Going Straight: Week 2 – The Plan and The Purchase

..and so it was that having decided to rid myself and my HDD of this illegal filth I thought I’d get all James May on the task and try and go about replacing all my bits and bobs in a sensible, logical and cost effective manner.

As discussed briefly before, it looked like Reaper is going to be the way forward as far as a DAW was concerned and to that end I have set aside some PayPal balance for it to be purchased later this month after my 30 trial runs out.

I though the best way to organise my shopping list was to look at my most commonly used bits of kits and find specific replacements. I’ve been flogging stuff on eBay over the last month and had gotten together a bit under 300 quid so had a half decent budget I reckoned.

While I have nothing against freeware I had my heart set on owning a couple of ‘big brand’ bits if I could and so it was back onto eBay and checking out what second hand stuff their might be. Turns out there’s a steady flow of it if you are patient. Of course they joy of ‘second hand’ software is that (barring scratched discs and registration problems) there is nothing second hand about it! As long as you are happy with a slightly battered box (fnarr) then there really is no point in buying it brand new… is there?

I was also in a mind to buy some of the stuff from the people I had previously not given any money to. If you know what I mean. The whole ‘try before you buy’ ethos perhaps actually ringing true.

With this in mind I started my search for the first thing on my list:

Primary lead/acid and bass syth.

I have used Rob Papen’s Albino 2 and 3 on probably every track I have ever made. Simple layout, obvious controls, easy to learn and the best arpeggiator I have ever used.

Sadly there was no second hand Albino software that I found and brand new it costs a hundred quid or more and I didn’t want to spend that. What I did find on my search was an LE edition of Blue! I had tried Blue a while back and I didn’t remember it being particularly ‘lead synth’ material but that it had some great pads and really intricate and delicate stuff on it. It’s an FM synth and so not directly comparable to Albino but I like Papen’s stuff so well worth a punt at £35 (+ £6 p&p….).

Anyway having used Albino, SubBoomBass and the awesomely evil Predator for a while nowI though maybe I owed him some of my 300 squid!


So first purchased made: Rob Pappen’s Blue LE.

The LE edition looks pretty much like this but has fewer presets and also fewer editable parameters.


NEXT WEEK: Primary Lead Synth yearnings still not utterly sated.. Hardware!!


Learn To Live Vol 2: There’s More Than One Way To Rack

It’s Tutorial Thursday here on fwonk.com. Once again, I’m going to talk a bit about Ableton Live; specifically, this week’s set of tutorials is about Racks.

Ableton added the Rack concept in Live version 6, and then added the Drum Rack feature in version 7. They are, in my opinion, one of Live’s most powerful features. In the videos below I’m going to explore the basic usage of each of the three Rack types:

Drum Racks:

FX Racks: (with a quick discussion of the difference between serial processing and parallel processing):

and finally, Instrument Racks (wherein I discuss how to construct a big polysynth sound using only simplers and simple sawtooth waves):

There’s a lot more to discuss regarding Racks, so I will definitely come back to this topic in the upcoming weeks.

Other topics in the queue for Tutorial Thursday:
-the 100% legal way to get permission to post a cover version of a song online
-film scoring in Ableton Live (with some discussion of the music concepts used in developing a film score)

Let us know what you think!
Clint (Bachelor Machines)

P.S. What else would you like to know about?

Geek Box VST

Fwonk*s very own Styli has recently unveiled the fourth version of his free Geek Box VST. It’s like an LFO filter but with high frequencies used to modulate the cutoff. A lite version is included, and this does the same thing but without the sequencers.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/14660140″]

You can hear the lite version in use on the above Styli track “In Boxes With Toys”.

download (zip)

Why Creative Commons?

Why does Fwonk* use a Creative Commons license? Hell, what even is a Creative Commons license?

Simply put, Creative Commons is a licensing format that – instead of the traditional copyrighting laws – is built for the modern, web based world. All Fwonk* releases are released under what is called the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. This means that the public (i.e. anyone) is free to share, re-use and – crucially – remix the work as they see fit, provided three conditions are met.

Firstly, the original artist of the work must be given credit for writing it. Secondly, the music must not be used for commercial purposes – this ensures that CC licensed music isn’t nicked by TV/film/music executives to be the cheap-skate soundtrack to the new series of CSI: Taunton, Z-Factor, or whatever tat they are peddling. Thirdly, all resultant products – remixes, DJ mixes, short films – created using these works must also be shared for free via the internet (and preferably licensed with a Creative Commons license). Other types of license are available via Creative Commons, but we feel that this best serves the interest of Fwonk* artists and listeners.

Unlike the recent changed to Copyright law across the EU, which permits Cliff Richard to sit on his bony arse, watching the tennis and continue to make money on 69 year old records, and sue mere mortals for copyright transgressions, the use of a Creative Commons license is a spur to creativity. Do you want to take apart my carefully constructed glitchcore masterpiece and make a blasting gabba version of it? Do you want to use that melancholy piano concerto in your new short film? Feel free, as long as you give credit, make no money from it, and share it on the web.

It is this difference that has allowed musicians – many of them amateurs, or based in their bedrooms – to make music that can be heard around the world, remixed, remastered and brought to audiences in new ways. A whole network of Creative Commons sites have sprung up (see the Netaudio Index for one), including each and every Netlabel, fostering unprecedented amounts of creativity. And Fwonk* is proud to be part of that.

For more netlabel music, see our Netlabel Index.

Going Straight: Week 1 – Intervention

So stealing is easy and 99% of my three thousand pound studio is warez.

Last week this was true, this week it is not.

Gone is the (nearly) entire Native Instruments back catalogue, gone is Fabfilters entire range, gone is the lovely, lovely ‘Vintage Warmer 2’, gone is CamelPhat and CamelSpace and gone too is Sonnox’s powerful ‘Inflater’.

Perhaps most importantly though, gone is Ableton Live, the DAW I have been using exclusively for the last three or four years.

It’s probably worth me pointing out at this point that this isn’t a moral crusade that I’m trying to push. I’m not telling you WAREZ IS EVIL, purely that for me, I’m wanting to leave it behind. The main reason being that my kids are getting older and I’m thinking at some point they are gonna ask me where all this fun stuff on the PC comes from and I like to be able to tell them that I worked hard and saved for it and bought it. Not that I nicked it. I’m a lead-by-example kinda guy. But as I say, this is just me on my own personal mission, no preachy, preachy here, move along now!

Before I abandoned Live entirely I spent a week or so searching eBay for second hand copies of old versions, I was perfectly happy to use version 5 or 6, I don’t use half the clever stuff anyway, basic is good. It seems however that once you fork out for Ableton then you are sold for life, upgrade all the way baby so no second hand to be found.

So it was that the cry of ‘help’ went out to the Fwonk* forum and Cockos Reaper was suggested. It’s an affordable, fully fledged audio sequencer, with all the routing options of the big boys, only with none of the gigabytes worth of sample libraries. I’ve been playing with it for a little while no and all indications are good. Utterly different.. but good. I am gonna have another week with it before I give you a more complete opinion so watch this space.

Mondays’ Going Straight then is going to be me trying to replace all my nice shiny stolen goods with honest to goodness cheap or free stuff, hopefully this will be interesting and informative. Fingers crossed eh?

Learn to Live Vol 1: Simplify Your Live

This is the first in a series of Ableton Live tutorials that Fwonk* will be providing for free, here on the blog. I intend to make this a weekly* feature, so if you have any Live topics you’d like to learn about, post about it in the comments, either here or on Youtube!

Clint (Bachelor Machines)

*no promises on what day of the week we’re talking about.

This week, I’m going to start out with a pair of tutorials that might help aid you in organizing your sessions.

First, this tutorial shows how to create a default session template…

… and this tutorial discusses why it might be a good idea to throw out the idea of even having a default session template:

Coming soon:
-a three-part tutorial discussing Racks within Live
-a series of tutorials discussing scoring for film and video within Live (with some additional discussions regarding general film scoring techniques)

Let us know what you think!

Bandcamp – the best music solution yet?

Bandcamp - best music solution yet?

We here at Fwonk* love Bandcamp. We feel that it is currently the best, free, social platform for musicians to release their music and get it to a wider audience. MySpaces have come and gone, Facebook is bugger all use for musicians, Twitter doesn’t offer album downloads and the Internet Archive hasn’t moved on since 2002.

Soundcloud is fantastic, but unless you fancy spending lots of money getting extra space, it is rather limiting. Bandcamp, however, offers unparrallelled features for musicians. And when we say unparrallelled, we mean no-one else has bothered to do any of this!

For instance, the ability to ask for a donation for your music, rather than giving it away (or charging lots of money that no-one will pay). Or the fantastic analytics monitoring for all you stat g33ks out there.

Here at Fwonk* all of our latest releases are made available via Bandcamp, and we are offering a new solution for artists releasing music on Fwonk*, whereby the artists Bandcamp site becomes a Fwonk* site with a few easy mouse clicks and keystrokes.

But what do you think, readers? What’s your favourite social site for music? Let us know in the comments.

By the way, do people still use words like ‘whereby’ or am I reading too many Victorian novels?

Hello and Welcome!

Hi, welcome to the first post, and a new start for Fwonk*.  We’ve given the site an overhaul, added a blog to bring extra features to lovely listeners out there, give musicians more chance to become involved in and be part of Fwonk*, and bring you exciting new features that will be introduced, added and developed over the coming months. So what’s going to be happening?

Remix Competitions

Yeah, you read the right.  Remix competitions –  we’ll be running competitions with remixes of the latest dancefloor tunes, or tracks from Fwonk*s very own archives.  Details will be announced here, and you’ll be able to follow progress on the forum.  The sets of finished songs will be featured on our Soundcloud pages.

Monthly Podcast

We will be launching a monthly podcast or radio show featuring some of the very best, and very freshest Creative Commons released music and the best that Fwonk* can slap you between the lugholes with.  Featuring a roster of DJs curating their own choice of material, this will be a varied listen, bringing you the tunes the breadth and depth of popular (and unpopular) music.  Shows can be streamed from Mixcloud, but also downloaded from us here.

Greater flexibility for artists

For existing artists within Fwonk*, or those who want to become part of the netlabel and community, we offer the chance to have your own Fwonk* subdomain for your own Bandcamp page. This means that a normal Fwonk* release can be hosted on your very own Bandcamp page. You host your own music, and are responsible for the format of it, and you control it.

Tutorials and more!

This blog is going to be the gateway to online tutorials – a great series of Ableton Live videos is ready – some links to some great tunes and other music sources, and much, much more.

And if all this works, we’ll do even more.