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electronic MUSICIAN

Cool Tip Of The Month

August 1, 2002

When working with any DAW, it's important to learn how to group multiple tracks for mixing and editing. Grouping faders allows you to control the levels of several tracks at once, as you often do when mixing background vocal tracks or drum kits. You also might want to group the pan knobs for a special effect, especially when doing sound for picture, in which you might want a whole group of tracks to move through the sound field in sync.

You can create groups from Mark of the Unicorn Digital Performer's Mixing Board mini-menu. As an example, I'll group some background vocal tracks.

  1. Open the Mixing Board from the Windows menu (Shift + M).

  2. Go to the mini-menu and select Create Group (Control + N); the cursor will change to a plus (+) sign.

  3. Select or deselect the tracks you want to group. A flashing green or black box will surround the fader or knob to display selections for the group. Once you have selected all tracks for this group, hit Enter to confirm it or double-click on the last selection.

    Now adjusting one of the faders will move all faders in the group proportionally.

  4. You can temporarily separate a fader from the group by holding down the Option key and dragging the fader. That helps to adjust one part of your group submix. Once you release the Option key and grab the fader again, the group is reconstituted.

  5. To suspend or delete the group you have created, go to the mini-menu and select Suspend or Delete Group. If you'd like, you can set up a custom key command in the Commands window to open the Delete Group window. The Delete Control Group option is under Mix Commands.

For a streaming movie of this tip from the CoolSchoolOnline library, visit Also, if you dare, take the quiz to review what you've learned!
Steve Albanese

Velocity Switch Between Synths

What if you want an electric-piano sound to become a brass stab when you dig into your keys, but the brass patch is on another synth? If you have two synths with multitimbral banks and Velocity-switching capabilities, the answer is simple.

First, create a blank patch on both synths or build a patch with oscillator amplitudes set to zero. Next, create a Velocity crossfade combination on each synth that assigns the blank instrument to a restricted Velocity range. In the electric piano and brass example, assign a Velocity range of 1 to 64 to the electric piano on one instrument and a range of 65 to 127 to the blank patch. On the other synth, set the blank patch to the lower values, with the brass patch appearing at Velocity ranges from 65 to 127. Assign both combinations to receive on the same MIDI channel.

When you play the two instruments from your MIDI controller, the electric piano will appear with lighter keystrokes and the brass stab will show up with a more forceful attack. In fact, you can overlap Velocity ranges at the crossover point to create a Velocity crossfade.
Marty Cutler

Default Template in Live 1.5

Ableton Live now lets you use a template to create a new performance Set. This feature, available in version 1.5, is especially useful if you use MIDI controllers or a multiple-I/O audio interface, because you don't have to re-create your favorite setups each time.

The Set template lets you route inputs and outputs from Live's mixer to your audio interface, map MIDI messages to hardware and Session View slots, and add effects to specific tracks. To create a template, define the Set you want and save it as LiveTemplate in the Ableton Preferences folder.
Gino Robair

Processing Tom Fills

In a standard-instrumentation mix — drums, bass, guitars, and so on — kick and snare typically play from the beginning to the end of the song, giving the engineer plenty of time to solo and process the signals. Tom fills, however, are relatively short — usually just a few seconds — and may happen only once in a song. Even after setting up a loop around the fill, the engineer has precious little to work with. Furthermore, in a tape-based system, you must also wait for the machine(s) to rewind, lock up, and play again. That can be frustrating, to say the least. Those mixing on a DAW, of course, can create a longer tom-fill section — one more amenable to processing — simply by copying the fill and pasting it repeatedly into a new track. But what about those people mixing from tape-based recorders such as MDMs or analog multitracks?

Here's one solution: just before (or immediately after) recording the drum track, have the drummer play four bars or so of quarter notes on each tom at a slow tempo and record that. You can also record the drummer playing the precise fill over and over. Either way, when it comes time to focus on the toms during the mix, you can simply go to the solo-tom section of tape and do your EQ, gating, compression, or other processing with ease.
Brian Knave

Maximizing GigaStudio Performance

Tascam's GigaStudio 160 is a powerful software sampler that streams Instrument files directly from the hard drive. That allows it to employ mammoth loop-free samples but it also puts a strain on your hard drive when the polyphony count gets high.

To maximize performance and polyphony, Dave Casey at Tascam recommends that you install GigaStudio on your main hard drive, along with the system software and other applications, and reserve a second, defragmented Instrument drive for your sample libraries. GigaStudio can work more efficiently if it only has to access samples from a single optimized (defragmented) drive. Unlike program files, most GigaStudio Instruments remain unchanged during normal use, so the drive will likely stay defragmented.

However, remember not to store GigaStudio Performance data on the Instrument drive. Performance files are frequently edited and updated, and after repeated use, the Instrument drive will become fragmented, which may degrade performance during heavy use.
David Rubin

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