementations. The bright and raw sound of the M8 matches perfectly, and I'm finding myself using it as more than my 'third leg' - instead, it's becoming a peculiar (but useful) primary voicing choice.

So there you go - sorta the opposite of the analog purity of a modular, and more like the digital inevitability that I was going to succumb to! Yet another sweet+sour corner of my system. Whee!