Mod­ern meets vin­tage with Mas­chine


There’s un­doubt­edly some­thing a lit­tle ‘vin­tage’ feel­ing about the set-up of NI’s Mas­chine groove pro­duc­tion sys­tem. Vis­ually – at least be­fore the ar­rival of the new Mas­chine Jam – it’s al­ways been fo­cused around the 16-pad lay­out of the hard­ware, which in­evitably brings to mind the quick chops and one-shot beats as­so­ci­ated with old-skool MPC beat-mak­ing. With its clas­sic sam­pler em­u­la­tions, Mas­chine’s built-in sam­pler is cer­tainly great for cre­at­ing that style of sam­pled beats. Of course, the Mas­chine sys­tem of­fers a vast amount more sam­pling and pro­cess­ing op­tions than any clas­sic sam­pler did.

For one thing it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that Mas­chine ships with both Kon­takt and Drum­lab, both of which add a ton of ex­tra op­tions for work­ing with sam­ples.

For ex­am­ple, a favourite trick of ours is to cre­ate per­cus­sive multi-sam­ple in­stru­ments in Kon­takt, but de­sign them for ran­domi­sa­tion. Do this by plac­ing an as­sort­ment of dif­fer­ent per­cus­sive hits or noises across var­i­ous ve­loc­ity lay­ers of the same note. Cre­ate a kit with vari­a­tions on a theme grouped around sin­gle notes – eg, sev­eral dif­fer­ent shaker sounds on dif­fer­ent ve­loc­ity lev­els of C3, an as­sort­ment of dif­fer­ent ‘clicks’ on C#3, a va­ri­ety of white noise hits on D3, etc. Now load that kit into Mas­chine (or di­rectly into Kon­takt in your DAW); you can ei­ther pro­gram a sim­ple beat and set up an LFO or ran­domi­sa­tion tool to vary the ve­loc­ity, or fin­ger drum in a beat to cre­ate a few ‘happy ac­ci­dents’. Put the kit low in the mix be­hind your main drums for a great way to add un­pre­dictable ghost notes and glitchy vari­a­tion.

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