I’ve got a couple of records out, but all EPs so far (albums to me are probably more than 6 tracks). Mostly recorded and sequenced on the Pyramid, apart from drums which are done on my Analog Rytm, and obviously 303 stuff which is from the internal sequencer.
Then record the audio into the computer and edit down. I hardly ever record MIDI in the computer anymore, though, just audio.
There’s various stuff on my Soundcloud and on Youtube if you wish to listen to the results
But the Pyramid is the core part of my process, everything is driven by that.
I also do my drums this way. I prefer the sequencing on the rytm for drums, plus it sounds good.
full resonance definitely takes me to some raves back in the day. sounds good to these ears.
I’m on my 4th pyramid album now (yeesh). I’ve tried a few things over the years. My goal btw is to have a live set that’s somewhat comparable to the album.
:: current process ::
This process is born out of these realities for me:
I use 32 channels of audio in the rig
I don’t like memorizing songs and having to play them back with intense precision
I don’t really want to do a lot of over dubbing.
or automation in the daw
I’m performing dawless
Things are complicated enough for me because I am the way I am, so i don’t like my recording process to be difficult or time consuming. I’ve invested quite a bit, but I mean, it works for me.
Get all the songs as good as you can in dawless
– You don’t necessarily need to be able to play things perfect though, things like the way you use CC automation can affect your options in edit.
– If you want to spend less time at the computer, be able to execute a ‘perfect performance’ as you want it to sound on the record
I used a 32 channel digital mixer with usb as an interface to record the tracks. I take around 26 or something channels of IO. I don’t usually record the delays/verb/masterbus stuff I have in this pass. The goal is to be able to perform the song once and just get all the tracks, ideally without needing to edit them.
– Prep usually takes about 4 hours to a day of work. Basically I wire everything up, set levels. And I build a template (i have to do this every album just because I usually change synths, though I can iterate on templates and save time).
– First I record the track, then I move onto over dubs. I over dub any multitimbral synth that’s not on it’s own audio channel so i can get them indepdent for mixing. Then, depending on my mood, I’ll over dub delays one instrument at a time, tho sometimes I might reach for a soft delay so i don’t do this. I do reverb & master bus stuff itb so i don’t usually record that hardware for albums.
Edit (a couple hours per song). These days it’s mostly just using automation to cut out silence, adding micro fades, and maybe a ninja edit for glitches I can’t live with (I like to leave glitches in, but sometimes they really suck).
Mix (8-12 hours per song)
Mastering – hire the professionals
Before I had a 32 channel board, I tried to use what i call the ‘rock band’ technique. At the time I had 12 channels of IO to my mac, so I basically got really really really good at playing the songs and played them 4 times in a row at 12 channels a piece until I got sick of it, and edited the rest (oof). So for my second dawless record, I had a couple bucks and marched right down to guitar center and picked up a midas board that I’ve used on two records now and will soon use on a third.
I really like recording this way because it really pushes me to get authentic sounds out of the dawless rig. Sometimes tho, it is fun to embelish on a track in a daw, just because I mean, i built all these skills - sometimes it’s fun to crank on something kinda nuts lol. But ya, i do try to keep that to a minimum these days.
Loz, I just listened to probably should have closed the fridge and the A1 temple of set ep.
cool how different they are! these are rad. this pyramid community is great
Do you use the pyra midi effects at all on these tracks and on the fridge track how did you approach layering those rich drone sounds - like track method or pattern method? and the long note length? are they live record mode layered synths?
I actually can’t really remember making that Fridge track. I was probably drunk.
But it was more of an experiment than anything. Pretty sure some of it was sequenced on the Pyramid (most likely with a very slow tempo) and maybe using the Euclid sequencer on some elements… Then the main line was played live I think, just jamming along through shedloads of reverb.
A lot of the stuff I put on Soundcloud these days is the random experiments I’m doing that no one in their right mind would want to ever put out on a record.
Here is a more indepth post on my setup, if you fancy reading a lot.
Here’s my EP, sequenced from Pyramid and performed/recorded completely DAWless, apart from the last track which has a couple of overdubs in a DAW. Performed directly to 2-track recording, so mixing was also hardware (via WMD Performance Mixer).
@vt100 thank you for the detailed insights, I’m moving toward a similar way of working.
While I’m more a hobbyist than a musician, I’ve made some EPs and one LP with Pyramid.
I’m running a small hardware based setup, with pyramid controlling some dozen synths and drum machines/modules, samplers, a rompler, and effects. Main keyboard is connected via USB to my computer, and routed (merged) to Pyramid MIDI in along with clock signal. all sound sources are connected via 2 patchbays to a multitracking mixer with 18 channels in and out. also a digital multitrack is handling various tasks.
My workflow is to prepare some form of jam i can play on pyramid (sequences or track mutes) with one hand, and other hand tweaking some parameters on synths and drum modules. very rough ‘idea’ for a song i then multitrack via Behringer xr18 mixer to Ardour DAW on Ubuntustudio Linux. There i do ‘some’ editing and dubs, depending on the quality of the jam how much it requires to sort of fall into place.
Ardour is sending just transport and clock to Pyramid, which allows my to record multitrack on grid for editing. I don’t use MIDI from Ardour hardly at all, but I do all MIDI magic on Pyramid. I love the Pyramid way of composing and trying different things very fast.
As for doing releases of multiple tracks of same style instead of individual songs, I tend to take some time off from making music, and when I return to studio I might make at least a jam or maybe almost a whole song per day for a couple weeks. I choose 1-3 main sound modules for the task and stick to those, to keep a similar touch and sound. I then choose the songs I wish to release, and mix and master them also in Ardour, with same kind of effects and mastering chain to make them sound well together.
Please don’t hesitate to ask if you wish to know more.
Here’s a sample song from my last 6 song EP released in january 2021, “unet on - long cold night”, track “non-repeating cycles”. also link to my playlists of my releases if you want to check them out. comments welcome.
I recently produced an album with the help of the Pyramid sequencer.
I used the Pyramid to compose the songs and also while recording into a DAW, all notes and CCs to the instruments came from the Pyramid.
I used a Scarlett 18i20 with Octopre extension, which provides me 16 Channels and the neccesary stable and synced clock to sync the pyramid to the DAW (and by the way: The preamps and AD converters are excellent for that money).
I’m using a fixed setup of Synths (Virus C, Prophet Rev2, Digitone), Samplers (Octatrack, MPC1000) and Drums (MBase, TR8). I try to come as close as possible to the final arrangement while recording all tracks at the same time and then make the fine adjustments in the DAW.
Then I use DAW Effects to mix/master the songs and to dub them with vocals and acoustic instruments. For me that way is very productive.
TLDR: I use the Pyramid with tracks pre-set & a grid workflow to makes songs easier to plan/structure. Might even have an EP finished in the next decade…
Def gonna study this thread & use some of the above ideas with the following.
Slowly working on an EP after taking a couple of years off from producing. The biggest thing for getting a consistent workflow & sound palette is to use definitions in a Pyramid default project. I use a strict set up with definitions saved to each track bank & pad:
Row A01 through A08 - Midi A, chan 1 - SH-01a
Row A09 through A16 - Midi A, chan 2 - JU-06a
Row B01 through B08 - Midi A, chan 3 - Hydrasynth
Row B09 through B16 - USB midi, chan 16 - IOS app (miRack/Sunrizer/Slammer/whatever)
Row C01 through C08 - Midi A, chan 9 - Volca Kick
Row C09 through C16 - Midi A, chan 10 - Volca Drum
Row D01 through D08 - Midi B, chan 1 - SP-404SX (banks A though E)
Row D09 through D16 - Midi B, chan 2 - SP-404SX (banks F though J)
After prepping that default project I find getting stuck into making tracks much quicker ‘cause I’ve got the visual cues & muscle memory sorted:
Column 1 is the initial idea.
Column 2 is where the song starts.
Column 7 (or 8) is for CC messages that run no matter what notes are playing in columns 2 through 6 (or 7).
Pretty happy with how ideas are starting to flow with this project set up.
You know, it’s really interesting to hear you say this, for two reasons.
I tried definition files, and I just couldn’t get into them. I put mixing console tape (the glow in the dark kind that is residue less) cut up in little squares on all my synths and write the CC values right on the synth. I had this before I tried definition files, and after I tried definition files I stuck with this - the reason being, I could just glance at a synth and know how far to turn my knob to get to the setting. I think, at least if the labels are long enough in a definition file it will obscure the CC value (or maybe it did at the time, I haven’t tried in a long time).
I very much came to the same conclusion you did, that is - setting up a workflow in a pyramid template is key (to a number of things really). What’s super cool, is how different we’ve approached the implementation heehee.
One thing I do different than you (i think) is I don’t use pyramid defaults. I have a pyra project called ‘TEMPLATE’. This survives firmware upgrades better. I just load it whenever I want to start a new idea.
Everyone intuits how to play the pyramid differently, it’s always fun to see how differently everyone uses it. I use patterns and try to only ever dedicate a single track to a midi channel (1 Track per instrument, in general). I rely on sequences to change patterns (and mute states).
Here’s my approach:
Page A - Synths. 1-16 are dedicated to a synth (or a channel on a multitimbral synth). For the most part, i’ve worked it out so that the slot number is the midi channel. A1 = channel 1. A8 = channel 8. This breaks down eventually (around A13 where I start the first four midi channels on the B bus).
Page B - FX and Wildcards. I don’t program much for my fx, but i usually send PCs and sometimes I do automation or midifx on them. I put them on their respective channel/slot (channel 12 goes on B12). I reserve most of page B these for ‘wildcards’. These could be anything. For example, One thing I really like lately to do is make two different loops on the same synth that sound good when played together, and then i’ll turn ‘half’ the loop off, so to speak, by using a wildcard.
Page C - Remote (non-pyramid) sequencer triggers. I have a mechanism to trigger other sequencers in my rig. I organize them on page C. I tend to use these sequencers for landing on new songs when i’m mixing in a set, so i call this the ‘landing page’.
Page D - Auto-vj (i pre-program some stuff to self vj while i’m playing).
Yes, and I love this sort of thing. One of the greatest bits of collaborating musically with someone new is finding out how they work and if you can incorporate it into your working.
I, too, have never got into definitions that much, but mostly because I tend to do CC changes live, rather than recording them, so it seems a bit of a waste of time for me, whereas spending ages assigning CCs to controllers is definitely worth it, all so that when I need stuff, it is immediately there.
It’s interesting that you use different pages for different things, actually. I find too much page swapping can ruin the flow, so try to keep things all on the same pages (splitting the pads into 2/4/6/8 zones for example) so I can see at a glance what is running and being able to switch things at the same time.
Oh, I agree. things are pretty much setup so that when i’m performing i only interact with page A. Sometimes, though rarely, i’ll swap to page B to do a thing, but I almost never go to C or D (they’re controlled by my sequences).