hardware and software for electronic music 

randy's Recent Posts

Mon, Jul 09, 2018, 07:11

I'm excited too. Back to work on updating the other plugs this morning though. it's all part of the fun, as they say, but I can't wait to get back to wild sound experimentation.

Fri, Jul 06, 2018, 10:24

Artist profile: Kate Simko

Kate Simko can trace her musical journey back to the age of five, when she began studying classical piano and music theory. Throughout her time growing up in the Chicago suburbs, music was a constant creative outlet but never something she considered as a career plan. Then in the early nineties, as a teenager, she found her way to the underground Midwest rave scene in the wild and full flower of its youth and something clicked. Having dance music as an abiding inspiration alongside her classical training led her to center her life more and more around music. She writes: "I was just starting to figure out who I was as an individual, and electronic music opened my mind and passion for life and self-discovery. It was through dancing til dawn at raves that I started absorbing new music and ways of thinking."

Kate began DJing on WNUR radio in Chicago in the early 2000’s. In 2002, she studied composition in Santiago, Chile, and recorded her first album Shapes of Summer with Chilean electronic producer Andres Bucci. Since then her catalogue has grown to include releases on a wide variety of labels Kupei Musika, Get Physical, Hello?Repeat, The Vinyl Factory, Leftroom, No.19, Sasha’s Last Night On Earth imprint, and Jamie Jones’ Emerald City.

She now lives in London, having recently completed a Masters in Composition for Film and Orchestra at the Royal College of Music. She works on a broad range of musical pursuits: producing dance music, composing soundtracks, remixing, DJing, and playing live with her group the London Electronic Orchestra. Through all of these her work projects her unique voice, combining classical orchestration with dance music's jack.

When I listen to your work, from earlier tracks on labels like Kupei Musika and Hello? Repeat to your latest work with London Electronic Orchestra, I hear a lot of careful attention to timbre. Instead of the kind of sound that references a certain genre, yours always seem more tailored to the particular composition and not so easily described. Can you talk about your process for coming up with these sounds?

Yes, I imagine the sound I’d like to create, then work towards creating it. Sometimes it’s achieved by an instrument with a lot of effects. For example, I might take an accordion, because it has a slow attack and release, and then add some distortion, a drastic EQ, panning, and delay or other modulation plug-ins to achieve a desired synth sound. I often lean towards “organic” sounding aesthetics, so taking a sound recording and manipulating it works well to have a warmer, less digital sound.

I take it that Aalto is a part of your process somehow. Is there a certain kind of sound or situation you use it for?

Aalto is fantastic for spatial sound design and pads and dense sounds with a sense of movement. Personally, I find myself drawn to Aalto for film scores, and actually am using Kaivo and Virta on a soundtrack right now too.

This film score, a science documentary, is working well with rhythmic synths, and these synths are ideal. They don’t sound too repetitive yet there is a sense of constant movement, which works well against the film.

You've talked about how, in your recent work with London Electronic Orchestra, you are giving what would normally be synthesizer parts to the acoustic performers. Do you end up composing in the same way you would for synths, or have you found a different approach is needed?

In general I compose for orchestral parts in an electronic song in the same way. I usually pull up the section of the orchestra I’d like to use (ex: French Horn for brass, Cello for low strings, etc). and record ideas from the MIDI piano. I don’t focus on the timbre of the orchestral samples, just the melody and rhythm, as I know the sound and orchestral instrument will change.

It many of the LEO pieces it sounds like the band is playing to a master clock. Do you use a click track? Has getting the group to feel right rhythmically been difficult?

The LEO musicians are excellent players with a great sense of rhythm, so they make it seem easy, not difficult! We always record to a click track, but they know they have freedom (especially when it’s a solo line) to express themselves and get back in time to hit the next phrase.

I'm curious about the path that led you from doing solo productions to becoming a bandleader. Is this something you've been trying to move towards for a while?

This was a surprise turn of events for me too! I moved to London in 2012 to get a masters in Composition for Screen (film and orchestra) at the Royal College of Music, and I was at the RCM recording studio (which charged only £20/hour including the engineer and Pro Tools recordings!) as much as possible. I started writing for an amazing harpist, Valeria Kurbatova, and our LEO violinist Kamila Bydlowska, and tried out every orchestral instrument possible. After two years I had a collection of songs which is the core of the debut London Electronic Orchestra album.

Between dance music, film/video work and the live performance you have a lot of irons in the fire. Are there any new projects coming up you'd like to mention?

Yes, it’s a balance between DJing, producing, film scores, and LEO. Right now the most exciting project on my plate is a collaboration with Jamie Jones called ‘Opus 1.’ Jamie and I have released a couple orchestral-electronic tracks together, and we debuted a show with live orchestra in Bogota, Colombia in December 2016. Now we are creating new material and bringing the show to the Barbican in London this November. It will be an expanded LEO full orchestra of 25 players, and Jamie and I on electronics. Hopefully we can take this show on tour next year, including to the states!

Thu, Dec 02, 2010, 09:35

STICKY: Aalto Patch Thread!

I'm going to make this thread sticky. It should be a good place to find and share Aalto patches. I'll try to post one every day or two for a while.

It would be cool if we could embed Soundcloud links here, but setting that up will take some time.

Tue, Jul 03, 2018, 08:04

Can confirm! It's the LFO, should be an easy fix.

Fri, Jun 29, 2018, 06:56

It's been pushed back a little but still moving forward and I am excited to share more when I can. Too early for interface but a sound snippet soon I hope.

Thu, Jun 28, 2018, 08:17

I was able to look at the thread on the Live forums and it looks like Ableton is aware of the issue and will fix for 10.0.3.

Fri, Jun 22, 2018, 16:31

Thanks dale, got a link?

Fri, Jun 22, 2018, 12:08

That's really interesting. And weird. I'll see what is different about the VST and AU versions.

Does this also happen when there is only one copy of Aalto?

You are sending really useful information, I hope I can track this down soon.

Fri, Jun 22, 2018, 08:54

My guess is that some MIDI information is getting to Aalto that is messing it up. I have not heard of any bug matching these symptoms before.

If you make a new empty Ableton Live project and add an Aalto and some notes in a new clip to test it, can you get this to happen? What if you make three Aaltos?

Mon, Jun 18, 2018, 17:00

June plugin updates: betas

I'm putting out an update of each plugin soon for stability / compatibility. Meanwhile I'll be releasing a few betas first for Mac and later for Windows.

http://madronalabs.com/media/aalto/Aalto1.8.3b5.pkg

version 1.8.3 changes:

  • added handling of "all notes off" and "all sound off" MIDI messages
  • fixed bugs with Scala .scl and .kbm handling
  • fixed issue with step sequencer not quantizing to current scale
  • fixed issue with step sequencer UI not reaching maximum when dragging
  • more to come...
Thu, Jun 14, 2018, 15:52

Hey, I got into the work on Scala and tuning. I fixed some bugs. With this particular scale you sent though, the problem is in the scale here. Generally you want ratios in between 1/1 and 2/1. Most of these are less than 1, then the last ratio jumps up to 2.

Instead I would start this idea 25/23, 21/19, and so on. The ratio 1/1 before the scale is a given and the rest of them should be monotonically increasing from there.

Thu, Jun 07, 2018, 12:39

It's the same as natural latex rubber foam. I'm sure there are a ton of suppliers you can find online.

Wed, Jun 06, 2018, 10:13

V2 is a ways off yet, gotta finish sumu first for starters.

Wed, Jun 06, 2018, 10:12

you can search this site by typing into google: "site:madronalabs.com" followed by your search.

I haven't seen any sharing of wavetables.

Wed, Jun 06, 2018, 10:08

It's not going to be super accurate, because a kora has such a special body. But I bet if you play around with gut string resonators and a large box body you can get something evocative.

Wed, May 30, 2018, 14:22

My guess would also be CPU use. If you turn the number of voices down to 1 it's an easy way to check this without messing with audio buffer sizes. Increasing the audio buffer size can be an effective fix.

Fri, Feb 13, 2015, 14:32

Call for input: Soundplane to CV module

This year it seems desirable and possible for Madrona Labs to make a Soundplane to CV device. This would be primarily a Eurorack module, but the circuit could also be built into its own enclosure for use with vintage synths etc.

Normally I do most of my design work in private, and only announce a product when it's pretty much done. But we (Brian and I) are going to change it up this time. Because neither of us is that deeply into the Eurorack world, it makes sense to solicit input early on in the process this time. This is going to be a utility device (though hopefully an elegant one) — so before we get too far along, let's make sure it will be useful to you!

The basic idea

USB jack for powering the Soundplane. Module puts out CV / gates / mod outputs for individual touches. Like the Soundplane app, a zone map decides how the Soundplane surface is divided up into notes and what those notes are. You can switch between zone maps, and the name of the current one should be displayed somehow. Aside from this, visual feedback will be at least an LED per Z value. To keep costs low, probably nothing too graphical or fancy.

We're looking for input on things like:

How many voices?

Each voice of touch output will probably have 4 outputs for pitch, x, y and z. Setting up many voices on a modular is not the way most people use them, so I'm guessing that two voices of output will take care of 90% of what people want. We would probably add an expander module for more voices.

Any interesting modes?

A switch that changes z (pressure) into a strict on/off gate might be useful. Any other things like this?

Layout?

individual voice groups vertical or horizontal? voice outputs at bottom or top? I'm thinking top, because a USB jack on the bottom will go to the Soundplane.

Power?

The module will need roughly 250mA at 5v to power the Soundplane. Brian will correct me if I'm wrong. Then there's whatever computing and display the module needs to do, and the outputs. Do we need our own power supply, or a list of compatible Euro power supplies that we can point people to? Any choices in connectivity to make here?

Finally, we're still looking for a great name…

Mon, May 13, 2013, 13:45

Aalto T-shirts!

Just in time for summer, Aalto T-shirts are now in stock! Oft-requested and long-awaited, these shirts are the first physical artifacts besides the Soundplane to come out of the Labs. They start out soft, will wear in gracefully and are likely to give you super patching powers.

We asked our good friend David Chandler to tidy up his Aalto manual cover for a larger reproduction size, and printed it in a subtle aqua gradient on American Apparel’s Sustainable Edition organic cotton shirts in Galaxy Blue. Nerdy yet surfy!

We are selling these nice shirts for $20. Shipping is by US First Class Mail, for $4 within the USA and $16 internationally. PayPal will add these costs automatically when you enter your shipping adress.

Select a unisex size and click to buy:
EDIT:
SOLD OUT except for size small.

Thu, Mar 06, 2014, 08:17

STICKY: Kaivo patch thread

A place for Kaivo patches! Just select copy to clipboard from the patch menu, and paste here to share.

Fri, May 18, 2018, 07:56

By pressure I guess you mean note-on velocity? [edit] I guess if you don't mind a "pulse" that is not a constant amplitude you could map amplitude directly to pressure. Seems worth trying at least!

Mon, May 14, 2018, 13:23

Hi there,

I'm still working to get a local search online or find a better forum software. Meanwhile you can use google to search within only this site like so:

"site:madronalabs.com Kaivo" (for example)

Sun, May 13, 2018, 18:35

We have to get the touches working now and see what extra features make sense to implement. I hear that a selectable length trigger might be nice to have.

Fri, May 11, 2018, 01:32

The granulator is the input to the physical models that follow. The input to models is also called the exciter sometimes. The exciter determines what comes out of the models, because for the most part only frequencies that are in the exciter can be in the output.

I say "for the most part" because a nonlinear model can produce frequencies not in its input. However nonlinear effects here are a small portion of the sound.

It may help to think of the models as collections of delays and reverbs. fundamentally there is no difference.

Tue, May 08, 2018, 04:49

Yeah, it's hard to say what my relationship to that platform could be. Aaltoverb or other free things I might release in the future seem a natural fit. Beyond that I don't know. I'm not against it.

Mon, May 07, 2018, 12:59

It's gonna have a display. Top dial selects a parameter and then the bottom dial changes that parameter. Both changes are shown on the display.

Mon, Apr 30, 2018, 11:48

Berlin Bound for Superbooth 2018

I'm doing one last load of laundry, have my boarding pass printed out, passport on the desk where I won't forget it, excited to be headed to Berlin for Superbooth 2018 in a few hours. It's the first public event of its kind I've done in a Madrona Labs capacity for several years, at least. I plan to meet a bunch of my customers, hear some concerts, and do a lot of talking about what's next in the World of Shiny Things that Make Noises.

packing

We already know what the next shiny thing from Madrona Labs will be. The Soundplane-cv is a 12HP Eurorack module that powers the Soundplane and listens to it over USB, and puts out up to four touches as control voltages and gates, for a total of 16 outputs: gate, and assignable x y and z per touch. Brian and I did a big push on this project this month, and we now have finished hardware to poke at and talk about. The Mac still does a much better Soundplane demo, so we won't be demoing the Soundplane-cv, but we are very close to completing it. They will be available this summer.

Now where's my passport?

Mon, Apr 30, 2018, 07:43

I'm glad to hear your nice comments on the interface, thank you!

MIDI learn has been a long time request and I will definitely be adding it.

Mon, Apr 30, 2018, 07:41

OK, I hear all this and am sorry you can't use my instruments right now. I'm eager to fix this situation.

Wed, Apr 25, 2018, 21:53

Maybe you are thinking of some plugin from a different company? Guru doesn't live here, sorry.

Wed, Apr 25, 2018, 08:05

I've been looking at the Roland JV-1080 softsynth! Those sounds are very cool and of a certain time and a million miles away from what I will ever do...