Posted by midiguru on December 28, 2009
Wrote a review for Electronic Musician last month of Ableton Live 8.1 in the Max For Live incarnation. I’m not going to rehash the review here … the editors of EM wouldn’t like that. They want you to buy the magazine! But now that I’ve upgraded to a new Windows 7 computer, there’s more to the story than I knew when I wrote the review.
Specifically, Live 8.1 doesn’t seem to like Win7 at all. When I ask Live to scan the VST plug-ins folder (which is where I keep my cool 3rd-party synthesizers), Live crashes. Consistently. As a Windows 7 music program, then, Live would appear to be firmly in the doorstop category. And you won’t find that out by reading the review in EM, because I hadn’t yet acquired this computer when I was writing the review.
I’ve posted a message on the Ableton forum. Maybe there’s a quick fix, and I’ll be feeling all jolly again in an hour. Maybe.
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Posted by midiguru on October 7, 2009
Yesterday I wasted a couple of hours trying to install Native Instruments Absynth 5 on my Windows PC. I have no doubt that it’s a great instrument — and overall, I’m consistently knocked out by NI. The installer for this particular synthesizer, however, left a bit to be desired.
I told it to install on the L: drive. That’s where I install all my software now, because C: is basically full. But it insisted that it needed a bunch of space on C:. Like, 2.5 GB in order to run a 650 MB installer. Weird. So I cleaned out a bunch of stuff from folders called Temp. Still not enough space. Next, I drag-copied a bunch of stuff from Program Files over to the M: drive temporarily and erased it from C:. Now I could run the installer.
At the end of the process, I found that Absynth had installed a 1.0 GB library of samples to the C: drive, even though I had specifically told the installer at every available opportunity that I wanted to install on L:. That meant I wouldn’t have enough room to copy the stuff from Program Files back onto C:.
Regretfully, I gave up. I ran the uninstaller for Absynth. But that’s not the end of the story.
The uninstaller did not remove the 1.0 GB library. If I were a less sophisticated computer guy, that huge folder would just sit there gathering dust forever, because I wouldn’t know where to look for it. Also left on the C: drive Read the rest of this entry »
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Posted by midiguru on August 1, 2009
After wrestling with Csound for a couple of days on my PC, last night I found a way to do what I want to do. Or at least I think I did. It may be weeks before I know for sure.
Csound started life, many years ago, as a command-line program. In those days, command-line programs were state of the art: computers with mice and windows were still a laboratory curiosity. In recent years several people have built “front ends” for Csound with the idea of making it user-friendly. But of course the authors of the front-end software are unpaid volunteers. Sometimes things break. Sometimes things are released without being rigorously tested on a variety of systems. Depending on the details of your computer system, using a front end, or attempting to, may actually make your life worse rather than better.
I had sort of forgotten about blue. Blue is a very nice front end for Csound … in Windows, at least. Though it’s theoretically cross-platform, having been written for the Java Runtime Environment, in the MacOS blue is a little cranky. This is because developer Steven Yi doesn’t have a Mac to test it on. Blue is his personal composition system — he makes it publicly available as a gift to the Csound community.
So now I can get Csound to respond, in real time, to MIDI inputs from a hardware keyboard and play notes out to my Firewire interface with acceptably low latency.
The next step is to figure out what sort of music I want to make with it. This is not a simple question. Every music software system has certain biases built into it. It will encourage you to consider things that it does well, and discourage you from considering things that it does badly. The trick is to understand those strengths and weaknesses well enough to work with them, while simultaneously keeping your hand and eye firmly on matters of musical expression. If you let the software dictate the music to you, the results will almost certainly be dismal.
Posted in music, technology | Tagged: Csound, music, software | 2 Comments »
Posted by midiguru on July 23, 2009
Being at loose ends this week, I decided to take a close look at SuperCollider. I’ve spoken to musicians who love it and use it extensively. These are experimental musicians, you understand, most of them working in university environments. Even though SuperCollider is entirely free and extremely powerful, it would not be a good choice for a pop musician.
Well, let me qualify that slightly. If you’re doing electronic dance music, you want to build a library of unique sound effects that nobody else will have, and you’re already conversant with computer programming, SuperCollider might be well worth looking at. But only an extreme masochist would try to produce a pop ballad with it.
I’ve already spent a lot of time learning my way around Csound, which is also free, extremely powerful, and unlikely to appeal to anybody but programmers and the academically Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in music, technology | Tagged: music, software, technology | 2 Comments »