MLRv is a great tool for live performance, as proven by a number of talented button mashers such as Galapagoose and Daedelus. It creates an immediate feedback loop between button presses and sounds that audiences just “get”. But if you’re only using MLRv for button mashing, you’re missing out on a ton of potential it has as a production tool that can be readily tied into your workflow.
Let me first back up and explain what I mean by workflow. Workflow is your
generalized process for creating a song. A typical workflow might be:
A) Record MIDI tracks
B) Arrange tracks
C) Add effects
So what makes the difference between an efficient workflow and an inefficient workflow? An efficient workflow allows you to go back to any earlier step in the process and make a change that flows down to future steps. In our example above, if I realize that a single instrument would sound better in a different register, I can update the appopriate MIDI track and, with minimal effort, I’m back at step D.
So what is an innefficient workflow?
A) Record multiple instruments onto 1 track
B) Play the recording through an effects unit and record the results
This is a difficult workflow because if a change needs to be made to a single instrument, all instruments need to be re-recorded, and the whole song has to be re-played to add the effects.
While there is no single “correct” workflow, you can see how someone using the first workflow has more freedom to experiment because the cost of making a mistake is lower.
So what does this have to do with MLR? I suppose that lots of people are using an ineffient workflow. If you are simply recording yourself playing MLR, you have no opportunity to go back and fix 1 mistaken button press without re-recording your session. Additionally, you’re limited to playing as fast and as skillfully as your fingers allow. What if you want to chop 1/32 notes? By incorporating Ableton and MLR’s “midi remote” capability, you can record your sessions into Ableton MIDI clips that can then be tweaked to your liking.
In my next post, I’ll walk through the workflow I used to create a remix of Edison’s “My ex fan gary” and show you how I configured MLR and used automation to create sounds that could never be made with normal button mashing.