Posts categorized "Synth: Zebra 2.x" Feed

Using Ableton Resampling to Distill Custom Zebra and Rayblaster Programs Into Octatrack (or any Sampler)

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I've been invited to perform as part of a drone collective this Sunday a the Textures Ambient Showcase in Denver (Facebook invite). The show has these rules.

1) one synthesizer per player

2) all inputs into main mixer/pa (no indie rigs)

3) play single note holds only – focus is on sound manipulations & effects processing

4) music from 7-9:30 or so.. continuous with all players as inspired

5) players can break or not as desired

I went back and forth trying to decide what synth to bring. I know some of the other performers will be bringing Moog Sub 37, a Korg MS20, and Euroracks. The obvious choice for me was my Nord Lead 4. It's perfect for this sort of thing. But then again, there is already going to be a lot of oscillator based fire-power there. 

Going with Octatrack

Instead, I decided to play the show using only my Octatrack so I could compliment all those synths with some unique textural drones. I have developed techniques around using the Octatrack more like an organic synth making heavy use of morphing and LFO automation to make source material unrecognizable. I  can also get some great movement within drones as well by manipulating the loop length and such. 

Rather than live sample at this show (although that might happen), I want to bring in some prepared sources. I already have a lot of original Absynth content in my Octatrack audio pool but I wanted to add some new original Zebra 2 and Rayblaster content as well. 

Ableton Live Resampling to the Rescue

A fast way to go about distilling some raw waveform content from custom programs is to use Ableton Live's resample features. In a nutshell:

1) Insert a plugin into Live

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2) Create a MIDI clip that plays a single note. In my case the note lasts 8 bars so I can capture some motion in these original presets. 

3) Remove any effects you put on your virtual instruments so you can add effects later on Octatrack (or your sampler of choice)

4) Create a new Audio Track in Ableton.

5) Rename the track to the name of the synth your sampling. Example - "Rayblaster". What this does is name all the subsequent clips you sample in that track to that name with a number in front of them making them easy to find later - and easy to identify once you import them into your sampler. Below is a little video I did a while ago on using shortcuts to rename elements in Live.

 

6) Set the Audio From to "Resampling".

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7) Arm both the plugin and audio track.

8) Stop all clips to make sure you'll only being playing the clip mentioned in stop#4.  Play the clip from step #4. Stop. Over on the audio track you are resampling into, click on an empty circle on empty clip slot. This will start playback and record the audio from the plugin into an audio clip.

9) Hit space bar when you want to stop.

10) Go back and trim the sample to the number of bars you want, then right-click and "crop".

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11) Repeat 7-10 till till you capture all the content you need.

12) Save your project, then do a "Collect All and Save".

13) To quickly get to the samples you created, go to clip, right-click, then select "Show in Explorer"

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14) Now you'll see the pool of audio samples from this session and can them import them into your sampler. 

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Use with Clips, Ableton Simpler or Sampler

You've probably figured this out already, but this same technique gives you food for clip launching, Ableton Sampler and Ableton Simpler.

Why Go Through All this?

 Because the Octatrack is instant on, has incredible real-time synthesis and effects with super expressive automation and a very nice and accurate slider. Different user interfaces and wokflows yield different results. I get a different result staring at a screen than I do with using a piece of hardware. I also used this technique in my duo A.I. Winter to bring a ton of custom Absynth patches to the Octatrack for a performance that turned into the EP Instantiate.

 


U-HE Celebrates the 10th Anniversary of Zebra by Releasing 2.7 Update Which Includes New Distortion Module and Parameter Locking Feature

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U-HE Celebrates the 10th Anniversary of Zebra by Releasing 2.7 Update Which Includes New Distortion Module. Here is what’s new.

  • A new Distortion module
  • Howard Scarr’s anniversary sound set
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  • AAX support for Pro Tools 10 & 11
  • Parameter locking feature. A recent feature added to all u-he plugins, parameter locking lets you stop the values of any controls from changing when you switch presets. So one example of how you might use this is to lock pitch bend up to +2 and down to –12. Just rightclick
    on a control and select ‘Lock’. To unlock again, right-click and untick ‘Locked’.

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    Another example is to  lock microtuning when browsing presets.
  • Improved installers
  • Zebralette no longer displays "enter serial number"
  • … and many more minor bugs and niggles fixed!

Dark Zebra’s zip has 2.7 as well, although it’s still labeled as a beta.

Looking Back

Checkout this post on U-HE’s news to see a brief history of Zebra - http://www.u-he.com/cms/143-zebra-turns-10.


Zebra 1.0 Performance and Synthesis (2003)

Free Soundset

My Outpost: Airlock soundset works great with Zebra 2.7. You can grab it here - http://markmoshermusic.com/synth-sound-sets.

Download Zebra 2.7

http://www.u-he.com/cms/zebra

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician | Composer | Sound Designer | Performer
Boulder, CO
www.MarkMosherMusic.com
www.ModulateThis.com


NI Maschine Tip: Setting Default Plug-in Parameters for VST / AU

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One of the best features of Maschine is it can host third party VST/AU plug-ins. Instruments and effects are assigned to modules at the pad, group, or master level. The plug-in parameters are exposed to Maschine in the order the manufacture specifies and auto-assigned to pages in groups of 8. You then use the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the parameters in groups of  8.

You can custom configure the parameters assigned to each knob by right-clicking on the knob in the software and selecting “Learn Plug-In Parameter” followed by changing a control in the plug-in to link it to the knob. There also menus for cutting and pasting to change the auto-assigned order

If you want to save custom settings as the default for the plug-in by selecting the modulate pull-down then clicking  “Save As Default…”. Then the next time you insert the plug-in in the current project or future projects it will remember the settings.

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For example, using this technique you can map the 8 performance parameters of Zebras 4 X/Y pads to the first page on Maschine. So now every time you insert an instance of Zebra, you get instant expressive control.

Mark Mosher
Boulder, CO
Synthesist, Composer, Performer
www.MarkMosherMusic.com


BBC Interview "Brian Eno on Apps and Albums" with Zebra 2 Cameo

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I just watched this interesting BBC interview “Brian Eno on Apps and Albums”.  I don’t see a way to embed so click here to watch it..

His latest venture is the app Scape, a follow-up to 2008's Bloom app. Scape not only contains his most recent 'album' of the same name, but is also a tool allowing people to compose their own music on mobile devices.

He developed it with Peter Chilvers, known for his work creating music for computer games in the 1990s.

The app promises "deep access to the musical elements" that the composers used to make the album itself.

I thought it was pretty cool to see one of my desert island synths Zebra 2 on the monitor behind him :^ ).

Scape

Here is a video on Scape.

You can buy Scape for 5.99 on iTunes.

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO

www.ModulateThis.com
www.MarkMosherMusic.com


How to Trigger Absynth 5 FX Envelopes with MIDI Notes in Ableton Live

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In a previous post I mentioned the use of stand-alone FX versions of synths like Zebrify,  Absynth FX, and Predator  FX as effects processors. Here is a tip for you Absynth FX fans who are using Ableton Live and want to process the output of a another virtual MIDI instrument and then trigger envelopes in Absynth FX.

MIDI Won’t Pass Through By Default

If you drop Absynth FX into a MIDI track  that already has a synth in it – say ZebraHZ - the audio will be processed as you’d expect via the patch settings. MIDI notes however are not passed through to Absynth FX which means the envelopes won’t be triggered.

Ableton Routing to the Rescue

  1. Drop Absynth FX into '”A Return”
  2. Route the ZebraHZ audio to with the “Send A” knob.  I set the track to “Sends Only” so I only hear audio routed through Absynth FX.
  3. Create a MIDI Track in Live and route the MIDI to “A Absynth 5 FX” return. (Click the image above to see the screen shot full screen).
  4. At this point you can arm both the MIDI Track and the ZebraHZ track and play in real-time and notes will go to Absynth FX as well. Instead, I created a MIDI clip with a note pattern that repeats and…
  5. triggers the Absynth FX Envelope while I’m playing different notes in ZebraHZ.

Ok, give it a go and expect crazy and interesting results from the most epic Absynth FX and monster envelopes implementation.

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO

www.ModulateThis.com
www.MarkMosherMusic.com


Working on Lemur Interface for U-HE Zebra

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In recent posts I mentioned I was experimenting with the iPad with Alchemy, Slim Phatty, and iTnri. The Dark Zebra (ZebraHZ) release got me back into synthesis with Zebra in a big way. As I dug into the patches by Hans Zimmer and Howard Scarr,  I discovered they not only map XYs but Aftertouch and Breath controller. In considering how to map to this, I bumped into this article by Audio Newsroom Interview with Zebra creator Urs Heckman called “Off-the-record: Urs Heckmann (u-he)”. They asked:

About Zebra, in the past I remember you told me there was a remote chance to see an hardware product out of it. Did the idea evolve somehow and are you still interested in it?
I'm all for it but I can't do it alone. I've spoken to some people but I found nothing yet appealing enough to take a risk. I'd love to provide the industrial design for a zebraesque controller keyboard with 4 joysticks though.

While I think a dedicated hardware controller would be epic, it seems unlikely any time soon - so started working up an interface on Lemur with 4 XYs and thought I’d share the photo above.

Lemur Template Notes

I started with the “iPad – Studio Combo” template and:

  1. Scaled the keys and octave button down to make room for more objects
  2. In addition to Mod Wheel and Pitch Bend, I added sliders to the right for Aftertouch and Breath Controller
  3. Along the top you can see 4 XY (Multiball objects). Below the first one you can see 3 horizontal sliders that I’m going to map to physics params for the XYs for Friction, Attraction, and speed.
  4. I added 2 ADSRs (red and green) which I map to Envelope 1 & 2 in Zebra.
  5. Top right I have two custombutton objects. The first is mapped to a note so I can trigger a drone or arpegio (Zebra doesn’t have a “hold” on the arp). The second is mapped to MIDI sustain and toggle sustain on and off.
  6. Just to the right of the last XY there is a set of horizontal bars. I don’t have these quite working right but they are for the “VoiceMode” which will allow me to turn the arp on and off.

MIDI Mapping Notes

To map the Lemur to Zebra I use MIDI Learn by right-clicking on the target controls in Zebra then change the value of the corresponding object on the Lemur. This actually saves these mappings to com.u-he.Zebra2.midiassign.txt file so they work even after you close and re-open the host or add Zebra to a new set.  Note that this file is shared between Zebra 2.5 and ZebraHZ so once you map Lemur works for both which is a real time saver. Note you can edit this file in a text editor (backup before you mess with it) and delete it if you want to reset mappings (it will be re-created when after you re-launch your host and start Zebra).

In Use

Like my experience with Alchemy Mobile as a controller for Alchemy VST, using Lemur running wirelessly on the iPad to drive Zebra  is really captivating. It’s very organic and the ability to add physics with say XY ball movement takes performance to the next level.

As a result of my great experience with these controller interfaces, I find myself using iPad more  and more in the role of controller instead of iOS synth platform.

Moral of the Story

iPad interfaces to PC synths make me use the PC synths more :^)

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO

www.ModulateThis.com
www.MarkMosherMusic.com


Zebra 2 Tip: Adding Spectral Effects with "Osc FX"

Zebra is on my mind with all the news of Dark Zebra. Zebra is all about pure synthesis – no samples. I found the interface a bit daunting at first but once you push through the initial learning curve it makes a lot of sense. It’s perfect for those who want to a strong set of sound shaping tools in a semi-modular form. The layout exposes a lot of flow and params on one page. That being said there is just a crap load of features under the hood as well so I encourage to RTFM and/or click on labels and explore.

OSC FX

For example, in the Oscillator Module there are sub-menus.

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If you select the “Osc FX” the panel to the right allows you to select two different internal spectral effects "routed in series (left > right) for processing the oscillator waveform

To select an effect, click on the label. Adjust the value and/or modulate
to taste. The speed/smoothness of most spectral effects, when modulated, is highly dependent on the value of oscillator Resolution.

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List of Spectral Effects

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Keep Poking Around

As you can see Osc FX alone provides a staggering amount of possibilities. Time to explore.

Links

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO

www.ModulateThis.com
www.MarkMosherMusic.com