MATRIXSYNTH: From DAW sketch to DAWless song with the Elektron Octatrack MkII

Saturday, May 30, 2020

From DAW sketch to DAWless song with the Elektron Octatrack MkII

Published on May 30, 2020 Jay Hosking

"A live, semi-improvised track, performed entirely on the Elektron Octatrack MkII. Still in the island cabin, I decided to load some old stems into the Octatrack and see what happened.

Before I got into this all-hardware approach, I stalled out for years making fragments of songs in DAWs; it was really only the immediacy and performability of hardware that got me finishing electronic music with any regularity. So I thought I'd find something not too dusty and transfer it from DAW to DAWless. These are the results.

All the loops are my own, and made primarily with Maschine. Sounds come from a variety of Maschine-compatible formats, including Arturia's V Collection and the Korg Gadget series, as well as the Maschine sample library (the 808, in particular). The main loop of the song adheres pretty closely to my original DAW sketch.

But it's really the Octatrack that takes this from a sketch to a finished song. First, I created an entire second section with the Octatrack, a 'chorus' where the samples are chopped and pitched to a new progression. Second, and critically, I use the Octatrack's scenes to add variation to the samples, to progress through the song from a beginning to an ending, and of course to make things get wild and weird. Scenes are Octatrack magic.

Performed live and uploaded as is, with some limiting on the master (I used the Octatrack's master-level compression for most of the dynamics-shaping)."

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