Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Guitar Processing with MaxMSP

This article over at cycling74 is a few months old now, but is a pretty good intro to using MaxMSP apps to process "real" instruments (a guitar in this case).

It starts off with an overview of the hardware required - guitar (obviously), input device, mixer/pre-amp, etc...

It then takes you through the creation of simple, stomp-box like, effects. The first one is a chorus effect which you basically create by using the existing help files (just a bit of copy and paste).
Other effects created are an "auto-stutter" which samples small snippets of an incoming audio signal and an envelope follower which is used to control the settings for a filter depending upon the level of the audio signal.

Free ProTools plugins

protools blog has a page of free third party plugins for protools.
You need to register (again, free) in order to access certain pages of this blog - in fact most of the good stuff!

There is a large variety of things avaiable - ranging from metering solutions to delays, filters, synths, etc...

If you're a protools user this is probably quite a valuable resources.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Sound of Gears of War

game trailers has a series of "developers diaries" focussing on Gears of War 2.
The vid that follows the above link concentrates on the sound design, effects and music of the game.

There is some good stuff for inspiration both for game sound and for film sound.


spear has been around for a while, but i thought i'd mention it here as its a pretty cool app that allows you to process sounds in a fairly unique way.
" SPEAR is an application for audio analysis, editing and synthesis. The analysis procedure (which is based on the traditional McAulay-Quatieri technique) attempts to represent a sound with many individual sinusoidal tracks (partials), each corresponding to a single sinusoidal wave with time varying frequency and amplitude.

Something which closely resembles the original input sound (a resynthesis) can be generated by computing and adding all of the individual time varying sinusoidal waves together. In almost all cases the resynthesis will not be exactly identical to the original sound (although it is possible to get very close).

Aside from offering a very detailed analysis of the time varying frequency content of a sound, a sinusoidal model offers a great deal of flexibility for editing and manipulation. SPEAR supports flexible selection and immediate manipulation of analysis data, cut and paste, and unlimited undo/redo. Hundreds of simultaneous partials can be synthesized in real-time and documents may contain thousands of individual partials dispersed in time. SPEAR also supports a variety of standard file formats for the import and export of analysis data."

spear is free and available for both windows and mac

Sunday, 21 September 2008

the new yorker has quite a nice introductory article on the use of laptops as performance instruments.
the journalist describes the approach a few different acts use including radiohead, battles, bjork amongst others.

here's a vid of battles live on jools...

Saturday, 20 September 2008

shatner goes electro

Now that's a title to make you wanna watch...!

This vid comes via waveformless

I like this as it shows what can be done with a little bit of simple processing; splicing and some pitch shifting.

Tom from waveformless suggest these videos as related viewing:
Timber by Coldcut

check out the related videos sidebar on this one for other food stuff

and this one of Dubyah's dad "singing" We Will Rock You

Friday, 19 September 2008

foley actors live

here's a video of a couple of foley actors performing live on TV in america.
The presenter is narrating the story of goldilocks and the 3 bears whilst the two foley artists create all of the sound effects.
Its an interesting look at how these guys produce the sound effects for films.

free xfading / gating fx

faderratic is a free fx plugin that produces crossfades with "a mind of their own". It provides parameters for changing the fade shape, length, frequency and probability of the fades.
Its a windows only plugin unfortunately. Something to bear in mind is that it's a multi-channel input effect so if your DAW doesn't support this feature it can only be used as an autogate effect (ie xfading to silence).

Could be worth a little look if you're into your autogate effect.

johnny greenwood using maxmsp

a short little video of radiohead's johnny greenwood being all "crazy" and using maxmsp to process his guitar playing in a live performance.
It sounds like the software is sampling the signal from his guitar and chopping it into sections and then jumping around within these samples and repeating some of them to produce a kind of stuttering effect. Its obviously kept in time with the drums (drummer may be playing to a click track) to ensure that the loops and slices are in time.

The principles of the patch are not that complex, but to create a patch that can be used easily and reliably takes quite a bit of thought.

the amen break

This video details the origin, history and use of the most sampled break - the Amen Break.
Its a reasonable length (18mins) and the video is a little odd (you'll see what I mean), but its a good narrative which helps to highlight the creative possibilities of sampling - it's pretty amazing the number of variations that can be achieved from one sample.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

An Interview with Hans Tammen - Endangered Guitar

There's a good interview here on the cycling74 website with Hans Tammen who is an experimental guitarist who has been using MaxMSP for a number of years to process his guitar in live performances.
In the interview he discusses his early forays into processing using stomp boxes and how he moved into the world of Max.
Hans also works at the non-profit educational facility "Harvestworks" in New York where he teaches the use of Max for a variety of performance and installation purposes.

Worth a quick read to see how "professional performers" are using MaxMSP in their live setups.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

jamie lidell

Jamie Lidell uses a custom maxmsp program to manipulate his vocals when performing live as you can see in the above video.
I like the video as it's pretty easy to see and hear what he is doing to his voice.

You can find plenty of videos of Jamie performing live on youtube.

There's a video interview of Jamie on the cycling74 website in which he discusses his use of maxmsp.


atomswarm is
"a framework for performance and composition, based on swarming behaviours similar to those seen in flocks of social animals. It can be thought of as a self-organising ecosystem, whose structure is internally regulated by limited resource availability and each agent's pursuit of internal homeostasis.

Sonic behaviours are determined by each agent's genetic disposition, the relationships between agents, and the population's continued evolution over time."

I saw a performance/demo of this software at a conference and was impressed. Whilst it can sometimes be hard to associate the onscreen movements with the generated sound, the majority of the time things do make sense. The output of the system looks and sounds very impressive.
At the website you can find links to video and audio as well as a description of the project along with examples of the code used.
The site also contains info on the developers other projects

wiiloop machine v2.0

This is hardly a new video (originally from January) but I thought I'd stick it up as its a pretty good demo of live performance software which utilise gestural control.
The wiiloop software allows you to record up to 4 tracks into the software and then turn these on and off as you loop through. You can use the wii-mote to control sample playback, effects processing, pitch control, etc...

Wii Loop Machine 2.0 :: Sampling! from The Amazing Rolo on Vimeo.


been cleaning out some of my bookmarks...

If you're into using software like ableton live or other pieces of software such as maxmsp for live performances then this website may be of interest to you.
It has a bunch of resources related to the art of "controllerism"
"Controllerism is the art of manipulating sounds and creating music live using computer controllers and software.
This website is a collection of information and resources for the controllerist community."

You can find videos where artists discuss their approach to using software and controllers in a live situation, as well as links to a great deal of related websites.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

star wars: a new sound

just been reading this article on film sound.
It's pretty interesting.
its aimed primarily at the re-working of the original star wars soundtrack and Ben Burtt. It discusses a bit of Burtt's history and how he got started in the business and then moves onto discuss some of the processes and technical issues involved in the re-working of star wars.
The article then goes onto talk about some of the work that Burtt's contemporaries from that time have done since.

There are discussions of how certain sounds were produced and the roles of the various people involved in the creation of a soundtrack.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

vocal processing

audiotuts have put together a little tutorial on processing vocal recordings in order to improve their sound.
The article takes you through the use of gates, EQ, reverb, delay, de-essers, pitch correction, compression and groups.

It doesn't really tell you anything new, but its a well written and concise tutorial with good audio examples

Interactive electronics tutorials

I've recently started my first circuit bending project - a Yamaha DD-20. This may be a little complex for a first project, but it was the first suitable thing I found!
Anyway, my electronics is a little rusty so I've been doing some searching for tutorials to refresh myself.

I found a pretty comprehensive set of online interactive tutorials on various aspects of electronics.
They are pretty good and take you through a wide variety of topics and each section has a little test at the end so you can check you've actually learnt something.

learning maxmsp blog

Chris Wickett (from musicradar.com) has decided to learn MaxMSP and is documenting his progress at musicradar.

His first 2 posts can be found at:

"I've decided to share my experiences over a long-term blog, documenting the progress of an average music maker in learning what's regarded by many as the most powerful yet complicated music software in the world. I'll send back postcards containing everything for hints and tips, resources I stumble upon, stories of my failures and trophies of any success. My goal is to find out whether Max/MSP can be learnt by anyone, how easy it is, and, crucially, is it worth it?"

If you're new to Max or thinking of getting to grips with it, it'd be worth keeping an eye on Chris's progress as I imagine you'll find it interesting (not least because it'll be nice to know that other people find it difficult at first!!!) and useful if he keeps his promise of tips, etc...

Chris has updated his blog with his first ever max patch! He's produced a relatively simple theremin-style which is controlled by the x,y position of the mouse.
There's a video of his patch in action.

Chris has been working away on his theremin patch and has learnt about sub-patches, and the presentation mode, amongst other things. He offers a few tips on how he improved his instrument and provides some nice sounding audio examples of it in action.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Kontakt: Sample Start Modulation

A nice little Kontakt tip from waveformless.
Use a MIDI cc (eg the mod wheel) to vary the start position of your sample as you are playing. This works best if you are using a sample which has quite a bit of variety within it, especially in terms of timbre.

"1. Find a long, resonant sweep synth sample online, or if you have a hardware synth, record your own.
2. Import the sample into Kontakt and set the root key so that it is in tune.
3. Beneath the instrument header, click the small green box marked 'Modulation' in the lower lefthand corner. This will open the modulation section for the sampler module itself. In this section, the grey drop down menu on the left represents the modulation source (ie what you use to change the sound). The slider in the middle represents the amount of modulation this source will apply when it is activated. Finally, the drop down menu on the far right represents the Modulation Destination, or what you specifically want to modulate.
4. What destinations are available is dependent on which of the sampler types (ie DFD, Sampler, Time Machine, Tone Machine) you are using. In order to do sample start modulation, you have to select the Sampler module (assuming it is defaulted to DFD).
5. In the Modulation section, select 'midi CC' as your source and change the number in the window next to it to '1'. This selects the modulation wheel as your Source.
6. Move the modulation amount slider fully to the right. You may have to adjust this, as the appropriate setting depends on the speed and length of the sweep sample.
7. Finally, select 'Sample Start' as your Modulation Destination from the drop down menu to the right."

Friday, 5 September 2008

New ProTools blog

ProtoolsBlog is a relatively new blog devoted to ProTools. It is written by Scott Church who both an end user and a "software strategist" at digidesign.

He posts lots of tutorial videos on using the various features of protools and other interesting related articles.

If you use protools its definitely worth checking out!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Sending & Receiving SMS within Processing

via digital tools I found this site by Bryan Chung who has ported a java library for communicating with SMS messages into code suitabel for use with Processing.

I have been gently looking for something like this for a while as it could come in handy for use in installations - origianlly I was trying to get it to work straight in MaxMSP, but this could be an alternative - it's possible to pass data between Ma xand Processing.

free plugins

The guy who created SoundHack has just announced that he's made 3 delay based effects freely available.

Soundhack is a brilliant little free app that peforms some truly amazing pitch shifting and time stretching effects on audio files.
I've not had chance to try out his new delay effects but if they're anything like soundhack they should be worth a look.
Be sure to check out his other software at his site.

Exploiting Sound, Exploring Silence

Have just stumbled across this article from the New York Time in January.
It is a discusison of the use of sound and music (or lack of it) in the Coen Brothers' "No Country for Old Men". If you've not seen it, go watch it now!!

Some of the most intersting quotes from the article:
"By compelling audiences to listen more closely, this unnervingly quiet movie has had the effect of calling attention to an underappreciated aspect of filmmaking: the use of sound."

"Suspense thrillers in Hollywood are traditionally done almost entirely with music,” he said. “The idea here was to remove the safety net that lets the audience feel like they know what’s going to happen. I think it makes the movie much more suspenseful. You’re not guided by the score and so you lose that comfort zone.”"

"“The essence of sound design is you can’t record the sound,” Mr. Lievsay said. “You have to take a lot of sounds and put them together.""

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Free audio editor

If you're looking for a free audio editor you might want to have a look at wavosaur.
It supports .wav and .mp3 files, has analysis tools, batch processing and VST and ASIO support.
Best of all it doesn't require an installer so could be run from a memory stick!

Interview with Phil Durrant on his use of Reaktor and laptops for performance

On the Kore spinoff pages of Create Digital Music there is an interesting interview with one of the most prolific people on the Reaktor user forum - Phil Durrant (aka "sowari"). In the interview he discusses his approaches to building within Reaktor, his use of the laptop in a performance context and some of his influences.
He makes a pretty strong case for trying to get a smuch interactivity out of the standard laptop (QWERTY keys and trackpad) as possible.

Below is a video of Phil's Trio Sowari.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

creating a matrix-style transition effect

audiotuts has a tutorial which takes you through, step-by-step, how to create a sfx similar to that used in the matrix films when the characters transition between the two different worlds.

The tutorial makes use of various audio processes: EQ, chorus, filtering, reversing, pitch-shifting, reverb.

The end result is not quite as polished as those produced for the matrix films, but it is pretty good - the tutorial also gives a few tips and pointers on variations and refinements that could be made to the process depending on your needs.

free generative sequencer (mac only)

nodal is a free (for non-commercial use) app for developing generative musical systems and transmitting MIDI.
"Nodal is a generative software application for composing music. It uses a novel method for the notation and playing of MIDI based music. This method is based around the concept of a user-defined graph. The graph consists of nodes (musical events) and edges (connections between events). You interactively define the graph, which is then traversed by any number of players who play the musical events as they encounter them on the graph. The time taken to travel from one node to another is based on the length of the edges that connect the nodes."

As Nodal outputs MIDI data it would be interesting to use in conjunction with programs like MaxMSP or pd. You could also use it to control sequencers/DAWs either in the studio or out live.

The Nodal website has a binch of tutorials and examples for you to dig around in.

live sound - what to do..

audiotuts has a fairly lengthy tutorial on things to look out and tips on how to make your life easier when doing the Front of House sound in a live situation.

Its worth a read if you're interested in this area of music tech, or even in a band who play out as you'll then be aware of why the engineer is asking you to do certain things.

One of the most pertinent tips is to wander around the venue while setting up the PA system as this will allow you to check out how the system sounds in different locations and will allow you to compensate for these differences when doing your thing.