Spent a good deal of yesterday’s evening working on another piece for my future live set. Several amusing ideas came in the process.

Analog sounding. Why they still continue to argue about the digital vs analog sound. Where the hell can you still hear it in the original analog form? Almost everything that is recorded these days is distributed on a digital media, which is bits and bytes in its essence. Having that, it all comes down to creating the “correct” analog-sounding sequence of bytes to reproduce that unique sound that you still want to hear on your iPod. Am I right or am I right? What about vinyl records? What about them? I love vinyl and have the collection of my own. Nothing can beat a great grind and especially in techno domain, but… from a producer standpoint, hey, you still need to get the sounds to someone who cuts the plates. Do you use magnetic tapes for that?

During the last few weeks, largely inspired by the banks of sounds concept behind the hardware machines (thanks wesen and 909techno for the monomachine and machinedrum video), I came up with an entirely different setup for my Ableton Live session view when I’m working on a pieces. I now use a couple of Drum Racks that represent some branch of sound (minimalistic, synthesized sounds etc), but never write clips directly for them. Instead I use several MIDI tracks for each individual sample or a group of samples that I route to the channel holding the Drum Rack. This way, I can program patterns for the sounds individually. Let me illustrate it with a picture:

What I have here is the Drum Racks on channels 1 and 5. They are holding my custom kits. The channels 2 through 4 are routed to the first kit (channel 1) and the channel 6 is to the second (channel 5).

If you read attentively, you probably noticed I said I never use the Drum Rack channels. Well, it’s not true. It’s very convenient to create a clip there, play with it and once it’s finished, move it to a separate MIDI track. It’s like a sketch book.

What are the benefits of this layout:

  • You keep all your related (kit) samples in one place
  • You don’t duplicate kits in multiple channels just to keep things separated
  • You do keep things separated, but in more natural way, like how would you do with the hardware
  • Thanks to the flexibility of the Drum Rack (and Instrument Rack), you can add effects to each individual sample as well as to the whole channel. In other words, if I need to add some reverb to high hats, I no longer need to take them on a separate channel, I just open the rack and add it. Rarely do I need the same sound with different effects in my tracks. Even if I do, I can easily duplicate the sound in the rack for that.

And by the way, here’s how the piece sounds at the moment:

TR1 by alg