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how do you actually create full songs with hardware?


cboyardeat
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I know there are various ways of doing it. Like I know Ceephax obviously does most of his stuff completely live.

 

What other ways does everyone create full songs using their hardware?

Do you use sequencers? Control hardware via a DAW like vsnares?

 

I always just end up making repetitive patterns which I fuck about with for a bit and get bored. How do I go from that to actually composing a full track?

 

Cheers for any replies in advance

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1 minute ago, cboyardeat said:

Control hardware via a DAW like vsnares

that's not what he does.  he use a computer w/renoise for a master clock but that's it. he creates all the drum patterns on drum machines. syncs to his modular and jams. does the whole song to 2 track. no editing, no mixing etc. had a long text exchange w/him years back about this. said he hadn't used a computer for music in years. his videos for "traditional synthesizer music" show his process.

but to answer your question. when i've used just hardware for making tunes it's either been all modular.. jamming + multitrack into oDAW then edit/mix. 

or, jamming w/octatrack and midi synths.. multi track/edit mix in DAW. 

have done some jams w/friends and machines.. all to 2 track. straight up live acid jams. 

 

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6 minutes ago, ignatius said:

that's not what he does.  he use a computer w/renoise for a master clock but that's it.

Oh I see. I bloody love that song. The other ones he uploaded are great too.

 

Thanks for your answer. Still not sure I fully understand how everything works with eachother (especially in the snares videos). Is everything basically synced to the machinedrum?

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1 minute ago, cboyardeat said:

Oh I see. I bloody love that song. The other ones he uploaded are great too.

 

Thanks for your answer. Still not sure I fully understand how everything works with eachother (especially in the snares videos). Is everything basically synced to the machinedrum?

i think he has a master clock and everything is sync'd to that. has other sequencers in his modular so everything shakes hands and stays in sync. then he changes patterns and manipulates modular as it goes. 

if you make a bunch of patterns in various things that send/receive midi there's a lot you can program to happen automatically when changing patterns. 

not sure what sequencers he's using in his modular but w/CV you can transpose sequences as they play and doo other stuff. if they're programmable w/memory then can switch patterns etc. 

anyway.. basically.. make patterns that are song sections.. string them together in song mode or by manually switching patterns.. record it all and edit/mix etc. 

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I have an eBay purchased cheapo 2nd hand 4 track that records MP3 to a compact flash card :cisfor:

Although I tend to mix and record everything as separate layers then paste them together in a daw afterwards with field recordings. Either audacity or flstudio. I try and do minimal editing afterwards. 

I really don't do precision or musical theory at all 

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All sample based here, dumped into Audacity, manipulated either beforehand and or afterward, then sometimes freestyle or overdub the layers until I’m entertained by the result. At this point in musical history, you can pretty ad lib your production chain as much as you want, with as much or as little human input as you like. 

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With the MPC:

Make some patterns (MIDI and internal sampler) with a bunch of different layers.  Either improvise the final form using the next pattern and track mute screens, or use the song mode and then twiddle knobs/play live stuff over it.  In either case, I record everything straight to stereo.

 

 

Without the MPC:

 

Just overdub stuff straight to audio in Reaper, with as litle editing as possible.  Sometimes I'll use onboard sequencers on two or three pieces of gear to make a basic track and record that in one pass (multitrack), and then overdub to build it up into something finished.  Other times I'll just start from nothing and work a track at a time.  In either case, I try to keep the composition part as OTB as possible, and basically treat Reaper like a multitrack tape machine and mixer, and don't do any sequencing or major editing that couldn't have been done in a hardware mix if I owned a big mixer and multitrack recorder.

 

 

Both have their advantages and disadvantages.  I've never finished a hardware track any other way (except in high school when I had basically the same workflow except instead of a DAW I had a portastudio and the only sequencer I owned was a Boss DR660).

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I use Architect on my laptop to clock / control all my gear, I'll use a combination of various tricks along with its linear sequencing to put songs together. I used to use hardware sequencers but found it a pain for doing anything other than jamming songs live which isn't really how I wanted to work.

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i use ableton as my sequencer because i'm used to writing music within it, and it enables me to work with program and control change messages with ease.

as far as my process, i usually futz about until i find something i like, then loop that for a bit until i can add something on top of it.  from there, i try to build until i feel like i've gotten all i can out of that idea, then if it feels like the song isn't done, i try to take what i'm working with and create new parts until it feels like a complete song.  sometimes that process is more smooth, sometimes it's more challenging (like the track i'm working on now).

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Posted (edited)
On 7/5/2021 at 3:39 PM, cboyardeat said:

Do you use sequencers? Control hardware via a DAW like vsnares?

i've done both (hopefully not like vsnares tho lol). used a Pyramid for a while and Ableton as well

On 7/5/2021 at 3:39 PM, cboyardeat said:

I always just end up making repetitive patterns which I fuck about with for a bit and get bored. How do I go from that to actually composing a full track?

varies on the type of music you're making really. if you tend towards techno/electronica (i'm guessing as much if you're posting here) then really you're halfway there if you've got a loop you like. most general advice is to take some things away (a bassline, a chord progression, the hi hats, whatever) and try to see if that sparks some different feel...maybe replace the bit taken away with another version of it, or something else entirely. often with drums that different rhythm introduced will suggest a new direction, but the same holds true for different chords/etc. that tends to work but can obviously end up bland...because you've gotta have some connection with what you want out of the track, i guess? what's it doing with you, to you? what do you want it to do to a listener? keeping that goal in mind is imo very important to getting results that stand out.

edit: but that last bit isn't terribly related to the sequencers thing, except knowing that end goal can (hopefully) inform the best way to go about getting there.

Edited by auxien
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  • 2 weeks later...

This is true inspirational stuff done with hardware.. A lot of feelings and passion evolved. Sampling, playback jamming and record it! 
 

 

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57 minutes ago, cern said:

This is true inspirational stuff done with hardware.. A lot of feelings and passion evolved. Sampling, playback jamming and record it! 
 

 

good luck doing that alone! would love to have 4 arms for improv sometimes

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Well not so much gear like that and maybe sequence more, layering, sampling.

The concept of the whole jamming with gear is really an awesome art itself tho. 
 

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I’ve been getting back into making tracks recently, thanks to this exact thing! (Making stuff with all hardware.)

Process is as others have said, get some patterns going and hit record, then jam. It’s true that you can’t make excessively “worked out” music this way (well, unless you work very, very hard at it), but that’s okay. Jamming suits many styles of tracky electronic music just fine!

I use a Zoom recorder to actually record, then do a light “mix” of the multitrack files in Ableton later. 
 

Here’s a mellow thing made of Model:Cycles and the Behringer 606 clone. 

b_4.mp3

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I have a crappy 4 track that records 320mp3 to a compact flash card.

My "live" experiments so far are to lay down a drone / atmosphere sound, then add a percussion layer and then any other noises / synth / stuff. It's very lofi and I just use the tempo clock out control on my volca drum to synch everything up. 

Audacity / flstudio to administer any tweaks required afterwards, usually just EQ / volume.

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gotta figure out what works for you. It took me a ton of time and gear investment to get to a point where I was like... ok this setup works for me.

What I do:

Control plane= octatrack. I use the octatrack to define the flow of the song, although I usually manually change patterns instead of the arranger. Create patterns copy, make variations, add new sections, lot of copy and paste. I sequence a few synth things with midi. So I'm basically getting drum machine, sampling, etc. for free from this one box on top of being the master sequencer. It's my daw equivalent.

As sort of an extension of the octatrack, I have the Analog Four, I sync this so that it changes patterns at the exact same time. I sequence CV on my MS-20 with this, as well as use the 4 tracks to fill in and add little bits of acid, leads, noisy bits, etc.

I don't have a very amazing mixer(A&H zed 14), but it's damn solid for the price. I send one set of stereo to a reverb that I use as a send for everything at various levels, tweak it live to add a verb tail to various bits. I also have a OTO BAUM on the main insert bus to add a bit of glue to the mix, but I usually do less of that now so I can better master it in ozone when I'm putting a project together. The other 2 aux I use for what I can, I usually send it back into the octatrack for fx processing, sampling from things on my mixer, or for "bouncing" down parts. Mixing can be very frustrating without more sends and channels, so you have to get creative with limitations and just live with the results sometimes. Sometimes I bounce down and eq things on the octatrack, add reverb, screw and chop to help "mix" things different.

So then basically after that, just keep practicing/recording stereo takes on a zoom digital recorder until I get it right. It's harder to switch projects without a computer (I miss being able to do this), but I do get to listen... have a sleep/think about a track I'm working on, come up with ideas, listen to recordings on different setups and think about what I'll tweak. Eventually I'm just like, ok it's never going to be perfect, go on to the next thing, I may or may not hate it later but not every song can be a success. Gotta make shitty songs to progress sometimes.

 

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13 minutes ago, Bubba69 said:

Eventually I'm just like, ok it's never going to be perfect, go on to the next thing, I may or may not hate it later but not every song can be a success. Gotta make shitty songs to progress sometimes.

in many cases, especially if you're just starting out with some new sound or direction, this is v important when doing hardware stuff. i've found lots of gems from recordings of jams i'd forgotten i'd done and would've/could've never done again. some people record basically everything.

On 7/6/2021 at 6:34 PM, auxien said:

used a Pyramid for a while and Ableton as well

i should've mentioned that when doing 'hardware' jams with Ableton sequencing hardware synths/etc. i was also using a Push and sometimes a Faderfox to control Ableton (so sorta still hardware!)

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1 hour ago, KovalainenFanBoy said:

would explain why he hasn't released shit in years

I was about to say NAW DOG the Danois Lanois X came out last year - but bugger me - it was May 2018.  

The recent Speed Dealer Mom stuff is old recordings, and the Gregs was a remaster.  So yeah, you are correct.

Love you snares though, his release schedule was relentless for years.

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1 hour ago, KovalainenFanBoy said:

would explain why he hasn't released shit in years

was pretty steady for a while. i mean.. all these releases are not done w/a computer. but yeah.. he's due..  but also did Poemss and the Last Step stuff as A.Funk in there earlier too. i'm sure he's up to something. doesn't seem like a guy who takes breaks from making music. 

ewoDGkI.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

During the past year I set up my things so that Ableton Live is my where I sequence my MIDI and also record a stereo stem of whatever it is that I am working on or playing. The MIDI goes out to different hardware synths but comes back each instrument on their dedicated track with Live's builtin effects.

For a controller I use Push v1 with a foot pedal and a 72 key keyboard. I just record MIDI loops and mess with them in Live and see what sounds come up.

I realise this is basically like having a bunch of physical VSTs to generate sounds, which is fine for me because I am mostly after modeled presets of real instruments like vibraphone, piano, rhodes, acoustic drums etc.

I like this because I can have the project take not so much space on disk. MIDI is basically nothing, so the only waste of room is the stereo stem, but I can rerender that anytime since I record all the automation and MIDI anyway.

If you want to hear how it sounds like, click on the "Streaming..." link in my sig. 😉

Edited by thawkins
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