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Master Your Creative Potential

Creativity is a wonderful thing, but it can be a fickle beast! If you’ve ever wondered why some days you “have it” and other days you don’t, you need to be checking this out.

Vespers has come up with an absolutely brilliant, fully broken down monster of a course that’s designed to get you over all your hurdles (real and imaginary) and producing the music you’ve always wanted to. Learn how to bound over your roadblocks like a kangaroo jumping over… whatever it is kangaroos jump over, I’m not sure. But they can jump really high. And you will too.

Check it out at Warp Academy!

 
 

Give Some Love To The Flanger

Last week I showed you a quick, creative use for Lives gate – an under appreciated little device that has lots of quick creative options lurking under its simple appearance.

 

This week, let’s keep cracking on that theme with a look at Lives Flanger – a go to of mine for both transition noise sound design and adding cool, psychedelic overtones to synth sounds.

 

Flanger work by creating extra versions of a signal and offsetting them, or delaying them slightly against the original signal.  The result is a harmonically pleasing sweep that usually has two main (and self explanatory) controls – rate and depth – we’re pretty much all familiar with Flangers I’d assume, so let’s get to how to use them in a more interesting fashion.

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Lose the LFO = Comb Filter Gold! 

One of the cool techniques I use to create interesting rising effects is to actually reduce the lfo amount to zero, and then automate an adjustment of the delay time to coincide with a rising effect, over the course of 4 or 8 bars.

 

Once you’ve tried this, I guarantee it’ll be a staple.   Mix it in subtlety or layer a couple Flangers in series with slightly offset delays and you’ll get drastically different effects.  The sound really comes alive when put through a nice dub delay.

 

I’ve included an example of this in an ALP you can download below – it’s on track one.

The other super quick and cool usage involves resampling.

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Synth tones often benefit from some interesting harmonic effects being applied as an overtone, just to liven them up or add a bit of psychedelic edge.  In the case of the Flanger, by tuning the delay time to the incoming root note, we can create a nice sparkle or metallic characteristic where there wasn’t one before.

Upside = easy to do, sounds great.

Downside = no midi input means that the delay time (or pitch) of the Flanger needs to be adjusted or automated manually.  Or does it?

When I say tuning, really what I mean is listening for a sweet spot interaction between an incoming tone and the Flanger.   Don’t overthink this one; just fire a saw wave through a Flanger and find a spot you like while holding down a key.  C is probably easiest as the next step is to simply freeze and flatten the track, turning the output of the synth and the Flanger tone into a single file.

At this point, we simply bounce that new audio clip into Sampler, adjust our zone, and now the relationship between the synth sound and the Flanger is “imprinted” into the sound, so we can play it up and down the keyboard.  Super useful concept in resampling, as many effects create pitched outputs, and this is a really cool way of integrating them into your sound design.

I’ve given you two tracks to listen to: one where a simple saw is put through a flanger and played at two notes, and one resampled.  You can instantly hear the difference resampling makes, as the comb effect is now “part” of the sound.

Grab the ALP file HERE.

 
 

Give Some Love To The Gate

Sometimes the most rewarding production tricks or techniques are the simplest ones. Certainly they are often the ones that yield the most “happy accidents,” the term I use for when experimentation yields something that rocks.

Over the next while, I’m going to go through some of my go-to tricks for inspiration from unlikely sources – the often overlooked, sometimes misunderstood, always unappreciated devices in Live’s catalog.

Today we’re going to kick it off with a not-so-common use of the Live’s Gate.

This little guy right here:

Gate

Everyone (or rather MOST people) know about Live’s sidechain input on its compressor. It’s an often utilized and ubiquitous effect that gives production pump, groove, oomph, boom, whatever you want to call it. I’d argue that its one of those rare things that falls into the category of being both and effect and a mix technique.

What many people don’t know about, or at least don’t utilize, is the sidechain in on the Gate device.

Like sidechain compression, it’s a useful feature to pull out when making things dovetail together in the mix to clean up a signal, but in general when I use it it’s for an entirely different purpose.

There are often points where I want a simple, groovy lead but am lacking inspiration – sound design I find easy. Melody sometimes harder.

Well, this is an easy shake and bake approach that can yield extremely cool results, and I’d suggest you give it a try. I’ve even made it easy for you by packing up a quick project for you to check out in the link below.

Basically the approach is this:

1 – Take a sustained note from a synth.

2 – Add a Gate.

3 – Set the Gate to respond to a sidechain signal from an audio track.

4 – Grab a cool beat that you like, preferably something bounding with syncopation and interesting rhythmic content, and drop it in the audio track the sidechain is listening to. You can leave this audio track active or you can drop its volume, whatever you like.

5 – Hit play, then adjust the threshold, return and hold on the Gate until you start hearing magic. (You’ll also want to drop the floor to -inf db to get the right effect)

Gate Setup

Simple right? Amazingly so, but unlimited in it’s ability to produce cool effects.

Change the beat? Totally different melodic element.

Change the tone? That’s a whole new set of results.

Many people will recognize this as a “trance gate” style of effect. If you do, congrats! If not, don’t worry, its not all about little fluffy clouds – try putting a gnarly basstone through it with a ton of modulation and you’ll start developing amazingly cool riffs.

If you want to level up from this, use your imagination – as an example, try putting a beat repeat on the drumloop and take the Gate’s input from after the beat repeat – you can get some really cool stuttered playback effects.

If you’re making a pad sound, try splitting the audio flow through an audio effect rack, and then applying a reverb with 100% wet signal to one of the chains, and put the Gate after that. Your ears will thank you!

Grab the Live Pack and see exactly what I’m on about.

Grab the ALP file HERE.

 
 

Myagi – FM Tom Creation

In this first of a series on drum synthesis, Myagi shows how you can create a thick Tom drum using FM synthesis and the awesome Corpus!

Note: You will need at least Live 9, and the Operator Instrument and Corpus to be able to use this Live Pack. Operator is a paid add-on to Live and is included with Suite.

Grab the ALP file HERE.

Check out the Synthesis and Sound Design Masterclass HERE