4K in a DAW

I’ve been looking forward to get 4K monitor to use it with DAW and recently made it. I would like now to discuss the benefits and observations in a form of short guide, as seemingly many people are still confused about these.

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2016 Roundup

Ending year 2016 was quite interesting, full of ups and downs. For sure it was busy.

First and most important, I got my first track released – it’s remix of Ruska – Saimaa made for a contest. I was hoping now releases will be flying every month or so.

However, since then it was a downfall. Even though I feel I improve the quality of every new track, none of them was accepted. Some remixes were not good enough, others seemingly were off the style.

It took me a while to understand what is still wrong with the tracks and why people don’t enjoy them as much as commercial releases. And eventually I figured it out. Check the improved remix of Impellent:

The stats… we live in the world where no one cares who you are and what you do, but only how popular you are. I’m not very popular at all (especially compared to 2008), but the blog stats keep growing this year:

wordpress-stats-2016

This is with lowest post count ever. Most of visits hit Chaotic Wavetable Pack for Serum, which turned out very interesting for users even though it was made over one day and in fact is nothing extraordinary. Personally I never used it yet :P.

Growing stats may also come from the fact that I no longer post about “work in progress”, but simply finish tracks and post worthy pieces of music. Certainly it would help if I posted some tutorials and started video blog, but there are other things I need to deal with first. Neverthless, I gave some lectures on production this year so it’s not far from here. Especially earlier show on FM synthesis turned out great.

I only mixed like 9 DJ sets this year… unfortunatelly it takes a lot of time. Even though, these few sets get great number of plays, so once I get back to it someday, things should be running well.

The studio… I got quite some gear and a number of synths this year. Acually it’s more than I was able to use so far. Which doesn’t mean I don’t try to – the quest for ultimate studio drives me both creatively and at regular work. I not only need money for better place, but also need to actually make use of all the synths (yet alone gear) I gathered so far. Now the only thing that limits me is the time. Which leads to one last point…

The workflow. Earlier this year I decided to learn how to use Push for real. And I did, it just works so well. Now I’m working in Session mode, creating clips and layers one by one. Then switch to Arrangement View, create whole arrangement in one go and… voila! Track is finished. Let’s do another one. Making tracks, even very diverse, is quite repeatable process – one I know how to. And creating better track doesn’t neccessarily mean spending more time on it. It’s all about the skills and just know-how.

The future. The future is now, 2017 will be a breakthrough. Just at the end on the year I have all the pieces I need to produce great music. Just have to sort out earlier unfinished projects before getting new PC and moving on to future productions. All I need now is time – and to make good use of it. The same is true for DJ sets. These should come back in a month or two.

Happy new year 2017!

Free Ableton Rack: 8-band transparent DJ mixer

Thanks to Septr from Ableton forum I was able to construct perfectly transparent 8-band DJ mixer out of stock Ableton plugins. It’s very simple to use and minimal on CPU. Also, it’s free. What more could one ask for?

8-band mixer

Download!

How to use it? Drop an instance on each channel you plan to mix, then crossfade. Typical workflow:

  • Swap band 3
  • Swap band 2
  • Swap band 1
  • Fade band 8 all over the mix, fade band 4 when there is too much melodic content

Of course it may work different for your mixing style, different music genre or specific material. But most certainly it will work.

Please do not re-upload this rack, always link to my blog.

Warmy

Mixing in key explained

Reposting my old article from orju.net before that site dies completely.

Having commited about 250 DJ mixes over last 7 8 years, recently I tried something new. Taking an advice of friend, I investigated mixing in key, that is mixing tracks in harmonic progression. If feels very different than my ususal approach – ordering tracks in logical progression for example by tempo, energy or style. However, it works and results are impressive. Example mix that merges a variety of styles in key can be found here.

So, what’s the mixing in key? First of all, you need to know what key is.
All the western scales (major and minor) use seven notes out of 12 in total available in octave. These 24 keys can be arranged into graphical representation called the Circle of Fifths, as depicted:

Image

Anybody who composes music for real has seen that for sure. But not many really understand. Let’s see how it works.

First of all, locate the C major key on a  chart. It consists the following notes:
C, D, E, F, G, A, B
Yes, that’s pretty simple. According to Circle of Fifths, it’s relative minor key is A minor. Which consists of notes, suprisingly
C, D, E, F, G, A, B
These are just same notes, just used in different role! The dominant of A minor key is A,  as in the picture.

Image

Mixing tracks from C major to A minor will result in shifting the bass, but otherwise these are just identical notes and will be perfectly in tune.

Okay, now investigate what happens if we move around the wheel to the right or left hand side:

Image

One note is different. One note, F, moved just a semitone up and from dominant became major tone. Still, other six notes are still here. This is true for each step on the wheel. Since both the tone and tone of the note moved up, the overall energy of track also rises a bit, but does it in a very consistent way.

A shift to the left is also possible

Image

Here again, only one note changes. This time, however, it’s a move down, so energy of the track decreases a bit. Still, transition is difficult to hear. It’s much more easier to feel it. Like magic :)

So, mixing in key is basically reduced to these three simple moves. This can be very limiting, however, as this way you won’t be able to reach your favourite track from the other side of the wheel before the mix ends. I also propose another move.
Since most of EDM music begins with and ends with bassline, which is always in key, it is possible to move from minor key to same major key seemlessly. There is a good chance that transition will be unnoticeable, as it never existed. In fact, teh same note is playing all the time. But the impression on listeners will be great. Try that, I tell you.

In case you couldn’t locate minor and major keys with same root, in this picture they are painted same colors

Image

This technique is not advisable when mixing melodic tunes with lots of content, certainly not in mashup style. But for the basslines it does wonders.

Okay, now how do you know the key of a tune? Music veterans may use piano or even absolute ear to determine the key of a tune, but it’s still take stime not easy to manage them by memory. Try dedicated software, such as recordbox (free for registration), which can not only store the key in tags, but also can analyze them on its own! It is not perfect, but in most cases it hits nicely. Sometimes it’s more certain than I am. Still, trust your ears – these are people who listen to music in the end, not computers.

A practical advice – always prepare more tunes than you are going to play. Otherwise you will find yourself unable to arrange them in order. If you try to prepare tracklist before performance, print yet another Circle of Fifths blank, like this chart

Just write down your tunes and try to link them with a line, making only one of 4 moves mentioned in this tutorial each step.

Circle of Fifths

Remember, the more tunes you have at your disposal, the more creative you can get! Mixing in key allows to blend even quite different genres and phase them back and forth, as you may hear in the mix provided. Certainly it will be a great step if you didn’t try mixing in key before. For these of you who do, it may still give some insight in music harmony in general.

Hopefully you find this tutorial useful and inspiring :)
Warmy

Orju.net has launched!

Orju.net is a music production site that continues with former The Serious Sound Network community.

Unfortunatelly, since few months ago our guru and admin, Xe-Cute, has passed, we need to abandom old forums and move to another place.

Orju.net is currently in beta stage, however with the addition of all the amazing WordPress features, it feels more clear and more functional that old TSSN, which was already good.

The main purpose of site is to share tutorials, production tips, plugins and samples, and of course to promote the music itself. Discussion board is also there of course, but former TSSN has alays been famous for its extensive database of useful content and not just chit-chat. I recommend this site for everyone who wants to improve knowledge about electronic music production.

I also contribute to the board myself, so meet me on Orju.net 🙂