Casey Stevens is the Lead Field Trainer and Product Specialist at Focusrite Novation. In addition, Casey has been DJing, producing, and remixing Electronic Music for almost 20 years professionally and has 15 commercially released projects spanning 3 records labels and 2 commercially released mixed compilations. Based in Miami, Florida, Casey is the resident DJ for Culture Productions, the longest running and most respected Electronic Music promotion company in South Florida and has been featured at some of the biggest Electronic Music Festivals, including Ultra Music Festival (10 appearances).
For the week of Together 2016 festival we invite you to visit the Mmmmaven Recharge Lounge. It will open Monday, May 16th through the 22nd as your place to meet festival-goers and the Together team, listen to local DJs, power up, relax, and hydrate before the evening’s festivities. Don’t miss hands-on interactive workshops with leading music technology brands, like Novation, Ableton, and Denon more. Check out full schedule here.
Our fourth year, 2015, was a banner year for our school in Central Square. We created a dope video (above), saw #MakeItNew host some of the best producers and DJs from around the world, and, of course, trained many new students in the art of modern music mixing and making (including the advent of our new synthesis program).
What were you most interesting in reading about? Here’s a run-down of our top 5 most-read posts from 2015.
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
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
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.
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
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.
They say big things come in small packages. Whomever said that could not have been more right about the Novation MiniNova.
First and foremost – the MiniNova comes well endowed with a whopping 256 preset sounds with space to save 128 sounds. That’s a whopping 384 sounds you can have in your arsenal. The synth also comes with a 12 band vocoder, 3 LFO’s, as well as an arpeggiator.
All of your presets are separated by categories which allows you to choose which sound you need more easily!
As soon as I plugged in the MiniNova I was excited to test it out as i’ve been looking at this synth for a while now. Naturally I went to the bass section first. I was surprised. Some of the tones were fun and some were a little dark, but they all sounded great. It was the same vibe as I went through all presets. My favorite one is the “PowaChor” setting in the Keyboard section. I will admit some of the tones were a tad-bit silly, but if used under the right circumstance could be the difference between a good song and a smash hit. They keys are smaller as well, which could be a disadvantage to those who have been hands. Nonetheless, the MiniNova is still a fantastic synth.
Extremely Easy to Use
An almost endless amount of great sounds for you to choose from.
Options to Animate or Arpeggiate each sound
Below you can watch the New Jack Swing legend Teddy Riley rip the Vocoder on the MiniNova like no other.
For the Novation MiniNova’s easy to use system, size, and sounds, I have to rate this a 4.5 out of 5!