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


You can learn a lot from Surgeon’s live rigs

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 12 Nov 2019 3:04 pm

Our friends at Resident Advisor took a peek at the techno legend’s battle-tested live rigs. And it’s not so much about gear – it says a lot about musical technique.

First, it’s simple but irresistible – Surgeon’s live rig is devastatingly effective, thanks to some economical decision making and inarguable musicianship:

  • Octatrack – six drum sounds, some backing tracks
  • LEPLOOP – FM oscillators, noise, and then sequenced sample and hold and LFO, plus it filters and delays the Octatrack
  • Faderfox controller accesses Octatrack parameters without menu diving (the PC4 pot controller, though see also the new EC4 if you prefer encoders and display)
  • OTO Machines BOUM – compressor/warmer

Laboratorio Elettronico Popolare’s LEPLOOP is the unexpected star of this one – a unique sequencer – synth – drum machine. Surgeon does say that devices tend to come and go, but I’m glad RA caught him with the LEPLOOP in the mix – it’s really adding a lot of dynamism to his sets at the moment. (Well, and it’s nice when the lesser-known gear gets some love!)

It’s also interesting that he uses the BOUM as a kind of glue to keep things from jumping out in the mix.

“It does make you want to … jump around.” Hell, yes.

He also takes a look at the “abstract” live set. Actually, I think this is more idiosyncratic – meaning it’s harder to learn from how he works. So, sure, the inexpensive SH-01A from Roland makes loads of sense – it’s a melodic favorite of mine, and I think a more versatile instrument than the all-about-acid 303s everyone has talked about lately. (I’m sticking with its Juno sibling, myself, but the SH-01A is my other favorite Boutique.) And the LYRA-8 is simply dreamy – it’s the creation of the wonderful SOMA, who I’ve profiled.

Maybe the most telling part of this is the Electro-Harmonix looper, the 45000. Just as the techno set is all about controlled modulation, the spice of the LEPLOOP atop the foundation of the Octatrack, here the composition focuses on the looper’s structure. That allows spontaneous layering of new material, with the regular patterns from the Roland and Lyra building up a skeleton.

There’s a full feature interview on RA, and well worth a read – it’s a must if you’re a Surgeon fan, but full of sage advice even if your own music lies in another idiom.

The Art Of Production: Surgeon

The whole series from RA has been great, but I’d wager this one may be the most useful to other artists – and of course, I’m a sucker for anyone talking about how they actually play live.

For some longer-form discussion with Surgeon, he also gave a recorded 45-minute talk at Berlin landmark SchneidersLaden:

Oh yeah, and the set? It’s a couple of years old, but here’s a nice video from Glasgow:

The post You can learn a lot from Surgeon’s live rigs appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

This is the new MeeBlip thru5 kit, and it’s free with our geode synth for 48 hours

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 22 Oct 2019 12:37 pm

We’ve got a new kit that’s indispensable for your gear. So hey, let’s celebrate Black Friday really early. Buy a MeeBlip synth, get a MIDI splitter kit for free.

The thru5 is a new MeeBlip kit. It’s a splitter (also known as a thru box), whatever messages are sent to the MIDI IN jack gets simultaneously passed through to all five MIDI OUT jacks. It’s perfect for routing clock in a jam session, for instance.

The board is mostly assembled; all you have to do is solder on the MIDI jacks and (for power) the USB port. That’s about as easy as electronics soldering gets, meaning the thru5 makes a good kit if you’re just getting started with soldering. For everyone else, you’ll put it together quickly and have a useful tool.

Our geode synthesizer is in stock right now, so we’re making this easy to buy both: order a geode, and get a thru5 free, while supplies last.

But hurry: the offer runs just through Wednesday October 23, 23:59 West Coast time.

Check out the MeeBlip thru5.

And get it free when you buy geode. Plus, we’ve got free standard shipping on now.

About MeeBlip geode

If you’re not already familiar with geode, here’s why you’ll want our hardware synth – and now you’ve got a great excuse to get one right now.

Q&A

Can I use the USB port to make this a USB MIDI interface?

No – USB is just for power on thru5. If you want a USB MIDI interface, check out cubit go.

Isn’t there already a MeeBlip thru box?

Yep, we also make the cubit splitter, which comes in a rugged case and features vertical-mount jacks, and doesn’t require soldering. We had a chance to make thru5 really affordable and easy as a kit, so we wanted to offer it to you.

Why is it already partly assembled? I want to do everything myself!

Hey, more power to you – but this is the most reliable, cost-effective way to offer up this particular kit, so we kept it simple.

Will you make more kits?

That depends on you – let us know if you like this, and what you’d want to see.

Get MeeBlip geode now, with free thru5 [expires 23:59 Wednesday October 22!]

Get MeeBlip thru5 kit (free with geode for 48 hours, $19.95 after that)

The post This is the new MeeBlip thru5 kit, and it’s free with our geode synth for 48 hours appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

The dorky recorder you had in school just got a futuristic remake

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 18 Oct 2019 4:04 pm

The recorder’s simplicity has made it ubiquitous in music education. Digital builders want to refresh it and make it cool – and no, this isn’t an April Fools’ joke.

Italian startup Artinoise is taking on the recorder as controller, musical instrument, and learning tool, with its new re.corder. Davide Macini, who has made the excellent boutique soundmachines line as well as working on the latest IK Multimedia synths (among others) is behind the project, so this is actually coming from someone with real experience.

And recorder joking aside, this has to be a new standard in affordable expressive controllers. Short only of using your own voice, there isn’t another way to get something this portable and this expressive and this affordable.

Recorders have become a mainstay of music education, because they are so cheap – particularly with mass manufactured plastic instruments. Recorders of course have a relatively simple playing method – just finger the right holes and blow, with fairly basic pressure control giving reasonably consistent pitch.

Unfortunately, that same blessing is also a curse; those cheap instruments don’t exactly exude character, and the easy of playing them kinda sorta in tune versus the relative complexity of playing them expressively and precisely in tune means that a classroom full of kids can make a fairly horrid sound. That was my experience learning with them, at least, and perhaps yours, too. A consort full of poorly played plastic recorders is not a lovable sound. Basically, the problem is overblowing. So it was that the wonderful wooden Renaissance instrument was replaced by a cartoonish post-war parody in plastic, overused in education without actually teaching kids intonation. (Read a detailed article on the topic if you like.)

The re.corder might just salvage all of this. It’s actually three instruments:

  1. An acoustic recorder, in the traditional sense.
  2. A digital instrument with its own sound, provided by app but using the recorder’s expressive and simple controls.
  3. A controller for other instruments, via MIDI or CV/gate.

There’s a mute plug that lets you play it silently for scenarios 2 + 3, which also gives the ability to play this without disturbing others via headphones.

The re.corder is hardly the first digital instrument, or even the first to have teaching as a key use case – Akai, Roland, Yamaha, and others have attempted the same. But those instruments don’t double as acoustic recorders, and they come from manufacturers who spread attention across a range of different instrument forms. The makers of re.corder have really focused on this single solution.

And then there’s the price, which was what allowed the poor plastic pipes to take off in the first place. The re.corder pricing starts at just 62EUR (with a 55EUR early bird price), and costs even less in bundles. That makes it competitive with other educational offerings.

Their Kickstarter has only just launched, but it already has mounted some impressive sales figures. That suggests people are looking for this combination of inexpensive, simple, and educational. The launch video is a bit awkward, but the point is taken – this is an educational instrument that promises to be taken seriously by adults, in contrast to what has come before.

I just worry a bit that their design looks a little like a Doctor Who prop, but I suspect the idea is solid anyway.

In addition to the acoustic capabilities, you get touch sensors, custom fingerings, 3D accelerometer sensing for added expression, and Bluetooth LE wireless communication with the app (or your computer or other gear).

Plus, as period recorder players can tell you (while their gamba playing friends struggle up the stairs), the whole thing is eminently portable.

Given you could easily spend twice this on a crappy plastic MIDI keyboard you’ll toss or forget in a couple of years, I do think this product might have some success.

You can back the project on Kickstarter now, and find a lot more details:

Official site:

The post The dorky recorder you had in school just got a futuristic remake appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Polyend’s Medusa still looks unique amidst wavetable rush, and now it’s €798

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 7 Oct 2019 2:47 pm

With characteristic engineer’s modesty, Polish maker Polyend calls its Medusa wavetable+analog grid “slightly different.” But it’s really rather different, and a €798 price makes it more accessible.

TL:DR – the Medusa is a unique instrument sonically, nothing else has its control layout, the grid adds expression and doubles as MPE controller for other gear (including modular), and the price cut should bring it slightly more in range. (Plus you now get some colored knobs for customization.)

I’m honestly surprised, then, that it hasn’t gotten more attention, but I think it could be a slow burner. At the risk of being accused of shilling for Polyend, let me explain why I feel that way; you’re welcome to disagree, naturally.

Let’s get into it:

There’s an embarrassment of riches in the synth world now, both modular and desktop. And 2019 has quickly become a flood of instruments employing wavetable synthesis. At first, I thought that might make the more boutique, idiosyncratic Polyend Medusa lost in the crowd. But on reflection, I think now with all these wavetable options – and yes, more about those soon – the Medusa stands out.

I’ll be a bit blunt. One drawback of wavetable synthesis is that the sounds can become grating. And the same thing that makes wavetable appealing (wild possibilities as you modulate through the wavetables) can also make it tiring or hard to control (wild possibilities as you modulate through the wavetables). That’s arguably an objective assessment, even – the whole idea of the approach is, you get a bunch of harmonic and inharmonic content shifting quickly. We’re not accustomed to that in acoustic instruments or most natural sound. It’s exciting, but too much of it could then become like drinking hot sauce out of the bottle.

So with that in mind, Medusa’s split personality seems rather prescient. By pairing the three digital wavetable oscillators with three analog oscillators, the Dreadbox analog filter (to tame some of that harmonic content), and an analog noise generator, there’s ample opportunity to balance out the instrument’s edgier sounds with some warm body. And Polyend’s deceptively simple approach – putting dedicated fader smack dab in the middle of the unit – means you can literally just reach out and grab either side to adjust.

If you just want a wavetable synthesizer, in other words, you now have a growing number of cheaper options. But a big reason why I don’t want to part with the Medusa is, it has this strong tendency to be warm and fuzzy when you want it to be – and to mix hard-synced analog sounds with the wavetable ones.

That alone isn’t quite enough to set apart the Medusa, though, since there are various other architectures available. So now, some of the braver design decisions Jacek and Polyend made on the Medusa mean that it continues to stand out of the pack. That is, no one else is really attacking ideas like this:

  • The XYZ touch detection of the Medusa grid (which is still astoundingly precise and expressive, something that’s hard to nail on this sort of 8×8 grid)
  • MPE compatibility (now a MIDI standard for polyphonic expression, so you can use all those fingertips of yours independently, as intended)
  • Lots of independent modulation sources and the ability to route them with just a couple of button presses – that is, the five LFOs and five loopable envelopes – all without menu diving.

Here’s a beautiful demonstration of how well this MPE stuff works, using Polyend’s also-superb Poly 2 MIDI to CV converter. It really makes an excellent polyphonic controller for modular hardware and advanced MPE-compatible software synths:

On specs alone, other wavetable instruments do look competitive. But none so far under a grand offers this accessibility of modulation and expression that the grid and control layout of the Medusa provide.

And I feel now more than ever than owning the Medusa really is like having a unique Eurorack modular, minus the rack. And it’s one that you get attached to, rather than wanting to unscrew a couple of modules and put them up for sale used. (Yes, Dreadbox for their part even have a new line of budget modules. And they’re great, but note that you quickly reach the price of the Medusa, without a case, and with fewer capabilities and arguably even less-ready routing.)

All of this ought to be an answer to people droning on… Oh, wait – drones! I forgot! Drone mode is really superb, allowing you to latch tones and create gorgeous, shifting drones. You can spend hours doing this.

Sorry, got distracted there. Where was I? Oh yes –

People are constantly droning on (a much less appealing sound than music drones) about how there are no new ideas in electronic instruments, yadda yadda, everything is from the 70s, everything is a clone or remake…

The Medusa ought to be an answer to that, if more people paid it some attention. 3D grid sensing is absolutely new, as is the kind of integrated control possible here. Now, sure, individual elements like envelopes and wavetable synthesis and 24dB/octave analog filters are all new. But it’s peculiar that synths are suddenly held up to this idea of needing to reinvent fundamental building blocks every single time. If acoustic instruments were judged by the same standard, you could argue there was no difference between a bagpipe, an English horn, and a Cambodian Sralai because they all have reeds. The exact combination really does matter. You might love or hate the combination on the Medusa, but that’s the point – it feels like a particular set of instrumental decisions.

I’ve reviewed the Medusa already, though, and thanks to being slow with my review incorporated lots of the firmware improvements early reviewers missed.

But I do feel reasonably confident in saying it’s worth a look if €799 is now in budget. It’s definitely not for everyone. But why should everything be that? What the Medusa proves is, even doing something relatively obvious (polyphony, wavetable sound sources), you can still remain unique by taking some risks.

And if I didn’t cheer-lead a bit for that, it would mean I had probably ceased being myself.

Previously, full review:

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MeeBlip cubit go: USB MIDI anywhere, with ultra-tight timing

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 15 Aug 2019 3:57 pm

Today, we’re announcing MeeBlip cubit go – a unique USB MIDI interface with incredibly tight timing.

cubit go has the ports you most often need when mobile – one input, so you can perform, and four outputs, for sending notes and/or clock.

Here’s the twist: we’ve integrated hardware MIDI thru circuitry on the four outputs. Anything you send to the interface’s output goes to all four jacks simultaneously. There’s no software delay – you get rock-solid, ultra-tight timing.

That makes cubit go the perfect follow-up to our cubit splitter, introduced earlier this year. You still get four outs with identical timing – but now in a USB MIDI interface you can connect to your computer or mobile device.

Cubit go is driverless and USB powered, so it works with any desktop OS, but also on phones and tablets (with the appropriate cables, sold separately). And the jacks are top-mounted for convenience.

Just plug it in and use it – there’s nothing to install, no separate power supply needed, and nothing to worry about. cubit go is palm-sized, lightweight, rugged, performs perfectly, and is easy to use. 

Features:

  • 1×1 USB MIDI interface with integrated hardware MIDI Thru
  • Class-compliant USB MIDI – no drivers needed
  • One input jack
  • Four hardware-mirrored output jacks – no software lag
  • High performance 32-bit ARM Cortex processor
  • Bright green MIDI light flashes when sending or receiving data for easy troubleshooting
  • Size: 108 x 76 x 25 mm (4.25 x 3 x 1 inches), weighs 110 g (3.9 oz)
  • Includes 1 m (3 ft) USB cable
  • USB powered
  • Works with macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android*
  • Made in Canada, available only direct

cubit go is available now for US$59.95, with free worldwide shipping for a limited time, along with our geode synthesizer.

Buy it now

The mission of MeeBlip is to get musicians – and CDM readers – playing instruments easily, whether they’re a beginner or expert. So if we help make sure stuff is plugged in and playing, the cubit tools are doing their job. Let us know what you think and if there’s more stuff you’d want to see.

As with our past products, we made something we want to use, too. I’m definitely using my cubits all the time, so I’m excited now we get some in your hands, too.

https://meeblip.com/products/meeblip-cubit-go

Previously:

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Here’s how the Sensel Morph’s custom touch control works

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 13 Aug 2019 6:57 pm

The Sensel Morph’s specialized touch control lets you apply both multi-touch position and force (how hard you press). Some new and recent videos make it clear how to customize that for your different tools.

The Morph isn’t alone in the force + multi-touch position game. The growth of MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) depends on multiple controllers. But the Morph tool is uniquely adaptable, thanks to specialized overlays that let it adopt different layouts. So, as I’ve written before, you can swap between a musical control setup for a live show (say, with the Buchla Thunder overlay), and a different overlay for video editing (and fire up Premiere or Final Cut), and so on.

Peter Nyboer from Sensel is a perfect person to explain all this. Now we get to see his full presentation from Perfect Circuit in LA, right in the comfort of our own home. (The magic of the Internet – behold! It’s like we can be everywhere at once, instantly! Or something.)

Here’s his full talk on the overlays and how the customization software works – that last one being a big point, I know:

If you’re looking for a standalone control device, this isn’t it – it’s really more about being lightweight. But I do find the nice thing about the Morph is that it’s small enough you can put it in your backpack and forget about it – even more so than the iPad, and with greater accuracy and force sensing that the iPad lacks.

Sensel have also been busy with additional tutorials on how to work with the Morph. Bitwig Studio gets interesting because of its native MPE support – and there are custom control surface scripts there. (Bitwig seems well-suited to just this sort of tinkerer application.)

You don’t even need to buy a Bitwig Studio license to get started – there’s an included Studio 8-Track license included with the Morph.

It’s really the Buchla overlay that puts things over the top for me. Buchla himself had it right – this diagonal layout just ideally fits under the hand, especially for something performative.

And yeah, here’s the Buchla looking right at home with a modular setup – just as this controller was intended:

Here’s more on how the Morph works with MPE:

Find more at the Sensel Morph product page:

https://sensel.com/pages/the-sensel-morph

The post Here’s how the Sensel Morph’s custom touch control works appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

How to patch 3D visuals in browser from Ableton Live, more with cables.gl

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 8 Jul 2019 6:02 pm

Now, even your browser can produce elaborate, production-grade eye candy using just some Ableton Live MIDI clock. The question of how to generate visuals to go with music starts to get more and more interesting answers.

And really, why not? In that moment of inspiration, how many of us see elaborate fantastic imagery as we listen to (or dream about) music. It’s just been that past generative solutions were based on limited rules, producing overly predictable results. (That’s the infamous “screensaver” complaint.) But quietly, even non-gaming machines have been adding powerful 3D visualization – and browsers now have access to hardware acceleration for a uniform interface.

cables.gl remains in invite-only beta, though if you go request one (assuming this article doesn’t overwhelm one), you can find your way in. And for now, it’s also totally free, making this a great way to play around. (Get famous, get paid, buy licenses for this stuff – done.)

MIDI clock can run straight into the browser, so you can sync visuals easily with Ableton Live. (Ableton Link is overkill for that application, given that visuals run at framerate.) That will work with other software, hardware, modular, whatever you have, too.

For a MIDI/DJ example, here’s a tutorial for TRAKTOR PRO. Obviously this can be adapted to other tools, as well. (Maybe some day Pioneer will even decide to put MIDI clock on the CDJ. One can dream.)

They’ve been doing some beautiful work in tutorials, too, including WeaveArray and ColorArray, since I last checked in.

The post How to patch 3D visuals in browser from Ableton Live, more with cables.gl appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Jam like you’re in a Tarkovsky film with this major app update

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 5 Jun 2019 11:33 pm

Virtual ANS from prolific omni-platform developer Alexander Zolotov brings back spectral synthesis like it’s the mid-century USSR. But it also future-proofs that tech – full Android and iOS (plus desktop) support, and now a version that’s polyphonic and MIDI playable.

Alexander Zolotov can single-handedly make a mobile device useful. On my new Android phone, it was his stuff I grabbed first – and, well, last. Once you’ve got a tracker like SunVox that runs anywhere, what more do you need?

And for anyone bored with the world of knobs and subtractive synthesis (yawn), enter the eerily beautiful alien sound world of the ANS – an alternate timeline of synth history in which sound is painted as well as made electrical. The creation of Russian engineer Evgeny Murzin, the ANS used a unique analog-optical hybrid approach. Borrowing from the graphic scores used in early film audio, waveforms were optically produced. It’s What You See Is What You Get For Sound – the spectrogram is the interface as well as a representation of what you hear. This technique is what creates the gorgeous, otherworldly timbres of Tarkovsky’s Solaris – and now it can be on your phone.

The original ANS – its name drawn from the initials of Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin, the synesthesia-experiencing esoteric composer – used a series of optical discs. It’s easier to do this in software, of course. Everything works in real time, you can have as many pure tone generators as you like (since you won’t just run out of optical-mechanical wheels), and you can convert to and from digital files of both images and sounds.

Sound from pictures, pictures from sounds.

Now with MIDI support on both Android and iOS (not to mention desktop OSes).

ANS 3.0 is a major update that moves the whole affair from fascinating proof of concept to a full-featured instrument. You can now map polyphony, and you can play your creations via MIDI – including via external MIDI controllers.

Adding MIDI controllers actually makes for a wild instrument:

Oh, and remember how I just said that AUv3 was the way forward on iOS? Well, Sasha is of course supporting AUv# – as he’s supported Audiobus, IAA, JACK, ALSA, OSS, MME, DirectSound, and ASIO in the past. (That long list of formats comes from supporting Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS all at once.)

And there’s more. On iOS, you get high-res support and MIDI. Android 6+ has MIDI support. Linux gets multitouch support. Files are accessible in the file system of both iOS and Android – including all those project, image, and sound files. There are more audio export options, new brushes, new lighten and darkening layering modes like you’d expect in Photoshop, and lots of shortcuts. Check the full changelog:

http://warmplace.ru/soft/ans/changelog.txt

Of course, because it runs on every platform (well, every modern platform), you can sketch an idea on your Android phone, move to iPad and work some more, then load it onto your PC and drop it into a DAW.

Frankly, I think it’s more exciting than anything from Apple this week, but I am impossibly biased toward this esoterica so … that goes without saying.

Enjoy:

http://warmplace.ru/soft/ans/

The post Jam like you’re in a Tarkovsky film with this major app update appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Strange Moog history: a telephone, an air hockey game, more

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 3 Jun 2019 6:10 pm

You know the Minimoog and the modular. But do you know The Operator – a business telephone? Or the Moog air hockey game? The Moog name wound up in some strange places in the 80s.

These creations have little to do with Bob Moog. The company first known as R.A. Moog underwent buyouts by other manufacturers, before Bob Moog left the company bearing his name in 1977. Then around 1981, Moog turned to contract manufacturing – at aroundthe same time as the last Minimoog came off the assembly line. Management bought out the company in 1983 and did even more contract work.

But some of the weird side tracks that happened next are nothing if not intriguing. And synth manufacturers diversifying isn’t actually that strange a concept. We have to remember that part of what allows our industry to make weird devices like boutique modules is that we can source components and contract manufacturing from companies making other stuff. (Case in point – I spent Friday morning at ALFA in Riga, who partner with Erica Synths, Gamechanger Audio, and others. Even ALFA gets the lion’s share of revenue from other stuff – in their case, it seemed to be electronic safe circuitry and supplying the Russian car industry. That’s to say nothing of factories in Shenzhen, China.)

So, sure, the most infamous contract synth was the SSK Concertmate for Tandy Corp (aka the brand name used by Radio Shack). But there’s more. As Moog Electronics in the mid-80s, the company made subway door openers and climate control systems. And then these:

A phone

The Operator (originally the Telesys 3) in 1983 was a business phone with some features I’d find handy today, even if they’re dated:

  • A digital clock with stopwatch, automatic call timing, and alarms
  • Custom ring tones, plus a timer that sets the ringer to mute automatically
  • Tons of memory positions and automation
  • Built-in calculator
  • Built-in paper address book
  • Call scheduling
  • Automatic redial for getting through on busy numbers
  • A “privacy detector” that warns you if someone has picked up the line and is listening in

— plus this being the 80s, it also boasted all kinds of archaic compatibility features so it would work with touch, rotary, and pulse lines and corporate PBX and interfacing. Some things we definitely won’t miss.

Of course, the main synth connection here is, Moog Electronics accidentally predicted the FM synth that would one day come from Ableton. Ahem. But the “Moog Telecommunications” name tells you they aspired to make more devices, even if that never happened.

The Operator resurfaced this weekend on Reddit.

You’ll find this image and history on Moogarchives, which has the best timeline of the company’s story:

http://moogarchives.com/chrono.htm

An air hockey game

The Moog air hockey table surfaced in 2012 on a Gearslutz, captured by user plaidemu. If we look back to 2004, we find some trivia background on what this was – evidently also around 1983 or so.

Moog’s logo is on the scoreboard because they made the sound generation circuits. User vorlon42 (whoa, is that a Babylon 5 reference crossed with a Hitchhikers’ Guide reference?):

About 20 years ago, a Buffalo, NY-based company called Innovative Concepts in Entertainment rolled out a heavy-duty arcade-quality table hockey game called Chexx. Like the old “slot hockey” games many of us who grew up in the northern US and Canada had when we were kids, we could control each player (forwards, defensemen, and goaltender) by pushing and pulling a rod for each player, and turn the player by twisting the rod left and right. The playing arena was encased in a hard lucite dome, so that the puck wouldn’t fly out of the arena.

On top of the dome was an box scoreboard with three lights on each of its four sides, and sound-generation circuitry that would play crowd noises and organ “charge” riffs. The electronics for the game was manufactured by…..Moog Music. The Moog logo was featured prominently on the scoreboard.

The Chexx game, and successive versions, can be found in various game rooms, arcades, amusement parks, and sports bars around the world. The most recent version is called Super Chexx. (Unfortunately, it lacks the Moog music circuitry.)

https://forum.moogmusic.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=848

You can still find the game manufacturer.

I love that the Russia-US matchup lets you recreate the miracle on ice. (Well, unless Russia wins, of course.)

A music system for the Commodore

The Moog Song Producer was a very useful looking interface for the Commodore 64 – something you might want even now, if you’re a chip music fan. It’s a combination of software (for sequencing) and I/O for both MIDI and analog signal:

· 1 MIDI in
· 1 MIDI thru
· 4 MIDI outs
· 8 drum trigger outs
· 2 Footswitch ins
· 1 Clock/sync in
· 1 Clock/sync out

Friend of the site (and Retro Thing alum) Bohus Blahut wrote into Matrixsynth in the heady days of 2005 to add more detail:

These aren’t actually rare at all. I’ve seen them on Ebay dozens of times. I think that I got mine for $30 a few years back. I haven’t used it yet (know how that feels?), but it is an amazing package. The thing that would make it even more amazing is if Moog had ever come out with the device mentioned in the manual; an analog sound module. How hip would that be?

Moog Song Producer

A Gibson guitar

Long before the 2008 Paul Vo Moog Guitar, there was the Gibson-Moog collaboration RD series guitar. This even predates Moog Electronics, so Bob Moog himself designed the circuit – an active preamp intended to widen tonal range and make the sound compete with the synth. Or something. With bright, treble, and bass modes, plus compression and expansion, it was more complex than guitarists might have wanted at the time – but also more capable. You can read up on it at Reverb.com:

When Gibson Put Moog Preamps In Guitars: Les Paul Artists, ES Artists, and RDs

Evidently, it sounded like this?

As for those electronics creations – well, it was acceptable in the 80s.

Got more? Hit us up.

The post Strange Moog history: a telephone, an air hockey game, more appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Post-album techno: 9 years of live sequence data, from Shawn Rudiman

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 15 May 2019 5:45 pm

Here’s techno as it’s lived in the moment – the actual improvised grooves of nine years of live sets, echoed as a flood of glitchy, modem-like sounds from a war-tested Alesis MMT-8 sequencer.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Shawn Rudiman may not be a household name in the age of Instagram dance music, but his live reputation proceeds him everywhere he’s played. Shawn’s the kind of guy who leaves a gig – as does his gear – covered in sweat and grime. He’s someone who can power through bursts of improvised patterns as seamlessly as some people sync USB sticks.

This habit of techno as opus for headphones can be wonderful, but it clashes a bit with that world.

Well, here’s about as geeky and as close to the reality of machines grinding away for the dancers as you can get. The machine in question here, the Alesis MMT-8, is a MIDI warhorse if ever there was one – dismissed by snobs and deep-pocketed artists in its day, but quietly powering a whole lot of music since its late 80s introduction. The box looks like it’s a label printer or something, and doesn’t even bother with fancy extras like, you know, swing. But it sports 96 ppq resolution, is cheap enough for the impoverished, and does its job without question. (You might also know its sibling, the HR-16, which doubles as a drum machine.)

This is the box to horde just in case there’s an apocalypse and we need to figure out how to get through the last raves of the endtimes. It’s the jeep of sequencers.

And Shawn has taken the plunge and dumped years of live performance practice from his backups, in an irrationally specific media archaeology experiment for techno nerds. This beast was the audio dump for Shawn’s live sets, and now he’s dumping it on the rest of us for a few bucks.

You’re not supposed to listen to the audio, which means of course I did – I love that vintage modem-like sound of digital data encoded as sound. You’ll need one of those two Alesis boxes to make use of the data. Or someone can try to be clever enough to decode SysEx from the sound files – I had a brief hack on this and failed, but I know it’s possible. Once you have SysEx, a utility like Pete Kvitek’s will do the trick. (Windows only, but got it running on my latest 64-bit Windows 10 install – bless you, PC.)

Here’s what Shawn wrote:

FINEST QUALITY, BIG TIME DATA” an entire 12 track album of Alesis MMT8 tape dump, audio DATAs.

THIS IS DATA. IF YOU LISTEN TO IT, IT SOUNDS LIKE 90S MODEM CONNECTIONS. I WARN YOU NOW.

this is spanning 9 years of live sets.

i give you all the genetic codes to my live sets from these times. each “track” contains a full mmt8 memory dump. roughly 80+ riff/track/song amount of data for your use *****per track on the album!!!!**** . each is a full mmt8 dump (like 92% memory use) they are named as the original files i used were and dated for your perusal. there are also extra pics and some info for those that purchase it. Ill warn you .. it will take some deciphering!!!!!

all sequences were originally made on an mpc 3000. the mmt8 accepts 96 ppq timing. so there you go. mpc 3000 swing on alot of them.:)

te rest is up to you to figure out.:) merry xmas you freaks.

i talked the shit about doing it… now im walking the walk. 🙂

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking – another crowd-pleasing, trend-following CDM linkbait post.

Have at it.

And, hey, if you can’t work out what to do with this data, dig into some great live music vaults deep in the Shawn Bandcamp collection. He’s been dumping some wonderful music, too – like the kind you can hear without decoding or if you’re human and not Alesis drum machine. (Me, I was raised by sequencers, so I speak both languages.)

https://shawnrudimanmusic.bandcamp.com/

If anyone does work out how to translate audio streams back to sysex data, I’d love to hear about it.

The post Post-album techno: 9 years of live sequence data, from Shawn Rudiman appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

One big, open standalone grid for playing everything: dadamachines composer pro

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 9 May 2019 12:58 pm

Various devices have tried to do what the computer does – letting you play, sequence, and clock other instruments, and arrange and recall ideas. Now, a new grid is in town, and it’s bigger, more capable, truly standalone, and open in every way.

composer pro makes its debut today at Superbooth. It comes from what may seem an unexpected source – dadamachines, the small Berlin-based maker known for making a plug-in-play toolkit for robotic percussion and, more recently, a clever developer board. But there’s serious engineering and musical experience informing the project.

What you get is an enormous, colored grid with triggers and display, and connectivity – wired and wireless – to other hardware. From this one device, you can then compose, connect, and perform. It’s a sequencer for outboard gear, but it’s also capable of playing internal sounds and effects.

It’s a MIDI router, a USB host, a sampler and standalone instrument, and a hub to clock everything else. It doesn’t need a computer – and yeah, it can definitely replace that laptop if you want, or keep it connected and synced via cable or Ableton Link.

And one more thing – while big manufacturers are starting to wake up to this sort of thing being a product category, composer pro is also open source and oriented toward communities of small makers and patchers who have been working on this problem. So out of the box, it’s set up to play Pure Data, SuperCollider, and other DIY instruments and effects, extending ideas for standalone instrument/effects developed by the likes of monome and Critter & Guitari’s Organelle. That should be significant both if you’re that sort of builder/hacker/patcher yourself, or even if you just want to benefit from their creations in your own music. And it’s in contrast to the proprietary direction most hardware has gone in recent years. It’s open to ideas and to working together on how to play – which is how grid performance got started in the first place.

Disclosure: I’m working with dadamachines as an advisor/coach. That also means I’ll be responsible for getting feedback to them – curious what you think. (And yeah, I also have some ideas and desires for where these sorts of capabilities could lead in the future. As a lot of you have, I’ve dreamt of electronic musical performance tools moving in this direction – I love computers but also hate some of the struggles they’ve brought with them.)

The hardware

I hope you like buttons. Composer Pro has a 192-pad grid – that’s 16 horizontally by 12 vertically. Add in the rest of the triggers for a grad total of 261 buttons – transport and modes on the top, and the usual scene and arm triggers on the side, plus edit controls and other functions on the left.

For continuous control, there’s a touch strip. And you get a small display and encoder so you can navigate and see what you’re doing.

There’s computational power inside, too – a Raspberry Pi compute module, and additional processing power that runs the device.

Connections

You get just about every form of connectivity (apart from CV/gate, even though this is Superbooth):

Sequencing and clock:

MIDI (via standard DIN connectors, 2 in, 2 out)
DIN sync (for vintage analog gear like the Roland TR-808)
Analog sync I/O (for other analog gear and modular)
USB MIDI (via USB C, for a computer)
USB host, with a 4-port USB hub
Ableton Link (for wireless connections, including to various Mac, Windows, Linux, and iOS software)
Footswitch jack

(There’s a dongle for wifi for Link support.)

Audio:

Headphone jack
Stereo audio in
Stereo audio out

The USB host and 4-port hub is a really big deal. It means you can do the things that normally require a computer – connect other interfaces, add more audio I/O, add USB MIDI keyboards and controllers, whatever.

Sequences and songs

At its heart, composer pro focuses on sequencing – whether you want to work with custom internal instruments, external gear, or both.

You have sixteen slots, which dadamachines dubs “Machines.” Then, you can work with simple step-sequenced rhythms or mono-/polyphonic melodies, and add automation of parameters (via MIDI CC).

Pattern sequences can be up to 16 bars.

There are 12 patterns per Machine slot. (16×12 – get it?)

Patterns + Machines = larger songs. And you can have as many songs as you can fit on an SD card (which, given this is MIDI data is … a lot).

The beauty of dadamachines’ approach is, by building this around the grid, you can work in a lot of different ways:

Step-sequence melodies and rhythms in a standard grid view.

Play live – there’s even a MIDI looper – and use standard quantization tools, or not, to decide how much you want your performance to be on the grid.

Trigger patterns one at a time, or in scenes.

Use the touchstrip for additional live control, with beat repeat functions, polyrhythmic loop length, nudge, and velocity (the pads aren’t velocity sensitive, though you can also use an external controller with velocity).

Now you see the logic behind having this enormous 16×12 grid – everything is visible at once. Most hardware, and even devices like Ableton Push, require you to navigate around to individual parts; there’s no way to see the overall sequence. You can bring up dedicated grid pages if you want to focus on playing a particular part or editing a sequence. But there’s an overview page so you also get the big picture – and trigger everything, without menu diving.

dadamachines have set up four views:

Song View – think interactive set list

Scene View – all your available Patterns and Machines

Machine View – focus on one particular instrument and input

Performance View – transform an existing pattern without changing it

And remember, this can be both external gear and internal instruments – with some nice ready-to-play instruments included in the package, or the ability to make your own (in Pd and SuperCollider) if you’re more advanced.

It’s already set up to work with ORAC, the powerful instrument by technobear, featured on the Organelle from Critter & Guitari:

– showing what can happen as devices are open, collaborative, and compatible.

When can you get this?

composer pro is being shown in a fully working – very nice looking – prototype. That also means a chance to get more feedback from musicians.

dadamachines say they plan to put this on sale in late summer.

It’s an amazing accomplishment from an engineering standpoint, from the hands-on time I’ve had with it. I know velocity-sensitive pads will be a disappointment, but I think that also means you’ll be able to afford this and get hardware that’s reliable – and you can always use the touchstrip or connect other hardware for expression.

It also goes beyond what sequencers like the just-announced Pioneer Squid can do, and offers a more intuitive interface than a lot of other boutique offerings – and its openness could support a community exploring ideas. That’s what originally launched grid performance in the first place with monome, but got lost as monome quantities were limited and commercial manufacturers chose to take a proprietary approach.

Stay tuned to CDM as this evolves.

https://dadamachines.com/products/composer-pro/

Press release:

dadamachines announces grid based midi performance sequencer composer pro

composer pro is the new hub for electronic musicians, a missing link for sketching ideas and playing live. It’s a standalone sampler and live instrument, and connects to everything in a studio or onstage, for clock and patterns. And it’s open source and community-powered, ensuring it’s only getting started.

Edit patterns by step, play live on the pads and touch strip, use external controllers – it’s your choice. Sequence and clock external gear, or work with onboard instruments. Clock your whole studio or stage full of gear – and sync via wires or wirelessly.

Finally, there’s a portable device that gives you the control you need, and the big picture on your ideas, while connecting the instruments you want to play. And yes, you’re free to leave the computer at home.

composer pro will be shown to the public the first time at superbooth in Berlin from 9-11th of may. Sales start is planned for late summer 2019.

Play:

Use a massive, RGB, 16×12 grid of pads
192 triggers – 261 buttons in total – but organized, clear, and easy
Step sequence or play live
Melodic and rhythmic/drum modes
MIDI looper
Work with quantization or unquantized
Play on the pads or use external controllers
Touch strip for expression, live sequence transformations, note repeat, and more

Stay connected:

MIDI input/output and sync (via USB-C with computer, USB host, and MIDI DIN)
Analog sync (modular, analog gear)
DIN sync support (for vintage instruments like the TR-808)
USB host – with a built-in 4-port hub
Abeton Link support (USB wifi dongle required for wireless use)
Stereo audio in
Stereo audio out
Headphone, footswitch

Onboard sounds and room to grow:

Internal instruments and effects
Powered by open source sound engines, with internal Raspberry Pi computer core
Includes ORAC by technobear, a powerful sequenced sampler
Arrange productions and set lists:
Full automation sequencing (via MIDI CC)
Trigger patterns, scenes, songs
16-measure sequences, 12 scenes per song
Unlimited song storage (restricted only by SD card capacity)

The post One big, open standalone grid for playing everything: dadamachines composer pro appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Welcome to YouTube Hell: A MIDI pack reseller silences criticism

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 30 Apr 2019 9:09 pm

YouTube is elevating new voices to prominence in music technology as in other fields. But the platform’s esoteric rules are also ripe for abuse – as one YouTube host claims.

The story begins with around a product, the Unison MIDI Chord Pack. This US$67 pack is already, on its surface, a bit strange. Understandably, users without musical training may like the idea of drag-and-drop chords and harmony – nothing wrong with that. But the actual product appears to be just a set of folders full of MIDI files … of, like, chords. Not real presets, but just raw MIDI chords. They even demo the product in Ableton Live, which already contains built-in chord and arpeggiator tools.

You can watch the demo video on their product page – at first, I couldn’t quite believe my eyes. They claim that this will help you to create chords “with the right notes, in the right order” without theory background – except most of the drag-and-drop material is made up of root position triads, labeled via terminology you’d need some theory to even read.

It’d be a little bit like someone selling you a Build Your Own House Construction Set that was made up of a bag of nails… and the nails were just ones they’d found lying on the ground. Maybe I’m missing something, but I definitely can’t figure out this product from their documentation.

Ave Mcree aka Traptendo, a well-known YouTube host, decided to take on the developers. Calling the product a “scam,” he says he pointed to other, free sources for the same MIDI content – meaning that, as it wasn’t actually original, at best the Unison product amounts to plagiarism.

As if it weren’t already strange enough that these developers were selling MIDI files of chords, they then responded to Ave Mcree’s video by filing a copyright claim. At this point, our story is picked up by Tim Webb at the excellent Discchord blog, who choose a nice, succinct headline:

Fuck Unison Audio [Discchord]

I’ve reached out to Unison for further comment.

Ave writes:

A video about Unison Audio copyright striking my “Unison Audio Chord MIDI Pack Scam” video! This is a channel strike which is affects my monetization rights and could get my channel deleted. I don’t care if that happens because I’m not going to stand for people hustling you. It’s sad that YouTube allows shills and dishonest companies to strike honest reviewers. It’s censorship at it finest! YouTube as a company has lost all of it’s charm when it stop caring about the community on here. Do I like doing videos like these? No, but it’s necessary when people are using their influence for the wrong things. I’m not knocking their hustle by NO MEANS, but offer a product that is 100% YOURS!!!!!

What makes this story so disturbing: not only is YouTube’s lax structure vulnerable to abuse, it seems to actively encourage scammers.

The copyright claim appears to be based on the the pack included for demonstration purposes in his video. While I’m not a lawyer, this should fall dead center under the doctrine of fair use as well as the royalty free license provided by the developers themselves.

Here’s where YouTube’s scale and automation, though, collide with the intricacies of copyright law requirements (mainly in the USA, but possibly soon impacted by changes in the European Union). It’s easy to file a copyright claim, but hard to get videos reinstated once that claim is filed.

As a result: there’s almost nothing stopping someone from filing a fraudulent copyright claim just because they don’t like your video. In this case, Unison can simply use a made-up copyright claim as a tool to kill a video they didn’t like.

You can read up on this world of hurt on Google’s own site:

Copyright strike basics

After all the recent fears about the EU and filtering, automated filtering doesn’t result in a strike – strikes require an explicit request. The problem is, creators have little recourse once that strike is processed. They can contact whomever made the complaint and get them to reverse it – which doesn’t work here, if Unison’s whole goal was removing the video. They can wait 90 days – an eternity in Internet time. Or they can file a “counter notification” – but even this is slow:

After we process your counter notification by forwarding it to the claimant, the claimant has 10 business days to provide us with evidence that they have initiated a court action to keep the content down. This time period is a requirement of copyright law, so please be patient.

Counter Notification Basics [Google Support]

It was only a matter of time before music and music tech encountered the problems with this system, as YouTube grows. Other online media – including CDM – are subject to liability for copyright and libel, as we should be. But legal systems are also set up to prevent frivolous claims, or attempts to use these rules simply to gag your critics. That’s not the case with YouTube; Google has an incentive to protect itself more than its creators, and it’s clear the system they’ve set up has inadequate protections against abuse.

What kind of abuse?

Fuck Jerry, the Instagram “influencer” agency that ripped off memes and helped build the ill-fated Fyre Festival, used copyright strikes to remove a video critical of its operation.

And the system has produced a swarm of copyright trolls.

And it gets worse from there: the system can result in outright extortion, with Google proving unresponsive to complains. The Verge reported on this phenomenon earlier this year, and while Google claimed to be working on the problem, observed that even major channels needed their woes to go viral before even getting a response from the company:

YouTube’s copyright strikes have become a tool for extortion

This isn’t the only problem on YouTube’s platform for music and music technology. While the service is promoting new personalities, disclosure around their relationships with sponsors are often opaque. Traptendo also observes that videos touting various tutorials on working with harmony may be sponsored by Unison Audio, with little or no acknowledgement of that relationship.

That same complaint has been leveled at CDM and me not to mention… okay, all the print magazines I’ve ever written for. But we at least have to answer for our credibility, or lose you as readers. (And sometimes losing you as readers is exactly what happens.) YouTube’s automated algorithms, by contrast, mean videos that simply mention the right keywords or appeal to particular machine heuristics can be promoted without any of that human judgment.

YouTube has unquestionable value, and to pretend otherwise would be foolhardy. Traptendo’s videos are great; I hope this one that was removed gets reinstated.

At the same time, we need to be aware of some of the downsides of this platform. And I’m concerned that we’ve become dependent on a single platform from a single vendor – which also means if anything goes wrong, creators are just as quickly de-platformed.

And regardless of what’s going on with YouTube, it’s also important for humans to spread the word – at least to say, friends don’t let friends spend their money on … chords.

I don’t believe all music “needs to be free,” but I would least say triads are. Actually, wait… I could use some spare spending money. Excuse me, I’m going to slip into the night to go sell some all-interval tetrachords on the black market.

The post Welcome to YouTube Hell: A MIDI pack reseller silences criticism appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

AUM is perfect iOS music hub, now with Ableton Link and MIDI updates

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 24 Apr 2019 10:49 pm

Speaking of tools to glue together your gear and serve as the heartbeat of your studio – AUM. This iOS super-tool can serve as an essential hub for combining apps and hardware in any combination – and now it’s even more savvy with Ableton Link and MIDI.

You’d be forgiven for thinking AUM was just some sort of fancy mixer for the iPad. But it’s more like a studio for combining software with software, software with hardware, and hardware with hardware. So it might be a way to combine stuff that’s on your iOS device, or a convenient tool for mobile recording, or a way to let your iPad sit in a studio of other gear and make them play together, or a combination of all those things.

It does this by letting you do whatever you like with inputs and outputs, iOS plug-ins (Audio Unit extensions), audio between apps (Audiobus and Inter-App Audio), and multichannel audio and MIDI interfaces. It’s a host, a virtual patch bay (for both MIDI and audio), and a recording/playback device. And it’s a tool to center other tools. There’s also Ableton Link and MIDI clock support.

It’s worth bringing up AUM right now, because a minor point update – 1.3 – brings some major new features that really make this invaluable.

  • Ableton Link 3 support means you can start/stop transport.
  • You get “MIDI strips” for hosting useful MIDI-only Audio unit extensions.
  • You can import channels between sessions, and duplicate channel strips.
  • And you get tons of new MIDI mappings: program changes, tap tempo, loading presets, and even loading whole sessions can now be done via MIDI. I imagine that could see this used in some pretty major stage shows.

Jakob Haq has shown some useful ways of approaching the app, including MIDI mapping control:

Lots more tutorials and resources on the official site:

http://kymatica.com/apps/aum

The full feature list:

High quality audio up to 32-bit 96kHz
Clean and intuitive user interface with crisp vector graphics
Extremely compact and optimized code, very small app size
Unlimited* number of channels
Unlimited* number of effect slots
Inserts and sends are configurable pre/post-fader
Internal busses for mixing or effect sends
Supports multi-channel audio interfaces
Supports Audio Unit extensions, Inter-App Audio and Audiobus
Audiobus state saving
Highly accurate transport clock
Metronome with selectable output and optional pre-roll
Sends host sync to Audio Unit plugins and IAA apps
Send MIDI clock to external hardware
Play in time with Ableton Link
FilePlayer with sync and looping, access to all AudioShare files
Records straight into AudioShare storage space
Record synchronized beat-perfect loops
Built-in nodes for stereo processing, filtering and dynamics
Latency compensation makes everything align at the outputs
Separate Inter-App Audio / Audiobus output ports
Built-in MIDI keyboard
Fully MIDI controllable
MIDI Matrix for routing MIDI anywhere

The post AUM is perfect iOS music hub, now with Ableton Link and MIDI updates appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Pioneer Squid is a monster standalone sequencer for your gear

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 24 Apr 2019 4:41 pm

Forget for a second that Pioneer is the CDJ and DJM company. Their latest TORAIZ goes a radical new direction – making what might be the biggest mainstream hardware sequencer since the MPC and Octatrack.

But a deep sequencer with MIDI and CV, for 599€ (awaiting US pricing details) – that sounds like a blockbuster.

The rise of gear for making sound has left a fairly significant hole in the market. You’ve got tons of drum machines, tons of synths, tons of grooveboxes, and then a whole black hole of semi-modular and fully-modular instruments.

But what about making, you know – a song? There aren’t so many choices for actually pulling together rhythms and melodies on all those toys. You’ve got a mishmash of internal sequencing features and devices capable of multiple tracks. But there are limited options beyond that – used Akai MPCs, the Elektron Octatrack, and Arturia BeatStep Pro being most common. The Arturia piece is cheap and cheery – and shows up astride an amazing number of fancy Eurorack rigs, prized for its simplicity. But having just dusted mine off, I find its sequencing really limited.

So here’s the surprise: the company that promises a really deep sequencer, one with elaborate rhythmic features that happily get you off the grid and bending time if you want, is … Pioneer.

The SQUID is certainly in a funny position. On one hand, it’s a natural for real gearheads and synth nerds. On the other, it’s a Pioneer product, so you can bet marketing and DJ press alike will try to say this is about “DJs getting into production” or … something. (No! DJs! Stop while you still can have a social life and, like, money in your bank account! You’ll become broke antisocial hermits like the rest of us!)

But – who cares who this is for? What it does appears to do … is a hell of a lot. And while it might actually have too many features (that will be I think the main element of any test), what’s surprising is that it isn’t a me-too sequencer. Despite the pads and step structure, Pioneer have made an effort to let musicians get off the grid and bend and warp time – so maybe drum machines can have soul again.

First, the predictable bit – it is a pad-based step sequencer, yes:

16 multicolored LED rubber pads with velocity sensitivity
Step record patterns
Live / real-time recording
Scale mode
Per-step automation recording (at least it seems that way – “parameter locks” or p-locks as known to users of other hardware)
Interpolation – this lets you set a beginning, middle, and end on steps and let the machine transition between them, a bit like creating automated envelopes
Harmonizer with up to six chords assigned to buttons
Chord mode with 18 built-in chord sets (I’m curious how customizable this is, as I’d rather the machine not make harmonies for me)
Transpose phrases on the fly
Up to five MIDI CCs on external devices
Randomizer (which covers everything, even CCs)
Pattern Set – this is interesting; it lets you lock in a combination of patterns into an arrangement, a bit like you can do with scenes in Ableton Live

And you can run sequences in different directions (bounce, reverse, whatever), as expected.

Multiple loops. Trigger probability – yeah, Pioneer are ready to take on Elektron here.

Already appealing and powerful, but it’s the real-time manipulation features that go in a new direction.

Speed modulation: look out, locked-bpm techno, because the SQUID can modulate speeds via six waveform shapes (triangle, sawtooth – please tell me there’s a random/S&H mode, too)

Groove bend: yes, there’s Swing, but there’s also “Groove Bend” which lets you use a slider to change timing. (I really hope there’s a way to optionally impact pitch, too, CDJ-style.)

Instant double-, half- speed triggers, too.

You can also shift the Scale and Arpeggiator knobs in real time, meaning… yeah, you can go super free jazz with this if you want.

There’s even an automatic mode that saves your jams even when you don’t hit record. (Ableton Live recently introduced this feature, joining a number of DAWs that have had it over the years.)

And yeah, it works with USB, MIDI, 2 sets of CV/gate, clock and DIN sync. It’s ready for your hardware from the 80s until now.

There’s even software for managing sequence patterns, projects, and MIDI clips – so you can save your work librarian style for live performances, and finish off tracks on the computer with patterns you made on the hardware.

Specs: 64 steps, 8 notes per step, 64 patterns, 128 projects.

I mean – we are sure this is a Pioneer product, right? Did someone get into our brains and make what we want?

I have a lot of questions. Step resolution seems fixed at 32nd notes, without mention of tuplets or other rhythms. I don’t see a listing for ppq resolution (the timing resolution of the sequencer). Performance reliability is something to test. Pioneer talks polyrhythms but I have some questions there.

But – wow. Yes. Let’s test this. Pioneer have so far given us some strange and mostly expensive “producer” devices lately, but this is different. This looks like it has the first shot of being the Pioneer gear every producer wants to buy – not just the Pioneer gear you use when you show up at the club. I can’t wait to get my hands on this so we can share with you what it does and how it might (or might not) fit your needs.

Obligatory promo video. Uh… someone stole Native Instruments’ typography and sci-fi light effects. But no matter – Pioneer made this device before NI did. (Okay, I’m buying the next round of beers in Kreuzberg after that comment, sorry, but it had to be said.)

The competition? It’s boutique, for sure, but the Synthstrom Deluge is the real rival:

It’s more compact than the Pioneer. And this really comes down to whether you want a 4×4 grid with a lot of dedicated triggers, or a whole bunch of pads and the Synthstrom’s nested editing capabilities. What’s really, really nice about the Deluge is, it has an internal synth engine and even sample playback. And ironically, that makes the Deluge better suited than Pioneer’s offering to taking a live project into a DJ booth – because you don’t have to reserve an entire table full of gear just to make sounds. That said, I think making a product dedicated to sequencing does free up the designers to focus on that workflow.

There should be room for both in the market; the workflow is very different, even apart from Synthstrom’s internal sound engine.

I feel bad I haven’t given the Deluge more time on CDM, so – now, no more excuses, I’ll get both these units in for a proper test.

All product details:

https://www.pioneerdj.com/en-us/product/production/toraiz-squid/black/overview/

I’m a child of the 80s, but every time Pioneer writes that this is “the heartbeat of your studio,” I think of old Chevrolet “heartbeat of America” ads. Is that just me? Okay, it’s just me.

The post Pioneer Squid is a monster standalone sequencer for your gear appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

AKAI’s cute little MPK mini keyboard now has internal sounds

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 18 Apr 2019 6:05 pm

AKAI’s MPK mini was already something of a sleeper hit – a simple MIDI controller keyboard that was small enough to be irresistible. But the latest revision makes it useful even all by its lonesome.

MPK mini play is what AKAI are calling the latest edition. It’s actually the second major revision of this unassuming little keyboard. The gamepad-style pitch/mod joystick had already packed in a bit more control features, in addition to the handy pads, banks, and a built-in arpeggiator.

But all of that was just for use with a computer, connected via USB. The “play” version will now work standalone. There are 128 built-in instrument sounds and 10 drum kits in the internal sound module, plus a crisp OLED display so you can find the sound you want. AA battery power means this is all at your ready without even power nearby. There’s even a built-in speaker so you can hear what you’re doing.

You can also make Favorites, which compile a Keys patch, a Drums patch, and settings for the knobs.

Heck, it’s even got a sustain pedal input and a headphone jack.

I’ll be totally honest – I tried to look up what sounds are in there, and couldn’t. I know the screenshot already has an 808 kit – sold yet?

It almost doesn’t seem to matter. I can’t think of another keyboard that could work as an iPad or computer accessory on USB power, then also a standalone jamming keyboard. Studio ready, picnic ready, too. Seems a good move in time for summer (Northern Hemisphere, anyway).

I gush only because the MPK mini is one of those things that you buy sort of as a throwaway, then wind up using more than everything else, just because it’s so small and convenient. It also has the advantage of taking up so little space that even when other gear in the studio competes for space, it has a way of staying by your computer keyboard instead of going on the shelf.

(Judge me by my size, do you?)

https://www.akaipro.com/mpk-mini-play-mpkminiplay

Midifan in China have a hands-on with more pictures / unboxing (worth looking even before you reach for Google Translate to try to work out what they’re saying, if you don’t speak Chinese).

The post AKAI’s cute little MPK mini keyboard now has internal sounds appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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