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9000 9001

Drum ’n’ bass
in-studio session

June 2019 / CM269


Bite-sized techniques and tutorials
ti on


> with Fathom CM


Bring mix-ready beats to your tracks CRAIG
Detroit techno
with Thenatan’s killer drum machine meets orchestral

752 dancefloor-
destroying sounds
intro / computer music <

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Bring mix ready beats to your tracks
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ISSUE 269 JUNE 2019


Cover f ature

44 88
EASY MUSIC Masterclass
The dancefloor DnB legends break
Chords, scales, intervals and down their vocal anthem, Let It Go,
produced in Steinberg Cubase
songwriting simplified, p22
Features Interview
54 TRAX CM The Detroit techno pioneer on
How to use this month’s free drum machine plugin adapting his back catalogue for a full
symphony orchestra
Drive, saturate and clip your way to perfect mixes Free samples
Part 1 of our step-by-step modular synthesis course Give your tunes a shot of synthetic
clout with these one-shots and loops
Reviews Essentials
/experts 90 ROLAND CLOUD
Your guides to the TB-303 HARD DRIVE?
ever-expanding world
of production are here 92 IK MULTIMEDIA 42 SUBSCRIBE
Exotic scales demystified
ACM tutor Shea Stedford 98 K-DEVICES
beefs up weak samples WOV+TTAP
Ronan Macdonald delves
deep into cross-rhythms
76 114
4 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019
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Take your songwriting to G

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6 6
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Read the full article on p22


Key signature


C D E F G A B C D Em F  m G A Bm C°

TIP 13 Note names TIP 15 Keys + key signatures TIP 26 Chord inversions

TIP60 Chromatic TIP62 Pivot chord TIP 7 7 Diminished 7ths

modulation modulation

6 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019


Producer Masterclass
MATRIX & FUTUREBOUND Fire up our video and get up to
See the dynamic DnB duo at work in the studio speed with this sample-powered
drum machine for PC and Mac
Note: this video is only available using the link on page 45

Read the full article on p44 Read the full article on p54

The first part of our
modular synth workshop
Read the full
article on p65 2 Building a synth voice 3 Modulation Matrix 4 ADSR Envelope

5 Filtering 6/7 Envelopes/LFOs 8 Sequencing 9 Effects



Our resident music
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walk you through
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every month Read the full Read the full Read the full
article on p74 article on p76 article on p78

June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 7


Exclusive hands-on sessions
with the latest software In The Studio with Feed Me

Classic Producer Masterclass

videos from the archives
650+ videos, with more
added every month

Granular Synthesis with Audio Damage Quanta


Workflow Strategies with Mason


> news


Native Instruments Massive X

The eagerly anticipated softsynth is shaping up to be something special
Having missed its originally
suggested February release slot (and
then some), the sequel to Native
Instruments’ seminal Massive – arguably
the first plugin ‘super synth’ – is now
scheduled for availability in June. The
wait feels interminable, but at least the
developers have started sharing details
and screenshots of Massive X via the
Massive X Lab page on their blog – and,
boy, is it looking good…
First and foremost, Massive X is
described as “an entirely new instrument,
designed from the ground up”, and the
interface reflects that, with its clear, clean
layout, and enticing colours and
iconography. The two main wavetable
oscillators will apparently be boasting
“around 125 wavetables at launch” and
operate in ten distinct modes for plenty of
sonic variation.
They can be further messed around with If looks are anything to go by, Massive X is certainly on the right track
using a pair of phase modulation oscillators,
and an array of intriguing Insert FX and
Insert Oscillators, the latter being for There’s no restriction on how signals are freely assignable rhythmic, performance
“complex DX7-style phase modulation passed around these modules, either: just and MIDI-controlled modulation.
environments” but also usable on their own drag connections between oscillators, filters We simply couldn’t be more excited to
for subtractive synthesis. and FX as you see fit. get our hands on Massive X, which looks to
Eight new filter types are also in place, For getting Massive X’s parameters build on the foundations of the original
each with numerous modes, from the usual moving, up to nine envelopes and LFOs are Massive in spectacular style. Hopefully it
low- and high-pass to combs and beyond; available in any combination, and the will hit its June launch date, at a price yet to
and up to three Unit FX (delay, reverb, Performer, Remote Octave and Tracker be confirmed.
distortion, etc) can be applied. modules provide a veritable playground of native-instruments.com

Serato Studio
Digital DJ specialists Serato are getting into the
See our first impressions at:
DAW game with Serato Studio, a production
bit.ly/SerStdFstLk application aimed at beginners and DJs looking
to make their own tracks. The interface is
modelled on their DJ software, and although it
appears basic, the beat-making workflow looks
to be fast and fun.
Fans of
Serato’s DJ
It’s currently at public beta stage, but will be
software available soon through monthly subscription.
will love
Studio serato.com

10 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

news <

App watch
We report on the latest
developments in phone
and tablet music making

Audio Damage’s new Enso looper effect promises to make time travel a reality – sort of iPad Air
First, some hardware news: Apple have
launched a new iPad Air (from £479) and
Audio Damage Enso – record backwards at half speed while the iPad mini 5 (from £399), both of which
Inspired by vintage and modern looper playing forwards at double speed, say. Up to look like decent options for music makers.
hardware, Audio Damage’s new plugin four ‘Sectors’ can be defined, too, each with They feature the same A12 chip and each
effect lets you capture, loop and overdub up its own start and end points, for on-the-fly comes with either 64GB or 256GB of
to ten minutes (five on iOS) of audio input loop rearrangement; and Tape saturation, storage. The Air rocks a 10.5-inch screen
without stopping playback at any point. A Filter and Chorus effects are onboard. The and the mini a 7.9-inch display. We like the
‘dual tape deck’ option alters the Feedback gorgeous main display visualises the loop look of the Air in particular, and we’re
parameter for ‘Frippertronics’-style creative and Sector markers in real time. pleased to say that both models have
layering; and with independent speed and Available now for Mac and PC, $79, and headphones and Lightning ports.
direction controls for recording and iOS for $8. We’ll be reviewing it next issue. apple.com/ipad
playback, time becomes a fluid plaything audiodamage.com

Positive Grid BIAS FX 2

The second generation of Positive Grid’s
complete guitar processing software suite
introduces a re-engineered DSP engine and
“greatly improved workflow”, and a
shedload of new amps and effects, as well as Koala Sampler
advanced Harmonizer, Fuzz and Time Sometimes, app developers over-
modellers. The amp engine is lifted directly complicate things, but Elf Audio’s Koala
from the company’s superb Amp 2 amplifier/ Sampler is a fine example of the ‘keep it
cab simulation, thousands of custom foot simple’ approach. You can sample sounds
pedal presets are downloadable from to its pads using your device’s built-in mic,
ToneCloud, and if you opt for the Elite down to their pickups, body type and body and then make quick edits before
edition, you also get BIAS Pedal, with which thickness”, without any additional hardware. sequencing them into a track. There are
you can build your own effects. Perhaps the Available now in Standard ($99), performance effects, too, plus a keyboard
most exciting new feature, however, is Professional ($199) and Elite ($299) editions, mode that plays sounds chromatically.
Guitar Match, which lets you turn your differentiated by the number of amps, Basically, it’s a blast – and at £2.99, it’s
guitar “into a hoarder’s collection of effects and Guitar Match models in each. cracking value, too.
legendary axes, each precisely recreated positivegrid.com elf-audio.com/koala

PSP Audioware HertzRider

The latest plugin effect from acclaimed
Polish developers PSP is a creative
frequency shifter for retuning inharmonic
and manipulating harmonic source signals
in ways that conventional pitchshifting can’t.
The two Shift knobs enable independent,
linked or opposite shifting of the left and Endlesss
right channels within a 1kHz, 3kHz or 10kHz Tim Exile is known for his inventive
range, and the meter in between shows the plugins, but with Endlesss [sic], he’s taking
amount of shifting taking place in real time. on his most ambitious challenge yet.
The ‘creative’ part comes in the shape of the Starting life as an iOS app, this is a
onboard LFO, which features variable offset collaborative music-making platform that
between the phase of the left and right lets you create Rifffs [sic] and share them
channels, and modulates the pitchshifters at with other users so you can work on
up to 10Hz. projects together. A VST plugin is also
HertzRider is out now for Mac and PC, coming too. You can sign up to test the
PSP Audioware HertzRider can help you on and costs $49. We’ll review it soon. beta on the website.
retuning duties where others can’t pspaudioware.com beta.endlesss.fm

June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 11

> news

Get with the Process.Audio Sugar

Allegedly “conceived by a team of award-
winning producers and mixers”, Process.

programmers Audio’s debut plugin is billed as the “ultimate

audio sweetener”. Essentially a multiband
enhancer, it divides the signal into Low,
Medium, High and Air bands, every one with
We talk SampleTank 4 and more with IK Multimedia’s two colouration modes, intelligently
applying what seems to be a particular and
CTO and product designer undivulged combination of EQ and
compression to each, via the raising of a
single fader. Linear phase high- and low-pass
SampleTank 4’s library is jaw- filters, and three flavours of saturation are
dropping in scope. How did you do it ? also involved.
Erik “It sounds simplistic, but we developed Process.Audio Sugar is available now for
these sounds one instrument at a time. We PC and Mac, for £119.
found the best piano, clavinet, vibraphone, process.audio
etc. We looked at our existing sound library
and saw what needed to improve and
expand. Then we went after the sounds using Acon Digital Verberate 2
IK Multimedia all our resources across many countries. We We rated Acon Digital’s original algorithmic
took what we learned from Syntronik and reverb plugin 8/10 when we reviewed it in
Davide Barbi Miroslav Philharmonik 2 and applied that to 202, and version 2 is said to take it to the
the new SampleTank 4 sessions. We are next level with the addition of the new
and Erik constantly evolving our sampling techniques, Vivid Hall algorithm. This models
and I have to say, we get better with each random fluctuations in the virtual
Norlander passing year. Syntronik was a milestone for acoustic space, such as would be
that, and SampleTank 4 is another one.” created by air currents and the
movement of performers and
The Acoustic Pianos collections are a ST4 library highlight. How audience, for a “higher degree of
did you go about it, and why’s it better than dedicated piano libraries? realism”. There are also new Dispersion and
Erik “We listened to so many pianos! We checked out instruments across Swirl parameter for better simulation of
the USA and Europe before deciding to go after this particular piano. It’s plates and vintage digital hardware.
an extraordinary instrument in an extraordinary studio. The combo of the Verberate 2 can be yours right now for
instrument itself with its dedicated maintenance, the room it sits in, the the price of £80.
microphones and preamps used… all of those contribute to this very acondigital.com
special sound. There’s also a certain soul in the piano that has developed
from all the music played on it, on so many great recordings. When you
find these rare, special instruments, there is always something a bit NoiseAsh Rule Tec
unidentifiable about why they’re so so special. You hear it instantly, but it’s Heritage Pro
difficult to identify with words. The best way to say it, I suppose, is that Every producer needs a decent Pultec EQ
from the moment you play the samples, you hear music in them.” emulation plugin in their arsenal, and
NoiseAsh’s triple header looks to be a
With the modulation matrix, ST4 is halfway to becoming a synth! thoroughly viable new option.
Any plans to add virtual analogue or wavetable oscillators? Modelling the Pultec EQP-1A, MEQ-5
Erik “We always try to balance user friendliness with functionality. We and HLF-3C – the last particularly rare
don’t want to hit the user with so in software form – in a single plugin,
many controls that editing becomes Rule Tec Heritage Pro gives you plenty
“Our sampling difficult or impossible for a large part of passive EQing options, including,
of the user base. Syntronik was an most notably, the classic ‘Pultec low
techniques get better exercise in that for sure, but in 2019, end trick”, whereby simultaneous cut and
most synth users are more boost are applied at 60Hz for a solidifying
with each passing year” sophisticated than in the past, so a effect on kick drums and basses.
modulation matrix is not such an Rule Tec Heritage Pro is out now, for $130.
imposing feature now. As far as adding new sound sources like virtual noiseash.com
analogue or wavetable technology, we’re always thinking about that.”

Your new iLoud MTM speakers mark your first foray into the pro Nembrini Audio LoFi
monitoring market. What inspired them, and what sets them apart? Vintage Clipper
Davide “The iLoud MTM builds on a simple principle: first understanding Distortion plugins don’t get much more
the weak links in a monitoring system, then giving a practical solution – at straightforward than Nembrini Audio’s debut
a good price – so you can mix easier and faster, with less back and forth. In release for Mac and PC. LoFi Vintage Clipper
our opinion, the weakest links in conventional monitoring systems are makes the process of applying edgy
bad time alignment (ie, bad phase response) and bad interaction with the analogue-style clipping and less
room/environment. For this reason, the iLoud MTM offers a truly flat sonically-punishing saturation idiot-
magnitude and phase frequency response – a feature pretty unique in this proof by offering just two operational
price range. Mixing on a phase-flat system means less work for the knobs – one for each of the
hearing system to decipher what’s going on, allowing decisions to be aforementioned distortion styles,
taken by the engineer in a fraction of the time it takes on a conventional which are applied in parallel – and an output
phase-shifting system. Plus, the iLoud MTM includes a self-enclosed level control.
automatic room tuning feature that allows for the monitor to be properly It’s out now, although having been made
EQed to its positioning in the room in seconds – no expertise needed.” available as a free download for a limited
time (sorry if you missed it!), it now costs $79.
ikmultimedia.com URL nembriniaudio.com

12 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

June 2009’s issue revealed
the not-at-all elusive secret
to making music pay out
It was time for us to dive deep into
Ableton Live 8 in June 2009 ( 139), as
we gave you the customary and
comprehensive guide. To be fair, you
had plenty of time to get to grips with this
Softube say they’ve taken the best multi-waveforms and distilled them with new plugin Parallels particular version of the DAW; Live 9
wouldn’t be released for another four
Softube parallels years, practically an aeon in music
software development terms.
Based on “painstakingly recorded and calibrated multi-waveforms We also had a guide to making money
from your music, something that some
from every dream-machine must-have synth you could ever want”, would argue is now even more difficult
Softube’s first synth plugin aims to be instantly gratifying. Two of the
aforementioned waveforms – each constantly evolving through its “Making money from
15-second duration – are loaded as parallel sound sources for music is now even more
wavescanning, blending, manipulation, modulation and processing by
the modelled filters and effects for which the Swedish developers are difficult than back then“
known. It all happens in one of the most beautiful user interfaces we’ve than it was back then. In fact, the best
seen. Parallels is out now, priced $149. advice for anyone who wants to earn a
fortune would probably be ‘don’t
consider a career in music’, but we all do
it for the love anyway, right?
In the news section, we covered the

Ins & outs launch of PreSonus Studio One, which

has gone on to perform the tricky feat of
establishing itself in the big league of
USB PHWOAR MYWASTE DAWs. Our deputy editor, meanwhile, was
New connectivity standards can OK, you might be ashamed of pondering the best method of cable
often spell trouble for computer those tracks you put on MySpace coiling, discussing the relative merits of
musicians – or new dongles and 15 years ago, but at least you knew both the ‘over/over’ and ‘over/under’
adapters at the very least – but USB they were still there. Except they techniques. We think he was talking
4.0 might just be different. It’s set to probably aren’t anymore: as a result about cable coiling, anyway.
fully incorporate the Thunderbolt 3 of a “server migration”, anything
standard, so one port might finally more than three years old may’ve
be set to rule them all. been lost forever.


We’re all familiar with the idea of Pi Day takes place on 14 March
road-testing your mixes on a car (you can work out why), and to
tereo, but Jack White has gone one celebrate, the creators of AI
step further by transmitting them songwriter Amadeus Code
n an FM frequency from the studio, created a song based on Don
en tuning-in in his ‘whip’ so that he McLean’s American Pie. The
can offer real-time feedback on how results were… arguable, but judge
things are sounding. for yourself: bit.ly/am_pi


Google love a musical Doodle, and Relatedly, we’ve now learned that
their latest, coinciding with what Warner Bros’ hot new signing is…
would’ve been Bach’s birthday, was an algorithm. It’s Endel, the app
a doozy. Feed it a two-bar melody that makes personalised sounds
and it’ll generate a Bach-style to help you sleep, relax and focus.
harmony for you. There’s even a So, we’re not just competing with
‘Switched On’ version if you know other humans for record deals
where to look… now, but machines, too. Readers in June 2009 were treated to a
comprehensive guide to Ableton Live 8

June 2019  /  Computer muSiC  /  13

>  news

freeware news
This month’s bevy of gratuities includes MIDI modules, clever clavinets,
grungy guitar goodies and some 80s-tastic digital drums

STL Ignite
Plug-in Bundle
A collaborative effort from a pair
of metal-minded developers, this
bundle is all bark and bite

Ignite Amps have made quite a name This collab between STL
for themselves among the plank- Tones and Ignite Amps will
spanking populace (erm, that’d be get things crunching
guitarists) with their powerful software
amp sims and ear-shredding hardware processor. Plus, they’ve included a sextet characterful clean tones, too. Don’t
counterparts. Among their most popular of studio-quality impulse responses discount it as a guitarist’s plaything,
products is Emissary, a recreation of a tracked at a pro studio, with the hardware either: the Emissary can also impart
one-off custom head. version of the Emissary driving a limited brutal tones to your synth patches.
For the latest version, they’ve joined edition Kirk Hammett 4x12 cabinet. NadIR Both Emissary and NadIR are
with STL Tones to bring out the Emissary itself gives plenty of sound-shaping with optimised for real-time use with easy-on-
Plug-In Bundle, a free collection that built-in filters, room controls, and more. the-CPU performance and zero latency, so
features the brand new version of Mind you, the Emissary 2.0 plugin don’t be afraid to plug right in and have a
Emissary, and the latest 2.0 version of needs little help on shredding sonic jam with the band.
NadIR, their convolution-based signatures, though it has plenty of stltones.com

2gether Audio PlugIn Guru Hora Music

Ticky Clav 2 ShowmIDI and modmate PCm Drum
What with the revival of John ‘Skippy’ Lehmkuhl is a The 80s are nigh-on
Big Tick’s Cheeze legendary figure among inescapable at the
Machine still on all of our longtime electronic moment, with heaps
minds, we thought we’d musicians, selling custom of plugins devoted to
feature Ticky Clav sample sets in the 1980s, recreating the era of
among this month’s classics – but 2gether Audio followed by a lengthy stint with Korg where his neon colours and
has gone and put paid to that plan by issuing a factory patches were among the standouts on asymmetrical hair cuts.
brand-spanking new version of Big Tick’s chunky, some classic synths. If you’re a VCV Rack user and itching to score
funky virtual keyboard. As PlugIn Guru, he offers patches, samples, the next retro actioner, you’d do well to check out
Just like with the original, Ticky Clav 2 is and a pair of useful MIDI effects. ShowMIDI does the free version of Hora Music’s PCM Drum. This
bursting with that 70s sound that can be heard on just what the name says – it displays MIDI activity. module collects 25 samples from the mighty
so many groovy tunes. Built-in wah drives the ModMate likewise displays MIDI CC activity, but LinnDrum. What’s more, they sound just as crisp
classic quacking clav sound home. allows you to reroute and stack CCs and more. and crunchy as they did in the old days.
2getheraudio.com pluginguru.com hora-music.be/pcm-drums.php


Wavosaur vsT speek
While we’re on the subject of movies from Broderick’s binary buddy from War Games.
the 1980s, shall we play a game? That’s Based on the SAM software for the
right, we’re looking to sing a duet of Daisy Commodore 64, VST Speek will pronounce
Mae with a computerised collaborator. anything you type into it in a gritty, grainy
While developers have yet to synthesise a diction that sounds a bit like Stephen
computerised voice as silky as Douglas Hawking with a bad case of smoker’s cough.
Rain’s, they have managed (just about) to Yep, it’s that good.
give us something akin to that of Matthew blog.wavosaur.com

14  /  ComPuTEr muSIC  /  June 2019

>  make music now / outro
what’s on your hard drive?

What’s on your hard drive?

Giorgia Angiuli
The Italian producer and live artist reveals the software behind her
recently released debut album, In A Pink Bubble
Ableton live 10 harmonics and reproduces the warmth of opinion, it is essential to have this kind of
“Ableton Live is a platform that you’ll fall in those old valves. It always makes an impact tool on your computer.”
love with. It’s simple, versatile and reliable. on basslines and leads.
Even if Ableton is the first and only DAW “Can I mention two more UAD plugins? vAlhAllA vintAgeverb
you’ve worked with, you’ll have no problems RealVerb Pro is wonderful on synthesisers; “I discovered this about three years ago, and
using it after a while – it’s so intuitive! I use it and my other essential UAD tool is the haven’t stopped using it since. As the name
for everything: to compose, arrange and mix Pultec EQP-1A equaliser – it’s so round and suggests, it’s modelled on older reverb units,
my tracks, and also when I play live. smooth, especially when used on vocals but still manages to maintain its own
“Right at the start, when I was first and guitar.” character. I find it particularly good for
beginning electronic music production, it vocals, leads and pads, and I’m pleased to
quickly became the only DAW I wanted to brAinworx bx_DigitAl v3 say that it’s also light on the CPU – despite
work with. Without hesitation, I can suggest eQ collection the high overall quality! It’s easy to use, too –
it to everyone who wants to make music. “The beauty of the Brainworx EQs is that with a few adjustments of the Predelay,
Every day, it will offer you new possibilities.” they all have such a clean sound. They never you’ll soon find the sound and space you’re
sound harsh, which is something that you looking for.”
UAD thermionic cUltUre vUltUre can often find when it comes to other digital
“I bought my UAD Satellite three years ago, EQ plugins. Some EQs will only work on tAl-chorUS-lx
and it’s now one of the most important certain instruments, but with Brainworx “This is another effects plugin that’s
tools in my studio. There are so many great EQs, you can use them on everything, remained on my computer for at least four
plugins to choose from, but one of my especially when you’re EQing subtractively – or five years. It’s built its reputation on being
favourites is the Thermionic Culture you know, when you’re trying to find space a reproduction of the mighty Juno synth’s
Vulture. I find it hard to explain the colour it for something in the mix. They do their job chorus, and yes, it does come in useful when
gives to my sounds… it adds fantastic fine, but then they add nothing. In my I want to make a synth stand out in the mix.

16  /  Computer musiC  /  June 2019

special. It’s been designed to work with iSSUe 269 JUNE 2019
vocal signals, and that’s exactly what it Future Publishing Ltd.
does. There aren’t many controls – just a Quay House, The Ambury, Bath, BA1 1UA
Tel: 01225 442244
gate and a compressor. The latter is a soft- Fax: 01225 732275
knee compressor with auto make-up gain. Email:computermusic@futurenet.com
That means that you really must set this one Web:computermusic.co.uk

up by ear – adjust the controls until you find eDitoriAl

Editor: Joe Rossitter, joe.rossitter@futurenet.com
something that fits your voice.” Art Editor: Mark White, mark.white@futurenet.com
Managing Editor: Kate Puttick, kate.puttick@futurenet.com
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18 / COMPUTER MUSIC June 2019

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June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 19




22 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

88 easy music theory tips  /  make music now  <

Our bite-sized,
C guide is here to
help you out…
The relevance of music theory as a whole to the
computer musician of 2019 is a much discussed
and debated topic. With so many compositional aids
and hugely powerful DAWs on the market, and the
widely-held view that the average pop song is, by
definition, inherently simplistic, you could argue that
there isn’t really much need to know a great deal of
theory. And yet, music is one of those fields in which
there’s always something new to learn, no matter
what level of musician you consider yourself to be, so
it can’t be denied that a little extra knowledge is
always a good thing.
Here at , although we get that an in-depth music
theory background is by no means essential to create
great tunes, we’re always keen to squeeze our in-house
experts for as much easily-accessible and useful know-
how as we can get our hands on. Even if you’re a swirling
maelstrom of raw talent with an enviable natural feel for
what makes a great track, being armed with just a
smattering of the basics is only going to put you in a
stronger position musically, enabling you to make better,
more informed production choices. So to that end, we’ve
curated this approachable collection of bite-sized, theory-
based hints and tips, gathered together by topic and
aimed at precisely that – using music theory as a
springboard to help you make better tunes. Progressing
from beginner-level theory and basic definitions through
to more advanced concepts, over the next few pages
you’ll find us highlighting the sort of stuff that’s useful to
know if you want to take your songwriting, arranging,
production and even mixing to the next level. So what are
you waiting for? Let’s get theory-ous!

June 2019 / Computer musiC  /  23

>  make music now  /  88 easy music theory tips

Jargon buster
Some definitions to kickstart proceedings
An interval is the distance in pitch between two tone (Whole-Step) semitone (Half-Step)
notes, and there are two possible types –
harmonic and melodic. Harmonic intervals
happen when two different notes are played
together at the same time – in other words, a
two-note chord. On the other hand, a melodic
interval is between two notes played one after
the other – that’s a two-note melody.

An octave is an interval of 12 semitones
between two notes that have the same name,
eg, C3 and C4. An octave spans all 12 notes on
the piano keyboard.

semitone / tone C2 C3
Also sometimes known as a half-step, a
semitone is the distance between any two
adjacent notes on the piano keyboard – the
smallest possible interval. It’s also the interval
between the degrees of a chromatic scale. A
tone, short for ‘whole tone’ is the same as two
semitones, and is also sometimes called a Octaves, tones and semitones are the building blocks of music theory

DiatoniC represent the same progression in any key? By

With regard to scales and chords, the term using Roman numerals to label the diatonic
‘diatonic’ can literally be translated as chords (see pic), you can write out
‘belonging to’, eg, the diatonic chords for C progressions regardless of the key. Major
major are C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am and Bdim. They chords get upper case numerals, while minor
all ‘belong to’ the harmonised C major scale, and diminished chords are represented by
and therefore to the key of C major. lower-case numerals.

CHromatiC toniC
Chromatic generally refers to semitones – for The term given to the lowest note on which a
instance, a semitone is a chromatic interval, scale is based, or the first chord in a set of
and an increase in pitch of one semitone is diatonic chords. For example, the tonic of the C
known as a chromatic shift. The term major scale is the note C, whereas in a chord
chromatic can also mean the opposite of progression that’s in the key of C major, the
diatonic, used to describe any note that tonic chord is C major.
Harmonised scales are formed by stacking alternate
doesn’t belong to the current key or scale.
Dominant notes to form diatonic triads

Degree The name given to the 5th note in a scale or the

The name given to a note that appears in a 5th chord in a diatonic set. The dominant is the
scale. So the note C is the first degree of the C second strongest chord in a key after the tonic.
major scale, D is the second degree, and so on.
A major scale contains seven degrees, while a seConDary Dominant
chromatic scale contains 12. The name given to a chord based on the 5th
(dominant) note of any key or scale other than
roman numerals the one you’re currently in. Secondary
Using chord names to spell a chord dominants are often used in a chord
progression is great, but what if you want to progression to prepare the listener for an
upcoming shift to a different key.

The harmonic functions of diatonic chords
To harmonise a scale means to create chords
built on each note in the scale using only notes
from that scale. The easiest way to build a function’ within a chord progression. For
harmonised scale is to start with the root note, instance, tonic chords provide a sense of rest
then stack up every alternate note until you’ve or ‘home’, while predominant chords provide a
built a three-note chord sense of instability that takes us away from
home. Chords with a dominant function bring
HarmoniC FunCtion us back home by resolving to the tonic, which
Diatonic chords can be thought of as having basically means when we hear one, we most
Roman numeral notation of a diatonic set one of three types of job, or ‘harmonic want to hear a tonic chord next.

24  /  Computer musiC  /  June 2019

88 easy music theory tips / make music now <

An interval is the distance

in pitch between any two
notes, and each has its
own name (see chart),
from the smallest (the
minor 2nd, equivalent to
C D E F G A B C one semitone) to the
largest (the major 13th,
equivalent to 21
semitones). The chart
Note names shows the interval names
In the Western musical alphabet, there are found within an octave.
seven note names: A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. These Interval name Semitones
note names, however, apply only to the white notes
Unison 0
on the keyboard – so what about the black keys?
Minor 2nd 1
Around the time the keyboard and music notation
were first invented, the design of the keyboard Major 2nd 2

centred around the scale of C major, which has no Minor 3rd 3

sharps or flats in it. When accidentals (sharps and Major 3rd 4

flats) needed to be added in order to raise or lower Perfect 4th 5

notes by one semitone in pitch, this became the Aug 4th / Dim 5th 6
function of the black keys on the keyboard. When Perfect 5th 7
naming accidentals, a sharp or flat sign is placed
after the note name – C, for example, is one
Minor 6th 8

Major 6th 9
semitone higher in pitch than C. Depending on the
key you’re working in though, C can also be called
Minor 7th 10

D, D can be E, and so on. Major 7th 11

Octave 12

Keys and key Key signature

When we say that a piece of music is in a
particular key, it means that most of its

chords and melody are taken from a
certain ‘parent’ scale. The parent scale

major scale – D E F G A B and C – and all of the

for the key of D major, for instance, will be the D D E G A B
diatonic chords for the key – D, Em, Fm, G, A, Bm
and Cº – are built using those notes. On a score,
the key signature tells us what key the piece is in
via sharp or flat symbols placed at the start of the
stave, on the lines corresponding to the relevant
notes. These indicate which notes need to be
played as sharps or flats throughout the piece in

Em F  m G C°
order to stay in key.

D A Bm

June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 25

> make music now / 88 easy music theory tips

Chords can be defined as multiple In contrast, augmented chords are
formed by taking a standard major
notes played simultaneously. For triad and raising the 5th by a
semitone. So to create C+, for example, you’d

up one semitone to G to end up with C-E-G. This

start with C major (C-E-G) and raise the 5th (G)
everyday songwriting duties, the results in three evenly-spaced chord tones, each

humble triad, or three-note chord, is separated by a major 3rd interval (four

semitones). As there are 12 notes in an octave,
augmented triads are symmetrical, so any of the
the order of the day three notes in the chord can be the root note.
Like their diminished cousins, augmented triads
also make great passing chords – try C - C+ - F.

01 04
FORMING major 3rd between the middle note and the root THE 4/3 RULE
BASIC TRIADS results in a major triad, while if the interval is a If you don’t know the notes in the
The common-or-garden basic chord minor 3rd, it’s a minor triad. This is why building scale you work with, you can
is known as a triad, which contains a triad using notes from the C major scale and work out how to build major or
three notes. To build one, you start on any note starting from D results in a minor chord – Dm (D- minor triads on any root note with the 4/3 rule.
of a scale, then add alternate notes from the F-A) – because the interval between D and F is Find your starting note, count four semitones up
scale until you have a stack of three. So to build C three semitones, or a minor 3rd. the keyboard to find the 3rd, then another three

major (C-E-G), for example, you start on the root to get to the 5th. So, start on C, four semitones
note of C, skip the next note of the scale (D) to DIMINISHED up is E, then three more gets you to G – voila, a C
land on E, then skip the next note (F) to land on RESPONSIBILITY major triad (C-E-G). For minor triads, reverse the
G. Triads can be major or minor depending on If you take a regular minor triad formula to 3/4 – three semitones up from the
the position of the middle note. An interval of a and lower the 5th by a semitone, root to the 3rd, then four more to the 5th.
you get what’s known as a diminished chord.
Because the 5th has been lowered, the interval
between it and the root note of the chord is
referred to as a diminished 5th, and this has
another name – the tritone, so called because
it’s an interval of precisely six semitones, or
three whole tones. This interval is considered so
unstable and unsettling that it was actively
feared in the Middle Ages! Because of this sonic
instability, diminished chords sound fairly tense
and unnerving in certain contexts, but work

between a major triad and a minor triad – try B -

really well as passing chords to bridge the gap

Basic triads are stacked alternate notes from a scale Bº - Cm as an example. Use the 4/3 rule to find any major and minor triad

A close relative of major and
minor triads, suspended chords
are great for movement. They’re made by
taking the 3rd – the middle note – from a
standard triad and moving it up or down by
one scale note. Moving it up makes a sus4
chord, with a perfect 4th interval between
the middle note and root, while moving it
down to a major 2nd interval above the
root makes a sus2 chord. So C major (C-E-G)
played as Csus4 becomes C-F-G, and played
Add a dash of tension to your progression with suspended chords as Csus2 becomes C-D-G.
26 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019
88 easy music theory tips / make music now <

While it’s perfectly acceptable to
build a song using basic triads,
extending the chords by adding
more notes can really help to ramp up the level
of sophistication. To build them up, start with a
normal triad, but just keep on skipping and
stacking notes from the scale. So, in the case of
C major, we’d continue from the 5th (G), skip the
next note in the C major scale (A) to land on B
for CMaj7 (C-E-G-B), then just keep on going, C Major G Major
adding a 9th (D) and 11th (F) to give us CMaj11

The limit of chord extension is the
13th (any more than this and the
note-skipping tactic means you
just land on the root again). A quick way of
working out the 13th interval above the root is to
just play the 6th an octave higher – so in the
case of C major, to get Cmaj13 we’d play C-E-G-B-
D-F-A. That’s quite a wide spread of notes for
anyone’s fingers, so the chord can be ‘voiced’
with some of the higher notes shifted down an Cmaj9
octave, making it a bit easier to deal with.

Combine simple triads together to make more complex polychords

A quick and easy way to form complex
chords, polychords are created by
combining two regular major or minor
triads to make a larger chord. For instance, we can
smoosh together a C major triad (C-E-G) and a G major
A dominant chord’s primary role is to take us back to the
tonic chord
triad (G-B-D) to form Cmaj9 (C-E-G-B-D). Playing the
triads in different inversions (or even separate octaves)

Used extensively in rock, pop,
can yield even more interesting results. Bear this
blues and jazz, the function of the
dominant 7th chord is to resolve
technique in mind when figuring out chords for your
back to the tonic chord. It’s built by adding a track – experiment by squishing triads together in
example, is C-E-G-B.
flattened 7th on top of a major triad – C7, for
random combinations until you get something that
sounds cool.

The 5th chord in a diatonic set is called the as C-E-GA. Interestingly, because diminished
dominant, which in the key of C major would be 7ths contain four notes that are all separated by
G major (G-B-D). Turning this into a dominant equal three-semitone intervals, they span the 12

a result, Cº7, Eº7, Gº7 and Aº7 are all basically

7th by adding an F makes a stronger resolution notes of the octave in a symmetrical pattern. As
back to the tonic C major chord.

notes. The same goes for Cº7, Eº7, Gº7 and Bº7,
the same chord, which are sharing the same
A diminished 7th is created by and also Dº7, Fº7, Aº7 and Bº7. Diminished 7ths
adding an extra note onto the top of have a function that’s similar to that of the
Diminished 7ths are special in that they’re symmetrical a diminished triad, three semitones dominant 7th, which is basically to resolve back
in structure up from the 5th. Therefore, Cº7 would be played to the tonic.

June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 27

> make music now / 88 easy music theory tips

Chord inversions Chord voicings

When writing progressions, how Voicings are similar to inversions in that they
involve adjusting the order in which notes in a
do we avoid the jerkiness that chord are played. Rather than just shifting octaves
often results from playing every around, however, voicings spread notes across the
keys into different octaves, for instance, or
chord with its root note at the sometimes remove a note altogether. As an
bottom of the stack? Inversion example, an A minor triad is played normally as
therapy, that’s how! A-C-E. If we shift the 3rd (E) up an octave but leave
the root and 5th where they are to get A-E-C, this is
known as an open voicing rather than an inversion,
because the 3rd is now in a different octave than
the root.

Rootless voicings
Rootless voicings are a way of playing chords
without the root note. In band scenarios where
the root note is handled by a bass player, they’re
useful since they can be played with the left
This four-bar chord progression in hand, leaving the right hand free to improvise.

1 C major (C - Am - Em - F), has all the

chords played in ‘root position’ – with
the root note as the lowest note. Played
this way, the chords jump around the
You can create a rootless voicing for a major
chord by building a minor 7th chord off the
major 3rd. In the case of C major, the major 3rd is
E, so you would play Em7 (E-G-B-D). You could
keyboard a fair bit and it sounds quite then invert this to, say, B-D-E-G for a different
disjointed, not to mention harder to
vibe. Meanwhile, for minor chords, simply build
play as a result.
a major 7th chord off the minor 3rd.

Voice leading same inversion of each chord to keep the note

movement to a minimum. For example, moving
Voice leading is the practise of inverting chords from C major (C-E-G) to F major (F-A-C), with
in a progression so that they flow together as both chords in root position produces a major
seamlessly as possible. The trick is to use jump up the keyboard. But by inverting the F
inversions to keep notes that are common to chord to a second inversion (C-F-A), the lowest
both chords in the same position in each chord. note remains C, with minimal movement in the
If there are no common tones, then use the upper two chord tones.
To make a first inversion of a triad,

2 we transpose the bottom note up

by one octave. Doing this to the first,
third and fourth chords in our piece (C,
Em and F) brings them closer in pitch
to the second chord of Am, making a
smoother progression. Previously C - E
- G, the C chord is now voiced E - G - C.

This sounds better, but we can

3 improve things further by turning

the C chord into a second inversion. We
do this by shifting the 3rd of the chord
(the E note) up by an octave as well,
making the 5th (G) the lowest note in
the chord. There’s now minimal
movement up and down the keys as
the chords change. Good voice leading is the secret to a polished harmonic progression

28 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

88 easy music theory tips  /  make music now  <

Finding the key of a song

Whether you use your own innate
ear training
The more you dabble in the
abilities or a technological aid, being black art of music theory, the
phenomenon of ear training

able to determine a song’s key is a tends to occur naturally to some extent – you
gradually get used to the sound of certain
scales, chords and intervals to the point where

crucial skill for DJs and producers you might even be able to identify them by ear.
If you’re looking to speed up the process with
some actual exercises to hone your aural pitch-
detection skills, there are websites and apps

available that are specifically dedicated to ear
play along analyse audio in real time, then does some training. These allow you to regularly test
The simplest way to work out the key tricky maths based on the frequencies present yourself on different intervals and chords. Just
of a song is to grab a keyboard and in the audio to work out the most likely key of type ‘Ear Training’ into your search engine of
try to play along with the main the tune you’re playing into it. choice to browse them.
melody of the song. Chances are the tune will be
in one of the major or minor keys, and you
should be able to figure out from the notes it
uses which key it’s in. For instance, if it mainly
contains notes from the C major scale and the
root note feels like C, the key will be C major.

analyse auDio
If you have a solo vocal or other
audio track, try using a pitch-
correction or analysis plugin to
work out what notes are occurring in a melody
(our Photosounder Spiral CM, available free with
) is great for this. Alternatively, many pitch-
correction processors such as Auto-Tune or
Melodyne feature a real-time keyboard display
of the incoming signal’s pitch. Many DAWs have
their own versions built in, such as Logic’s Pitch
Correction plugin.

tHere’s an app
For tHat
Use Mixed In Key’s Key Detect iOS
app to determine the key of a
song. This clever piece of kit uses your phone to Pitch analysis tools can be helpful when trying to establish a song’s key

key moments
The piano roll editor in many
DAWs can be useful if you’re
having problems keeping in key. Ableton
Live has a feature that allows you to show
only the notes that currently exist in a part,
hiding all the ones that haven’t been used
yet. If you know the notes in your scale, you
can add these in at the start of your clip and
drag them back before the first beat. Now
you can hide all the other notes and click
away, safe in the knowledge that you’re only
Ableton Live’s Fold feature keeps you in key when pencilling in melodies entering notes that work with your key.
June 2019 / Computer musiC  /  29
>  make music now  /  88 easy music theory tips

The basic definition of a scale is a set of musical that it gives you more of an idea of what notes
notes arranged in order. Most people are to actually play over any given chord sequence.
familiar with the C major scale as being the one If you know you’ve got a song or track in a
where you start at middle C on the piano and particular key, knowing the notes in the parent
just play all the white keys up the keyboard until scale of that key means that you’ve got much
you’ve covered the notes C, D, E, F, G, A and B, more chance of hitting a note that will work over
eventually hitting C again an octave above the chords that make up the tune. This is
where you started. This is usually the first scale because most of the time, in popular music,
we learn, but there are different types of scale, chord progressions are made up of chords that
each with their own individual sound, some are diatonic to one key or another, and those
containing different numbers of notes. They chords will themselves have been built using the
sound so different due to the variations in notes from the scale in question. So, for
patterns of intervals between notes in each example, if you know your song is in the key of A
scale. With 12 starting notes to choose from, and major, there’s a good chance that if you play the
numerous patterns for each one, this gives rise notes of the A major scale over the chord
to a dizzying number of scales to commit to progression, you’ll get something musically
memory. So why do theory practitioners place palatable. So knowing your scales gets you off
so much emphasis on learning them? to a solid start when coming up with vocal
Aside from the physical benefits of practising melodies, lead lines, basslines and solos that
them, the main reason to know a scale or two is actually work.

Common types of scale

Chromatic Major Natural minor

Taking in all 12 notes found within an octave, the The major scale is usually the first one we learn, If you play a major scale from the sixth note in the
chromatic scale isn’t generally used a great deal chiefly because it has a cheerful, happy demeanour sequence, the interval pattern produces the natural
other than as a collection of every note you can and is one of the easiest scales to memorise and play. minor scale, which sounds darker and moodier than
possibly play on the keyboard, so it’s more useful as a If you start on a C and play the seven white keys to its major cousin. So with the 6th degree of C major
teaching and practice aid rather than a practical scale the right in sequence, you’ll get a C major scale – C D being A, we get A B C D E F G – A natural minor. C
to be used in your tracks. E F G A B. natural minor would therefore be C D Eb F G Ab Bb.

Major pentatonic Minor pentatonic Blues

While major and minor scales have seven notes, The minor version of the pentatonic scale is formed Take a minor pentatonic scale and add an extra note –
pentatonic scales have only five. Essentially a major in a similar way to its major cousin, but by omitting the sharpened 4th degree – to get the blues scale.
scale minus the 4th and 7th – C D E G A – the major two notes from the natural minor scale. The missing The C blues scale, therefore, goes C Eb F F# G Bb.
pentatonic is a staple of folk, blues, rock and country, two notes in a minor pentatonic are the second and Although you can play a standard minor pentatonic
as it uses the five notes from a major scale that work sixth degrees, so C minor pentatonic would be over the blues, adding that extra sharpened 4th gives
over the largest number of underlying chords. spelled C Eb F G Bb. it that essential flavour so characteristic of blues.

30  /  Computer musiC  /  June 2019

88 easy music theory tips  /  make music now  <

there are only two possible versions of it,

Scale name Intervallic
depending on whether you’re starting on a sCale Quantising
white or a black key. If all this learning makes your head hurt, and you
Whole tone scales are hexatonic, which want to ‘cheat’ a bit, you can use a MIDI
Chromatic 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1
means that they contain six notes, all separated transformer like AutoTheory or an iOS app like
by intervals of a whole tone – hence you get the ThumbJam. Software tools like this only allow
major 2-2-1-2-2-2-1
name. With a formula of 2-2-2-2-2-2, wherever you to play the notes from a pre-selected scale
you start from on the keyboard, there are only of your choosing.
natural minor 2-1-2-2-1-2-2
two possible versions, and they work really well Some DAWs actually have this feature built in
over augmented and dominant 7b5 chords. already – Logic Pro, for example, contains a scale
major pentatonic 2-2-3-2-3
quantise feature that shifts any wrongly-played
relative vs parallel notes to the nearest correct note in the chosen
minor pentatonic 3-2-2-3-2
Relative and parallel scales are often mistaken scale – handy indeed.
for each other, as they’re pretty similar- Many hardware controllers also feature
Blues 3-2-1-1-3-2
sounding. So what’s the difference? similar approaches: NI Maschine, Ableton Push
Well, relative scales are two scales – one and Novation Circuit, for instance, all feature
Intervallic formulae is the number of semitones you
have to count to build each scale major, the other minor – that contain the same scale modes that lay out only the notes in the
notes but start on different notes. For example, specified key across a grid of illuminated pads.
C major, which contains the notes C D E F G A And if you get the key and scale settings right,
intervalliC Formulae and B, and A minor which contains A B C D E F just flailing around randomly on the keys or
Keyboard players are at a disadvantage to and G. Parallel scales, meanwhile, are two scales pads can produce unexpectedly cool results you
guitarists when it comes to memorising scales – – one major, one minor – that start on the same wouldn’t ordinarily have used, even if you
the latter only have to memorise one shape for a note, such as C major and C minor. already know your scales anyway!
scale, then move that shape up the neck to play
it in a different key; whereas on the keyboard,
playing the same scale up just one semitone
requires having to remember a completely
different pattern of keys – play a C major scale,
then a C# major one, and you’ll get the idea.
Rather than spending hours practising them
until muscle memory takes over, you can
remember simple number sequences – known
as intervallic formulae – to help you work them
out on the fly, based on counting the number of
semitones between each note in the scale.
For example, the formula for a major scale is
2-2-1-2-2-2-1, so to play, say, D major, you’d start
on D, move up two semitones to E, then another
two to F#, then one semitone up to G, two more
to A and so on, following the formula to
complete the scale.

tHe sCale oF your Dreams

Scoring a dream sequence? Use a whole tone
scale! The whole tone scale is a bit special as Logic’s Transposer locks incoming MIDI notes to a scale, and Scale Quantize corrects already-played parts

Scale name
Scale tones soloing tips
C major 2-2-1-2-2-2-1
When improvising over a chord progression,
knowledge of scales is handy, as the type of chord you
C lydian 2-2-2-1-2-2-1
play over governs the scale type you use to select
C mixolydian 2-2-1-2-2-1-2 your notes from. The best solos take the chord
C Harmonic major 2-2-1-2-1-3-1 changes into account – safest choices are the major/
C major pentatonic
minor pentatonics and blues scale, as they contain
fewer notes and work over more chords. However,
C lydian Dominant 2-2-2-1-2-1-2
each chord type has a wide selection of scales to
C phrygian Dominant 1-3-1-2-1-2-2 choose from that contain the notes of that chord –
C Bebop Dorian 2-1-1-1-2-2-1-2
major chords alone can support at least eight types of
scale (see panel), so the more scales you learn, the
All of these scales contain the notes of a C major triad
(C-E-G), so should work over the top more you’ll know what keys to aim at.
June 2019  /  Computer musiC  /  31
>  make music now  /  88 easy music theory tips

minor minor
1b 1#
G 0


3b 3# F#
C Flats Sharps
MAJOR minor
minor MAJOR

4b 4#

5b 7#
7 b 5#
Ab 6b 6#
minor minor
B b /A# Ab / G #

E b /D #
minor minor

D b / C# Cb / B

Gb / F#


the circle of fifths

The circle of fifths is a diagram that lays out every
musical note, key, three-note chord and scale, and
charts the relationship between them. A bit like a
musical version of the periodic table, the letters can
either represent notes, chords or keys. Go around the
circle clockwise and each note or key is separated by
an interval of a perfect 5th; go round anti-clockwise
and they’re ordered in 4ths. But what does the circle of
fifths actually do for us? Let’s find out…
32  /  Computer musiC  /  June 2019
88 easy music theory tips / make music now <

How to use it…

those that have five, six and seven flats (D, G
clockwise around the circle, overlapping with
The circle groups together all 12 major keys with

direction. So, for instance, F major with its six

their relative minors. A relative key is simply and B) as they continue from the anti-clockwise

sharps and G major with its six flats are the

defined as the minor key that uses the same
notes as a particular major key, or a major key

goes for their relative minor cousins, D minor

that uses the same notes as a particular minor same key with two different names. The same

and E minor. Known as ‘enharmonic’ keys, these

key. Major keys are found on the outer (yellow)
ring, with their relative minor keys shown in the
same segment on the inner (blue) ring. Primary keys have dual identities according to whether
you’re dealing with sharps or flats.
The circles also group six of the seven diatonic PRIMARY CHORDS
chords found in each key. Centring on the tonic, Pick any chord on the circle to be the I chord (or
the other two major chords will be found to the tonic), then the chord to the left will always be
left and right, and the same segments on the the IV chord, and the one to the right will always
inner ring will house the three minor diatonic be the V chord. Known as primary chords, these
chords for that key. This works the same for G / F are the basis for literally thousands of songs,
minor keys as well, but with the tonic centred on particularly when used in what’s known as the I -
the inner ring instead. IV - V progression.
The circle shows you the magic three-chord trick that’s
built thousands of songs
It tells us how many sharps or flats are in each Building on the above, you can expand the I - IV -
key, as seen on the central (blue) ring. As you go music tends to change key by moving between V progression by squeezing in the relative minor

sharp until you get to seven sharps (C major).

clockwise from the top, each key adds one more adjacent keys on the circle. to the tonic, which you’ll find on the inner ring of
the circle in the same segment as the tonic. For
Going anti-clockwise from the top tells us the DISSIMILAR KEYS example, I - vi - IV - V in the key of C major would

end up at seven flats (C major). the key of A major, A - Fm - D - E.

number of flats, adding a flat each time until you It also tells us the least similar keys. Spaced 180 give you C - Am - F - G, or, as another example, in
degrees across from each other, you’ll find the
keys with the fewest notes in common – that is,
B) and its opposite number F major (F G A B C
just two notes. So, the key of C major (C D E F G A

D F) share only the notes F and B. The interval

When working with borrowed chords, the circle The ii - V - I progression is one of the most
can show you the diatonic chords for the parallel widely-used musical phrases there is, especially
key to the one you’re currently in. Choose your between two directly opposite notes on the popular as a jazz turnaround, used to return to
tonic note, then locate its parallel key by finding circle is always a tritone (six semitones) – handy the tonic. To find the minor ii chord in any key,
the same note on the other ring. Now just select when figuring out tritone substitutions. just count two notes over clockwise from the
a chord to borrow from the palette of five chords tonic and ‘minorise’ that chord. From there, step
that immediately surround it on the circle. ORDER OF EVENTS anti-clockwise back two steps to hit the V and I
There are several mnemonics (memory aids) chords. For example, a ii - V - I in the key of D
FINDING 3RDS you can use to help you remember the order of would be Em - A - D.
For a quick way to determine major and minor keys on the circle. For the sharp side (clockwise),
3rd intervals (without a keyboard), simply count there’s Charlie Gets Drunk And Eats Beetroot, E
four steps clockwise from the tonic to find the while for the flat side (anti-clockwise), you could minor
major 3rd, or three anti-clockwise from the tonic go for Charlie Forgets BEADs. D

to reach the minor 3rd. You can also use mnemonics to remember B

the order in which sharps and flats are added to minor
SIMILAR KEYS a key signature to indicate each successive key.
Root of
The circle tells us the most similar keys. Similar These include Father Charles Goes Down And
new key

keys are keys whose parent scales differ only by Ends Battle for the sharps and Battle Ends And harps
major (G A B C D E F) contain almost all the
one note – eg, C major (C D E F G A B) and G Down Goes Charles’ Father for the flats. MAJOR

same notes except for the F, which is F in G ENHARMONIC KEYS 4

major and F natural in C major. Pick a key on the When we get to the lower section of the circle,
7  5
five, six and seven sharps (B, F, C) continue
circle, and either adjacent key will only be one things get interesting key-wise. The keys with minor
note different. Because of this similarity, a lot of E
A / G 
MAJOR of new key

Select a chord as your tonic, and the next chord over will
be its dominant
The circle can help with easy key changes that
use the dominant 7th of the new key as a
method of modulation, placing the dominant
7th before the change to the new tonic chord to
prepare the listener. For example, to change key
from G major to A major, find the new key’s root
Pinpointing chords
to borrow from a Diatonic (A) on the circle, and the next note over
clockwise will be its dominant – E, in this case.
parallel key is just
one of the many uses
Chords So the dominant chord you need for the key
for the circle change is E7: G - E7 - A.

June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 33

> make music now / 88 easy music theory tips

Chromatic modulation
Key changes – or ‘modulations’, to give them
their proper, music theory-professor name –
may have become a bit of a pop cliché (picture
Westlife stepping off their stools), but knowing
how to craft a smooth key change is a useful
songwriting skill. There are various ways to
‘modulate’ to a different key, but one of the
easiest is via chromatic modulation – taking a
chord in one key and shifting it up one semitone
to a chord that’s in the new key. In this example,
a I - IV - V progression in E major modulates to
the key of F major by way of the V chord – B
major – shifting chromatically up by one
semitone to C major, which becomes the V
chord in the new key of F major.

Parallel modulation
Parallel modulations shift between major and minor keys
that share the same root note – C major and C minor, for
example. This is often done via the dominant V chord
common to both keys, which in this case would be G major.
But wait! Isn’t the V chord in a minor key a minor chord?
Well, yes, but in these cases we cheat by harmonising a
different minor scale made just for this purpose – the
Chromatic modulations work by shifting a chord up or
Harmonic minor scale – which gives us a major V chord in
down a semitone to one that’s diatonic to the new key a minor key.

Pivot chord (aka diatonic) modulation

Another way to change key, using a pivot chord means finding a diatonic chord
common to the current and new key, then using that chord to bridge the gap

E - Cm - Gm. This is represented in the

Here we have a chord progression of In minor keys, the i, iv and v chords are Let’s bring about the change of key by

1 key of G minor as a VI - iv - i. Let’s say we

want to shift to the A minor key after eight
bars. Our first job is to figure out which
2 minor, and III, VI and VII chords are
major. Here’s the diatonic sets for Gm and
Am keys. Note that the common chords
are Dm and F – v and VII chords of Gm and
3 inserting a D minor chord at the end of
our G minor section, and continuing the
same progression in the new key of Am.
The same VI - iv - i progression in this key
chords are diatonic to both keys… iv and VI chords of Am respectively. now produces the chords F - Dm - Am.

34 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

>  make music now  /  88 easy music theory tips

lyDian Dominant
Kind of a ‘bonus’ mode, Lydian Mode Quality Example in C Intervallic Works over…
Dominant is formed by merging pattern
together Lydian and Mixolydian
modes to produce the equivalent of major triads
ionian major ttsttts
a major scale with a raised 4th and a major 7ths
flattened 7th. Lydian Dominant is a
great alternative to Mixolydian minor triads
Dorian minor tstttst
when used over dominant 7th minor 7ths
chords, and can also be used over
standard major triads as long as you minor triads
phrygian minor stttstt
avoid playing the major 7th over it! minor 7ths

moDe moDe lydian major tttstts

major triads
What differentiates a mode is what major 7ths
differentiates any other scale – the
pattern of intervals between the major triads
mixolydian major ttsttst
notes. As with any scale, it doesn’t Dominant 7ths
really matter if you can’t remember
it… or even play it for that matter! minor triads
aeolian minor tsttstt
Just Google the intervallic formula minor 7ths
and either step program it into your

m7b5 Chords
DAWs piano roll editor or, if your Diminished triads
locrian Diminished sttsttt
DAW supports it, select the preset
for the desired mode in the Scale
Lock/Quantize feature. Some The quality, interval pattern and best use cases of the seven major scale modes
arpeggiators such as Logic Pro X’s
(above) even support modes.

A mode is a type of scale, and you probably already
know at least two – the major scale is known as
Ionian mode in mode-speak, while the natural
minor scale is known as Aeolian mode. But what
notes do we use to build them? Essentially, the thing
loCrian – tHe oDD
moDe out that determines one mode from another is the
The 7th mode, Locrian, is the only
mode that can’t be played over a pattern of intervals between the notes. An easy way
power chord made up of root and
5th, as it has a flattened 5th, which to generate all seven major scale modes is to start
would create a discordant semitone
clash. All other six modes contain a with the scale of C major. Play this as you normally
natural 5th, so the dark, tricky-to-
use Locrian is a bit of a black sheep. would, from C to C on the keyboard, and you get
orDer oF BrigHtness the Ionian mode. Start from any other note,
Each mode has its own identity and
tone, and they can be listed from however, and you’ll generate a different pattern of
happy to moody. If you want a mode
to suit a particular mood or convey intervals with a different sound, and hence a
a certain emotion, use this order of
brightness as your guide. different mode. Playing the notes in the C major
mode Quality example in C no. of altered
scale from D to D results in the Dorian mode, E to E
lydian major 1# gives you Phrygian mode, and so on, as illustrated
ionian major -
in the chart above. Broadly speaking, the modes

can be split into two main categories – major

mixolydian major

Dorian minor 2b

aeolian minor 3b
modes and minor modes – depending on whether
phrygian minor 4b they contain a major or minor 3rd, and each mode
locrian Diminished
has a particular type of chord that it can be used
The modes on a scale of brightness, from
light, quirky Lydian to dark, moody Locrian over the top of for best results.
36 / Computer musiC  /  June 2019 June 2019  /  Computer musiC  /  36
> make music now / 88 easy music theory tips

root notes of the chords from D through D to C.
chord) is a great one to have in your back mainly due to the chromatic step down of the
Harmonic rhythm describes the rate at which pocket. It’s made by adding the 7th degree of
the chord changes happen in a piece of music. the minor scale on top of a minor triad to make a
A verse section with chord changes every two minor 7th chord, then lowering the 5th by one MINOR 11TH POLYCHORD
bars will have a different harmonic rhythm to a semitone. Try using it as the ii chord in a ii - V - i Minor 11th (m11) chords are complicated, but
chorus section that features a new chord every turnaround. A standard 7th chord version of this there’s an easy way to work out how to form

G7 (D-F-G-B) - Cm (C-E-G-B). However, swapping

bar. Varying the harmonic rhythm of different in C minor would be played as Dm7 (D-F-A-C) - them if you know basic triad shapes and

Dm7 for Dm75 (D-F-A-C) creates a nice

song sections is a surefire way to add colour and semitone intervals. The trick is to combine two

chromatic movement from the A note to the G

contrast to your song. triads into a polychord. Play a minor triad from

Cm (C-E-G) as an example. Find the note two

the desired root with your left hand – we’ll use
V-I in G7, ramping up the jazz flavour.

AUG79 root – B in this case – and play a major triad

The two most stable chords in a key are the semitones (or one whole-tone) down from the

The aug79 chord is a real jazz-funk monster based on this root note in your right hand. So B
tonic I chord, based on the root note of the scale,

major (B-D-F) played above Cm equals C E G B

and the dominant V chord, based on the 5th
note in the scale. The relationship between with a dominant function great for resolving to
these two has been exploited by composers for any kind of minor tonic chord. Start with a D F – ie, Cm11.

D-F) – and raise the 5th (D) by a semitone to D in

centuries, mainly due to the sheer satisfaction dominant 7th chord – say G7 as an example (G-B-
order to make a Gaug7 (G-B-D-F). Next, we need
they evoke in our ears when they go from one to
the other. A V - I movement is thus a satisfactory Power 5ths are made up of just the root note
– in fact, almost ‘perfect’ – way to end a section. to add in a 9th. To figure out this note, just take and the 5th (also known as tonic and dominant).

sharpen it by raising a semitone – to A in this

the 2nd (A) and move it up an octave, then With three-note chords, it’s the middle note – the
case – and there you have it: Gaug79 (G-B-D-
3rd – that determines whether or not the chord

F-A). You’re welcome!

A cadence is a short sequence of chords – for is major or minor. Since power 5ths have no 3rd,
the most part just two – that punctuates a it makes them super-versatile, so you’re free to
progression. For example, the movement from flick between major and minor melodies at will.
the V chord to the I chord mentioned in the TRITONE SUBSTITUTIONS As a bonus, if you tune the oscillators of a
previous tip is known as a perfect cadence, and When you replace one chord in a progression synth apart by a 5th interval and play regular
it brings about a feeling of rest, like a musical with another that does the same job, it’s called a triads, you’ll end up producing some really
full-stop. An imperfect cadence prolongs substitution, and you can pull off a really cool, interesting polychords – a technique that’s used
tension by using a V chord as the final chord, jazz-tinged one by swapping in a new chord with in the iconic intro to the Grace Jones classic
with the preceding chord being almost anything a root note that’s a tritone (an interval of six Slave to the Rhythm.
else, creating an unresolved effect that works a semitones) away from the root of the original
bit like a semicolon. A plagal cadence, chord. Take the progression Cmaj7 - Am7 - Dm7 - ALTERNATING INVERSIONS
meanwhile, is constructed using a IV chord G7 - Cmaj7, in the key of C major: tritone Inverted chords aren’t just useful for good voice
followed by a I chord, and is often known as the substitutions are most often to be found applied leading – you can use different inversions of two
‘Amen’ cadence. to dominant chords (ones that resolve to the alternating chords to create interest. Try it by

semitones away from G you’ll find the note D,

tonic), so our target here is that G7 chord. Six alternating between i - VII in a minor key such as,
A favourite in the fields of jazz and R&B, the m75
say, Gm-F. Start high and leap down the

Dm7 - D7 - Cmaj7. This has a jazzier sound,

which makes our new progression Cmaj7 - Am7 - keyboard an inversion at a time, then change
chord (also known as a half-diminished 7th chord and jump back up for a reggae/ska feel.

Modulation magic with diminished 7ths

The diminished 7th is a bit of a wonder chord for key changes – you can use just
one to modulate to eight new tonic chords! Here’s how…

chord as Dº7 (D-F-A -B). This can be

One diminished 7th can function as The next inversion up, Bº7, is the same So, in effect, this means that each

1 the viiº chord of four different major

To illustrate, Bº7 (B-D-F-A) can be the viiº

keys, and the iiº chord of four minor keys. 2 the viiº chord of E major and the iiº chord

(F-AB-D), viiº chord of G major and iiº of

of C minor. Ditto the 2nd inversion, Fº7
3 diminished 7th chord can effectively
resolve up one semitone to four different
major chords, or down two semitones to

Em, and the 3rd inversion, Aº7 (A-B-D-F),

chord of C major and the iiº chord of A four different minor chords, giving you

viiº chord of A major and iiº of Gm. These

minor. Known as secondary dominants, access to eight new keys from just one
their job (harmonic function) is to resolve chord. Phew! See above for an example of
to the tonic of a new key. are all basically the same chord. this magical chord in action.

38 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

88 easy music theory tips  /  make music now  <


Block chords that change only on
the downbeats can often end up
Use Logic Pro’s Reverse Pitch feature for an interesting way to generate new melodies sounding clunky at best, and rigid and
boring at worst. One way to spruce up
parts like this is to use broken chords.
negative Harmony These split the notes of the chord up
into rhythmic patterns. Let’s try it out
Try taking an existing melody and flipping the notes with this simple Cmaj7 - Am7 - Fmaj7 -
Dm7 progression…
around a central axis pitch. Most DAWs can do this. Logic
Pro’s Reverse Pitch feature, for instance, lets you set a
central ‘mirror’ note around which to flip your melody.
Flipping a melody in a major key produces a result in a
minor key, and vice versa.

irregular arpeggios motiF

Make arpeggiated parts more exciting by A truly memorable tune always features a motif
setting the loop length to an uneven number of – a repeated short melodic line that’s instantly
notes – say, five, as opposed to the regular four, recognisable, like the main vocal melody in the

Here’s the same progression, this
eight or 16. That way, the part will loop around chorus, say. One way to craft a great hook is to
time using broken chords. Instead
with an irregular emphasis on certain notes, start with the rhythm, then populate that with of all the notes in the first two chords
making for an ear-catching hook. notes taken from the key you’re working in. falling on the same beat, each one is
Often, the simpler the tune, the catchier it is. now split into individual notes
HarmoniC tension reminiscent of a picked acoustic guitar
anD release oCtave DouBling part. We move the start of the notes in
Music is all about a constant flow of tension and If your lead sound or part lacks impact, try the first chord to the right by
release, and you can show this tension by doubling it up an octave to reinforce the melody. increments of a quarter note.
playing D major (D-F#-A) then G7 (G-B-D-F). Left Octave doubling is also good for thickening
hanging, the dominant G7 chord really wants to chordal parts – double the root and the 5th an
be finished off by resolving to another chord. octave higher to widen the part, and try playing
Now play a C major chord (C-E-G) and marvel at the octave-shifted parts with a similar but
the sense of release as that tension is resolved. different sound for a harmonically richer result.

use soFtWare leaps oF FaitH

OK, some may see this as cheating, but making Try using 6th intervals to make giant melodic
use of some of the cutting-edge AI-based music- leaps up the keyboard. With a major scale, a
generation software and websites now available major 6th is the distance between the root note
can yield useful results. With products like Mixed and the 6th degree of the scale. In the case of C
In Key’s Odesi and Captain Chords, or Cubase’s major, for instance, the root is C and a major 6th
built-in Chord Assistant feature, you learn about above would be the note A. Making a leap up
theory just by using them. from C to an A note will make your melody soar.

suBsiDiary CHorDs use a template part The fronts of the notes in the
Chords that share two or more notes (subsidiary When writing a melody over a chord second chord have been shifted by
chords) can be substituted within a progression. progression that’s already down as a MIDI part, eighth notes for a quicker rhythm, and
we also apply both shifts on the third
Find a major triad’s subsidiary chord by raising copy and paste the chords to a new track, then
and fourth chords. Because the notes
its 5th degree by a whole tone – so the mute all the notes in the piano roll so you can are from the chords themselves, this
subsidiary chord of F major (F-A-C) is a first- see them, but not hear them. You now have a can be a great way to inspire ideas for
inversion Dm (F-A-D). So in a I - IV - IV - V visual guide to where you can effectively pencil new melodies that work naturally with
progression in C major, (C - F - F - G), you could in notes to create a melody that you can be the chord progression.
swap either F major chord for Dm. 100% sure will work with those chords.

June 2019  /  Computer musiC  /  39

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Producer Masterclass

Matrix &
The legendary drum ’n’ bass veterans show you
how they get their polished, punchy sound
44  /  Computer musiC  /  June 2019
producer masterclass  /  make music now  <

Double trouble
In the 15 years or so since individually versions of plugins and so on. It would be
established producers Jamie Quinn
(Matrix) and Brendan Collins
easier if we lived around the corner from
each other, but we don’t.”
Kit List
(Futurebound) joined creative forces, “I think a lot of production duos don’t Steinberg Cubase
Matrix & Futurebound have become one really get in the studio day in day out any Native Instruments Massive
of the biggest acts In UK electronic music, more,” adds Brendan. “The way we do it is Native Instruments Reaktor
Native Instruments Razor
occupying a seat at the very top table of that one of us will send a number of ideas,
LennarDigital Sylenth1
drum ’n’ bass and even bothering the then the other one will say, ‘This one’s really Xfer Records Serum
mainstream charts with singles including cool, let’s take it forward’; and then we’re Waves H-Delay
2012’s All I Know and Magnetic Eyes, and passing the parcel, really. Then, when it Waves OneKnob Filter
2013’s Control. comes to near completion, we get together Waves CLA Vocals
Waves Manny Marroquin Delay
Known for their clean, impactful and and do the mixdown.”
Soundtoys plugins
diverse sound, the pair have also remixed As any Matrix & Futurebound fan knows, FabFilter Saturn
stars including Eric Prydz, Tinie Tempah, they aren’t ones to slavishly conform to Xfer Records OTT
Emeli Sandé and, er, Mark Owen, and genre, drawing instead on a variety of iZotope Ozone 7
regularly play DJ sets at club nights and influences that sets their sound apart. Avid S3
festivals around the world. Last year saw “We’re into all sorts of music,” affirms
the release of their second album, Mystery Jamie. “If you operate in a particular genre,
Machine – some 12 years after the first, like we do, it’s good to try and not get too
Universal Truth. With Brendan living in bogged down with being influenced by explains. “Sometimes we’ve recorded
Liverpool and Jamie a Londoner, putting it what’s going on inside that style of music, vocals in other studios and put it through an
together involved a lot of remote because then you can just get sucked into a analogue chain, and it’s sounded really
collaboration, enabled, of course, by the bit of a boring path, I suppose. We’re into a good, but you’re never quite sure how it’s
miracle of software technology. lot of stuff – a lot of house music, all kinds of going to respond when you do the mix and
stuff, really. Literally anything and add a load more stuff. Sometimes we’ve
“Any sort of vibe can be everything. That’s one of the things I’ve
always liked about drum ’n’ bass: that you
done vocals and maybe there’s been a little
bit of saturation, compression and

put into a DnB mould, in can fit any sort of vibe you like into it.
Whether you want to get that progressive
distortion going on when we’ve recorded it,
but when you add a load more compression
vibe going on, or punk music, or techno, or during mixdown, certain things can come
your own way” whatever, you can put that into a DnB
mould in your own way.”
out of the vocal that you don’t really like. So
I’m more a fan of just going straight from
In this Producer Masterclass and its hour- the mic into my Steinberg audio interface
“Living so far apart has its challenges,” long accompanying video, Brendan and with nothing in between. We’ve used really
says Jamie, “but obviously, if you’re working Jamie will walk us through the production high-end analogue gear – TubeTech
in the box, it gives you a whole load of of the track Let It Go, from Mystery Machine. compressors, etc – and there’s nothing
possibilities for collaborating, so we can One element of it is a heavily processed wrong with that, obviously, but I just don’t
send sessions back and forth. Brendan is in vocal line sung by Jamie himself, which was like to be committed to anything. Straight
London reasonably often, so we get recorded – like all M&F’s vocals – in the most into the interface and keep everything in
together regularly in the studio. But it can straightforward way imaginable. the box, is the way we do the vocals.”
be tricky – you have to maintain the same “I always like to just record straight into Without further ado, then, let’s take a
software on each computer, and the same the interface with nothing on it at all,” Jamie tour of Let It Go…

tHe ViDeo
In this exclusive video,
Jamie and Brendan
show you how they
made Let It Go, from their
album, Mystery Machine

Watch the video

tutorial on your
PC or Mac at…

June 2019  /  Computer musiC  /  45

>  make music now  /  producer masterclass

Kicking off with chords

00.23 For Matrix & Futurebound, every track starts in its

own way, and in the case of Let It Go, it all began
with a big loop, as Brendan explains. “Sometimes you can attack
it by just going straight to the drop and working on the beats
and the bass. On this occasion, we started around a 16-bar loop,
with just a simple Massive patch, and getting some nice chords in
place, and then building on layers until we were happy building it
towards a drop.”
“The starting point of the track is basically a set of chords
that we really liked,” Jamie adds. “It’s got a kind of nice, hypnotic
vibe about it, almost like the sort of thing you would find in a
progressive house tune, say. We’re big fans of that kind of stuff,
and a lot of those tracks, they arrange them in a certain way,
where it’s a long journey and the high point of the track is pretty
much the breakdown. So that was the general idea: how can we
keep this simple chord loop building and sounding interesting?”
“The general vibe of the chords that we got in place, and
adding delays and reverbs for that atmospheric vibe, led us down
the path to a progressive, building track,” continues Brendan.
“The basic chord part is made in Massive, and it’s a classic saw
wave synth patch,” says Jamie. “What we’ve done is a bunch of
automation on the filters, added a load of delay…”
“Delays and reverbs always play a really big part when it
NI’s Massive softsynth played a big role in Let It Go,
comes to our overall sound,” Brendan concludes. providing the progressive house-inspired chords

Opening out
the chords
02.37 The catchy Massive chord line
continuously builds in size as
it heads towards the first drop. “Over [the
first] 32 bars, we want the synth to start nice
and small, and gradually build, open up, put
the reverb in, etc, and switch when it drops,
when it goes very dry,” says Jamie.
“The release of the stab is quite short
here,” adds Brendan, “as the sequence is
rolling through, and we gradually automate
it so it’s opening up.”
With reverb and automation in place, a
filter is applied. The whole part is then
rendered, rather than run ‘live’.
“We’ve bounced that synth down with a
Waves [OneKnob] filter plugin to an audio
file,” continues Jamie. “The reason we’ve
bounced it down is because even though it’s
filtered right up by bar 32, if you leave that
plugin activated, it can mess with the very
high frequencies. So just that opening 32 has
got a filter plugin on it.”

46  /  Computer musiC  /  June 2019

producer masterclass  /  make music now  <

Matrix’s clean, compact

London studio

Melodic arps with Spector

07.50 Gently underpinning the
Massive chords is a
layered pair of arpeggiated synth lines,
limited in the synths that we were
working on on our laptops.”
“It’s easy to bypass the stock plugins
generated by Spector, one of the virtual that come with Cubase or whatever
instruments included with Cubase. DAW you’re using,” points out Jamie.
“We’re big fans of arpeggiators,” says “People assume they’re not very good,
Brendan. “They seem to feature heavily but a lot of them are quite decent.
in our tracks – definitely in the melodic “The part is quite low in the mix – a
ones, anyway.” little bit of extra ear candy. When you’re
“I don’t think [Spector] is an listening to the track, you don’t pick up
especially regular synth for us to use,” on it specifically, but it’s all part of the
says Jamie. “It might be one that we whole idea of just taking one simple
happened to delve into that day.” chord progression and making it sound
“When we started this track,” chimes interesting, moving and developing and
in Brendan, “we were on some down changing. It’s all about adding quite
time in LA in between shows, and we subtle things like that around it to make
were just round the pool, so we were it feel bigger.”

June 2019 / Computer musiC  /  47

>  make music now  /  producer masterclass

Drumming up a hit

Building beats Tuning the snares

17.05 Brendan: “We grew up drums, as it’s most likely going to

14.15 The drums in Let It Go

came from an earlier
“prep session”.
writing tracks in E-MU and
Akai samplers, and that was the way
of doing beats – standard procedure.
But then we found that they sounded
mess up your transients. You either
want to put them in a sampler or find a
way to do it which is just playing your
sample back at a different pitch,
a lot fatter just coming out in audio, so rather than pitchshifting.
Brendan: “When we do tracks, we’re we stopped doing it that way.” “The other thing you want to be
For snare drum tuning, Jamie and doing is experimenting with flipping
not always writing from scratch Brendan use Cubase’s élastique Pro – the phase of [your snare drum layers],
Tape timestretching algorithm. “As because you’re probably going to find
– sometimes we’re doing prep you timestretch it, it’s not actually that one way sounds really good and
sessions where we’re just writing timestretching, it’s just playing it back the other way cancels out all your low
at a different pitch,” says Jamie. end against the other layers. Your
beats, bass, patches or whatever. “Some people use actual pitchshift rules are: get them in time, get them
algorithms, which I would never do on tuned the same, get them in phase.”
When you’ve got a vibe like this
going in the studio, [it helps] if you’ve
got a lot of beats to choose from, as
not every beat’s going to work, and
sometimes it’s a long process to get
the right ones working together.”
Jamie: “The main snare is basically
a whole bunch of layers. The key to
layering snares up like that is having
them tuned so that the fundamental
tone of each snare is working
together with the others.”

48  /  Computer musiC  /  June 2019

producer masterclass  /  make music now  <

Ride cymbals and

M&F’s five
white noise favourite
24.41 The ‘metalwork’ top end of the
drums comprises a mix of
hi-hats, ride cymbals and a dusting of noise.
“We’ve got some ride layers,” says Jamie.
“That’s like an old live break – I don’t know
where we sampled it from.
“Then there’s a nice ride from a sample
pack that was made by our friends LennarDigital Sylenth1
Pendulum from way back. And then there’s a 113 > 10/10 > €139
bit of white noise with a sidechain on it, Jamie: “It sounds great, and it’s also a very
buried in the drums. That’s not a thing you easy synth to create sounds with. It’s all well
want to use too much of, but it can be nice and good if you’ve got a plugin that’s
just low in the mix.” amazingly powerful, but if you’re constantly
scratching your head trying to remember
where a parameter is, it kills the vibe a bit.”

Processing the drums

28.03 Jamie: “Processing-wise,

there’s not much going on. It’s
just combining the right elements, and then Soundtoys Decapitator
it’s all – or mostly – going to a drums group, $199
which has got FabFilter Saturn doing a little Jamie: “A really nice distortion plugin, which
bit of compression, and a Slate Digital we use quite a lot. It’s quite versatile, as you can
just do subtle saturation with it, ranging up to
FG-Grey compressor, which we use quite a
total annihilation of your signal, so that’s one
lot. We often use it with the Mix somewhere which features quite regularly for us.”
around 50% – not all the way wet, because it soundtoys.com
just lets the transients of your drums remain
a bit more intact. You have the compressor
set to do a bit more compression, but then
back off the mix so you get the same effect
but with the dry signal, too.”

FabFilter Saturn
179 > 10/10 > £114
Jamie: “Great on drums if you play around with
the Dynamics control, because it can give you a
good pumping compression sound if you want
that, or just more straightforward saturation.
We’re fans of FabFilter stuff – it sounds nice.”

Native Instruments Kontakt

170 > 9/10 > £339
Brendan: “One thing I like doing is getting
some bass action working in Serum, bouncing
it out, putting it into Kontakt and trying some of
the things you can do in there.”
Working on the bassline native-instruments.com

30.56 Let It Go’s bassline is a

composite of five layers, all
told: three main synths, a “squelchy”
midrange, making it sound a little bit more
interesting and helping it come across nicely
on smaller speakers, where you’re not
sampled layer and a bass pad. The three necessarily hearing the sub. You can make a
primary layers are generated by Xfer bass that sounds really great on full-range
Records Serum, Steinberg Retrologue and speakers, but if you’re listening on little
Native Instruments Massive. speakers or a laptop, it can go missing, so
“Those are going to our bass group, you need to keep an eye on that.” Paul’s Extreme Sound Stretch
which has FabFilter [Saturn] subtly warming “With a lot of drum ’n’ bass, there’s a lot of FREE
Jamie: “When you want that epic background
it up, and they’re also sent to another bass going on as the track progresses,” says pad, just to give something a big, expansive
parallel group, which has got Quadrafuzz 2,” Brendan. “But this one’s got a sort of rolling atmosphere, it’s perfect. And it’s very easy to
explains Jamie. “It’s giving it a bit more bassline – not lots of edits everywhere.” make an amazing sound with very little work.”

June 2019  /  Computer musiC  /  49

>  make music now  /  producer masterclass

Talking tech
Although both of them are currently directly into your software rather than “It’s enabled us to work on tracks for a
toying with the idea of investing in some having to use lots of outboard stuff. So very long time, rather than in the days when
hardware synths, Jamie and Brendan originally it was ahead of the game we were working on hardware, where you
work almost entirely in the box, using a compared to all the other native DAWs. have a track up on the mixing desk and
range of plugin instruments and effects, That’s probably why we first started using it. you’d need to get it finished and mastered
hosted in Steinberg Cubase. What’s the And having VariAudio built into the software before you could move on and work on
thinking behind their choice of DAW? is absolutely brilliant.” something else,” says Jamie. “When we
“We’ve used it since day one, really,” says Is there anything about Cubase that used to make music on hardware, you’d
Brendan. “We’re going back to the 90s here, they’d change if they could? work on one track at a time, get it finished
when we were first coming through. I “I would really like it if they did more and then start a new one; whereas now,
ventured out a bit – I tried Logic and Pro development of EUCON,” laughs Jamie, obviously, you can be dipping in and out of
Tools – then me and Jamie started working “because I’ve got an Avid S3 control surface, tracks at will. Potentially that’s slowed us
together and it made sense to go back to which is really good with Cubase, but there down, but it’s given us the freedom to
Cubase. It felt a lot more comfortable than are certain aspects of that that I’d like them explore whatever we want to explore.”
those other two, for me, so yeah, we’ve to improve. But Cubase has got to the point “There was a good side to the days of no
always used it. Some people use Ableton as where it’s got everything you want, really.” recall, wasn’t there?” laughs Brendan.
well, alongside Logic or Cubase, but we just As well as enabling them to collaborate “Yeah, there are upsides and downsides,”
find we can do everything within Cubase. easily over a long distance, advances in Jamie replies. “We’re quite bad ones for
We’ve mastered it over the years.” technology that have arrived since they first disappearing down the rabbit hole and
“Changing DAW would be quite a big joined forces in 2005 have profoundly tweaking a mixdown forever!”
move,” adds Jamie, “as we’ve been using changed the way Matrix & Futurebound “I think we start a lot of ideas as well, and
Cubase for ten plus years and we know it now approach music production. kind of delve back in, be it a few months or a
very well. It’s almost more important to couple of years later,” agrees Brendan.
know your software well than what software
you actually use, because you don’t want to “We’re quite bad for “The tracks on the album that had the
longest development period,” continues
Jamie, “would have been multiple years
be constantly Googling something and
stalling your creative vibe. disappearing down from when they were started to when they
“In the early days, if I remember rightly, were finished. So it can be a long process.
Cubase was one of the first – maybe even
the first – one where you could properly run
the rabbit hole and Usually, the track idea happens quickly, like
in an afternoon – the sort of foundations of
synths and plugins. VST was the revolution
of DAW software, where you could record
tweaking forever” it come together over hours. But getting to
the finish line can be a long process.”

50 / Computer musiC  /  June 2019

producer masterclass / make music now <

Recording and
processing the vocal
37.33 “The main vocal is a recording of
Jamie singing, ‘Let it go’, layered,
pitchshifted and processed to bed it into the
track. “I basically made that by just singing
really badly into a microphone,” laughs Jamie. “I
put it into VariAudio in Cubase and repitched it:
that one up there, and that one down there. And
then you’ve got it going to this group, which has
Into the drop with Valhalla Shimmer a filter automating [Xfer Records] OTT, which is
a [free] multiband compressor.”
10.00 The boys automate an epic reverb
build, then dry it all out for the
drop. “Every element goes through this one
Ditto the drums. “Automation isn’t perfectly on
time. If I’d automated those drums with that
reverb fully wet, and brought it back dry on the
Further processing comes courtesy of
Waves CLA Vocals and the formant shifter in
Steinberg PitchCorrect. “And then, basically, a
group, and the Valhalla Shimmer plugin is drop, it’d miss the first hit. So drum parts were load of reverb and delay,” Jamie continues, “so
automating so it sounds huge.” bounced to one file and reverb applied then.” we go from a terribly sung bit of vocal to a nice,
cool additional texture for the tune. It’s running
all the way through: sometimes it’s filtered
down so it becomes a pad, atmosphere thing,
and it comes up more prominently at certain
points in the track.”
Repurposing drums for a top loop

27.21 Jamie: “There’s a track we did a few

years ago called The Wall, and this isn’t
something we would typically do at all, but we just
The kick drum
22.03 The kick drum is a tried-and-
tested construction – combining
multiple layered elements – that was first
got the whole drums out of that track, high-passed created for the single All I Know (2012) and has
been redeployed in many an M&F track since.
and compressed them a fair bit and used it as Jamie: “When you find that nice kick that works,
a lot of people tend to stick to it.”
almost a sparkly, hi-hat, top-end layer.” Brendan: “It just always seems to work with the
type of tracks that we make.”
Brendan: “Sometimes, when you’re showing people Jamie: “What you want from a kick with drum
’n’ bass is weight and punch and snap; but it’s
got to not be super low-end, as that’s going to
how you’re doing things like this, they’re like, ‘Why mess with your bass. This particular kick just
seems to work really nicely with sub bass.”
are you adding more and more stuff?’. But when
you mute a few things out, it does make a
difference, and it’s adding to the flavour of what the
drums are doing.”

A/B referencing the mix

53.57 As every producer should,
Jamie and Brendan always refer
to tracks in a similar vein to the one they’re
working on when mixing and analysing. Magnetic Eyes
Jamie: “In our [Cubase] template. we’ve got bit.ly/MF_Mag
these four tracks – Ref 1, 2, 3 and 4 – and the Mystery Machine
faders all the way down, and you can use bit.ly/MF_Myst
these Cue sends to send them to each of your
cue mixes. Then, if you use Control Room, viperrecordings.co.uk/artist/matrix-
which is a really good feature in Cubase, you WWW

can instantly compare what you’re working
on with up to four other tracks.” soundcloud.com/matrixandfuturebound
Brendan: “And that’s without the tracks that twitter.com/matrixandfuture
we’re referring to going through our main
master chain.” facebook.com/matrixandfuturebound

June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 51

Print or Digital
Delivery of MAXIMUM PC,
in your choice of
Apple Newsstand,
Google Play, or Zinio

Search for MAXIMUM PC

on your device’s
d i ’ app store
to download now


> free software / thenatan trax cm

> Free software

How to use this issue’s free version of Thenatan’s hard- Get the plugin and the video
tutorial on your PC/Mac at

hitting, sample-based drum machine for PC and Mac filesilo.co.uk/computermusic

Trax CM is a cut-down version of comes with. While the full Trax rocks 50 of to get around in general terms, but it does have
Thenatan’s Trax drum machine, a self- the blighters, Trax CM reduces that number a few operational quirks that might not be
contained source of sampled drum and to a still-respectable 20, each one comprising immediately obvious, which is where this
percussion sounds for trap, EDM, hip-hop eight lovingly produced kicks, snares, hats, tutorial and its accompanying video will help
and other electronic genres, presented in a cymbals, claps, sidesticks and FX sounds of you. Over the next few pages of this article, we’ll
mixer-style interface that facilitates filtering, various kinds. Apart from that, everything take you on a tour of Trax CM’s controls, and
distortion, pitch adjustment, reverb and you get with the full Trax is present and show off some of those 20 awesome kits while
much more. correct, from the tasty analogue distortion to we’re doing it.
We say ‘cut-down’, but actually, the only the four vibe-enhancing Noise Layers. If you find yourself smitten by Trax CM’s
thing differentiating Trax CM from its fully- Running as a VST plugin on PC, or a VST and percussive charms, be sure to check out the full
fledged sibling is the number of prefab kits it Audio Units plugin on Mac, Trax CM is very easy Trax at thenatan.com


Load Trax CM’s 20 drum kits Three MIDI compression
Dial in a short,
AMP LOW/HIGH from this drop-down menu levels for incoming notes
Apply low and high-
reverb across the kit
frequency distortion

An onboard LFO for Sweep the cutoff of a
modulating Pitch, low-pass or high-pass
Expression or Pan filter on the main output

PAN Apply an ADSR envelope to
Position each every instrument in the kit
kit piece in the
stereo field with
its Pan knob
Set each drum to
PITCH one of 16 stereo
LEVEL FADER NOISE LAYERS outputs, including
Set the volume of Pitch the kit up or
Four sampled noise layers, the main pair
the kit pieces here down to get it in key
triggered by MIDI input
with your track
54 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019
thenatan trax cm / free software <

> Step by step 1. Getting started with Trax CM


drum sounds, while D2 in between

To install Trax CM, move the file(s) for Trax CM loads as a virtual instrument, Notes D2 and E2 trigger a pair of snare

1 your operating system to the relevant

folders. On PC, the .dll file and instruments
folder go in your VST Plugins folder. On
Mac, the .vst and .component files go in
2 with eight drum kit pieces mapped to
a fixed set of notes. Audition sounds by
clicking the buttons below their level
faders. You get two kick drums, the first
3 on the kit. The hi-hat lives on F2, and two
fires either a clap or sidestick depending

FX sounds (which can be anything from

impacts) reside on G2 and A2.

the VST and Components folders in your sustained and incorporating a bass or sub percussion and cymbals to vocals and

and punchy, and mapped to C2.

Library/Audio/Plug-ins folder. element, assigned to C2; the second short

Trax CM includes 20 of the full Trax’s The Gain faders and Pan pots in the At the top right of the interface, the

4 50 kits. Switching between them is

done via the Instrument List menu at the
top. There’s no built-in preset
management system, but you can save
5 mixer control the volume and stereo
positioning of each kit piece, but both also
have global equivalents at the bottom of
the plugin. The adjacent Pitch control
6 Filter offers a choice of Low Pass and
High Pass types, selected from the drop-
down menu. Sweep the cutoff frequency
with the Filter knob to apply high or low
any changes into a VST or Audio Units pitchshifts the whole kit up and down, and frequency attenuation to the main output,
patch file via your plugin host. is the only parameter that maintains its and set the type back to None to switch
setting when a new kit is loaded. the filter off.

The Reverb knob to the left of the Each of the eight channels can be Now you can adjust the level and pan

7 Filter determines the amount of

global reverb effect applied. The reverb
itself is short, as befits drums and
percussion, and proves useful for adding a
8 routed to any of 16 outputs into the
host mixer via the menu above its trigger
button. Select an output number for the
sound you want to ‘break out’, then set
9 position of that sound within your
DAW, and apply plugin effects to it away
from the rest of the kit. Helpfully, the Filter
and Reverb only affect Trax CM’s main
general layer of ambience to the kit. that same output as the input to the outputs, so routing sounds like this is also
channel in your DAW’s mixer on which you the way to go when you want to take them
want the sound to appear. out of those processing circuits.

June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 55

>  free software / thenatan trax cm

> Step by step 2. Using Trax CM’s distortion and modulation

1 2 3
The Amp Low and Amp High knobs Amp High rotates anticlockwise, Trax CM features an LFO for animating
overdrive the virtual preamp stage of dialling in rather more overt high- the sounds of all eight kit pieces
the input, introducing analogue-style frequency distortion, bringing much more together by targeting Pitch, Expression
distortion. Turn Amp Low clockwise to in the way of crunch and harmonic energy. (volume) or Pan, as selected from the
apply saturation to the lower frequencies While all this distortion can result in quite Destination menu. Choose from one of
– it’s a relatively subtle effect, but it can be a boost in volume level, a limiter is in place five waveforms, set the speed of the LFO
good for adding a bit of weight. to keep any excessive overs in check. cycle with the Rate knob, and raise the
Depth to apply the modulation.

4 5 6
Alternatively, any one of three Further modulation is onboard in the The Kit 3 140bpm MIDI clip in Tutorial
standard MIDI streams can be set to form of an an ADSR amp envelope, Files has plenty of velocity variation
modulate the LFO. Select Mod Wheel, which shapes the volume profile of all baked in. Load it onto your Trax CM track
Aftertouch or Velocity from the Source eight sounds. The three Velocity options – (with Kit 3 called up, ideally) and hear how
menu to hand control of the LFO depth Weak, Normal and Strong – apply varying the dynamics of the beat change
over to that signal instead. With Velocity degrees of ‘compression’ to the MIDI input – particularly the hi-hats – with the three
selected, say, hitting your keys or drum by enforcing three different velocity Velocity settings.
pads harder gives more LFO modulation. mapping curves.

> Step by step 3. Adding attitude with Trax CM’s Noise Layers

1 2 3
Trax CM incorporates four discrete All four Noise Layers are triggered as a Although the noise layers are included
sampled Noise Layers, for adding dirt, group with every incoming MIDI note, to add crunch and character to Trax
grunge and attitude to your beats. Layer A tracking velocity to control volume, but CM’s drum sounds, you can also use them
is pink noise; Layer B is vinyl crackle; Layer with the Layer Gain control setting a on their own as a continuously looping
C is a blend of wind and foley sounds; and baseline volume level. The Layer Pan signal by sending the plugin any single
Layer D is the mechanical noise from an knob pans the noise layers left or right. sustained note that’s not assigned to a
old tape recorder. Activate the button for drum sound.
each Layer you want to hear.

56  /  CoMpuTeR MusiC  /  June 2019

Thenatan Trax
With no compromises whatsoever made in terms of features and
controls, Trax CM is every bit as powerful as the full Trax, the only
difference being the number of drum kits included. Trax CM should
keep you busy for quite a while with its 20 impactful, mix-ready
eight-piece setups, but when you’re ready to step up, Trax adds 30
more, taking the total to 50 kits made up of 400 individual sounds.
The full Trax is also able to load in expansion packs, one of which
– X25 For Trax – is available now, with
more of them planned for release on a
regular basis.

> make music now / mixing with distortion

Give your tracks professional

warmth, grunt and bite with
our ten essential tips for
turning up the heat

58 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

mixing with distortion / make music now <

Whether it’s a subtle amount of tape application of saturation and distortion effects,
saturation to add warmth to a clean synth of course!
part, retro bitcrushing to give a reverb send These heat-inducing tools allow you to
that crunchy 1980s digital feel, or over-the- impart individual sounds, subgroups and mix
top trashy distortion grunging up an entire busses with a near-endless range of colours and
drum kit, the various distortion plugins we tones, and when applied properly, you can add
have in our toolbox can open up new worlds the perfect amount of bite, character and
of possibilities when mixing. energy to even the most vanilla of sounds.
Ironically, back in the day, mix engineers So to help raise your distortion game to pro
were always trying their hardest to avoid the levels, we’ve assembled ten expert tips on how
characteristics of the hardware they were using, to give your signals and mixes a unique edge.
and dreamed of absolute sonic clarity; now, in Expect some killer info as we explore techniques
the all-too-perfect software domain, we’ve since including multiband distortion, multistage
realised that in-the-box mixes can easily sound saturation, vintage tone emulation and even
sterile and – dare we say it – digital. The best stereo applications. Grab our Tutorial Files, fire
way to counteract this? With an expert up your DAW… and turn up the heat!

June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 59

> make music now / mixing with distortion

01 Clipping
Peak reduction is not only a transparent
technique for mixing or mastering, but can
also be an incredible creative tool when used
correctly. Both limiting and clipping work by
chopping off the loudest part of a signal’s
waveform – usually the transient – when said
signal breaches a user-defined threshold.
As transients are of such a short duration, a
moderate amount of peak reduction is fairly
unnoticable, up to a point. In general, limiting
is the more transparent process of the two,
while clipping induces more noticable
harmonic distortion – ideal for assertively
flattening and fattening drum hits.

An advanced way to add punch to drums is
to force those transients up into a stage of
clipping. For example, add attack to a snare
with an attack-boosting transient shaper,
followed by a limiter or clipper. As you increase
the attack, the limiter will stop the snare’s
loudening transient, increasing the perception
Adding a splash of distortion before or after auxiliary
of front-end punch while keeping its physical
peak level the same.
return effects such as delay or reverb is a superb
hack for giving those spatial effects some character.
This works well for spicing up dub delay, as you
distort the signal as the echo’s feedback level rises.
A more subtle use for this is to place tape
saturation before a drum reverb, giving the ’verb
warmth and depth to fill out your drum mix in a way
you wouldn’t get by processing the drums directly.

03 Multiband heat
Multiband distortion plugins such as FabFilter’s Saturn offer an endless variety of
options for getting creative with distortion and saturation in the mix. Let’s use Saturn
to warm up a thin-sounding dance track...

By splitting this track’s bass across To bulk up the midrange of the drums, Saturn’s modulation lets us use

1 two Saturn bands, we can drive the

sub and mid frequencies separately.
Adding Clean Tube warmth and reducing
the Dynamic range below 90Hz beefs the
2 call up three bands in a new Saturn,
then Bypass bands 1 and 3. After setting
the crossover to 200Hz and 2kHz
respectively, drive the second band with
3 Smudge distortion as a stuttering
effect that sounds ace on this tune’s intro
pad. We’re using an LFO in Slot 1 to
modulate Drive amount, then automating
sub up, while some aggressive Power Heavy Saturation to add some weight the Slot 1 Level and LFO Speed over the
Amp distortion with around 10% of Drive without crunching up the rest of the bass’s first 24 bars to help create a build-up.
gives the midrange more edge. frequency content.

60 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

mixing with distortion  /  make music now  <

04 Heating
up beats
There are few better tools for shaping the sound
of a drum mix than saturation or distortion. If
your percussion bus is sounding too spiky, for
example, try applying some moderate tape
saturation: the emulated effect of magnetic tape
will naturally smooth harsh transients, giving
the overall drum sound a less brittle, digital feel.

05 Keep
If you’re after aggression instead, parallel
distortion mixed on an aux return will give you
the grunt you need, with the added advantage
of being able to further process the distortion
signal in isolation. it tidy
Plugins such as iZotope’s Trash 2 or
Cableguys’ WaveShaper CM allow you to go It’s surprising just how much high-frequency noise
even further and radically change drums with
digital distortion or waveshaping. Ramming a distortion can exacerbate or generate, even on low-
drum through this kind of processing will
instantly give you a tough, smashed sound that pitched sounds like bass guitar. When mixing
is superb for harder music styles. Although this
can sometimes work on entire busses, you may
distorted guitars or synths, counteract this by
bring out extreme artefacts that can spoil the dialling in a 1kHz high-shelf EQ cut to tame those
effect – instead, for more control, process
individual hits first, then edit out any upper harmonics – this’ll give percussion and vocals
overlapping artefacts afterwards.
more breathing room, resulting in a smoother mix.

06 Mono
You’ll often find that superficially
impressive stereo parts such as synth
leads or vocal acapellas will sound
incredible when heard in stereo, but
often fail to cut the mustard when
listening in mono thanks to excessive
phase cancellation between the left and
right channels when they’re summed
into one.
In these scenarios, you can improve
mono compatibility by sending the
original signal to a mono aux return
containing a distortion plugin. Not only
does this make the sound stronger and
beefier in mono, but it also doesn’t affect
the stereo imaging one bit. You can even
automate the offending track’s send
volume to add emphasis at certain points
in an arrangement – perhaps to make a
naturally soft-sounding vocalist cut
through for the chorus.

June 2019  /  Computer musiC  /  61

>  make music now  /  mixing with distortion

07 08 Vintage
retaining Want to take your mixing back in time? Try using
transients some age-appropriate processing! If you’re after
a classic 1980s pop sound, say, start your signal
chain with some tape saturation followed by
Thanks to Dynamic Transient some API-or SSL-flavoured analogue emulation
Control tech, Softube Harmonics EQ and compression. This’ll mimic an 80s
adds grit when mixing, without analogue signal path, giving you a more
convincing sound. With the multitude of plugins
squashing the sound’s ‘snap’ that emulate iconic studio gear from the 1940s
onwards, a bit of research will give you all the
information you need to create those retro
sonics in the box.

09 Bass
Sometimes, bass that rocks on big studio
monitors can get lost in translation when heard
on smaller systems such as phones, tablets or

First, group drum parts, then load
Harmonics on the group. Choose
Bluetooth speakers, resulting in a hollow-
the Tube drive type, then set Drive to sounding mix. In this situation, you can add
8. The drums sound more gelled, but extra weight by routing a bit of bass signal to a
with dulled transients. Setting the DTC distortion FX aux, followed by some high- and
Amount to 8 restores lost snap, with low-pass filtering to isolate the frequencies
1dB Output gain rebalancing volume. between 100-400Hz. This lets you mix in extra
richness and depth to the mix’s all-important
low-mid frequencies, increasing the perception
of bass weight on small speakers without
distorting the low or high frequencies.

10 Chaining Placing multiple saturation in series can give

you a truly unique sound. For example, route
saturation one saturation stage into another, then
automate the first plugin’s drive amount to
As with compressors and EQs, all saturation imbue an overly clean synth signal with custom

Some Transformer drive on our plugins differ in character – one tool may grunt and movement.
bass channel brings out the low- emulate a particular piece of outboard gear, Alternatively, try pairing classic tape drive
mid frequencies in a clean and clear while a clean, digital saturator may impart a with a digital-sounding saturator. Gentle tape
manner. Setting Drive to 4 and more modern timbre. saturation offers character without crushing the
Character to 7 adds some extra Once you’re familiar with the palette of drive sound, which can then be pumped up by the
ruggedness and tone, with a DTC cleaner plugin’s crisp weight.
flavours at your disposal, why not stack ’em up?
Amount of 2 bringing out the initial
attack of each bass guitar note.

Harmonics is an ideal tool for mix
bus saturation. We put it on our
master, and set it to Master mode.
Increasing Character to 3 adds
brightness, with a hard Drive at 8
gluing the mix together. A little DTC
improves transient definition, with a
15kHz low-pass filter tidying things up.

62  /  Computer musiC  /  June 2019

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the ABWH album with
brand new interviews with the four giants of prog.
Plus Alan Parsons, Devin Townsend , John Lodge, Syd Arthur,
Ed Wynne and more…

PRO ager,
Featuring Voy Marsh,
tinuum rave,
In Con ent Mind, B ,
Ferv on Goose
and m

the cm guide to fathom cm / make music now <


The guide to
Get the videos and tutorial
files on your PC/Mac at

Plumb the depths of modular synthesis
with Seaweed Audio’s mega virtual
instrument, free in Plugins
Dedicated readers have doubtless already And unlike more complex modular With so many tools to explore, Fathom CM
discovered our recent addition to the environments, Fathom lets users start can get as complex as you like, and we’re ready
Plugins bundle, Fathom CM. Added only last making sounds with the very first module. to help you navigate through its many features
month to our suite of free music-making As easy as it is to get going, modular with our step-by-step walkthroughs. We’ll take
tools, this leviathan of a synth offers up an synthesis is all about options. Seaweed Audio, you from the very basics of building a classic
infinitely deep sonic playground that puts Fathom CM’s developers, are well aware of this, analogue synth patch with all the trimmings, all
many a paid-for plugin to shame. Fully and have generously dumped a versatile array the way through to the more exotic possibilities
modular and flexible, Fathom CM has enough of oscillators, filters, effects and modulators into offered by this many-tentacled beast.
features to leave even seasoned synthesists the synth’s list of included modules. With only In fact, we’ve so much to show you that we
gasping for air. Despite its bottomless minimal exclusions from the premium version, can’t fit it all into a single feature, so what follows
potential, Fathom CM is really easy to, erm, there’s more than enough onboard to craft will only be the first chapter in our studies of the
fathom, with a sleek and intuitive interface unique and powerful synthesis patches for mighty, mysterious, and magnificent Fathom
that gives immediate and impressive results. decades to come. CM – stay tuned for part two coming soon.

> Step by step 1. An overview of Fathom CM’s interface

In case you missed out on last month’s The large central window is where We’ll also be making frequent use of

1 get-started tutorial, here’s a brief recap

of Fathom CM’s easy-to-grok interface. As
you can see, there are four main parts to
the interface visible at any given time. The
2 most of the action takes place. That’s
where we’ll cable up the various modules
that define the signal path. These modules
– or ‘components’ – can be dragged in
3 the Modulation Matrix on the right.
Though there are no modulation tools in
play by default, this is where we’ll be
adding such functions as envelope
bottom section contains global controls, from the menu on the left. If we click on a generators, low-frequency oscillators,
master EQ, and a pair of 2D control pads. category – say, Oscillator – the category sequencers and much more. Here, we’ve
and any subcategories therein expand to selected a parameter for modulation. We’ll
show us the various components on offer. show you how to do that a bit later.

June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 65

> make music now / the cm guide to fathom cm

> Step by step 2. Building a synth voice with Fathom CM

Now we know our way around, let’s The cool thing about Fathom CM is We can edit the Component’s various

1 build our patch. For this, we’ll cobble

together a virtual analogue synth. Every
synth starts with the oscillators, so let’s
expand the Oscillator category in the
2 that we can immediately hear our
waveform – we needn’t add amplifiers or
output modules as in other modular
environments. If we play a note from our
3 parameters using the controls that
appear at the bottom of the GUI. You can
choose which of the available parameters
are displayed using the five buttons on the
Audio Components menu on the left, DAW or attached MIDI controller, we can lower-left – and there are a lot! For now,
then the Alias Free subcategory, and drag hear a sawtooth wave and, conveniently, we’ll keep it simple by changing the
a Basic Waveforms module to the central see it too, as the central window also acts Waveform to a Square wave.
window area. as an oscilloscope.

You’ll note that in addition to the We’ll now lower the Pitch Octave Go to the lower left and select the

4 oscilloscope in the top, there’s a

waveform display to the right of the
Oscillator parameters. It now shows a
square wave, which is made up of odd
5 knob to -1.00 for a low bass sound.
Next, drag a second Basic Waveforms
component to our central area. The
outputs of both are automatically mixed.
6 Detune parameters. We’ll activate the
Detune function, which gives us a much
thicker sound. This provides some density
for our filter – as with any subtractive
partials with an integer relationship to the Reduce the Volume of our newly-added patch, the more frequencies plumbed
fundamental tone. If we increase the oscillator to around 0.30 so that we hear through the filter, the more interesting the
Fundamental knob, we get a rounded more of our treated square wave than we sound we can shape with it.
wave shape and a beefier sound. hear of our new oscillator.

Now for that filter… go to the Audio This filter simulates the sound and Our Filter’s Cutoff Frequency is set to

7 Components, expand the Filter

category, and then to the Virtual Analog
sub-category where there’s a Diode Low
Pass module. Drag that in. Click and drag
8 behaviour of simple diode-based
filters like those found on synths such as
the legendary EMS VCS3 and Steiner-
Parker Synthacon, not to mention the
9 1000 by default, which is quite
aggressive and muted. Set it to around
3000. That gives us a lot of presence, but
still provides the bite we’d expect from
virtual cables from the Oscillator outputs Roland TB-303. It can get quite squelchy, this type of filter. Our patch sounds pretty
(right-most circle) to the Filter’s input which you’ll hear if you crank the good now, but there’s so much more we
(component’s left). Resonance up to 10.00. can do, as you’ll find out…

66 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

the cm guide to fathom cm / make music now <

> Step by step 3. Using Fathom CM’s Modulation Matrix

Fathom CM differs from most modular To lash the chosen parameter to a Clicking the check mark seals the deal.

1 environments in that its modulation

options are presented in a dedicated
matrix, not as individually patchable
modules in the main view. Adding
2 modulation source, click Add Mod.
This makes a new component in the
Modulation Matrix, labelled to show the
selected modulation target – Cutoff
3 Crank our filter’s Cutoff Frequency all
the way down, then use the small knob on
the left of the new modulator to adjust
modulation amount to be applied, which
modulation is simple – click the target Frequency here. Click Select Modulator is then detailed on the targeted parameter.
parameter’s knob to highlight it, as seen to expand the modulation sources menu, Set it so that the max value hits around
with our filter’s Cutoff Frequency. then choose Note Velocity. 3000 on our filter’s Cutoff Frequency.

> Step by step 4. Adding an ADSR envelope

Our patch’s timbre is a lot more Find our master Volume knob among Note that our modulator component

1 dynamic thanks to our velocity-

controlled filter. However, the amplitude is
utterly static. That’s because our synth is
lacking one of the most basic of all
2 the global parameters, then click on its
centre to select it as a modulation target.
Click Add Mod. This time, however,
choose the New Modulator category, to
3 itself has a set of five knobs to control
Attack, Attack Level, Decay, Sustain, and
Release – hence why it’s an easy ADSR!
Adjust these, or click the vertical bar on
modulators: an envelope generator. Click get the ADSR Easy modulator. Again, we’ll the left to open a full complement of
the Signal Flow button in the lower pull the target parameter down, but we’ll envelope controls. We’ll leave ours alone –
section to bring up our global window. crank our new modulator’s amount to full. the default settings are fine for now.

> Step by step 5. Modular-style filtering with Fathom CM’s Sample & Hold

Our patch is taking shape. It’s got Click Add Mod and select New Change the Units Random to

1 interesting timbral dynamics and a

squelchy, vintage sound, but we want a
random element, so try one of our fave
modulation sources – sample-and-hold. At
2 Modulator, from which we’ll choose a
Random Sample & Hold modulator. Set
the amount of modulation to around
0.26200 or so. Play and hold a note, and
3 Seconds. Increase the Time Period to
0.8984. This makes a slow yet distinct
shift in timbre – maybe too distinct. Set the
Smooth function to Sin and increase
the filter, click the Cutoff Frequency knob we hear a classic sample-and-hold sound. Smooth Amount to 0.713. Now these
to pick a modulation target. It’s subtle, but that’s what we want. changes are still random, but less overt.

June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 67

> make music now / the cm guide to fathom cm

Panel play
Note that even the most basic
> Step by step 6. Exploring Fathom CM’s envelopes
single-oscillator patch can be
used in a meaningful way
without adding a pile of
components. This is made
possible by Fathom CM’s copious
front panel controls, found in the
Global Controls area – always
available by clicking the Signal
Flow button. These controls
include the aforementioned 2D
control pads, each of which may
be assigned to various
modulation targets using the
Modulation Matrix. There’s also
that sizable 13-band equaliser
The envelope we added earlier looked Along with our new oscillator, we’ll

1 2
listed earlier. This gives loads of
control over the frequencies in ‘easy’, but the possibilities are add a new Virtual Analog filter. This
play – it’s easy to dial in apparent once we dig into Fathom CM’s one is a Voltage Control High Pass. Set its
deep editing features. To do so, we’ll add a Cutoff Frequency to 3860, and
everything from subtle bass cuts
third oscillator from the Alias Free Resonance to 6.85. Click its Cutoff
to spiky midrange boosts. category. This will be the Analog Saw. Frequency knob, then Add Mod and
Plus, you’ll find a means to Envelope from New Modulator.
adjust the pitch (handy for
playing along with acoustic
instruments); a knob for
choosing the number of voices in
play; a Velocity control for adding
dynamics; Glide type and Time;
and a Panel Overlay knob
providing control over what is
displayed and where. Sometimes,
one oscillator and these controls
might be all you need to get a
stellar performance going.

A new editor window appears, along Why did we do this? Because we’re

3 with a new set of controls down

below. Or are they? Indeed not – these are
the same parameters available to our
earlier Easy ADSR. Before diving in,
4 using a high-pass filter, and we want
our envelope to decrease the cutoff
frequency, which will add more low end
over time. Increase the number of
however, we click on the ‘+’ in our Segments to 8, then use the nodes in the
Give those global controls a good twist Modulator and choose Subtract from the envelope graphic to help draw an
to wring the most out of a simple patch list. Set the mod amount to 0.29265. interesting shape.

> Step by step 7. Crafting a custom LFO shape

As cool as our sound is, it’s a bit too Reduce the Analog Saw’s Volume It’s a bit fast, so let’s set the LFO

1 ‘in-your-face’ now – we don’t want our

newly-added multi-segment-modulated-
filter to overwhelm the sonic spectrum.
Let’s use yet more modulation to bring it
2 control to 0, then click its centre to
select it as a modulation destination. Click
Add Mod and select LFO Draw from the
New Modulator category as the
3 Period to 54.10000. Now, we can
drag the bezier handles in the display to
shape the LFO’s curves, and use the
handles to drag the edges of the
in and out of the patch. Click back over to modulation source. Set the new LFO’s waveform around until we have
the Signal Path and then open our modulation amount to around 0.20000 something we like. We’ve gone for an
Analog Saw oscillator. – this brings our Analog Saw into play a asymmetrical shape. We also tweak the
little, but in a cyclical fashion. Attack Period.

68 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

the cm guide to fathom cm / make music now <

> Step by step 8. Fathom CM’s sequencing features

Sequencers are an integral part of any What do you know? It’s the same Back in the Sequencer (or, erm,

1 well-appointed modular synthesis

system. Fathom CM has one, found among
the instruments modulators. We open our
very first Waveforms oscillator, and arm its
2 interface we used when discussing
envelope generators. Returning to our
oscillator, we crank up the amount of
modulation coming from the Sequencer.
3 envelope) editor, set the number of
Segments to 8. This gives us eight notes
to play with. We’ll need to set the
Quantize Amp parameter to a value of 24.
Pitch Note for modulation. This time, we Note that the mod amount is bipolar; set This forces our steps to a 12-tone musical
choose the Sequencer from the New to fully up, it gives our Pitch Note knob a scale. Let’s click on the segments in the
Modulators category. range of -12 to +12, or two octaves. grid to create a musical pattern.

Our sequencer is obviously only Let’s now return to our sequencer Our notes all blur together. It’s as if the

4 modulating our first oscillator’s pitch.

We can assign the Pitch Note parameter
of our second oscillator to the same
sequencer by selecting it for modulation,
5 editor for some final touches. Our
sequence is a bit frantic, so let’s slow
things down a bit. We can adjust the rate
of our sequence by tweaking the value of
6 gate time of each step is set to full. We
can alter this by reducing the Segment
Width parameter. We set ours to
0.78000. This gives us more of a staccato
clicking Add Mod, and choosing the same the Period knob. Currently, it’s set to 1.0. sound. Savvy synthesists will have noticed
Sequencer module from the Edited Double that and halve the tempo by that nearly all of the Sequencer’s
Modulator category and increasing its setting it to a value of 2.0. parameters can be modulated, so don’t be
amount, like we did for Oscillator 1. afraid to experiment.

> Step by step 9. Adding effects to our Fathom CM patch

Our patch has come a long way since Locate the Digital Delay LCR As a modular system, Fathom CM

1 we kicked off, and there is a lot going

on. It’s hard to imagine that it could get
any sweeter, but it can with the help of one
or more of Fathom CM’s excellent effects
2 component and drag it to the central
window. We patch our topmost Filter (the
Diode filter) into the new effect. As the
name shows, there are dedicated delay
3 offers the flexibility of running
different signal parts through different
effects. We add a Phaser effect to our
Analog Saw-plus-High Pass filter, and then
components. Return to the Signal Flow lines for left, right, and centre. Adjust Wet patch that Phaser component into a
window and open the Effect menu in the Mix for each line. These parameters may Reverb Easy module. A bit of tweaking
Audio Components Browser. be modulated, if you feel adventurous. gives a super-lush sound.

June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 69

to live the Apple life



Ava i l a b l e f ro m w w w. my favo u r i te m a g a zi n e s . co . u k / M AC s u b s


All about the bass, every four weeks

Also available to order online at www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk
tutorials <

with pro advice, expert videos and audio

examples from our computer music gurus

74 Exotic

Theory virtuoso Dave Clews goes

Easy Guide beyond minor and major with a
Music theory
with Dave Clews look at more unusual scales

76 Polishing
weak samples

ACM tutor Shea Stedford shows

Studio Strategies
Advanced production
you how to scrub up bland
with Shea Stedford samples with custom processing

78 Polyrhythms,
Part 2
Go cross-rhythmic and mash
Dr Beat
Beat and drum design
together multiple time signatures
with Ronan Macdonald with our resident drum doc

June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 73

Dave Clews’


Exotic scales
Download the accompanying
video and the MIDI/audio files at

East meets west as our theory guru travels around the world in
80 bars in search of some flavoursome musical formulas
For the most part, us computer musicians explore the vast number of permutations and than western music, such as eastern European
are quite happy to stick with the usual variations on those scales that exist outside that gypsy and folk, traditional Middle-Eastern
major or minor keys that make up 95% of the major and minor sandbox. music, Indian and Japanese. They can be used in
stuff we hear on the radio or in clubs today. A lot of these scales are based around very solos, improvisation, and even melody writing to
Every now and then, though, wouldn’t it be simple tweaks of the church modes – the ones add a touch of exotic flavour to your tracks.
cool to colour outside the lines? you get when you play through regular major or This month, then, I’m going to focus on some
The major and minor scales we’re all familiar minor scales from a note other than the root. of these lesser-trodden paths that lead nicely to
with are key parts of the music that satisfies us Some of them combine two scales together, the western mainstream, show you how to build
as listeners, but there’s a whole new level of smooshing them into a sort of Franken-scale, them, and give you a couple of practical
sophistication that opens up when you start to and many of them are rooted in cultures other examples of their usage.

>Step by step Exploring exotic scales


As a basis for comparison, here’s the A Our example track features a marimba We can spice things up a bit by

1 natural minor scale: A B C D E F G. The

relative minor of C major, this uses all the
white notes on the keyboard, so it’ll be
easier to spot which scale tones have
2 part playing an A natural minor
melody over an A root note held down by
the bass. As nothing plays any minor or
major thirds, it should work with pretty
3 changing just one or two notes in the
scale and conforming our melody to those
notes. For instance, the Romanian scale
sharpens the fourth and sixth degrees of
been altered to build our exotic scales. much any scale, so let’s examine how it the natural minor scale. In the case of A

formula 1 2 3 4 5 6 7. get A B C D E F G.

The natural minor scale has the numerical sounds with just a couple of the notes minor, these are the notes D and F, so we
shifted to fit more exotic scales…

1-2-3-4-5-6-7, referring to the 1 2 3 4 5 6 7. When you compare

The numerical formula for this scale is A close relative of the Romanian scale The numerical formula for this scale is

4 degrees of the major scale. Here’s how the

melody looks and sounds using these
altered notes. Just by raising the pitch of
5 is the Hungarian Gypsy minor scale.
This is made by shifting the 4th and 7th
degrees of the natural minor scale up by a
semitone. In the case of A minor, this
6 these two scales, even though the only
difference is in the last two degrees – a flat
6th and a major 7th, rather than a major

resulting scale of A B C D E F G .
those two notes, the tune has taken on a would be the notes D and G, giving us the 6th and flat 7th – you can almost hear us
distinctly eastern European flavour. taking a trip to the Middle East.

74 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

easy guide / make music now <


DON’T HOLD THE WALL You don’t necessarily have to practise or memorise spanning almost 25
Lots of influences here, these scales to begin using them – let your computer years, Dave has
rhythmically and melodically. help you out! Most DAWs have some kind of MIDI input
Most of the tune is regular F transposer or transformer that will apply a custom or
natural minor, but one bell preset scale over the incoming MIDI data stream, so programmed and
melody is played in F Romanian. any note you play will conform to your chosen scale. played keyboards on
Hardware controllers such as Ableton Push and NI’s records for a string of
bit.ly/jt_dhtw Komplete Kontrol series also have a scale input feature
that does the same thing. artists including
George Michael, Kylie
This hypnotic house cut shows SCALE IT DOWN Minogue, Tina Turner
how using just one chromatic note By the same token, there’s no need to use all of the and Estelle. These
(the main hook’s shift from C to C# notes from an exotic scale to get the feeling across.
Just the same as in cooking with chillies, you can get days, he writes articles for and
over a Cm7 groove suggests the
Byzantine scale) can inject just the the right flavour just by adding as much or as little as other magazines and websites,
required amount of spice. you like. Throwing the odd flat 2nd into an otherwise and is the author of Avid Pro Tools
natural minor progression can make all the difference
Basics. Follow him on Instagram:
you need.
bit.ly/cristoph_td @electricdave67

Originating from Saudi Arabia, but Here’s how our melody sounds played A further tweak and we get the

7 common in western jazz, the Al Hijaz

scale (also known as Phrygian Dominant
or the Spanish Gypsy scale) can be used
over dominant chords that resolve to a
8 using the Al Hijaz scale. We’re now in
flattened 2nd territory, which instantly
spirits us away to foreign lands. The flat
2nd derives from the Phrygian mode,
9 Byzantine scale. Also known as the
Maqam Hijaz Scale or the double
harmonic scale, the Byzantine scale is
actually the same as a major scale with

played as A B C D E F G. of A minor, this equates to A B C D E F G.

minor chord. In A minor, this scale is while the presence of that flat 7th gives it a flattened 2nd and 6th degrees. In the case
dominant character – hence the name

scale is 1 2 3 4 5 6 7.
Phrygian Dominant. The formula for this

Egyptian pentatonic scale is 1 2 4 5 7,

With this scale applied, our melody Pentatonic scales – scales with only The formula for this particular

10 takes on even more exotic flavour, as

more flattened 2nd malarkey keeps us
rooted in the Middle East. The eastern
sound of these last two scales derives
11 five notes – are very common in both
western and eastern musical culture, so it
would be remiss not to include one here. A
typical Egyptian pentatonic scale in A
12 and it can be derived by playing a mode of
a regular minor pentatonic – here, the
third mode of E minor pentatonic (E G A B
from the augmented interval between the minor would work out to A B D E G. This is D). The image above shows how our

Byzantine Scale is 1 2 3 4 5 6 7.
2nd and 3rd degrees. The formula for the very similar to an A minor pentatonic, but melody might sound when played using
with a lowered second degree. only the five notes from this scale.

NEXT MONTH Dave tackles the relatively interesting topic of relative keys vs parallel keys June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 75
with ACM


Polishing weak samples Get the tutorial files and video

on your PC/Mac at:

ACM tutor Shea Stedford shows you how clever processing can be
used to imbue lacklustre samples with missing density and depth
Many producers compose tracks using texture or the thickness you want, even if the diggers’ – especially in genres like hip-hop and
audio one-shots and loops (ie, samples), creative content of the sound might work. This house – who have transformed mundane audio
whether it be ready-rolled audio files from leaves you with a heap of unused samples that into musical gold through the magic of sample-
commercial sample packs, loops they’ve could become the perfect raw material for flipping, creative manipulation and processing.
created themselves and squirreled away for processing and making your own – exactly what In this tutorial and video, I’ll show you a quick
later use, or ‘naughty’ snippets lifted from we want from a sample, after all! way of processing weak samples with basic
records or YouTube. Let’s not forget that, historically, sampling is bussing and effects treatments. I’ll be using a
When digging for new samples or auditioning about turning pre-existing audio into something faux-sampled loop made with NI Maschine
through your collection, it’s all too easy to unique, and doing it in a way to create your before going further in Pro Tools, but it’s all
disregard something because it lacks the sound. There are countless examples of ‘crate transferable to the sampler and host you use.

>Step by step Processing samples for a pro sound

To follow along with my tutorial, it’s I want to give the loop more life in the It’s time to prepare my loop for

1 important to pick the right source

material. Look for a loop or a sample that
you’d normally skip past – for example,
you may like a sound’s composition or
2 most efficient way possible, giving me
a solid source sample that will slot straight
into a track. To do this, I’ll be using a
combination of parallel compression and
3 processing. After chopping the sample
to the tempo of your choosing, make sure
your sample’s level isn’t too ‘hot’ – if it’s
already hitting 0dB on the meter, just turn
groove, but not its character or timbre. parallel saturation. Taking advantage of it down a bit. I like to try to level the
This could even be a loop that you’ve Maschine’s drag and drop feature, I export sample so it’s peaking at no more than
created yourself. Here’s a basic house loop the premade loop by throwing it on my -3dBFS, giving me headroom to play with
I’ve created in NI’s Maschine. Pro Tools arrange page. at a later processing stage.

Now for some processing. I send my As your dry sound is already in the mix, I now add another parallel effect on a

4 loop’s signal to an aux return track

containing SSL’s Native V6 Saturator,
which adds third-order harmonics for a
warmer, thicker sound. My settings are
5 remember to keep the parallel effect’s
mix control (if it has one) at 100% fully wet.
At this point, I recommend you try out
different settings and balance those level
6 second aux return, and send the
original loop’s signal to it. This time, I’m
using parallel compression from IK’s Black
76. I dial in extreme compression until I
extreme, but that’s fine, as this duplicate faders. There are no ‘standard’ settings find the flavour I’m looking for – in this
signal is being mixed in tandem with the here, so use your ears and experiment. case, I want a spikey, pokey characteristic
untouched source sound. to complement the parallel saturation’s
thickness and density.

76 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

studio strategies  /  make music now  <

Pro tiPs Shea Stedford

take stoCk Captain CrunCh Shea is a dance music
Although I’ve used a pair of third-party plugins in my As I discussed last month, you should always experiment
tutorial, the approach can easily be replicated using your with creative resampling techniques. By rendering your producer and tutor at
DAW’s excellent stock effects. For instance, pushing a processed signals to audio, you’ll free up any fiddly ACM, a leading
signal’s level into Logic Pro X’s Overdrive – set to 0dB routing and give yourself freedom to try out another provider of creative
Drive and maximum 20kHz Tone – will provide beefy round of plugins – a great way to add texture and
industries education
third-order harmonics, resulting in a thicker, punchier, degradation at each stage.
warmer sound. This works a treat on everything from Speaking of degradation, I love resampling crunched-
individual tracks and subgroups to parallel aux tracks up drums. To get that old 8- or 12-bit drum machine Spotify: bit.ly/iklektix
and groups/busses. sound, load a bitcrusher plugin over a modern drum Discogs: bit.ly/sheadiscogs
Ableton Live users can draw for the bundled Auto sample, then lower the bit depth to 8 or 12 bits, making
Filter plugin. I like to call up an instance, open up the sure you leave the sample rate parameter alone. Instagram:
Cutoff to the max 19.9k, set Resonance at around 9-19%, This adds what can only be described as fuzzy digital @sheastedford
then pick a Drive circuit other than the default Clean – the hiss – great for giving your drum tracks and percussion a
Korg MS-20-emulating MS2 mode is a personal favourite. bit of texture and grit. Then, once you’re happy with the
Once you’ve dialled in settings, simply crank up the Drive effect, render that sucker to audio and load your About ACM
knob for instant power and push. processed beats into a drum sampler for triggering. Having trained musicians, producers,
songwriters, and entrepreneurs for careers in
the creative industries for over 20 years, with state-of-the-art
facilities and extensive industry connections, ACM offers
immersive programmes that develop students to their full
potential. Learn more at an ACM Open Day: www.acm.ac.uk

7 8 9
Again, you can be more extreme with This is where things get a little more From here, balance your busses to
settings when compressing in parallel. interesting. By employing clever achieve the desired tone and weight.
I switch Black 76 to the 1176’s famous ‘all routing within my DAW’s mixer, I send my This final fader-juggling act is completely
buttons in’ mode, which increases parallel compression aux signal into the subjective and personal to you – but that’s
compression ratio, boosts input signal and parallel saturation aux, which saturates the beauty of it! Here, a louder saturation
changes attack and release times, giving some of the spiky, compressed signal. I’m signal gives my loop a trashier sound,
the compression a thrashy, ‘sucking’ effectively ‘paralleling the parallel’! while increasing the level of the 1176 signal
character. This is why 1176 compression is adds more transient punch.
a go-to for parallel dynamics-shaping.

10 11 12
Doing things this way gives you the Keep checking your master fader’s Many ready-made samples are heavily
most flexible workflow in the least volume while you work. You can easily limited. You may enjoy this increase in
time, using the least CPU resources. And breach the digital 0dBFS limit when perceived level on first listen, but it doesn’t
working in a dedicated project lets you mixing multiple parallel signals, so always help if you want a more dynamic sound.
experiment away from a multitrack balance each fader and reduce channel This is another reason to maintain proper
session, so you can focus on making that levels to leave headroom. My final peak gain staging when creating or
sample sound as good as it can without volume is extremely close to the pre- customising samples – your sounds will be
distraction. After refining your level processed sample’s original peak level. less dominating, and have more chance of
balances, try different plugin settings. slotting into a mix.

neXt month Shea combines famous mixing techniques for a unique sound June 2019  /  Computer musiC  /  77
Dr Beat
with Ronan Macdonald


Polyrhythms, Part 2 DOWNLOAD

See it in video and get the

Our drum doc explores cross-rhythms for out-there grooves

tutorial files on your PC/Mac at

Ronan Macdonald Last issue, we began our exploration of

polyrhythms by layering up multiple drum
can easily demonstrate yourself. Tap a repeating
three-beat pattern on a desk with your right
Having and percussion elements, each in a different hand, then tap with the left hand on beat one
previously time signature but all playing at the same and in between beats two and three – and then,
served as Editor tempo – aka polymeter. This time round, I’m voila, your left hand is in 3/4 time, your right is in
of drummer’s going to be showing you an alternative, even 2/4 at a lower tempo.
bible Rhythm as madder approach to polyrhythmic beat In this walkthrough, we’ll be taking things to a
well as making: the cross-rhythm. rather deeper level than that as we build up a
Computer In simple terms, a cross-rhythm is a polyrhythmic drum and percussion groove. The
Music, Ronan is combination of two or more time signatures, process, as illustrated below, is simple – make an
clearly the right playing together over the same period of time audio or MIDI clip of a certain number of beats
man for this – ie, sharing the same barlines – and thus at two in length, then timestretch it to fit within a bar
particular gig. He’s been playing drums or more different tempos. length set by a regular 4/4 drum beat. You’ll find,
for over 30 years and making music The most rudimentary of cross-rhythms is however, that the sonic results you get from it
with computers since the 90s. the hemiola, or ‘two against three’, which you are anything but simple…

>Step by step Building a polyrhythmic drum and percussion groove


The first thing to do is set out our 4/4 For our first cross-rhythm, let’s bring a Now, with Logic Pro’s Flex Time

1 base, which comes courtesy of a

Looptone kick-and-hi-hats loop, from
258, and a snare/clap backbeat. Rolling
along at 125bpm, this is the beat against
2 3/4 percussion part into play. I start by
importing a 4/4 percussion loop, then
simply dragging its right hand edge back
to get rid of everything after the first three
3 timestretching system activated for
the track, I stretch the three-beat clip out
to the length of the full four-beat bar – as
defined by the main drums – and loop it to
which the following cross-rhythmic parts beats. The new clip is now effectively in fill the phrase. Playing this alongside the
will be juxtaposed. 3/4 time, as is apparent when it’s looped. drum loop totally transforms the groove.

4/4 and 3/4 are the most conventional In Logic Pro, MIDI is timestretched in In four-to-the-floor dance music, it’s

4 of time signatures, but things start to

get temporally weird with 5/4, as
demonstrated by this agogo bells line
– hear how the extra beat interrupts the
5 the same way as audio, by Option-
dragging either bottom corner of the MIDI
clip. Pulling the five-beat agogo bells clip
back to fit the bar speeds it up so that it
6 best to keep your polyrhythmic
activity to secondary percussion parts,
rather than the kick or snare. Here, for
example, I’ve shortened and stretched the
expected flow. While 3/4 crossed with 4/4 sits awkwardly over the 4/4 beat. At first it snare/clap part to put it in 7/8 time, which
usually works well, getting 5/4 involved is sounds bizarre, but after a few cycles, the breaks the backbeat. A cross-rhythm too
always an experiment… brain starts to make sense of it. far? I’ll leave you to decide…

78 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019 NEXT MONTH Exploring time signatures

> interview / carl craig

The techno pioneer has adapted his
back catalogue for a full orchestra and
he’s bringing it to the Royal Albert Hall.
This is how he did it…

When you sit down for an afternoon with Detroit. Looking at the soul of Detroit. Years
Carl Craig, it’s not long before Detroit later, I realised that it was the Motown building.”
glides into the conversation. Born there in Carl Craig is relaxing backstage at London’s
1969, it’s the place he’s always called home. Royal Albert Hall. Craig is in the UK to talk about
It’s also where he first heard the music of his forthcoming live show at the prestigious
other local kids like Derrick May, Kevin venue. The Royal Albert Hall has played host to
Saunderson and Juan Atkins; the music that many leftfield legends such as Kraftwerk,
came to be known as Detroit techno. And it’s Hendrix and the Daleks, but its reputation was
where he made and released his first record, built on names like Rachmaninoff, Elgar and
1989’s Neurotic Behavior. Coleridge-Taylor. It has classical music in its
But Craig’s very first memory of the city goes blood. Well… in its bricks and mortar.
back much further. To the early-70s, when he It seems the perfect venue, then, for the
was standing on the corner of Woodward debut UK performance of Craig’s Versus
Avenue and Interstate 75, cheering the project, which features tracks from his back
Thanksgiving Day Parade with his parents. catalogue, adapted for synths, decks and full
“All the noise and dancing was happening on orchestra. For this show, he’s joined by pianist
the street, but, for some reason, I looked up,” Kelvin Sholar, who’s worked with everyone from
says Craig. “This building had a big ‘M’ on the Babyface and Q-Tip to Sean Lennon and
front. I didn’t know what it was or what it stood Common; and the Chineke! Orchestra, the first
for, but it touched me in some way. When I professional orchestra in Europe with a majority
looked up at that ‘M’, I felt I was looking at of black and minority ethnic musicians.

80 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

carl craig / interview <

Photo: Cristian Di Stefano

June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 81

>  interview  /  carl craig

“Versus goes back to 2008, when [Juilliard

piano prodigy] Francesco Tristano got stuck “Synths allow you to make sounds that no one else
into some of my songs. Taking them from the
electronic world into this strange classical/
electronic crossover world. I guess I’d never
has made. It doesn’t matter if someone tells you it’s
really considered my music as ‘classical’, but I
loved the idea that we could take my songs in
wrong or it’s not real music. So what?”
another direction.
“For me, that’s what music has always been
about. Whenever I see an envelope, I just have CC: “Ha ha! You’ve got the whole orchestra in Music is about making a sound that you like.
to keep pushing and pushing.” tuxedos… it’s not like I can turn up there in jeans That’s all that matters.”
and a T-shirt!”
: How did the idea for Versus first come : You played guitar as a kid but, from what
into being? Were you always ‘in charge’ or : Presumably it feels different to a club or I’ve read, it was primarily electronic music –
was there a two-way process between you festival gig? in particular, the sound of the synthesiser –
and Francesco? CC:“Of course, but the power of the music is still that was what actually made you want to
CC: “It was a two-way process, but there was there. Ever since I first started making my own write songs.
definitely a period where I let Francesco do what songs, I’ve always tried to make sure I don’t keep CC: “Gary Numan’s Cars was a big song for me. It
he does. I mean, c’mon… he’s a Juilliard kid! He the music locked in a box. I’m not a ‘mono’ was huge on urban radio in the US. Then, of
was looking at the music in all kinds of different person; I’m a ‘poly’ person. course, you had Kraftwerk. Trans Europe
ways. The parts weren’t written for violin or “I can’t just think about one sound or one Express had been accepted by black and latino
woodwind, but I trusted Francesco to do what style every day of the week. People say, ‘I only radio, and they [Kraftwerk] seemed to expand
needed to be done. I know my musical capacity listen to techno’ or ‘I only listen to house’ and I way beyond that with Man Machine. There was a
and I know what I’m capable of. Francesco, on feel sorry for them because they’re missing out lot of funk in that album… a lot of funk.
the other hand, is a fucking awesome musician on all this other wonderful music. Imagine “Image-wise, they were these un-funky
and it was a joy to watch him introduce all these saying that you were only going to see the dudes, but the guy they brought in to engineer
new sounds. colour blue. Think about how dull the world Man Machine was Leanard Jackson. He’d
“Over the years, the arrangements have would be if you only had one colour. worked with Norman Whitfield… yeah, the
evolved quite a lot. The Royal Albert Hall show “Music is a bit like time travel… like that show Norman Whitfield. The Temptations’ Papa Was A
will feature the Chineke! Orchestra and Kelvin Quantum Leap. If you push today’s music into a Rolling Stone, Car Wash and a lot of Rose Royce
Sholar, who comes from a much more jazz- box and keep it locked away, then it won’t have a stuff, Marvin Gaye. Suddenly, you’ve got
orientated background. Kelvin sees the music in chance to affect what’s going to happen in the Whitfield’s engineer working with Kraftwerk. A
a different way and that means the future. If we experiment today, our experiments meeting of two worlds.
performances have new elements. And I feel might change the future. “What else was there? George Clinton and
much more involved in these recent changes “When I made Bug In The Bass Bin, there Parliament, The Gap Band, Roger Troutman and
because I’ve got a lot more experience than I were a whole lot of jazz influences that were Zapp. When people talk about synth pioneers,
had in 2008. I have a much better idea of what going around my head and they automatically Kraftwerk is the name that always comes up, but
will work and what won’t.” fed into the music. Some people questioned the Roger Troutman was one of the greatest artists
sound of that track but, from what I’ve been told, to ever touch a synth.
: What have you got up there on stage? Goldie heard it and said, ‘I want that sound’. Bug “And Sun Ra! You’ve got Sun Ra
CC:“The computer running Ableton Live, with In The Bass Bin became part of the story of experimenting with the Moog. He was key to
an Arturia MatrixBrute, which is what I do all the drum ’n’ bass. what was happening to the synth. His song,
soloing on. And NI Maschine.” “One of the reasons that electronic music Space is the Place… the use of different stage
exists is that it allows you to break the rules. names. Using different names was all about
: And a very nice suit, might we add. Synths allow you to make sounds that no one shedding the restrictions of slavery. You had
There’s some great footage of you rocking a else has made. It doesn’t matter if someone tells black people in poverty in the US and they were
snazzy grey two-piece! you it’s wrong or it’s not real music. So what? always talking about not wanting to be ‘here’.
Not wanting to be on this planet. They wanted to
go to heaven, to a place where there were no
restrictions. No slavery.
Carl Craig and Chineke!
“The synth was part of that. It was an
Orchestra founder
Chi-chi Nwanoku instrument that had no restrictions, no limits.
You didn’t have to learn it like the piano. You
could just sit down and start creating sounds
from outer space. Like Sun Ra said, “space is the
place”. The synth would take you to outer space.
Take you away from the drudgery and the
poverty. It was a tool that was eagerly utilised
within black music.”

: What a time to be listening to music!

CC:“Definitely. And it wasn’t long after that when
I first heard Derrick May’s radio show on WJLB.
Hearing Strings of Life [released by May under
the name, Rhythim Is Rhythim]. That’s when my
mind was finally blown. But it was also when my
life finally made sense.”

: We’d imagine that a lot of people’s lives

suddenly made sense when they heard
Detroit techno.
CC: “It wasn’t just listening to the music. It was
the instruments… the synth, the drum machine,

82  /  Computer musiC  /  June 2019

carl craig  /  interview  <

Photo: Getty / Xavi Torrent

Carl Craig performs on stage at
Barcelona’s Sonar Festival in 2017

the sampler. A cousin of mine was the first

person I knew who had a synth. I remember
we were growing up, Detroit was dominated by
Motown and we were kind of rejecting that Kit list
going around to his house and there was a sound. We wanted to break new ground.” HARDWARE
Sequential Circuits Six-Trak, a DX7 and a 909. I Apple Mac
can still feel that thrill when I pushed down a key : Gear-wise, how long did it take for you to Roland SH-101
on the Six-Trak. I wanted to be in that gang… I get started? Pioneer Toraiz AS-1
wanted to make techno music.” CC: “The early mantra was beg, borrow or steal. Studio Electronics
That was the only way I could make music. I had Omega-8
: You mentioned Gary Numan and a Prophet 2000, an Alesis MMT-8 sequencer Presonus Faderport 16
Kraftwerk earlier on, and there are some and a four-track that I borrowed and eventually Sontec MEP-250EX
people who will argue that the sound of stole. Make the drum sounds, record the drums. Lexicon PCM 41
Detroit had a distinctly European flavour. The Make the bass sounds, record the bass. It really Arturia MatrixBrute
music from Chicago and New York, on the was that basic. Native Instruments
other hand, was American. Too simplistic? “The first time that I got a hold of a computer Maschine
CC: “Way too simplistic. Chicago had its own was probably around 1991. It was one of those
European influences… Italian disco was huge. If Macintosh Classics, running… I think it was SOFTWARE
you’re looking for a theory behind the sound of Performer. The computer wasn’t really such a Ableton Live 10
Detroit, the best place to start is with a very big thing in Detroit. We preferred working with Harrison Mixbus
early Juan Atkins interview. He was asked about sequencers like the Alesis. Derrick May never Arturia V Collection
the music he was making, and he said: ‘the main used a computer. Juan [Atkins] took a long time. Roland Cloud
idea was that we didn’t want to sound like Berry Kevin [Saunderson] was there earlier than the FabFilter Pro-Q 3
Gordy and Motown’. rest of us because his brother was a computer Spectrasonics
“Even to this day, when I tell people that I’m a programmer. Omnisphere 2
musician from Detroit, they immediately “Personally, I liked the way the Alesis made
assume I’m a soul guy signed to Motown. When my music sound. If you write with a standalone
sequencer, you write in a particular way. If you
write with an MPC3000, you write in a
“Growing up, Detroit was particular way. Very different to working with a
DAW like Logic or Ableton Live.”

dominated by Motown : And which one do you use?

CC: “I hate ’em all! Ha ha! My philosophy is that
and we were kind of you should use anything that will get the job
done. I’ve pretty much used every DAW out
rejecting that sound” there. Logic, Pro Tools, FL Studio, Ableton… and I
also use Harrison Mixbus.

June 2019 / Computer musiC  /  83

> interview / carl craig

Photo: Cristian Di Stefano

The Carl Craig
guide to pushing
the envelope
“If you’re in a regular band, it’s easy. I
saw a documentary about Queen the
other day, and they were all playing
each other’s instruments. That’s a
simple way to find inspiration.
“If it’s just you, making electronic
music with a laptop, it’s not so easy. But
why not try a different DAW? If you’re
used to working on a computer, switch
to GarageBand on your iPad. Find an
App on your iPhone you’ve never used.
Force yourself into a new corner and
see what you get. It doesn’t have to be
super-complex. Find something that
only does one or two simple things.
Bring it back to monophonic sound.
Restrict yourself to four tracks.
“My favourite way of forcing my
brain to wake up is shutting down
every plugin except one and saying,
‘Right, make a song with that one
synth’. It worked when I first started
out… why can’t it work today?”

“The harsh reality is that I only make use of less every bit of hardware that I’ve ever owned is the right room. It sounds kinda boring, but that’s
around 5% of what each of those DAWs is still in the studio. My first synth, my first guitar, the best thing I’ve learned in all the years I’ve
capable of. But I can get them to do the things old four-tracks.” been making music. You can have 100,000
that I need them to do.” bucks worth of Eurorack gear, a fully-loaded
: Yeah… there are some pictures out there Mac and the best PMC monitors available, but if
Could you live without a computer? Go back of you sitting in front of a very well-stocked your room isn’t up to the job, the whole thing
to the sequencer days? studio. And you’ve got some seriously tasty will fall apart.”
CC: “Are you kidding! I read Computer Music analogue synths. Have you investigated the
religiously, and I am a plugin hoarder. I’m always softsynth world? Carl Craig will be joined by Kelvin Sholar and the
bitching about this on Twitter, but I can’t seem to CC: “Oh, yeah! Like I said, I’m a hoarder. Chineke! Orchestra for a performance of Versus at
stop. If there’s a new compressor coming out Omnisphere is a no-brainer. Maschine is getting the Royal Albert Hall on April 28. The show is part
next week, I have to have it. I would say I’ve got interesting, but still hasn’t reached its full of the 2019 Love Classical Season. For more
30 or more compressors on my computer. What potential. The Roland and Arturia collections. I details, visit royalalberthall.com
do I need 30 compressors for? like libraries of sounds… something like the
“If you’re on the road all the time – which I am Arturia Analog Lab. You can flick through a
– what you actually need is a compressor that whole heap of sounds without having to change
will make your music sound correct when you’re plugins. That makes sense to me.
using headphones. But if I read about a new one “On the hardware side, I do have some
and it sounds like it will make my life a little bit modern stuff, too. It’s not all vintage. The
easier or there’s a special deal on it, I will buy it. Pioneeer/Dave Smith Toraiz AS-1 doesn’t seem to HEAR MORE
“And, like any hoarder, I never really get rid of do a whole lot when you first look at it, but after
anything. Even if it’s a plugin that I never use, I a while you realise that it does everything. The
still end up keeping it. Hardware, as well. More or Studio Electronics Omega8 is pretty cool.
“Better than the old synths? Hmm… even
after all these years, I still love my SH-101. It cost
me 50 bucks and the guy who sold it to me was
so mad when he found out how much they were Bug In The Bass Bin
worth a couple of years later. Maybe that’s why I bit.ly/IZ_BITBB
love it so much. It only cost me 50 bucks.” At Les
: And is that the one bit of gear you
couldn’t live without? WWW

CC: “No, the one bit of gear I couldn’t live
without is my room… my studio room. When soundcloud.com/carlcraignet
you’re starting out and you’re making your first
tunes in your bedroom, it’s all about raw energy
Self-professed hoarder Carl has a mix of old and new and ideas. But when you start stepping up the facebook.com/carlcraigofficial
gear, including the Pioneer/Dave Smith Toraiz AS-1 ladder, you begin to realise the importance of

84 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

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Excellent. First-rate and
With XY-pad oscillator blending, this former Rack Extension- among the best you can buy
only synth brings vector synthesis back with a bang 10 Exceptional. It just doesn’t get
any better than this!

90 92 94
Roland IK Multimedia DMG Audio
TB-303 Bassline SampleTank 4 Multiplicity

96 98 101
Krotos K-Devices Mini Reviews
Audio Igniter WOV + TTAP

Awarded to products A product has to really If the product In the opinion of the
that challenge existing impress us with its exceeds expectations Editor, the best product
ideas and do something functionality and for its price, it will reviewed in the
entirely new features to win this one receive this gong magazine this month

June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 87

> reviews / rob papen vecto
Perform vector synthesis Shape the XY pad’s path of Two multimode filters,
and modulate anything travel by moving breakpoints working in series or parallel
Choose from
hundreds of
oscillator waveforms

Featuring the Fade
SMA parameter for
Pulse width altering the Sustain
modulation by any
other name

Make up to eight Two effects, each
modulation with its own choice
assignments of modules

Assign these two
ADSRs (with Fade)
to anything you like FREE LFOS ARPEGGIATOR
Two simple but effective Arpeggiation, step sequencing
low-frequency oscillators and modulation

Rob Papen
Vecto £80
The latest virtual instrument from the renowned Dutch sound designer
and plugin developer brings back a classic 80s synthesis technique

Originally released only as a Rack Extension synth, with the oscillator mix governed by the SineRez, Noise, etc), Additive (Glass, Organ,
for Propellerhead’s Reason DAW in 2015, Rob XY pad – see Vector director – unless it’s turned Vocal, etc), Spectral, and seven Samples menus
Papen’s latest plugin instrument (VST/AU/AAX), off, in which case the individual oscillators are including Big Samples, Tuned Percussive
Vecto, employs a method of sound generation balanced in the conventional manner, using Samples and FX Samples. The usual oscillator
that doesn’t come around too often these days: their Volume controls. Like other Rob Papen tuning controls are in place, as is a Sub knob that
vector synthesis. This powerful technique was synths, a huge variety of waveforms are dials in a square wave in one direction and a sine
pioneered by Sequential Circuits with the available for every oscillator, in categories in the other, an octave below the main oscillator.
Prophet VS in 1986, and followed up most comprising Analogue (Sine, Square, Triangle, The Analogue, Additive and Spectral waves
famously by Korg with their legendary can also be manipulated using a number of
Wavestation shortly after. Quite simply, it further parameters. Spread applies unison-style
centres on manual control and modulation of
the output blend of multiple oscillators using a
“Vecto employs a thickening by adding offset oscillators above
and below the main frequency; and Symmetry
joystick or similar controller. The complex,
shifting tones of vector synthesis are well suited method of sound Modulation is Vecto’s name for pulse width
modulation, controlled by the Symmetry (pulse
to sustained sounds – pads, strings and the like – width), Speed (LFO rate, described as a
and particularly favoured by cinematic sound generation that doesn’t percentage, for some reason, but topping out at
designers and ambient producers. around 30Hz) and SMA (mod depth) knobs.

Fantastic four
come around too Oscillators 2, 3 and 4 can be synced to Oscillator
1, and a menu built into each oscillator enables
Packed into a tidy but busy single-window
interface, Vecto is a four-oscillator polyphonic
often: vector synthesis” convenient selection (and, optionally, inversion)
of one of a range of volume modulation sources.

88 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

rob papen vecto  /  reviews  <

“Papen is never one to

skimp on filters, and
Vecto has two, drawing
on a broad array of
types and slopes”
You can delay the onset of each oscillator after
triggering, too, in note values from 1/32 to 16/1, In Poly mode, each
making it possible to program short rhythmic voice gets its own
patterns around them. Output routing options independent red
for every oscillator include the filters, the FX and dot in the XY Pad
any other oscillator, the last for FM (frequency
modulation); and the sampled waveforms can
be reversed and set to retrigger repeatedly at
any of the above note values. Vector director
Papen isn’t one to skimp on filters, and Vecto
has two, drawing on a broad array of types and Although essentially the same in defined by up to 32 editable
slopes, from low- and high-pass, through band- design as its modulation-generating breakpoints. The path can be looped
pass and notch, to Vocal, Comb and Formant, at equivalents on other Papen synths, the from any breakpoint; played back
roll-off slopes from 6-36dB/octave. They can be XY pad at the heart of Vecto is where monophonically (restarting with each
routed in series or parallel, pre or post FX, and the actual ‘vector’ part of vector new note), polyphonically (each note
their dedicated ADSR filter envelopes feature a synthesis takes place. The red dot has its own red dot) or free (note input
Fade control for turning the sustain stage into a serves as the virtual ‘joystick’ via which doesn’t restart the path); sped up and
second attack or decay segment. The Amp and the four oscillators positioned on each slowed down (with modulation of the
Free envelopes also incorporate this. corner of its containing square are Speed control) by a factor of up to 16;
intuitively blended. synced to host tempo; and quantised in
Mod complex The red dot can be dragged around terms of both timing and breakpoint
With eight assignment slots in its modulation with the mouse and assigned as a positions on an underlying grid. A
matrix, Vecto provides a decent amount of modulation target in the matrix for useful menu of editing functions (Set to
parameter animation options. Alongside the automated movement. The XY pad’s circle, Rotate, Reverse, etc) facilitates
expected list of MIDI streams and CCs, plus killer feature, though, is the ability to instant transformation of the path, and
Oscillator Retrigger and Delay, White Noise and record and play back manual the XY pad is also available as a general
a few other oddities, the onboard modulation movement of the red dot as a path modulation source, of course.
sources consist of two simple LFOs, four
envelopes (including those of both filters), Arp
Velocity (see below) and both axes of the XY
Pad. All parameters are available as targets,
even those of the modulators themselves and Phaser or Widener – while FX2 hosts Delay or Alternatively
the FX controls – always good to see. Reverb. As was the case with its stablemate Go2
The Arpeggiator features a comprehensive (9/10, 258), we’re not impressed by the Korg Wavestation
menu of directions (Up, Down, Random, Chord, inability to use reverb and delay together, but N/A » N/A » $50
etc) and a 16-step sequencer, with both free other than that, it’s a decent spread of One of the original vector synths is
running and retriggering modulation modes. processing options, and all of them offer plenty available in plugin form
Swing and Length knobs bring the groove and of control and sound fantastic.
shaping, and the balance of programmed (in the Arturia Prophet V
Velocity lane) and played velocity is adjustable. X, Y, see? 101 » 7/10 » €149
Unusually, Vecto’s two FX modules aren’t Vecto arrived in its new plugin incarnation with Improved since our review,
identical. Instead, FX1 handles modulation- little fanfare, presumably because the RE Arturia’s emulation includes both
based effects – Chorus, Ensemble, Flanger, version had already been around for quite a the Prophet V and Prophet VS
while. It’s certainly a synth still worth getting
excited about, though, marrying all the Papen Verdict
staples we know and love – well-stocked
oscillators, superb filters, deep modulation, the For Four-oscillator vector synthesis
recordable XY Pad, etc – to the fun and easily with recordable XY pad
accessible sound design avenues opened up by So many waveforms!
vector synthesis. Pads, ambiences and Flexible oscillator and filter routing
modulated sequences are its obvious fortes, but Great sound
basses, leads and ‘shorter’ sounds are very Over 1000 presets
much on the cards as well, as even without the
vector functionality, it’s a very capable four- Against Very basic LFOs
oscillator synth with an extensive library of Delay or reverb, but not both together
waveforms ripe for exploitation. The pricetag is Modulation isn’t visualised
spot on, too, making this a solid buy for any
electronic musician on the hunt for interesting Papen’s proprietary XY pad finds its natural
new textures and colours. home in this versatile vector synth
Clicking the logo reveals the ‘back’ of the plugin,
housing a handful of global settings Web timespace.com 8/10

June 2019 /  Computer musiC  /  89

> reviews / roland tb-303 software bass line
VARIATIONS Choose one of five Tweak the sound with Patterns and Patches are
Each Patch playback directions these knobs stored independently EFFECTS
comprises eight Distortion and
variations Delay modules for
effects processing

Light the buttons to
Click this button
make steps louder
to reveal and
and/or legato
hide the step

Generate Patterns DISPLAY
with variable Drag the bars to
randomisation ROTATE/TRANSPOSE change the notes
Shift the pattern left/
Snap the randomiser
right, up/down
to selected pitches

TB-303 Software
Bass Line Subscription
At long last, one of the greatest synths ever made gets the official
software emulation we’ve waited so long for
It took them an age to finally get into the no more time reading this review and go get it, which is a huge part of its charm and one of the
virtual instrument market, but over the last cos it’s flat-out wicked. If not, pricing is £18.50 main reasons for its success and longevity.
couple of years, Roland have nailed it with their per month, £185 for a year, £325 for two years, or Clicking the Panel button, however, pops out
Legendary Series of plugins. Available only by £745 for five years of membership. That gets you extra Software-only controls, including VCF Trim
subscribing to the Roland Cloud service, this not only TB-303 Software Bass Line and its many (extending or shortening the filter cutoff range)
gradually expanding library of classic synths Legendary Series siblings, but also the Aira and Condition, which dials in subtle tuning and
and boxes reborn in software form – TR-808 and System-1 and System-8, and a ton of ROMplers filter fluctuations to artificially ‘age’ the synth. It
909, SH-101, Juno-106, Jupiter-8, JV-1080, D-50 drawing on a wealth of sampled Roland gear. also houses two simple effects modules: Drive
and more – has put the Japanese giant at the top and Delay, with a couple of adjustable
of the Roland emulation game, previously TB confirmed parameters each – Tone/Depth and Time/(wet)
dominated in their absence by Propellerhead, Designed to generate a very specific kind of Level. Drive offers five distortion algorithms and
AudioRealism and D16, amongst others. sound (see A brief history of the Roland TB-303), a Compressor option, while Delay lets you
The latest in the Legendary Series is one that the synth itself is as simple as they come. A choose between two Delays, two Chorus types,
many dance producers have had on their single oscillator, with a choice of saw or square Flanger and Delay+Chorus. They all sound good
wishlist since the Cloud first appeared: the waveforms, feeds into a 24dB/octave low-pass enough for some easy glamourising.
TB-303 Bass Line. Launched on ‘303 Day’ (3 filter, with six knobs governing Tuning (up to an
March 2019) to celebrate the 35th anniversary of octave either way), the level/filter boost applied Steps ahead
the original synth, TB-303 Software Bass Line is to Accented steps (see below), and the Cutoff, While you can trigger TB-303 Software via MIDI,
built on the same ACB (Analog Circuit Resonance, envelope Decay and (very quirky) this is a synth that was absolutely built to be
Behaviour) modelling as its stablemates. If Modulation of the filter. And that’s it! It’s not sequenced. In the old days, that meant setting
you’re already a Roland Cloud subscriber, waste really possible to make the 303 sound ‘bad’, note pitches, accents and slides one step at a

90 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

roland tb-303 software bass line  /  reviews  <

“While you can trigger

TB-303 via MIDI, this is
a synth that was built
to be sequenced”
time via a fiddly button-operated ‘workflow’, but
the plugin modernises things with a far more
practical step-sequencing interface, and a
choice of five playback styles (Forward, Reverse,
Fwd/Rev, Invert and Random). The global timing This dinky silver box
is still set by the Scale and Shuffle knobs, but accidentally changed
note editing is done graphically. Either select a dance music forever
step, then click a key on the six-octave keyboard
below to set its note, or drag the note bars
directly up and down in the display, which – very A brief history of the Roland TB-303
weirdly until you get used to it – scales its range
based on the highest and lowest notes in the The battery-powered and totally have instrument for every DJ and
sequence. Slides and Accents are activated analogue Transistor Bass 303 was electronic producer in the States, then
using the buttons at the top, the latter launched in 1981, alongside the TR-606 the UK and Europe. Indeed, for many,
represented visually by note-linking curves; the drum machine, to provide ‘realistic’ it’s remained equally indispensable
pattern length is adjustable from 1-16 steps; and bassline accompaniments for ever since, commanding silly prices on
Transpose and Rotate buttons enable vertical guitarists. Sounding nothing the second hand market to this day,
and horizontal shifting of the entire pattern. A whatsoever like a real bass player, and despite the introduction of the
variable Randomisation system generates being less than intuitive to program, it impressive TB-03 remake in 2016.
complete patterns (snapping notes to a user- only sold around 10,000 units and was In 1996, Propellerhead famously
defined scale if required) and variations on discontinued in 1984. changed the music software game with
existing ones at a click; and patterns can be Three years later, Chicago-based the watershed release of their ReBirth
dragged directly out from the plugin to the host group Phuture (featuring the RB-338 application, emulating two
DAW as MIDI or audio clips. It’s a perfectly legendary DJ Pierre) got their hands on 303s, along with an 808 and a 909.
effective setup, although we’re genuinely a little a 303 and set dance music careering Since then, there have been a few other
sad to see that the original step-by-step system, down a new path with the release of the software versions of the mighty silver
which, with its linear, old-school approach, could seminal Acid Tracks. Acid house was box, but Roland’s is the most authentic
engender very different results, isn’t an option. born and suddenly the 303 was a must- yet, as you’d expect.
In terms of preset management, TB-303
Software can address up to 64 Banks of up to 64
independently loaded Patterns and Patches
each, with eight variations per pattern switched
via MIDI or the buttons at the top left of the envelope, filter and pitch. It’s as much fun as
interface. That’s a lot of sounds and riffs you’ll ever have with a synth, and we can happily
accessible from directly within the plugin itself. report that Roland’s virtual take sounds as close Alternatively
to the real thing as we’ve heard in software.
Head in the Cloud Yes, it’s an issue that you can’t just buy AudioRealism Bass Line 3
If you’ve never used a 303 before, note that it TB-303 Software outright, but Roland’s Loyalty 229 » 10/10 » £80
serves up a limited range of very identifiable Program does let you choose one instrument for Packed with clever additions to the
sounds. Think Chicago/acid house and techno – each year you subscribe, so full ‘ownership’ is 303 formula, AudioRealism’s
aggressive, rolling basslines and screaming, eventually possible. Want the 303 sound in your version sounds fantastic
filter-swept leads. Its magic lies in its ‘playability’: DAW, with easier sequencing than the original?
bash out a pattern, map the six main synthesis This is one of the best ways to get it. D16 Phoscyon
knobs to your MIDI controller (automatically, if N/A » N/A » €59
it’s a Roland TB-3 or TB-03) and go wild with the Web rolandcloud.com Superb 303 emulation with built-in
distortion and loads of added
features and controls

For Sounds very close to the real thing
Much improved sequencing
Built-in effects are handy
Flexible randomisation

Against We wish we could just buy it

The option to sequence it ‘old school’
would have been welcome

The definitive software 303 emulation is

easy to sequence and sounds great, but
the subscription could be a turn-off

Manage and rename Patterns, Patches and Banks in the pop-out Memory Select window 9/10

June 2019 /  CompuTer muSiC  /  91

> reviews / ik multimedia sampletank 4 max
LAYER EDITOR Apply effects and adjust Set up set lists and songs PART CONTROLS
Set up key and volumes, pans and sends for instant Multi switching Adjust various
velocity ranges for parameters for the
each Instrument selected Instrument

Switch between the
16 Instruments with
this menu
The Edit Panel now
has interactive
graphical elements
The Arpeggiator,
Strummer and MACROS
Phraser live here Click to reveal eight
Macros, preassigned
for every preset

A lunchbox-style DRUM PADS
rack for viewing Switch the virtual
multiple FX keyboard for a row
32 freely assignable slots of pads
with modifiers

IK Multimedia
SampleTank 4
MAX €600
Sized up by a factor of seven, and redrawn to be easier on the eye and
brain, this venerable ROMpler is looking and sounding better than ever

It’s been four and a half years since the 4000 instruments. As well as the new features considerably, for €180 and €360 respectively.
arrival of the last full version update to Italian that will be the focus of this review, SampleTank See the IK website for a content comparison.
software/hardware powerhouse IK Multimedia’s 4 MAX smokes those numbers, weighing in at an Getting this gargantuan library installed is
SampleTank (VST/AU/AAX/Standalone) sample insane 260GB, with 120,000 samples fuelling quite a chore if you opt for the download rather
playback synth. Described in our review of over 8000 multisampled instruments (see In than the USB drive version. The sample folders
version 3 as “big and beautiful, if not particularly the ’Tank) and 7500 loops, plus 4000-odd MIDI for each instrument type have to be manually
bold” (8/10, 210), this 16-part multitimbral patterns. Two lesser versions – SampleTank 4 downloaded as 97 separate installers, although
workstation aims to put an enormous and and SampleTank 4 SE – reduce the figures you can download multiple files at once. Having
comprehensive library of lovingly recorded finally nabbed them, you then have to run each
drums, basses, keys, guitars, synths, strings, one individually – 16 of them just to install the
brass, ethnic instrumentation, FX and anything
else you can think of at your fingertips, quickly
“SampleTank 4 makes new acoustic pianos, for example. It’s by far the
most tedious, long-winded library installation
and easily, but with plenty of sound-shaping,
processing and customisation options. an immediate good routine we’ve ever seen – second only to that of
IK’s 23-file Syntronik, in fact – and it really is time
the company put some of that hard-earned cash
Hey, good looking impression with its into the development of a proper download/
SampleTank 3 introduced a completely new – installation manager.
and much improved – interface and engine, Live
Sets (for quick switching between ‘songs’) and
redesigned, resizable, Fortunately, once that’s all done, SampleTank
4 makes an immediate good impression with its
more, and increased the size of the sample
library from 8GB to 33GB, amounting to over
Retina-compatible GUI” completely redesigned, resizable, Retina/HiDPI-
compatible GUI. The whole thing looks fabulous,

92 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

ik multimedia sampletank 4 max  /  reviews  <

“IK have made

SampleTank feel more
‘synth-like’ with the
addition of a full-on
Modulation Matrix”
doing away with the old-fashioned visuals of ST3
and making every component infinitely prettier SampleTank 4’s
(especially the effects); and the workflow huge library of
throughout has been enhanced in terms of sounds will keep
logical layout and general ease of access. The you busy for years
Browser, for example, now features tag filtering
(Style, Timbre, etc), as well as details of each
sound, including effects and Macro
assignments; and the Part Edit window is a In the ’Tank
night-and-day improvement, with graphical
representation and editing of envelopes, LFOs Once you’ve made it through the ordeal keyboards (electric pianos, clavs, etc)
and filter response curves, amongst other of installation, a vast and – for the most aren’t exactly shabby, either. ST3’s
tweaks. Hard disk streaming is now supported, part – impressive world of awesome selection of acoustic and
too, for faster loading, but ST4 is fully backward multisampled instrumentation is yours electric guitars was already a triumph,
compatible with older versions, as well as IK’s to command, adding over 200GB of but ST4’s 25GB stash trumps it for both
other libraries: Syntronik and Miroslav entirely new material and previously depth and variety.
Philharmonik 2. separate expansion packs to the Similarly, the fresh multi-articulation
IK have had a good stab at making SampleTank 3 library (also included). strings, brass and woodwinds can be
SampleTank feel more ‘synth-like’ with the Recorded at numerous studios made to sound wonderfully realistic,
addition of a full-on Modulation Matrix, around the world, as well as IK’s new and a ton of drums (12 new acoustic and
expanding exponentially on the established facility in Modena, the ST4 library 107 electronic kits – 65GB) and
hardwired mod routings. Up to 32 assignments prioritises the depth of its headline percussion provide the source material
can be made for each Instrument, drawing on all instruments as much as it does the for polished beats of all kinds. And for
available internal sources (LFOs, envelopes and sheer volume of its sounds. The new electronic musicians, a veritable
Macros), as well as external MIDI streams and Yamaha C7 grand piano (145GB), with goldmine of dance music sounds
CCs, and targeting all meaningful Zone and its multiple mic setups and treatments, includes 22GB of colourful new basses,
Element parameters, complete with ‘via’ is absolutely beautiful, and the other leads, pads, plucks, sweeps and FX.
modifiers. It’s a powerful and flexible setup.
In the processing and mixing departments, 13
new effects have been added, bringing the total
to 70. They’re all built on IK’s proven T-RackS and
AmpliTube technology and thus sound superb, arpeggiation and sequencing; the Strummer is a Alternatively
and you can now view, adjust and assign Macros deeply programmable rhythmic chord
to all five of an Instrument’s modules together in strumming engine that works particularly well Steinberg HALion 6
a gorgeous new lunchbox rack-style interface with SampleTank 4’s stunning guitar patches; 243 » 9/10 » £282
(but not the Send or Master effects, oddly, which and the Phraser lets you assign complete MIDI Steinberg’s sampler/synth isn’t
can still only be accessed via the Mixer page). sequences from the 4000-strong internal short on preset sounds
Pattern library, and external MIDI files (with a bit
Players gonna play of faffing), to note triggers. The Loop Manager, Native Instruments Kontakt 6
On the performance side of things, four new meanwhile, assigns audio loops to triggering N/A » N/A » £339
‘Players’ open up various avenues of MIDI and keys, with three distinct algorithms (Resample, With over 1000 instruments, and
audio manipulation, and are catered for in Live Beats and Stretch) enabling basic control of the new Play Series ‘synths’
Mode by the addition of a Tempo field for each pitchshifting and timestretching, and
Multi. The Arpeggiator is well appointed for granularity or harmonic content. This last is the
least obviously useful part of the software, if
we’re honest. For Bursting with great sounds
Much better interface than v3
More is more Acoustic and electric instruments are
By far the biggest and most transformative amazingly expressive
update to SampleTank yet, ST4 feels so much Excellent effects
more fluid, capable and contemporary in its Arpeggiator and Strummer modules
design than v3 that it would be worth upgrading
just for the new UI, Modulation Matrix and Against Installation routine is absurd
Player modules alone –particularly the MAX edition is very expensive
Strummer. However, that extraordinary sound No Multis in main ST4 library
library brings incredible sonic range to the
package, too, surely qualifying it as the most SampleTank hits a new level of refinement
expansive – and, indeed, expensive – ROMpler and versatility with its cavernous
ever made. Immense. soundbank and supercharged interface
The Effects Rack at last gives SampleTank’s outstanding
effects the graphical showcase they deserve Web ikmultimedia.com 9/10

June 2019 /  CoMpuTer MuSiC  /  93

> reviews / dmg audio multiplicity
Drag around to set
A collection of presets is Drag to set the band’s roll-
the Frequency and
included for guidance off from 6-96dB/octave
Gain of the band

Select a band to DRY GAIN
access its Bring up the
parameters below dry signal level
for parallel

frequency response Apply discrete
of the sidechain processing below
the threshold

A helpful
description of
whatever’s under
the mouse pointer
Balance Left/Right or Set the processing balance Set up separate
Mid/Side between pre/post-attack Slow and Fast
Release times

DMG Audio
Multiplicity £175
One of the world’s leading plugin developers reckon they’ve taken
multiband dynamics processing to the next level…

DMG Audio founder and DSP guru Dave one of three types when instantiated (although compressor/expander. The upper (or lower for
Gamble has made it his mission to make they can be changed at any point): Xover, Pre or the highest Xover) frequency and roll-off slope
100% in-the-box mastering a genuinely viable Post. A Xover is exactly what you’d expect: a are adjusted in the Band Controls or directly in
proposition, and Multiplicity (VST/AU/AAX) is the straightforward crossover, dividing the the display, the latter from 6dB/octave to an
latest fruit of that obsession. A combination of frequencies on either side. The Pre and Post impressively steep 96dB/octave.
multiband compressor/expander and dynamic types are dynamic EQ bands, Pre routed before In Pre/Post dynamic EQ mode, dynamics
EQ, it claims to give a “degree of control that the crossovers, and Post working on the processing is combined with equalisation,
isn’t possible with anything else”. recombined post-crossover signal. targeting very specific frequency ranges within
In Xover mode, a band applies dynamics the wideband signal for compression or
Bands on the run processing to the input signal within its covered expansion. You could, for example, use it to
Multiplicity has a lot going on within its user frequency range, like a regular multiband surgically cut a harsh hi-hat within a mix only
interface, but the layout is totally intuitive. The when it exceeds a certain volume level. Eight
top section houses the curve/response display
and makes certain settings graphically
“It’s complicated stuff, filter types are available: low-pass, high-pass and
band-pass, in regular, steeper Butterworth, and,
interactive; metering and global controls are in for band-pass, super-sharp EE modes, plus Flat
the right hand vertical strip; and all the per-band for sure, but not as for broadband processing.
parameters appear in the main tabbed Band
Controls section at the bottom. Up to eight
bands are invoked by clicking the + button next
hard to work with as it Sweet release
With the exception of Pre/Post’s Q setting, the
to the rightmost tab, which opens a new band
and adds it to the display. Every band is set to
might sound” Band Controls are consistent across all three
modes. Threshold sets the volume level above

94 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

dmg audio multiplicity  /  reviews  <

“We’ve never come

across a dynamics
processor as versatile
as Multiplicity”
which compression/expansion is applied; Ratio
ranges from 1:2 (expansion) to inf:1 (limiting), or
1:inf to -1:1 in Extended mode; and the Ceiling
control caps the amount of gain change applied The sidechain
at up to 96dB. Crucially, popping out the EQ gives you
Advanced panel reveals equivalent controls for three bands to
processing the signal below the threshold, too: play with
Ratio Below and Floor. These are accompanied
by Deadband, which opens up a range below the
Threshold, up to 96dB deep, in which no
processing takes place; Dry Gain, for parallel Sidechain supreme
processing; and Shape, which defines the shape
of the attack and release curves. Many compressors and limiters offer between those, the mid band serves as
Back in the main Band Controls, the Dyn/ processing of the sidechain signal parametric peaking or band-pass filter.
Trans control allows processing to be applied before it hits the detection circuit in Then it’s on to the pop-out Sidechain
only to the ‘transient’ (pre-attack) or ‘dynamic’ order to alter the dynamic response of panel, wherein up to 50ms of
(post-attack) parts of the signal, or 100% of one the effect ‘at source’, but Multiplicity Lookahead can be dialled in to hone
and any percentage of the other. The Attack goes considerably further than most in transient handling; and the same L/R/
parameter (0.2-200ms), then, sets the ‘cutoff’ this regard. M/S balancing parameters found in the
time between the transient and dynamic stages. First of all, clicking the SC EQ button Band Controls, as well as the degree of
The Release, meanwhile, switches between two flips the bottom left panel from channel linkage, can be tweaked to
separate timings – Slow (10-2000ms) and Fast showing the transfer curve and tailor the response in terms of stereo
(1-2000ms) – depending on whether or not the dynamic response to hosting the behaviour. As for the keying signal,
signal exceeds the RMS level (within the controls of a capable three-band EQ. rather ingeniously, the Source menu
20-4000ms Release RMS window) by the The low and high bands are switchable not only permits selection of the band
number of dB specified by the Crest parameter. between resonant low/high-pass and being processed itself, the wideband
It’s complicated stuff, for sure, but not as hard to high/low shelving behaviour, with signal or an external source as the
work with as it might sound, and the shaping of 6-96dB slopes for the filters and up to sidechain, but also the input of any
dynamic response around transients that it +/-24dB gain for the shelves. In other Xover band.
facilitates really is something to behold.
The flexibility continues into the stereo realm,
where each band is able to operate in L/R or M/S
mode, with free control given over the balance
of processing between the two channels. compression/expansion independently above Alternatively
and below the threshold pushing the – ahem –
Multipl’ choice envelope of dynamics control even further than FabFilter Pro-Q 3
We’ve never come across a dynamics processor the benchmark previously set by its stablemate, 266 » 10/10 » £134
as versatile as Multiplicity. Its unique Limitless (10/10, 230). And although clearly FabFilter’s treasured EQ at last gets
combination of conventional multiband intended for mastering above all, mix engineers a dynamic option with this
compression/expansion and dynamic EQ is will also find endless uses for it, from excellent update
liberating, affording unrivalled freedom when it transforming drum tracks and sweetening
comes to detailed shaping of dynamic response guitars, to potentially rescuing even the most Blue Cat Audio MB-5 Dynamix
in both the time and frequency domains. dynamically wayward vocals and indulging in all 268 » 9/10 » €249
Precision and transparency are its two kinds of sonic experimentation – although high Five bands of dynamics processing,
defining traits, with the dual-stage processing, CPU usage means you certainly won’t be with internal sidechaining,
separate Slow/Fast Release and ability to apply running it on every channel and bus. waveshaping and more
Multiplicity looks great, too, and boasts a
wide array of Global and Instance preferences Verdict
for customisation of the interface, metering,
ballistics and more. More importantly, though, it For Ridiculously flexible and versatile
succeeds in yielding an incredible amount of Gloriously transparent
control without becoming overly intimidating – Multiband dynamics and Pre/Post
although total newcomers to audio engineering dynamic EQ is a winning combo
will, of course, be just as flummoxed by it as they Huge range of configuration options
would any other plugin of this type.
DMG Audio may well have scored more 10s in Against Er… can’t open Sidechain and
than any other developers, and we have no Advanced panels at the same time?
hesitation in adding Multiplicity to that count.
It’s a confident shot across the bows for high- DMG’s ambitious, innovative and
end mastering hardware, and an essential technically flawless plugin sets a new gold
addition to any ITB engineers’s arsenal. standard for dynamics processing

There’s plenty of under-the-hood tinkering with

Multiplicity’s interface to be done in the Setup page Web dmgaudio.com 10/10

June 2019 /  CoMputer MusiC  /  95

> reviews / krotos audio igniter

Krotos Audio
Igniter £539
This unique vehicular sound design plugin puts you in the driving
seat with a heady fusion of synthesis and sample playback
The latest in Scottish developers Krotos The Granular generator lets you balance library is clearly immense, and the level of
Audio’s series of sound design plugins is sample-based Engine and Exhaust sounds control granted over it is mindblowing. The
geared up for the creation of real-world and imported from the library in any combination, synthesis engine works well, too, whether you
‘imagined’ vehicle sounds – cars, trucks, set the engine to Manual or Automatic, and just need to add a bit of sub-bass rumble, or a
motorbikes, helicopters and planes – using a accelerate/decelerate. The Synth generator fictitious layer of noise; and the effects sound
combination of granular and conventional facilitates the addition of an overtly electronic wicked and offer plenty of customisation.
sample playback, and a five-oscillator synth. layer, its five oscillators each able to blend two While there’s nothing here that musicians
Igniter is available in two versions: Igniter, waveforms, and apply FM, AM and vibrato. should feel any compulsion to drop over 500
which we’re reviewing here, incorporating 6GB In the One Shot tab, four samples can be quid on, for cinematic and game sound
of samples, and Igniter Full Tank, which adds dragged in (from the library or elsewhere) and designers, Igniter enables the conjuration of a
another 70GB of samples (“onboard recordings, triggered in various ways, including via an literally infinite range of utterly convincing real-
ramps, static rev bands, Foley sounds, skids and onboard sequencer of sorts, for ‘sweeteners’, world and sci-fi vehicle sounds within a
slides”) for those who crave the ultimate in sonic such as skids, ignition sounds, horns and so on. powerful, flexible but approachable interface.
detailing – and don’t mind paying £881 to get it. In the Loops generator, up to four looping and Absolutely amazing.
crossfaded samples (again, internal or external)
Start your engine are arranged on a timeline and swept through Web krotosaudio.com
Igniter loads as a virtual instrument (VST/AU/ with the Revs knob, providing road noise,
AAX), and all you have to do to get started is windscreen wipers and other continuous layers,
load a preset (see The cars are the stars), hit the as well as Igniter’s aircraft sounds. Alternatively
Engine Start/Stop button and manipulate/ The four generators meet in the mixer, where
Boom Library Turbine
automate the Revs knob. This ties into Igniter’s five insert effects can be loaded onto each, as
eight modulators and serves as a master macro well as a send bus and the Master out, from a list
Generate realistic aircraft and ‘flight
control, adjusting multiple assigned parameters that includes EQ, Compressor, Convolution
path’ sounds – without a sample
to ‘accelerate’ and/or otherwise intensify the Reverb and the awesome Doppler. The system is
anywhere in sight
sound of the vehicle. brought to life with the aforementioned eight
That may well be all you need to get your Modulators, which work as LFOs or envelopes,
Le Sound SpaceMotors
onscreen vehicle sounding the part, but Igniter applied on the fly using the Revs control.
is bursting with customisation options
This madcap synth is dedicated
nonetheless, in the shape of four ‘generators’, Pedal to the metal solely to sci-fi vehicle sounds
and a comprehensive array of modulation, Igniter is yet another triumph for Krotos. The
mixing and effects controls. effort that’s gone into building the sample
For Totally realistic and eminently
The cars are the stars customisable vehicle sounds
Impressive degree of real-time control
Igniter ships with around 200 presets, each allows for a great deal of tweakability, Superb sample library
one configuring the whole plugin for a wide whether deployed for realistic emulation or Allows use of external samples, too
range of ready-to-go vehicles and engines. sci-fi sound design. Synth engine is surprisingly useful
While the helicopter and plane presets have The 14 Engine/Exhaust packages in the
all been constructed entirely using sets of library are enough to get any petrol head Against If you’re only producing
samples in the Loop engine (and not to their drooling. The Porsche Carrera, Audi R8, music, you can almost certainly pass
detriment, we might add – they sound Aston Martin Rapide and Ferrari 348 top the
fantastic), the wheeled options make full use list, followed by the rather more mundane If you make vehicle and/or engine noises
of the more flexible Granular engine, Subaru Impreza, Honda Civic and Toyota as part of your job, you need Igniter
combining complex Engine and Exhaust Chaser, a handful of trucks and SUVs, a
sounds in a proprietary ‘package’ format that U650M tractor, and a Harley Davidson hog. 9/10

96 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

> reviews / k-devices wov+ttap

The Italian Max For Live specialists transition to full plugin
developer status with a pair of intriguing effects processors
The first two releases in their Phoenix Series, TTAP works like a dual tape delay, with last operated knob or slider in the top right
WOV and TTAP mark the move for Max For adjustable delay time for the first buffer or ‘tape’ corner. There’s also no animation in WOV’s
Live developers K-Devices’ into self-contained (Time) and continuous offset of the second sequencer, which remains unnervingly static,
plugin effects for Mac and PC. An amplitude buffer from the first (Section and Gap); a Balance giving no indication as to progression.
modulator and a delay, respectively, we’re control for mixing them; and independent It all looks very sexy, but ease-of-use and
reviewing them together here as the WOV+TTAP Reverse switches and shapeable amp envelopes accessibility have certainly taken a back seat to
bundle, but they’re also available separately for for each, the last allowing attacks to be softened graphic design here; and while it isn’t a
€59 each. and interesting textural curves to be created. showstopping issue, with no bearing on
The Feedback control works as expected, and functionality and sound it does detract from the
WOV file the bipolar Cut knob sweeps a low-pass filter ‘finish’ somewhat, and certainly won’t be helpful
WOV is essentially a gate sequencer, cycling anticlockwise from centre, or a high-pass for inexperienced producers. Nonetheless, for
through anywhere between two and eight steps clockwise. LFO-modulatable pitchbend can be creatively inspiring gating and delay, K-Device’s
at synced or unsynced rates from 1/128 to 16/1 applied to the delays, too, with the bend length artful plugins make for an impressive pair.
with triplet and dotted options, or 0.1 to 30Hz. and LFO rate determined by the Section time.
The relative level of each step is adjusted using Web k-devices.com
its Accent slider, and the shape of the steps is TTAP’d out
defined by the Wave, Peak and Warp controls, WOV and TTAP (or, indeed, WOV+TTAP) are
which between them provide plenty of curving/ surprisingly powerful sound design and Alternatively
cornering, skewing, widening/narrowing and production tools, WOV delivering everything
positional offset. from rhythmic trance-gating and cool tremolo Kilohearts Trance Gate
Interestingly, the Response control dials in an to smashed-up granular noises, and TTAP $39
envelope follower for modulating the Rate with excelling at unusual dub-style delays, weird Not as feature-packed as WOV, but
input amplitude; and a couple of randomising pitching effects and smooth, ambient echoing offers up to 64 steps and eight
elements up the interest even further – see (we really love those envelopes). Our only switchable sequences
Random fandom. Switching the Stereo Mode to, significant complaints are with the visuals. The
er, two dots enables the Right Channel Offset flat, minimalist styling of both plugins’ interfaces Unfiltered Audio Sandman Pro
function – which applies a one-step delay to the looks good, but having to toggle them between 237 » 9/10 » $99
Accent sequence in the right channel when showing parameter names or iconography is Incredibly versatile delay plugin
activated – and separates out the left/right pointless – why not just have both at once? with tons of modulation and the
processing in the Response and Silence circuits Similarly, parameter values aren’t displayed on brilliant Sleep buffer
for a wider sound. the controls – you only ever get the value of the
For Interesting, sonically distinctive
Random fandom plugins that invite experimentation
WOV makes rhythmic gating a cinch
Although it doesn’t feel particularly intrinsic TTAP allows for a touch of chaos as well TTAP’s envelopes are a great feature
to their design, randomisation plays a role in with its Repeat and Spread controls. Spread
both effects. simply places each delay tap randomly within Against GUIs are a bit too cool for
With WOV, it’s brought into play using the the stereo panorama, with its percentage school, and some of the text is tiny
Variation and Silence knobs. Variation value defining maximum distance deviation WOV’s sequencer isn’t animated, and
specifies the percentage chance of any from the source signal position. Repeat eight steps aren’t enough
sequencer step being either half establishes the likelihood of each delay
(anticlockwise) or double (clockwise) the buffer repeating rather than overwriting Mildly perverse GUI aside, WOV+TTAP are
prescribed length; meanwhile, raising Silence itself with the input signal, throwing up crazy deep, original and wonderfully creative
increases the chance of any given step being results when automated, and effectively
silenced from zero to 100%. freezing the buffer when cranked up to 100%. 8/10

98 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

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mini reviews / reviews <

mini reviews
Boom Library
ReCenter £69

Web boomlibrary.com more forceful. Response

Format PC/Mac, VST/AU/AAX adjusts the correction
speed, and Lookahead
Soundware and plugin developers Boom Library trades latency off against
really grabbed our attention with the superb accuracy. Mono Filter sets a
Enforcer last year (9/10, 258), and their latest cutoff frequency, from
is a VST/AU/AAX stereo centering effect. In a 20Hz-10kHz, below which
nutshell, ReCenter constantly analyses and everything is monoised;
rotates your wayward stereo (L/R or M/S) signal and Width ranges from
to keep it fixed at any angle you choose, while mono to ‘200% wide’, and
maintaining the integrity and positioning of the can be inverted to flip left
stereo field. Most of the magic happens behind and right. Finally, the
the scenes, and it often gets the job done in its Multiband option switches
default state: just slap the plugin on any stereo in three crossovers for
or mid-side signal in which the main element – independent processing of
or the whole thing – is off to one side or the four discrete bands,
other, and marvel as it miraculously snaps to yielding better results with
dead centre without affecting all the stereo info complex signals.
around it. ReCenter is obviously most at home in the guitar, calm down a wide synth pad with a
You can set the target angle manually if post-production studio, or fixing up field and roving focal point, or reposition anything else in
you’re not aiming for the centre, or automate it dialogue recordings, so it’s not necessarily the stereo field without kludging around with
for re-panning; and the Intensity knob can be something most electronic music producers will panning, however, ReCenter is most assuredly
used to under- or over-play the correction if you find a great deal of regular use for. If you do ever the best way to do it.
want to relax the centre enforcement or make it find yourself needing to centre a wonky vocal or n8/10n

Signum Audio Universal Audio

Bute Limiter £69 (£99 for V76 Preamplifier £115
surround version) Web uaudio.com
Web signumaudio.com Format PC/Mac, VST/AU/AAX
Format PC/Mac, VST/AU/AAX/AudioSuite
Released as part of UAD Software
The followup to Signum Audio’s v9.8, V76 Preamplifier is a DSP-
Bute Loudness Suite analyser/ powered emulation of the V76 mic
limiter combo (and now included preamp for UAD-2/Apollo. Designed
with it) is a more versatile True by the German Institute of Broadcast
Peak brickwall limiter for general Technology and manufactured
mixing and mastering, as under the Telefunken brand in the
opposed to the specific targeting 1950s, this revered box was known
of official loudness standards. for the sheer amount of clean gain it
Available in separate stereo and could deliver – an enormous 76dB –
surround versions, Bute Limiter and its flattering 40Hz-15kHz
shares the same graphical styling as its sibling, with collapsible frequency response. In development for a year, with seven
main histogram-style display showing how much limiting is hardware units used for circuit-modelling reference, UA’s virtual
taking place over the full-length of your project, and numerical incarnation utilises Unison technology, reconfiguring the gain
meters for Gain Reduction and true peak level. Up to +/-20dB of staging and impedance of the Apollo interface’s preamps to
input gain can be applied, there are five release curve options deliver hardware-like response and authenticity. The stepped
and the Release can be adjusted manually from 1ms to 5s, or set Gain control dials in from 3dB to the full 76dB of drive, while the
to Auto (an intelligent algorithm that takes into account pitch Mic input option can be used for heavy distortion of line-level
changes and crest factor) and scaled from x0.10 to x10, for signals – UA have added an Output Gain control for reining the
tailoring to different instrument/source types. The transparency results back in afterwards. Low- and high-pass filters are
of Signum’s waveshaping algorithm and its ability to unfailingly onboard for easy clean-up, too. Adding palpable weight,
catch inter-sample peaks are as impressive with Bute Limiter as character and tasty saturation to drums, vocals, guitars and
with Loudness Suite. For those who don’t need the industrial other miked signals of all kinds, V76 Preamplifier is another fine
specs of the latter, this is a more affordable alternative. addition to UAD-2/Apollo’s palette of sonic colours.
n9/10n n8/10n

June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 101

> reviews / mini reviews

Soundware round-up
Niche Audio
Disko Tekk £25
15 funky house projects for Ableton Live and NI
Maschine, each one comprising a Drum Rack or
Group housing all the elements required to construct
a complete groove – individual drum hits, top loops,
separate bass notes, chords, FX, etc – and a few MIDI
files with which to demonstratively trigger them.
We’re fans of Niche Audio’s production in general,
and Disko Tekk doesn’t disappoint: the samples are
bright, vibey and have a ‘crate dug’ feel, and the kits
are inspiring and useful, although it’s a shame Live
and Maschine’s effects don’t see any action beyond
compression on the master output.

Sample Magic
Progressive Trance £30
Around 1GB of loops (at 126 and 128bpm) and one-
shots for producers of uplifting trance and similar. 28
stemmed drum loops (143 files) get the party started
with their driving kicks and tight snares, followed by
30 useful top loops, 60 melodically satisfying
basslines and 100 hands-in-the-air synth riffs. 33 mini
music construction kits provide instant inspiration,
and the 70 vocal loops and atmospheres are
beautifully engineered. The reverberant/delayed
one-shot chords cut off abruptly, which limits their
utility a bit – but that’s our only complaint.
Sample Tools by Cr2 samplemagic.com

Heavy Techno £16 n9/10n

Packing far more sounds into its Apollo Sound

865MB frame than their usual Soulful Urban Funk £20

700MB of drums, basses, guitars, keys, synths, brass,
20-of-everything fare, Cr2’s latest is all scratches and vocals for soul, R&B, hip-hop and the
like. 53 drum loops vary between live-sounding drum
about hard techno of the kind kit grooves and electronic beats, and four-to-the-floor
and syncopated kick elements. Electric and synth
purveyed by Pan-Pot, Charlotte de bass are there too, though the latter aren’t very
interesting; and with each instrument folder except
the drums including multiple variations on a small
Witte, Victor Ruiz et al. The 50 superb number of themes, it’s not very extensive. There are
great live instrumental and turntable performances
stemmed drum loops (315 files) would to be had, though, and the price is very fair.
be worth the asking price on their own, n8/10n
but throw in 51 raw and rolling
basslines, 50 synth loops – from darkly Poldoore
Lucid Dreams Subscription
atmospheric to spiky and aggressive – An interesting sample library from another
interesting Noiiz roster artist. Lucid Dreams only
and 200 one-shot drums and you have houses 59 and 145 one-shots, but they’re mainly
winners. There are just three loop categories – phat
a confidently produced and genre- and perfectly wonky drums, wobbly and atmospheric
keys, and earthy foley-based percussion lines – while
correct bargain. Dare we say it, their most of the one-shots are drums and noise textures,
with a comparatively inconsequential smattering of
best yet. brass, flutes, basses, guitars and keys. There isn’t a
particular genre angle, but producer Poldoore does a
sampletoolsbycr2.com fine trade in off-kilter timing and dynamic sensitivity.
n 10/1 n8/10n

102 / COMPUTER MUSIC June 2019

mini reviews / reviews <

Zero-G Sample Magic

Psychoacoustics £56 Techno Textures £15
The fruit of a three-way collab between Zero-G, sound Sample Magic’s new ‘white label’ release is a 730MB
designer Si Begg and “sound artist” Sam Underwood, collection of loops and hits on the deeper, more
this 2.6GB scripted Kontakt library comes with two dystopian side of techno, with the former at 120, 125
distinct interfaces: one for mapping multiple samples and 130bpm. It’s moody, understated stuff, with the
up the keyboard, and the other layering two samples drums favouring atmosphere over power, the
up at a time over the full note range, with a button for basslines making good use of reverb and delay in
randomly changing them without affecting the their basement-rumbling sensibility, and the
controls. The samples are truly remarkable, drawing arpeggiated and sequenced synth lead lines
on a variety of acoustic, electronic, organic and crackling with tension. We particularly like the
found sources, and the big, scary cinematic noises granular loops, however, which don’t overdo the
that can be made from them are breathtaking. glitchiness. Lots of highly usable stuff for the money.
timespace.com samplemagic.com
n10/10n n9/10n

Native Instruments Toontrack

Indigo Dust £44 EZkeys Urban Jazz MIDI £22
“Festival-ready techno sounds” are the theme of NI’s This affordable add-on for all versions of EZkeys adds
latest Expansion, produced in collaboration with a wealth of jazzy keyboard performances to your
Torsten Fassbender. Consisting of 37 and 47 kits for library of MIDI clips. The collection is divided into
Maschine and Battery respectively, made up of 476 Straight and Swing folders, between them contain ning
drum and other one-shot samples, plus 380 ten complete songs at tempos from 64 to 142bpm m.
construction kit loops bounced out of the Maschine Each song is separated out into eight-bar Intro, Ve erse,
Groups, and 19 Monark and Reaktor Prism presets, Pre Chorus, Chorus and Bridge sections, with fourr
Indigo Dust is a dark, mesmeric tour de force of epic variations for each one – 250 clips in all. The
techno sound design with which complete tracks performances are great, from funky staccato liness to
could be created in entirety. Highly recommended for smooth chord progressions, and the EZkeys interfface
Maschine users in particular. makes customising them… well, easy!
native-instruments.com timespace.com
n9/10n n8/10n

ModeAudio Loopmasters
Relic £18 West Coast Grunge £35
Bringing together 12 cinematic and synth-heavy The ninth in Loopmasters’ Vibes series of sample
construction kits (organised by instrument type and packs (which take “inspiration from exceptional
including tail samples) and assorted extra loops, Relic moments in musical history”) serves up 1.1GB of loops
has a ‘new age’ vibe throughout and is certainly and one-shots aiming to encapsulate the sound and
consistent in its energy – perhaps at the expense of spirit of classic grunge. The main event is clearly the
variety, particularly with regard to the basses, some set of 22 construction kits, each hosting multiple live
of which are very similar. The chords, riffs and pads drum, bass and guitar variations (no vocals, which is
are more diverse, however; the deliciously analogue fine with us), but oddly – and maybe unhelpfully – not
drum loops are accompanied by culled one-shots; including a bounced mix. It may not be a very busy
and MIDI files are provided for most of the parts. field, but this is probably the best grunge library
Ambient and synthwave producers will love this. we’ve heard.
modeaudio.com loopmasters.com
n8/10n n8/10n

Raw Cutz UNDRGRND Sounds

Nu Skillz £60 Deep Melodic Horizons £25
The follow-up to Raw Skillz (8/10, 239) brings Focusing on its titular theme, UNDRGRND’s latest
another 50 golden era-style hip-hop kits and quickly skips past the drums (just 12 stemmed and
demonstrative MIDI files/patterns for Maschine, Live’s well-crafted loops – 81 files) and gets down to melodic
Drum Racks and Reason’s Kong drum machine, this business with its 26 basslines, 27 synth loops and 13
time available individually (as we requested!) or in a totally synth-based inspiration kits, plus 42 bass and
bundle for £80, the latter also including loops synth one-shots. The sound design and
rendered from all patterns in regular and crackly compositional ideas are all solid enough, and the
‘vinyl’ versions. Every kit is full stocked with 16 ‘crate intended ‘festival’ feel is achieved with the effects
dug’ drum, bass, guitar, keys, FX and other sounds, processing and production, but it doesn’t feel like
and the production is every bit as superb as we’ve particularly great value, even with the inclusion of 89
come to expect from Raw Cutz mainstay Turf Smoke. MIDI files.
loopmasters.com undrgrndsounds.com
n9/10n n7/10n

June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 103

>  free samples  /  power synths

SampleS giveaway
From assertive arp lines to
cutting-edge supersaws, this
month’s exclusive sample pack –
as ever, lovingly crafted by Cyclick
and Groove Criminals – is here to
provide your projects with
synthetic punch and potential.
All of the samples come in .wav
530 EXCLUSIVE SAMPLES format, and there’s a dozen
including… multisamples patches included,
140 Arpeggiator Loops
84 Chord Hits
too. You’ll find the pack in the
20 Moog Bass Loops
25 MS-20 Loops
Get these exclusive samples
Samples folder on the print
edition’s DVD, or log in to FileSilo
on your PC/Mac over at

20 Power 5th Loops filesilo.co.uk/computermusic

21 Stack Bass Loops

10 Supersaw Loops (se p5) and download the zip
12 Multis
folder from this issue’s
Miscellaneous Files category.

> Step by step exploring this month’s Power Synths samples

1 2 3
Want access to powerful bass Cyclick’s Arpeggiator Loops folder, For compositional flexibility, we’ve
captured from renowned analogue divided across five tempos, comprises thrown in 12 multisampled synth
and digital hardware synths? Then head a collection of synths triggered patches for you to load up in your
straight for the Groove Criminals >> monophonically, layered for density, then favourite multisampler. The four patches
Loops folder, where you’ll find funnelled through choice processing in the Cyclick folder also include Kontakt
categorised, BPM-labelled loops from the chains. Use these riffs as they come, or (.nki) and SoundFont (.sfz) patches ready
Access Virus B, Moog Mother-32, Korg chop out sections and recombine them in to go. Fire them up, then layer and process
MS-20 Mini and more. creative ways. them to customise them further.

104  /  ComPuTER muSiC  /  June 2019

loopmasters / free samples  <

loopmasters 269 samples

Get them on the DVD or download from filesilo.co.uk/computermusic

01 Artisan Audio Techno Percussion Bible 05 Loopmasters Neo Soul

02 LM Salaryman DNB Propulsion Vol. 2 06 Frontline Vintage Electric Piano
03 SD Future Latin & Trap 07 LM Speakin & Preachin
04 Loopmasters Jacking Deep House 08 rv_samplepacks Sonar Techno

June 2019  /  ComPuTER muSiC  /  105

Catch up on what you’ve missed – all of
these issues include FileSilo downloads!

Exclusive video
April 2019 / CM267 The pop superstar
May 2019 / CM268
FREE talks plugins and tech


Get the ultimate low-end punch and impact!

Unleash the capabilities of today’s power-packed virtual instruments


18GB > Hands on retro
DOWNLOAD workshop
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your synths! MUSIC THEORY!

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Program better
patches in your DAW pads today > Theory: Sharps and flats

FAT Beatmaking and

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Instantly dial in attack power and RMS weight
MC ng session with
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May 2019 April 2019 March 2019 February 2019 January 2019 December 2018
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November 2018 Autumn 2018 October 2018 September 2018 August 2018 July 2018
s '3&& 5IPSO $. TZOUI

Vault downloads available only from 182 onwards. See bit.ly/cmvaultfaq.
106 / COMPUTER MUSI / August 2013
plugins  <

You get more than 80 instruments and
As well as on our DVD, you’ll
find all these plugins at

effects with every issue of . Keep on top of

this exclusive plugin suite with our directory
The Plugins collection is a just drop into your plugin folders. What happened to…?
suite of complete, limitation-free frequently There’s a bit more info on p113, As of 209, almost all Plugins
instrument and effects plugins. It’s asked and there are specific installation are 64-bit compatible. The few
an incredible resource, boasting questions instructions for each in the How To older Plugins that remain
more than 80 pro-quality plugins Install file in the CM Plugins folder. 32-bit-only – such as Amplifikation
that you won’t find anywhere else, Enough talking! Where do I get CM, Rhino CM and KR-Delay/
all for PC and Mac, in VST and AU these plugins? What do I need to use them? KR-Reverb – are now included in
formats. All of the included You can grab them all on the cover A PC or Mac and a music program the 32-bit only subfolders. These
software is created exclusively for DVD with our print edition, or as a (aka DAW) to host them. You need plugins require either a 32-bit host
us by respected commercial download from FileSilo (see p5 for a DAW that can host VST or AU or a suitable ‘bit bridge’ (eg,
developers such as D16 Group, instructions on how to access). plugins, such as Ableton Live, jBridge) for use in a 64-bit DAW.
u-he, AudioRealism, Ohm Force, Reaper, FL Studio (PC), Cubase,
KV331 Audio, Cableguys, XILS-lab, How do I install Plugins? Sonar (PC), Logic (Mac) or Still got questions?
AudioThing, Vengeance-Sound, Rob It depends on the plugin. Some have GarageBand (Mac). A free See the full FAQ at
Papen, zplane and more. dedicated installers, while others PC/Mac option is Tracktion 6. bit.ly/cmpluginsfaq


SpeakerSim CM
Load up this convolution-based
plugin and call up one of the four
modes – an old phone, megaphone,
walkie talkie or radio – to funnel your
signal through the chosen playback
system. There’s also a three-band EQ,
mix and internal drive/limiting.
June 2019  /  CoMputer MuSiC  /  107

Our synths have been created
by the best software developers
in the world to bring you a
suite of sound-making tools for
all music production scenarios u-he Zebra CM
s Blendable oscillator waveforms
s Dual wavescanning oscillators
Synapse Audio Dune CM
s VA and wavetable oscillators
s Super-programmable step LFOs s Multimode filter and built-in effects s Powerful per-voice modulation
s Slick delay, reverb and chorus s FM/AM synthesis modes s 12-slot modulation matrix
s Original synth designed just for CM s Based on SynthMaster 2.5 s Based on the full version of Dune
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST/RTAS, 32-/64-bit
u-he.com kv331audio.com synapse-audio.com

Enzyme CM
s Scanned synthesis instrument
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit

Klevgränd Enkl CM
s Fun, quirky one-osc monosynth
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit
u-he Bazille CM Dmitry Sches Thorn CM Psychic Modulation Seaweed Audio Fathom CM klevgrand.se
s Patchable modular synthesiser s Dual spectral oscillators Phonec CM s Monster modular polysynth
s Sequencer and Mapping Generator s Analogue and Harmonic Filters s Retro-inspired four-voice synth s VA, FM, wavetable, additive + more Cableguys Curve 2.6 CM
s Audio-rate modulation, Fractalizer s Spectral and real-time effects s Two oscillators, noise osc and sub s Envelopes, LFOs and sequencing s Design-your-own-waveforms synth
s Huge how-to guide in 232 s Glitch Sequencer and Arpeggiator s EchoShifter, Chorus and Melt s Tons of filters and effects s Phat 16-voice Unison mode
s AU/VST 32-/64-bit s VST/VST3/AU/AAX, 32-/64-bit s Four envs, two LFOs, Arp and Seq s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST/RTAS, 32-/64-bit
u-he.com dmitrysches.com psychicmodulation.com fathomsynth.com cableguys.com


Get the sounds
of sought-after
circuits with our
classic collection LinPlug Alpha CM XILS-lab PolyKB II CM Madrona Labs Aalto CM XILS-lab XILS 3 CM
s Dual oscillators with wave blending s Models the ultra-rare PolyKobol s Unusual oscillators with FM s Modelled on the EMS VCS 3 modular
s Mod matrix, slick chorus effect s Packed with mix-ready presets s Intuitively patchable modulation s Authentic circuits of the original
s Polyphonic glide between notes s Assign knobs to main parameters s Onboard reverb s Step sequencing s Added chorus and delay effects
s Based on the commercial Alpha s Based on XILS-lab’s PolyKB II s Based on the full Aalto synth s Pin matrices to ‘patch’ signal flow
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST/RTAS, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit
linplug.com xils-lab.com madronalabs.com xils-lab.com

Get heads
and design
better beats DopeVST Beat Machine CM
s 50 ready-mixed royalty-free kits
AudioRealism ADM CM
s Old-school-style drum machine
brunsandspork Grooove CM
s Load in two samples per sound
XILS-lab StiX CM
s Drum synth with sequencer
s 50 MIDI beats included s Emulates Roland’s TR-606 and set their velocity response s Load preset kits and grooves
s Kick, Snare, Hi-hat and Misc parts s Also contains custom samples s 50 built-in Micro Kits to play s Apply effects and mix each sound
s Level, Pan, Pitch and Reverb s Based on the full ADM s Based on the full Grooove s Polystep modulation and more
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit
dopevst.com audiorealism.se brunsandspork.com xils-lab.com

108 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

plugins <

Import, slice and loop your audio
files with these creative and
highly customisable instruments

Expert Sleepers Loomer Cumulus

XFadeLooper CM s Granular sampler with sequencing
s Creative crossfade-looping sampler s Scenes function to sequence slices
s Hard Sync mode and modulation s Not based on an existing plugin
s Saturation section, flexible looping s AU/VST 32-/64-bit
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s RTAS/Standalone 32-bit
expert-sleepers.co.uk loomer.co.uk


DopeVST Bass Engine CM Kirnu Cream CM Monoplugs B-Step CM zplane vielklang 2 CM Eisenberg Einklang CM
s 45 authentic hip-hop bass patches s Get more out of plugin instruments s Step sequencer for beats and chords s Pitch-correct and retune audio s Morph between a trio of oscillators
s Three eras of faux-sampled bass and master arpeggios with this tool s Easily creates chord progressions s Harmonise melodies with ease s Envelope and timbre controls
s 50 MIDI riffs included s Program and store complex patterns s Seven pages of controls to dial in s Level and pan harmony voices s Modulate tone with the LFO
s Envelope and note controls s Musical controls for rhythm/notes s Based on the commercial B-Step s Algorithms by zplane’s experts s Based on the full Einklang synth
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit
dopevst.com kirnuarp.com monoplugs.com zplane.de eisenberg-audio.de

Rob Papen RG-Muted CM AudioThing miniBit CM Squaredheads Nora CM RF Music Scale Player CM AutoTonic CM
s Create realistic funk guitar grooves s 15-waveform chiptune synth s Input up to four notes, Play scales in new, creative ways s Always stay in key with this MIDI app
s Onboard sequencer s Envelope and LFO modulation output chords and arpeggios s Set a ‘home’ note and scale s White keys play notes while black
s Effects and modulation options s Bit-depth/sample rate reduction s Program velocities & store patterns s Play other keys to alter settings keys select the scale you’re in
s Based on Rob Papen RG s Based on the commercial miniBit s Mac users require macOS 10.8+ s Based on the full Scale Player s Choose from a variety of scales
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s Standalone, acts as your MIDI input
robpapen.com audiothing.net squaredheads.com rfmusic.net autotonic.net

> Step by step

plug ns reloaded / make mus c now <

11 Piano and vintage syn h sounds


versat e nsp r ng synth the atest
P ug ns fam y
We turn our at ent on to th s

add t on to the

Satson and on

1 2

To help you get the most out of our immense with tutorial PDFs and videos on using Plugins

plugin collection, we’ve assembled the Plugins for sound design, mixing, and even creating entire
3 4

> Step by step 12 Risers and e fects with Alchemy Player CM

Tutorial Bank, containing over 100 guides and tracks. You’ll find all of this as a handy download
tutorials for our Plugins, specially selected from from FileSilo – go grab it now and start getting


1 2 3
past issues. You’ll find Getting Started PDFs and more out of your plugins!
videos for most of the individual plugins, along filesilo.co.uk/computermusic

June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 109



Check out this huge collection of

processors – from classic
compressors to modern digital
creations, we’ve got everything eaReckon CM-COMP 87 Acustica Audio Violet CM Audiority TS-1 CM
you need to shape your signals s Slick, punchy compressor
s Mix knob for parallel compression
s Three-band multiband compressor
s SHmod to shape attack response
s Flavoursome transient shaper
s Set attack and sustain gain
s Limiter to keep the output in check s Impart analogue-style valve tone s Blend control for parallel processing
s Clear VU- and LED-style metering s Ideal for mixing and mastering s Based on the full TS-1 plugin
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s VST/AU/AAX, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit
eareckon.com acustica-audio.com audiority.com

Unfiltered Audio G8 CM HoRNet Fat-FET HoRNet DrumShaper audioD3CK SunRuys CM WA Production Puncher CM
s Get tight dynamics or creative FX s FET-style compressor s Instant EQ & compression for drums s Characterful bus compressor s Three-pronged mixing multieffect
s Includes advanced gating controls s Similar to the classic Urei 1176LN s Dial in effect amount & in/out gain s Dry/wet mix and blend controls s Boost transients for punch
s Real-time waveform display s Ultra-fast attack as low as 0.02ms s 7 algorithms: kick, snare, loops, etc s Advanced options to go deeper s Four-band multiband compressor
s Use MIDI as a trigger or output s Based on HoRNet MultiComp s Based on HoRNet TrackShaper s Based on the full SunRuys plugin s Weighty parallel compression
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST/RTAS/AAX, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit
unfilteredaudio.com hornetplugins.com hornetplugins.com audio.d3ck.net waproduction.com

Sibalance CM
s Pro de-esser and de-harsher
s Four modes for different use cases
s Reduction and Attack parameters
s (AU/VST, 32-/64-bit)
D16 Group Frontier Ignite VST Vice One Toneboosters SKnote Snap
s Superb mixing/mastering limiter s Talented compressor sold for $49 Barricade CM s Boost or tame transient brightness LVC-Audio Transector CM
s Set Threshold and Output s Choose between analogue or s Intelligent mastering-grade limiter s Brighten or dull a sound’s sustain s Transient tweaking and saturation
s Choose detection and release styles digital response characteristics s Dynamic response controls s Uses two intelligently-linked filters s Define and process envelopes
s Soft Clip control for drive/distortion s In/out and gain reduction metering s Stereo options, versatile metering s Not based on any existing plugin s Useful metering and visualisation
s AU/VST/AAX, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s (AU/VST, 32-/64-bit)
d16.pl ignitevst.com toneboosters.com sknote.it lvcaudio.com


Rule the waves and make

your music come alive before
your very eyes with the help
of these pro visualisation tools Blue Cat Audio Photosounder Spiral CM Vengeance-Sound Scope
FreqAnalyst CM s Musical, note-based analyser s Spectrum for frequency analysis
s Pro-quality, feature-packed analyser s Useful for figuring out notes in s Oscilloscope for waveform view
s Numerous customisation options audio and grasping music theory s Stereo phase and level metering
s Based on Blue Cat FreqAnalyst s Based on the full Spiral plugin s Tons of advanced analysis options
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit, RTAS 32-bit s AU/VST/AAX, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST/AAX, 32-/64-bit
bluecataudio.com photosounder.com vengeance-sound.com

110 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

plugins <

From basic clean-up filters to
juicy, analogue-style EQ units
and creative effects, get your
spectrum sorted with these
Acustica Audio Pink CM DDMF CM EQ Pack Vengeance-Sound Philta CM
virtual signal-sculptors s Analogue-modelled API-alike EQ
s Four EQ bands, two with shelf toggle
s Two superb equalisers
s IIEQ Pro CM: 19 filter types
s Dual high- and low-pass filters
s Four slope settings: 12/24/48/96dB
s Output adjusts to match Input Trim s LP10 CM: Linear phase EQ s Resonance and width controls
s Cut from the full Pink channel strip s Based on commercial DDMF plugins s Link function and notch mode
s AU/VST/AAX s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit
acustica-audio.com ddmf.eu vengeance-sound.com

More EQ/Filter plugins

eaReackon CM-EQUA 87
Three-band EQ with high/low shelves
(AU/VST, 32-/64-bit)

AudioThing The Orb CM OverTone DSP AudioThing ValveFilter CM Overtone DSP

s Morphing vowel formant filter Program EQ CM s Gorgeous filtering and drive AF2-10 CM
s Choose five vowels from a list of ten s Pultec-style vintage EQ emulation s Low-pass filter circuit emulation s Four-band EQ with ten filter types
s Move the dot to change the sound s Dual bass boost/attenuate knobs s Vintage valve saturation section s Band gains adjustable +/-24dB
s Smooth, Gain and Mix to refine s Tube amplifier circuit-only option s Based on Valve Filter VF-1 s Flatten and clear curve, resize GUI
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit
audiothing.net overtonedsp.co.uk audiothing.net overtonedsp.co.uk

More Delay/Reverb plugins
Add space Acon Digital CM Verb
s Simple-but-versatile operation
and ambience, s Five modes: hall, plate, studio, etc
s Based on Acon Digital’s Verberate
or throw your s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit
sounds into LiquidSonics
Reverberate CM
PSP Audioware cmDelay
s Modulatable delay with LFO
Surreal Machines Microfuse
s Delay/reverb hybrid plugin Ignite VST Areena
a completely s Convolution reverb with real-world
presets and processing controls
s Dial in delay time, filtering and width
s Feedback and ping-pong operation
s Modelled on hardware effects
s Broad palette of timbres
s Beautiful algorithmic reverb
s As sold for $49, but yours for free!
new dimension s Import your own impulse response
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit
s Based on the full stompDelay
s AU/VST/AAX/RTAS, 32-/64-bit
s Nine modes, plus presets
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit
s Room and plate algorithms
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit
liquidsonics.com pspaudioware.com surrealmachines.com ignitevst.com

Get your
creativity all
in one place
with these
Subsonic Labs LVC-Audio T-Chain CM Inear Display Eurydice CM Tek’it Audio CrossDr CM
all-purpose Wolfram CM
s Pitchshifting, distortion, phase-
s Take your choice of six effects
s DynoPhuzz CM distortion effect
s Stutter, buffer and edit signals
s Buffer override, repeat, delay,
s Three independent bands of drive
s Drive, Warp, Crush and Clip signals
plugin effects shifting, panning, delay and filter
s Flexible modulation
s Two dynamics processors to try
s EQ, ClipShifter and filter effects
bitcrusher and filter with modulation
s Custom signal routing
in three parallel bands
s Per-band Balance and Level
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s Customisable waveform display s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit
subsoniclabs.com lvcaudio.com ineardisplay.com tekit-audio.com

June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 111


EFFECTS Continued

Fuzz up your signals with custom Kuassa PreMix CM
s Subtle saturation or overdrive
dirt – from waveshaping s Three-band Baxandall EQ
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit
to saturation and soft clipping, kuassa.com

this diverse bunch of plugins are Audiffex STA Enhancer CM

s Valve-style signal exciter/enhancer
Audio Assault NoiseAsh SpeakerSim CM
guaranteed to play as rough as GrindMachine CM
s Five amp and ten cab emulations
s Four speaker models
s Onboard EQ and HP/LP filters
s Choose from five tube circuits
s AU/VST/AAX, 32-/64-bit

you like with any audio material s 3-band EQ plus depth and presence
s Djentbox to tighten low tunings
s Internal limiter and distortion
s In/Out level, Mono/Stereo

s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s VST/AU/AAX, 32-/64-bit

Audio Assault
audioassault.com noiseash.com
BassAmp CM
s Ampeg-inspired bass amp sim
s Gain and Deep controls for drive
s AU/VST/AAX, 32-/64-bit

Mercuriall U530 CM
s Emulation of ENGL’s E530 preamp
s Customisable Clean & Lead circuits
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit

HoRNet Graffio CM
s Flexible three-flavour distortion
s Saturator module with DC offset
s Exciter and bit reducer
s AU/VST/VST3/AAX/RTAS, 32-/64-bit
Sonimus Satson CM Rop Papen RP-Distort CM Shattered Glass Audio Cableguys WaveShaper CM hornetplugins.com
s Classic mixer channel emulation s Five crunchy distortion algorithms Inferno CM s Graphically editable distortion
s Subtle warming saturation s EQ, dynamics, widener, modulation s Two analogue preamp models s Design curves by dragging nodes Lindell 6X-500 CM
s Gentle, musical high/low filters s Filter and parallel s High-and low-pass filters s Input vs output oscilloscope s Classic preamp emulation with EQ
s Full Satson Buss also available processing controls s Dry/wet Mix knob s Not based on an existing plugin s High/low boosts for musical tone
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit
dsp.sonimus.com robpapen.com shatteredglassaudio.com cableguys.com lindellplugins.com

More esoteric
and incredibly
useful plugins
from recent
issues of Auburn Sounds JST & Boz SideWidener New Sonic Arts Freestyle CM Nyrv Agent CM
Panagement CM s Add stereo width to mono sounds s Host and chain together s Create custom effects chains
s Psycho-stereo toolkit plugin s Signal retains mono compatibility your Plugins VSTs with this valuable utility plugin
s Place sounds with Binaural Pan s Goniometer for stereo visuals s Route and split signal paths s Host your VST/AU plugins
s Edit perceived distance and width s Three widen modes, Width & Tone s Event Player to simple sequences s Design your own interface
s Stereoise mono sounds s AU/VST/AAX/RTAS, 32-/64-bit s Save snapshots of whole setups s Based on the full Agent plugin
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit joeysturgistones.com s Runs as AU/VST/Standalone s AU/VST/AAX, 32-/64-bit
auburnsounds.com bozdigitallabs.com newsonicarts.com nyrvsystems.com

Dotec-Audio DeeMonitor Inear Display Litote CM HoRNet FreMo Audio Vitamins Life CM
s Handy monitoring utility plugin s Granular effect to slice and dice s Mini frequency modulator effect s Modulation and widening plugin
s Emulate NS10, Genelec and signals on a microscopic level s Oscillator frequency can be set s Vary pitch or amplitude
Auratone 5C speakers in your DAW s Tweak speed and introduce jitter manually or follow input pitch with LFOs
s Invert and Solo left and right feeds s Adjust the Timbre Frequency, s Scale the oscillator from 1x to 10x s Widen, sweeten and improve
s Mid/Side balancing + Output gain Feedback and Diffusion s Set mod amount and osc waveform audio to a mix-ready state
s AU/VST, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST/AAX, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST/AAX, 32-/64-bit s AU/VST/AAX, 32-/64-bit
dotec-audio.com ineardisplay.com hornetplugins.com audiovitamins.com

112 / COMPUTER MUSIC / June 2019

plugins <

Loading plugins in your DAW

Though there are a wide variety of DAWs, each
with its own unique interface, there are
similarities when it comes to loading up and
using plugins, and most stick to one of two
approaches. The first – as seen in Steinberg’s
Cubase, Apple’s Logic, and Cakewalk’s Sonar –
involves insert slots on a track or mixer channel.
These are used in the same way as an insert
effect would be used on a hardware mixer. In
other words, the effect is placed ‘in line’ on that
mixer or track channel. Plugins might be loaded
in by use of a dropdown menu tree or right-
clicking in the effects slot. Clicking in the insert
or effects slot in some DAWs – Cockos’ Reaper,
for instance – will reveal a dedicated browser
from which the desired plugin may be selected.
It’s common to stack multiple effects plugins
together to form an effects ‘chain’, much in the
way a guitarist might connect various
stompboxes together to form a custom sound.
In some DAWs, these effects chains may be
See how to load plugins in eight different DAWs with our videos at the URLs below
saved and recalled at a later time.
If your DAW uses a sidebar browser, here you
can find your plugins displayed and possibly dropped from a browser onto a specific track. We’ve prepared videos for eight major DAWs
arranged into categories. The plugins may be However, many DAWs distinguish between showing you the basics of loading plugins, along
dragged into the project and placed directly instrument and audio tracks, so you’ll need to with a few handy tips you won’t want to miss:
onto a track or channel. Ableton Live, Bitwig keep this in mind. Those that allow you to drag > Cockos Reaper – bit.ly/LPIreaper
Studio, Cakewalk’s Sonar and PreSonus Studio instruments in from a browser might offer the > Cakewalk Sonar – bit.ly/LPIsonar
One can all open effects and even instrument choice of using an existing instrument track or > PreSonus Studio One – bit.ly/LPIstudioone
plugins in this manner. creating a new one. Some DAWs (Cubase, Sonar) > Apple Logic – bit.ly/LPIlogic
On the subject of instrument plugins, we allow you to open instruments in a ‘rack’ and > Image-Line FL Studio – bit.ly/LPIflstudio
should discuss the different methods you might then connect to them from MIDI or instrument > Steinberg Cubase – bit.ly/LPIcubase
encounter when loading up instruments. As tracks. Others (Logic) make a plugin menu > Bitwig Studio – bit.ly/LPIbitwig
mentioned, sometimes they can be dragged and available from the track itself. > Ableton Live – bit.ly/LPIableton

Plugin folder locations

So how does your DAW know where to look One is for all users, the other is for requires little more than putting the
for your plugins? Actually, it might not. Mac administrator use. If your DAW has trouble Component or VST file in the Trash.
users have it easy, as there are OS-specified seeing a plugin, you might need to move it Sometimes an uninstaller will be offered to
folders into which plugins are installed. These you, though.
folders can be found by going to your Library On Windows, you can choose the location
folder (if you can’t find it, go to the Finder’s Go of your VST plugins folders. Some DAWs will
menu, hold Alt, and a Library option should create one when you install them, but both
appear). Find the Audio directory, and then DAW and plugin installers will often give you
the Plug-Ins folder within. There you will find an option of pointing to the plugin directory
more folders still. One will be labelled you’d like to use. It usually looks something
Components – this is where your AU plugins like C:\Program Files\Steinberg\VST Plugins.
reside. Other folders will be found alongside it Some plugins are delivered as only DLL
for VST and VST3 plugins. If you’re a Pro Tools files, and need to be copied to your chosen
user, you’ll find your plugins in an Avid or directory. Once you’ve installed your plugins,
Digidesign folder. If your installers don’t If you’re using Apple’s OS X, all your VST, VST3 and think twice about moving them. Some plugins
Audio Units go into pre-determined locations
automatically install the plugins into the rely on support files installed into the same
proper folder, you should manually copy them directory. To duplicate plugins elsewhere on
into the relevant folders listed above. from one Library to the other, though the the drive, use shortcuts on Windows (right-
One caveat: there will likely be two sets of system folder is usually the one to use. click to create one) or aliases on Macs (Cmd-
folders under two different Library locations. Uninstalling plugins from OS X usually Alt-dragging).

June 2019 / COMPUTER MUSIC / 113

>  make music now  /  blast from the past

Initially released as a companion to PPG’s

legendary Wave 2.2, this giant slab of silicon
put considerable sound-shaping power into the
hands of many a noted synthesist

PPG Waveterm
Wavetable synthesis is undergoing limited compared to the early samplers that tech SPecS
something of a revival at the moment, were coming into vogue in the early 1980s.
Year of manufacture
with multiple hardware and software PPG’s Waveterm would put paid to those
variants on the theme available to musicians. limitations, and a whole lot more. Housed in a
Original sale value
Maybe the same old analogue waveforms are hulking blue 7U steel case, the Waveterm $10,650
growing a bit stale. provided Wave 2.2 users with sampling and Current price
This is precisely what happened the first time sample editing, additive and FM waveform Unknown
around, when German company PPG unleashed creation, custom wavetable creation, an unusual Number made
the PPG Wave, a hybrid instrument with type of resonator-based synthesis and the Approximately 300
oscillators that offered the ability to draw from a ability to edit the Wave’s sequences.
vast collection of digitally-stored single-cycle The first version of the Waveterm was
waveforms that had been strung together in a powered by a 6800 processor and sported dual Astonishingly, in 2012 PPG mainman
‘wavetable’. Unlike the static sample playback 8” floppy drives. An upgraded version designed Wolfgang Palm updated the Waveterm B’s
offered by the ROMplers that followed, PPG to work with the Wave 2.3’s added features software to 1.01, allowing it to work with the
instruments could dynamically modulate upped the ante with a 68000 processor, 5 1/4” Wave 2.2 and creating a whole slew of new
through the waves of the selected wavetable. drives and longer sampling times. Resonator files for the few remaining Waveterm
The results were sounds with timbral movement This was heady stuff in its day, but the users. That’s some serious longterm support!
the likes of which had never before been heard. operating system was easy to grok, if sometimes There’s nothing like the crunch of a sample or
PPG perfected its design with the addition of tedious to use. A Wave-Waveterm system could wavetable spat forth from a Waveterm, but
an analogue filter and VCA, reducing the perform all of the most advanced sampling and vintage units are as rare, and usually cost a lot.
harshness of the 8-bit waves found in the Wave sequencing functions of the time, though its Moreover, the disks used to store the OS, sounds
2 and 2.2. The 12-bit Wave 2.3 was the most price put off casual musicians – and the fact that and samples are becoming difficult to source,
successful of the lot, with over 700 units sold. the Waveterm couldn’t be used without the and even harder to trust. Floppy disks weren’t
As powerful as they were, the Waves offered Wave made it more expensive still. That, of meant to last three decades, and alas, many
a finite number of factory-defined wavetables course, didn’t stop the likes of The Stranglers, haven’t. However, modern software variants are
which, though a vast improvement over the Tangerine Dream, and Gary Numan, all of whom around, particularly if you’re just out to create
analogue synths that preceded them, seemed peppered their records with PPG sounds. your own wavetables.

Three great plugin alternatives



PPG WaveGenerator herMann seib WaveterM C Mathias Gurk audioterM

The PPG WaveGenerator is Wolfgang Palm’s Waveterm C was meant as a means of Designed as a programming exercise, this is a
modern take on the PPG Wave/Waveterm recreating the features of the Waveterm on a Windows-based wavetable creation tool
combo, offering custom waveform Windows PC, with the aim of connecting and inspired by the Waveterm. It can seem
generation, wavetable creation and a whole controlling an actual PPG Wave. However, it impenetrable to the modern user, but those
slew of interesting modulation options. It’s the works well on its own, and with the ‘demo’ who fancy whipping up their own wavetables
logical evolution of wavetable synthesis, version of Seib’s free PPG Wave clone called for use with various compatible hardware and
designed less to fulfil a vintage fantasy than to WaveSim. Worth a look if you want the exact software instruments love it. It’s hard to find,
create entirely new sonic vistas. experience of using an 80s-era PPG system. but there’s a valid link at the following url…
wolfgangpalm.coml hermannseib.com muffwiggler.com

114  /  Computer musiC  /  June 2019