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Posts from May 2009

World Debut of New Songs from the Upcoming Thomas Dolby Album "A Map of the Floating City" + "The Singular Thomas Dolby"


Thomas Dolby is the guest DJ this week on the Wired Playlist Podcast (link launches iTunes). In this podcast, he offers a sneak peak at 2 1/2  songs from his first album of new material in 18 years - A Map of the Floating City.


In the podcast he debuts the songs “The Toad Lickers”, “Oceaneer”, and part of “To The Lifeboats” He’ll release the album as 3 downloadable EPs followed by a physical CD and full album release.

Interestingly, the podcast was broadcast from the wheelhouse of a restored 1930’s life boat located off the coast of the North Sea (his new studio). The podcast was powered by wind turbines. Visit the link to his blog at the bottom of this post to learn more about this interesting studio space.

In other Thomas Dolby related news, he’s also just released The Singular Thomas Dolby. The press release describes this as:

This 2-disc CD and DVD (PAL) collection features all Thomas Dolby’s singles and videos. It is released in the UK on May 18th 2009 and is available worldwide as an import.

Continue reading "World Debut of New Songs from the Upcoming Thomas Dolby Album "A Map of the Floating City" + "The Singular Thomas Dolby"" »

FAW Circle Synthesizer Sound Design Tip: Hidden Tab Parameters + Modulating Filter with Keyboard Tracking


I’ve been doing some sound design work with Future Audio Workshop Circle Virtual Synthesizer.

While most of the parameters are visible on the main page of the user interface, some are only accessible via tabs along the bottom of the interface. So to search for sounds, access keyboard and arpeggiator controls, global settings, effects, and midi modulation routines use the tabs at the bottom.

For example, if you ant to modulate the filter so that it tracks the keyboard (the higher the note the brighter the sound):

  1. Click the “Keyboard Tab”
  2. Drag the grey modulation output dot on the bottom pane marked “keyb1 and…
  3. Drop it on the modulation input hole for “Filter Frequency”

That’s all there is to it. Note this same modulator is mapped by default to oscillator “Course” tuning. If you remove this modulator from “Course” tuning the pitch for the oscillator will be static and not track with the keyboard.

In my previous post, I talked about the using the Wacom Tablet with Ableton Live. This same posts mentions how to configure Ableton Live to "-_EnsureKeyMessagesForPlugins". You'll need to follow the instructions in this post if you want to enter keyboard data into Circle - such as patch info. It's worth mentioning that the Wacom also works really well with Circle interface and is extremely well suited to the drag-and-drop modulation interface.


Mark Mosher

Options.txt: Improved Wacom Tablet Support in Ableton Live 8.0.2 + Entering Text into Kore2 and other VSTs


Better Support For Wacom Tablets in Live 8.0.2
For the past year, I’ve been using a Wacom Bamboo tablet as an alternative input device for a mouse. It works well with VSTs. However, in Ableton Live, the pen stroke length to move a knob through it’s entire range of values is too short.

In the recently released Ableton Live 8.0.2 update, there is a new improvement:

“Added an option for the Options.txt file to support Wacom Tablets. Adding the line ”-AbsoluteMouseMode” into Options.txt file switches Live into absolute mouse position mode.”

I just installed 8.0.2 on Windows Vista (32) and I am happy to report that pen control is now MUCH better. It takes a much bigger stroke to move a knob through it’s entire range. Therefore, it is much easier to move the knob to the value you want.

Options.txt Parameters
In order to enable this feature you need to modify (or create if it doesn’t exist) a file called options.txt. Live reads the parameters within this file on startup. As the 8.0.2 description indicates, this file supports a new parameter “-AbsoluteMouseMode”. Adding the parameter adds the new Wacom support.

I want to also mention another parameter you may not be aware of,
-_EnsureKeyMessagesForPlugins”. Add this parameter if some of your VSTs won’t accept keyboard input when hosted from Live. Native Instruments plugins such as Absynth and Kore2 come to mind.

Adding Parameters to Options.txt

  1. Find/create options.txt
    The file resides in the preferences sub-folder:

    MAC: userxxx/library/preferences/ableton/live 8.x

    XP: C:\Documents and Settings\userxxx\Application
    Data\Ableton\Live 7.0.15\Preferences

    Vista: C:\Users\userxxx\AppData\Roaming\Ableton\Live 8.0.2\Preferences
  2. Use a text editor to create or edit the file.
  3. Save the file and restart Live


Mark Mosher

Sound Design with Gladiator 2: HCM Synthesis Explained

Update: checkout the discount link on the right side of the blog.

I started using Tone 2 Gladiator 1 a year ago and recently upgraded to Gladiator 2. Gladiator 1 & 2 are based on a new type of synthesis called Harmonic Content Morphing (HCM). HCM offers a clever way to generate wavetables with a massive variety of harmonic content that can be modified over time. Tone2’s approach with HCM is quite unique so I put together this video which offers a step-by-step explanation of what HCM synthesis is and how to use it. These techniques apply to both Gladiator 1 & 2.

Watch Video on YouTube:

If you like the sound of Gladiator 2 but find it too expensive, you should check out Firebird+. Firebird+ only has a fraction of the the editing capabilities but is still quite a capable instrument for the price.


Mark Mosher