This past weekend, Mads Lindgren and I gave another two-day Maschine workshop here in Berlin. We had a great time with the participants, recording and editing sounds and then making kits and patterns and turning them into sketches and tracks. It’s the second time we approached Maschine in this way — the first time was in June — and I think all the participants agree that it was great fun and an excellent learning experience.
We started out by handing out field recorders for capturing sounds in the room, from the street, from wherever. Then, we imported the sounds into Maschine and started editing — cutting, pasting, slicing, and layering — until everybody managed to build a kit (or more) with the sounds.
Starting a Maschine workshop with a field recording session seems so logical; it’s amazing how much more you learn when you make a kick drum out of an unpretentious recording of a fist-slam on a table or even a radically downward-pitched glass ping. The Maschinists made bass and lead sounds out of microloops and put together whole textures using the sounds we recorded on Saturday morning.
Recording your own material is really a fantastic starting point for electronic music production. First of all, you really own the sounds you recorded; you can do what you want with them. That takes away the complex that many people have with factory libraries. Secondly, you really learn what the sound is made of, what makes it tick, because you really take it apart and critically listen to the different components.
Finally, you know that no one else has your sounds. Nobody has the exact same sonic palette because these are things you made yourself, from scratch. For many, this really opens up a whole new way of approaching electronic music production.
After we began building our kits from the workshop sounds, we started tweaking volume, panning, and pitch, and then finally began to layer some of the sounds with factory sounds. It’s amazing how good an 808 kick can sound on top of the clunk of a piano sounding board sampled during the Maschine workshop. On Sunday we went on to mixing techniques (the three dimensions, transparency…) and compressor types and compression techniques like: how to get punch without making mud!
A cool thing about Maschine, and something Mads demonstrated repeatedly, is how quickly a sound can be shaped, crushed, bent, and twisted into your mix, just by using the internal effects.
Although the Maschine Production Weekend workshop officially ended at 5:00 pm on Sunday evening, a number of workshop participants continued working on their projects, which were absolutely excellent. I hope to be able to upload some student work from this workshop soon. Mads and I were both impressed both by the quality and by the diversity of music that came out of a weekend of Maschinery.
As a traditional treat for the end of the workshop (along with the five-o’clock beer), Mads did a mini-set with his Maschine live setup, plugged into Ableton Live. What a virtuoso! He uses a Maschine Mikro controller along with the standard Maschine controller for his sets now, using pads for both firing events (including changing patterns) and for velocity-sensitive control of effects settings.
We are hoping to do another Maschine Production Weekend workshop in November… stay tuned!