The Most Influential Tools of Modern Music

the most influential tools of electronic music

A few weeks ago, we asked the question: What came first, the musician or the machine?

This week, we got an all new perspective on the subject with a great new article from Gear Patrol.

According to the mag, the expansion and evolution of electronic music styles can be traced alongside the technological advances in production tools. That is, after new product launches and updates, artists seem to find innovative and unique means of using the new tools at their disposal.

The article builds off this stance to explore the most influential tools of music throughout the past 40 years.

The writers at Gear Patrol break down the years’ most iconic music production tech into three basic categories: synthesizers, drum machines/samplers, and turntables/CDJs.

Did your favorites make the cut?

Synthesizers:

Minimoog

minimoog

First released in 1971, the Minimoog was the very first fully integrated synthesizer. This new technology overcame classic limitations with its groundbreaking portable design and supremely high sound quality.

The Minimoog’s smooth and versatile sounds are a staple in Kraftwerk‘s 1971 album, “Autobahn”

Roland TB-303

roland tb-303

Roland’s Transistorized Bass 303 was released in 1981 as a means to play bass accompaniments for solo guitarists. The 303 started getting seriuos face time when early Chicago house DJs began to experiment with its signature wonky bass sounds so characteristic of albums like Jesse Saunders‘ “On and On”

Drum Machines and Samplers

Roland TR-808 & TR-909

roland tr-808

Another 80’s Roland favorite, the Transistor Rhythm 808, was created to replicate the sound of a drum kit with up to 32 possible patterns. Shortly after, the Roland TR-909 succeeded the 808, raising the bar with digital samples for cymbals and hi-hats, as well as additional functionality that increased pattern capabilities up to 96 possible combinations.

As for the quirky synthpop sounds that we love in classics from artists like Yellow Magic Orchestra, we have the TR-808 to thank.

Akai S1000 and MPC Series

akai s1000 mpc

Just seven years after the TR-808 came the Akai S1000 sampler. The S1000 gave producers the ability to splice, crossfade, and trim music in new and improved CD quality. Then, another three years later, Akai’s release of their Music Production Center (MPC) sampling sequencer quickly gained a massive following. With features like sampling, manipulating, storing, and sequencing music, the MPC allowed for all new levels of production ease and efficiency.

Prefuse 73‘s early 2000’s glitch-hop abum, “One Word Extinguisher” is a classic sample of the Akai MPC’s wobbly grooves and funky samples throughout its highly structured pieces.

Turntables and CDJs

Technics SL-1200 Series & Pioneer CDJs

technics sl-1200

As Gear Patrol puts it:

The backbone of any DJ setup has always consisted of turntables and a mixer. A minimum of two decks are used to layer beats in real time, but great DJs can mix up to four.

Classic turntables like the Technics SL-1200 series have been a staple in DJ setups for nearly 40 years since they began production in 1972.

However, top-tier Pioneer CDJs have slowly but surely become the mainstream solution for DJs and Producers globally, coming as a simplified alternative for the heavier equipment and vinyls necessary to rock the classic turntables.

For more details and essential gear, visit Gear Patrol’s full article here.

Want to learn more about music tech? Try Mmmmaven’s Music Production and DJ Programs. It’s fun to learn with other people…

5 Essential Tips for Performing with Ableton Live

Timo Preece Live Set

Performing electronic music is, in some ways, uncharted waters. Since its release in 2001, Ableton Live has sought to make performing electronic music easy.

Gone are the days of just “pressing play” on your productions, and gone are the days of bringing tons of synths, sequencers and drum machines to your gigs.

Live makes turning your productions into performances easy, but how do you get started? Fear not! Here are 5 essential tips for performing with Ableton Live:

Controllers Are Your Friends

ableton push

While using your mouse and keyboard is cheap and easy, it often restricts the speed at which you can launch clips and change parameters. Many companies, Ableton included, have solved this problem with Ableton-Optimized controllers. They all have different capabilities, but they are all designed to plug-in and play right out of the box.  3 of the most popular controllers are Ableton’s Push, Novation’s Launchpad, and Akai’s APC40.

Prepare Your Live Set

Empty Live Set

Many performers prefer to have their entire performance in one live session, as opposed to switching sessions between songs. This allows for seamless transitions between songs, as well as the ability to mix songs together. Because many controllers have 8 columns of buttons, it makes sense to utilize each column as its own “instrument”, if you will. Making one column for kick drum, one for snare drum, one for synth leads, etc, allows for an easy-to-understand interface, and one that can be quickly expanded with new songs.

Preparing Your Songs for Performance

Now that you have set up your Performance Session, you have to prepare your tracks to be put into the session. Stemming your tracks is the best way to do this. Because you’ll need to consolidate all your tracks down to 8, you’ll want to create stems with tracks that have similar functions. For example, bouncing all your kick drums as one stem or all of your synth pads as one stem will consolidate the number of tracks you use in your Performance Session, and make triggering parts of songs easier for you.

Chopping Up and Organizing Your Songs

While you can keep your whole stem as one clip, many performers choose to chop up their stems into song-sections (verse, chorus, bridge, etc.). There’s no formula here, just make sure that the chops in all your stems line up, that way you don’t get a verse lead playing during the chorus.

Full Live Performance Set

Once you have all of your songs chopped up, you’re going to want to organize them into a set that makes sense. Organizing songs with similar tempos, as well as “peaks and valleys” in terms of energy can only help your set. There isn’t really a formula to this, either. Experiment with organizational methods and set lists until you’ve found a set that flows and is easy to get around in.

Playing Your Tracks “Live” with Effects Racks

Ableton Effects Racks

For some performers, launching clips isn’t enough to consider it a “Live” performance. There are many ways to to take you performances to the next level, but a simple and effective one is messing with effects racks.

Beat Repeat, Delay, Reverb, and EQ are fantastic effects to use in conjunction with launching clips. Try beat-repeating your drums, or drenching your vocal tracks in reverb. You can even map some parameters of the effects to a knob on your controller and go nuts with it during a performance. Using effects in this way ensures that no two performances will be exactly the same.

Whatever way you perform your tracks, remember to have fun with it. You can consider this a “Bonus” tip, but an enthusiastic performer makes for a night that no one will forget.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

We are having a huge sale on Ableton classes this coming Cyber Monday. To get the deal, you have to put your email in here, or click the picture below.

Cyber Monday Sale

Does Akai’s New Keyboard Control Everything?

Ever wonder what MIDI keyboard is best? Both Native Instruments and AKAI are battling to be the interface between you and every plug-in you own. We’re on our way to finding out which one deserves our attention!

Check out the video above as well as the create digital music blogpost for an in depth review of both the Akai ADVANCE and Komplete Kontrol.

Komplete_KontrolAdvance_61

Want to learn how to DJ or Produce? Click here for more info on our courses.

Apple Features InMusic’s iMPC Software In Grammy Commercial

Screenshot 2015-02-09 at 3.20.54 PM

Like it or not, technology has always been a part of music, and Apple is embracing this concept to the fullest with their new short film/advertisement, which made a huge splash in the middle of the GRAMMYs broadcast.

Their instrument of choice: The iPad.

The iPad is gaining legitimacy in all areas of music technology as a device for recording, producing, and even DJing.

With musicians as their newest target audience, Apple has recruited the help of rapper Elliphant, producer Riton, and DJ The Gaslamp Killer to promote the iPad as the latest weapon in an arsenal of musical innovation.

PS: Gaslamp Killer was a special guest at Together Boston last year, where DigBoston featured a conversation with the LA-based community builder and DJ.

10959461_1007342612700189_9112800991493743079_n

One of the highlighted pieces of software available in Apple’s new film is iMPC app from InMusic, which is essentially a complete drum machine designed to replicate Akai’s MPC series. Here at Mmmmaven, we’re huge fans of Akai, and even use their line of APC’s in our production classes. It’s exciting to see them featured in such an historic piece.

Also look closely and you’ll see Serato, the program we teach to mix music as a DJ.

With the support of technology powerhouses like Apple, it’s safe to say that so-called “electronic music” is here to stay.

impc_console_main_1200x750

Want to learn how to use products from companies like Akai to make your own music? Sign up for a class at Mmmmaven. Enrollment for March and April is underway. Email Sarah to get started.

To stay up to date on all things music, follow Mmmmaven on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, Linked In, Google+ and Meet Up!