Rules for Live Mixing of Beatgadgets

I just found this article on my old hard drive and thought it might be interesting to publish it at last. I wrote it way back in 2001 before the formation of sp00 when Ariel and I were learning how to mix together live and avoid stepping on each other’s beats. It seems like most of the advice is still relevant today.

Rules for Live Mixing of Beatgadgets
by RamenBoy
2/23/2001

I am no expert on the live mix, but I am no beginner either. Here is a set of rules that I have found useful over the past few years as a performing electronic musician. As always, rules are made to be broken, but perhaps these will help people take a detour from audio chaos and find a comfortable mix with other electronic musicians.

1. If you can’t beatmatch to it, don’t. Sometimes, you just want to play a track that doesn’t have the same BPM as what your bud’s playing, and speeding yours up just makes it sound like video game music. Sometimes, it’s ok to just let their track fade out instead of desparately trying to line up your jazzy trip hop with their rigid trance beats.

2. Listen, interact, and communicate. Let other people’s beats affect yours. Let your beats affect theirs. Bounce ideas off of each other.

3. Don’t “oversample”. Let vocal bits enhance the music, but don’t bury it. Space out your vocal samples, and use them strategically.

4. When you’re trying to make a recording of your session, watch the meters! I can’t overemphasize this. Too many great sessions have been fatally mauled by severe hard clipping. Keep your dBs hovering around zero and adjust your amp and deck accordingly. Make sure you match your inputs properly.

5. Transitioning from a swing beat to even time and vice versa rarely works. It all depends on the drumbeat, but be careful of sputtering kickdrums and awkward backbeats when you do this.

6. Take turns being the leader, or conductor, if you will. Electronic music devices often have slightly different interpretations of the same BPM, and if everyone keeps drifting, your mix will turn into mush. Have one person set the standard and let everyone else match it. Ari and I have had a moderate amount of success with the following rule of thumb: whoever’s fading in sets the standard, and whoever’s fading out must keep the sync. With more than two musicians, this becomes more complex.

7. If you’re playing with microphones, make sure you turn the mic track off when you’re done with it. Feedback can creep up on you very slowly, and it usually happens when you get up to go to the bathroom.

8. Teach people how to use your PA and mixer. This should really be #1.

9. Ambience is great for state of mind. Find cool lights and make your stage look interesting. You don’t need a laser light show, just a chill mood. Radio Shack may be your answer.

10. Don’t be afraid to add a little “dirt”. Electronic instruments tend to sound sterile and overprocessed unless you make the explicit effort of adding imperfections (This meme courtesy of Tom Dearing, AKA Reverberation Sound System).

11. Don’t rely on drum loops.

12. Don’t ignore drum loops, either.

13. Don’t be afraid to ask one of your buds for a BPM. Why waste time trying to find their BPM by ear when a little verbal communication will do the trick?

14. Experiment. Always. Don’t worry too much about mistakes. This is live music. Live electronic borders on jazz to me. It’s improv. Let the ideas flow.

15. Always look busy. Even if it takes a bit of theatrics, you need to show people that you are creating the music, not just “hitting play”. As an extreme example, think about Crystal Method, playing most of their set off of a DAT recording. Does the crowd care? No, because they’re jumping around and twisting knobs and playing their keyboards upside down in midair. As a less extreme example, watch DJ Spooky spin sometime. Does he ever, ever stop moving?

That’s all for now. Happy mixing!

Your friend,
the RamenBoy.

Happy 808 Day!

Today is 08/08/08! Happy 808 Day, everybody!

What are your favorite songs featuring 808s?

Thru The Wires is Back @ The Loft in Tempe, 5/28/2008

THRU THE WIRES
WEDNESDAY MAY 28TH 2007

9PM-2AM
$5 @ the door / 21+ (sorry kids)

@ THE LOFT
420 South Mill Avenue / Tempe AZ 85281 (map)

PARKING: In the lot on Ash & 5th (west of the venue, same side of the street)
LOAD IN: Artists between 8:30-9:00pm
TENTATIVE LINEUP (listed in order of appearance)

Chop/Shoppe
ANgR MgMT
Menagam
Modem
RamenBoy
Chop/Shoppe

captainmarmalade – molly_eskonitron 2005-2006

captainmarmalade_-_molly_eskonitron_2005-2006_cover_art

HI SWEETIES,

Molly_eskonitron is a name that I gave to the type of work I was doing in that range of a year and a half. The older stuff (2002-2004) all had the name of vale_eskonitron. It’s a hard thing to try to describe certain period of life where you have a range of ideas and expressions that reflect those ideas, so I just give these periods names when the word sounds like it fits the ideas. These songs have a similar kind of idea as the vale_eskonitron period, but their differences are more audible to me than their similarities. It’s hard to explain, so I won’t bother. This is collection of songs I usually play live but have never actually released (aside from that one live cd… but that doesn’t count). Most of them are Nintendo-oriented and such. Here’s a bit about how they came about… Read more…

sp00 – Short Minutes

sp00 - Short Minutes

When I (ramen) worked at Borders at Fiesta Mall in Mesa, Arizona (Hi, Kai! Hi, Nick!), someone would always get on the PA around closing time and announce, “Borders Books and Music will be closing in 10 short minutes…”. I found this to be completely absurd, and would often complain, “no wonder it takes me so long to do all these dishes–they only give me short minutes…”.

12This album is about not having time to finish. Most of the tracks are under a minute long. Some are longer. Others are finished. For the most part, this is what you get when life hands you the short minutes. The track list might grow if we can find the time to not finish more tracks, so watch this space! (What does that even mean? Watch space? WTF?)

I’d like to take this time to

Arp your beats with Reason 4

Hello, Reason users! Over the years, I’ve stumbled upon some novel techniques by using Reason’s features in unusual ways. I’d like to describe a particularly fun technique for manipulating sliced drum loops in a semi-automated way thanks to Reason 4‘s new arpeggiator device.

The RPG-8 Monophonic Arpeggiator is an instrument that controls another instrument by repeating sequences of notes in a particular order. Though arpeggiators are primarily used with synthesizers and other melodic instruments, you can also arpeggiate a drum beat. It’s not obvious how to do this, however; if you just connect the RPG-8 to a REX device, it doesn’t do anything useful. This tutorial explains how to pull it off.

First, you’ll want to find a REX loop that is evenly sliced. You can also get interesting effects with unevenly-sliced loops, but it’s easier to control the effect with a set of uniformly-spaced slices. Create the REX instrument, then right-click it and select “Combine”.

Now that you have the REX loop inside of a Combinator, it’s a snap to hook up an arpeggiator and have it “do the right thing”. Right-click on the Combinator instrument and select “Create -> RPG-8 Monophonic Arpeggiator”.

This is where the fun starts. If you select the RPG-8 and hold down a few notes on your keyboard, it will start playing a beat. Depending on which keys you hold down, you’ll get a different beat pattern. If you hold down four keys, you’ll usually get a 2-beat, and if you hold down eight keys you’ll get a 4-beat. If you hold down any other number, you’ll start getting odd time signatures and lots of other unexpected consequences. You can set the arpeggiator to go down instead of up, or play the notes randomly, and you’ll start to really mutate the original loop.

Once you have a beat you like, you can record it to the piano roll. It’ll look pretty weird, since it’s basically recording the fact that you held down the same block of keys for an entire measure. You can draw it in instead if that’s easier. If you cut-and-paste the patterns and move a few notes around, and you’ll get fills and other beat variations. It’s a great way to keep the drums live-sounding and add a human touch. Try it!

Until next time,
ramen/[sp00]

ANgR MgMT – Apocalypse E.L.E.

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If the world were to end today, this album would be its theme for doing so. Complete with beams of judgment, this album depicts the world ending the way it should be done: beautifully, and finally. Each original track was created from the ashes of a major crisis or other world-shattering event, and both remixes are completely annihilated versions of the originals. Enjoy, and remember to watch the show from a safe location: the edge of the solar system.

Nikmis – Nikmis and the Mystery of the Blue-Blooded Wendigo

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‘Nikmis and the Mystery of the Blue-Blooded Wendigo, Which Had Undergone Musk Gland Enhancement Surgery, at The Expense of €599, in Order To Achieve Success With Members of the Opposite Sex. His name were Edward, and In Life He Had Been a Trained Ventriloquist, Although He Had Never Been to The Ocean’,

or ‘Nikmis and the Mystery of the Blue-Blooded Wendigo’ for short, is Nikmis’ second full-length release on spoomusic, or anywhere for that matter! Artwork by Randy Green!

Read more…

Happy New Year!

Stolen ImageWith this New Year we have launched the new, blogtacular redesign of spoomusic.com. Check back shortly as we will be releasing two new albums, one from Nikmis and one from ANgR MgMT. We’re still putting the finishing touches on this new website, so please let us know if anything is amiss. Thanks for visiting us, and best wishes for 2008!

Cheers,
ramen/sp00

p.s. i stole that image

Legacy Guestbook

guestbook.gifIf you’re wondering what happened to our guestbook, look no further. Our legacy is here, in the comments attached to this post.