electronic music

Further Adventures in Studio One v2.6

As I wrote yesterday, I recently got a MIDI keyboard controller that came with a copy of PreSonus' excellent DAW software, Studio One Artist v2.6. I shared a song that I made while remembering how to use it (having used a demo version in the past) and talked at excessive length about my visit to Sweetwater and the aforementioned keyboard controller purchased there.

The day after making that first experimental track I made another one. Here it is:

This track was again comprised only of virtual instruments that were included with the Studio One software, though I did modify some of the sounds a bit, included some effects, and worked a little bit with automating some of the instrument parameters as the song progressed.

Keyboard Controller + Studio One

On a recent trip to visit Caitlin's family outside of Fort Wayne, we stopped by Sweetwater to have a look around. I had never been there before (though I've purchased from them online) and I was excited to check out the store. It didn't disappoint, and in fact reminded me of the old Woodwind & Brasswind store¹ in its glory days.

I only made it into the section of the store devoted to keyboards, pianos, synthesizers and the like, but even that provided a wonderful experience where I got to try out a bunch of cool stuff (including a DSI Prophet 12, which was just awesome, and a Yamaha NU1 hybrid piano, which was also super impressive). My real purpose in going to Sweetwater, though,² was to check out a few keyboard controllers and feel them under my fingers before purchasing one to use with my computer.

I finally settled on a Nektar Impact iX61, a fairly basic controller that consists of 61 keys³ along with pitch bend and modulation wheels, one volume slider, and a set of transport controls that double as transpose/octave shift controls. There's a jack for a sustain pedal, a USB port which provides both power and computer connectivity, and a power switch on the back. The key action is squishy like most cheaper keyboards (i.e. not hammer-action or weighted) but has a decent feel to it. I liked the keybed feel on the Roland A-800 pro just a bit better, but that controller is significantly more expensive and does not come with PreSonus' Studio One software.

Perhaps my favorite feature of the iX61 is the software that came bundled with it - PreSonus Studio One Artist v2.6 (and later, a free upgrade to Studio One Artist v3). Studio One is a digital audio workstation (DAW) software, designed for recording, arranging, and producing music. I had played with the professional editions of both v2 and v3 in the past as 30-day trials and was very impressed with both versions. I've played with other DAWs in the past and always found them to be intimidating and difficult to pick up at first but Studio One was much more intuitive, and I knew from that experience that I would want to purchase it someday.

Even though I bought the iX61 back in August I only recently got it out and installed Studio One - I had so many other projects going on that I couldn't let myself dive into this until I wrapped some others up, so it made for some good motivation to get everything else completed! Recently, however, I finally did install Studio One and jumped in to give it a try.

Because it had been a while since I used Studio One I got back into it slowly, and my first project was made without the keyboard controller or any of my external equipment - I programmed the parts on the "piano roll" arranger and used mostly-stock sounds on the included virtual instruments. Here's what I came up with as my first sketch:

I'd like to develop the idea further and add more to it, but for right now I feel like I'm more engaged and learning faster by cranking out several small projects or sketches because it reinforces the basic concepts while allowing me to go deeper in a variety of styles. And yes that does mean more are on the way :)


¹RIP WWBW :'(
²well, other than just to gawk at everything
³five octaves starting and ending at C, can be shifted in either direction

minimake: music shelf!

As you may recall from a previous post, I have a variety of keyboard/synthesizer/music stuff that I enjoy playing with. One glaring deficiency in my setup is my lack of enough table space to easily work with everything, and I've been intending to build some sort of shelf for my keyboard stand for a while now.

Last night I happened to look in my garage and noticed that all the materials I needed were sitting right there waiting for me (leftovers from previous projects). For this simple shelf I cut some plywood and some 2x2's down to size, attached the 2x2's to the bottom of the plywood, and sanded everything a little bit to take the majority of splinters off.

Behold, the result!

I'm going to give this a try for a while to see if it's a good size/plan - assuming it is I'd like to put some kind of veneer over the surface to make it look nicer and add a small lip to the front edge to keep things from sliding off.

This shelf is 35" wide by 18" deep, which comfortably fits my Arturia MiniBrute SE next to the Alesis ControlPAD midi controller:

It also (just barely) fits my Korg MS-20 mini and the MiniBrute side-by-side:

Please forgive the poor quality of the photos; I took these when I popped home over my lunch break so I didn't have time to move the things to better lighting or get out a better camera.

Anyway, I'm really happy with the results, especially given that I was starting with scrap materials. I hope my synths' newfound accessibility encourages me to use them more :)

MORE Audiotool

This time around I decided to try my hand at producing a rap-oriented track. I've had this little hook rolling around in my head for months, and now that I've gotten a handle on the basics of Audiotool it proved to be a good way to put some bones on the idea and see how it moved.

That was a weird metaphor.

Anyway, here it is - I'd love to hear any feedback you might have!


Audiotool, too

Yesterday I talked about Audiotool (a ridiculously cool website for making music) and shared my first Auditool creation, imaginatively titled "Experiment #1". Today I'd like to share my second Audiotool creation, given the increasingly clever moniker "Experiment #2".

In this track, I played a lot more with automation, where I program the instruments to take certain actions at specific times (filter sweeps, turning effects on or off, etc.)

I'd love to hear your feedback on these first two tracks, whether it's here on the blog, on Facebook, or on SoundCloud! I'm having a lot of fun playing with this website and I'm excited to keep learning with it.