Month: August 2013

Push Style Layout for Launchpad in FL Studio

If you’ve not heard of the Ableton Push, I suggest you check it out, if for no other reason than to see what’s really possible with a touch sensitive grid these days.  Alongside everything else it does, I’m particularly impressed with how they’ve chosen to lay out their instrument controller mode.  Rather than try to awkwardly squeeze all 12 tones onto the grid, or arrange the 8 ‘in key’ notes in straight octaves across each row, each row is in key and a fourth up from the last.  I’ve never felt comfortable using a grid to control an instrument or play a melody because of how unnatural it feels, but this configuration really turns the grid into a comfortable way to play phrases:

Great right?

But If you’re like me you’ve got two problems:

1. You’re an FL Studio user

2. You don’t own an Ableton Push

No problem!

With the release of FL Studio 11, FL Studio now tightly integrates with the launchpad.  In addition to some pretty handy premade tools (including one or two of those awkward note layouts I was lamenting earlier), they’ve included the ability to create your own scripts.  Everything can be edited in Notepad.  Command lists and language can be found here: http://forum.image-line.com/viewtopic.php?p=672604.

Photo Aug 28, 4 35 05 PM

 

I’ve whipped up 7 different scales in the key of C.  Feel free to use or edit these scripts.  Just copy and paste them to C:\Program Files (x86)\Image-Line_FL11\FL Studio 11\System\Hardware specific\Novation Launchpad (this may be different depending on your machine and how you chose to install FL Studio) and delete the name of the scale from the filename (“Page15 Lydian.scr” should read “Page15.scr”).

Enjoy!: http://ge.tt/3li3BJq/v/0?c

Korg Monotron Duo

I’m a softsynth guy for the most part.  Why bother with heavy and space-consuming hardware when it can all live in your computer, right?  But recently I’ve been craving something to fiddle with, something with dedicated controllers that I did not have to painstakingly assign or configure.  And, oh yeah, something on the cheap.

The Monotron Duo is the second in Korg’s series of Monotrons (the first was the plain old monotron, the third is the Monotron Delay).  The design and layout is a very simple but powerful monophonic subtractive synth with two oscillators, a low pass filter, an X-Mod knob for cross modulation between the two oscillators, and a ribbon controller.

monotron front

The Oscillators

You can get a lot out of these little guys.  Activate just one oscillator (VCO1 mode) with no cross modulation and you’ll get a very plain, biting, clipped saw/square. Add a little of the x mod the silent second oscillator will modulate the frequency of the first, giving you a mild detune at low intensity, and all sorts of craziness at high intensity.  Activate VCO2 mode to get the second oscillator going.  Your tonal center will be unrecognizable in no time.  Hot tip: activate both oscillators in VCO2 mode, put them in unison or in octaves, turn the x mod up to 3 or 4 and you’ve got yourself a nice fat lead (that sounds like a lot more than just two voices).

There’s just a touch of leakage between the oscillators.  Manipulating VCO2 when only VCO1 is activated (and cross modulation is set to zero) does produce a tiny amount of modulation.  Also, if the cutoff is set low enough, you can hear a click on any note release.

The Ribbon Controller

You’ve got just over an octave in 4 different modes.  Each press of the little red button will change the ribbon controller to the next mode, the order being continuous – chromatic – major – minor.  Continuous sets the ‘keyboard’ to be truly continuous with no discernible pitch between one place on the keyboard and another, which is very useful for big slides and noise/effect creation.  Chromatic mode will give you every note you see on the keyboard, which, for me, was a pretty clumsy endeavor.  I found it was pretty difficult to really aim your finger in the right place with so many discrete notes packed into a 2+ inch space.  Major and Minor mode set the keyboard to those respective scales.  All you’ve got to do is drag your finger around and you’ve got a melody.  With the non-harmonic notes out of the way, I found I could consistently play the notes I was aiming for.  Use the VCO1 pitch knob to set C to the key of your tune (or another note, if you want to get modal) and go nuts.

monotron back

Output

The little speaker is okay, I guess, but you’ll need to use the headphone jack to really hear the depth of this synth.  On the downside, there is a faint stream of white noise audible at all times.  You’ll either want to gate, remove, or find a way to make use of this noise.  This device will not give you pristine output, even from the headphone jack.

Verdict

I’ve had an absolute blast with this thing, and have used it in recordings already.  While this is, most definitely not a pristine engineered piece of equipment, it’s drawbacks if your goal is a little dirt and chaos.  The thing to remember is that this is more of a deliberately messy noisemaker and less of a dedicated synth (at $50, what can you really expect).