Compressor Basics: Parameters, Settings, and Theory using Ableton Live 9

Upon first impression, a compressor's functionality can appear mysterious, and reaching the desired effect can prove elusive without knowing the compressor's basic properties. Used properly, compression can add clarity, punch, and power to sounds, songs, and mixes. Used poorly, compression can kill the presence and vibrancy of a track.

Compressors even out dynamics

At the most basic level, the function of a compressor is to even out a dynamic signal.  Compression takes the exceedingly loud parts of an audio signal and makes them softer.  Once the louder segments have been brought down, the overall volume of the audio can be raised, resulting in an audio signal with more apparent presence, or perceived loudness. For a digital audio signal, there's only so much room to go before the maximum ceiling is reached and distortion results. Therefore, in order to turn up the quieter parts of a sound we want to hear, we also need to reduce the louder parts, rather than simply turning the whole audio signal up.  Continue reading »

BML teachers play Detroit Movement (DEMF)

BML Founder, Director Bryan Noll will be playing guitar supporting Shigeto, BML teacher Zachary Saginaw this weekend in Detroit, MI. Bryan and Zach will be using Ableton Live with their own live guitar and drums to bring the Shigeto experience to a live band format. Shigeto will be headlining a show at the Magic Stick on Friday night and opening the Movement / DEMF Beatport Stage on Monday afternoon.

On the technical front, Zach is controlling Ableton with an Akai APC40 and manipulating Ableton's effects with an M-Audio Trigger Finger; Bryan is processing his guitar through Ableton's effects and Native Instruments Guitar Rig + Rig Kontrol.

Shigeto recently released an EP entitled 'Semi Circle' on the Ghostly International label and his full length LP, 'Full Circle' is due out this year.


Lightsaber Synth - how to turn anything into a playable instrument

The band Corbu has a unique sound that often comes from sampling movies and using the tiny bits as a single note for an instrument. In this tutorial, Jonathan, the band's frontman and producer explains his process.

Most people are familiar with the concept of sampling, but we tend to think of the process as grabbing whole sections and dropping them into our songs, like taking a beat from a 70's soul track and rapping over it. While this is a useful approach, things start to get more interesting when we break the sample down into smaller pieces.

Instead of swiping a melody whole from a track, we can grab one note of it, map the sound to our keyboard and play something entirely different with it. Or we could go ever farther. Here's how. Continue reading »

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