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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » 2018 » March » 05


Next Media Regulation Modernization Item – Easing Transfer of Satellite TV Stations

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Mon 5 Mar 2018 6:13 pm

The FCC last week released its tentative agenda for its March open meeting. On it was a single item dealing with broadcast issues, a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to ease the paperwork involved in the sale of a satellite TV station. This item is another action as part of its Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative seeking to lessen the paperwork and regulatory burdens of broadcasters. Similar to other actions taken as part of this initiative (see our article here), this proposal is a small step to reduce burdens on a small class of broadcasters – but at least it is another step that is being taken in this initiative. The draft proposal will be considered at the FCC’s meeting scheduled for March 22.

Under current FCC rules, the FCC will authorize an owner to acquire a second full-power television station in a market, a station which will not count against FCC ownership limits, if the applicant can meet a three part test – (1) the station will not have city-grade overlap with the “parent” station, (2) the satellite station will serve an underserved area, and (3) a showing is made that there is no other owner ready to acquire an existing station or activate an unused channel and operate it as a stand-alone station. Satellite television stations were traditionally used in geographically-expansive rural markets to expand the coverage of a parent station to reach outlying areas. In more recent years, as the Commission abolished the requirement that the satellite primarily duplicate the programming of the parent station, these stations have sometimes been used to provide alternate programming in smaller markets unable to economically support an independent operation. The draft NPRM released by the FCC seeks to address the issue of what happens when such stations are sold.

Under current practice, when a parent-satellite combination is proposed to be sold, the proposed buyer has to re-prove all of the elements of the satellite showing to the FCC – hiring experts to prove that the satellite is providing service that otherwise would not be provided but for the common operation with the parent station. This is a costly process that is almost always approved by the FCC. The FCC thus proposes that, instead of providing a detailed showing, the buyer should only need to certify that it believes that satellite operation is still justified and attach a copy of the last showing made to justify such decision (as we have written before in the context of FCC fees, the FCC does not have a comprehensive list of satellite authorizations and is considering how one should be developed). Then, if someone believes that circumstances have changed so that satellite operation should not be continued, they can object to the assignment, when further facts can be advanced. If there is no objection, then the FCC would effectively assume that the satellite status should remain in place. Look for further consideration of this proposal at the March 22 meeting.

New Live Series: Sonic Fiction

Delivered... norient | Events,Scene | Mon 5 Mar 2018 9:00 am

Norient is proud to present a new series of concerts and audiovisual performances. In collaboration with the Rewire festival (Den Haag, the Netherlands) and Schauspielhaus Zürich Norient presents the most exciting acts of today's pop music on the theater stage in Zurich, Switzerland. In the first edition on April 21, 2018, the experimental sound worlds of Ben Frost will collide with the dark avant-garde pop of Jenny Hval. Events will also be held on May 12 and June 9. More acts to be announced soon.

Exactly twenty years ago the journalist and writer Kodwo Eshun attempted in his influential book More Brilliant than the Sun – Adventures in Sonic Fiction to rethink the perception of music in general by finding a new language for music (rather than rely on words that leave the radical imaginary space of music untapped). He did this by describing and excavating the unacknowledged traditions of diasporic science fiction, by finding a «future shock» in music and sounds. Today, it is still obvious, how limiting traditional language is, especially attempts to describe current sonic phenomenons; more than ever, pop music is crossing borders, is audiovisual, powerful and aesthetically challenging. Contemporary musicians debate political topics and appear provocative and virtuosic at the same time. With this new series of concerts and audiovisual performances, Norient and Rewire want to present the diversity of the current Sonic Fiction on the theater stage in Zurich to a wider audience. We are looking forward to meet you there.

Directly jump to: line up April 21 | May 12 (tba) | June 9 (tba)

April 21, 2018: Ben Frost / Jenny Hval

20:00h at Schauspielhaus Zürich, Pfauen
Tickets from CHF 35 to 70 (presale open)

Jenny Hval

Jenny Hval has in recent years made a name for herself as a recording artist and writer both in her native Norway and abroad. Multidisciplinary and transgressive are words often employed to describe her art, but Jenny Hval’s polyphonic artistry is in fact seamlessly interwoven between musical, literary, visual and performative modes of expression. Her artistic voice is altogether present, accessible and obscurely complex at the same time. Follow Jenny Hval on Bandcamp, Facebook, SoundCloud, Twitter, or YouTube.

Ben Frost

The music of Ben Frost is about contrast; influenced as much by Classical Minimalism as by Punk Rock and Metal, Frost’s throbbing guitar-based textures emerge from nothing and slowly coalesce into huge, forbidding forms that often eschew conventional structures in favor of the inevitable unfoldings of vast mechanical systems. Follow Ben Frost on Bandcamp, Facebook, SoundCloud, Twitter, Website, or YouTube.

May 12, 2018: Second Edition

20:00h at Schauspielhaus Zürich, Pfauen
Tickets from CHF 35 to 70

Line up to be announced soon.

June 9, 2018: Third Edition

20:00h at Schauspielhaus Zürich, Pfauen
Tickets from CHF 35 to 70

Line up to be announced soon.

Credits

In collaboration with:

Curation: Thomas Burkhalter and Bronne Keesmaat
Cooperation: Theresa Beyer and Hannes Liechti
Project Coordination: Hannes Liechti
Art Design: Caroline Grimm (Schauspielhaus Zürich)

Roland TR-8S hands-on: a more playable, powerful drum machine

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 5 Mar 2018 9:00 am

Roland today unveils the TR-8S, an updated take on the AIRA TR-8 drum machine. We’ve been testing it – and it looks like exactly the sequel we all wanted.

Basically, if you threw out the limitations of the original TR-8, put it in a more attractive case, and expanded the sound and performance powers of the box, of course you’d make us happy.

So the TR-8S loads your own samples, atop a wider, updated range of built-in models of classic Roland gear and preloaded sonds. It’s more playable and immediate, thanks to expanded controls and functions. It has effects sends for each part, plus a bunch of new effects to choose from. It lets you record automation, so you can make the sound shift along with your drum patterns. It integrates more easily with other gear, thanks to separate audio outs, and with your computer, thanks to a multichannel USB connection that also lets you use the onboard effects.

To put it even more simply: the TR-8S makes more sounds, and it’s more fun to play. Oh yeah, and it looks pretty instead of fugly.

It’s still not a sampler – you only get sample playback. And it’s not a new drum synth – while it models the original Roland machines, there are only emulations of old circuitry, not any new models.

But instead of just feeling like an 808/909 rehash, the new TR-8S really feels like a new hub for sequencing and drum parts, one that is equally at home with gear or a computer.

Price – US$699 (EUR699 with VAT), available this month.

But as I’ve had some time to play, let’s take a closer look.

Breaking down the new features

Let’s not forget the reasons the TR-8 became a hit, shortcomings or no. It pretty well nailed widely-used 808 and 909 sounds and behaviors. But that alone wouldn’t be enough – to become a live gigging favorite, the TR-8 had to also add hands-on controls. And that seems to be why so many people adopted it. The faders alone make it instantly more appealing than a whole host of competing drum machines. It means you can actually play the thing, as if it’s an instrument. So any number of fancy, expensive drum machines are useless as live instruments if you’re navigating those features by diving through menus rather than playing them.

The problem with the original was, the box wasn’t much more than a nice interface to those sound models. Even adding 727 sounds was a paid add-on. And the available effects were limited. Plus there was the weird “scatter” function, which scrambled patterns rhythmic variations and effects in a way that seemed to cater to EDM fans, but afforded very little control. And let’s not get started on the toy-like green case and blinding lights.

The “S” revision does more than just address some shortcomings. It manages to present a much more capable device, all round.

More sounds. The TR-8S has a host of sounds included right out of the box: 808, 606, 909, 707, and (Latin!) 727. (Let’s assume they’re saving the Roland CR-78 for a small Boutique Series remake?) Roland also says these now incorporate new modeling tech running on a new processor, though I haven’t yet been able to evaluate how that compares to their other recent gear.

Note again that this means they’ve modeled the analog circuitry of their original analog drum machines, not simply included samples of the sounds those make. That’s the Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology they like to tout.

The unique ploy here is being able to mix up that engine with other sample-based sounds, including your own.

Sample loading. That “S” in the name is obviously for sample playback. There are a bunch of new built-in samples, plus an SD card slot round the back of the unit. Load your own samples there, and adjust basic parameters (speed, start point, direction).

You can’t load big one-shots, so this is about custom kits, not playing stems or backing tracks. There’s no live sampling capability, either.

But you do get to build kits up from your own sounds or mix and match with the TR’s circuit models.

Smarter, more fluid rhythms and expression. The step sequencer is of course part of the draw of the TR line. But now you can break up some of the potential monotony of that interface. Sub-steps and fills let you program in more complex rhythms. (The original TR-8 let you do basic fills and variations, but now you can hit one button and program in exact sub-steps.)

You can also automate fills and variations. You can add 8 variations and chain up to 128 steps. (The previous model lacked chaining and additional variations.)

In addition to step-programming accent, you can also use a single, velocity-sensitive pad for adding more levels of velocity live. This isn’t an MPC by any means, but it fits the workflow of the Roland, while allowing more nuanced performances. You can add flam, too, via the step sequencer. And all of this is just as easy as toggling steps normally is – so complex rhythms become easily accessible.

This unassuming green pad lets you add velocity and not just push-button steps and accents.

The other reason all of this matters: think of the TR-8S as a powerful rhythm programmer. Because it has trigger outs, you can use this power with synths and other drum machines, not just the internal TR sound engine.

More patterns and automatic chaining mean the TR-8S lets you make more complicated rhythms – but while retaining the simplicity of the original. The same is true of adding subdivisions to a rhythm. Tap “sub” and you can add more complex rhythms on an individual step.

For automating variations, you can now use sophisticated fill controls.

Powerful effects. The first TR-8 had some basic effects, but the TR-8S has effects that work both on individual parts and on the master, with more complete control over each. There are independent stereo reverb and delay sends for each instrument.

You simply dial in the effect you want, and then it’s always there for use from the CTRL knob on each part.

Above those signature faders, a new third “control” knob is assignable and lets you tweak parameters and effects sends for each part.

Everything is tweakable. Each sound gets its own tune and decay parameter, plus an assignable controller (the additional knob) which you can use to gain access to more parameters or to the effects sends. This means you can take those TR sounds and warp them, or work with your own samples in new ways. And those three knobs let you shape sounds as you play.

You can also record motion automation and add it to patterns. That was definitely an oversight on the original TR-8, but now that it’s here, it pairs nicely with the new rhythmic features and assignable controllers.

Multichannel connections with gear and computers. Separate outputs – at last!

For use with gear, you get eight separate outputs, plus a stereo external audio input. This means you could trigger external gear, use external effects, add internal effects to external gear, and use external mixing and recording. (You don’t get melodic sequencing – you’ll have to do that externally – but the interface of the TR-8 isn’t really built around that anyway.)

Connect via USB, and you get not only MIDI I/O, but multichannel I/O with all those audio ports. You can use just a USB cable to connect to the Roland MX-1 mixer, too, via what they call AIRA Link. You can also even route round-trip to the TR-8S’ effects from a computer. (Why would you do that? Simple – still more controls, all in the same interface.)

Loads of I/O – input plus separate outputs/triggers. Connect to a computer, and all of this is also an audio/MIDI interface.

Flexible lighting. It’s not just the green trim that’s gone. The LEDs now seem designed for users and not just to look flashy in music retailers. So in addition to dimming the lights, you can set color and glow options to keep track of what you’re using.

What it’s like to use

The important thing to me about the TR-8S isn’t really its power on paper, but the fact that you get all of this as something you can play and improvise with.

There’s some light menu navigation required to get things working the way you want – deciding what the CTRL knob for each part does, adjusting a particular parameter, selecting your kit.

But then once that’s done, everything is accessible without menus or complexity of any kind, in a spacious, obvious control layout. That frees you up to focus on rhythm and sound, directly through physical interaction – not through a bunch of programming and editing.

I spent an afternoon with Nick de Friez from Roland here in Berlin, combining the TR-8S with a MakeNoise 0-Coast semi-modular synth and an original Roland SH-101. (A newer SH-01A would be an obvious substitute.)

We actually had two TR-8S units on hand, so … we used both of them. (I manually synced by mashing the play buttons at the same time, which works. Nudge is also available. MIDI out between the two units won’t work until Roland adds the ability to disable note information being sent over MIDI.)

And here’s some extended audio of the four instruments together. Some of those crazy sounds are the new effects on the TR-8S:

What I learned here was: this is a heck of a lot of pure, unadulterated fun. And it’s fun that’s uniquely easy to share with others, because the front panel is roomy and easy to understand.

I’ve also uploaded audio – not so much to try to document the sound of the box, so much as the expanded range of rhythms and sounds that come from its new functionality, and how freeing that might be in a real-world live improv.

Bottom Line?

Roland’s own moniker for the first TR-8 was “rhythm performer.” What’s cool about the TR-8S is that it actually delivers on that idea.

It was easy to see the first round of AIRA as just an inexpensive reboot of stuff from the past. But I think it’d be unfair to characterize the TR-8S that way. It now presents a really complete sequencing workflow, and a set of use cases for outboard gear (both analog and digital), and for combination with a computer.

Do you still need to be an 808/909/vintage Roland fan to apply? Yeah, probably. But that no longer has to be the end of the story.

What already promises to set the TR-8S apart is, it has an unparalleled amount of sequencing power right on the front power, coupled with those sounds.

Consider the main competitors in this price bracket. MFB’s boxes are cool, but they’re mainly about sound. Elektron’s Digitakt is cute and compact and powerful, but that power isn’t nearly as accessible under your fingertips – and it lacks separate outs for instruments and triggers. Arturia’s DrumBrute has full analog synthesis for each part coupled with dedicated controls specific to them, and 12 separate outputs. It’s arguably more focused as an instrument, to be sure – but it’s more limited in sound (synth only, no samples) and sequencing (roll your finger along a touch strip for live rolls, but none of the sub-step and more powerful variation and fill features of the TR-8S).

Here’s the funny thing: each of these boxes becomes a nice pairing with the TR-8S.

The first AIRA was middle-of-the-road thanks to a friendly interface and known sounds. But this one does that and then also can literally sit at the center of the other gear you might like to use. It removes the kind of limitations that might make you make boring sounds or boring music, but keeps the simplicity so that people can feel free to jam.

Really, if there’s anything bad to say about the TR-8S, it’s that Roland aren’t using their circuit modeling techniques to open up this box to new sounds. We have software with great drum synths (including recent releases of Ableton Live and Maschine), and new hardware with new synthesized drum (Moog DFAM, Arturia DrumBrute), and modular, and so on. And we have a ton of music that already uses those sounds. The absence of solo and undo – plus MIDI transmit options – cry out for a firmware update already, too.

But apart from those criticisms, everything about this box – the balance of the design, its capabilities – represents the best of what we’d hope for from Roland. And I think the combined utility of this box will make it wildly popular onstage.

Expect this to be one of the devices that helps lead the charge toward spreading more live sets.

There’s more to say about the specifics of how MIDI and performance options work (and some room for improvement in some of these details for future firmware updates). So expect more on this topic soon, plus some videos Roland is producing on how the gear is used.

The post Roland TR-8S hands-on: a more playable, powerful drum machine appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

MIDI Designer Pro 2 adds its own inbuilt programming language with Stream Byter II

Delivered... Ashley Elsdon | Scene | Mon 5 Mar 2018 12:58 am

MIDI Designer Pro has been a go to app for many users who want or need to create bespoke interfaces for almost any MIDI purpose. It’s an app that continually gets improved on, so in some ways this update wasn’t a surprise. On the other hand, it’s a step forward that’s so big that I almost can’t believe it. Whilst it’s a big update, it’s probably going to be of most benefit to those users who are at the most advanced end of the spectrum. So what is it?

MIDI Designer Pro version 2.96 is now embedding the Stream Byter Plugin by Audeonic. This Plugin provides MIDI manipulation in two places: before MIDI Designer processes the MIDI, and before the MIDI produced by MIDI Designer gets sent to a Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Virtual or Hardware target via CoreMIDI.

Stream Byter itself was initially released in May ’13 as a way to extend Audeonic’s MidiBridge 1.5 ‘out in the field’ for customers and has been continuously improved since then. The Stream Byter in Midi Designer is the ‘Stream Byter II’ version that exists in Audeonic’s MidiFire app (iOS/macOS).

What does Stream Byter do? It allows you to make custom MIDI processing modules that you design yourself using a concise programming language made up of rules. There are simple rules for matching and transforming MIDI events and more complex rules for writing modules that behave conditionally, set/examine variables, perform math/timing operations, and of course, generate MIDI messages themselves.

For example here is a very simple case: you are playing a keyboard and you decide that you want to turn a single knob (“reverb,” for instance). The higher (to the right) you go on the keyboard, the louder the reverb gets.

That’s a single line match/transform Stream Byter Input rule:

9X = BX 5B X2

The above rule can be summarized as follows: For every note event received, set the value of the ‘reverb’ controller number (on same channel as note) to the MIDI note number of the note.

Rules can be joined. Imagine you want to toggle the value of another knob from top to bottom every time you hit an A3 on the keyboard, but you don’t want the message to go out for 10 seconds? That’s another rule. Generally rules do one or more of these things, and often combine them:

  • decompose and recompose longer MIDI messages
  • filter MIDI messages
  • transform MIDI messages
  • produce more MIDI messages

The first case, decompose MIDI messages, will be useful for parsing incoming sysex dumps for hardware synths that produce parseable sysex dumps for patches.

Writing Stream Byter rules does require knowledge of the MIDI protocol and how to construct rules correctly. There is an introductory tutorial on the Audeonic site and the full Stream Byter manual is available there too. There is also a dedicated section to the Stream Byter on the Audeonic forum. Midi Designer customers are welcome to post questions or requirements there where the developer and other Stream Byter users will help out.

Stream Byter input and output rules are saved and shared with your layout. Any MIDI Designer Pro 2 user may open a layout with rules someone else has authored free of charge. There’s an in-app purchase to author or edit Stream Byter rules. This IAP will be available upon release of MIDI Designer Pro 2.96. It will be priced at $1.99 for the first three months, and then return to its normal price of $8.99.

In addition to the Stream Byter Plugin, Version 2.96 provides Slow Reset to Default. When a supercontrol button is set to “Reset to Default,” it can now also snap the subcontrol to its value over time. This gives you a slow reset and a precursor of what’s to come with presets.

MIDI Designer Pro 2 is available on the app store for $24.99, and the Stream Byter IAP will cost $1.99 for the next 3 months

The post MIDI Designer Pro 2 adds its own inbuilt programming language with Stream Byter II appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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