Thursday, June 17, 2010

My top 5 LSDJ tips

One of the problems beginners to LSDJ face is the relatively steep learning curve, especially if you’ve never used tracker-style audio software before. However, it levels out once you put a little time and effort into learning tricks. Here are 5 I couldn’t live without:

1) Cloning - (Select + B then A) I think this is the most powerful user-feature in LSDJ. Cloning essentially takes a chain or phrase you have previously created and creates an identical copy under a different number. This speeds up your workflow exponentially as you don’t have to keep re-creating sections to edit or pasting or manually copying each section. Learn & use it!

2) Cut n’ Pasting - (Select + B / Select + A) Cloning is excellent but copypasta is still an imperative tool for speeding up workflow and can also provide interesting arrangement opportunities. Try experimenting by copying an ‘out of time’ amount of notes in a phrase - say 02 to 0C – then paste + repeat for unusual melodic possibilities.

3) Stereo Separation – This is basically the transition from writing music in ‘2D’ to ‘3D’. Stereo is an intense subject to get into, so i’ll give you a quick practical example of something that can spice up any track. A neat trick to make channels jump out and add width to your music is to ‘quick pan’ using tables. Set a table up on an instrument (let’s say a WAV channel bassline), put three O commands on the top three spots of the command columns, 00 should be L, 01 should be R and 02 should be LR. This quickly pans the channel left and right (or switch to right and left / automate them both) and instantly adds stereo width. Play around with different combinations of this to add different degrees of stereo depth, it’s all about experimentation.

4) Using Groove Effectively – Probably the most underused feature for newbies, it’s worth investing a little time into the workings groove as it’s what separates great users from ones who are content writing everything in the same style (i’ve been guilty of this in the past!). The best tip I was given about groove is everything needs to add to 12 to avoid sync and bpm issues.The default is 6/6, 7/5 is your basic shuffle/swing and in-between that you can add other grooves to spice things up further. Give it a go and try to break out of the mould of writing straightforward/characterless tunes!

5) Draw your waves! – Do you find yourself blindly tweaking parameters in the wave instrument screen until you’ve got a vaguely cool sounding instrument? Wave drawing is a huge part of making your instruments unique. Anytime you create a wave instrument you should nip into the wave drawing/editing screen to play around, even if you think the sound you’re currently getting is great. After a while you’ll start to visually understand how to draw waveforms, what sound each shape creates, and how many variations there can be. Now I always start my wave instruments off by drawing the wave, THEN fine tweaking using the instrument screen parameters.

As you use LSDJ more, these things should become second nature. My final ‘tip’ would be to always keep a copy of the manual available, especially useful for learning the shortcuts. I printed a copy out during the learning process and it’s been something i’ve gone back to time and time again for reference, you should do the same!

Happy tracking :)

5 comments:

PixyJunket said...

I'm still pretty useless at doing anything with grooves (other than using them to create different speed arpeggios in a table).

Do you hand draw waves simply for MANUAL instruments or are you drawing waves for full ONCE/LOOP instruments?

-Leroy/PixyJunket

Neil said...

This is awesome man, keep doing these!!

Jack said...

Hey Ash, awesome post, but uh just wanted to point out a couple things I noticed.

1) The default groove on LSDJ is 6/6, and 6/4 is the heavy swing groove, though i'm fairly certain 7/5 produces the same effect, only at a slower tempo.

2) As far as I know, custom editing a waveform before adjusting it's parameters in the synth-edit screen will erase any custom edits you've made. Is it different for you, or did you type that backwards?

Anyway just a heads up.

drew said...

thanks for these tips! i'm new to trackers and the whole up/down thing is messing with my experience with reading music from left/right.

yar.words said...

these are wonderful tips. i found this searching for the copy and paste command in lsdj. i didn't even know about cloning in lsdj! this is just...great. thank you.