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  • NI Maschine and ambient music

    Recently, we had a short discussion about NI Maschine and ambient music:

    http://www.ambientonline.org/forum/s...live-set-video

    Many people, including me, were surprised, that Maschine can help even there, because most people associate drum patters and and other rhythmical stuff with it.

    I asked in a german synth forum for help and suggestions, but got only one response.

    So I went to the next store, bought one (a classical MK 2, not the new Jam) and tried to find out, what it can do on my own. In the worst case, I have to resell it. But after a few days I know: I will keep it.


    In advance, I must say, that I have absolutely no experience with groove boxes, this is a completely new world for me.


    Now I will share my first impressions here:


    The first thing is: the software is not on the Komplete DVDs, it must be downloaded separately, and including the sample libraries, this is more than 7 GB (if I remember correctly) - a thick internet cable is very helpful there.

    Then it must be registered with its serial number and after that, you'll find out, that there are 2 manuals: a reference guide (not so entertaining to read) and a 200 (!) pages getting-started-guide... :frown:

    The getting started guide consists of several chapters, I studied not all of them so far, it really requires time. But the basic operation is simple.


    In the first chapter of the guide you load a drum kit from the library. It's 16 sampled drum sounds correspond to the 16 pads. There kit also includes a drum pattern - which looks like a standard piano roll view for drum patterns. If you hit the play button, the show starts: when a drum sound ist triggered by the pattern, the corresponding pad lights up. But if Maschine is not playing, you can trigger the drum sounds by hitting the pads. This is, what most videos show.

    But what is finger drumming? Basically nothing more than triggering one-shot samples. And each sample in Maschine can be replaced - either with a factory sample or one from your own collection. So what I did first, was to replace some of the kicks and snares and hi-hats with gongs (there are countless gongs in the library), then muted the remaing drums (there is a mute and solo funktion), then slowed down Maschine to 10 BPM and hit "play". Great!!!

    One can have effect chains on the whole drum kit (like in a DAW's master channel) or on each individual sample (as long as the PC has enough free memory and CPU capacity).

    Effects like Valhalla Room integrate into Maschine - you can tweak the VST's parameters using dial buttons in Maschine. It is expectable, that NI software is integrated, but is is very nice, that 3rd party stuff does it too!

    So you can trigger up to 16 samples as you like: may it be a classic, ever repeating drum pattern or a single piano phrase as a one shot sample or a metallic rumble or the waves at the shore...


    Next, a bass line is added. In the guide, they use NI's Massive for that. I.e: VSTi integrate (NI and 3rd party things) also in Maschine, not only effects. Of course, I did not add a bass line. I loaded Absynth instead - I have a very nice sound there: a sampled metallic rumble, used as a sound source in one of it's oscillators, then filtered and waveshaped, all within Absynth. Once Absynth is loaded and the preset is selected, the 16 pads work like piano keyes, covering 16 notes. Not really helpful to play Bach, but sufficient for a pad or a non-tonal sound like the one, that I have selected. Of course, you can shift the range of the pads up or down to play high or low notes. Like you can do with a 2- or 4-octave keyoard.

    If you want to play more complex things live, you require a keyboard, and Maschine is not the tool of choice in this case.


    Maschine organizes the things mentioned so far in so called groups - one group is the drum kit, another the plugin synth. And there are 8 of them, we have used only 2 in our example.

    On a higher level, all these things are organized in "scenes" - I come from the samplitude world, I am not really familiar with this concept, but ableton users should know, what that means.


    And - what I did not try yet - you can route audio from the audio interface into Maschine to process it there using plugin efects.


    To sum it up: if you have something that repeats (may it be as slow as possible, may it be tonal sounds or atonal noises) or if you want to trigger samples - Maschine might be right for you.
    Last edited by betadecay; 02-08-2017, 06:35 AM.
    Latest Album (Sept. 2020): Tenth Region Of The Night
    Soundcloud - Bandcamp - Youtube - Essentia Mundi - Winter-Light

  • #2
    Much thanks for posting up about this..it's posts like this on Maschine which are really helpful, but seem to be far and few between. From what you've said here, it sounds like it's really worth investing in one after all..something I'm going to be giving even more serious thought to doing.

    Thanks :thumbsup:

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    • #3
      I made a little demo - I start with that, was has been a drum pattern before, then Absynth plays rattling metals, finally massive plays a string pad. No keyboards, only Maschine! Just a quick shot, not pretending to be fine art, but suitabale for demonstration purposes.

      MaschineDemo.mp3

      Edit - I forgot to mention: recorded "live" in one single take.
      Last edited by betadecay; 02-08-2017, 02:13 PM.
      Latest Album (Sept. 2020): Tenth Region Of The Night
      Soundcloud - Bandcamp - Youtube - Essentia Mundi - Winter-Light

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      • #4
        Originally posted by betadecay View Post
        I made a little demo - I start with that, was has been a drum pattern before, then Absynth plays rattling metals, finally massive plays a string pad. No keyboards, only Maschine! Just a quick shot, not pretending to be fine art, but suitabale for demonstration purposes.

        [ATTACH]1614[/ATTACH]

        Edit - I forgot to mention: recorded "live" in one single take.
        That's pretty good for a quick demo track..I take it when you say "No keyboard" you mean you obviously "finger drummed" it all using the pads..yes?

        Also. have you got around to exploring how to post-edit with this..or can you do that? I imagine you would be able to add FX and the likes easy enough and control the various settings using the knobs on the interface..never done it myself, so I'm not 100% sure..hence my asking.

        Thanks for posting up all of this and for continuing to let us know how it's working for you and how you're finding it..much appreciated. :thumbsup:

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Ambient Mechanics View Post
          That's pretty good for a quick demo track
          Well, I am not satisfied with Massive's polyphony settings: not enough voices to play all the notes in parallel.. I mean: it is really simple to extend that setting, and then it would have sounded much more pleasing. But so the sounds were stealing each others voices. So it is only a semi-professional demo track


          Originally posted by Ambient Mechanics View Post
          I take it when you say "No keyboard" you mean you obviously "finger drummed" it all using the pads..yes?
          Finger"drumming" with the pads: yes, for the rattling metal and the string sound. But no classical keyboard with black and white keys. Machine only.


          Originally posted by Ambient Mechanics View Post
          Also. have you got around to exploring how to post-edit with this..or can you do that? I imagine you would be able to add FX and the likes easy enough and control the various settings using the knobs on the interface..never done it myself, so I'm not 100% sure..hence my asking.
          Hmmm... I am just scratching at the surface, I studied roughly two of nine chapters in the getting started guide so far... What exactly do you mean with "post-edit"? As I mentioned, it is possible to route audio into Maschine to process the audio there. And I think, that maschine does not care, whether the audio was pre-existent or is played live. I think, that is exactly, what Johnny Mandrake did in his video - shown in the thread, that I mentioned in my opening post:



          He might correct me, if I am wrong.


          Anyway: thanks for the positive responses so far. Seems, that there is a certain need for sharing experiences like this. I will continue this, when I have have more to tell, but that may take a while. Perhaps someone else can take over in the meantime?

          I am planning a short live gig in march on a synth meeting, machine will play a role there (and a Bastl Intruments Kastl synth too, together with some more soft- and hardware. The concept is finished, but I have to rehearse a bit - this time I want to be prepared a bit better than the last time). If possible, I try to make a video from it and share it then. Then you can see machine in action.
          Latest Album (Sept. 2020): Tenth Region Of The Night
          Soundcloud - Bandcamp - Youtube - Essentia Mundi - Winter-Light

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          • #6

            I am planning a short live gig in march on a synth meeting, .
            Is that open to the public? If so, when and where? I spend a lot of time in Braunschweig, which, as I'm sure you know, isn't a million miles (or Km) from Hannover.
            Bandcamp / Soundcloud / Website

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            • #7
              Originally posted by YnotB View Post

              I am planning a short live gig in march on a synth meeting, .
              Is that open to the public? If so, when and where? I spend a lot of time in Braunschweig, which, as I'm sure you know, isn't a million miles (or Km) from Hannover.
              Yes, it is: https://www.sequencer.de/synthesizer...?f=17&t=119413 - as said in the opening post. It will start on friday, end on sunday - on saturday evening the participants play live (if they want to). Last year, ther were also some non-participants in the audience.

              It will happen in Wallenhorst (i.e. in the middle of nowhere ) near Osnabrück in the far west.

              Some impressions from the last year: https://www.sequencer.de/blog/nerdli...ynthmeet/25453
              Latest Album (Sept. 2020): Tenth Region Of The Night
              Soundcloud - Bandcamp - Youtube - Essentia Mundi - Winter-Light

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              • #8
                I wish I could be there. I was really impressed with the video you posted of the last live session you did there Stephan.

                https://soundcloud.com/argyre-planit...tte-2016-03-05
                >]:| ~ > Bandcamp < ~ |:| ~ > SoundCloud < ~ |:| ~ > YouTube < ~ |:[<

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                • #9
                  This is my perfomance on the "Nerdlich der Mitte", march 2017 in Wallenhorst near Osnabrück, Germany (also available on soundcloud):



                  My setup is:

                  - a laptop, running Samplitude and NI Maschine (in stand alone mode, not inside the DAW)

                  - a Sidrassi, a Bastl Kastle and a Roland JP-08, all going into a small Yamaha mixer

                  - in Samplitude I have two "instruments/tracks": one audio input (from the mixer, refined with the Valhalla Space Modulator and Valhalla Room Reverb) and one MIDI track (Absynth, played via the QX-25).

                  - Maschine and Samplitude output both goes into the Steinberg CI 2 audio interface.

                  - The Folktek Illuminsts Garden is not used here. But looks really cool!

                  To me, there was too much light in the room, that made it hard to see if a pad in Maschine is muted or not. And the PA could have been louder, I could hear many people talking. Not only the usual "I go for a beer, do you also want one?" but real conversations (that became even more annoying during someone else's performance) so I felt, that I had to play louder to make the people stop talking. What they did not do, of course. The reuslt is, that I played too much on the QX-25 - but the Absynth patch sounds better, if one takes the fingers off the keyboard from time to time. I wonder, why adult people cannot shut up for 10 or 15 minutes. Or leave the room, if they do not like the perfomance (which is likely, because many people = many different tastes: ambient, noise, techno, we had that all. Alas not available via youtube with one exception).

                  Next time, I simply raise the volume of the audio interface a bit!!

                  My performance starts not really ambient-like, the beginning is more industrial noise, but it subsequently becomes more ambient. And it could have be some minutes shorter. Someone called it "Music For The Atomic Age" - and I am afraid, that he meant it honestly - and as a compliment :biggrin:. Anyway, I like that, I will name one of my next tracks after it...

                  I asked the guy who made the video to focus on Maschine, so now I can explain in detail, what I am doing with it (and with the other instruments too):

                  00:00 - start making noise with the Sidrassi

                  00:43 - start Kastle - a nice drone Maschine if fed through some effects (some Valhalla stuff, as mentioned above)

                  02:52 - start Maschine - gongs & atmos at a very slow rate, 5 to 10 BPM (group 1 in Maschine). Then during the next minutes: slowly turning down the volume of group 1, turning up the volume of group 2 (red), which is Razor, singing slowly ahh-ahhh. I planned to do that with the microKorg, but that would have been one more Instrument to carry and occupying space on the table, so I outsourced that job to Razor. Although the microKorg choir patch sounds better...

                  3:49, 4:12 and later - triggering a sampled aluminium lid (in Absynth) via the green pads (group 4). There is a Maschine effect on this sound, which I will subsequently reduce more and more, so the metallic character of the sound becomes more prominent during the next minutes. The sound is not really tonal, so I can hit any pad without making a mistake.

                  6:00 - starting with another Absynth patch, played via the QX-25 keyboard - a little improvisation in harmonic A minor. As we all know, playing major scales is strictly prohibited, and a harmonic minor scale sounds a bit more exotic. And this one requires only one black key :whistle:. And: making drones (or playing an organ point) is easy, it requires not more than a match.

                  06:26 - Maschine group 1 is now at -15 dB or so, which means, it is nearly turned off, but there is still some rhythmic sound, but what the hell is it...? dang it, the Kastle is still running! Reducing it's volume in the mixer and finally turning it off. The choir is now clearly recognizable.

                  06:43 - bang! This is Absynth, the patch is a bit problematic. This will occur 2 more times :cantlook::frown:

                  07:54 - slowly reducing the volume of the choir. I found it bit too loud at this point. And wanted to fade it out anyway.

                  09:10 - introducing the JP-08.

                  12:03 - triggering a sound in Maschine group 3 - Bleepstreet Sunrizer, an FM sound fed through the formant filter, producing a metallic voice. Also a more atonal sound. Any pad is a good pad.

                  12:50 - still fading out the choir, slowly but steadily

                  14:10 - finished! Hurra!! :highfive:



                  And for the patient ones, who reached this point, there is a goody: the other performance from the meeting that is available on youtube. The only other one, as far as I know.

                  Last edited by betadecay; 03-25-2017, 06:03 AM. Reason: Wrote Nave, meant Sunrizer...
                  Latest Album (Sept. 2020): Tenth Region Of The Night
                  Soundcloud - Bandcamp - Youtube - Essentia Mundi - Winter-Light

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                  • #10
                    I really enjoyed that! Nice to see the Maschine in action.
                    https://ablaut.bandcamp.com/ | https://soundcloud.com/ablaut

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                    • #11
                      Sounded really good!

                      The problematic patch didn't sound all that problematic to me, the glitches seemed to fit in fine.

                      Hats off to you performing live.

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                      • #12
                        Yeah..totally agree..that sounds just fine to me. The mentioned issue didn't come across as being a problem or even unplanned..it all seemed to fit together really well. Niced work and thanks for uploading the video..much appreciated. :thumbsup:

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                        • #13
                          Thanks for all your kind comments.

                          I hope, that it is now much clearer, what Maschine can do. It is definitely far more than a finger drumming tool or an expanded TR-808.
                          Last edited by betadecay; 04-02-2017, 09:13 AM. Reason: typo...
                          Latest Album (Sept. 2020): Tenth Region Of The Night
                          Soundcloud - Bandcamp - Youtube - Essentia Mundi - Winter-Light

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                          • #14
                            Hi everyone,

                            I am new to this forum.
                            I am considering buying a Machine MK3 and while I was searching the internet for info about using NI Maschine for ambient music I found this thread (and this forum) - and became a member.
                            I was wondering, and I ask specifically betadecay (but others please join in) , since this discussion is more than a year old:
                            Did you ever finish the manual for NI Maschine?
                            Are you still using Maschine?
                            What is your opinion after more than year of use?
                            Maybe you have some special tips for ambient music makers using Maschine?

                            Thanks,
                            Hans

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                            • #15
                              Did you ever finish the manual for NI Maschine?

                              Of course not I used the "Getting Started" guide (but I stopped it somewhen) and a video course: https://www.dvd-lernkurs.de/hands-on...-download.html - which I found very useful.


                              Are you still using Maschine?

                              Yes. I must confess, that I was not very productive in the last year, but I took Maschine with me in my summer vacations and made some new tracks with it.


                              What is your opinion after more than one year of use?

                              I strictly recommend Maschine ;-)

                              Joke aside: it is a good tool for processing incoming audio (e.g. I like the internal Granular Delay effect). I recently added a Boss RC-202 Loop Station to my setup, now I can process the looped sounds (coming e.g. from my Folktek Conduit, the microphonic Soundbox or a Korg monotron duo [why is this little thingie not called "duotron"?]) in Maschine and play other instruments in parallel. But none of these tracks is on SoundCloud/Bandcamp yet... I will upload them somewhen later this year.

                              Maschine is pattern oriented, so if you worked with a time line oriented DAW like Samplitude before (as I did), you must learn to arrange your tracks in a more pattern oriented way.

                              You can play instruments live or let Maschine play them automatically via a MIDI pattern - everything is possible.

                              On the other side: Maschine is great to trigger samples - impossible in Samplitude.

                              The big advantage to me is: I can play all the Maschine tracks live - what I find extremely nice. All the tracks on my last album "Echoes From The Past" were played and recorded live in my home studio. So if I ever want to perform on stage, I am prepared.

                              Here I play live with Maschine: https://www.ambientonline.org/forum/...-iv-march-2018 - the iVCS3 from the iPad (the "toads and frogs") is fed into Maschine as well as the microKorg, the percussion and the pads are played automatically and the microKorg is played manually. In the beginning, I use it simply as a MIDI device to trigger a VSTi in Maschine, later the choir is audio from the microKorg himself. I have mapped some functions to the rotary knobs in Maschine, to control the volume of the instruments as well as some effect parameters.

                              Of course, one can use automation curves for these things, but then a live performance would be more like hitting the start button and then leave the stage for a drink and wait until it's finished. Possible, but not really live.


                              Maybe you have some special tips for ambient music makers using Maschine?

                              Yes: be careful, sooner or later you will like to use drums and other percussive things ;-)



                              Note: I do not know other similar tools (like ableton live/push or other groove boxes) - perhaps they are more useful. Maschine is close to a DAW, but ableton is far more elaborated than the Maschine software. Perhaps you should also have a look at these things.
                              Latest Album (Sept. 2020): Tenth Region Of The Night
                              Soundcloud - Bandcamp - Youtube - Essentia Mundi - Winter-Light

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