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An iPad Controller for Ableton That’s Gesture-Friendly, Free: Conductr, Now with X/Y [Gallery]

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

XYimage3

Ableton Live’s iPad-augmented control can take some forms. There are apps that do everything, replicating the mouse so that you can go directly to touch for every single task and avoid your computer completely (Touchable, for instance). There are specialized controllers, which focus on a few tasks or a particular device or Max patch.

And then there’s Conductr, and it’s something a bit different.

First, as of June, it’s free – or freemium, anyway. The free version is limited to four tracks and eleven scenes, but it’s enough to give you a taste. And with user modules, it’s easily a workable complement to other controllers like Push, even without touching the in-app purchases. (That seems to me a use of in-app purchases that actually makes sense.)

But most importantly, Conductr focuses on giving you controls that are well suited to the iPad. This isn’t about the iPad screen pretending to be hardware faders and knobs, or about cramming a mouse-style interface under your fingers. Instead, the Barcelona-based developers of Conductr have made an interface that intentionally does less. It’s cleaner, easier to see, and less crowded. You can leave just a few controls, use gestural controllers, and even set up layouts that don’t require you to look at your iPad. As a keyboardist, and someone who finds the iPad sometimes as clumsy as I do invaluable, it’s great.

And today’s update is really the best development of that concept. The XY-4D is simply the best X/Y controller I’ve seen on the iPad yet. It’s totally user assignable, and makes your iPad into something like a 21st Century, Star Trek-chic KAOSS Pad.

Watch:

There’s a single user-assignable XY-4D pad now free in the free edition of Conductr, so you don’t have to listen to me drone onto it, but here’s what it does:

  • 4 XY units inside
  • Each unit, four parameters (horizontal, vertical, pinch, tap to toggle on/off)
  • Reset, freeze
  • Up to four modules per view (for up to 64 parameters)

XYimage1low

ScreenshotXY-4Dpad29

It’s so nice, in fact, that I’d love to assign this to other tools, too. (Maschine, for instance – though I can do that now within the host, which is probably where I’ll start.)

It’s also great to see them using pinch; hopefully more controllers take advantage of the various gestures possible on iPad.

I hope the developers, PatchWorks, continue on this path. It really does seem better suited to what the iPad is. Let us know how you wind up using it.

Here’s there manifesto, in a recent press release, which I appreciate:

We do not want to replicate hardware on a touchscreen; we want to get maximum advantage of multitouch technology to give musicians the kind of resources that they can’t get from a hardware controller. From an ergonomic interface that adapts to any momentary need —in other words: you only see what you need at any given time— to a gestural mode that allows the user to play without watching the iPad and a modular basis that will permit the app to grow through the addition of complementary modules.

More on the controller and how it works:

And here’s another freebie for you – a loop pack from Hermético and Sr. Click on netlabel Inoquo. It’s pre-mapped to Conductr, so a nice way to explore the tool:

INOQUO’S MINIMAL TECHNO LOOPS FREE PACK

More at their site – and also check out some very nice artist profiles and blog entries; they’ve been rather busy!

http://www.conductr.net

ScreenshotXY-4Dpad11

ScreenshotXY-4Dpad06

XYimage2

The post An iPad Controller for Ableton That’s Gesture-Friendly, Free: Conductr, Now with X/Y [Gallery] appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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How Gestures and Ableton Live Can Make Anyone a Conductor of Mendelssohn [Behind the Scenes]

Friday, August 15th, 2014

effekt_aktion

Digital music can go way beyond just playback. But if performers and DJs can remix and remake today’s music, why should music from past centuries be static?

An interactive team collaborating on the newly reopened Museum im Mendelssohn-Haus wanted to bring those same powers to average listeners. Now, of course, there’s no substitute for a real orchestra. But renting orchestral musicians and a hall is an epic expense, and the first thing most of those players will do when an average person gets in front of them and tries to conduct is, well – get angry. (They may do that with some so-called professional conductors.)

Instead, a museum installation takes the powers that allow on-the-fly performance and remixing of electronic music and applies it to the Classical realm. Touch and gestures let you listen actively to what’s happening in the orchestra, wander around the pit, compare different spaces and conductors, and even simulate conducting the music yourself. Rather than listening passively as the work of this giant flows into their ears, they’re encouraged to get directly involved.

We wanted to learn more about what that would mean for exploring the music – and just how the creators behind this installation pulled it off. Martin Backes of aconica, who led the recording and interaction design, gives us some insight into what it takes to turn an average museum visitor into a virtual conductor. He shares everything from the nuts and bolts of Leap Motion and Ableton Live to what happens when listeners get to run wild.

First, here’s a look at the results:

Mendelssohn Effektorium – Virtual orchestra for Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Museum Leipzig from WHITEvoid on Vimeo.

Creative Direction, GUI and Visuals by WHITEvoid
Interior Design by Bertron Schwarz Frey
Creative Direction, Sound, Supervision Recording, Production, Programming by aconica

CDM: What was your conception behind this piece? Why go this particular direction?

Martin: We wanted to communicate classical music in new ways, while keeping its essence and original quality. The music should be an object of investigation and an experimental playground for the audience.

The interactive media installation enables selective, partial access to the Mendelssohn compositions. The audience also has the opportunity to get in touch with conducting itself. They can easily conduct this virtual orchestra without any special knowledge — of course, in a more playful way.

It was all about getting in touch with Mendelssohn as a composer, while leaving his music untouched.

The idea for the Effektorium originated in the cooperation between Bertron Schwarz Frey Studio and WHITEvoid. WHITEvoid worked on the implementation.

What was your impression of the audience experience as they interacted with the work? Any surprises?

Oh yes, people really loved it.

The audience during the reopening was pretty mixed — from young to old. Most people were very surprised what they are able to do with the interactive installation. I mean, everything works in real time, so you would have direct feedback on whatever you’re doing. The audience could be an active part — I think that’s what people liked the most about it.

effekt_kids

Visitors can also just move around within the “orchestra pit” in order to listen to the individual instruments through their respective speakers. This creates the illusion of walking through a real orchestra. Normally you are not allowed to do that in a real concert situation. So this was also a big plus, I would say.

I saw a lot of happy faces as people played around with the interactive system and as they walked around within the installation room.

Can you explain the relationship of tracking/vision and sound? How is the system set up?

There are basically two computers connected to each other and communicating via Ethernet to run the whole system. The first computer runs custom-made software, built in Java and OpenGL, for the touchscreen, Leap Motion control (via its Java SDK), and the whole room’s lighting and LED/loudspeaker sculptures. Participants can navigate through various songs of the composer and control them.

The second computer is equipped with Ableton Live and Max for Live. Ableton Live is the host for all the audio files we recorded at the MDR Studio in Leipzig, with some 70 people and lots of help. We had specific needs for that installation, for both the choir and the orchestra sounds. So everything had to be very isolated and very dry for the installation, which was very unusual for the MDR Studio and their engineers and conductor.

Within Live, we are using some EQs, the Convolution Reverb Pro, and some utility plug-ins. That’s it, more or less. Then there is a huge custom-made Max Patch/Max for Live Patch … or a couple of patches, to be exact.

effekt_wideview

We decided to just work exclusively with the Arrange view within Live. So this made it easy to arrange all the orchestral compositions within Live’s timeline, and to read out these files for controlling and visualisation.

Both computers need to know the exact position at the same time in order to control everything via touchscreen and Leap fluently. For the light visualisation, we also needed this data to control the LED`s properly to the music.

We basically read out the time of the audio files — we’re basically tracking the time and the position within Ableton’s timeline.

How does the control mechanism work – how is that visitors are able to become conductors, in effect – how do their gestures impact the sound?

The Leap Motion has influence on the tempo only (via OSC messages). One has to conduct in time to get the playback with the right tempo. There’s also an visualisation of the conducting for the visitors in order to see if they are too slow or too fast. You have two possibilities in the beginning when you enter the installation, playback audio with conducting or playback audio without conducting. If you choose “playback audio with conducting” you have to conduct all the time; otherwise the system will stop and ask you kindly to continue.

For the audio, we are working heavily with the warp function in Live to keep the right pitch. But we scaled it a bit to stay within a certain value range. The sound of the orchestra was very important, so we had to make sure that everything sounded normal to the ears of an orchestral musician. Extreme tempo changes and of course very slow and very fast tempo was a no-go.

effekt_score

And you’ve given those visitors quite a lot of options for navigation, too, yes – not only conducting, but other exploration options, as well?

The touch screen serves as an interactive control center for the following parameters:

  • position within the score
  • volume for single orchestral or choral groups
  • selective mute to hear individual instruments
  • visualization of score and notes
  • the ability to compare a music piece as directed by five different conductors
  • room acoustics: dry, music salon, concert hall, church
  • tuning: historical instruments (pitch 430 Hz) and modern instruments (pitch 443 Hz)
  • visualization of timbre and volume (LEDs)
  • general lighting

So all these features could be triggered by the visitor. The two computers communicate via OSC. Every time someone hits one of the features via touchscreen, Max for Live gets an OSC message to jump position within the score or to change the room acoustics (Convolution Reverb Pro) on the fly, for example.

effekt_ui

Right, so you’re actually letting visitors change the acoustic of the environment? How is that working within Live?

We had to come up with a proper working signal routing to be able to switch room acoustics fluently with the IR-based plug-in. Especially the room acoustics were a big problem in the beginning. We really wanted to use the built-in Convolution Reverb, but figured out that we couldn’t use ten instances of that plug-in or more at the same time without any latency problems. So now we are basically using three of the them at the same time for one setting (room acoustics: concert hall for example). All the other Reverbs are turned off or on automatically while switching settings. Everything runs very fluently now and without any noticeable latency. I would say that this wouldn’t have been possible five years ago. So we are happy that we made it :-)

effekt_feedback

How did you work with Leap Motion? Were there any challenges along the way; how happy were you with that system?

The Leap Motion is very limited when it comes to its radius: it’s only sensitive within about 60 cm. So we had to deal with that; that isn’t much. Some of the testers, conductors and orchestra musicians, were of course complaining about the limited radius. If you have a look how conductors work, you can see that they use their whole body. So this kind of limitation was one of our challenges, to satisfy everyone with the given technology.

We could’ve used Kinect, but we went for Leap, because it allowed us to monitor and track the conductor’s baton. The Kinect is not able to monitor and track such a tiny little thing (at least not the [first-generation] Kinect). This was much more important for us than to be able to monitor the whole body, and it was also part of the concept.

I would say that we were kind of happy with the Leap Motion, but the radius could be bigger. Maybe this will change with version 2, but I don’t know what they have planned for the future.

Another problem was the feature list. We had a lot more features in the beginning, but we found out very quickly that one feature would be enough for the Leap Motion tracking, especially when you think of the audience who will visit this kind of museum. It has to be easy to understand and more or less self-explanatory. So by gesturing up and down, one will have influence on the tempo of Mendelssohn’s music only – that’s basically it. All the other features were given to the touchscreen – functional wise. So we have basically two interactive components for the installation setting.

Your studio was one among others. How did you collaborate with these other studios?

Bertron Schwarz Frey and WHITEvoid were basically the lead agencies. Bertron Schwarz Frey is the agency that was responsible for the whole redesign of the Mendelssohn-Haus museum in Leipzig and we and WHITEvoid just worked on the centerpiece of the newly reopened Mendelssohn Museum – the interactive media installation “Effektorium”. So we worked directly with WHITEvoid from the very beginning and our part was mainly the sound part of the project.

I am very happy that Christopher Bauder from WHITEvoid asked us to work with him on this project. We are actually good friends, but this was the first project we worked on. So I am glad that it ended up very well. Then there was a lot of other people to deal with. The sound engineers from the MDR studio, technicians, the conductor David Timm, the orchestra and choir, and of course the people from the Mendelssohn Haus museum itself.

effekt_kidlistening

Thanks, Martin! I was a Mendelssohn fan before ever even spotting a computer, so I have to say this tickles my interest in technology and Classical music alike. Time for a trip to Leipzig. Check out more:

“Mendelssohn Museum – Effektorium”

The post How Gestures and Ableton Live Can Make Anyone a Conductor of Mendelssohn [Behind the Scenes] appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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Midular are the Free MIDI Modules Every Ableton Live Setup Needs

Friday, August 1st, 2014

midularpitcher

Forget fancy effects or sophisticated plug-ins – day-in, day-out, it’s those simple MIDI modules you wind up using again and again and again and again. It’s like having a bucket of paperclips on your desk. It doesn’t have to be exciting. It’s the simple stuff that gets used.

So, one of my favorite demos from the jam-packed sessions at MIDI Hack Day in Stockholm in May was unquestionably Midular. The idea was simple: make some basic modules that do stuff to notes and control events, then combine them in useful ways. It deserved an ovation.

And now, you can get those same modules for Max for Live, for free. They’re open source, properly under a GPL license (meaning, if you want to port them to Pure Data, you can, for instance). And they’re good enough that you’ll wonder with at least a couple of them why Ableton didn’t include these as defaults effects.

The starting lineup:

  • LiveQuantizer. Well, duh. And as the creator notes, this means you can do to notes what Live does to clips.
  • Repeater. Repeat incoming notes.
  • Buffer. A round-robin note storage-and-playback sequencer – cool. And that naturally leads to -
  • Rotator. 8-note rotating buffer plus an 8-step sequencer, based on the Roland System 100m modular sequencer. This is a no-brainer to add to that Roland SYSTEM-1 I’m dragging into the studio tonight, in fact, both in SYSTEM-1 and SH-101 modes – I’ll report back.
  • SuperPitcher Works the way you wish Pitch did in Ableton – but then also adds a step-based modulator, for other effects.

Yeah, so put them together, and then, you know, stuff.

Yeah, so put them together, and then, you know, stuff.

It’d be great to see this collection grow over time, particularly with additions from others in the Max for Live community. You can start on that right away by forking it on GitHub – or just download and get to playing.

So, yes, fairly simple. It’s combining these (and, no doubt, communing them with other tools and toys from the Max for Live community) that gets more interesting. Some video examples:

A simple demonstration showing how some of the Midular MIDI effect modules can be used together, focusing on the 8 note step sequencer called Rotator. I’ve tried keeping the sounds and sequences as simple as possible so that it’s easy to get a feeling for what’s going on.

A simple demonstration of how some of the Midular MIDI effect modules can be used to generate various arpeggiated sequences from a single sustained note. The sound is purposefully kept as basic as possible so that it’s easier to hear what’s going on.

News item:
Introducing Midular, a set of MIDI effects built in Max for Live

The project is the work of Knut Andreas Ruud. Brilliant stuff, Knut!

https://github.com/carrierdown/m4l-midular (look for the “download ZIP” link in the right-hand column if you haven’t used GitHub before!)

The post Midular are the Free MIDI Modules Every Ableton Live Setup Needs appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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XMonsta releases PULL – iPad Device Editor for Ableton Live and the Lemur App

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

XMonsta has released PULL, a touchscreen device editor for Ableton Live 9 that uses the iPad Lemur App. It is a fast and efficient workflow tool. Use it alongside other controllers, such as Ableton P [Read More]
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Mabelton Audio releases Ultra Analog VA-2 / Ableton Push Integration Pack

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Mabelton Audio has released the Ultra Analog VA-2 / Ableton Push Integration Pack. This is the instant way to use Applied Acoustics’ Ultra Analog properly from inside Push. The Ultra Analog Integratio [Read More]
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Ableton updates Live 9 to v9.1.4

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Ableton has updated Live 9 to v9.1.4, featuring the following bug fixes: Live would hang during launch when running as a ReWire Slave on Windows. Auxiliary audio outputs of certain VST plug-ins would [Read More]
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Sample Logic releases Rhythomatix for Ableton Live

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Sample Logic has announced the release of Rhythomatix, a Live Pack of hybrid loops and kits for Ableton Live. Rhythomatix is a collection of morphed hybrid tempo-synced audio loops and kits made for e [Read More]
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Learn How to Get Your Drum Machine’s Soul Back with Mad Zach, Ableton Live

Thursday, July 17th, 2014
Mad Zach is not giving you a paint-by-numbers Deep House set. He wants you to play and tweak - and he's going to help us learn how to do it. Photo courtesy the artist.

Mad Zach is not giving you a paint-by-numbers Deep House set. He wants you to play and tweak – and he’s going to help us learn how to do it. Photo courtesy the artist.

It’s “the science of being imperfect” – and Mad Zach is one heck of a mad scientist at it.

We all know Ableton Live productions, even sometimes from fairly skilled music makers, can get painfully stuck on the grid. If that’s the disease, Mad Zach has the cure. Armed with Ableton Live and together with releasing a very special, very useful sound pack, this insanely-prolific DJ, producer, writer, and educator has some advice for how to get the soul and groove back in your machines.

CDM teamed up with our friends at Beatport Sounds to work with Zach on an instructional video that goes deeper into the craft of the groove. And I love what Zach has done with the tutorial. If you’re still learning your way around Live, I think you’ll still like it — just follow along the beginner and intermediate tutorials first before you tackle it. At the same time, if you’ve got a bit more production under your belt, it won’t insult your intelligence. I learned something, and I’ve been using Live since 1.0.

Highlights, as we “escape the grid”:
How to use the (oddly underused, misunderstood) Grooves section in Live
Extract an original TR-909 shuffle
Drawing in swing
Recording MIDI controllers

Now, some background:

Zach has been hard at work with Beatport on his Deep House Project, a sound library and construction kit both for live performances and music creation. It couldn’t come at a better time, I think: saying “Deep House” is only marginally more specific than saying “Techno.” It’s like saying “cheeseburger” or “pizza” – quality can vary.

The Deep House Project isn’t just a sound pack, a big box of LEGOs for making a generic toy. It’s a set of instruments, a gig and a half of material with hundreds of loops and analog synths and the like, and it’s designed around controllers so you can tweak everything, modify everything. You get 24-bit samples of the TR-909, Juno 106, Moogerfoogers, and British tube channel strip, drum racks, macros, synth racks, the lot.

In other words, you get a tool set that is tailored to the genre, but once you start twisting knobs and changing patterns and actually playing, you can come up with something that sounds … well, that sounds nothing like Mad Zach, in a good way.

I hope it catches on. The Beatport Sounds section is working with some great producers, but I know my heart sinks a little when I read the top ten list on some days – only because any producer expecting to download some top drops and make a track work is probably in for a rude awakening. And, worse, they’re missing out on half the fun. Now, not every piece of music needs to be experimental; there’s something beautiful about the way styles and genres build communities. But it should be possible to be original inside that genre, and this is that.

It’s that for one good reason: it’s built in a way that invites you to dig in and play. And Zach is one of the most active people on the planet carrying that gospel.

Here’s a look at the pack:

Have a go at that sound pack – it’s a stunningly-good buy:
Mad Zach’s Lab: Deep House

And do check the full tips/tricks/tutorials page with Mad Zach. It’s a tutorial on Deep House, but it’s also an Ableton Live tutorial, and offers insights whether you’re curious about dabbling in this genre or could care less (though it might get you hooked before you’re done watching, fair warning).

http://sounds.beatport.com/tutorials

We’ll have Q&A with Zach tomorrow on CDM, because I really wanted to know more about his work.

The post Learn How to Get Your Drum Machine’s Soul Back with Mad Zach, Ableton Live appeared first on Create Digital Music.


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Puremagnetik releases Kardoni – ARP Omni Soundset for Ableton Live, Kontakt and Logic

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Puremagnetik has released Kardoni – a library of programs that deliver the legendary ARP Omni Mk2 right to your desktop. As one of the most prolific and versatile “stringers” of the late 1970s, the [Read More]
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Ableton updates Live 9 to v9.1.3

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Ableton has updated Live 9 to v9.1.3. Improvements and feature changes: Added control surface support for AKAI MPK225, MPK249, MPK261. Bug fixes: Fixed an issue which caused CPU spikes when moving a [Read More]
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