How to make Reaktor Knobs Automatable in Ableton Live

So the target demographic for this post is the intersection of three sets:

  • Ableton Live Users
  • Reaktor Users
  • People wonky enough to try and automate VST plugins with envelopes.

Still with me? OK.

I was contacted by an Internet acquaintance because he wanted to use the Reaktor Effect that emulates the Roland RE201 Space Echo, and he wanted to automate it with envelopes.  There are two places you can do this — In the ‘Session View’ on a per-clip basis, and in the ‘Arrangement View’ on a per-track basis.

The way you do this, in both cases is by selecting the plugin instance  from a pull down menu of Automatable Things, and then select the parameter to automate from a separate pull down menu just below the first.  In the case of the ‘Session View’ there’s a first step — select a clip, then on the far left hand side of its properties, click on the little ‘E’ in the bottom row.

In this case, all the parameters of the RE201 were just invisible.  I asked about it on the NI Reaktor Forum, and got this answer.

So I wrote back to my friend with this advice, which may stand you in good stead should you ever get into this sticky situation:

Live before rev 8 only recognizes the first 128 automation parameters.  The parameters (i.e. changeable knobs and controls) each has an ID that’s unique per instrument.  These IDs get assigned as an ensemble is created, and if you delete a control, the ID isn’t re-used.

When it comes to Automation, the parameters are exposed by the standard VST mechanism, with each Reaktor parameter being the Base ID for the instrument, plus the ID of the control.

In the case of RE201, the base parameter was 500-something, so all controls were invisible to Ableton Live.

If you look in the Reaktor Instrument Properties, click on the control routing tab. (the two little boxes with an arrow between them).

At the bottom, there’s an ‘Automation’ section.  Do two things:

Pull down the ‘IDS’ menu, and select ‘Instrument Up’ until the base ID is zero. Then pull down the ‘IDS’ menu again and select ‘Sort and Compress IDs’

This will make all of the controls in the RE201 visible in Live. Honest to God.


My personal health update

I only post this because there are a few people who actually care and it’s easier than contacting them individually…

First: I feel fine. My elbow is fully healed and in fact seems to work better than the un-operated-on left elbow.

Second: I’ve started working with a trainer as part of a University-Sponsored Wellness program. I’ve only ‘been to the gym’ 3 times so far but it’s not as painful or annoying as I once imagined it to be. It seems to have had an instant, marked effect in improving my blood sugars.

Since I should lose (conservatively) about 20% of my body weight, this is going to be a long haul, but I’m going to give it a shot. The idea of a crippling and possibly fatal disease concentrates the mind…

Po’Girl with an embarrassment of riches

Just got back from the Po’Girl show, and hoo boy… not only are they adorable, everything about their performance was perfect — their voices, their playing,  their supporting act JT & the Clouds, members of which joined them on several numbers.

If you have any interest in really good acoustic music, they’re on tour now, and you will not be disappointed.

Po’ Girl — they’re swinging through Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas — they’ll be playing SXSW if you’re going to be there, then Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and then in Europe. They’re playing Bridport Dorset in the UK, for crying out loud.

U2 Who Knew?

I’ve never been a big U2 fan. I think I bought “The Unforgettable Fire” and never really went back to them. Along the way there have been a number of their songs that I liked a lot, but being U2, it was unnecessary to actually acquire a personal copy. Their music is on the radio and ‘in the air’ enough that actually owning it seems redundant. Plus, when it comes to music I’m always away from the big campfire poking around under the bushes, looking for interesting and odd things.

But U2’s performance on David Letterman last night pretty much blew me away. I don’t even know the song — it’s one from the new album. But several things struck me about the performance:

The band is supernaturally tight, and it only takes 3 of them to generate an arena-sized sound.  I know the new album has a lot of Eno’s mutters and burbles from what I read in the Times the other day, but these guys could cut an album in a day, just playing live, and I think it would be just as good.

Bono, when I hear recordings, kind of leaves me cold as a singer.  He’s always a bit over the top, in an almost Elton John way, only with a much better singing voice than Elton John.  There’s something too ingratiating and eager to please in his delivery.  But seeing him do what he does in front of an audience it all makes sense.  Put him in front of an audience and he’s several things at once — carnival barker,  ridiculous go go dancer, rock and roll singer, and regular bloke just chuffed to be there. As an aside, I’ve seen Coldplay on TV a few times recently, and I realize now that Chris Martin’s hyperactive contortionist shtick he got straight from Bono, but on Martin it looks awkward and self-conscious.

And the audience was as interesting to watch as the band in this context.  The first 2 thirds of the song, the collection of random out-of-towners and college students stayed in their seats and enjoyed the show pretty much as though they were watching it on television. But the last third of the song, after Bono got right in their faces and commanded  them to stand, they were all on their feet clapping and cheering, almost as loud as the band itself.  In the course of five minutes U2 owned the joint like they’d already paid off the mortgage.

The fact that I got this all from watching it on television really says something.  After a lifetime (Almost 30 years, dude — their first album was all over college radio when I was in college in 1980) of listening to U2 with an attitude of indifference, I get it now.  I still will get more excited on a day to day basis about Omar S and Fennesz and Burial and Melt Banana, but as far as I’m concerned U2 has nothing to prove to me any more.  They’re a great band long after most of the performers in their cohort are dead or bitter overweight night watchmen, and perhaps the best live performers currently working.  Basically it’s U2, Prince and Bruce Springsteen, and everyone else a distant second.

My Day Of Living Dangerously

Yesterday I noticed two things: google searches were getting hijacked, and I couldn’t run certain programs, particularly cmd.exe and regedit.exe.

I always think that I can beat those fucking viruses and trojans, but 5 hours spent hammering on the problem with a multitude of programs, and a lot of google searching convinced me I needed to re-install Windows.

Luckily I had an unused SATA drive laying around, so I 1) Made a Slipstreamed SP3 Disk with motherboard and SATA drivers, fiddled around in the BIOS to get the new disk at the head of the boot order, and we’re off to the races.

What is gradually dawning on me is that when you have to install Cubase, Live, Wavelab, Reaktor, Pro-53, Kontakt3, FM8, Battery 3, Pluggo, Hipno, and a bazillion other things, it takes for-fucking-ever.

The upside will be having a much less garbaged-up windows installation on a much faster boot disk. And NLite is great; I didn’t get very fancy, but you can make a bootable Windows disk with every device driver necessary to make your system run, configure it to do an unattended install, remove components you don’t need from Windows, etc, etc, etc. And you don’t have to be a computer genius to use it. If you can figure out downloading drivers and unpacking them, you can use NLite. For people who support Windows PCs, it would be a godsend — you could make a disk image that has all the drivers you’ll ever need that will do unattended installs complete with network configuration and user management.

I don’t know if I can blame this on Microsoft, because according to what I’ve gathered in poking around on forums, you get this particular infection either from a Java or Adobe Acrobat exploit. It seems like Computer virii and worms are co-evolving with the software meant to control them, just like their biological counterparts.

And it was just my luck I see m to have picked up a new virus that none of the virus scanners can find and fix… or rootkit. Or whatever.

Right now I’m running the Kontakt 3 install, a deep virus scan, and Windows Update. The fun never ends….

Jumping on the Dubstep Bandwagon, 5 Years Late….

I don’t claim to be an expert on Dubstep. I’m not British for one thing, and my taste runs to stuff that really isn’t in the clubbing Dubstep comfort zone. What I like about Dubstep is its heritage twice or thrice removed from Jamaican Dub, its re-purposing of the 2 step shuffle from UK Garage, the deep bass, and most of all, the way certain producers go their own way when the big bucks are in cranking up with the next wobbly bass stepper.

Most of these are tracks I’ve acquired (by paying for them, funnily enough) along with a few oddities, like the Random Trio track, which turned up in odd corners of the internet. I’m sure I’m doing it all wrong, with respect to real Dubstep DJs, and I’m sure my track choice is probably way too obvious to some. But it’s something I enjoyed spending a few hours lashing together, and it’s meant to be an example of the form for an article I’m planning to write…

Direct Link For Download

RECORDING TECHNIQUE: Ableton Live, sequenced live with a MIDI controller. 43 minutes 33 seconds. I did edit the last mix after I was done, but everything else is just fingers in motion.

Track Listing

1. Martin – Vancouver (2562s Pour Natuur Mix)
2. Random Trio – Marachi Kinky
3. Scuba – Twista
4. Plastician – Unhappy Shopper
5. Vex’d – Ghost
6. Mark One – Doomed
7. Skream – Bahl Fwd
8. 2562 – Greyscale
9. Burial – U Hurt Me
10. Scuba – Timba
11. Kode 9 & Space Ape – 9 Samurai
12. Burial – Archangel
13. Martyn – Virgo

How hard to add backround to header in WP Blog?

I am having to learn all sorts of things I should have learned long ago, like PHP, CSS etc in order to mess around with the appearance of this blog. One thing I’d like to do is be able to modify the appearence of the header of the blog. In particular, I’d like to put a background image in the header.

This leads me into a maze of twisty PHP+CSS, and I am not afraid to admit I don’t know how this is done. There’s a headerimg entry in the style sheet, there’s a header.php file as part of the theme, but … but …

Help a brother out?

Pluggo granular hijinks

You know that sort of minimal techno track that has some sort of crazy messy shit that mutters along in the background? Now you can have you some.

Pluggo Noise

I don’t recall exactly what pluggos I used to make this, but the original sound is a 808-ish drum loop.

Find the lawyers something useful to do..

The following boilerplate text gets appended against my will to all of my e-mails from my work account. It’s their servers, and I work for them, and any work-related e-mail I send is a priori their business. But…. as part of my job, I send a lot of e-mail that goes to public mailing lists, and the boilerplate gets replicated over and over again in mailing list archives.

I wonder if the lawyers that come up with this stuff can name one time where someone sued and won at trial because of an E-mail sent from a company address. I admit when it comes to the law, anything’s possible, but this looks like a solution looking for a problem.

Not only that, if you read this specific statement, it appears that they’re trying to avoid getting sued over violation of patient privacy. It is a ‘piggies already out of the barn’ thing; basically it asks anyone who gets an e-mail they shouldn’t have gotten not to propagate it. But once such an e-mail has been sent, the infraction has happened, and the recipient is not the infractor, the sender is. The ‘paragraph 2521’ prohibits interception of messages, whereas this statement seems to say ‘if you get this and you’re not supposed to, you’re breaking the law if you don’t just delete it.’ I’m not sure 2521 is even applicable.

Furthermore the University of Iowa is not making ANY distinction between people involved in patient care, and people, like me, who have nothing to do with patients or their privacy. It’s no surprise that I get this blah blah attached to my e-mails, considering the hundreds of e-mails I get as part of hospital-wide broadcasts that have nothing to do with me or my job.

Notice: This UI Health Care e-mail (including attachments) is covered by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. 2510-2521, is confidential and may be legally privileged. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any retention, dissemination, distribution, or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. Please reply to the sender that you have received the message in error, then delete it. Thank you.

Pluggo gratification

Well it took 4 days, but my shiny new Pluggo is authorized. In honor of this I put together a sort of fake techno jam:
Pluggo Test

All sounds are from Pluggo Instruments — Analog Drums, Analog Percussion, Deep Bass, Additive Heaven. Pluggo FX are Feeback Network and Chamberverb. Other than that I used a limiter on the channel playing the Feedback Network.

Of course, Pluggo is wacky, and one unusual wackiness is that the instruments can stumble rhythmically. You can hear this happening at 1:16…

I can see why a lot of people don’t think very highly of Pluggo; compared to a lot of other plugins they’re kind of difficult to control and they can sound really raw, even ugly. Of course those are the things I like about them. They’re a nice compromise between the
low level monkeying you have to do with Reaktor or Max, and the limited sonic possibilities of more straightforward plugins.

Oh and ‘Pluggo’ is also, apparently, the manufacturer of of machines that put the rubber caps on sterile blood sample vials.


Dragged kicking and screaming into the future…

So now not only does posting here crosspost to LiveJournal, it posts a link to Twitter.

Not a big fan of Twitter actually, though it seems like a lot of people are following me on Twitter, so this feels inevitable. I’m not interested in posting Tweets directly, and honestly I hate the term ‘Tweet.’

Silly thought of the day…

One of my friends was talking about having to have fillings done in the Czech Republic removed and replaced, and said something about “Ghetto Czech Dentistry.”

I immediately thought of GhettoTech music, as championed by DJ Assault and DJ Godfather. What would ‘GhettoCzech’ be? Polkas with pornographic lyrics?

Come to think of it, polka music is 4/4 dance music, it would mix in great with Ghettotech.

DJ Assault & DJ Funk rockin the Accordion
DJ Assault & DJ Funk

Things to read in the Sunday Times

The New York Times has become an almost universal media punching bag for both the right and the left. But it doesn’t mean they don’t publish some of the best stories in any newspaper anywhere. I have my qualms about the paper — I think that they have never properly covered what I call vernacular art music* — if you don’t look at the Times, you’re missing out. This weekend, in the Arts section alone.

There are hours of recordings of Thelonius Monk working with arranger Hall Overton on the arrangements for his historic Town Hall concert. What could be more marvelous than that?

Renaldo Kuhler, a scientific illustrator, has spent more than 50 years creating and illustrating his own private world.

A documentary with philosophers talking philosophy, that I totally want to see. On my brother’s blog, he had a guest post from philosophy professor Jack Russell Weinstein, about his new radio show about philosophy. While I am fascinated by philosophy and philosophical questions, I have no patience for reading philosophy, so any time I’m able to hear philosophers speak in the vernacular, I love it.

*vernacular art music is any music that is outside both the commercial and academic music worlds. It comprises most popular electronic music, noise, acoustic music inspired by traditional folk, atypical rock, inspired amateurs. It’s where real people listen to real music.

Oh gratification, why are you not instant?

I decided, after getting some money on EBay, to buy Pluggo from Cycling74. Looking around I had two choices — $159 from AudioMidi or direct (and downloadable) from Cycling 74 for $199.

Since this was an impulse buy, I went with Cycling74. I paid a bit more, but I know people who work there, and sometimes you have to step up and represent, right? Plus, I thought I’d get to immediately play with it, since I was downloading.

Oops. They don’t just take your money and mail you an activation code, all automatic and computery — apparently someone at the office has to notice that you’ve paid, and then e-mail you your code. And, there’s like 4 or 5 people who work there, and no one’s in the office doing boring things like product activation on the weekend.

So I have to wait until Monday I guess to get all activated. Damn!

Testing 4 5 6 …

Testing the Livejournal cross-post plugin. If it works, you won’t have to friend the scarycrusher feed on Livejournal if you want to see my blog posts…

And if that makes no sense at all to you, as you were!

The Danse Society? Who knew?

I was browsing through some John Peel ‘Festive 50’ shows that I randomly downloaded and was captivated by a track he played in 1983 by the Danse Society.  I’d never heard of them,  but they are contemporaries of and fellow travelers with New Order, the Cure, etc

But they seem to be a missing link between a bunch of different styles — Punk, Goth, New Wave, and even U2 at their grindiest. But they seem to have their own thing going on — songs like “We’re So Happy” sounds like Blue Monday era New Order, if Ian Curtis still sang for them.

Seduction: The Society Collection – The Danse Society  at

I have been realizing for a while that there’s just too much great music in the world. I do my bit, but I can never even begin to listen to it all even once. Hell, I don’t have time to listen to all the music I already own.