Re: [LAU] New album out: Modlys/2013 - workflow

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From: Atte <atte@...>
To: <linux-audio-user@...>
Date: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 - 8:17 am

On 12/31/2013 03:59 PM, Dave Phillips wrote:

> Even though I'm not a Renoise user - not even a heretical one - I would

Ok, as promised a few (?) words about "how I use renoise" and "my work
flow".

First a little bit about how the tracks started:
After playing with paulstretch I was struck by the beauty of the sounds
produced by it. Actually it's kind of surprising how just about
everything sounds beautiful at 1/10 or 1/20 speed. So I started working
on an album (entitled båndsløjfe (tape loop)) where the textures would
be comprised of stretched material, and with faster stuff like glitches,
percussion and drums on top. I stretched all kinds of audio material,
chopped it up (using the very handy "slice" feature in renoise) to have
smaller building blocks (typically of one or two bars length), and
arrange them into a different structure. Most of the time material from
different stretched audio were layered to allow me to control the
texture individually. Sometimes they were filtered, sometimes with a lfo
controlled filter, sometimes ran through a mda vocoder/talkbox as
carrier and some rhythmic thing like a percussion loop as modulator.
I've been working on/off on this album for about two years, but never
finished all the tracks (there were 19). On "2013" the following 5
tracks comes from that concept album: "engang", "maria bebudelse",
"forfra", "boston undervej" and "13" (the later contains no stretched
material, but was meant as a contrast from the rest of the songs).

A few years ago I was on vacation on Gran Canaria. While on the plane,
hanging around the pool and in general relaxing, the other members of
the family were reading books or solving cross word puzzles, but I
started 19 small sketches, mostly one or two bar loops. The idea was not
to finish anything, just play around, some took only 15 minutes or less.
I had plans for later finishing the best sketches for an album entitled
"Las Palmas" (named after the airport on Gran Canaria). In general I
went for instrumental tracks with a dance floor feel without the actual
beat. Each sketch were named after something the happened just before or
after the sketch was made. "de venter", "du kender titanium", "20", igen
igen", "på vej hjem" og "meyer" were selection from that concept album.

The three meditations were done on commission as meditation tracks.

About the workflow:
I almost always start out by going for a mood that I like. Every sound
contributes to the mood, but to me the bass drum is especially
important. So I spend some time finding a bass drum that fits with the
mood. I also like to truncate sounds like hihats or claps to make them
more percussive. In general I think every sound or part of a song should
be strong, so instead of just throwing random stuff in, I try to find
thing that are not "just a sound", something with character. Sometimes
(heavy) processing can make a dull sound interesting, but sometimes I
just throw it away again if it's too blah. When I have a loop that I
like with basis drums and some harmony I often start to think about the
structure of the whole track, since I found it very difficult to break
out of a loop later, if I work too much on it. In renoise this means
that I would copy my pattern so the song takes about 4 minutes, and then
start working on an alternate, contrasting part. I also found it
important always to remember to leave space when adding parts. It's so
easy to overdo each part, which leaves no room for later parts, so I try
to imagine how a certain sound would fit with both what is there already
and things that could be added later, sometimes I have a pretty clear
idea of what those later things could be sometimes I don't. It's also
nice to have things, be it sounds, effects, musical ideas that only show
up once or maybe twice in the track, this is easier to work with when
the structure is more or less in place.

In renoise you can really "program" the music, by typing in the music on
the computer keyboard. This is usually the fastest and most precise way
to work, but the music tends to sound very sterile (to my ears) if done
this way. I have a small LPK25 that's always hooked up and sits on my
desktop, and I try to use it as much as possible (I also have a 88keys
weighted yamaha that I hook up if I have the time). I mostly quantize
things to have a tight groove, but some parts are non-quantized to add
some organic sound the the music.

Regarding the production: I mix things as I go, since to me that's part
of the compositional process. Some things needs effects to work in the
mood or in the sound. I rarely use reverb, mostly because the tend to
give a washed out and often cheap sound to the track, but admittedly
because I don't have that many great sounding reverbs. The ones I use
the most are the TAL reverbs, I think their tails sounds the least
metallic. Instead I use a lot of delay (especially renoise buildin
Multitap Delay with filter on the delays) that in renoise are easy to
sync to the tempo. I also use alot of lopass and hipass filters to shape
the sound of things. For instance I like to do extreme hipass on hihats
of things that should work like hihats, to really lift them above the
rest of the track, leaving room in the midrange and lo hiend for other
sounds. Prominent melodic sounds (electric pianos, piano, synth sounds,
pads, lead sounds) often needs alot of EQ to bring out the body of the
sound and make them blend with the mood.

I like to spread out the work of a track over a long time. Work a little
on it, then leave it alone for a while and come back to it. For this
purpose I made a renoise hackish tool that renders a track to wav from
the commandline. I then have a script "generate_mp3" that renders
modified (make style) tracks to an mp3 folder directly on my server,
this folder is synced to my android phone with the app "folder sync" so
that I always have the latest versions of the tracks with me. So I spend
alot of time listening to things away from the computer, for instance
while running of driving the car. That works really well for me, if I
listen to a track in renoise I tend to jump right in and change
something I don't like, but just listening without the ability to change
anything gives a much better overview, especially when working on a
collection of tracks at the same time.

Some final words regarding renoise: Brendan Jones commented "you made
this with a tracker?"... Well to me renoise is just a tool. I worked
with a lot of different programs, my first album was made with floss
tools (ardour, muse, specemin, zynaddsubfx, phasex, ams, pd and more). I
really believe that for the most part you could make your music in any
tool. So why renoise? The most important thing for me is it's extreme
stability, it just never crashes. There's nothing that sucks the
motivation more out of me than being in flow with a song and having the
program crash on me. I might loose work, but even if I do it really
breaks the flow, and I really, really hate that. It's also really nice
to just load a project and everything is exactly where you left it. I
tried the session managers, but I never got into it. Also when using
alot of tools, a bug in one program might break the whole chain. So you
have to upgrade that piece of software, and now your project might not
load. And renoise is very "rounded" compared to the floss tools IMHO.
Everything is really well thought of and well tested. So many small
things that mean working is simply faster, consistent keyboard
shortcuts, fast switching of views, infinite undo on everything
including fader moves, support for mouse scroll almost everywhere. And
it doesn't hurt that renoise is really light on the CPU. There are
things that are more challenging in a tracker, mostly working over the
seemingly hard boundaries of patterns and accepting the messy look of
realtime midi recordings in the pattern editor.

I hope that gives an idea about the workflow. Although that was a lot of
words, please feel free to ask if there's something specific you'd like
to know about :-)

--
Atte

http://atte.dk http://modlys.dk
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Messages in current thread:
[LAU] New album out: Modlys/2013, Atte, (Tue Dec 31, 2:06 pm)
Re: [LAU] New album out: Modlys/2013, Ken Restivo, (Sun Jan 12, 7:02 am)
Re: [LAU] New album out: Modlys/2013, Atte, (Wed Jan 15, 10:25 am)
Re: [LAU] New album out: Modlys/2013, Carlos sanchiavedraz, (Mon Jan 27, 1:44 pm)
Re: [LAU] New album out: Modlys/2013, Will Godfrey, (Thu Jan 9, 9:40 pm)
Re: [LAU] New album out: Modlys/2013, Brendan Jones, (Tue Dec 31, 2:33 pm)
Re: [LAU] New album out: Modlys/2013, Atte, (Tue Dec 31, 2:51 pm)
Re: [LAU] New album out: Modlys/2013, Brendan Jones, (Tue Dec 31, 3:24 pm)
Re: [LAU] New album out: Modlys/2013, Dave Phillips, (Tue Dec 31, 2:59 pm)
Re: [LAU] New album out: Modlys/2013 - workflow, Atte, (Tue Feb 4, 8:17 am)
Re: [LAU] New album out: Modlys/2013 - workflow, Will Godfrey, (Tue Feb 4, 9:24 am)
Re: [LAU] New album out: Modlys/2013, Harry van Haaren, (Tue Dec 31, 3:25 pm)
Re: [LAU] New album out: Modlys/2013, Florian Paul Schmidt, (Tue Dec 31, 2:25 pm)
Re: [LAU] New album out: Modlys/2013, Atte, (Tue Dec 31, 2:40 pm)