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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » 2019 » November » 20

Op-ed: KORG has transformed synthesizers by letting them run plug-ins, says Sinevibes

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 20 Nov 2019 8:47 pm

No new ideas in synthesizers? Not so, says independent developer Artemiy Pavlov. He was excited enough about KORG’s direction that he’s written about why he thinks it changes music tech for the better.

The Ukraine-based coder who releases under his Sinevibes brand is someone we’ve followed on CDM for some years, as a source of very elegant Mac-only plug-ins. Making those tools for one company’s piece of hardware (one that isn’t Apple) is a new direction. But that’s what he’s done with KORG’s ‘logue plug-in architecture, which now runs on the minilogue xd and prologue keyboards, as well as the $100 NTS-1 kit. As long as you’ve got the hardware, you can run oscillators, filters, and effects from third-party developers like Sinevibes – or even grab the SDK and make your own, if you’re a coder.

Now, of course Artemiy is biased – but that’s kind of the point. What’s biased his one-man dev operation is that he’s clearly had a really great experience developing for KORG’s synths, from coding and testing, to turning it into a business.

This is not a KORG advertisement, even if it sounds like one. I actually didn’t even tell them it’s coming, apart from mentioning something was inbound to KORG’s Etienne Noreau-Hebert, chief analog engineer. But because it impacts both interested musicians and developers, I thought it was worth getting Artemiy’s perspective directly.

So here’s Artemiy on that – and I think this does offer some hope to those wanting new directions for electronic musical instruments. This is labeled “Op Ed” for a reason – I don’t necessarily agree with all of it – but I think it’s a unique perspective, not only in regards to KORG hardware but the potential for the industry and musicians of this sort of embedded development, generally. -Ed.

Artemiy diagrams the idea here.

In early 2018, for its 50th anniversary, Korg introduced the prologue. It wasn’t just a great-sounding synthesizer with shiny, polished-metal looks. It introduced a whole new technical paradigm that has brought a tectonic shift to the whole music hardware and software industry.

Korg has since taken the concept of “plug-ins in mainstream hardware synths” further to much more compact and affordable minilogue xd and Nu:Tekt NTS-1, proving that it’s more serious about this than even I myself thought.

If you thought the platform just lets you load custom wavetables and store effect presets, you have no idea how much you’ve been missing! This is also for those who have been waiting for something that really looks to the future – and for anyone wanting to scale down their rig while scaling up their sonic palette. For me, as a control freak, I can now imagine new features from the moment I touched the synth – even though it’s someone else’s product. 

Here are five ways Korg’s plugin-capable synths completely change the game for all of us, described both as before and after:

Artemiy explains this as a meme.

1. Personalization

Before. When you buy a synthesizer, all the features inside are what the manufacturer decided it should have. Each customer gets the exact same thing – same features, same sound.

After. With Korg’s hardware plugin architecture, the “custom” is finally back to “customer” – as you can configure the oscillator and the effect engines to your liking, and make your instrument unique. Fill it with the exact plugins you want, make it tailored to your own style. You have 48 plugin slots available, and chances are nobody else on the planet configures them the way you do.

2. Versatility

Before. While we do have digital and analog instruments with very capable synthesis and processing engines, to really get into more unusual or experimental sonic territory, you almost certainly need extra outboard gear – often a lot of it, which means more to transport and wire up.

After. The plug-ins now allow you to expand the stock generation and processing capabilities way beyond the “traditional” stuff, and have a whole powerhouse inside a single instrument. Just by switching from preset to preset, you can have the synthesizer dramatically shift its character, much as if you were switching from one hardware setup to another. Much less gear to carry, less things to go wrong, literally zero setup time.

Here’s what I mean, just with currently-available plug-ins. How about a sound-on-sound looper, or a self-randomizing audio repeater, right inside your synth?

And how about running unorthodox digital synthesis methods, in parallel with a purely analog subtractive one?

3. Independence

Before. With almost all gear, you are completely at the mercy of the manufacturer regarding what’s available for your instrument (aside from sound packs which still obviously can only use the stock features).

After. Not only you decide which engines your synth has, cherry-picking sound generation and processing plugins from independent developers, but you can also grab the SDK and build whatever you want yourself. [Ed. See below for some notes on just how easy that is.]

4. Longevity

Before. While some manufacturers might update their instruments with some major features from time to time, to be brutally honest, most won’t. Typically, just a couple years after initial release, you can consider the feature set in your synthesizer frozen… forever.

After. At any time in the future, you can erase some or even all the plug-ins on your synth and install different ones. So it can stay fresh and interesting for years or even decades, without you having to buy new hardware to get a new sound. The scale of your capabilities will actually only keep increasing as the selection of third-party plugins continues growing.

For example, say you have two different live projects. A single instrument can now represent two entirely different sets of sounds, using plugins and presets. In just a couple of minutes you can fully clean your Korg and reload it with a whole new “sonic personality” – no installers to run, no activation hassle, just transfer and go.

5. Range

Before. High-end features almost always command high-end prices, or a high level of coding experience to be able to work with that open-source firmware (in the rare cases when it’s actually available).

After. The ticket price for entry into this world of user-configurable synthesizers is Korg’s tiny and super-affordable monophonic Nu:Tekt NTS-1 (around $100), and it still has 48 plug-in slots just like its bigger brothers. Speaking of the bigger brothers, at the other end of the range we have the flagship 8- or 16-voice polyphonic prologue ($1500-2000), and 4-voice minilogue xd in both keyboard and desktop versions ($600-650). There’s now a plug-in-capable synth for everyone.

Which KORG do you want?

So, which one to choose? Each of the models has its unique advantages and unique ways it can integrate into your existing setup – or create a totally new one. [Ed. I’ve confirmed previously with KORG that all three of these models is equally capable of running this plug-in architecture. There’s also the fourth developer board that Artemiy doesn’t mention, though at this point you’re likely to get the NTS-1.]

NTS-1 is probably the most quirky of the lot, but is also surprisingly versatile for its tiny size. First, it can be easily powered off any portable battery, and second, it has a stereo input that lets you run any external audio through up to three different plugin effects, silently making it “the stompbox of your dreams.” 

The mid-range minilogue xd doesn’t have an external input, but does have a very compact and portable body, and a note sequencer. The sequencer can be used together with the arpeggiator for extra-long evolving melodies, but also has 4 parameter automation tracks – with all this data stored per each preset.

The key feature of range-topping prologue, aside from its incredibly pleasant-to-play keybed and sleek all-metal controls, is the fact that each of its presets can be constructed out of two completely separate, split, or layered patches – meaning that you can load two oscillator plugins at the same time.

Developers, developers, developers

How easy is it to develop your own Korg plugin?

First of all, I can tell you that running my own algorithms on a hardware synth was something I have dreamed of for years. Apart from a very unlikely collaboration with the manufacturer, or digging deep into someone’s rare open-source firmware, I figured the chances of actually doing that were zero.

Luckily, Korg has made it so much easier for me and you, that you would almost be guilty for not giving coding your own little plug-in a go. Allow me to give you a first-person example of what it took to get started.

Korg’s loque-SDK is a collection of source code files and a toolchain that runs via the command line in the terminal app. For each type of plug-in, Korg provides a sample – there’s a simple sine oscillator, there’s a delay, a filter, etc. – and the best way for you to start is modify one of them slightly.

You don’t need to do much. For example, make the sine oscillator produce a mix of two sines, one running an octave above the other. You’d simply multiply the second sin() function’s argument by 2 and add it to the first one — that’s it. That’s exactly what I did, and I was hooked instantly.

Now you build the plugin using the “make” command, and install the file onto whichever of the synthesizers in the family you have. You do that via its “sound librarian” companion app into which you simply drag and drop your plugin while the synth is connected via USB. 


Now go

All this said, I hope this has changed how you look at Korg’s plugin-capable synthesizer architecture. Because, and I am really confident when I say this, Korg did go and change the whole industry with it.



minilogue + logue SDK

prologue + logue SDK

The post Op-ed: KORG has transformed synthesizers by letting them run plug-ins, says Sinevibes appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Osmose is a new “augmented” keyboard, from Haken and Expressive E

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 20 Nov 2019 8:02 pm

The dream of a keyboard with expansive expression, not just organ-style key-plunking, now sees a new integrated instrument. And the maker of the Haken Continuum is involved.

Expressive E, who had made single three-dimensional controllers, partnered with Haken Audio in order to make this full keyboard. Each key has three-dimensional control, in a mechanical design they’re calling Augmented Keyboard Action. You can strum, you can add vibrato, more detailed legato, or add layered notes – all this good stuff, minus having to just play keys and twist knobs or turn wheels.

We’ve seen three-dimensional keys before, at least as limited-run (or one-off) inventions. And we’ve seen various touch-style keyboards (like those from ROLI), and pads with multi-axis input (like those from Roger Linn and Polyend).

What we haven’t seen, though, is a mass-produced three-dimensional mechanical keyboard (that is, with individually articulated keys). And we haven’t seen very many instruments with integrated sound engines. The Osmose is both.

Inside – custom sensor/actuator technology that interacts with 3D keys for more tangible, mechanical feedback than touch-based designs afford.

Haken’s role here was to contribute their powerful EaganMatrix Sound Engine, which is already designed to be integrated with hardware and is built around three-dimensional expressive control as input. This is the same engine previously found on the Continuum Fingerboard and ContinuuMini. You get physical modeling, additive, subtractive, FM, virtual analog, granular and spectral synthesis models, for various acoustic and electronic sounds, plus loads of presets. (There was a reason I was complaining lately that Roland needs to move its sound engine forward.)

The difference is, if you didn’t much like the undifferentiated ribbon of the Continuum, now you get something with keys on it. So for keyboardists and pianists, you don’t lose the investment of learning to play your instrument – or centuries of music composition.

This custom engineering costs money – the Osmose will be US$/€1799. (Funny, it was only a few years ago when that counted as “mid-range.”) But they’ve found a novel solution to ramping up production. Early bird buyers reserving before December 31, 2019 will get a massive 40% discount, so that it only costs USD/EUR 1079. And you don’t have to put up all of that right away – they’re taking just $299 as deposit. That’s more reasonable than the usual Kickstarter deal.

Specs on this instrument:

  • 49 full-sized keys
  • MIDI controller, with MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) and MPE+ support
  • 24-voice polyphony, layered and split modes
  • 8 encoders, 9 buttons, pitch stick/modulation stick
  • Color LCD
  • 2 continuous pedal inputs (assignable)
  • MIDI in, out/thru
  • USB type B (okay, actually odd not to see USB-C here on a futuristic instrument but – then again, it doesn’t much matter)
  • 24-bit D/A conversion
  • Mac/Windows editor for creating and editing EagenMatrix sounds and assign the 3-axis key movements

Here’s how it works as a MIDI controller:

and some artists getting hands on:




From the past – remember this? The Hyperkeys had a similar idea, but seemed never to make it into real production.

The post Osmose is a new “augmented” keyboard, from Haken and Expressive E appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

FCC Announces Schedule for Transition to Annual Children’s Television Reports

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Wed 20 Nov 2019 5:38 pm

Earlier this week, the FCC released a Public Notice announcing its plans for the initiation of new annual reporting requirements for TV stations under the revised Children’s Television Rules. As we wrote here, the FCC this summer adopted changes in the rules governing the broadcast of educational and informational programming directed to children. These changes included the abolition of the Quarterly Children’s Television Reports and their replacement with an annual Children’s Report to detail a station’s performance in meeting the new educational and informational programming requirements. Earlier this fall, the FCC released guidance on the reporting of information from the third quarter of this year, as the new rules became effective on September 16 (see our article here). The Public Notice released this week covers the full transition to the annual reports.

The FCC anticipates the revised annual report will be ready for use in the FCC’s LMS database by January 1, 2020.  Children’s television programming aired on or after the September 16, 2019 effective date of the new rules will be reported by commercial full power and Class A television stations on a broadcaster’s first annual Children’s Report, which will be due no later than January 30, 2020. The FCC’s Media Bureau will issue another public notice announcing the actual effective date of the revised form.    

To facilitate the filing of the new annual Children’s Report, after December 17, 2019, LMS will no longer be able to accept new quarterly reports or allow broadcasters to amend previously filed quarterly reports. So any missing reports or amendments to already-filed reports should be made by then. Review your files now, because if you discover the need to amend a report after that date, all you can do is place an explanatory note in your online public file in the Children’s Report section explaining why the FCC filings are incomplete or inaccurate. Of course, that will also necessitate an exhibit in a TV station’s upcoming license renewal application highlighting the mistake.

The Commission also notes that, to the extent necessary, it waives the requirement that broadcasters file a quarterly Children’s Report by January 10, 2020.  So be prepared for the transition to the new reporting system for children’s television reports – and be ready to file your annual Children’s Report by the January 30 deadline.

Extension of Comment Dates on VHF TV Reg Fees and on Incubated Stations

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Wed 20 Nov 2019 5:36 pm

The FCC last week announced an extension of the deadline for initial comments in its proceeding to examine the regulatory fees that are paid by VHF television stations. We wrote here about this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which asked questions including whether VHF television stations and stations in the FCC’s incubator program should pay lower fees than currently scheduled. Those comments were originally due on November 22, but at the request of a satellite trade association whose members have fees that are also addressed in the proceeding, the deadline was extended until December 6, with reply comments now due on January 6.

«I’ve Never Considered Myself a Futurist»

Delivered... Eric Mandel | Scene | Wed 20 Nov 2019 5:02 pm

The musician Ata Ebtekar, aka Sote, is helping to build an experimental music scene from Iran and Iranians abroad: Contemporary sounds that engage with tropes of the past. On the occasion of his performance «Parallel Persia» at the music festival «Donaueschinger Musiktage», which is dedicated to adventurous music since its founding in 1921, Norient asked how much this music might tell about the future.

Sote aka Ata Ebtekar (Foto: Arash Bolouri, 2019)

Born to Iranian parents and raised in Germany and the U.S., Ata Ebtekar spent most of his life outside of Iran before taking an interest in Persian music and releasing the compilation Persian Electronic Music 1966–2006. This year his label «Zabte Sote» released four albums by fellow Iranian producers from Tehran and abroad, featuring instrumental electronic music that has found a niche for itself within the complex cultural landscape of Iran.

Just like Ebtekar with his own music, Rojin Sharafi, Ixual, and Temp-Illusion are operating widely without beat structures, but rather with a flow of sounds and textures that draws from Iran’s musical history, utilizing microtonality and classical instruments, tunings, scales, and rhythms, which have been densely processed and blended with a wide range of synthetic sounds. The most bladerunneredHidden Field soundscapes come from Nima Aghiani’s album Convergence Zone. It has the track titles to match: «Automaton», «Humachine», and, even more ambiguous: «Submit/Defy». The album is «about that moment of impact, of clash, of mergence; the acceptance or the rejection of instruments, machines and devices as an expansion to one’s body».

Even though the composer is based in Paris, it is tempting to listen to the album as a prototype for musical science-fiction from Iran. As a narrative genre, sci-fi plays such a marginal role in Iranian mainstream culture that it has to share space with its sister-genre fantasy, both subsumed under SFF. However, writer Mina Talebli reports that with the success of the «Harry Potter»-Series and the ongoing popularity of Ursula K. Le Guin, SFF literature is maturing from its earlier reputation as a «white men» thing. According to an article by Somayeh Karami, the number of original works by Iranian authors is still small, but growing.

Acidentally Futurist?

As Ebtekar almost accidentally started his career with a one-off release on the futurist label Warp, he is a good source to ask about the role of science-fiction and futurism within the small experimental music scene in Tehran. But in his return email he hesitates to take up the thread. «I’ve never considered myself a futurist», he answers, probably thinking of Marinetti and the Italian movement more than of Autechre and Aphex Twin, «as futurism comes with a set of rules and concepts that I find limiting. As an example, I’ve always respected culture and folklore. I think that it’s essential to know tradition, and when it comes in a healthy dosage, it can be very valuable. Rejection of history is arrogant and pretentious.»

His research in classical modes and their synthetic deconstruction might rule out any notion of futurism, and definitely provides enough material to keep him busy and grounded in the present, as well as the re-constructed past. In this way he contributes to the historical turn in music that Simon Reynolds portrayed in his book, Retromania. Ebtekar recounts:

In the early 2000’s I started to investigate electronic music composition without conventional beats. At the same time, I was listening to a considerable amount of Iranian classical music, which by the way, can come from lots of purist aesthetics. I felt it was time to deconstruct this beautiful tradition and create my own reality of what Iranian music could be in the present time or possibly the future. All these concepts are just about having fun with ideas. The important thing is the outcome of the music composition and the experience of listening to something new within an electronic music framework. The beauty of sound synthesis in music composition is vital.

Sound is Central

Apparently careful not to fuel exaggerated expectations, Ebtekar plays down the role of specific narratives or intentions, and rather emphasizes the sheer sonic aspects of his work. But he admits that «Iranians are going through some very difficult times at the moment. They have actually been going through lots of ups and downs in the past few decades. It’s only logical for experimental artists to play with dystopia and utopia in various shapes and forms».

While in Western mainstream culture the most optimistic futurism has made way for future angst, science-fiction simultaneously remains a source of ideas for blockbuster movies. Nevertheless, it is still an attractive option for regarding the present from a future angle. With long literary and musical traditions that constantly transform to match with the present, and young Iranians’ undeniable desire to synchronize with global cultural trends, it will be interesting to observe what Iranian artists create. For this, «Zabte Sote» seems to provide a viable channel.

Norient is media partner of Donaueschinger Musiktage 2019.

More about Sote and Iranian Sci-Fi

Sote Interview on Fact Magazine
About Iranian Sci-Fi literature Somayeh Karami


Delivered... Spacelab - Independent Music and Media | Scene | Wed 20 Nov 2019 4:15 pm
Black Keys, Smashing Pumpkins and The Strokes headline! Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Portugal. The Man and Joan Jett also top the lineup! Tickets will go back on sale today at 12:00 PM EST.

Lizzo, Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X top 2020 Grammy nominations

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Wed 20 Nov 2019 3:50 pm

Lizzo scores eight nominations with Eilish and Lil Nas X on seven, but British artists largely snubbed in major categories

The 17-year-old pop sensation Billie Eilish has become the youngest artist to be nominated in all four of the most prestigious Grammy award categories: record, album and song of the year, and best new artist.

Her gothic, innovative single Bad Guy, which topped the US charts, is nominated in the song and record categories, while her similarly chart-topping album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is nominated for the album prize. She completed a sweep of the top categories with a best new artist nomination, and has six nominations in all. Her album engineers got a nod in the best engineered album category, including her brother and collaborator Finneas, who received three nominations.

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Björk review – a spectacular vision of Utopia

Delivered... Michael Cragg | Scene | Wed 20 Nov 2019 1:26 pm

O2 Arena, London
Writhing alien life forms engulf a set so elaborate it reduces the audience at the singer’s Cornucopia arena show to hushed awe. But her voice rings out clear

When Björk first conceived of the live show for her ninth studio album, 2017’s lush Utopia, she envisioned something “a little bit Pollyanna”. Having cut short the tour for the preceding Vulnicura album owing to the emotional weight of its dense break-up songs, this was a chance to create a new world, one bathed in light. Cornucopia has been billed by Björk as her “most elaborate staged concert to date”, which is saying something considering that 2011’s Biophilia jaunt utilised actual lightning to make beats. Her choice of arena-sized venues suggests that logistics won out over intimacy. Everything here is oversized, from the constantly shifting fringed screens that drape the stage – made up of a collection of fungi-like pods – to the crisp projections showing polymorphous alien-like flora and fauna that often engulf the 18-piece choir and the flute septet, to the dome-like reverberation chamber into which Björk occasionally disappears to sing without a microphone. That it’s predominantly soundtracked by Utopia’s birdcall-heavy art-pop makes it feel as if you’ve been shrunk and let loose in an underwater episode of Blue Planet.

It’s an unnerving experience at first, with the crowd hushed as if in a theatre, all polite applause and near silence between songs. It’s a respect that Björk – resplendent in a peach ruffled dress and gold headpiece – wallows in, unleashing that crystal clear voice on opener The Gate, before kicking and prodding at an imaginary figure on the gloopy Arisen My Senses. Her movements often seem to relate to a different song entirely, as if these sprawling, densely layered epics read as pop to her now. Even when cloaked in blossoming flowers or, as on the rumbling highlight Body Memory, surrounded by CGI bodies crashing into each other, she remains your main focus. When she loses her way during Hidden Place – one of the few songs from her pre-2015 discography – she styles it out with some trademark, wordless ad-libs, while a cute cry that “flutes rock!” is met with the night’s only real concession to arena-sized cheering.

Related: Björk – her 20 greatest songs ranked!

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Lighting up the scene – Mid-day

Delivered... | Scene | Wed 20 Nov 2019 4:41 am
Lighting up the scene  Mid-day
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