Show Report: Howard Jones & Duncan Sheik at the Boulton Centre for the Performing Arts, NY 10/22/2010

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Last Friday I attended Howard Jones concert at the Boulton Center or the Performing Arts in New York. Here are a notes from the show.

Duncan Sheik
imageDuncan Sheik was the opening act. He sang and played his own accompaniment on acoustic guitar with some stories in between. Note – Duncan collaborated on Howard’s song, Someone You Need, and performed joined Howard's 25th Anniversary concert at the indigO2. Of course I enjoyed the hit “Barley Breathing”, my favorite song was “The Tale of Solomon Snell” off of his latest album Whisper House. It was  was quite fitting for the Halloween season. Sheik’s acoustic set offered an excellent contrast and complimented Howard’s show well.

Howard Jones1st song

Howard performed in an Electric 3 piece band configuration with Robbie Bronnimann playing keys, doing live arrangements and sequence playback, and live mixing with Ableton Live; and Jonathan Atkinson on electronic drums.

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The set list was an excellent mix of classic Howard Jones songs with newer songs from recent albums Revolution of the Heart and Ordinary Heroes mixed in.

One thing I really liked about this show was that although a lot of the songs were from Howard’s classic catalog, the show was not a “nostalgia act”. The arrangements were fresh and the performances were tight and had a vitality to them you could really feel.

Having Robbie doing the heavy lifting with Ableton Live and live mixing imagefreed up Howard up to focus on singing, playing and interacting with the crowd. It’s clear Howard is a seasoned artist who continues to take performance seriously and really connects with the audience. Jonathan Atkinson’s drumming also brought a human groove and interesting visual element to the performance.

My favorite song of the night was “Equality”. It started off with Robbie doing a real-time jam with all sorts of beat slicing using Novation Launchpad.

Later in the show, Duncan Sheik came back on stage and he and Howard did a version of Tears for Fears “Shout”.image

Taking a Bow

Live Rig Notes
imageAfter the show I got to meet and talk with Robbie Bronnimann about the show. He’s using Ableton Live running on a Mac with a Novation Remote SL MK II which he uses to play keyboard parts. He also uses the Remote SL as a controller for Live devices. He is using two Novation Launchpads to control mix, launch clips and scenes, and to control devices.

The entire rig is mounted on a custom tube system which is strapped to a V-Stand and can be packed into a flight case. Speaking of this, he mentioned that this is the only rig the entire band transport. Howard’s Fantom G8 and Jonathan’s drum kit – I believe it was a a Roland TD-20s V-Pro™ Series – are provided locally. So they show up and load their sounds prior to the show. Now that’ s a small carbon footprint.

Howard played all his parts from the Fantom G8. Patches either sounded either spot on from album versions, or where updated and freshened up but still worked very well.

Meet and Greet
Both Howard Jones and Duncan Sheik took time out after the show to do a meet and great for all attendees at the lounge at the back of the theatre which was really cool for the fans. After talking with Robbie, I did manage to get up there and was last in line and briefly met both Howard and Duncan who graciously signed my 25th Anniversary concert at the indigO2 DVD :^).

Great Show!
What a great night. The music and performances were fantastic and the crowd was really into it and often sang along. While this was the last show of this short American tour, I recommend you visit http://howardjones.com/touring.html to stay informed about upcoming shows.

Links

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03_MarkMosher-Soundcheck-electromusic2010Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder, CO
www.ModulateThis.com
www.MarkMosherMusic.com

My Studio Setup: 1 Laptop/3 Configurations + Akai APC40 Eye Candy

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Revised 7-3-2009, changes are in red.

For over two years I've been completely laptop based and loving it. Here are some notes on the three configurations I run with my latpop.

First, I'm running an HP DV6500T running Vista, Ableton Live 8 Suite, and various vsts (Alchemy,Sylenth1,NI
Massive/Absynth 4,Gladiator 2,Dimension Pro, Morphine…)

I run in one of the following states:

1 – Laptop Only – Laptop alone with Ableton Live +  VSTs. I use the qwerty keyboard and touch pad and do composition and sound-design on the go (or from the couch).

2 – Laptop + Korg Nano – Sometimes I want more control or want to user velocity sensitive keys when I'm on the go. I then add a Korg nanoKey or nanoKontrol to config #1.

3 – Laptop Docked – Last year, my awesome wife and kids re-vamped my studio space as a birthday gift. Besides painting and swanky new furniture, they created stand to hold all my gear by cleverly using the old Ultimate Support Apex column I used to gig with and attached two permanent shelves (painted black and attached with brackets). Shelves are  15 3/4"x 47 3/4" and I believe were from home depot. The footprint for this rig is 26" wide from the wall to the outside edge of the bottom shelf, and 47 3/4" wide. Underneath all this is a dock with tons of USB ports that all the gear plugs in to. The laptop is sitting on a mesh filing box turned upside-down that I picked up from Target (see last picture in post). This setup is pictured below. All I have to do is plug the laptop into the doc and the following comes online:

  • HP Notebook Quickdock
  • External Monitor – Samsung SyncMaster 930b
  • Novation Nio USB sound card
  • M-Audio Studiophile SP-5B reference monitors
  • Bamboo Touch Pad
  • Wireless Logitech diNovo Edge keyboard with built-in touch pad
  • Akai APC40
  • Novation Remote SL 25
  • M-Audio Trigger Finger (Still lovin it after all these years. After touch on drum pads and seamless integration with Ableton drum racks are great).
  • Rode NT-1A on an a broadcaster's boom which is fed into Behringer UB802 Eurorack which is routed to the Nio. I mostly use this for voice overs, recording voice related samples, and vocoding. I also record video tutorials through this mic.
  • Sometimes a Korg TR via USB is added to the mix when I want that "triton" sound or want to play a controller with more keys on it.

For me this strategy is simple, elegant, has a small footprint yet is extremely powerful and flexible. With Ableton Live and VSTs accessible in every configuration I can jump in and out of projects in any configuration. I find the combination of the APC40, Remote SL and Trigger Finger to be perfect for just about everything I do.

The APC40 has made this a dream setup really and has almost completely eliminated mousing for me. I'll close with a few photos of the APC40  in my studio setup.

Just a fun shot in a dark room.

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The  APC40, Remote SL 25, and a Trigger Finger fit perfectly on the bottom tier.

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Using the APC40 as a Lite Brite – "M" plus pretty colors :^).

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Picture of laptop docked.
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Mark Mosher
http://www.modulatethis.com
http://www.markmoshermusic.com
http://www.twitter.com/markmosher

Video Tutorial: Ableton Live 8 + APC40 + Remote SL Controllerism

I’m the proud owner of the new Akai APC40. I’ve already integrated it into my workflow along with my Novation Remote SL. I’ve put together a video of how I’m using these controllers with Live 8.


Watch the video on YouTube:




This video is a step-by-step tutorial describing Ableton Live 8’s new custom parameter mapping methodology. The video illustrates how to map select parameters from VST plug-ins into devices and then control these parameters via the Novation Remote SL and the new Akai APC40. The video also discusses how to add and access more than 8 parameters. Lastly, the video covers use of instrument racks and macro controls to map parameters from multiple devices to an 8 knob group.


Stay tuned for more posts on controllerism and the Akai APC40.


Mark Mosher
http://www.modulatethis.com
http://www.markmoshermusic.com
http://www.twitter.com/markmosher


Novation Automap 3 Pro Unboxing and Time Saving Installation Notes

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I blogged earlier about the release of Novation’s Automap 3.

I just purchased the Pro edition and thought I’d share my notes on the install. Ok, it’s all software, but the term Unboxing still seems to fit. I took some wrong turns along the way so I hope these notes will save you some time. I highlight my mistakes in red and recoveries in green.

First off, I’m running Windows Vista, Ableton Live 7, and use a Novation Remote SL running at 4.1.09 as my controller.

  1. I purchased online here http://www.focusrite-estore.com/novation/software/automap_30_pro/. I was sent a confirmation email with a download link and a serial number.
  2. I downloaded the software and ran the installer. Usual splash screens and such. Installation ended without talking to my Remote SL. The background app ran and prompted me to verify which VSTs I wanted to wrap with Automap. I clicked ok and it settled into the tray. That was it.
  3. At this point I thought it was odd that my Remote SL didn’t get updated. I went to the download are on Novation Music and it pointed me back to the Automap 3 installer. Hmmm. I thought I missed something at this point so I reinstalled. Steps were the same.
  4. Well, at this point I figured perhaps it might just work with 4.1.09 so I fired up Ableton Live. This was was the step Novation was expecting me to take. Automap’s HUI popped up indicating I was running Automap 3 standard and started talking to my Remote SL and it automatically detected my controller and determined I need an update :^). It then took me through a series of “wizard” screen walking me through the update. Very clear step-by-step wizard – nicely done Novation. I've shown most screens below (click images to see larger version).
     
    2-14-2009 12-38-44 PM 2-14-2009 12-40-53 PM 2-14-2009 12-41-42 PM

    After installing this update, my Remote SL is at version 4.1.12.

  5. 2-14-2009 12-42-41 PM
    I was then presented with a screen that had an button to “Get Automap Pro!”. I clicked it and was presented with “Offline Activation” and “Install License”. I chose “Install License” since I bought online. Wrong.  This popped up a file explorer dialog clearly indicating it wanted me to select a key file on and I didn’t have one. I chose “Offline Activation” which took me to a web page where I could enter the code mentioned in Step 1.
    2-14-2009 12-45-49 PM

  6. I was then taken to an activation page where I was able to download the file needed in Step 5. Note that according to this screen shot you only get 4 activations. I'm going to email support to ask what happens if you need another activation. Look in comments of this post for more info.
    2-14-2009 12-47-13 PM 
  7. I chose “Install License” and pointed at the key file (which I stored in my vst folder so I would not accidently delete it).

 

At this point I was running Automap 3 Pro :^). So, barring a few hiccups it went rather smoothly. My feedback to Novation is that they might want to mention that the firmware update will occur with a splash screen in the 1st installer so I would not have wasted time hunting. Also, the confirmation email should have explained activation so I did not waste time in step 5.

2-14-2009 12-49-12 PM

I’ll report out on features in a future post.

Mark Mosher
www.markmoshermusic.com
www.modulatethis.com
www.twitter.com/markmosher