Category Archives: Tutorial

FL Slicing and Named Regions

If you have a wav editor that creates named regions (is there one that doesn’t?) and FL Studio with the Beat Slicer plug-in then you may not realize just what a powerful, customizable beat-slicer you have at your disposal.

If you start with a beat (or voice track) or anything that has easily isolated snippets of sounds, you can mark them off in your wav editor, name them something meaningful to you and load them in FL Studio’s Beat Slicer to assign those names to MIDI keys.
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Tutorial: Using Your Brain (Part 1)

Woody Allen famously said that his brain is his second favorite organ. When people ask me what instrument I play I’m beyond tempted to paraphrase that line. The question of what instrument a musician is proficient at usually reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of what creating music is all about.

While there is no formula for how music is created here is, in my very humble breakdown, the way it should happen:
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Tutorial: Great Vocals in ACID

First let me say, there’s absolutely nothing ACID specific about this particular tutorial, it’s just the way it turned out.

Buried in the Tweakheadz “The Perfect Mix” is this neato trick:

Cool trick: Split the main vocal track to two seperate faders. Compress the main vocal and send the secondary, uncompressed vocal to a reverb unit. This way the reverb stays out of the way until the vocalist gets loud. Hey that’s they way it works in real life.
Cool Vocals

[ listen ]
[ download ]

This clip of the great singer songwriter Donkey T demonstrates this technique. What you’re listening for: when the vocals are soft, there is little reverb on it. When he starts singing louder there’s no jump in volume, but the reverb kicks in a lot more.

Cool indeed. Here’s how to do it in ACID:

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Soundfonts in Live (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of a tutorial on how to use rgc:audio’s sfz family of soundfont players in Ableton Live 4.0. In Part 1 I covered how to use the free VSTi sfz soundfont player and a GM font with direct multiple MIDI inputs. The output of the free version of sfz is a single stereo out which is very limiting because it means all the instruments are being routed into a single audio track in Live.
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Soundfonts in Live (Part 1)

The VSTi soundfont player rgc:audio sfz (for Windows) plus the new release of Ableton Live 4.0 is turning out to be a fantastic pairing thanks to solid engineering on both sides. (A new bismark bs-1 for OS X was just released but I haven’t tried it in Live.)

Adding soundfont playing to Live is a welcome development and through Live’s new complex but powerful virtual cabling this setup is the environment to beat in terms of fun an productivity.
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Funky Breaks in Ableton Live

[UPDATED: July. 16, 2008 for Live version 7]

There are two schools of thoughts when talking about recording music: 1) Capturing performance and 2) Authoring.

Here’s a test: how easy is it to trigger samples at quantized intervals in your host software? If you answered “very” then you probably have Battery or Live, both favor the capturing performance method. If you said “none’ you probably have ACID Pro.


[ listen ]
[ download ]

What follows is a tutorial on how to make the most of Live’s ability to capture a sample-triggering-performance. I assumes you’re relatively new to the tool but I reach pretty far down to some some cool, but simple techniques. For this project I use a pre-existing drum loop and tear it apart to make a funky-break-d&b-kinda-sorta-thingy.

Setting things up will take a few minutes but you can hear the results of what I used as an example project by clicking on Vincent on the right. You can follow along and see the whole Ableton Live Set (download here (ZIP).

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The Best Beat Slicer is Free

The world’s most powerful and flexible beat slicer is free (as in beer). That’s the good news. The bad news is that there’s math involved. (I’ve created a cheapo little utility to help with the math part but more on that later.)

Filtered and Sliced

[ listen ]
[ download ]

With the latest release of the free VSTi soundfont player plug-in rgc:audio‘s sfz, you can now create your own “soundfonts” based on any sample(s) just by using a simple text file. Your write this text file in any text editor (like Notepad) and instead of loading an SF2 soundfont you tell sfz to load this text file. The format of the text (called “sfzFormat”) was invented by rgc:audio but they opened the format to the public presumably to encourage tools vendors to target it. Click on Vincent to hear something I threw together using sfz as a beat slicer. The first two bars are a drum loop I found. That’s followed by my slicing. No other plug-in effects we used to make this example. (Later in the example I used another stock loop to anchor the beat.)
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Country to Funky with Gating

Gating is one of those techniques that almost every engineer (and no DIY musician) reaches for. I’m hardly a sound designer but I use gates because it’s very easy to apply and can dramatically change the nature of loops, samples and recorded material. Typically gates are used on drums (especially bass drums) but in the example below I make things a little more interesting by turning a bass part originally categorized in the “country” genre into a more funky alternative that I used for one of my Jim’s Big Ego remixes.

What’s a “gate”? It’s an effect that silences the incoming signal under some conditions. When the gate is open, sound comes through, when it’s shut, the track is silenced.

There are two types of gates:
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A Drum Loop Enhance Technique

A boring sounding mono drum loop doesn’t have to sound like a boring sounding mono drum loop. Here’s a scaled down version of a technique used by the pros made very simple:

Let the drum loop play as is but also route the loop to a bus that has isolated the frequency range of the snare, panned it to one side and added (lots of) reverb. That may sound a little complicated but it’s just a couple of knob tweaks.
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