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Hasheeshian    24

So, after a long summer and spring I've finally settled down and got my computer up with acceptable monitors, soundcard etc.... But every time i open up my DAW I feel like I'm falling into old habits of just making a boring (generic) bass+kick and then trying to add weird leads and sounds on top; this never gets me creative or excited. Especially since I don't even have a MIDI controller. I feel that I lack the fun part of the production when working with just plugins and such.

 

Everytime I sit down with a piece of hardware (i.e. in a music store or at a friends place) I start to experiment and jam and I feel that this is what I need, a "natural" way in to the sounds and music, based on experiments and joy rather than trying to manufacture these things. 

 

But - since I don't really have that money to spare for hardware synths I'm looking looking for other methods of finding inspiration and creativity in my production. Do any of you got any advice? :)

 

Alternatively, if I were to spend the small amounts of cash I can on a piece of hardware, what would be a good thing to start with? I really love jamming and making more unusual sounds.

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recursion loop    540

Think about getting a MIDI controller with decent abount of knobs and sliders. You may map them to the controllers of your plugins which may encourage some new ways to tweak them.

 

m-audio-code-49-midi-keyboard-controller

 

I wouldn't actually recommend real hardware synths because inegrating them into software workflow may be a sort of PITA. I'm not a pro artist but from my experience a decent MIDI controller combined with a DAW and a small set of plugins which you know like the back of your hand is the best solution to get tracks actually finished. Though I own only one hardware synth, Access Virus which I treat it as yet another plugin in my DAW (and frankly I'm using it much less than native plugins these days).

 

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Hasheeshian    24

Think about getting a MIDI controller with decent abount of knobs and sliders. You may map them to the controllers of your plugins which may encourage some new ways to tweak them.

 

I wouldn't actually recommend real hardware synths because inegrating them into software workflow may be a sort of PITA. I'm not a pro artist but from my experience a decent MIDI controller combined with a DAW and a small set of plugins which you know like the back of your hand is the best solution to get tracks actually finished. Though I own only one hardware synth, Access Virus which I treat it as yet another plugin in my DAW (and frankly I'm using it much less than native plugins these days).

 

Thanks for the tip! This sounds like a pretty good idea to get a more integrated workflow... The one you posted a picture of seems pretty nice and is at a quite nice price (both the 25-key and 49-key version, probably don't need more keys than 25 but the extra sliders and nobs look fun), my friend works in a music store so might be able to get a few bucks off the price too :) I'll talk to some knowledgeable friends and research further into this! 

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antic604    503

So, after a long summer and spring I've finally settled down and got my computer up with acceptable monitors, soundcard etc.... But every time i open up my DAW I feel like I'm falling into old habits of just making a boring (generic) bass+kick and then trying to add weird leads and sounds on top; this never gets me creative or excited. Especially since I don't even have a MIDI controller. I feel that I lack the fun part of the production when working with just plugins and such.

 

Everytime I sit down with a piece of hardware (i.e. in a music store or at a friends place) I start to experiment and jam and I feel that this is what I need, a "natural" way in to the sounds and music, based on experiments and joy rather than trying to manufacture these things. 

 

But - since I don't really have that money to spare for hardware synths I'm looking looking for other methods of finding inspiration and creativity in my production. Do any of you got any advice? :)

 

Alternatively, if I were to spend the small amounts of cash I can on a piece of hardware, what would be a good thing to start with? I really love jamming and making more unusual sounds.

 

Which DAW are you using? I find that the workflow facilitated by clip-focused software (Live, Bitwig, Maschine) is a good way to come up with ideas - you create bunch of different clips: drums, basses, leads, arps, pads, fx, acid lines; then just jam with them launching them in random order, at different offsets, etc. to come up - sometimes by accident - with interesting combinations. You can record all that, along with modulation to any and all of the parameters, to the arrangement timeline for further refinement. A clip-launching controller might come in handy in such a workflow, e.g. something like Novation Launchpad Pro, which you can use - at least in Live or Bitwig - to play MIDI notes & drums, control mixer and devices, launch clips, etc., so - in a way - it can do much more than regular MIDI keyboard. One awesome thing (for Launchpad Pro, lower versions don't have it) is that in 'notes' mode you can set the root note and scale and whatever note you play, it will always be correct, so - with practice - it's easy to come up with melodies, chord progressions, etc. without knowing the theory.

 

launchpad-pro-angle-main.jpg?1440805385

 

Here's overview of how it works with Live (it's even expanded with custom scripts for Bitwig):

 

 

 

 

Some time ago I bought a MIDI controller with keyboard & knobs (https://www.psynews.org/forums/topic/72618-which-midi-control-keyboard-youre-using/ for more details :)) and I'm happy with it for the reasons that @recursionloop mentioned, but I'm seriously thinking on expanding my setup with the Launchpad Pro. See here for reference (the guy is using Bitwig, Launchpad Pro and Launch Control):

 

 

 

 

 

 

BTW, I had a peek at your Soundcloud and it's really great - the tracks are well produced, musical, very varied so I just think you're going through a difficult phase, because you clearly got talent and skills! :)

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Hasheeshian    24

Which DAW are you using? I find that the workflow facilitated by clip-focused software (Live, Bitwig, Maschine) is a good way to come up with ideas - you create bunch of different clips: drums, basses, leads, arps, pads, fx, acid lines; then just jam with them launching them in random order, at different offsets, etc. to come up - sometimes by accident - with interesting combinations. You can record all that, along with modulation to any and all of the parameters, to the arrangement timeline for further refinement. A clip-launching controller might come in handy in such a workflow, e.g. something like Novation Launchpad Pro, which you can use - at least in Live or Bitwig - to play MIDI notes & drums, control mixer and devices, launch clips, etc., so - in a way - it can do much more than regular MIDI keyboard. One awesome thing (for Launchpad Pro, lower versions don't have it) is that in 'notes' mode you can set the root note and scale and whatever note you play, it will always be correct, so - with practice - it's easy to come up with melodies, chord progressions, etc. without knowing the theory.

 

 

 

Here's overview of how it works with Live (it's even expanded with custom scripts for Bitwig):

 

 

 

 

Some time ago I bought a MIDI controller with keyboard & knobs (https://www.psynews.org/forums/topic/72618-which-midi-control-keyboard-youre-using/ for more details :)) and I'm happy with it for the reasons that @recursionloop mentioned, but I'm seriously thinking on expanding my setup with the Launchpad Pro. See here for reference (the guy is using Bitwig, Launchpad Pro and Launch Control):

 

 

 

 

BTW, I had a peek at your Soundcloud and it's really great - the tracks are well produced, musical, very varied so I just think you're going through a difficult phase, because you clearly got talent and skills! :)

Thanks for the answer! I use bitwig and renoise mostly. But I have serious problems getting into the world of clips and instead use the "arrange-mode", or what one would call it, most of the time. It feels a bit more natural for me, perhaps since I've mostly used tracker based software in the past. So I might start off with a MIDI-keyboard to begin with, I've always loved playing melodies and arps on keys and even though my technical skills is a bit limited I do have some knowledge in musical theory.. :) If I can sell off my wardrobe as planned I'll probably save the money for more musical toys :P

 

Just like you said in your post I was initially leaning towards the Code-25, but after some research and comparing the 25-key midi-keyboards available I think the Akai MPK mini MK2 would be the best choice for me. It has enough knobs and pads and the X/Y joystick is a really cool bonus, for ie cutoff and resonance on bandpassed leads, or to tweak a arpeggiated melodies into more chaotic realms...

 

And thanks for the feedback on my music! :) I find myself creating things barely realising how it happens haha, but yeah creativity usually comes and goes in phases, hopefully some knobs and buttons will give me a little push  :P

 

Also, if I remember correctly you too has been fooling around with trackers for some time? :D I got my hands on a copy of Renoise a while ago and must admit it's really fun, and the potential seems huuuuge. lots of nice built in effects and wonderful workflow

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antic604    503

Thanks for the answer! I use bitwig and renoise mostly. But I have serious problems getting into the world of clips and instead use the "arrange-mode", or what one would call it, most of the time. It feels a bit more natural for me, perhaps since I've mostly used tracker based software in the past. So I might start off with a MIDI-keyboard to begin with, I've always loved playing melodies and arps on keys and even though my technical skills is a bit limited I do have some knowledge in musical theory.. :) If I can sell off my wardrobe as planned I'll probably save the money for more musical toys :P

 

Just like you said in your post I was initially leaning towards the Code-25, but after some research and comparing the 25-key midi-keyboards available I think the Akai MPK mini MK2 would be the best choice for me. It has enough knobs and pads and the X/Y joystick is a really cool bonus, for ie cutoff and resonance on bandpassed leads, or to tweak a arpeggiated melodies into more chaotic realms...

 

And thanks for the feedback on my music! :) I find myself creating things barely realising how it happens haha, but yeah creativity usually comes and goes in phases, hopefully some knobs and buttons will give me a little push  :P

 

Also, if I remember correctly you too has been fooling around with trackers for some time? :D I got my hands on a copy of Renoise a while ago and must admit it's really fun, and the potential seems huuuuge. lots of nice built in effects and wonderful workflow

 

Yes, indeed I come from trackers as well (been using Renoise for 5-10 years, without ever completing anything though :)) and actually for me clips were the natural extension - or evolution - of tracker paradigm. It was always killing my workflow that I had to copy & paste full patterns - so all the tracks together - and then delete, adjust or modify what I wanted. Jeskola's Buzz and Psycle tracker solved that nicely by detaching tracks from patterns, so you could re-use the parts that were repeating, but their interface and other things were off-putting to me. Pattern is basically a 'scene' in Live or Bitwig, so - in a way - it's still there if you want it.

 

Live and now Bitwig are (almost) perfect for me, because I use the Session / Clip Launcher view as a sketch pad to accumulate ideas and their variations, then jam with them to find good combinations and their sequence to finally drag them to Arrangement for further editing. Usually what I end up with in Arrangement differs significantly from where I started in the Session, because I'll likely cut and chop the clips, stretch, reverse, offset the start positions, etc. But it really works for me, especially to get the initial idea going. The only thing missing - and surprisingly, in boht! - is alias/ghost clips, i.e. the workflow that you can create a clip in either Session or Arrangment and then 'clone' it across the project so whenever you change the original, all other clips will follow and be adjusted too. This is such an obvious functionality and most 'traditional' DAWs have it, that I was shocked to find out it's absent in Live and Bitwig...

 

Regarding MPK Mini's joystick - please verify with its manual, but I'm pretty sure the joystick isn't freely mapable, i.e. it's there to save space on pitch & mod wheels and only sends those messages.

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Hasheeshian    24

Yes, indeed I come from trackers as well (been using Renoise for 5-10 years, without ever completing anything though :)) and actually for me clips were the natural extension - or evolution - of tracker paradigm. It was always killing my workflow that I had to copy & paste full patterns - so all the tracks together - and then delete, adjust or modify what I wanted. Jeskola's Buzz and Psycle tracker solved that nicely by detaching tracks from patterns, so you could re-use the parts that were repeating, but their interface and other things were off-putting to me. Pattern is basically a 'scene' in Live or Bitwig, so - in a way - it's still there if you want it.

 

Live and now Bitwig are (almost) perfect for me, because I use the Session / Clip Launcher view as a sketch pad to accumulate ideas and their variations, then jam with them to find good combinations and their sequence to finally drag them to Arrangement for further editing. Usually what I end up with in Arrangement differs significantly from where I started in the Session, because I'll likely cut and chop the clips, stretch, reverse, offset the start positions, etc. But it really works for me, especially to get the initial idea going. The only thing missing - and surprisingly, in boht! - is alias/ghost clips, i.e. the workflow that you can create a clip in either Session or Arrangment and then 'clone' it across the project so whenever you change the original, all other clips will follow and be adjusted too. This is such an obvious functionality and most 'traditional' DAWs have it, that I was shocked to find out it's absent in Live and Bitwig...

 

Regarding MPK Mini's joystick - please verify with its manual, but I'm pretty sure the joystick isn't freely mapable, i.e. it's there to save space on pitch & mod wheels and only sends those messages.

Ah, yes this may be the case with the joystick! I'll have to look into it. 

 

Seems like I'll have to give clips another shot once I get back to bitwig :) Right now I'm working 90% in renoise, but it was a few years since I used a tracker on a computer (most music I've made is on LSDJ) now so it takes some time to get into. :)

 

EDIT: posted a question about arturia minilab vs AKAI MPK mini in the midi-controller thread, have a hard time deciding between them :P

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