Computer Music Also Does Free/Alchemy and SFZ

 Music, Technology  Comments Off on Computer Music Also Does Free/Alchemy and SFZ
Feb 132015

A couple of things:

One, the March issue of Computer Music Magazine is doing a huge Free VST/Sample focus, so you don’t need to speak Japanese to learn all about free VSTs. They’re doing a big tutorial on Synth1, too, which I think is worth reading if you’re interested in Synth1. It’s a pretty powerful free synth that has been around for a while.

Also, if you’re looking for the Alchemy player, CM’s crazy software bundle that comes out each month has the Alchemy Player in it. It’s not the same as the full version of Alchemy, which I love, but it’s better than nothing.

There’s a bunch of other free stuff they stick in there software-wise every month. Most of the “CM” versions are essentially demo versions of real products, with some of the juicier features removed, but you can use them all you want as they are. It’s a good way to demo products you may not even know you might need. (Or you may not need. You won’t know until you mess with them a bit.)

Two, I totally forgot that Alchemy will load SFZ format files. I just spent 20 minutes playing with the violins in SSO, creating a really neat pad in Alchemy with them. It’s dead simple to do, too, since Alchemy supports the format. Such a shame that they got bought out, and we’ll probably never see the new version of Alchemy. Good for them that they got the money, but bad for us, since Alchemy is a brilliant piece of software.

I’m kind of bummed that all of the Alchemy add-ons are unavailable now, but now I can go into my SFZ files and make my own. So it’s part loss, part win.

Lots of Free VSTs in the March DTM Magazine

 Japanese Language, Music, Technology  Comments Off on Lots of Free VSTs in the March DTM Magazine
Feb 122015

I just got my copy of DTM, a Japanese electronic music magazine, and they had a big issue this month on Free Stuff, with useful things like reviews and stats, and they were kind enough to dump a bunch of them on a DVD-ROM that comes with it.

Of course, being a Japanese electronic music magazine, you need to know the language to get the most out of it. But it’s a pretty interesting collection compared to some of the standard free VST recommendations out there. The most useful bit is the little graphic showing which plugins are 32/64 bit, and which are Mac/PC only. That’s the really useful bit for me, because I run Live in 64 bit mode exclusively. I have Reaper set in 32-bit mode, but I don’t use Reaper that much. That’s more like a “I have to record this ancient 32-bit plugin to a stem so I can work on it in Live!” kind of thing.

If you want to pick up a copy, go to Amazon Japan and search for DTM 3月2015年.

Live School

 Education, Music, Technology  Comments Off on Live School
Feb 092015

There’s a really good Intro to Ableton Live course going on right now on Coursera, taught by Erin Barra of the Berklee College of Music. It’s only three weeks long, but it’s a good way to meet a bunch of different people who are into Live, make some music, and pick up some tips.

I’ve been using it as a way to practice working with Live and Push, and as a way to create music on deadlines. That helps a lot. Having an obligation to a group inspires me for some reason, even if it’s for 4-5 people. The music is all going to be hosted on Blend via Dropbox.

And the music I am making for the class can be found on my Blend, right here.

One of the restrictions I’m putting on myself is to only use the tools in Live Suite, no outside VSTs. So far, it’s been fun. In a way, it’s freeing in that I don’t have to obsess over picking the “perfect” synth from my stupid long list of VST plugins, instead I’ll go with the instruments in Live, which are really good in their own right.

In order to get a little deeper into some of them, like Sampler and Analog, I’ve been using’s videos to go into more detail. That’s also kind of cool– using the class as a springboard for further individual study.

The assignments themselves are also fun, in that each assignment has basic minimum requirements that have to be met, like four tracks, two audio and two MIDI, and so on. The restrictions work both as minimums and as something to prod creativity.

Another nice part of the class– Ableton is letting students enrolled in the class demo Live Studio free for 30 days, and Studio usually runs in the $600 range, if I remember correctly.

Free Orchestra Sounds and Free Sample Players

 Music, Technology  Comments Off on Free Orchestra Sounds and Free Sample Players
Feb 052015

I’d love to get some of the top-shelf orchestral libraries, but I don’t really have $2,000 lying around. And I love Free Things!

So I’m going to suggest taking a look at Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra. It’s free as in free speech and free beer. The quality is good, not great, but that’s all I need at my level.

The SSO library uses the SFZ open format, and the only player I can find anymore is the free SFZ sample player at Plogue. I tried to find the Cakewalk SFZ player, but all I got were 404 errors.

Plogue also kindly assembled a bunch of free samples for the SFZ player from Garritan, Digital Sound Factory, Analog Industries, Patch Arena, and Plogue as well! And they’re free!

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