• Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies

    I wasn’t incredibly impressed with any of the online version of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies cards that I’ve found, so I made my own set; check it out here. You can read more about the history and philosophy of the Oblique Strategies over here.

    Oblique Strategies
  • Massive’s Hidden Oscillator

    Native Instruments’ Massive is one of my favourite VST synths: the vast selection of unique, analog-style wavetables and the flexible routing system open up a lot of possibilities for creative sound design. It even has a secret oscillator called “Bass Pulse” buried deep in the wavetable section, underneath the well-known Rough Maths, Scrapyard, and yes, Modern Talking. Here’s what it looks like:

    Massive Hidden Oscillator

    And here’s how to find it:

    • Click the wavetable selection button
    • Select “Guitar Pulse”
    • Click the “Next Wavetable” button

    Or you can do it the other way ’round by selecting the “Camchord” wavetable and clicking “Previous Wavetable.” Is it the most amazing-sounding wavetable you’ve ever heard? Well, no, or else Native Instruments probably would have made it easier to find. It’s got a nice tone, though, especially for bass (as you’d expect), and it’s a cool little Easter egg for dedicated Massive users.

    For a look at Massive’s non-secret wavetables, check out this article.

  • Fix the Ableton “Generic Unix Executable” Problem on a Mac

    Ableton on Mac

    When you download and decompress an Ableton Live Rack (.adg), Set (.als), or Pack (.alp) file that was created and zipped in Windows, then try to open it on a Mac system, OS X occasionally has trouble dealing with the file format. Instead of associating the rack, pack or set with Ableton and opening it therein, the operating system marks the file as a “Generic Unix Executable,” meaning that it doesn’t really know what it is. Here’s how to fix the problem and open an ADG, ALS, or ALP file that you’ve downloaded to a Mac:

    • Open the location of the downloaded ADG, ALS, or ALP file in Finder.
    • Manually add the appropriate file extension to the filename. For example, if you’re trying to open an Ableton rack, you’d add an “.adg” extension, like so: “awesome-bass-fx-rack.adg”.
    • Control-click the file. Select “Open With” from the context menu and click “Ableton Live.” Live should launch and open the rack, pack, or set correctly.

    Why this happens, I have no idea; if I had to guess, I’d imagine that some part of the zipping process in Windows removes some kind of identifying information that OS X needs to recognize the rack as an Ableton file. There doesn’t seem to be any problem moving zipped Ableton files from one Windows system to another, or transferring an uncompressed Ableton file from Windows to Mac.

  • How to Record a Live PA Set in Ableton

    Recording the sets that you play with Ableton Live allows you to build an archive of your live performances; after the show, you can go back, listen to the set, and figure out what worked and what didn’t. You can always just record into Arrangement View, but writing eight or more audio tracks at once — while also playing clips and running VST effects — can quickly overwhelm your system, causing drop-outs in the audio. Here’s how to record a live PA set in Ableton without any external devices, and without burdening your poor overworked hard drive too much.

    Live PA Recording in Ableton Create a new audio channel (Ctrl + T) and rename it “Recording.” In the new audio channel’s In/Out section, select “Resampling” from the “Audio From” menu. Arm the channel for recording; the stop button on every clip slot will change to a record button. Ableton will now record the output from the master channel — including any return or master effects that you’re running — onto this audio channel.

    Now select all of the clip slots in the Recording channel except for the first one. Press Ctrl + E (Command + E on a Mac) to remove the recording buttons from the slots. Start playing the first scene; Ableton will start recording your live PA set into the first clip slot. Trigger another scene or clip; instead of starting a new recording, Ableton will keep recording into the first clip slot. In the end, you’ll have one audio file containing your entire set in that slot. When you’re done playing your live PA set, crop the recorded audio file, open it up in your file browser, and transcode it to MP3 or burn it to a CD.

  • How to Move an Ableton Live Set to Another Computer

    Ableton sets stores three basic types of data: instrument and effect parameters, DAW settings (volume, pan, etc.) and audio files. The first two types are embedded in the set; audio files, however, are linked to the set’s samples folder. If you move or copy a set without moving its samples folder, none of the audio files will appear in the set when you open it from the new location. Here’s a foolproof way to save a self-contained Ableton set that you can email to a collaborator or transfer to a laptop for live performances:

    Open up the set you want to move. Click the “File” menu and select “Save Set As.” Ableton opens a file browser window. Here’s the important part: navigate to a new directory. This ensures that the set will preserve all the audio files that it links to (and only those audio files). I usually just move to the root directory on my hard drive. Now save the set; Ableton will create a new folder called “[Your Set] Project.”

    Open the “File” menu again. Click “Collect All and Save.” Set all four buttons to “Yes” and click “OK.” Ableton will copy all the samples in the set into the new project folder that you created. The “[Your Set] Project” folder should now contain two sub-folders: “Ableton Project Info” and “Samples,” as well as the ALS file for the set. You can now transfer the “[Your Set] Project” folder to a flash drive, or zip it up and email it.