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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » gear


The Internet is throwing synth maker legend Dave Smith a 70th birthday party

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 2 Apr 2020 5:41 pm

Happy birthday to Dave Smith – founder of Sequential, co-creator of MIDI, and the innovator behind some wonderful instruments and tech that make us smile even when we’re in isolation.

And while it sure would be great to be toasting Dave in person, wow has the Internet contributed – with quite a few Prophets and such in the background.

Artists and other inventors – what a bunch. I can needle drop just to give the range. John Carpenter. Jason Miles. Cory Henry. Roger Linn and Ingrid Linn (Ingrid is also an electrical engineer). Monika Heidemann. Dave Rossum. Suzanne Ciani.

Honestly, watching this, you may start to feel like it’s your birthday, too. And it’s a nice reminder of what talented and nice friends we have in the world of synthesizers – a world that continues to add more of you around the world as inventors and artists and thinkers, all three.

Suzanne even speaks Italian and Roger and Ingrid demonstrate that it’s okay to break out bubbly.

Happy birthday, Dave.

PS, if you want to get the guy a gift – Sequential are also joining in supporting musicians during the COVID-19 crisis.

The post The Internet is throwing synth maker legend Dave Smith a 70th birthday party appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Learn how to live stream your music with these two easy, quick videos, gear tips

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 1 Apr 2020 5:25 pm

Okay, so everyone is suddenly live streaming. But the thought of setting this up hurts your brain. Fortunately, two of our friends have put together concise videos to get you started.

Live streaming music performances hardly started with this pandemic era – and to be fair, a lot of us have been putting off working out how to do it anyway. So let’s do it properly. Live streaming can be a good way to connect with people and to try out material. Its main enemy is often technical trouble. Michael and Tom to our rescue!

Tom Cosm has a desktop guide that takes just two minutes – he captures both from his screen and a webcam, which could also work for tutorials, live coding, and more creative ideas.

Tools:

OBS https://obsproject.com

Streaming platform (Twitch, Facebook Live, etc.)

Desktop platforms (mobile and custom options coming soon)

Michael Forrest has a live streaming how-to – from August 2019, and a reminder that this can be a good idea that you genuinely enjoy rather than an endtimes substitute for live performance as civilization collapses and you abandon hope of ever playing for a crowd of more than two people or within 2 meters of a human. (I mean – let’s definitely not think about it that way.)

And there is a ton of useful gear here. From his list (and his affiliate links). Crucially, since the OBS part is pretty straightforward, having a good stand and lighting is essential – and based on my cursory research, you can ship from a lot of electronics providers at the moment even given lockdowns (and not only Amazon, in case you want to protest that company).

Best of all, he’s got a terrifically useful scene switcher script:

https://github.com/michaelforrest/obs-scripts

Rest of the gear:

Streaming software - https://obsproject.com/
Audio Mixer with USB out - http://amzn.to/2eu59iW
Audio limiter / compressor - http://www.fmraudio.com/rnla.html
Wirelessly receive video to computer from phone -  http://bit.ly/2f6ti0A
iPhone app for clean camera feed - http://apple.co/2f6t21J
Tripod - http://amzn.to/2dVuhON
Tripod phone mount - http://amzn.to/2eKAGeV
Lighting LED lighting - http://amzn.to/2ePZxMw
Lighting stand - http://amzn.to/2feGJe8
Video from DSLR
Thunderbolt video capture - http://amzn.to/2eu3iKP
Connect camera to video capture - http://amzn.to/2eKDHfl
Connect video capture to computer - http://amzn.to/2f6vBB5
My DSLR Camera Body - http://amzn.to/2dJ0GF3
Prevent camera from sleeping after 30 mins - http://www.magiclantern.fm/
Wide angle lens if you’re in a tight space - http://amzn.to/2ePXh8e
50mm lens for portraits-style shots - http://amzn.to/2eu37PD
Macro lens for close ups - http://amzn.to/2eu3iKP

Lots of little relevant tips in this video, as well.

And some more gear…

A few more bits of kit I’ve had an eye on. IK Multimedia have started daily livestreams:

https://www.ikmultimedia.com/news/?item_id=9290

But it’s also worth noting they have some rather useful looking kit for podcasting and streaming, particularly solving this on mobile:

iRig Stream is a useful interface, and

iRic Mic Video bundle (and the associated grip and mics in their Creator Series)

…all look useful.

Roland have their GO:LIVECAST which I’ve mentioned, though it seems to lack stereo line input (still trying to get hold of one of these). See also their GO:MIXER.

Sometimes it’s the stuff not specifically directed at streaming that looks most useful for audiovisual use cases. In particular, one friend clued me into the ZOOM U-24 – 2-in, 4-out interface, with preamps:

https://www.zoom.co.jp/products/production-recording/audio-interfaces/u-24-handy-audio-interface

I’m still not entirely seeing the perfect solution I’d imagine here, so I’m keen to hear what you’re thinking.

And this being CDM, absolutely taking your ideas – and intend to discuss some different approaches to online performance, not only the traditional video Web stream. Watch this space.

The post Learn how to live stream your music with these two easy, quick videos, gear tips appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

MeeBlip jam festival: watch all the wild and wonderful creations of these synth lovers

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 19 Mar 2020 7:24 pm

The joy of synths – as long as you’ve got a box with knobs on it, you’re never alone. And it’s incredible what people can do with tiny, ultra-affordable gear – including ours.

So, we invited our community of MeeBlippers to share what they’ve been making.

And wow, those MeeBlippers are making some fantastic stuff. The whole reason engineer James and I have stuck with making synth hardware, and trying to make it as accessible as possible, comes down to this – you keep surprising us. It’s a different model of music, inventing something that people can use.

We’re in stock and shipping MeeBlip geode synths, plus cubit go interface and cubit splitter. geode remains the best culmination of all we’ve done, with analog filter, tons of hands-on control, and internal USB MIDI so you don’t need an interface. Delivery times may fluctuate as we deal with COVID-19, but we’re doing our best to keep operating, and we really appreciate your support – it’s what keeps our independent effort going and allows us to make new things even in uncertain times.

Here are a few of our favorites who sent stuff in. I declared MeeB-leap Day a special holiday, but keep them coming! We’ll send some MeeBlip thru5 MIDI kits to a few of you, too! Thanks for all the submissions – and do follow these fine musicians. Here we go:

TriWave: I’m in love with this project, new grimy, groovy techno of Jean-Claude Langensand from Zürich, Switzerland. He tells us he makes them all live with just three pre-programmed MIDI clips, combining MeeBlip with Roland’s TR-8 and SH-01A.

Um this (for two examples):

Joseph Rhodes: “Had a lot of fun tonight using the #meeblip for leads. I played a line in Ableton and had it arpeggiated, then freaked out the knobs. Such a cool box.”

Joseph also made a free sample pack for the OP-1. I actually look forward to loading this on the OP-1 and running the geode alongside for a sort of meta geode*geode jam. Doube double your refreshment! (The sample pack is on Google Drive.)

Mårten Nettelbladt: From Stockholm comes this track with MeeBlip geode drenched in reverb, sounding almost like some long-forgotten classic 70s electroacoustic studio recording. Need to learn more about “Peggy” the MIDI arpeggiator on the right! Check out the Peggy project on Instagram, also from Mårten.

Heat Impact posts some raw, rapid techno combining the geode with Elektron’s Digitone. Love this; it’s a jam, but already sounds like a track. “I am sequencing the Geode from the Digitone, which is a great combo as I can use the scale lock on the sequencer and use the full 64 steps. The Phaser and the Zoom really add something extra to the meatiness and fullness of the Geode, a perfect mono bass synth.” And apparently it was a Christmas gift. Take note! (Birthdays, too, naturally…)

Radio Coriolis: James Taylor writes, “Radio Coriolis volumes 25/26/27 feature heavily MeeBlip. The first synth I found that can equal the Moog Rogue of my accomplice.”

zhorli: More with less – just a Novation Circuit and MeeBlip triode are enough for zhorli to make a full jam session in a tiny amount of space (check his polyrhythm tutorial on the Circuit, too):

Dharma Club: Daniel Hengeveld writes, “I have used the triode and geode in a lot of stuff … but I wanted to share this – the ‘blips are in the rotation for my “liminal techno” project with a friend, Dharma Club, which is live techno-adjacent improvising incorporating samples recorded in the middle of the night when waking up from weird dreams.” Top sampling tip, yes!

Eine Kleine China: Jazzy, avant-garde, spaced-out MeeBlippery on this track combines MeeBlip geode (melody) with a vintage MeeBlip triode (on bass):

daionsavage: Studio jam, spread thick, with MeeBlips geode and anode, plus KORG volca kick and volca drum, and KORG minilogue and monologue, and even Waldorf Streichfett (which literally references covering something in buttery goodness). Heavy stuff, and proof the MeeBlips can cut through anything.

Crypto-oriental techno, indeed!

Ac- Tone: Blast from the past: a vintage orange-and-black MeeBlip SE paired with Eurorack rig, MeeBlip grit against luxurious Euro percussion and chimes:

valleyroadex: MeeBlip anode and triode power everything but drums on this hard-hitting clip:

Bonus round here from our friend Alexey in St. Petersburg, who’s back with a quartet of his own DIY hand-built MeeBlip copies (three of them made the original, open-source generation that started it all):

See you at MeeBlip.com. Keep blipping and for all you’ve given to us.

https://meeblip.com

The post MeeBlip jam festival: watch all the wild and wonderful creations of these synth lovers appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Nerdseq portable will put a sampling tracker in your hand

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 18 Mar 2020 10:02 pm

Sampling and modulation and sound generation all come together in the Nerdseq Portable – fully standalone, original tracker hardware for live performance and production.

Yes, there are two standalone tracker devices out this week. They’re both from independent makers. They’re both fully integrated hardware that run on their own. And if you want to go tracker mad, you can even use them together. Both are due later this year – virus-influenced production delays willing.

The Nerdseq Portable has its lineage from the Eurorack module of the same name. But as a handheld, this thing is a bit like a Game Boy on steroids – or a computer crammed into a paperback book-sized powerhouse.

It’s a sequencer. That’s the tracker bit, to be sure – this looks like 90s software on its 480×320 color IPS screen. It does have “nerd” in the title. Think fast editing, as quick as your thumb on a boss in Metroid. And it supports polyrhythms and probability and dividers and multipliers and more.

It’s a sampler. Capture and play polyphonic stereo samples (actually stereo, not mono as on the Polyend), with 150 seconds sample time and pitch support. That can be captured both from your sequence itself but also an external input. So actually – let’s linger on this a moment, in that this is a more powerful sampler than a lot of standalone hardware from major manufacturers not to be named here.

It works with MIDI stuff. You can actually use this as a MIDI sequencer if you want – there’s full-blown polyphonic sequencing and recording per track with support for everything (clock, NRPNs, aftertouch, CC, program changes…) So, again, this is more capable than a lot of more obvious stuff out there.

It does modulation. Part of the whole appeal of trackers is not just sequencing notes and rhythms, but everything else – wavetables, retriggering, LFOs, effects, and more. This thing is deep.

It connects to your Eurorack and other gear. Nerd-Sound-Adapter modules work here, too, so you can still integrate the handheld with a Eurorack modular – like a very powerful satellite to your modular rig – and work with CV/gate.

It has a nerd button. Of course it does.

So how is this different than the modular nerdseq? Well, basically this is as much a more powerful sequel as it is a handheld version of the original nerdseq. You finally lose some of the restrictions of the first model – more buttons, visual feedback, and crucially massively expanded sample memory.

Or to look at it another way, having talked to Thomas, this is the culmination of years of feedback from Nerdseq users. I think it looks friendlier and more capable – and the form factor means it can go anywhere. Or you can squeeze it next to any other gear you want to sequence.

Wait so with this and the Tracker, which should you get? Neither, dummy, they’re not shipping yet.

But these do represent a different approach. The form factor isn’t just aesthetic; it means different use cases and audiences. It’s not that nerdseq is for chip music people – it’s more that you’ll have controls under your thumb and it takes up less space. nerdseq also comes closer to the feeling of tools like LSDJ – or if you’ve never touched those before, again, it’s still about focusing on the tracker itself.

Polyend’s Tracker lacks stereo samples, but expands to more performance and editing features that make it feel like a cross-breed with what you’d expect from Maschine, MPC, or an Elektron box (for example).

Or put the two together. (Yo, dawg, I hear you like trackers, so I — wait, I’m being told by someone under age 35 that I should cease making references to the Xzibit Yo Dawg meme in 2020.)

Due this summer.

Official site: https://xor-electronics.com/nerdseq-portable/ [with more specs – and they’re impressive; this is no toy!]

No videos yet, but – for all of you who whine “I don’t know if I was impressed by the demo video,” I have a solution. You will definitely not be impressed by this video. (Creator Thomas hasn’t been able to go see his video demo person! You know – social distancing. So if you yell at him, really, you’re saying human lives don’t matter.)

Okay, actually I love it, because it keeps with the bossa nova theme that is subtly threaded through this week on CDM.

The post Nerdseq portable will put a sampling tracker in your hand appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Polyend’s Tracker is here – powerful, standalone hardware, at just $599/€499

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 18 Mar 2020 5:26 pm

Surprise number one: Polyend’s Tracker packs a lot of deep musicality you may have missed in the teasers and leaks. Surprise two: it costs far less than people first guessed.

At $599 (with a free hard case, too), independent Polish maker Polyend looks competitive up against some big brands.

Here’s the basic idea – you shouldn’t have to know what a “tracker” is for this to be useful to your music making. The essence of their appeal is about being able to quickly edit rhythms without being stuck in a single division of the beat. But the old trackers can be confusing, if they get some nerdy cred, in that they tend to assume you only want to play with keyboards and you read hexadecimal values as numbers.

Tracker is not that way – it’s built around grids and pads and knobs, plus big obvious one-touch pads with actual labels on them. So you don’t have to learn hex codes, and you don’t have to memorize anything.

Of course, you still might know the music made with trackers, even if you don’t know the software – and then this makes that technique accessible to you, too. (Yes, if you want to get your Venetian Snares on, now you can do it without dusting off an old Amiga, I mean.)

Now, about some of that depth. You can load your own samples right off an SD card – good. You can already start recording and playing – and yes, doing that live – with direct control. You also get more MPC- or Elektron-style control of parameters, without having to dive into the software tracker UI, so you can change or transpose values or whole patterns.

There’s a serious architecture inside. You can set envelopes and modulation to manipulate “granular” and wavetable positions – a bit like some of the features I liked best on Polyend’s Medusa. There’s an onboard filter, reverb, bitcrusher, and limiter, so a full complement of effects and icing.

There’s a really unique per-part approach to volume, which I’ll go into detail about later.

And there are a lot of cool features. Some tips I got from Polyend:

  • There’s a sample editor
  • You can take screenshots of the tracker interface
  • Yes, there’s an FM radio antenna for sampling sound from terrestrial airwaves (now we need to also start some pirate radio stations, right?)
  • You can use custom wavetables – like those available for Serum and Ableton’s Wavetable instrument
  • Pitch shifting is aliased, for an old school sound
  • You can preview samples right off the SD card
  • Inside, it’s a custom platform of Polyend’s own creation (well, if I can really lean on them, maybe they’ll tell me what it is)
  • Yes, it’s stereo (though samples are mono – again, oldschool style)

Full specs: stereo out, mono line in, mono mic in, MIDI in and out (on jack connectors), USB-C. All the adapters are in the box – even a convenient MicroSD to USB-A adapter. I don’t have pics yet of that hard case, but it is also free. And the whole thing weighs a gentle 2kg.

I can see this actually being a nice companion to the underrated, exquisite Medusa instrument. The Medusa has expressive pads (with MPE!); the Tracker is non velocity-sensitive (though that’s logical for a tracker). Putting the two together seems a nice, contrasting combination – peanut butter and chocolate?

Loopop got hands-on with one:

Medusa lovers/owners: by the way, I do hear via a birdie (I think, my bird Polish is is poor) that there are more updates in store for the Medusa. So, at my usual speed of glacially slow musician rather than lightning-fast influencer, I’ll be looking again at Medusa and look forward to Tracker when it’s ready for full review around summer (which in the current climate feels about ten years away, but I know is, in reality, coming at the normal speed).

Tracker is already available for preorder.

https://polyend.com/tracker/

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Cancellation and reschedule updates: Musikmesse, SuperBooth, Loop, Synthplex

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Events,Scene | Fri 13 Mar 2020 7:15 pm

Obviously, most near-term public events are canceled, as efforts to reduce transmission of COVID-19 ramp up. Some events already have new dates in 2020, however. Here’s the latest:

(photo at top – Hanna Parrott, for Synthplex in LA USA / gallery)

SuperBooth, Berlin – no 2020 event.

Statement: “Due to the current health situation and the worldwide development of the Coronavirus there will be no SuperBooth event in 2020.
All ticketholder can give their already purchased tickets back for a full refund.”

Synthplex, Los Angeles – rescheduled to fall.

Statement: “Due to international travel restrictions and concerns for the health and safety of attendees, vendors, artists, presenters and Synthplex Staff, Synthplex 2020 has been moved. New dates are October 29th – November 1, 2020.”

Ableton Loop, Berlin – rescheduled to 2021.

Ableton have a full FAQ.

While the other events here are simply canceling 2020 and carrying on with 2021, Ableton says Loop in 2021 will be as close as possible to what they planned for 2020, so they’re in a different boat.

Musikmesse, Frankfurt – no 2020 event.

Musikmesse proper was already canceled, but now the local Musikmesse Plaza 2020 and Musikmesse Festival events are also off. See you in 2021 here as with the others.

Did I miss any major events for electronic music and music tech with information you want to share? Sound off in comments or contact us.

And please, to everyone – take precautions, and stay tuned here as I absolutely hope we all keep each other entertained in isolation.

The post Cancellation and reschedule updates: Musikmesse, SuperBooth, Loop, Synthplex appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Polyend teases Tracker: grid, tracker display, hardware

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 11 Mar 2020 11:20 pm

Polyend has been gradually releasing a set of teasers for Tracker – and today we get the first big picture, looking like a love child of a monome, 90s tracker software, Maschine, and Push.

I mean, just look at this thing:

It looks massively fast for programming elaborate patterns, whether you’re thinking classic genres or wild, new micro-obsessive inventions.

Okay, if you aren’t familiar with the 90s software, that’s not so important. These tools took a different, more non-linear approach to rhythm programming. It’s responsible for some recognizable styles of the time, with elaborate subdivided rhythmic phrases, but it remains appealing irrespective of genre as a different way of thinking about pattern – and, for many, a really fast way of working. It’s also appealing if you simply find that you keep getting stuck in a rut, repeating ideas, when inside the boundaries of a fixed step grid found on a lot of drum machines and simple hardware sequencers and the like.

Maybe the best way to think of this is, it’s a new direction in how to do standalone hardware for music-making away from the computer, on one hand, and the predictability of Roland-style drum and bassline sequencing and Akai MPC sampling on the other.

I mean, if Polyend pull this off, it will certainly appeal to lovers of this approach – but perhaps to newcomers, too.

That’s exactly what happened when different music editing tools found their way onto Nintendo gaming handhelds. People who had never heard of a tracker before, or even in some cases ever tried making music, often picked up these devices because they were self-contained and fun. (See LSDJ on the Game Boy, or, while it’s its own grid-based approach, Nanoloop.)

I’m also impressed that this takes some of the best one-button access to editing functions from Native Instruments’ Maschine and Ableton’s Push. But at first glance, Polyend’s approach looks far simpler and more direct – it’s really elegant seeing that big jog wheel, and a minimal number of buttons. Whereas Push and Maschine are really interfaces to elaborate computer-style software, Tracker promises to be built around its own, standalone workflow. That is, it could be really fast to work with.

A leak suggested this will all be battery-powered, and even come with its own internal FM synth. See Synth Anatomy from earlier this month.

But you won’t have to wait much longer for the full details. Polyend promises to give us a complete run-down when this thing is ready.

So I hope you all keep yourself and loved ones healthy in these challenging times, and that we’re making some great music together later this year. Work on the joy of music continues, and it’s nice work if you can get it. Watch this space.

Past teasers:

(Oh and yeah – I wasn’t playing coy when I said I didn’t know what was coming when the first teaser came out. Polyend really didn’t tell me! I still know what you know, but – when this drops, full official information.)

Polyend

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In Russia, vintage MeeBlips have custom clones, thanks to open source hardware

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 6 Mar 2020 12:42 am

The original version of our MeeBlip synth project has found a quirky new iteration in St. Petersburg – and it’s making some terrific grooves.

Let’s start with this fantastic, primal alien-discotheque vibe of MeeBlip Quartet, featuring three MeeBlips SE and one MeeBlip triode (“Rare Russian Edition”), via two splitter boxes.

Perfect for setting the mood on your space station, really.

Open-source hardware in music can have a life past its normal conclusion. Our original MeeBlip synthesizer is now coming up on its ten-year anniversary. And because part of what we’ve improved is the ease of manufacturing our newest hardware, we don’t intend to go back to the original and “SE” model. The new stuff is better. But anyone curious about its circuitry and firmware – or digital filter code in Assembly language for the AVR microprocessor – can find all of that on our GitHub:

https://github.com/MeeBlip

James Grahame did nearly all of the engineering, but you’ll also find copious credits to other contributions. So you’ll see people like Jarek Ziembicki, who made the open-source AVRsynth that inspired us, or optimizations and new waveforms by Axel Werner, one of our early customers.

This also means people can make new MeeBlips of their own – for people who want those oddball earlier iterations, or in countries where it’s more accessible and affordable sourcing local parts than trying to import a complete synth from overseas.

And that’s what Alexey Evlampiev of St. Petersburg, Russia has been up to. He’s been making cool “Russian edition” versions of the original MeeBlip SE and triode, plus the superb open-source FM synth preenfm2, among other gear fascinations. (Speaking of preenfm2 – that project by Xavier Hosxe has built on musicdsp.org, which is an excellent clearinghouse for algorithms from synths to FX to filters, as well as pioneering work by Mutable Instruments, who has made perhaps the broadest variety of open-source synth hardware contributions.)

Here’s a duo of MeeBlips triode (Russian) and Elektron machinedrum (normal Swedish edition, that):

Also digging the retro-green panel on this anode:

Please do ask before you use the MeeBlip name, though – it avoids confusion about who made the synth. We’ve talked to Alexey in this case, and like his custom artwork, so – approved.

Since the Russian Editions are super-limited, we still suggest our official MeeBlip shop if you want to get your synth on, and the latest MeeBlip geode. (We also make low-cost thru boxes aka MIDI splitters, including the thru5 kit if you want to make one yourself.)

https://meeblip.com

It’s funny hearing our older synths, as the geode has definitely improved in sonic features – and we made it easier to build and ship. It’s in stock now:

But I have loved seeing the crazy custom builds people have made over the years by modding our finished synths, using our free and open-source (GPL-/CreativeCommons-licensed) designs, or working with our kits. It might just give James and me some new ideas for panels and knobs and colors and whatnot – suggestions also welcome.

Open source hardware isn’t the right choice for every project – our current synth uses a proprietary USB interface for reliability, for instance. But it’s nice to have it be part of the music gear ecosystem when it makes sense. It also shows that we can make inexpensive gear and exchange information while giving proper credit – real sharing, rather than simply plagiarism.

And I do hope to meet Alexey for a jam session next time I’m in St. Petersburg. Plus I’ve got to get James Grahame over to Russia and Berlin, as I’m sure he’ll love it.

Russian speakers can follow Alexey at his VKontakte site – https://vk.com/grooveboxmusic; everyone else, subscribe on YouTube.

See you at meeblip.com.

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German music tech events encounter COVID-19; Musikmesse postponed

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 4 Mar 2020 10:54 pm

Novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, meet the musical instruments and music tech business. Events in Germany are threatened, and more could be in store worldwide.

It’s too tempting to use the virus image instead of Messe, since, well, while they’re deadly, viruses look amazing – thanks, science and nature, mostly.

This isn’t really about spreading fear about the disease itself. It makes sense to keep connected with health authorities and heed their advice to reduce our own exposure and help prevent infecting others.

But the other power of epidemics is to disrupt other activities – not just by making us sick, but by making us adapt as the world around us changes.

In Germany, documented cases are growing, and travel is being curtailed. It’s possible that simply the economics of trade fairs can break down – if there aren’t enough flights, or workers supporting the airport system, the travel infrastructure itself starts to devolve.

For now, Messe finds themselves in the part of Germany with more cases, and therefore more restrictions. And on top of it, not all exhibitors will be able to travel. In a press release from today:

The ongoing spread of Covid-19 in Europe called for a reassessment of the situation in close cooperation with the public-health authorities in Frankfurt who require that steps be taken to prevent event participants from high-risk regions coming to Frankfurt and visiting the fair when ill. Given that these participants could also be infected by Covid-19, it is necessary to conduct a health check to prevent the infection spreading even further. This is an important part of the infectiological risk assessment. Messe Frankfurt is not able to implement such measures. Additional factors behind the decision include the growing number of travel restrictions, which will make it difficult for many potential visitors and exhibitors to get to Frankfurt.

This should also make it clear why it’s not just “panic” closing events – at least, not in areas with greater infection. These sort of precautions at large scale events help prevent those gatherings from turning into hubs for spreading disease.

At least in the case of Messe, these are science-based precautions, made in consultation with people who study infectious disease.

Musikmesse runs 1-4 April. The organizers say they’re looking for other dates and tickets will remain valid.

Photo: Pietro Sutera, Musikmesse.

For now, part of the event remains on schedule – a local marketplace of instruments and gear and a festival of events across Frankfurt:

The ‘Musikmesse Plaza’ pop-up market (3 and 4 April) and the ‘Musikmesse Festival’ (31 March to 4 April 2020) can take place as planned. These events are aimed primarily at a regional audience from the greater Frankfurt area.

See: www.messefrankfurt.com

Musikmesse is one of three major music instrument/tech manufacturing events in April, all of them in Germany. Superbooth and Ableton’s Loop could also be impacted.

For now, both Ableton and Superbooth say they’re pressing on. Berlin currently has more limited cases than the western part of Germany, which might help, though travel restrictions elsewhere or the continued expansion of the disease in Germany could change that.

Synthtopia has some coverage of the news this week:

Ableton Loop Going Ahead As Planned

Coronavirus Not Stopping Superbooth 2020, Say Organizers

Superbooth’s statement:

With SUPERBOOTH20 starting in about 8 weeks from now, we prefer to rely on facts rather than speculations about the future. Please check Robert Koch Institute in Berlin for further information (German/English).

Without any carelessness about health or risks, we basically are very careful with the daily news spreading and panic producing sensational reports. We are observing the development, but can not say how the situation will change in the coming weeks. If we have the impression that we should act in any way, we will do so. By now we can only say, the situation in Berlin is safe and we do not want to be part of any speculations.

As long as there is no official ban by the authorities, we have decided to keep on working on the finalization of this year’s Superbooth.

Musikmesse is not alone. Leipzig Book Fair, ITB Berlin (a tourist fair), Berlin Tourism Festival, and the Hannover Messe tech fair have all postponed.

The good news for Germany is elsewhere; despite some closures, Germany for now is not resorting to quarantines or shutting its borders, at least for now. Trade fairs are an especially difficult case because of their complexity and dependence by nature on lots of travel.

The larger impact in music tech may come from the supply chain. Whether they’re Chinese-made or not, the vast majority of music hardware is dependent on China for a lot of their components. And manufacturing in China is off – way, way off. As the country has struggled to find workers and move goods, its capacity is dramatically reduced. (See the BBC on their just-released manufacturing numbers.)

It might sound callous to talk about economics when a potentially deadly virus is around, but the reality is, both could impact lives. Jobs in Asia and internationally in music gear face some new challenges. An overstressed health care system can put both lives and livelihoods at risk, too. That hits especially hard for people lacking access to good health care or absent health insurance and job security.

And artists face hardships, too, as travel is diminished, economies weaken, and large-scale events like festivals and clubs cancel.

Of course, the one place we can go is online. I have real belief in the resiliency of the music, immersive visual, and musical instrument communities and industries. I wish everyone strong health and easy travel and – even if we’re stuck in one place, hope we keep talking about ideas so we keep exchanging music and supporting ourselves. Watch this space. (I, uh, just hope I’m not quarantined or down with a virus with extra time as a result!)

Image:

NIAID Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML), U.S. NIH – https://www.niaid.nih.gov/news-events/novel-coronavirus-sarscov2-images

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab.

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Celebrate MeeB-leap Day weekend with these great synth vids – or make your own

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 28 Feb 2020 11:34 pm

One extra day in the calendar is clearly a reason to spend one extra day playing with synths and making and sharing music. So we’ve decided to get MeeBlip in on that.

We’ve got synths and accessories in stock in our MeeBlip store now. But we also wanted to reach out to all of you who have one of the instruments we’ve made and hear (and see, if you want) what you’re making.

Part of why I know this will be fun is because I’m always surprised by videos like this one by YouTuber lifeisfortytwo – whoever you are. This is honestly to me the whole pleasure of making independent instruments and independent music, making connections to people.

(Oh, if you’re in this post, you can still message us, by the way!)

We’ll give out some thru5 MIDI splitter kits to reward our favorites, and hopefully give some extra fame to as many as we can.

Here’s how our MeeB-leap Day celebration works:

1. Find a jam or live set or track or whatever you made with your MeeBlip – or record a new one.

2. Upload audio only if you prefer (somewhere like SoundCloud), or video if you’re showing off your synth-tweaking fingers or other graphics (somewhere like YouTube or Facebook).

Send the link to us. Just put “B-Leap Day” in the subject header, and we’ll have a look. Send to:

meeblip@reflexaudio.com

We’ll point people to your Facebook page or YouTube or SoundCloud or Instagram channels so you can get some extra followers! (Well, unless you really prefer we put them on ours, in which case just say so!) If you recorded some stuff in “Jam-uary,” that counts, too! And we’ll be in touch if we can throw you a thru5 kit.

For more MeeBlip action, here’s the excellent Sensel Morph as a command center for our geode alongside out friends KORG volca beats and Roland SH-01A:

There’s even this clever video showing our MeeBlip cubit go MIDI interface as a smart accessory for the Teenage Engineering OP-Z! (I actually just found this by typing in a search. Thanks!)

And for added inspiration, one more flashback to that time and went and visited Sir HAINBACH:

You can also reach us by messaging our MeeBlip social accounts:

https://www.facebook.com/meeblip/

Or come visit the site:

https://meeblip.com/

See you on the Internet.

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Elektron’s Model:Cycles, revealed – so it’s Model:Samples, but FM

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 26 Feb 2020 5:06 pm

Elektron’s Model:Cycles is revealed, and – it’s exactly the structure, form factor, and UI of the Model:Samples, but with FM synthesis.

As Elektron puts it, “scale angles dense and jagged, glide over plains vast and fluid, or sink into mists of dissonance. To model is to shape the formless.” Uh, yeah. FM synthesis. Turn knobs, get crazy sounds.

On the Cycles, this is divided into dedicated FM engines – Kick, Snare, Metal, Per, Tone, and Chord. (See videos below.)

And the price definitely isn’t bad – at about 349EUR (converting from SEK), this could be a fun little box to pick up. By slicing the price from the samples model, Elektron are also making this tougher to resist.

None of this is a bad thing. FM synthesis and its wild, sonorous results are terrific for making out-there grooves and percussion, in particular – since it has some of the kinds of nonlinearities in spectrum that you get from molding metal and the like. It’s not so much that we’ve gotten better at FM synthesis over the years, arguably, as it is that our ears are now more tuned to appreciating all that range. Armed with digital power under the hood, I fully expect we’ll see a lot more FM soon – just as we’ve seen polysynths and wavetable synthesis start to move into the space.

But maybe what is a bit disappointing is that the Model:Cycles isn’t a new design. It’s the Model:Samples – the same control structure, the same buttons, the same UI, the same 6-track architecture – but with FM. I mean, it looks like it’s even the same color plastic as the Model:Samples. .

Look, I love having extra controls. And I love cheap and cheery boxes and portability. So I’m very tempted to defend this from people resisting the concept.

There’s just one problem – because I really loved the Model:Samples, I have to really protest here. Why couldn’t Elektron meld sample engine and FM? That would help this box rise from “oh, there’s their previous entry level box with different firmware” to “everyone needs to own this the moment they can get it shipped to their door” classic.

Okay, this isn’t quite as bad as when KORG tried to sell us one electribe as if it were two electribes – the electribe and electribe sampler, which were so similar they seemed like an experiment to check if the distributors were reading the promo materials, like passing the German driving exam. But at least KORG had the decency to change the color.

All that rainbow-colored melted Play-Doh can’t quite distract from the fact that this … looks the same as a Model:Samples. I mean, it’s also 350 bucks, so we can’t complain too much, thought that doesn’t change the fact that you might want to load some one shots on a drum machine so you can use it effectively in a set.

We’ve seen what happens when a manufacturer takes an entry-level product and crams it with firmware updates instead of making people buy a new box. That’s the story of the Novation Circuit. And the moral of the story is – if you can make your hardware do this, your customers will shower you with adoration and form a whole community around your gear. It’s easier said than done – this makes the life of engineers tough, and it means you have to shift marketing so you can make a software update as exciting as a new box.

But the result can be long-term value for everyone involved, because presumably – forming a more lasting relationship with their little box – customers are even more likely to spread the word.

There’s also some confusion looking at this and Elektron’s own Digitone. The Cycles has audio tracks; the Digitone doesn’t. But the Digitone is superior in basically every other way – real polyphonic sequencing, 8 voice polyphony, more FM algorithms, cool filters and extra modulation for more sound shaping, and more effects, including Overdrive, plus Overbridge support for easier integration with your software.

Oh yeah, and because Elektron’s effects sound fantastic, that alone might be reason to save up (it’s closer to EUR 750 list).

Basically, if the Model:Cycles added even basic sample playback as one extra engine – a la Model:Samples, it’d be my main drum machine. If the Digitone added some of the audio features of either of the Model: line, I’d save up and it would be.

But meanwhile, I’m a little confused. Now, I am happy to be proven wrong. Andreas who reviewed Model:Samples for us seems non-plussed by this. But since he did that review, I’m happy to take on this one and see if I wind up embracing some limitations.

Have a look and see what you think, as I know many readers wrote us saying they were curious what’s coming.

https://www.elektron.se/products/modelcycles/

And for a brief reminder that CDM has been rooting for Model:Samples, here you go:

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Polyend is teasing some new thing – and it seems really cool

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 25 Feb 2020 6:33 pm

Polish manufacturer Polyend, who have made everything from elaborate grid sequencers to polysynths to robotic percussion – have something new in store.

Now, I’m not one to jump on teasers, but – it seems like they might apply their grid and synth savvy to something that is also a drum machine and sequenced sampler … or thereabouts. Well, you judge:

Also, it seems like this thing has a color screen – unless they’re going into software or iPad apps.

Elektron have something coming tomorrow, too, as you may have heard – Synthtopia have the story on that.

But I figured more boutique, under-the-radar Polyend deserve some attention, too – especially as they’re not blowing loads of cash on Google and Facebook ads.

Regardless, it looks like this normally sleepy time of year might well get interesting. And if loads of remakes and retro-themed instruments at NAMM this year didn’t really get your gear lust going – or even Akai with their software-in-a-box MPC – maybe Elektron and Polyend are about to brighten your late winter. (Or, uh, summer – sorry, don’t mean to be hemispheri-centric.)

Previously in Polyend paraphernalia:

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Here’s how to update KORG’s wireless nano controller, and use it with iOS 13 (and more)

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 24 Feb 2020 1:43 pm

In case you missed it, in November, KORG fixed issues with their portable Bluetooth MIDI controllers/keyboards and iOS 13. Wireless operation works with desktop OSes, too – and it’s really cool.

Firmware updates I know can be a bit scary, and it’s possible some owners of the KORG wireless devices didn’t even know that there was a fix (or that you can do this, for that matter)! So it’s worth sharing this video KORG posted at the end of last week.

iOS changes have kept developers scrambling lately, but at least this catches you up. And it’s tough to beat the iPad and a wireless nanoKEY as an ultra-portable rig on the road.

Wireless Bluetooth MIDI operation is a strong, low-latency solution on desktop OSes, too, though – useful if you have your computer handy and just need some input device to sketch in ideas or try our your latest virtual modular patch. (That’s me, anyway!)

KORG’s wireless controllers do support both Mac and Windows, too. (I’ll check if there’s a way to get this working on Linux; I suspect someone ported over Apple’s implementation. I also don’t see Android officially supported, but there’s some version there – or you can just use USB and an OTG cable, in a pinch.)

There are a few features that make the nanoKEY Studio easy to recommend, specifically. Everything is ultra-low-profile, so it’s more optimal for tossing in a backpack. There’s still velocity sensitivity on both the pads and keys, and back lighting for dark situations. But I think what’s especially winning is – not just knobs, but also an X/Y pad (KAOSS style), onboard arpeggiator, scale and chord mapping.

KORG push the notion that this helps when you’re not a skilled keyboardist but – obviously, even if you’ve got years of piano training, on a little controller like this you’re in a different mode.

https://www.korg.com/us/products/computergear/nanokey_studio/

Also quite useful on the go, nanoKONTROL Studio:

https://www.korg.com/us/products/computergear/nanokontrol_studio/index.php

In fact, I can imagine nanoKONTROL Studio with the new (wired) Novation Launchpad mini would be ideal. The Launchpad mini has input but not anything that works easily as a mixing layout – other than a somewhat crude mode that uses the pads for that, but doesn’t give you continuous control. Both would fit in a slim-line backpack with literally nothing else, for an easy iPad or notebook computer studio.

Or couple the Launchpad mini and nanoKONTROL Studio, because then you can lock individual controllers to particular instruments without swapping (useful!), or separate clip triggering and instrumental playing.

I just personally love being able to work when traveling and to fit live rigs into small spaces.

The post Here’s how to update KORG’s wireless nano controller, and use it with iOS 13 (and more) appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

The latest attempt to make digital music tangible: NFC-powered Muse Blocks

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 10 Feb 2020 10:08 pm

We are living in an immaterial world. Muse Blocks, tiles with embedded NFC chips, are one idea, and now team up with a popular electronic music label.

Berlin-based Senic, a hardware startup focused on smart home solutions, devised the tangible product Muse Blocks. And they’ve recruited underground tech house label Katermukke, Dirty Doering’s label, which has its own grungy Berlin afterhours vibes – fitting to its home base of the Kater Blau nightclub.

Launch video (German with English subtitles):

Basically, you can think of these tiles as connected art objects. Tap them to your phone (provided you have an NFC-capable smartphone), and up pops a streamed album or playlist. You can program the tiles yourself, meaning that you can have a physical object to go with your mixes – so it’s the 21st-century streaming equivalent of a mixtape, in theory.

https://www.senic.com/en/museblocks#faq

The pricing mirrors what we used to pay for CDs – 15EUR is the “special introductory price.” If you want them to look smart in your living room, you can buy a set that includes a bar to mount to a wall, and 7 Muse Blocks to put up on it, for a 69EUR bundle price. That of course makes them expensive for the promo use case.

Since the music is streamed, these are purely decorative, but then I suppose we buy all sorts of objects that are indeed purely decorative. It changes the streaming experience, at least, in that the ephemeral experience of streamed music gets its own object permanence and spatial location. By default, there’s support for Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, and Tidal, but they also suggest Netflix, YouTube, and more interesting stuff like Apple Homekit and IFTTT.

Uh, so then you can do this. Yes, I see that she’s also tapping her phone almost from the first interaction. Shhh. The design objects still look very cool.

I don’t know if this solves any problems here, but it does at least reframe the ongoing lack of tangibility in streamed music. And so that was obviously the appeal to Katermukke.

Now, if you’re wondering if you could DIY something like this – like maybe you want to release your next streamed album or mix inside a furry toy rabbit or a potted cactus – you can, of course. There are kits available from Identiv, tons of NFC and RFID stuff from Adafruit, and more. The mind boggles, actually, given the amount of stuff in our world constantly transmitting data.

Even on Senic’s devices, you can use a free app to write your own data. It’s certainly more fun, if a lot more expensive, than a cut up paper giveaway, so – yeah, you could absolutely use this for a Bandcamp code if you wanted.

Here’s an example of the write process:

The problem with all of this remains that there’s no actual data on the object, so it is effectively, well, useless. I still wonder what delivery medium makes sense for digital downloads. Most easily-bought USB keys and SD cards are pretty unattractive, and arguably they don’t offer anything that a download link can’t do. CDs are at this point about as dead as a format as cassette tapes and vinyl, but lack the collectability of either of those.

And so… oh, actually, I have nothing to say beyond that. If I come up with a conclusion, maybe I can embed it on an NFC object, and then… uh, never mind.

Let me just go dig up what NFC powers my Huawei phone has. See you.

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The biggest music gear news and best videos to watch from NAMM

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 27 Jan 2020 10:39 pm

The US musical instrument show NAMM dropped the usual amount of gear news on us – now here’s the highlights reel.

The trend lines are pretty easy to spot. Component prices are coming down, and that’s shifting what’s on the market. Modular gear does more. Polysynths and wavetable synths are suddenly in. Audio interfaces with studio-grade specs are now weirdly cheap.

The historic remake trend is showing no signs of abating – not at the high end (KORG’s ARP 2600) nor the low end (Behringer).

If you wanted some big breakthrough in music-making, probably this isn’t your year. Yes, MIDI 2.0 is here, but it’s too young to see any compelling real-world use yet. Yes, Akai has another MPC that runs standalone as well as with a computer, but we’re still mostly dependent on Windows and macOS. These might be the areas to watch in the coming years, since there’s a limit to how much wavetable synthesis and polyphony you can cram into a keyboard and make a usable product.

That’s not to complain, though. Sure, music gear has a lot of 70s and 80s flashbacks, but we’re also spoiled for choice in a business that has loads of offerings that are accessible to a wide range of people.

So let’s have a look – since there’s way too much to watch, a selection of the best videos.

Software doesn’t really demo well and doesn’t need physical distribution, so it makes sense that software news generally spreads year round. But the big software news that did debut was Universal Audio’s Luna recording solution – free software, integrated of course with their hardware. I’ll explain this in a separate article, but here’s a demo:

Synths

This NAMM for electronic musicians was dominated by KORG – the first out of the gate with news, the most news, the most different kind of synth products … enough so that it would be easy to even forget their rich-sounding Wavestate synth, even though it was really the flagship new synth product from them. Here’s what it sounds like:

Here’s Cuckoo looking at sound design:

And yeah, of course there’s also Korg’s remake of the ARP 2600 (also labeled “FS” here, meaning maybe there really is a mini version coming):

Sequential’s Pro 3 oddly has some of the toughest competition from Sequential, but as I wrote previously, it is one of the more compelling new instruments out there. Cuckoo got an early look- and you can hear from none other than creator Dave Smith showing it off:

The MPC One is the hybrid computer/standalone MPC you might actually buy – more compact size, lower price, and some of the early kinks worked out from AKAI’s move into a new direction. I’m a little concerned about whether its horsepower will make it worth jumping from using a PC + controller, but someone will eventually nail this sort of hybrid. Synth Anatomy talked to Akai’s Andy Mac; see also how plug-ins work in an official video:

And audio tracks:

If it’s really a controller you want – or a standalone “hub” – Nektar have their new Aura.

The Udo Super 6 I missed in my underground synth round-up – and it’s definitely something new. FPGA-based, it’s an analog/digital hybrid, wrapped in a body that looks like it escaped from another decade, but in an alternative universe. Cuckoo gushes about the sound:

http://udo-audio.com/

How do you top the mechanical-optical Gamechanger Audio pedal, or their rack-mounted high voltage plasma coil? Why, you need an optical-sensing spring-based reverb pedal, the Light Pedal. I’m sorry, this maker is just damned cool – making stuff you’d expect out of 1960s pulp scifi.

The Moog Subsequent 25 has a lot of the sound powers of the 37, but in a Sub Phatty form factor. Here’s Perfect Circuit with a sound demo:

I didn’t get talk about the Modal Electronics Argon8, but amidst a flurry of new polysynths, this might be the one to beat. Hammering home that point, Modal are now offering three versions, so you can find one that fits your fancy and budget – the 8M and 8X rounding out the line. If comments on this site are to be believed, a lot of you wish synths came in variants with different keybeds and sizes or a keyless version, so here you go. Synthtopia has a nice demo:

Wavetable is everywhere, but Nord are ahead of the curve by moving on to what may be the next returning trend, FM. And the FM engine in their Nordwave 2 looks really powerful, welcome news to fans of their performance synths:

The ASM Hydrasynth is a stupidly powerful new instrument and features the designer/product manager behind some ground-breaking gear from Akai and Arturia (Glen Darcey). I talked about it in September, but this month’s NAMM was its big public showcase, so here are just some sounds:

Previously:

The Blad Kremier-created PULSAR-23 is also now on sale, which might just be the most interesting drum machine offering of 2020. There’s a big waiting list, and I think (?) it was at NAMM, so I’m counting it here. Honestly, fire your current booking, get some high paid techno gigs, use the cash to buy this. Wait, why am I telling you this? I should just go do that.

Doepfer are back with a joystick module – actually a pleasant surprise, as these sorts of components are not easy to come by these days:

I covered these instruments before, but here are deeper looks at the indie synths debuting this month.

The Liven 8bit Warps looks nicely mental:

Erica Synth’s own Girts debuts the DB-01 bassline in a jam.

Modular

Verbos have a full line of new modules:

4ms have a massive creation called the Ensemble Oscillators – 16 complex oscillators in a single unit:

Pittsburgh Modular, for their part, are doing loads of delays instead of loads of oscillators. Meet the Cascading Delay Network:

Audio interfaces

High-end audio interfaces are no longer an expensive proposition, it seems – but USB is here to stay.

Take the new SSL interfaces, which even include the companies’ 4000 series EQ and saturation. There’s something trippy about seeing a giant SSL knob, but then no one will mistake who these came from. Street price for this thing is just above a couple hundred bucks for the basic model, and comes with SSL software, too.

MOTU’s M Series are also out in the wild, and worth consideration:

There’s also a race to make audio interfaces that are less intimidating to new users. iZotope have tried that with their Spire interface; somewhere in between that kind of radical solution and a bread-and-butter box is the Audient Evo – a stylish box that still does mostly what the other boxes do, but with a “smart gain” feature and more modern looks. Now whether that’s really the biggest problem everyone faces or not, I don’t know. (Not to dismiss this, but I think the issues with desktop OSes and reliability are more daunting than how to set gain properly. Still, this could be a part of a larger puzzle.)

It’s not all USB interfaces, though. Presonus also have a full range of new gear, which SonicState details – including Thunderbolt and lots more IO. But prices of thesefeatures are also coming down.

And from left field…

The dream of alternative keyboard layouts never dies. Now there’s the Lumatone CORTEX, with a whopping 275 keys and RGB. So if you think it’s outrageous to spend four grand on a remake of the ARP 2600 and want something more forward-looking – well, clearly you have to spend your four grand on a microtonal keyboard instead, or you’re a damned hypocrite!

And yes, by far the weirdest new invention: a MIDI harmonica, from Sweden’s Father and Son.

If you dream of playing music on a hockey puck rather than a hamonica, then I suggest instead the Ariphon Orba. (Okay, they say “half an orange” and a gaming controller.) There is actual onboard sound capability, but it’s also a wireless MIDI controller. Like I said, some ideas just don’t go away.

https://artiphon.com/pages/orba

The post The biggest music gear news and best videos to watch from NAMM appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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