new music update

A few months ago I posted that I was working on new music using Ardour 3, and I’m glad to say that my new track is now all but finished. Working with Ardour 3 was a bit nervewracking at times, as you’d expect when testing alpha software — there were several times, in fact, when I couldn’t even open the project’s session due to one bug or another. It all held together somehow, though, and after many bug reports and fixes, I definitely feel like it’s helped

The new track is a bit of a downbeat, ambient-ish thing, with some lo-fi sounds mixed in with some glitchy elements. I definitely put Ardour’s MIDI features to the test: there are MIDI tracks running out to my Blofeld and to Hydrogen, along with LV2 synths (Calf Monosynth and Linuxsampler), along with automation of CC parameters on the Blofeld and automation of plugin paramaters on Calf Monosynth. I’ve done quite a bit of effects automation as well, particularly with the bitcrushing Decimator plugin.

There’s even a VST plugin in there now; I had been beta-testing Loomer Cumulus, using it as a standalone synth, but with Ardour’s new VST support I now have it running within Ardour directly. Cumulus is somewhere between a synth and an effect: it lets you load a sample, and then trigger its playback using granular synthesis with varying paramaters, altering the starting point, pitch, and playback rate, among other things. You can define up to eight sets of those parameters, and then trigger those via MIDI keys. It can turn all sorts of sounds in to eerie textures, but it can just as easily take a drum loop and turn it in to a wonderfully glitchy mess, which is exactly what I used it for.

I’m pretty sure the track is done, but I don’t want to release it just yet. I plan to sit on it for a few days at least, while I read more of my copy of Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio, but I like the idea of putting together at least an EP with a couple of other tracks and releasing them all at once. That might not be practical if it takes me four months to finish each track, though, so I may post the individual tracks here when they’re ready, and then do an official Bandcamp release once they’re all done.

11 thoughts on “new music update

  1. Cool stuff! Curious about the new track. And about the Cumulus plug-in also, had CM170 in my hands today but since there are issues with the 64bit tarball I’ll have to wait a month.
    Steadily progressing with the remix too. I’d like to finish it before I start with my new job, before I move along too.


  2. I can’t wait to hear more of that remix ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you can find the time you need to work on it.

    Cumulus is definitely a lot of fun — I’ll be curious what you come up with using it once you get a working copy! Was Computer Music easy enough for you to find where you are? It’s quite common in newsagents here in Australia, so I didn’t think it would be too hard for most people to find, but I’ve already had a few people ask where they could find it. Thanks for letting me know about the issues with the 64-bit version in issue 170, too — I’ll be sure to mention that to everyone that asks me about it.

  3. No problem, Peter — I really can’t recommend that book highly enough. The author, Mike Senior, is also responsible for the excellent “Mix Rescue” article sin Sound on Sound magazine, which I’ve been reading for quite some time. He does use Windows, and a bunch of VST plugins that we have no access to of course, but unless he’s discussing something very specific he always talks in generalities; if he’s talking about EQ or compression, for instance, he gives all the settings you need to reproduce the same effect yourself on whatever plugins you may have, while taking the time to explain the reasoning behind his decisions.

    The site that accompanies the book is an excellent resource, too, even if you don’t have the book:

    Among other things, it contains a wealth of raw multitrack recordings of music tracks, which you can download and mix yourself to practice the skills he teaches.

  4. I’ll find time. I’m working on it during commuting and the scarce spare time I have during the evenings. I’m having quite a hard time finding the right sounds and then there are the transitions, creating original transitions is tough I think.
    Computer Magazine is very easy to find here in the Netherlands, just like the other Music Radar mags (like Total Guitar). I’m very curious about the Cumulus plug-in, I’m lacking something like that in my collection, a glitchy plug-in with a built-in sequencer, basically a Smasher ( like plug-in. More on the 64bit tarball issue here:


  5. Being able to make use of your commute time is handy ๐Ÿ™‚

    Cumulus is definitely a bit like Smasher, though having it available as a plugin definitely makes it much more convenient, as does the fact that it all runs in realtime. I had a lot of fun using it to mess up my drum loop, and had even more fun automating other effects (mainly Decimator) over the top of it.

  6. Pingback: new track: texel | woo, tangent

  7. Hmm, that’s a good question actually — I haven’t used its internal sequencer much. What happens with Qtractor exactly? You start the transport via JACK transport, but Cumulus doesn’t start?

  8. No, Cumulus doesn’t start. But that’s now on the the To Do list of the Loomer dev(s). How did you use it actually? And you probably used it on a 32bits system right? And what happens with Qtractor is that it doesn’t like the plug-in and starts acting weird after a while when the plug-in is active.

  9. I played with the internal sequencer in Cumulus a little bit, but in the end I decided to disable it and sequence it via MIDI instead — I think it maps each of its coloured regions to the white keys between C3 and B3, and B2 is mapped as a “stop” key to immediately stop the playing whatever region is currently playing.

    Originally I was using it as a stand-alone JACK synth, sending it MIDI from a MIDI track in Ardour 3, and then returning the audio in to an Ardour bus for mixing and further processing. Once Ardour got VST support, though, I tried loading the plugin in to that existing MIDI track, and it worked just as expected — I didn’t run in to any trouble with it.

    I’m on a 64-bit system, but Ardour 3 has the updated Vestige headers that add 64-bit support (which Qtractor also received in the 0.5.1 release).

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