Category: Sound

Using SaneStation in Ableton Live

For The Gathering 2012 there is a music compo which requires you to only make music using the provided VSTi, called SaneStation.

Using it in Ableton Live, and conform to the rules in the compo might be a bit tricky, so I will try my best to describe how to set it up.

More info about the compo

I presume you have been able to download and install the VSTi yourself, and that you see it in the VST-list in Ableton Live.

Start up a new project, and drag the sanestation vsti into a MIDI-track. Rename the track to SaneStation. It is not important, but I will persume you did, so it makes it easier to follow along here. This will be the main track for controlling the synth, and editing patches and stuff.  You can only have one instance of SaneStation, or it will probably crash, so keep one in there.

Now, add another MIDI-track. (Ctrl-shift-T)

Set “MIDI To” to point to “SaneStation”

In the dropdown box underneath, chose “1-sanestation”.

Add a new MIDI-clip in the track, and set both “bank”, “sub-bank” and “program” to 1.

Then add some notes and hit play.

To tweak the sound, select the SaneStation track, and the VSTi interface should pop up.

Make a cool sound.

Add another MIDI track.

Set MIDI To to SaneStation and 2-sanestation

Add a MIDI-clip, and set “Bank” and “Sub-Bank” to 1, “Program” to 2. Add some notes, hit play.

To edit the sound for this channel, select the SaneStation track again, and in the Track View-pane select “Instrument 1” in the sanestation contoller.

You can now tweak the sound in the VSTi GUI.

Repeat this for aditional tracks.

Do all your composing and arranging and stuff like that, as usual.

When you are done, and ready to export you have to do the following.

In arrangement view

Make sure that every track starts at the same time,fill in with blank clips if necessary.

For each track, select all the clips in the track.

Right click, and choose “consolidate”

Right click again, on each track, an choose to export midi clip.

Name them wisely.

Open the VSTi-GUI for SaneStation, and export the soundbank to the same directory as all the midi-clips.

You should now be able to put all the files together with the compile-utility that came with SaneStation. Refer to that manual/readme for how it is done.

There might be easier and/or better ways to do this in Live, but this was the thing I figured out could work, and it did in testing, so…

Let me know if something is hard to understand, or if there are any problems.

There is also some information about using VSTs with multiple channels in an article from SoundOnSound

Bass synth, work in progress

I am working on making a bass synth. It will be controlled by some old organ pedals, but currently it just works by adjusting pots.

In the schematics you can see the voltage regulator in the top left. I use 12volt DC in, from an old PC power supply. Which I regulate to 9 volts.

The 4093 contains four NAND gates with Schmidt triggers, and I use two of them. One controls the pitch of the sound, and the other controls the first one, by turning it on and off, so you get kind of an arpeggio. You can also turn that on and off with SW1.

The 4040 is a frequency divider, that is fed the output of the tone oscillator, and then each of the outputs of that is fed into two rotary switches. In that way you can mix together two octaves at the same time, getting a richer sound.

Most of this project was inspired by the book “Handmade electronic music”, by Nicolas Collins.

If you have any questions, or suggestions for improvements, please drop me a line.

My first commissioned work

At the last half of 2010, I was contacted by one of the professors at the department of music technology at NTNU, to do a work for them, and I gladly accepted.

They wanted some sort of permanent installation that would make their hallways a bit more interesting, and they had previously seen one of my prints from the “Wasted time” project, and so I used that as a basis when I started thinking.

"Wasted time, 2009-03-27 11:49:01"

I also wanted to do something that was tightly connected with the department, and what they do, so sound would have to be, in some way, an element in the work.

As the work was to be permanent, and is to be there for a long time, I wanted to make something that would need little to no maintenance, and not have the risk of stop working in some way. It should also not be to obtrusive, since people will need to walk past it every day, and I don’t want it to end up be an annoyance to the people who use the premises. With that in mind, I decided early on that I wanted to make some sort of generative prints, and started checking out possibilities at a prints shop. The choice I made was to make prints on acrylic plates.

I went to the location, and after deciding where I wanted the plates to hang, when they were done, I recorded the ambient sound in the hallways, with microphones placed at the spots where the pictures would be. The sound was then cut to find some interesting segments and then normalized. I then used the sound as data for drawing curves, circles and lines. This was done with utilizing the language Processing and the library minim.

For more information you can read my more detailed technical description of the work.

Pedals for Ableton Live

For a concert later this year, a friend is gonna use Ableton Live to play some sounds, while also playing other instruments, and so he wanted to be able to control Live with his feet. Ableton Live is very nice, control wise, in that it is easy to map keys on the keyboard to do almost anything, and also that you can easily switch over to a mode where two rows of keys map up to a little more than one octave on a musical keyboard.

The switches for each pedal

The switches for each pedal

Having some pedals from old organs laying around, we decided they would be ideal for the physical part of the interface. And as they, on the lowest level just consist of one full octave of switches, the easiest thing was just to make it work like a keyboard. Mapping the “white” pedals to “asdfghjk”, and the “black” to “wetyu”.

I ripped the controller board out of an old USB keyboard, and used a multimeter in continuity mode to find out which pins matched the keys we wanted. Then it was just a matter of solder two wires from each of the pedal switches to the right pins on the controller card. Since some keys shared pins, we also matched those up, and connected the matching pins, to reduce the clutter.

The pedals all connected to the keyboard controller

The pedals all connected to the keyboard controller

Now it is just a matter of planning and rehearsing, finding out what sounds to map to what pedal. Having the ability in Ableton Live, to also have different trigger modes on the sounds makes it a very nice program for live performances, but I guess that was the whole idea of the software, so it’s not surprising.

The Viscount c.100 volume pedal

Viscount c.100 volume pedal

Viscount c.100 volume pedal

Just a small update on the organ I have been gutting.

I have found out a lot, and will write some more about it real soon. I just wanted to write some words on this recent find, as I think it is a bit cute.

Earlier today I took the whole organ apart, to save some room in my studio, and was just trying to figure out the volume pedal’s resistance and stuff, for use with a guitar or something, maybe. Anyway, using my multimeter to measure the leads from the pedal didn’t give me any clues, so I opened it up.

Instead of the potentiometer I expected to find, the makers have used a small light bulb, and a light dependent resistor in a small room under the pedal. When you move the pedal, a plate divides the room more or less, and thus letting more or less light in on the LDR. Not very advanced, and not a new concept (to me), but I thought it funny that such a solution was used here.

Lamp and LDR in the Viscount c.100 volume pedal

Lamp and LDR in Viscount c.100 volume pedal

I have also figured out, in theory, how to hook up the spring reverb, and hopefully that will be something I will write about in my next post, as I am gonna build a small effect box to have it in. The plan is to make it both usable as a guitar effect, and as an insert effect in a mixer.

Gutting an old transistor organ

I’ve had an old Viscount c.100 transistor organ standing around in my
studio for quite a while, and I’ve finally come around to start gutting
it. The goal is to learn a bit more about electronics, as well as try to
be able to use the spring reverb, the rhythm generator and the pedals
for something else.


What I am thinking with the reverb is to put it in it’s own box, so that
it can be used as an insert effect on mixers, or as a pedal effect for

The rhythm section can be used for what it is for, but I want to build
it into a smaller box, so it is portable and can be used in different
situations. Also, since I have figured out it gates the bass pedals, I
will try and add connections so it can be used as a trigger/gate for
other stuff.

The pedals I will build into a box, with the oscillators so that it can
be used on it’s own as a foot driven bass keyboard for live performances.

I am self thought when it comes to electronics, and I have not studied
it very well, but I do know some basics. So this is a challenge, but a
good one.

In lack of a proper oscilloscope I am using xoscope with a sound card probe.

More pictures, and some sketches will come when I figure out something
useful, and have organized my notes.