Long time no see around here! So, I’ve been thinking out aloud about producing Dub Techno inside the box using Ableton Live 9. Ever since writing this tutorial about chords and stabs-basics I felt like there’s a lot more to cover. Eventually so much more it wouldn’t fit a simple “do this and then do that”-tutorial format. Sounds don’t happen in a vacuum either, delivering the context was my priority here.

While we’ve covered a lot of things from gain staging for dummies (like me), good noise vs bad noise, programming organic sounds that keep moving, my intention was really about the meta-schtuff…

Thinking and working ‘analog’ inside the box:

  • understanding how things work in a hardware environment
  • details and how they can move a sound from dull to interesting
  • mindfully integrating them to your digital workflow
  • an approach towards analytic thinking, or simple if you will
  • making life easier for your future self (spare yourself my mistakes)
  • how to listen to music enabling yourself for asking better questions than “which plugin is that?”…

I tried to be as brief as possible, not get too techy and lost in details which don’t matter. Let’s dive in deeper in a future session. And yes, I’ll add links to sections in the video asap.

Thank you Matt/Surreal Machines for the Dub Machines license give-away (lemic, in case you’re reading it here: get your license, contact me!)

Resources mentioned throughout the session: Airwindows tapedust, noise & totape5 (they’re available in the pack), as well as my fave music production podcast UBKhappyfuntimehour, and of course SM Modnetic/Diffuse.

Things I took away from the first live-stream:

  • boy, that’s a lot of open windows
  • levels in OBS are weird, I don’t speak mic-foo
  • structuring the session in notes helped a lot
  • water with gas in that context is stupid
  • need a safe space for bottles to leave them open
  • be more mindful about window positions vs overlay
  • I can’t be eloquent while learning to swim in a new pool

Please leave your questions, input, wishes, whatever in the comments on YouTube. I’ll create an event on the Tube again to make it easier for you to catch the next session (*cough* subscribe button).

In case you need some sets to go:


“Finishing a thing is way more important than having something that’s perfect but not finished” – Jake Parker

I can’t stress enough how important this is. Unfinished business is likely to haunt you at night. No matter if it’s a piece of music, a drawing or an idea you didn’t put on paper yet. Unfortunately it’s not as easy as “just doing it”. Especially when you’re learning something new you might be in your own way. Maybe because you’re comparing yourself with the masters of the art. Maybe because you’re afraid to be unable to achieve your goal.

And even though it might feel shitty, it’s perfectly fine. It’s part of your process. We’re mutually encased in self-doubts. It’s human (unless you’re an asshole). It’ll vanish with every step you take and every single, even the simplest project. I’ve been recently asked about my process and approach of making soundtracks for demos. The one and most important lesson there was: cutting through the pain and getting stuff done as if my life depends on it when neccessary.

See, any kind of creative output at a certain point results in work. I think there’s like 20% fun involved in exploring and capturing the idea before it becomes work. If you feel like throwing the damn thing into a corner, tackle your reasons. Does your frustration tolerance needs a level-up? What keeps you from being satisfied with the result? Are you even fair with yourself? Do you expect to achieve the result of someone who mastered his discipline already?

If that’s the case: it’s likely that the person you admire has been there as well. It’s possible that the person you admire is still getting there as well from time to time. You just don’t get to witness the process. Let me assure you: The struggle is equal for everyone creating things. It needs management and learning to deal with it.

How many perfectionists do you need to change a lightbulb? …

I first encountered this one on Austrias FM4radio (which I urge you to check out!) and it instantly stuck with me. Not much to say left. Except wow – what this now Manchester based guy tossed together is crazy good in every aspect. Is that trap music? Great video as well!

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I miss the 3Lux & X-Mix series by Studio K7 — when tailor fitting visuals for DJ sets was a fresh thing. The quality of the visuals compared to todays standards was quite meh. But they showcased what’s possible with technology back then, emerging from the Techno subculture.

Sullivan Murrays “Berghain Dreams” mix hits that sweet spot like a boss. Unlike the X-Mix series it’s based on video footage, not CGI. Caleidoscopic imagery derived from a car trip around industrial Berlin well synced to the music. With a lot of attention to details. Blinking lights heaven. PS: the mix is dope, too.

CV4LIVE by Skinnerbox let’s you gain control over Ableton Live functions from your Eurorack synthesizer. Without any additional hardware. I always dreamed about getting the complex, hands-on envelopes from my modular to control parameters in Live. Problem solved in a pretty genius way:

Most audio devices come with a DC filter that filters nasty artifacts from a signal. Unfortunately the low currents of CV is one of them. Skinnerbox bypasses the issue by calibrating min and max values in Ableton Live to the pitch of a VCO in a modular system. Should also work fine with your Microbrute, Moog Mother 32 or whatever synthesizer you’ve got in your arsenal. Once you modulate the VCO with envelopes, LFOs or whatever in your modular things start to get interesting. There is a lot of creative potential. What Skinnerbox show in the video is mouth watering: for the demo video they setup multiple devices to control the sample start point of a Simpler instance and the offset by CV. Wonder how well it responds to very fast LFOs. Only one way to find that out…

CV4LIVE comes with two devices:

  • one for mapping fake CV to any mappable destination in Ableton Live (nasty!)
  • one for syncing Ableton Lives tempo to your modular

If that isn’t enough already – it’s available for free :) Thank you very much for your efforts, Skinnerbox!

Quick test with two Quadra envelopes and a LFO mapped to Abletons Auto Filter: