Those who can, do. Those who really can, teach others to do. Mike Huckaby was not only one of the foremost music voices out of Detroit, but someone who led others through mentoring and teaching. One way to remember him is to return to his teaching.
Even though Mike traveled the world from Asia to Egypt as an educator, I know a lot of our international audience and friends are just discovering some of his work – especially his teaching – as we get news of Maestro Huckaby’s passing this weekend. So as we mourn one of the leaders in the music technology community, I hope we can also share again some of what he was doing.
And it might even convince you to open up Reaktor, especially since Mike had a unique ability to boil down the essence and make it understandable, in a way that 800-page manual might not.
Some of these are older videos, but the techniques still hold.
If you’re in need of some inspiration, here’s a look at how he went from an iPhone recording of a drummer into a usable loop in Ableton Live:
And some whistling, too:
And mixing styles:
Mike was a Maschine guru, too; here he is working with techno stabs in the Drum Synths:
And an extended look at his workflow and how he uses it to connect it directly to his imagination. Just before seven minutes in, he talks about an eleven-year-old who took his “make a beat in a minute” challenge. It’s a lesson in immediacy for musicians and instrument makers alike.
Keep rhythms dynamic and alive is always a challenge; here’s a short tip on making drum variations (when you’re figuring out what to do after that first minute):
In an extended conversation from 2011, he goes deep into how he works with Reaktor (and you get a little getting-started tutorial) as well as Maschine, and talks about his teaching program, with CDR Berlin:
The modulo module is an important ingredient in patching; here Mike demystifies it:
And yeah, Mike wasn’t just pulling out Reaktor for Native Instruments’ benefit or something. It was one of the tools he used with young people in Detroit. Here’s a great little promo he had put together:
Putting it all together, here’s Live running Reaktor as a plug-in (applicable to other plug-ins, too):
Looking deeper to how to finish tracks (oh yeah, we might want to do that) – and mixing – he spoke to Liveschool in 2015:
And some deeper thoughts on the connections of music, theory, and creativity in Calgary, Canada (our dear MeeBlip home):
It’s funny to hear the introduction of so many of his lessons as “I’m Mike Huckaby of Detroit.” 2020 is a year where so many people are facing ignorance, loneliness, injustice, suspicion, xenophobia, in very real ways …I hope in contrast, that our tribe of techno and music technology makes a world that values people for behaving with intelligence, and exploring science and knowledge, wherever they come from. We lost a teacher; we’ll need more. Full support to all of you doing that work of trying to learn and share.