We caught up with Mark Lowes – top demonstrator from Novation and all-round ace chap – to go over some of the lesser-known, but totally amazing functions of the Novation Circuit.
When a new instrument comes out, it’s sometimes a little hard to see past the learning curve to the full potential on offer, but this handy overview will give you instant understanding of some of Circuit’s coolest, most innovative features. Let’s get started!
1. Quick View
First seen on the Launchpad Pro, Quick view is also available on Circuit and is insanely useful for the fast composer or frantic live performer. Pressing and releasing any menu button will enable you to lock in to that page to work with the velocity for as long as you desire. However, what if you wanted to make a quick, single adjustment to the velocity or a quick track volume change? Pressing and holding any button will give you a momentary or quick view of that menu, allowing you to make a fast adjustment. Upon removing your finger, you will instantly be returned to the previous menu you were working with. This will dramatically increase the already quick workflow with Circuit.
2. Quick Record
Featured on the latest firmware release is the ability to momentary record. Much like above pressing and holding the record button on Circuit will enable a quick record function allowing you to record for only the passage of time that the button is held down for. This is great when working with the sequencer for both drums and the synth for inputting notes live on the fly, or adding automation without copying over any previously fully sequenced automation.
3. Performing with patterns
When performing live with Circuit, a handy performance technique can be to play around with pattern length to assist you in creating different transitions and variations of your song. When working with Synth 1 & 2, we have the ability to shorten the desired pattern or sequence length. Press ‘length’ and try variations of pattern lengths, 4 step or 12 step sequence? Combine with the patterns button and why not try linking different lengths of sequences together to create a different rhythmic feel to your song?
4. Triggering DAW drums
Circuit is a fantastic standalone production device, and now with the addition of Components it’s even easier to upload your favourite samples to Circuit… but what if you want Circuit to interact with your Ableton Live set? It’s easy to trigger drums using Ableton’s drum rack and sequence them with Circuit.
Simply connect Circuit via the USB Midi connection to your computer, create a new MIDI channel in Ableton and drop a drum rack onto that channel. Set the MIDI routing on your drum rack channel to receive MIDI from Circuit in the drop down menu, then set the MIDI Channel number to 10 (the standard for General MIDI drums). Now just drop your favourite samples onto the relevant notes on the drum rack that are triggered by Circuit, then Circuit’s sequencer will do the rest!
5. Bouncing stems
Got a great idea locked in Circuit? Here’s a great way to take that idea out of the box and start editing it in your DAW using the MIDI information from Circuit.
Connect Circuit to your computer via the USB MIDI connection, and the audio output to your audio interface. Next we’ll sync Circuit to our DAW. To do this in Ableton Live for example, navigate to the MIDI tab in Live’s preferences under MIDI ports (output) turn ‘sync’ on. This will ensure Circuit is synced in time with Ableton’s clock, which is very desirable for this recording process, pressing tempo on Circuit will now display ‘SYN’ when Ableton is triggered.
Next, configure an audio channel within your DAW to receive audio from Circuit. Now when you hit ‘record’, your software will trigger Circuit and capture the audio in real time. Your Circuit idea is now yours to develop within the software realm. You could always expand on this method, too. How about creating six audio tracks to capture all parts of Circuit? Use the mixer on Circuit to mute individual parts and bounce them separately. Add a MIDI channel for each part and capture the MIDI data for that part from Circuit, this can then be used to apply to a 3rd party plug-in, hardware synths like the Bass Station or your favourite soft synth to add another interesting layer to your Circuit performance.
Remember: synth 1 outputs on MIDI channel 1, synth 2 on MIDI channel 2 and the Drums on MIDI channel 10.
That’s your lot! If you found this useful, make sure to bookmark the Red Dog Music Blog for regular updates, tips, competitions and good times.
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