Ableton Operator Inspiration From Mark Mosher

Mark Mosher from Modulate This! has been posting up some fun and educational one off experiments with synth patches which are aimed at “one patch performances.”  This means that only one instance of a particular synth is used with a healthy bit of automation to play out a complex song or sequence over time.

Operator seems to be ideal for this type of patch as a result of its sophisticated oscillator routing architecture, allowing you to potentially have 4 different sound generators playing complex patterns on top of one another.

Additionally, you can choose to route oscillators to one another at the expense of unique voice playback. For instance, you might set oscillator D to modulate C, and then output only the audio of C.  If you do something similar with B modulating A, then you could create two complex, frequency modulated voices playing back independently.  A concrete example might include dedicating one pair of oscillators to a high hat sound and the other pair to a kick drum.

the loop setting in Operator

The easiest way to accomplish separate looping patterns for each oscillator in Operator is by utilizing the “Loop” drop down in the lower left corner of each oscillator’s detail screen.  There are a number of different ways you can set this up, either looping every x milliseconds or at tempo sync’ed beat intervals.  Most people will want to opt for the “Beat” setting which allows the repeats to be measured in predictable intervals.

I could go on and on about this, but I’ve covered this stuff in depth in my Ableton Operator series as well, including an in depth look at creating one patch performances (to borrow Mark’s phrase).

Here’s the video demonstrating Mark’s patch:

Be sure to head over to Mark’s post and leave a comment if you enjoy the video.  He’s doing a whole series on these one patch performances; this is information that will be especially useful to readers who are looking for neat ways to make their live performances more dynamic.

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One Response to “Ableton Operator Inspiration From Mark Mosher”

  1. JasonAugust 15, 2010 at 6:19 pm #

    Very nice. Absolutely. This is where we see how powerful Ableton can be with its limitless racking and automation potential.

    Fooling around now on this rainy day with an Operator rack, sporting a single chain, that I assembled last night (Honestly I am quite new to attempting to program patches using FM synthesis but I am finding it tonnes of fun learning all the tricks).

    I’ve got a very minimalist MIDI music clip which I’ve duplicated several times repeating ONE note at a fixed pitch, and I am challenging myself to use FM and automation to invoke all of the tonal variation and thereby creating any interesting progressions or transitions exclusively with Operator’s FM and Live effects included in the aforementioned chain (2 Phasers, a Chorus and a Reverb). Interesting to note that the first Phaser is used to provide extra harmonic content for the FM output. I was pleasantly surprised by the effect phasing had when placed after the output of an FM-generated patch. This was an eye-opener for me, as I realised that depending on synthesis used while programming a patch, different effects have…well,…different effect.

    Anyway, this is such an interesting experiment to conduct with Operator, as you stated…Such limitless potential with modulation of FM. We’ll just have to see where this all leads.

    And regarding programming using FM synthesis, if one limits oneself to a certain extent, one may discover that it becomes easier (natural) to zero-in and focus harder on the micro-elements that create intrigue in a single sound during its playback. I am teaching myself this very lesson during the past year while learning to design sounds using various methods of synthesis. Most of the time, effects which follow a patch should remain subtly applied in order for the ears to sense the actual effect of the effect on the output.

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