Saturday, August 31, 2013

Logic X and all that Jazz

While I've been off on my Noatikl Generative Music for the iPad tutorials, something (finally) happened on the desktop. Apple released the long expected update to Logic - Logic Pro X.

There are by now tons of video walkthroughs and reviews - summing up, its a great upgrade, unfortunately no 32 bit plugin support - new interface and features.

For me it was an easy upgrade and I am loving the program overall. My favorite musical genre is Jazz and most of my songs, if you follow them are done with MIDI controllers - indeed I don't even have a decent microphone and rarely work with audio files with the exception of mixdowns or drum loops.

Here is a piece I'm pretty pleased with that I put together on Logic Pro X:

This is a jazz piece featuring brush kit drums, Suitcase Mk IVelectric piano, electric guitar, fretless bass, Tenor sax, Trumpet and Korg M1. Semi-fusion sort of thing. I wanted to get a bouncy feel to the rhythm section first and made use of Logic X's Track Stacks and MIDI effects.

First, the drums - Logic Pro X has an incredible drummer track feature that will build beats for you in many styles - alter them based on the section of the music and let you have them automatically follow other tracks if you like - sounds perfect....except, of the many genres supported, Jazz isn't one of them!

Jazz drums usually feature rides, hihats and snares much more than kicks. I hope they add that to the Drummer track facility someday. But, for this piece, I resorted to some good sampled brush kits that I assembled into sections and fills. I don't use many loops anymore but for drums I still will at times. I used The Loop Loft's Art of the Brushes for this one.

For the rest of the rhythm section, I wanted to have the bass, piano and guitar sync'ed up and I used the track stack feature. Track stacks in Logic X let you select multiple tracks, group them and then it lets you have them all respond to the same MIDI events at once. I used this facility along with some of the MIDI effects to put together the bass, piano and guitar parts.

For the guitar, I used the MIDI Chord feature to automatically generate chords from one-note played on the keyboard. With just the Bass and guitar selected, I could play one key on the track stack and have the bass play the note "as is" and have the guitar play the corresponding chord.

Next I wanted the piano part to bounce around a bit. Here I also put the MIDI Chord effect on the piano track but after the MIDI chord, I put the MIDI arpeggiator. This took the chord as played and then "arpeggiated" it through the chord in 16th notes. I used some of the arpeggiator options to randomize the note lengths, octaves played and randomized the order of notes.

Now by selecting the track stack and playing single notes, I get bass, guitar chords and a nice bouncy piano lead. I did some tweaking and used automation to mute the piano in places and unmute it in others to have some variety.

Having that done, I went to my "usual suspects" in other MIDI tracks and created a track for Samplemodeling's SWAM Tenor Sax and SampleModeling's Kontakt based Trumpet. These I performed with the Akai EWI Wind controller and recorded the resulting MIDI.

For variety I also included the Korg Legacy M1 synth which I also played with the EWI using the Patchmanmusic M1 patches. This I included in another track stack along with the sax.

In some parts, I selected the sax only and played solo and in others (near the end) I selected the track stack to have the M1 and Sax play in unison. I LOVE the track stack feature for unison parts with trumpet/sax or other combos of instruments.

I don't think I'll ever go back to Logic 9 even with the 32 bit plugins I own. Its far too much fun working with Logic X.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Noatikl for iPad - pt. 8 Wrap-up

After all that, I'd like to summarize where and how I am using Noatikl for iPad with my own music making. I have been using Noatikl for slightly over a year on the desktop and found the iPad version very easy to work with considering I'd already gotten over most of the learning curve.

The ability to have a generative music engine in such a portable form is quite useful. I'd been using Mixtikl on the iPad for awhile and its great to have its 'big brother' there now as well.

As I've experimented, I've found the iPad version much more limited in number of tracks which is primarily due to the CPU on the iPad rather than anything else. When I try 4 different Virtual MIDI programs, my 3rd gen iPad gasps for air.

As this tutorial showed, Noatikl with Virtual MIDI works best if you can use apps that can handle multiple MIDI channels with one instance such as SampleTank.

So, where and how might you use Noatikl going forward? If you can limit your tracks to one or two host Virtual MIDI sessions, you can easily create complete pieces in Noatikl and use Audiobus to record the results. If you want to go well beyond that, I think you should consider the desktop version (roughly $50 at the time of this writing).

The desktop has the added advantage that it integrates with your DAW and will record the actual MIDI notes into the DAW and not just Audio. You can then edit the MIDI data further if you wish or replace instruments.

On the iPad, I've used Noatikl in several ways - as a complete composition tool, as a "jump start" for a hybrid song and as just a chord progression starter.

Here is a complete composition from the iPad version:

Here is a composition from the iPad with an added track played "manually" after the Noatikl (the flute is played in Thumbjam):

And just for grins, this "alliterative" piece, I used Noatikl with Addictive synth just to create some chord progressions and the rest are tracks I recorded afterwards:

I hope this gave you a good overview of Noatikl and how to use it. There are many great tutorials and videos at the Noatikl site at:

Next post I need to start getting into Logic X which I recently purchased :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Noatikl for iPad pt. 7

In the past six parts of this tutorial, we have built up a nice piece using drum voices and several melodic voices all in Sampletank. Played together, the parts harmonize and sound very good together. To add interest to the piece though, we probably want to position the parts in the stereo field, bring them in and out of the piece over time and record the final results.

You'll notice that Noatikl really doesn't have a record function. Sampletank does, sort of, but is limited to track by track recording - my advise, don't use it! The best solution is to utilize audiobus and record your piece into a DAW such as MultiTrack DAW or GarageBand. My recommendation is Multitrack DAW since it uses very little CPU but you can use any supported Audiobus target app.

Before recording, let's position the voices and set volume. Noatikl supports volume and panning for each MIDI channel. Remember, though, that we are just pumping out MIDI messages with Noatikl. It is up to the receiving app to react to the messages. Different apps have different levels of support for MIDI. The good news for us is that Sampletank supports both volume and panning MIDI messages.

In Noatikl for iPad, the Blend screen lets you set up both volume and panning by dragging each voice up or down for volume, and left or right for panning. You can see below that I've moved the voices around slightly.

One thing to note is that the volume and panning are per MIDI Channel. Remember that all of our drum voices go to channel 10. What this means, is that only the first voice (Kick) will have any effect on volume or panning. If you move the kick voice around, you will hear the changes. Any other voice on channel 10, such as the snare, will have no effect. Since all other voices are on their own channels, they will work as expected.

So now the voices are panned left and right and are the proper volume. Next we would like to have the song open with a beat and gradually bring in the other sounds. For that we will press the speaker with an 'x' button and bring up the voices - mute screen. While playing the piece in Noatikl, we can tap individual voices to mute and unmute them.


Here you should take some time practicing. Start the song playing with only the drums active and gradually unmute the parts. At the end, gradually mute the parts to exit to drums. In between, mute and unmute for variety. Once you have a plan, its time to start recording!

In Audiobus, we will set the target to be MultiTrack DAW and the source to be Sampletank. We won't be using the effects bus in this piece. You may need to set the buffer size to 512 in Audiobus using the button at the top.


For recording, we will first mute all voices except the drums. We will then switch to the Multitrack DAW app to press the record buttons. Make sure you know how to task switch in iOS! We will need to start recording, double-click the iPad button and quickly switch to the Noatikl app and press play. This will put some blank space at the start of the song but we can easily edit that out later.

As the song is playing, gradually unmute and mute parts to add variety. Remember that if you have any "following" voices in Noatikl, they will not play if the voice they follow is muted. This may take you a few tries to get right, but this is basically it! Once you have a take you like, you can eq or compress in the DAW, add a Fade in or fade out and edit as needed.

I will wrap up in the next post on where you might go next with Noatikl. I hope this tutorial helps whet your appetite!