Unaware of a Direction (was Live sequencing with Hydrogen)

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autostatic
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Unaware of a Direction (was Live sequencing with Hydrogen)

Postby autostatic » Mon May 31, 2010 2:27 pm

Last weekend I decided to dive into Hydrogen to see if I can use this piece of software in a live setup. My conclusion: Hydrogen is very useable as a live sequencer.

The setup:
  • Korg nanoKONTROL to activate the different patterns
  • Fender Telecaster connected to my Focusrite Saffire Pro
  • Hydrogen 0.9.5 RC1, slightly modified to enable the SELECT_NEXT_PATTERN action (the SVN trunk version has this functionality again too)
  • Two instances of PHASEX with the envelope filter enabled and a steady kick feeded into the aux inputs of the PHASEX instances. I used the Electro Lead and Harsh Saw patches.
  • An instance of Yoshimi, the Pizzicato Strings patch.
  • Two instances of Rakarrack, one for the guitar (rakarrack-01 in the vid) and one for the Melodica sample (the top Rakarrack instance). The ArpieVerb preset is a custom preset that arpeggiates the incoming signal and with the help of the JACK Transport functionality of the git version of Rakarrack it stays nicely in sync with Hydrogen. The reverb makes it sound glassy.
  • Non-Mixer to route all the outputs to a stereo signal so I could feed it easily into recordMyDesktop and the JACK Oscrolloscope.
  • LinuxDSP JACK Patch Bay. That's just there for the show basically.

I played the guitar live and had little time so here and there it's really sloppy. My custom ArpieVerb preset needs some more loving too, it still sounds a bit too much like a woodwind kind of instrument.
With the help of the Stacked Pattern option in Hydrogen I could easily queue the next pattern. As you can see I numbered the patterns as they reflect the strips on my Korg nanoKONTROL. I've programmed the nanoKONTROL in such a way that the LEDS on that little thing reflect which pattern is playing.
I ran into one little problem with Hydrogen though. The maximum pattern size is 32 and for this demo I needed a size 64 pattern. Luckily manually editing the h2song file did the trick and when you zoom out the pattern editor completely you can edit the 64 size pattern.

The result: http://linux.autostatic.com/temp/live-s ... drogen.ogg
Filesize approx. 35 mb
Video: ogg
Audio: vorbis

The footage was edited with OpenShot on my Fedora office machine.
The song itself is far from being finished, it's just a raw idea actually, barely worked out.

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Re: Unaware of a Direction (was Live sequencing with Hydrogen)

Postby autostatic » Sun Jun 13, 2010 8:28 pm

Took another shot at it. Gave this idea a name, 'Unaware of a Direction', added some vocals and bass and left the guitars out for the moment. And after reading Louigi's article on his experiences with the modular approach I decided to use Qtractor's mixer to do the routing, also because I recently acquired a BCF2000 and it just works like a charm with Qtractor. Really, there's nothing more nerdy than those motorized faders initializing when you open a project.
For the bass I used brummer's excellent guitarix app with an Ampeg IR file of course ;)

The Infinite Repeat - Unaware of a Direction (approx. 30 Mb)

06-18-2010: uploaded a new version, slightly different mix & vid
Last edited by autostatic on Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:49 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Unaware of a Direction (was Live sequencing with Hydrogen)

Postby autostatic » Tue Jun 15, 2010 8:53 pm

Hello cga, thanks! I like working on this song so hopefully I manage to finally create something that's more or less finished :)
And a full album, phew, that will take a while...

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Re: Unaware of a Direction (was Live sequencing with Hydrogen)

Postby mauser » Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:28 pm

Wow, that's a really cool song!!!
I like the vocals a lot.. Maybe the could be a little bit louder? Don't know..
What i don't like so much is the beginning and the end(Where the drumset is playing more or less alone). That sounds so, eeeh, simple? :) But the rest of the song is a very nice song, not only a good showcase for linux audio tools ;-)
- Sebastian

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Re: Unaware of a Direction (was Live sequencing with Hydrogen)

Postby autostatic » Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:47 am

mauser wrote:Wow, that's a really cool song!!!
I like the vocals a lot.. Maybe the could be a little bit louder? Don't know..
What i don't like so much is the beginning and the end(Where the drumset is playing more or less alone). That sounds so, eeeh, simple? :) But the rest of the song is a very nice song, not only a good showcase for linux audio tools ;-)
- Sebastian
Thanks Sebastian! The song is still in a raw stage, that's why the intro and outro are rudimentary. And it's also partly on purpose. My intention is to use this song, and maybe more ideas like this, during a live DJ set and then intro's and outro's like this are almost compulsory for mixing/DJ'ing.

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Re: Unaware of a Direction (was Live sequencing with Hydrogen)

Postby autostatic » Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:04 am

I also managed to fully script the JACK connections and the way all apps are started. Practically all apps (except Guitarix) allow to specify presets/patches/projects/sessions on the commandline. The script came out a bit like described here: http://digitaldub.wordpress.com/2009/12 ... scripting/

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Re: Unaware of a Direction (was Live sequencing with Hydrogen)

Postby autostatic » Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:49 pm

Even though our little kiddo has had his first vaccinations today I managed to play around some more with this idea. I've added some beatsliced acoustic guitars with the help of Smasher, amazing little app, and an extra lead synth line with the help of Arpage, another amazing little app.
I'm planning to add new vocals, a new Melodica sample and some female backing vocals. And the beat needs some more attention and I'd like to add some sidechaining stuff but therefore I need the latest Calf plugins.

The Infinite Repeat - Unaware Of A Direction (Edit 06-30-2010) approx. 35 Mb

I'm running into the limitations of PHASEX though. PHASEX cannot be synced to an external source so every now and then PHASEX is out of sync which causes dropouts or changes in volume. Not handy when PHASEX provides the extra bass :(
And the video is pretty boring after like 2 minutes. Then I got into this "Arpeggio Mode" (I played the lead synth live) and forgot to switch some windows. I just love arpeggios, thank god for Arpage ;)

One of these days I'm also planning to switch to Ubuntu 10.04 so I can use LV2 plugins within Qtractor and benefit of up to date software and I also want to update to Jack2 because those clicks and pops whenever I connect or disconnect something are getting pretty annoying.

One last thing, I can't do without my recently acquired Behringer BCF2000 combined with Qtractor anymore. Awesome combination, just works perfectly.

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Re: Unaware of a Direction (was Live sequencing with Hydrogen)

Postby transmogrifox » Thu Jul 01, 2010 4:26 pm

I have enjoyed tracking this thread. Thanks for posting the development of this piece. I dig the acoustic guitar stuff...really nice addition :)

Something crazy I thought with female vocals... is if you can get a female to hum a melody without any words, then vocode it with your own voice to make words :-) I don't know whether it will be crazy robotic, or what, but it seems like it would be pretty wild sounding.

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Re: Unaware of a Direction (was Live sequencing with Hydrogen)

Postby GhostofJohnToad » Fri Jul 02, 2010 5:17 pm

Not a bad number there AutoStatic. :) I might not be qualified to comment not being here very long, so keep that in mind... I think this song would benefit from a change in drum pattern. Like maybe after the acoustic piece that starts at 1:50 or so. It would sound nice if the drums picked up and got a little heavier to create a little more dynamic. It also could be shortened down a little, but of course with a little more variation maybe not. I think it has potential. I like your voice with it and I agree with transmogrifox that a female voice would be interesting either singing or maybe even whispering. Keep up the good work!

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Re: Unaware of a Direction (was Live sequencing with Hydrogen)

Postby autostatic » Fri Jul 02, 2010 8:43 pm

transmogrifox wrote:I have enjoyed tracking this thread. Thanks for posting the development of this piece. I dig the acoustic guitar stuff...really nice addition :)
Thanks transmogrifox!

transmogrifox wrote:Something crazy I thought with female vocals... is if you can get a female to hum a melody without any words, then vocode it with your own voice to make words :-) I don't know whether it will be crazy robotic, or what, but it seems like it would be pretty wild sounding.
Wow, sounds like a cool idea, I'm going to give it a try. But most probably I'll end up the Jeremy/Autostatic way with doubling stuff and doing harmonies.

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Re: Unaware of a Direction (was Live sequencing with Hydrogen)

Postby autostatic » Fri Jul 02, 2010 8:51 pm

GhostofJohnToad wrote:Not a bad number there AutoStatic. :) I might not be qualified to comment not being here very long, so keep that in mind... I think this song would benefit from a change in drum pattern. Like maybe after the acoustic piece that starts at 1:50 or so. It would sound nice if the drums picked up and got a little heavier to create a little more dynamic.
Totally agree on that. So don't worry, the drums will be improved, more variation and with some tips from [lsd] on #opensourcemusicians I hope I can get some sidechaining/ducking to work.

GhostofJohnToad wrote:It also could be shortened down a little, but of course with a little more variation maybe not.
Yes, 3 minutes. No more, less if possible. The reason why it's almost 4 mins now is because I lost myself in that arpeggiated lead synth.

GhostofJohnToad wrote:I think it has potential. I like your voice with it and I agree with transmogrifox that a female voice would be interesting either singing or maybe even whispering. Keep up the good work!
Wow, thanks! I can assure you, there's more where this came from :)

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Re: Unaware of a Direction (was Live sequencing with Hydrogen)

Postby autostatic » Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:00 pm

Minor update, added a distortion (the guitarix_distorion LADSPA plugin) on the PHASEX harsh-saw but I'm now suspecting it clips here and there. I also programmed every single note instead of using PHASEX's envelope follower so it doesn't drop out anymore. I've started to work on the rhythm stuff but I find these kind of things hard. So far I've only managed to add a maracas and I added some compression on the snare (thanks again to the guys on #opensourcemusicians) :oops:
I did run the whole song through JAMin to pull up the kick a bit and to boost the song a little.

The Infinite Repeat - Unaware of a Direction (Edit 2010-08-15) Approx 5.5 Mb

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Re: Unaware of a Direction (was Live sequencing with Hydrogen)

Postby GarryO » Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:33 pm

Nice work - had this old fart tapping his foot and nodding his head :D
I think vocals could be louder/stronger though: multitrack and compress the hell out of them?
I'm thinking of later Sisters of Mercy here.
Other random thoughts: you could go for the telephone or megaphone sound ( ok bit of a cliche, but it might work), or maybe pipe them through phasex ( i think you can do this? or is that amsynth?)

best wishes, G.

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Re: Unaware of a Direction (was Live sequencing with Hydrogen)

Postby maghoxfr » Sat Aug 28, 2010 4:56 am

Really cool song man, very catchy too. I like that bassline and the voice suits the mood perfectly. Maybe some polishing on the edges but it sounds very good. Thanks for sharing the workflow Jeremy!

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Re: Unaware of a Direction (was Live sequencing with Hydrogen)

Postby autostatic » Sat Aug 28, 2010 1:02 pm

GarryO wrote:Nice work - had this old fart tapping his foot and nodding his head :D
Thanks!
I think vocals could be louder/stronger though: multitrack and compress the hell out of them?
I'm thinking of later Sisters of Mercy here.[/quote]Somehow I like the vocals as they're now. But if I'd redo them, I think I'd double them.
GarryO wrote:Other random thoughts: you could go for the telephone or megaphone sound ( ok bit of a cliche, but it might work), or maybe pipe them through phasex ( i think you can do this? or is that amsynth?)
Yeah, I think I'll go for such an effect in the chorus. Have it in my head, now I need to pin it down. PHASEX has audio inputs btw.


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