AfroDJMac and Mark Mosher Zebra Attack [Ableton Live Rack #38]

If there is one thing I've learned in the creation of my Free Weekly Ableton Live Racks, it is that the Ableton Live community is alive and thriving.  Over the last 8 or 9 months, I've gotten the chance to interact, collaborate and learn from quite a diverse cast of characters.  Among them are some of the very people whose instructions, posts, and videos  I've studied in my quest to learn more and more about music production.  It's been very inspiring to speak to and work with people who have taught me so much.  Among those people, is Boulder, Colorado's own Mark Mosher.  Mark is an electronic musician, sound designer, producer, and as I have discovered, all-around nice guy.  As a way of giving back to the community, Mark has been heading up the blog Modulate This! on which he shares everything from Ableton Live Packs, production advice, gear reviews, and so much more. The first time I watched Mark perform live online, I was pretty sure he was a being sent from the future to share some outrageous new ways of producing and performing music.  This week I am very proud and excited to share the first of what promises to be many Ableton Live Packs created in collaboration with Mark. Mark is a very accomplished sound designer and synth programmer.  He sent me a sound file create from u-he's  Zebra 2 VST to use as a sound source for a sampled instrument.  Here is what it sounds like:

and here is a visual representation of what it sounds like:

FM Wavesequence 01 MM snapshot01

Now, when I first got this sample, I  have to be honest, I didn't know what the heck it was or how in the world I could make use of it.  Mark was kind enough to offer an explanation :

"[it's a] 1 bar wave sequence I programmed from INIT on a software synth. These are not snapshots of an existing fm wavetable in the synth, but instead the FM elements are created in real-time by modulating FM with a stepped LFO with each step at a 16thnote at 120bpm  to accommodate slicing into a rack etc…"

So armed with this information, I began to understand this sound file and realized that each 16th note is actually a tiny slice of audio with its own unique timbre that I can use as my source material for a sampled instrument.  So when you press a key on your keyboard, you trigger a small portion of this FM Wavetable sample.  To make things a bit more interesting, I have modulated the the sample selector with a random LFO.  This means that each time you press the key, a different portion of the sample is triggered, resulting in a different timbre every time you trigger a note.  So in a nutshell, every time you play a note it triggers one of 16 different sounds.  To add a bit more spice, I  have thrown an arpeggiator in the rack, so as the notes are arpeggiating, you get a constantly evolving sound quality to the notes that are being triggered.  I think there is a lot of potential and character to the resulting instrument.

This week's video is special because Mark and I conferenced over Skype and I recorded his explanation of exactly how he created this sample from the INIT setting on his Zebra 2 VST.  That alone is worth the price of admission.  Afterwards, I will show you how I constructed this thing and offer some ideas on how to use it in your productions.  So download the Ableton Live Pack, crank up your speakers/headphones and dig in!

I hope you enjoy the first of our collaborations, there are a few more in the works, and I hope that the future brings me and Mark together many more times to create something exciting for the rest of the Ableton Live Community.  Be sure to check out Mark Mosher on the web and let him know if you enjoyed this instrument!  Below are some screen shots he provided me with.

Mark on Facebook

Mark on Twitter