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Using Maschine expansions for inspiration

Using Maschine expansions for inspiration

Sometimes we all just get that creative block. We sit in front of a blank screen, maybe play with a synth or two, but it’s just not happening. It happens to me a lot, which is why I’ve started using Maschine expansions to start getting some sounds down and get a track moving in the right direction.

Using Maschine expansions to get that track started

I’ve recently upgraded to Maschine v2, which is required for the more recent Maschine expansion packs, but which offers some very nice workflows in addition to offering extra features, including the fantastic drum synths.

I was in the mood for trying something a bit different one evening, and thought I might have a go at making some techno. Having sat in front of a few synth patches and programmed a few drum loops, it was clear that things weren’t really going anywhere. Time to reach for the Maschine…

I opened up the Grey Forge expansion pack and started just taking a quick preview of the available kits using the preset patterns until I came across something that I thought was a good place to start.

The Tribalism kit sound about where I wanted to be, so I got to work…

The Maschine conundrum: Standalone or plugin?

Maschine was designed to be the evolution of the standalone hardware groovebox, and working with it in its standalone mode outside your DAW of choice is the most authentic way to recreate that experience, particularly if you have the vanilla Maschine or Maschine Studio versions with their ample screens.

That said of course, even my Maschine Mikro has a considerably more functional screen than the Roland MC-303 I used to have…

These days though, I am a child of Ableton Live, so I used Maschine 2 as a plugin. I just love the flexibility that it has, it fits my workflow perfectly. Maschine makes creating patterns and loops tactile, inspiring and fun, so that’s where I started. First by editing the preset pattern that I’d chosen, then creating a few extra loops.

Using Maschine expansions in Ableton Live

Rather than sequencing the loops into the song inside the plugin, I hit the button that is the feature that convinced me to buy Maschine in the first place. With a quick click, hold, and drag, this button (middle, extreme right in the screenshot) lets you drag the pattern from inside the plugin to your DAW.

This feature is exactly what I wanted Maschine to do. It’s great for getting your hands on your sounds and creating patterns, I’m so happy arranging and mixing in Live these days, the ability to to get sounds in there so smoothly without having to interrupt your workflow to bounce down and import is fantastic.

Using Maschine Expansions Massive SoundsAfter getting a few loops dragged into Live’s session view, it was time to hit tab and get arranging. That took care of the drums and percussion, time for a bassline.

Maschine includes the Massive synthesiser these days, and the Maschine Expansions include a range of patches for this behemoth. A quick browse for a preset, a bit of editing to make it fit, and now we had some low end.

Sample twisting

Time for the ear candy. Taking your sounds out of Maschine doesn’t have to be the end of the creative process. Once you’ve got those waveforms in your DAW, they’re at your disposal, ready to be micro-cut, reversed, glitched, dropped into your sampler or be used in any way you want.

With the range of hits and sounds in the Grey Forge pack, I added that bit of aural interest to keep things moving. A rough mix later, and I had the basis of a track. From start to finish about 30 minutes’ work.

Now, it’s not done, and there are a good few things I want to change to take this further away from that initial preset pattern, but sometimes replacing individual elements in a track can be easier than coming up with a complete set of original parts, particularly if you’re suffering from a bad case of writers’ block.

With 7 free epxansion packs available when you buy Maschine before the 12th January, there’s never been a better time to take advantage of NI’s groovebox wunderkind!

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