SB converts a Live set to a recording, has major issues

Here is the piece I composed for my computer in music performance presentation. It's a little more upbeat than what I've been churning out recently. With the exception of the vocal tracks, all the tracks are midi.

(Wet Skin link)

Composed in Ableton Live and Rewired with Reason, this was originally a strictly performance-only piece, and so recording it turned out to be a nightmare. I started by running Live out from Jack into Audacity, but the JackPilot didn't see Audicity's inputs. It didn't see Cubase's either. It saw Ardour's, but the Ardour running on the machine had a font bug and all the text in the program came up as square boxes. UGH.

Day 2 I came back with a PD (PureData) recording patch made by my teacher. Jack didn't see PD's inputs either. I was about to try a different studio when I ran into Spencer and he offered to help. After messing around unsuccesfully in Jack, he went into Live and recorded from the master out of Live onto a track inside of Live (how completely intuitive). Then Live has a "render to disk" to output the WAV file associated with that track.

That almost worked except that I was Rewired into Reason and the render to disk option apparently can't see that connection. I ended up yanking the raw sound file out of Live project space and just using that... which, unlike the render to disk, contained exactly the audio track that I had recorded (huh?). Namely, the entire Live set in WAV format was finally in my grasp. Sorta.

I went ahead and recorded the vocals again in the studio, but real-time buffering at playback made them clip out every now and again (apologies). Still, I think I'm pretty happy with the result. I better be, since I spent as much time trying to record it as I did actually composing.


Phil Harnish said...

How would you say the audio production software compares to other suites you have worked with? Specifically photo editing or a software development stack (like Eclipse with debuggers and other related tools).

Hearing you retell this dramatic story really makes me think the music industry needs to get its act together!

Rosa Decembris said...

A lot of work - but way worth it! A really great song. I love the contrast between the parts.

esbie said...

Let's try and make an equivalent anaolgy with photo editing

.MIDI = .ai (Adobe Illustrator File)
.mp3 = .jpeg

.WAV files contain waveform information just like .RAW files contain pixel information

.MIDI files contain rhythmic and voice information (ie vox, drums, guitar) just like vector graphics stores mathematical equations. .MIDI files are like equations of music, not actual waveforms.

Now for the Digital Audio Workstations:

Reason = Adobe Illustrator
Cubase = Photoshop
Audacity = MSPaint
Jack = the copy/paste function
Ardour = the linux version of Photoshop (someone help me out, what's that called again?)

PureData and Max/MSP are in their own category since they're more like graphical programming tailored to music applications instead of DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations).

And Ableton Live? It's some niche program that you use only while presenting. I don't know of photo editing software like this. At any rate it's only used in a live setting, and so you can't easily export .WAV or .MIDI out of the program.

So the meat of the problem is getting the music out of the DAW and into .WAV format to transfer to .mp3 and then upload to my blog. I should've realized in advance that using Live limits you to live performances only; the program is specially tailored for performances.

The music industry is actually quite robust... I haven't seen a lot of master/slave setups for photo editors. A big issue comes from the open source tool Jack, where open source = not reliable. The same could be said of PD and Max/MSP: as a computer scientist I can attest that programming in them is pretty painful and often buggy.

Despite these drawbacks, I'm glad that my creative ideas are pushing the boundaries of the programs out there now: it makes me feel current and out of the box. Instead of coming up with ideas that have already been done, my ideas are defining the demand for a new generation of Digital Audio Workstations. In effect, I'm a part of the top 20% :)

esbie said...

I realize that last comment I made was longer than the original blog post, lol. At any rate, thanks for the encouragement Rosa :)