Ableton Certified Trainer, and resident Maschine Trainer Tom Lonsborough shares a few highlights from BPM 2015 @ The N.E.C
Below you can see one of the inflatable learning zones – I had a great response to the workshop I did on sampling from records, and how it has been potentially in decline over the past few years. As I discussed in the workshop, Mixmag recently carried out a survey in which people voted for their favourite piece of dance music. Of the top 10, 7 contained samples and only 1 track had been made since 2000, the others were all pre-millenium: food for thought. If you’re interested in learning more about manipulating samples and structuring music around them, take a look at our music composition course here.
Yamaha have released a new set of keyboards inspired by their successes of the past. My favourite of the 4 was the DX, a recreation of the classic DX7. It had a very similar sound to the original – perhaps a fraction thinner because the DX has only 4 operators as opposed to the original’s 6, and perhaps a little cleaner, but still produced a beautifully rich sound – DX7 Bass anyone? What gives it an edge over the original for me is the intuitive interface: users of the DX7 will tell you how hard it is to design a patch- the DX however has an easy to use menu with a larger more detailed screen, plus built in effects. The only let down for each of the new keyboards is the toy-like size. Would have been better if they’d gone for perhaps a Korg-style 80% size keyboard rather than Micro-Korg sized mini keys. Still, my DX7 will be for sale shortly to replace it with one of these beauties anyway.
I visited the Roli stand and had a play with their potentially groundbreaking MIDI controller, the Seaboard. It is laid out in a similar way to a traditional keyboard, but allows for much more expression in your playing than a regular MIDI controller keyboard. You have 3 dimensional control over parameters: downward pressure/aftertouch, vertical movement up and down a key, and movement left/right once you’ve pressed a key. The feel of the device takes some getting used to as someone who is used to a traditional keyboard – the material feels a little bit like skin, but I can imagine that with a bit of practice the scope for modulating a sound successfully will be massive. If you’re looking to get in to sound design and synthesis, you can study this with us as part of music production diploma course – more details available here.
Although it’s been out a while now, I finally had chance to have a play on Korg’s reissue of the Arp Odyssey. It’s a wonderful, fat sounding piece of kit if you’re into your vintage sounds. As you can see – it’s fully analogue therefore no presets! You have to craft a sound from scratch each time which is a rewarding process, if a little time consuming, but that’s part of the charm. It’s all to easy just to load a bank of presets up on Sylenth without any thought these days.. It’s certainly not for everyone, but if you’re after that special Arp sound look no further.
Novation are probably best known for their excellent range of Ableton Live controllers, however historically they have also made some great sounding synthesisers. I couldn’t resist having a play on their new limited edition ‘MoroderNova’ which is essentially the same synth design as their MiniNova synth, but with some Giorgio Moroder-flavoured presets from some of his classic tracks. Considering the size of the synth, it packs a big sound and faithfully replicates the signature sounds of tracks like ‘I feel love’ (worth the price for that preset alone!) There are only going to be a few hundred of these units made, so if you’re a fan of the man with the moustache, grab one while you can. Why not visit our YouTube page for analysis and tips on recreating classic tracks?
Finally, alongside all the music production goodies, there was the usual turnout of amazing turntablists who I never tire of watching. DJ technology has advanced at a ridiculous rate over the past few years, but for me you’ll never beat the 1s and 2s! If you’d like to be up here next year, why not take a look at our DJ courses here.