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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » 2018 » March » 21

Make Noise are turning a classic 1972 synthesis book into a video series

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 21 Mar 2018 6:57 pm

Even as modular synths make a comeback, the definitive work on the topic languishes out of print since its 1972 publication. But now, one synth maker is translating its ideas to video.

The folks at Make Noise, who have been one of the key makers behind Eurorack’s growth (and a leader in on the American side of the pond), have gone all the way back to 1972 to find a reference to the fundamentals behind modular synthesis.

“Where do I find a textbook on modular synthesis?” isn’t an easy question to answer. A lot of understanding modular comes from a weird combination of received knowledge, hearsay, various example patches (some of them also dating back to the 60s and 70s), and bits and pieces scattered around print and online.

But Allen Strange’s Electronic Music: Systems, techniques, and controls covers actual theory. It treats the notions of modular synthesis as a fundamental set of skills. It’s just now out of print, and a used copy could cost you $200-300 because of automated online pricing (whether anyone would actually pay that).

So it’s great to see Make Noise take this on – if nothing else, as a way to frame teaching their own modules.

And… uh, you might find a PDF of the original text. (I think most people read my own book in pirated form, especially in its Russian and Polish translations – seriously – so I’m looking at this myself as a writer and sometimes educator and pondering what the best way is to teach modular in 2018.)

I’m definitely watching and subscribing to this one, though – and this first video gives me an idea… excuse me, time to load up Pd, Reaktor, and VCV Rack again!

Allen Strange wrote the book on modular synthesizers in the 1970s. Electronic Music: Systems, Techniques, and Controls. Unfortunately since the expanded 1982 edition, it has never been reprinted, and in today’s landscape where more people have access to modular synths than ever before, very few have access to the knowledge contained within. This video series will explore patches both basic and advanced from Strange’s text. Even the simplest patches here yield kernels of knowledge that can be expanded upon in infinite ways. I have been heavily influenced by Strange since long before I became a modular synth educator. Please share this knowledge far and wide. The first video in the series covers one basic and one slightly less basic patch using envelopes.


The post Make Noise are turning a classic 1972 synthesis book into a video series appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Using Copyrighted Content on a Website – Including News Articles and Videos – Secure the Rights!

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Wed 21 Mar 2018 5:15 pm

In recent weeks, I have had several calls from broadcasters asking if it was permissible to copy articles from other news sources and post them on the station website – with attribution to the original source. As I told them, posting content without permission of the copyright holder can lead to big problems. We have written about these issues in connection with the use of photos and video (see, for instance, our articles here, here and here), and recently even using embedded photos from a social media site have been called into question (see our article here). The copying of any substantial part of a news article raises the same issues as posting pictures or video found on the Internet onto your site. Such actions diminish the ability to of the content’s owner to profit from its own content. If someone can read a story on a broadcaster’s website, why would they need to go to the site of the originator of that content – even where attribution to the originating site (and even a link to that site) is given on the broadcaster’s site?

Years ago, there were many websites that would “aggregate” news by taking significant portions of news stories from other sites and make it available to the aggregator’s readers. There was a rash of lawsuits where content owners, including newspapers and others, claimed that aggregators using even a paragraph or two of the original story were infringing on their rights to their content. Content owners had real concerns about this aggregation sites, as a reader can usually get the gist of the story from the introductory paragraphs and, even when the aggregator provided a link to the full story, the readers would be far less likely to go to the full story when they had already been given its substance. Today, to avoid these lawsuits, most such news aggregators provide at most a headline (and sometimes even the headline can be creative enough to pose a copyright risk if run on an aggregator’s site – so just a generic paraphrase of that headline is often used), and at most a very brief description of the story on the originating site – a description that only directs the users of the aggregator site to the originating site and does not use any of the originating story’s language or original reporting, e.g. a statement that “you can find a good story about Virginia’s collapse in the NCAA tournament in this story” or “for more developments on latest in the personnel changes in the Trump Administration, check out this story in the Washington Post.” Using more than this kind of generic referral is a risk, and fair use is no often going to be available as a defense.

As we have written before, the concept of “fair use” is one that is often claimed but often rejected as a defense to potential copyright infringement. The concept of fair use is set out in Section 107 of the US Copyright Act. It basically allows for socially positive uses of copyrighted content without permission, but only where that use does not overly impinge on the financial value of the copyrighted work and effectively become a substitute for that work. In many recent cases, courts have characterized a fair use as one that is “transformative” – essentially changing the nature of the copyrighted work that is being used. So, if you use a snippet of a song or a brief quote from an article for purposes of criticizing that copyrighted work, the use is “transforming” the copyrighted material into something different (a comment or criticism), rather than merely making a reproduction of that work to provide it to an audience in the same way that the copyright holder is likely to do, in a way likely to interfere with the copyright owner’s ability to monetize his or her own work.

In conducting a fair use analysis, the Copyright Act says that you look at four factors:

  1. The nature of the use – including whether the use is commercial or for non-profit or educational purposes;
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. The amount or substantiality of the work that is used;
  4. The effect of the use on the potential market value of the work itself.

How these factors play into any circumstance is a difficult question to analyze – and one where there are no hard and fast rules. There is no 10 second (or 30 second, or 15 second) safe harbor from potential liability that allows a user to take that amount of a copyrighted work like a song or video for use in a production (see our article here). Similarly, for written works, there is no safe harbor for using a paragraph or even a sentence. Instead, each use needs to be evaluated on its own.

The more educational or informational a use, the more that factor weighs in favor of a finding of fair use. The greater amount of the work that is used, the more likely a fair use defense is to be rejected. If the kind of use that is being made is one for which a creator could make money, the less likely fair use is to be found. But each of these factors needs to be weighed, and a court has to make a final determination of where the weight of these factors plays out. How that analysis will be resolved in most cases is hard to predict and thus makes risky all but the most limited and benign use of copyrighted content unless permission from the copyright owner is first secured.

A recent case illustrates how even a widely used, seemingly very useful service can raise significant questions about whether fair use applies. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently analyzed the operations of a video clipping service, TVEyes, which recorded massive amounts of TV programming, indexed the video based on the words used in the programs (primarily from closed captions), and allowed clients to search the content and play back as much as 10 minutes around a search term to see if it is relevant to the user. The service was, according to the decision, widely used by journalists and government officials to track coverage of specific topics. TVEyes argued that its service was like that of Google Books (a service that provides an index of the content of a vast library of books, a service which was found by the Court of Appeals to constitute a fair use), as it was transformative – providing an index of vast amounts of content for research purposes to allow users to know when something was broadcast, not as an entertainment service as the programming was originally intended.

In weighing the various factors, the Court looked at a number of facts to conclude that the TVEyes service was not a fair use. The Court looked at factors including that 10 minutes of programming was provided with each search (not some substantially shorter excerpt), that there were no limit on the number of searches that could be conducted within the same program which could theoretically allow a user to watch complete programs, and that the content owners could potentially themselves monetize an index of their own programming to determine that this was not a fair use. The Court distinguished this case from that of Google Books where far less content was provided in any search, and where there were limits on how much content from a single book could be searched to preclude users from reading meaningful portions of any book through the service.

While most media companies are not likely to try to replicate a service like that provided by TVEyes, the case demonstrates just how difficult it is to conclude that any particular use is a “fair” one that would allow the use of copyrighted content without the permission of the copyright owner. Thus, as set forth above, in connection with the more mundane, day-to-day uses of content on the website of a broadcaster or other media company, in most cases the best advice is to get permission for the use of content before posting it to your site.

Nucleya To Work On High Jack’s Trippy Stoner Tunes – Movie Talkies – Movie Talkies

Delivered... "Indian Electronic Music" - Google News | Scene | Wed 21 Mar 2018 2:16 pm

Movie Talkies

Nucleya To Work On High Jack's Trippy Stoner Tunes - Movie Talkies
Movie Talkies
Bollywood is set to get its very first stoner comedy, High Jack and Nucleya has come on board to give the film's music his distinctive touch. Udyan Sagar, known by his stage name Nucleya, is an Indian electronic music producer. High Jack is being ...

and more »

Fever Ray review – cartoonish camp and eco-rave vibes

Delivered... Laura Snapes | Scene | Wed 21 Mar 2018 1:57 pm

Troxy, London
Swedish art rocker Karin Dreijer is best when she translates experimental music to the stage with a bang

As six cartoonishly styled women stride on stage, each taking a moment to flex in the neon strobing like a pro-wrestling heel, it’s hard to square the camp spectacle with Fever Ray’s last appearance in the UK. In 2010, the woman then known as Karin Dreijer Andersson performed her self-titled debut in darkness, engulfed by dry ice and wearing heavy robes that obscured her face. It made a feverish album about the claustrophobic loneliness of motherhood even more harrowing. In the intervening years, much has changed for Stockholm’s Dreijer – divorcing and reclaiming her name, and embarking on a Tinder-abetted quest into her queerness as documented on a second Fever Ray album.

Never mind nuclear family; last year’s Plunge is about chosen family uniting to celebrate freedom and pleasure: “Still, we’re pushing what’s possible / A queer healing / Mom just tired of feeling,” as Dreijer sings on Falling. Hence the homemade costumes – bug-eyed anarchist scientists, cat burglar, dumpster diver, fashion victim, preening bodybuilder with bulbous foam pecs – which together resemble a shambolic Avengers primed to topple the patriarchy. The Hulk and a blue-haired succubus flank Dreijer, shaven-headed and with zombie-pink eyes, who often cedes the floor and microphone to them in a characteristic refusal of ego that also distinguished her performances with duo the Knife (and almost started riots on their aggressively loose Shaking the Habitual tour). The trio play jester and corrupter, mugging gleefully and grinding in slow-motion against each other as if enacting a set piece from an aerobics-themed porno.

Related: Fever Ray: on pleasure, patriarchy and political revolution

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Nucleya To Work On High Jack’s Trippy Stoner Tunes – Movie Talkies

Delivered... | Scene | Wed 21 Mar 2018 8:00 am
Nucleya To Work On High Jack's Trippy Stoner Tunes  Movie Talkies

Bollywood is set to get its very first stoner comedy, High Jack and Nucleya has come on board to give the film's music his distinctive touch. Udyan Sagar, known ...

From Argentina, spectacular custom controllers and a DIY platform

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 21 Mar 2018 1:23 am

Latin America has long been a source of creativity in electronic music. But a bright spot in growing its own electronic hardware comes from Yaeltex, and their vision of unique custom instruments.

A new producer in Argentina

Based in Buenos Aires, Yaeltex are specializing in custom controllers for a range of musical and visual applications, hardware and software. There’s the Miniblock – a high-end, boutique wood-cased controller made in a run of just 30 units. (The wood even comes from their hometown in Patagonia.) And they also make wild, one-off custom controllers direct from customers’ imaginations – plus a platform that lets DIYers make their own stuff from scratch. And they’ve got growing plans in the works, too.

Whether you’re a customer in Buenos Aires or Barcelona, it’s also a big deal that this is coming from Latin America. It’s a first indication of the kind of makers we could see spring up in the area.

And there’s a need. While the particulars differ from country to country, South America faces two major problems. One, a lot of people just don’t have the purchasing power on local salaries and with local currencies to afford products priced for countries like the US, UK, Japan, or Germany. Two, as if that weren’t bad enough, these countries typically slap high import duties on top of the products, making them even more expensive to import. (To the north, Mexico’s trade alliance and economic integration with the USA helps on that second point, at least.)

Of course, these problems could also be an opportunity for a new wave of musical inventors based in the region. And then there’s the chance to localize directly to Spanish and Portuguese.

Custom controllers

On the custom side, you’ve got a range of custom modules that can be combined into a dream controller, including faders, pots, switches with LED lighting, distance sensors, joysticks, and arcade buttons. And they do cool color panels. These are made into the one-of-a-kind rarities you see here, made in conversations with the buyers.

And an open platform

Then there’s the Kilomux shield, which makes it easier to produce your own MIDI controllers using the open, artist-friendly Arduino environment.

Around that, they’ve constructed a whole ecosystem of tools for connecting modular controller add-ons, and configuring the hardware with custom names and I/O mappings – all of these tools open source.

How is this being used? Mateo Ferley Yael tells us:

Most of our clients are making custom controllers for Ableton Live, Traktor, dedicated VST controllers and Hardware Synth controllers like MORPHI, that is designed to control Dave Smiths Mopho and Tetra, making possible to access most “hidden” parameters of the synth in its hardware interface. We also have lots of interest from VJs that are designing their own controllers to use in Resolume, Modul8, Isadora, vvvv or processing.

With Ableton users in mind, there’s a 20% discount for nativeKONTROL DDC for adding integration with Ableton Live.

In conversation

I asked some other questions of Mateo about how their projects are evolving.

Peter: What led you to produce the Kilomux?

Mateo: We were inspired by Livid’s Brain, the Highly Liquid [DIY MIDI range], and the Doepfer DIY MIDI boards, which we used in our first projects. After using them, we had the idea to make an Arduino-based and open source take on this kind of board. Because “Arduino-based” sounds difficult by default for many musicians and artists, we also made a friendly framework to work with, without the need to solder (using ribbon cables to connect modules) or write code (using our Kilomux configuration tool, Kilowhat). We are now working on a new version of it, adding lots of new features and stuff we learned since 2015, that we hope to launch in early 2019.

What does it mean that you’re trying to build up the scene in Argentina – what’s that like?

Well, even if in Argentina we have a big and competitive software industry, there’s not much hardware development for arts and expression, but happily, we see more brands coming up every year. In a context with such economic constraints and instability, it is really hard to grow a business around products that are not about basic needs. Our brand and most of the hardware manufacturing brands around here are all led by passionate people that choose to risk their time and economic resources to make what we love. There is an amazing synth and Eurorack community and a growing offering of locally-made modules and synth-related products.

Are you finding you’re getting a Latin American customer base, too? What do you think the future of that may be?

Presently, our main target is Latin America. Most of our customers are in Argentina; we have a growing customer community in Mexico and we’re starting to get orders from other Latin American countries. For people from this part of the world, it’s not typical to see products like ours made in Latin America, because of the lack of a local hardware industry. Most of the equipment we buy comes from EU, US, or China, and that’s not because we don’t have the talent or knowledge – the main cause is high manufacturing costs. Shipping charges and taxes make it almost impossible for us to be competitive with the prices of leading manufacturing countries. So people that get to us and see our products are happily surprised when they find we have something special, well done, with support and care for details.

We find that Latin America is a missing voice inside this industry. The way we decided to go is to add value by making unique and original products. We already ship worldwide through FedEx, but we are looking forward to hitting the international market in 2019.

Ed.: this also of course illustrates why protectionism doesn’t necessarily benefit the local manufacturing scene – because it makes importing components more expensive, thus driving up local prices. So it’s terrific they’ve managed to navigate around that problem.

What are you sourcing locally actually, versus importing?

We are locally sourcing all the casing (front-back panels, wood case custom made in Patagonia) and have in-house software development, hardware design and product assembly workforce. All the electronics comes, after testing and tough-selecting the best providers, from the US and China. Even import taxes and shipping costs are really high, we are working hard to keep prices as low as we can.

Thanks, Mateo! We’ll be watching!

So, there’s so much to see with their custom platform for DIYers, that I’ll devote that to another story. And keep your eye out for other developments from Yaeltex and the scene in Argentina and around Latin America. (We’re spoiled with all the interchange in Europe, thanks to being closer geographically and bound together by cheap, fast trains, buses, and flights! So we should definitely get not only more coverage from South America, but see that it’s in Spanish or even Portuguese, since online information becomes critical! Happy to partner with any other sites working on this, too.)



The post From Argentina, spectacular custom controllers and a DIY platform appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

If Modular Synthesis is something you’re interested in, here are 3 ways to get started cheaply

Delivered... Ashley Elsdon | Scene | Wed 21 Mar 2018 12:50 am

Modular is popular, and if anything it’s getting more popular in all areas of of electronic music making. But it isn’t cheap, not by a long way, and as such it probably isn’t something you might want to spend a lot of money on without being sure that it’s for you. I’ve known quite a few modular converts who’ve described buying modules as more of a habit than a hobby, and that doesn’t make me entirely confident about stepping down that path.

Also, it always seems to me that a modular system is never complete. In fact, from the friends I have who have trodden this path, they mainly say that they’re always either in the process of filling their current case, or, when it’s full, deciding on a new case to buy, and then embarking on filling that.

Having said all of that, there are quite a few ways that you can dip your toe in the water without breaking the bank, and I’m going to talk you through them in cost order, from the cheapest to the most expensive.

Let’s start with apps

Yep, apps are by far the very cheapest way of starting to play with anything modular, and when I say apps I don’t just mean iOS apps, although they certainly play their part of course. The very cheapest way to get going with modular is on your computer with the VCV Rack system, much of which is completely free. To find out all about VCV, just start here.

Of course, if iOS is more your platform of choice, then there are quite a few options to take a look at, and they’re all cheaper than starting to buy modules. I’ll start with a list of the modular apps that are essentially my go to apps, and then we’ll go over their relative merits.

  1. zMors – Probably my current favourite modular synth in iOS
  2. Audulus 3 – Almost certainly one of the most complete, and also complex modular synths for iOS
  3. Moog’s Model 15 – A virtual representation of the model 15 and it runs on iPad and iPhone
  4. iVCS3 – A loving recreation of this classic modular
  5. RippleMaker – A much easier to use modular
  6. Jasuto – I couldn’t make a list of modulars for iOS without including Jasuto. It’s out of date and hasn’t seen an update in way too long, but it’s a personal fav.

There are more, not a huge number, but there are others, notably Caustic (which also runs on Android) which is really a lot more than a modular, as it contains multiple synths, drum machines and FX, but its modular it pretty good too. Next let’s have a brief look at each.

zMors Modular synth

I’ve been a big fan of this app since its launch. It’s universal now and in my view is one of the easiest to put together your own synth ideas rapidly. If you’re completely new to modular synthesis then this isn’t a bad place to start at all. It’s only $9.99 on the app store too.

Audulus 3

This is a big app and a massively capable app too. Users have made some truly amazing patches for Audulus. If you check the forum there’s well over 600 there which you can download. There’s also lots of tutorial videos and even live streams too. But this is a complex app and you will need to take time to learn how it works to get the best value for your $19.99 on the app store.

Moog’s Model 15

This is an interesting idea for a modular app. It is essentially a full representation on iOS of Moog’s iconic Model 15 modular. Moog have taken a lot of trouble to make the app as close as possible to the original hardware. It’s certainly fun, but it is the most expensive of the batch at $29.99.


Continuing the theme of vintage recreations, the iVCS3 is a very carefully made iOS version of the original hardware. VCS3 was created in 1969 by Peter Zinovieff’s EMS company. The electronics were largely designed by David Cockerell and the machine’s distinctive visual appearance was the work of electronic composer Tristram Cary. The app version is certainly more affordable than trying to buy an original as it’ll only set you back $14.99.


This app from Bram Bos is, in my view, one of the most straightforward ways to dip your toe into modular synthesis in iOS. It refers to itself as a West Coast Flavored Modular. With modules, such as complex oscillator, lowpass gate, FM, mathematical utilities and slope generator, are designed for exploration and experimentation. All modules are prewired; offering a powerful monosynth without using a single cable. Ripplemaker is designed for fun – big enough to lose yourself into, yet intuitive enough to not get lost. RippleMaker is one of the cheapest iOS modulars at $8.99.

Finally, Jasuto

Jasuto was the very first modular on iOS, and in fact well before iOS was called iOS. It saddens me to say that it hasn’t been updated in a long time now, but it was a great app, and way ahead of it’s time.

So, that was apps, what next?

Let’s talk about Nano-Modulars

Apps are great, and whether you go for VCV Rack or any of the iOS options above it’ll never be quite the same as have real patch cables to plug in, but you still don’t have to go the whole way and spend a fortune to sample some modular delights. There are cheaper options than modules themselves. My personal favourite is the Kastle synth from Bastl Instruments. This is a delightful little instrument that will give you a good taste of using patch cables and won’t cost you the earth. Bastl have recently released a new version of the Kastle synth. Version 1.5 boasts a lot of additional features over the 1.0 version, including USB power.

I’ve now got both versions, and one thing that is really useful is being able to patch them together. Version 1.5 is certainly a step up from the original, but both are a load of fun to play around with, and eminently affordable.

And finally …

I did say there were three options. The first was apps, the second was the Kastle above. Last but not least is the lunchbox modular. This is the most expensive of all 3 options, but it is viable. The best example I’ve seen so far is Tom Whitwell’s lunchbox modular. He brought this to the Ableton Loop festival in 2016 and I’ve been slowly putting my version together ever since.

You should read the whole story from Tom. It’s pretty interesting. Of course, this is the most expensive option and does involve getting real modules, but it’s cheaper than buying a full rack and all that goes with it.

So there you have it. If the modular bug has been eating away at you for a while, try these options, and if none of them work, then sadly, my diagnosis is that you’re going to end up hooked. It could be worse! At least you’ll have some fun!

The post If Modular Synthesis is something you’re interested in, here are 3 ways to get started cheaply appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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