Workflow and efficiency when working with hardware
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Old 12-07-2016, 12:34 AM   #1
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Workflow and efficiency when working with hardware

Just curious how others go about this. I have heard this a lot before, how people say for example they just leave a session recording and they jam out ideas or play around with their hardware synths and whatnot and then they sift through their recorded session looking for the gold and then splice the best of their ideas together into a coherent structure. But I am wondering how people actually go about this? This is something I am trying a bit more of recently and for example I just recorded about half an hour of jamming around on a circuitbent drum machine making all sort of blips and glitches and beats and rhythms, a lot of which could go easily fit into a song if only it was organised effectively. What do people find works for them when they are doing something like this? Do you just chop up every bar and put them all into clips in Ableton and launch them and see what workd? Or do you just slice some bits out and throw the rest away and work with the best of what you have? Curious to see how people go about organising their ideas and arranging them.

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Old 12-07-2016, 12:41 AM   #2
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Re: Workflow and efficiency when working with hardware

I have an extremely limited setup but if I ever use my hardware I tend to play into it, record the audio and sample it because I dont have things routed properly with midi interaction and its way easier to get variation and then cherry pick it

try and think about what will give you the most 'freedom of creative input' its a little phrase that keeps going through my head that means fuck all but I kinda want to write a 10,000 word essay on it

edit: I'm fed up of having a good loop and having no real power to variate it throughout the track. I have a shitey old monophonic synth and ive been using it for basses but I cant save the patch so once its recorded and I switch off for the day I fuck myself. It also has a problem where after a while a single note gets stuck on and the only way to sort it out is to switch it off... Which loses the patch. Of you can record the same thing again and adapt it later recording the output for sampling can be way more usefulllll

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Old 12-07-2016, 01:40 AM   #3
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Re: Workflow and efficiency when working with hardware

I think when most people describe this process of "just jamming and recording" they are grossly simplifying it.

Sometimes I will multitrack all my instruments live and simultaneously, like an in studio "live PA" and then chop up the audio. while for other tracks I lean towards working with less at once, recording shorter phrases and song parts, and building a track from there. It really depends on the needs of the project, what vibe I am going for etc. There is no one formula. If I sat down and literally recorded all the bullshit I do when making a track Id never get through all that audio. I highly doubt most people are working this way.

Something else I do is record a couple live takes of a track to get a feel for structure then use those recordings and others to construct a song based on those live examples.

Last edited by relic; 12-07-2016 at 06:21 PM..

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Old 12-07-2016, 11:45 AM   #4
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Re: Workflow and efficiency when working with hardware

I usually prepare what I call "a megaloop" in hardware using sampler, sequencer and synths, when I have something that get my head bopping, I sample each sound in Live and take it from there.

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Old 12-07-2016, 01:30 PM   #5
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Re: Workflow and efficiency when working with hardware

It's an interesting question. I've so far tried to translate the DAW based approach to hardware, where I assemble patterns on my hardware that then get triggered via MIDI for an overall arrangement. I am also thinking about using the sequencer on one of the Elektron boxes to do this entirely OTB. With Overbridge there is also an easy way to to automate some performance aspects.
The advantage of this approach is the ability to establish a song structure at the same time that flexibility to modify patches and real time editing remains possible.
It's just not quite as fun as jamming around, which has been the other approach. Downside there is that I lack the ability to stick to or improvise a proper song structure.
I'm thinking to try the recording loops and assembling them ITB. That's where Maschine excels. I want the workflow to be fun and feel organic. It's a work in progress. The one element I've got no good idea for is how best to accommodate evolving 303 bass lines that have to be modulated throughout.

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Old 12-07-2016, 01:34 PM   #6
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Re: Workflow and efficiency when working with hardware

Thanks for the input guys, that give me some stuff to think about for sure. I definitely get that it would be hard to sift through a lot of audio if you just record every crappy idea you have but I was reading interviews where even Metallica and Deftones were talking about constructing riffs this way (I know not exactly electronic music but if it works in one genre no reason it can't in another)... I guess it can be a bit abstract, I would love to see some videos of some people actually doing stuff like this, but I suspect the trial and error nature of it would mean its less likely someone is going to make a video of themselves working like that and post it on youtube.
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Old 12-07-2016, 03:14 PM   #7
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Re: Workflow and efficiency when working with hardware

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Originally Posted by The Bunker View Post
Thanks for the input guys, that give me some stuff to think about for sure. I definitely get that it would be hard to sift through a lot of audio if you just record every crappy idea you have but I was reading interviews where even Metallica and Deftones were talking about constructing riffs this way (I know not exactly electronic music but if it works in one genre no reason it can't in another)... I guess it can be a bit abstract, I would love to see some videos of some people actually doing stuff like this, but I suspect the trial and error nature of it would mean its less likely someone is going to make a video of themselves working like that and post it on youtube.
If you arent familiar w it...Against the Clock might be a video series up your alley. Its good about half the time. A lot of the musicians are hardware users. Basically the challenge is to come up with a track in 10 minutes. You get a sense of workflow from most of the good videos. Like what they usually do, but condensed down.

Last edited by relic; 12-07-2016 at 06:20 PM..

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Old 12-07-2016, 05:41 PM   #8
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Re: Workflow and efficiency when working with hardware

this is a big topic.

IMO it depends on what hardware you use. My setup is pretty hybrid, but I have no Drum Machine hardware, drum machines dont fit into my workflow, and I do a much better job w Ableton Drum Racks and NI's Battery.

So for me, a lot what I do is program midi parts for my nord, and sequence patterns into my other synths and set them to looping, while recording them all on separate channels, Since Ableton is my master clock and is firing MIDI at the Nord, everything stays pretty tightly in sync and w a little bit of warping (adjusting the start time) everything plays nice in regards to editing "on the grid".

Sometimes I'll work like this, especially when I dont have a specific arrangement in mind.

Otherwise, If i have a tune in the works, I'll program midi sequences that my instruments will play back and record a handful of takes w different manual parameter automation. I'll use these clips in different parts of the tune for different effect.

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Old 12-07-2016, 06:34 PM   #9
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Re: Workflow and efficiency when working with hardware

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Originally Posted by The Bunker View Post
Thanks for the input guys, that give me some stuff to think about for sure. I definitely get that it would be hard to sift through a lot of audio if you just record every crappy idea you have but I was reading interviews where even Metallica and Deftones were talking about constructing riffs this way (I know not exactly electronic music but if it works in one genre no reason it can't in another)... I guess it can be a bit abstract, I would love to see some videos of some people actually doing stuff like this, but I suspect the trial and error nature of it would mean its less likely someone is going to make a video of themselves working like that and post it on youtube.
Most of what I do ends up being sequenced, so I don't really need to record audio in that regard. I do like to record live knob twisting of parameters. But usually I just jam to practice and kind of figure out what I want to achieve with each sequence, how many variations to record, figure out how tweaking certain parameters will help highlight what I'm trying to accomplish in each section of the song...I don't really tend to record all that. It could be a form of note taking, certainly, I've never found I needed it though. Maybe that is why my music sucks ;p

I'm usually also only working on one track at a time and under no deadlines or pressure. I only have to keep a few ideas in my head at once.

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Old 12-07-2016, 08:15 PM   #10
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Re: Workflow and efficiency when working with hardware

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Originally Posted by The Bunker View Post
Thanks for the input guys, that give me some stuff to think about for sure. I definitely get that it would be hard to sift through a lot of audio if you just record every crappy idea you have but I was reading interviews where even Metallica and Deftones were talking about constructing riffs this way (I know not exactly electronic music but if it works in one genre no reason it can't in another)... I guess it can be a bit abstract, I would love to see some videos of some people actually doing stuff like this, but I suspect the trial and error nature of it would mean its less likely someone is going to make a video of themselves working like that and post it on youtube.
That might be quite a boring video, at least in my case.

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Old 12-09-2016, 03:22 PM   #11
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Re: Workflow and efficiency when working with hardware

I haven't heard of the Against the Clock videos... I'll definitely check them out. Thanks
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Old 12-09-2016, 05:02 PM   #12
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Re: Workflow and efficiency when working with hardware

Maybe I'm weird, but the process for instruments and hardware is exactly the same as my process for software.

Either I use it in a grid context and set loop points, or MIDI slice / chop the hell out of the blips and bloops for later use, depending on what genre I'm making. No difference in workflow whatsoever.

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Old 12-09-2016, 06:03 PM   #13
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Re: Workflow and efficiency when working with hardware

yeah man. this. ^

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