Who's dawless? Share your setup?

I think I’ve already confessed here multiple times, but an opportunity is an opportunity… :laughing:

I’ve three hardware synths (two of them modules) controlled by Pyramid through MioXL and Midihub, and outputs connected to 16 channel analog mixer, which is connected to Fostex D2424LV hardware multitrack recorder and couple of hardware multi-effects and compressors through total of four patchbays.

Pyramid is where I lay down the song structure, drums and other background stuff. Once the structure is in place I record to audio for overdubbing guitars and such. Sometimes I add further details via Pyramid and sync-record the backing tracks again as the song progresses.

For a while I recorded the final mix into a DAW but each time it felt like betraying my ideals so last year I bought a separate solid state recorder for the purpose, completing the dawlessnes and feeling pretty good for it :grin:

P.S. Awesome discussion going on, thanks for the topic!


Thank you for the most concise response on the thread! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

I’ve been going back and forth between desiring a Tascam Model 12 and a Zoom H6, the latter of which can double as a field recorder. Decision making isn’t one of my strong suits. LOL

What are you using for your final recoding?

I’ve been playing around with Magic visualisation software just for when I want to post a video with music and Magic allows you to have different elements react to different audio layers, so my plan for when-I-get-to-that-point was to mix down batches of logical groups of melodic elements for a recorded song and then apply those to modulating the layers - different words, but if I’m understanding you correctly,similar to what you’re looking at doing.

Side note: I’m not terribly fond of what I’ve seen of video elements to live music mostly because to me they take me outside the environment. I have enough difficulty being IN an environment and my brain can’t process the inside/outside environment thing simultaneously. THis is why I opt for lighting, although I imagine adding video elements like the head in the crystal ball at Disney’s Haunted Mansion. LOL

I think I’d end up with MIDI controlled servos running puppetry first, but I don’t have the brain power for that.

I love your approach. I’ve built my ‘system’ around being able to feed in MIDI data that can be interpreted across multiple channels and the algorithm by which this data is interpreted and applied is “piece”. Apologies if this sounds like an oversimplification, but it sounds like your approach is the same but revers - using an interpretation to take a larger data stream and interpret that into a subset of values to apply to video. No?

Apologies, I want to go off on a brainstorm from a concept side, but maybe I should put down the edibles.


Purist :drooling_face:

I at least go as far as recording everything in mostly a single performance (sometimes I edit but i’m trying to do it less as my current goals are about dawless authenticity in recordings). I have a second mixing board that’s 32 channel digital that doubles as a usb interface. Because I’m kinda intense about how many options i have in a mix, i’ll do overdubs to record multitimbral instruments that output on a single mono or stereo channel, and if i’m using hardware delays for the final cut i’ll usually record those in subsequent passes. But ya, once I’m mixing for a record, I feel like i’m a different person and sink my teeth into a daw hard. Also, it’s worth stating, I feel like if I used my digital mixer live it would be cheating myself out of part of what i want from dawless (i guess I have my line i don’t cross), which is why i don’t do that and just record one shot right off the that board (regarding a fancy digital mixer like the m32: it’ll do the eq and compression etc much like I’d want to do in a daw, where as by example my analog board has very limited eq).

Though I get plenty of analog mixing in cause live is live so, maybe i’m not a total loss? :innocent:

Yea, I relate to this. Probably why I’m so intersted in immersive light performances. like, the kinda lights you are ‘in’. The current fantasy is to produce this synth/light/art show using all the stuff i’ve talked about, with like, a circle of synth performers in the middle of all this light and stuff (as opposed to on stage), and facing different directions. So if you could imagine, there’s like a musical island, surroundeded by space for humans surrounded by art-lights.

I tried a variation of this sorta immersive light show a couple years ago. In that case we built this little audio visualizer in unity (i did not touch any of the tech on this), that was output to 3 1080 projectors and we built 3 10 foot screens. In this case it was audio reactive not midi reactive, and then we had OSC component where you could change the scene and manipulate these 3d scenes in various ways. Like a couple folks did the programming and one person did the scenes. Anyways, for this, we put the synth performers to the side and people could come and sit down and watch the show (they were boxed into these projection screens with other art behind which was a sound reactive led tunnel, version 1 of the one i was talking about earlier). And people would og in and they would sit with this like 30 ft thing or since we did rear projection they could walk up to the images. (usually people do front projection for mapped things so you can’t really stand in front of the thing being projected onto). Having the musicians to the side was cool because it left a lot of ego out and I think that was really inviting to people having an audio visual experience.

tangent: so, yea, going deeper into the audio visual experience, being more encompassed by it. Immersion is something i’m very interested in. :slight_smile:

Apparently the tech exists. do it? Lol, how sick would that be to have like some puppet mouth open every time your sample of like “DO IT” plays. Omg. Map a like simple attack release curve or two to some midi values and you have like little words.


omg you have to do it. maybe I have to do it or see if one of the artists will work with me on it. heeeheee, that’s so rad.

I think that interpretation given your perspective makes a lot of sense to me. Yea, you could absolutely look at this as a process of me filtering musical elements, and or extracting musical concepts I use into a separate data stream that will be the event sources for frames of light.


I can imagine it.

And I know there are strange things with phasing and whole batch of physics to deal with, but if you look at phasing as part of the experience, then using multiple audio outputs at least quadraphonic would be amazing! Audio elements that can creep up over your shoulder! nom nom nom

If we were in the same country I’d offer all my lighting gear if it would help with a prototype.

Oh yeah. The tech is completely available. For health reasons I’m not taking on new projects - having a tough enough time with going back and forth between little tweaks to my interfaces and writing music that I find harmonically interesting.

Also I have this issue where I’m trying to write music in multiple dimensions - I dont’ know how to describe it. The music has to exist on multiple planes, parallel sequences of notes, which are then determined by incoming MIDI data. Think Thomas Albert’s “A Maze (with Grace)”, but instead of one or two note events it’s whole paragraphs of music by sync’d via MIDI, then as conductor you get to choose.

Yeah. I don’t know how to start visualising writing the harmonies since they have to exist in multiple dimension and I suck at theory. Trial and error has been fun, but now I want to actually have intent. I wish there were a description for this, and there probably is, I’m just stupid and ignorant. But that’s my hurdle that has me stagnating artistically right now.

Okay, so if you were doing this with MIDI, you could control by parallelling LFOs or embedding triggers in the Note Event data…or perhaps mirroring the Note Event data and then deconstructing from that side. This would yield finer control over the interpretation of musical elements, and even ignore some outright - only main rhythm & melody, perhaps, instead of pulling all the audio elements. Also it’s already in a codeable format rather than relying on converting to audio, then having that audio converted back to a data - although that removes the textures of synth sounds and normalises everything down to Notes/Key/Chords.

Algorithm as Art

Apologies for rambling.
This msg got longer, but I edited before posting this time.

I was going to reply to this, but feel now like I’m intruding on some seriously deep stuff but anyway.

I use Pyramid for sequencing. I record, edit and add some effects (although getting more into external effects now, for example, the UAD Astra pedal is simply spectacular) in Reaper.

I’ve been using Reaper for a literal million years (2953 days according to its little counter) and I’ve always loved it, but found it difficult to come up with ideas and maintain that idea long enough to get into into some kind of serviceable form before forgetting what I was doing. I had been searching for a sequencer for a very long time, but could never find anything that did what I wanted in the way I wanted, until I came across the Pyramid from that Sunshine Jones video he put out years ago. Pretty much sold straight away, and ended up getting unit 880 (so close…) and I’ve never looked back.

I basically have a big keyboard controller going into the input of the Pyramid (and also an Expressive É Touché, but it generates far too many CC events to record with - more on that later) and then all my synths on MIDI splitters from the two outputs. Outputs A + B both send clock, but only A sends Start and Stop messages, so anything that I want to run when Pyramid runs goes off that, and anything that I either don’t care, or specifically do not want (internal POS sequencer of the Toraiz AS-1: I am looking at you) goes off B. USB to the PC, with Reaper being the master clock when recording.

When running through ideas, I basically have everything through from my master keyboard, selecting the MIDI channel on the Pyramid (due to my controller keyboard not allowing you to easily change MIDI output channels - something I miss from my old M-Audio one) and just play around with ideas. When I come up with something good, I record it, loop it, and have it playing within minutes. Rinse and repeat. I can basically build up a whole track in abut half an hour doing this, or at least enough to start really working on it. For creating scratch ideas, I’ve never found anything better.

Drums are done with an Elektron Analog Rytm, once I got my head around it, it’s the best sequencer for drums, I like that you can jump between sequences before you get to the end of a bar (Volca Beats does this also) so you can create all sorts of fills and stuff without it being too ‘regimented’ and as that has Dinsync, I have a 303 off of that.

I tend to only record notes into the Pyramid, although occasionally do CC automation if it’s something specific as part of the loop, and then when recording audio into Reaper, I’ll ride the controls of whatever synth, usually on instinct without any real plan. I also use the Touché this way (as said above, it generates far too many CC values - the Pyramid fills up very quickly and becomes pretty slugging saving and loading.

These days I tend to just have a project open and fill it with whatever until it’s got stuff all over the four pages of Tracks, then start a new one.

I’ve taken the Pyramid out on one set of shows, using it as the master clock, with the Rytm (+303) on one output, then the AS-1 and a Kawai K1m on the other. I used the Program Change effect page (rather than the fx) for each track I was playing, with the AS-1 all along the top line, and K1m all along the bottom, in the order and roughly paired for the whole show (was about 38 tracks in total) and then had an old MIDI controller to control the AS-1, because although it sounds amazing, there are not nearly enough knobs on it for my liking). I generally am a little drunk (or more) by the time I’m playing, so it was good to know all I had to do was press the next button along and then hear what was playing and go “oh yeah, this bit” and then I knew what to do. So basically for that, the Pyramid and especially the Program Change stuff was an absolute godsend. It was a neat setup, and I really enjoyed it (apart from the one time I left the SD card at home after backing it up before going out) but I am lazy, so since reduced my setup to just the Rytm, the 303 and an MC-101 (which has an OK(?) sequencer - not sure if I’m totally spoiled by the Pyramid) which can fit in 2 small bags rather than one massive suitcase)

I am intrigued by the talk people have had hear for using the Novation Launchpad to trigger track mutes with Pyramidi, and if the smallest one had proper MIDI or the Pyramid served as a MIDI host (which I would maybe assume any future hardware version of it might) then I’d have really looked into that more, but it’s a nice to have, it’s not really an issue.

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Oops, now I’ve written a massive bloody epic. Sorry guys.

I personally think it’s fine.
Helps relieve my own guilt. :slight_smile:

I enjoyed your write up - I dont’ use a Launchpad and I strongly vouch for Event Processors, but I use PyraMIDI and would be happy to help step you through anything. One of my imaginings of how I would interface with the Pyramid was with a Launchpad showing all 64 Tracks colour coded (Event Proc feedback!) so I can keep track of which Tracks did what.

I know there are plenty of people actually using the Launchpad right now, but perhaps not as randomly chatty on here - I’m sure there is more than enough assistance if/when you decide to take the plunge

Oh, and I do use a lot of the MIDI effects as well. Especially the Harmonizer (which I use as Chord Memory by another name) and the delay. I like having the Randomiser shifting odd notes in a bassline up and down by an octave, and also occasionally use the LFO with the CV outputs to modulate bits on my MS20 if I’m using the other two LFOs for something else.

Yeah, it’s kind of the colours that are getting me. I had a Circuit in my live set for a little bit (although I was using it just to trigger samples) and had a weirdo colour scheme of the ‘types’ of tracks mapped out in my head.

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Oh, and also as I don’t have a laptop, I use the Pyramid for sticking stickers of friend’s record labels on.

I do this too.

aaaand I do this too. Play, record, and then i’ll hand correct/tweak (which is how I know how my playing is getting better!). Step programming isn’t where I tend to find my expression. Plus, humanity is important in music and playing it certainly helps capture it. I use my nord lead 4 to do it. I just wish it had a bit more uh, dynamic range on it’s velocity sensors (or maybe I should play softer? hehe).

I think i’m a clone now.

Yep. Agreed The Rytm sequencer has a workflow and feature set that I think is significantly better for drums versus the pyramid. I’m really into setting probability hits and retrigs to getting a few miles out of my loops. I end up messing with the rytm quite a bit in performance too.

See how easy it is to do that?? :sweat_smile:

I have a Nord Modular G2, and although the keyboard is really nice (a lot nicer than other synths I’ve played) the velocity thing is a problem. I had an M-Audio 88 key thing for ages, which was semi-weighted, and that made a massive difference. In the end it was too big, and lacked Aftertouch which is something I use all the time (especially with the G2, as you can made it to control literally any function or set of functions - LFO Speed and Depth on a filter is a favourite of mine) so I got a Native Instruments S61 Mk1.

It was literally the only 61 key semi-weighted keyboard with aftertouch I could find, but it’s got a couple of annoying quirks, like not being able to do USB and MIDI over DIN at the same time, or not being able to change output channels without plugging into the USB and loading the preset editor - apparently the Mk2 doesn’t let you change the MIDI channel at all!)

But I am glad I got it. The bit of weight on the keys really makes playing velocity a lot more pleasurable, and feels like you have more control. Recommend getting a keyboard with semi-weighted keys, especially if you are a clone of me.

Also - get a footswitch pedal for your Pyramid. You can use it to toggle record on and off in Live mode, which is amazing for jamming along with loops. It’s just a shame there is no mode that clears whatever you’re recording into like a punch in and punch out, it just overdubs. But it’s still a big recommendation.

I’m a player and my MPK249 feels extremely nice to my fingers and has the ability to change MIDI channels. In case you haven’t tried that one.

soooooo when do we start showing pictures and diagrams? we don’t really need another thread for it do we??? :sweat_smile:

I was inspired by the hybrid systems people commented about, and since I dont’ get enough time to get to “the studio” (read: corner of the basement with the bigger gearl/lighting) because I have to keep an eye on the dogs (read: unholy demon spawn of naps and destruction), I set up a few devices in the dining room (Bome Virtual MIDI Ports FTW).

Stripped down version:

  • OT
  • Rample
  • Button Box
  • Nanokey
  • Ableton as sound module and scratch pad for ideas
  • Pyramid
  • A vile POS 4 port MIDI Interface that shall not be named but it was sitting around unattached and it works most of the time

Still have the button box → Laptop: MTPro → Pyramid → Laptop:MTPro → Sound modules (Ableton via virtual ports or hardware via aforementioned POS Interface)

Can also test out my samples in Ableton Drum Racks before committing them to the Rample or the OT.

Have I been converted?

I mean ableton is… just for ideas right? :sweat_smile:

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Very happy with this setup. Squarp pyramid is the master brain!

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Alright, some photos:

Most importantly though, how cool does it look when it’s completely dark:

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