At about 9pm last night, we spontaneously decided to drive up to Avalon, Hollywood to catch Hybrid. It was absolutely worth it, and then some.
The entire set by Hybrid was virtually perfection. The bass had to be hitting a 5 on the richter scale, literally. There were moments when you would physically feel sick from the bass, but you’d stay on the dance floor anyway because it was just too awesome.
Probably the only set I’ve witnessed that could compete with the first 30 minutes of Hybrid’s set is a performance by John 00′ Flemming at a rave last year. It’s pretty much physically impossible to not dance. I think the floor actually vibrates you into dancing against your will if you attempt to resist
We got home around 5:30am, and I was still awake enough to put together an interesting tweaking experiment. Hard to describe *exactly* what I was experimenting with, but it was basically piping multiple tracks to a 3rd channel, and applying EQ sweeps and delay FX, along with tweaks on the Xone’s HPF/LPF.
I cut the recording off shortly after the first completed transition, as it was certainly sleepy time!
Discovered a powerful heuristic for track selection which helps you to find track combinations that “work” very well together. “Mixing in key” is a fairly popular method for track selection. Basically you want to find tracks that are “compatible” in a musical way. I’ve found that following the circle of fifths either clockwise or counterclockwise, always skipping 3, leads to some really astonishing results.
Here’s an experiment, using counter-clockwise circle of fifths traversal on the song keys. Note that some tracks end in a different key than they start, so you always have to take that into account.
I have recorded a new mix, using the Xone:3D mixer and Ableton Live software. This particular mix has lots of bass, so be sure to enjoy it on a speaker system with nice quality subs if you have one available. A good car stereo system, home theater , or set of high quality headphones will do the trick 🙂
For anybody interested in technical details … I utilized something called Harmonic Mixing a lot in this mix. Basically that means taking the musical key of each track into consideration when creating transitions and selecting loops. Just like combining different keys on a piano will make different chords, combining loops in a similar fashion makes for a much more coherent mix.
I’m really just scratching the surface of harmonic mixing, but the results in my mind are pretty clearly an improvement. When mixing without regard for musical key, instruments tend to clash in subtle ways. Being conscious of the keys of your tracks, and choosing them carefully, is a very valuable heuristic for making a smoother mix.
As I am becoming more and more comfortable with my new Xone:3D hardware, I am learning a variety of fun tricks.
The hallmark of a great DJ is the ability to take a track and make it his (or hers). A technique that really piqued my interest, at a recent rave (EDC), is the layering of the same track twice, offset by a few beats or bars.
John “00” Flemming completely blew me away with a set at EDC 2007 using this technique. He was playing some great psyc-trance rhythms with delicious dirty bass, and using the multi-track technique to tease on each drop. I have been recently experimenting with similar techniques.
Here is a recording of this type of technique that I made using Ableton Live and my Xone:3D. The first dramatic drop is done by duplicating the track, offset, applying a High Pass Filter (HPF) to the currently playing track, along with a “ping-pong” Ableton filter, and then sliding in the 2nd track when the bass drops. The result is a climax which leaves behind some mids and highs which are then manipulated as the track progresses. Later in this example, the two tracks are faded in and out, which is another funky effect.
The sloshing highs through the middle of this example, before the track fading, is not part of the source track and is done using only the HPF on the remainder of the HPF+ping-pong effect.
This is my first live recording of a mix on my Xone:3D. This mix is intentionally very short for two reasons:
1. It is bite-sized! Sometimes you want to check out a mix, but you don’t have an hour or two to dedicate to listening.
2. I’m still pretty new with my Xone:3D, so the shorter the mix is, the less likely I will screw up the mix 🙂
So this is a pretty good showcase of basic mixing on a Xone:3D. The transitions are done primarily using the EQ and High Pass Filters (HPF). The Xone filters have an amazing clean sound, and since sliding the HPF on slowly filters out the bassline, it is a great transition tool when switching up a bassline.
My new Xone:3D equipment arrived on Friday. Since then I have been spending a fair amount of my free time obsessing over it, learning all the features, and getting all the components properly pieced together.
The Xone:3D comes with custom face-plates specifically for Ableton Live (which is my DJ tool of choice). There is also a template available for download on the Allen & Heath web site. This template sets up all the configurations for a really great integration with Ableton Live.
The biggest difficulty I have had so far is the lack of Vista 64-bit drivers. Actually, I was unable to get the drivers loaded even on my Vista 32-bit laptop. So, for now, I am actually DJ’ing over remote desktop…as bizarre as that seems.
Current, I have 3 Ableton tracks mapped to 3 mixer inputs on the Xone 3D. From here I can use all the powerful A&H mixing and MIDI controls to manipulate the sounds in whatever ways I’d like. Later I will post some videos of mixer tricks I have figured out.
I then use ASIO4ALL and Ableton Live to wire the Xone 3D’s sound card output (Mix Output) to the sound output of a small USB sound card on my PC which is running over remote desktop. This allows me to hear and record the output of the mixer without having to use special hardware. In a gig scenario, this would instead pipe directly to the house stereo.
So I gotta say I really love this new setup and I can’t wait to see all the things that can be done with it. I will be posting more about this new equipment as I get more familiar with it.