Jan 8, 2009

Some ground rules

I was thinking about some meta-duet-yourself issues...

We need to have project files and folders optimized for sharing. It takes a little obsessive-compulsive behaviour but it pays off in where's-Wally-sample-locating time. I don't mean to sound like I mastered the linguistics of folder creation but I think I have a pretty nice and ergonomical scheme going. And the software we use does require one, so here's my idea, obviously based on my set up.

I created a folder on my C: drive called musica. I installed all my music production related software in this folder, instead of in Program Files or Programas. This is not absolutelly necessary for sharing sakes, since the project file (be it reason's, audiomulch's, bidule's...) saves the pathway to the used files (samples, refills, vst's, etc), regardless of it's own location and I already came across a piece of software or two (namely freeware) that just gets a little annoyed with not being in Programas or Program Files.

But the pathways are the real bitch. I created a folder called vst in the musica folder for the obvious use. Most modern vst hosting software just needs a designated folder and does all the work by itself: bidule organizes vsts by instrument/effect criteria and then by programmer name and audiomulch preserves your own directory tree and finds the .dll down to at least four levels of subdirectories (tested). FL studio, however, makes you look for each plug-in you use by yourself at least once wich is a real pain and Muzys (for exmple) preserves the pathway to the vst and it goes berzerk if you move it somewhere else. I don't know how Cubase, Ableton and others manage plug-in hosting but we have one of two options: (1) we say 'screw it' and keep our own vst directories how we like 'em and plead to the programming gods that every software we use in the future is smart enough to detect plug-ins, despite the folder organization, or (2) we legislate about that and use, for example, my organization. I'm mostly inclined to crossing fingers and going for door #1 if your experience tells you that most sofware is cool with detecting plug-ins on the fly. However, going for door #1 might exclude someone in the future who uses dumb software...

For reason reffils, I just drop 'em in the general Reason folder. I have Reason installed in the musica/Propellerhead/Reason folder, but I can easily work around it if you have it installed in Programas and you're not into following my scheme in this chapter. One uniform scheme would be nice, though, if Duet Yourself includes other people. Again, two options: (1) screw it and future colaborators must pick up the pace if they want or (2) we "legislate" (my scheme, your scheme, other scheme...)

Samples are THE UBER BITCH and there's no "screw it" option here, since all software we use saves the pathway in the project file. So, no matter where we put 'em, we must go down the folder-creation-procedures road. I'm putting all samples of all projects I work in in specific project-related folders in C:/musica/samples and I find it pretty ergonomic to work with a sort of sample-central area that all software I use is led to find, so that all files used in a specific project (be it bidule, audiomulch, whatever) are all packed into that folder. This means that whenever I use a sample placed somewhere else, I must copy it to the work-in-progress sample-central folder and load it from there to the project file - yep, this means working with the Windows Explorer window always at hand's reach. This might seem like hard work but then again, that one folder is all we have to send (sample-wise) when it comes to sharing.
Ok, here's an example: let's say I'm working in a song called duetyourself. I must create a folder called duetyourself in the sample-central area folder. In my case, the pathway to this folder would be C:/musica/samples/duetyourself. I must now put every single sample file I use in the duetyourself song in this folder for the project files to find (again, be it reason, bidule, audiomulch or whatever I use) and this must also include .rex files that are not part of a reason refill. If I want to send you the duetyourself song for you to work in, I only need to send you the duetyourself folder I created, when it comes to samples. I also have to send you the project file, say duetyourself.rns, (and the plug-ins and reffils used that you might not have) but this file would only have pathways to the duetyourself folder. The sample-central area doesn't even need to be in the same place in our directory trees (if we're up to redirecting pathways there by hand) but the sample folder to that specific song must have all the used samples in one place, for ergonomy's sake.

This way, we would send each other a nice and tight little .zip or .rar file (with a password for unzipping to protect our god-given genius talents and authorship from unauthorized blog visitors) that would be ready to work in in no time.
Further versions of the song could be named by project number. Let's say you work on a version of the duetyourself song. You could send me back a duetyourself02.rns file and the updated duetyourself folder (with samples you added) and I could work on your version and create a duetyourself03 or improve the first version or whatever. By adopting these procedures, we could even be up to date with what the other one is doing. Updating our version of what the other one did (say, last night) would be totally fuss-free and fast. By the way, another nice linguistics thing to do would be to keep the format we regularly use for naming loop files: name_bars_bpms.wav or (name_bars_bpms.rex). No need for it in one-hit samples, though.

Another meta-duet-yourself issue: the Duet Yourself name is kinda settling in, isn't it? I say we're christened!


  1. Amen Brutha!!!!

    I think it's a very good idea!!!

    Most Plugins are standardized to be found in c:/program Files/Steinberg/Vstplugins/.
    The thing is that some (many) plugins have much more than the dll's, so they need their own folder. This means that your vst folder in "Musica" will have the plugin program folder AND the actual usable plugin dll with/and/or its specific folder.

    As for future collaborators I'd definitively go for the "screw it" solution: You want in, you play along. You don't want to play along, have a nice Christmas and see ya in the next life!!

    We definitively need to work out the sample locations... but the thing is that the "sample central" will be huge by definition, and copying them to another folder (the project folder) can turn out to be quite redundant... For example I use a external hard disk for it cus I don't have enough space for all the samples. So I propose that the "sample central" doesn't have to be fixed... just the project folder, thus there is no added value in having a Project sample folder inside the main project folder.
    in your example I'd just have c:\musica\duetyourself\ with everything stuffed in there (samples, audiomulch files, bidule filess, saved presets used in the project (this is paramount, and I think you didn't remember that), rex's, wav's, etc etc..)

    We must make some kind of print screen of this to save time....

  2. Actually I think that:
    Not fixed:

    is quite enough

    We must also define a rule for presets, groups, contraptions... (the ones we use in a project): vstName_projectName_ etc etc...

    Wow... I really have to take some time to think about it!!!

    It's a fuckin' new whole world being born...

  3. And yes!!!

    We're deep in with the "Duet Yourself"

    (Come to think about it: shouldn't we think about having the CC license??)

  4. Once you're at it, it's tempting to go down the linguistics road, isn't it? But let's not turn it into burocracy or we'll choke on it - it can get Kafkian. The most important thing is the samples' pathway, the rest (presets, contraptions, groups, etc) will be secured in the saved project file. When it's pertinent, we can include a folder for vst presets, reason instrument patches, etc in the sent zipped folder and always keep it there. But let's define all that in person, the next session. We only need to do that once and then everything will fall into place like legos. Meanwhile, let's experiment with ergonomics too until we find something we're satisfied with.
    What we could do to make our bidule groups, mulches, synth presets, etc imediatlly recognizable to the outside world would be to add some sort of short prefix to everything, like 'd*y' or '1=2' (geddit?).

    I'm with the screw it option too for eventual newcomers. Duet Yourself could very well be the name of a creative process and, for better or worse, it reflects the use of certain tools in a certain way from wich the creative process and the music itself are inseperable. So - yep! - door #1!

    I'm naive enough to not even imagine someone could use the same name. But, yeah, let's register Duet Yourself in CC.