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This plug-in is a secret weapon for sound design and drums

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 14 Jun 2018 12:26 pm

It’s full of gun sounds. But because of a combination of a unique sample architecture and engine and a whole lot of unique assets, the Weaponiser plug-in becomes a weapon of a different kind. It helps you make drum sounds.

Call me a devoted pacifist, call me a wimp – really, either way. Guns actually make me uncomfortable, at least in real life. Of course, we have an entirely separate industry of violent fantasy. And to a sound designer for games or soundtracks, Weaponiser’s benefits should be obvious and dazzling.

But I wanted to take a different angle, and imagine this plug-in as a sort of swords into plowshares project. And it’s not a stretch of the imagination. What better way to create impacts and transients than … well, fire off a whole bunch of artillery at stuff and record the result? With that in mind, I delved deep into Weaponiser. And as a sound instrument, it’s something special.

Like all advanced sound libraries these days, Weaponiser is both an enormous library of sounds, and a powerful bespoke sound engine in which those sounds reside. The Edinburgh-based developers undertook an enormous engineering effort here both to capture field recordings and to build their own engine.

It’s not even all about weapons here, despite the name. There are sound elements unrelated to weapons – there’s even an electronic drum kit. And the underlying architecture combines synthesis components and a multi-effects engine, so it’s not limited to playing back the weapon sounds.

What pulls Weaponiser together, then, is an approach to weapon sounds as a modularized set of components. The top set of tabs is divided into ONSET, BODY, THUMP, and TAIL – which turns out to be a compelling way to conceptualize hard-hitting percussion, generally. We often use vaguely gunshot-related metaphors when talking about percussive sounds, but here, literally, that opens up some possibilities. You “fire” a drum sound, or choose “burst” mode (think automatic and semi-automatic weapons) with an adjustable rate.

This sample-based section is then routed into a mixer with multi-effects capabilities.

In music production, we’ve grown accustomed to repetitive samples – a Roland TR clap or rimshot that sounds the same every single time. In foley or game sound design, of course, that’s generally a no-no; our ears quickly detect that something is amiss, since real-world sound never repeats that way. So the Krotos engine is replete with variability, multi-sampling, and synthesis. Applied to musical applications, those same characteristics produce a more organic, natural sound, even if the subject has become entirely artificial.

Weaponiser architecture

Let’s have a look at those components in turn.

Gun sounds. This is still, of course, the main attraction. Krotos have field recordings of a range of weapons:

AK 47
Berretta 92
Dragunov
GPMG
SPAS 12
CZ75
GPMG
H&K 416
M 16
M4 (supressed)
MAC 10
FN MINIMI
H&K MP5
Winchester 1887

For those of you who don’t know gun details, that amounts to pistol, rifle, automatic, semiautomatic, and submachine gun (SMG). These are divided up into samples by the onset/body/thump/tail architecture I’ve already described, plus there are lots of details based on shooting scenario. There are bursts and single fires, sniper shots from a distance, and the like. But maybe most interesting actually are all the sounds around guns – cocking and reloading vintage mechanical weapons, or the sound of bullets impacting bricks or concrete. (Bricks sound different than concrete, in fact.) There are bullets whizzing by.

And that’s just the real weapons. There’s an entire bank devoted to science fiction weapons, and these are entirely speculative. (Try shooting someone with a laser; it … doesn’t really work the way it does in the movies and TV.) Those presets get interesting, too, because they’re rooted in reality. There’s a Berretta fired interdimensionally, for example, and the laser shotguns, while they defy present physics and engineering, still have reloading variants.

In short, these Scottish sound designers spent a lot of time at the shooting range, and then a whole lot more time chained to their desk working with the sampler.

Things that aren’t gun sounds. I didn’t expect to find so many sounds in the non-gun variety, however. There are twenty dedicated kits, which tend in a sort of IDM / electro crossover, just building drum sounds on this engine. There are a couple of gems in there, too – enough so that I could imagine Krotos following up this package with a selection of drum production tools built on the Weaponiser engine but having nothing to do with bullets or artillery.

Until that happens, you can think of that as a teaser for what the engine can do if you spend time building your own presets. And to that end, you have some other tools:

Variations for each parameter randomize settings to avoid repetition.

Four engines, each polyphonic with their own sets of samples, combine. But the same things that allow you different triggering/burst modes for guns prove useful for percussion. And yes, there’s a “drunk” mode.

A deep multi-effects section with mixing and routing serves up still more options.

Four engines, synthesis. Onset, Body, Thump, and Tail each have associated synthesis engines. Onset and Body are specialized FM synthesizers. Thump is essentially a bass synth. Tail is a convolution reverb – but even that is a bit deeper than it may sound. Tail provides both audio playback and spatialization controls. It might use a recorded tail, or it might trigger an impulse response.

Also, the way samples are played here is polyphonic. Add more samples to a particular engine, and you will trigger different variants, not simply keep re-triggering the same sounds over and over again. That’s the norm for more advanced percussion samplers, but lately electronic drum engines have tended to dumb that down. And – there’s a built-in timeline with adjustable micro-timings, which is something I’ve never seen in a percussion synth/sampler.

The synth bits have their own parameters, as well, and FM and Amplitude Modulation modes. You can customize carriers and modulators. And you can dive into sample settings, including making radical changes to start and end points, envelope, and speed.

Effects and mixing. Those four polyphonic engines are mixed together in a four-part mix engine, with multi-effects that can be routed in various ways. Then you can apply EQ, Compression, Limiting, Saturation, Ring Modulation, Flanging, Transient Shaping, and Noise Gating.

Oh, you can also use this entire effects engine to process sounds from your DAW, making this a multi-effects engine as well as an instrument.

Is your head spinning yet?

About the sounds

Depending on which edition you grab, from the limited selection of the free 10-day demo up to the “fully loaded” edition, you’ll get as many as 2228 assets, with 1596 edited weapon recordings. There are also 692 “sweeteners” – a grab bag of still more sounds, from synths to a black leopard (the furry feilne, really), and the sound recordists messing around with their recording rig, keys, Earth, a bicycle belt… you get the idea. There are also various impulse responses for the convolution reverb engine, allowing you to place your sound in different rooms, stairwells, and synthetic reverbs.

The recording chain itself is worth a look. There are the expected mid/side and stereo recordings, classic Neumann and Sennheiser mics, and a whole lot of use by the Danish maker DPA – including mics positioned directly on the guns in some recordings. But they’ve also included recordings made with the Sennheiser Ambeo VR Mic for 360-degree, virtual reality sound.

They’ve shared some behind-the-scenes shots with CDM, and there’s a short video explaining the process.

In use, for music

Some of the presets are realistic enough that it did really make me uncomfortable at first working with these sounds in a music project – but that was sort of my aim. What I found compelling is, because of this synth engine, I was quickly able to transform those sounds into new, organic, even unrecognizable variations.

There are a number of strategies here that make this really interesting.

You can mess with samples. Adjusting speed and other parameters, as with any samples, of course gives you organic, complex new sounds.

There’s the synthesis engine. Working with the synth options either to reprocess the sounds or on their own allows you to treat Weaponiser basically as a drum synth.

The variations make this sound like acoustic percussion. With subtle or major variations, you can produce sound that’s less repetitive than electronic drums would be.

Mix and match. And, of course, you have presets to warp and combine, the ability to meld synthetic sounds and gun sounds, to sweeten conventional percussion with those additions (synths and guns and leopard sounds)… the mind reels.

Routing, of course is vital, too; here’s their look at that:

In fact, there’s so much, that I could almost go on a separate tangent just working with this musically. I may yet do that, but here is a teaser at what’s possible – starting with the obvious:

But I’m still getting lost in the potential here, reversing sounds, trying the drum kits, working with the synth and effects engines.

The plug-in can get heavy on CPU with all of that going on, obviously, but it’s also possible to render out layers or whole sounds, useful both in production and foley/sound design. Really, my main complaint is the tiny, complex UI, which can mean it takes some time to get the hang of working with everything. But as a sound tool, it’s pretty extraordinary. And you don’t need to have firing shotguns in all your productions – you can add some subtle sweetening, or additional layers and punch to percussion without anyone knowing they’re hearing the Krotos team messing with bike chains and bullets hitting bricks and an imaginary space laser.

Weaponiser runs on a Mac or PC, 64-bit only VST AU AAX. You’ll need about five and a half gigs of space free. Basic, which is already pretty vast, runs $399 / £259/ €337. Full loaded is over twice that size, and costs $599 / £379 / €494.

https://www.krotosaudio.com/weaponiser/

The post This plug-in is a secret weapon for sound design and drums appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Virginia Wing: the Manchester pop duo fighting the ‘indie edgelord’ sexists

Delivered... Laura Snapes | Scene | Thu 14 Jun 2018 11:52 am

Faced with ranks of leering male fans on tour with Hookworms, Alice Merida Richards and Sam Pillay – creators of one of the albums of the year – played in front of an ‘end rape culture’ sign

Virginia Wing have developed a high tolerance for sexism since forming in 2012. Over doughnuts in a punky Manchester bakery, Alice Merida Richards and Sam Pillay laugh off the time one journalist temporarily shut down when Pillay went to the loo mid-interview. They’re used to the “unspoken mythos that he’s the puppet master and I’m the singer,” says Richards. The troglodytic sound guys aren’t even worth mentioning. “They’ll burn in hell!” Pillay decides.

But the synth-pop duo did reach breaking point on a recent “emotionally draining” tour with Leeds psych band Hookworms. They’re quick to affirm their love for the group and their mutual leftwing politics; the problem was the dissonance between Hookworms’ progressive worldview and their blokey fans. “Good old-fashioned rock music!” Richards imitates. “The good old days of Hawkwind and being openly sexist.”

Thanks very much to anyone who watched us at the @HOOKWORMS show in Brixton last night. We're in Sheffield tonight and it's the last show of the tour. Last call for any blokes looking to get very defensive after seeing the word 'rape' pic.twitter.com/n6UAoAksGD

Related: Virginia Wing: Ecstatic Arrow review – rhythmic dream pop with a bite

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The Third Room’s Ahmet Sisman On Hybridity, Raves In Refineries And The Scene In Essen

Delivered... Interview by Derek Opperman | Scene | Thu 14 Jun 2018 10:54 am

The post The Third Room’s Ahmet Sisman On Hybridity, Raves In Refineries And The Scene In Essen appeared first on Telekom Electronic Beats.

Countdown to License Renewal – Recent FCC Decisions Highlight Some Issues to Consider

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Wed 13 Jun 2018 10:08 pm

We are less than one year away from the beginning of the next radio license renewal cycle. By June 1 of 2019, radio broadcasters with stations licensed to communities in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia must have their license renewal applications on file. Stations in certain southeastern states follow two months later, with other states to follow every two months until the cycle ends 3 years after it began with the filing of renewals by stations in the northeast. The FCC’s list of state-by-state renewal deadlines is available here. The TV cycle begins the year after the radio cycle and progresses in the same order. We wrote here about how the online public inspection file will heighten scrutiny of the performance of stations in meeting their public service obligations – and the particular importance of timely preparation and uploading of the Quarterly Issues Programs lists – the only officially mandated documents showing how stations addressed issues of importance to their communities in their over-the-air programming. But there are other issues that stations should be considering in this year before renewals are filed.

From time to time in this run-up to the renewal, we will highlight issues that station owners should be considering. In the last week, there have been a few issues that that were highlighted by FCC announcements of fines levied on broadcasters for various rule violations. One obvious issue is making sure that you stay on top of the deadlines, and don’t forget to timely file the renewal application. An FCC decision released yesterday fined a station $1500 for failing to timely file its renewal in the last renewal cycle. This station filed its application about 4 months late, just before the license expired (broadcasters file their renewals 4 months in advance of the expiration of the license to give the FCC time to review and grant the renewal before the current license expires). In the past renewal cycle, other stations were fined even more when they waited even longer to file their late renewals. Obviously, it is important to stay on top of the filing deadlines.

In other decisions released in the last few weeks, the FCC proposed to fine stations – two LPFMs (decisions found here and here) and a full-power station (here) that were operating with facilities other than those specified in their licenses. While the FCC does not itself routinely review the technical operations of a station at license renewal time, in making certain license renewal certifications (e.g. that stations comply with the limitations on RF radiation exposure to the public and station workers), there is at least an implication that the station is operating where it is supposed to be and with the facilities that are specified on its license.

Moreover, the license renewal brings attention to the operation of the station generally, and subjects its operations to scrutiny by anyone who has any reason to want to make trouble for the station or its owner. Operating at variance from authorized facilities can always get a station into trouble. So reviewing all aspect of the station’s operations – including its technical facilities – is always important. Leaving time to make corrections before the renewal is filed gives licensees the incentive to make that review now. Watch for more highlights of potential license renewal issues in coming months.

Behringer threatens legal action against a site that called it a copycat

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 13 Jun 2018 1:16 pm

Midifan, a top music portal and online magazine in China, has received notice from Behringer, threatening legal action over stories by Musicfan that called Behringer a “copycat.”

Midifan is a Chinese-language site, but evidently a significant one for that market. And Nan Tang, CEO and founder of the site, is also co-founder of 2nd Sense Audio, the software developer behind the WIGGLE synth and ReSample software. Nan, also known at musiXboy, contacted CDM with the news.

Nan has provided CDM with Midifan’s own English translation of the legal letter, as well as a statement in English. Translation is an important factor here, given we’re talking about libel, but Midifan’s English translations here for what they wrote are “shameless” and “copycat.”

Here’s the statement from Midifan:

Behringer sued Chinese media Midifan for saying them COPYCAT and shameless

Chinese portal website Midifan has received a lawyer’s letter from Behringer last week. Behringer claimed the fact that Midifan repeatedly reporting news about Behringer without any factual basis and using insulting words such as “copycat”, “shameless” has caused the reputation of the four clients (Uli Behringer, MUSIC Tribe Global Brands Ltd, Zhongshan Behringer Electronic Co., Ltd and Zhongshan Ouke Electronic Co., Ltd) to be seriously damaged.

The law firm worked for Behringer also claimed that they have reported to its local public security agency and plans to pursue legal responsibilities through criminal way.

A manufacturer taking legal action against music press for being critical or even calling it names is as far as I know fairly unprecedented. I’d almost call it shamel– actually, let’s just stick with “unprecedented.”

But it appears the letter is threatening criminal libel proceedings in China, not just civil charges. Criminal libel can carry more serious consequences; as reported in 2013 by The Guardian and Bloomberg, criminal libel in China can carry up to a three year prison sentence.

Ceci n’est pas une imitateur.
Behringer showed … uh… tributes to the Roland SH-101, , Roland VC-330, Roland TR-808, ARP Odyssey, and Sequential Prophet One in Berlin last month.

That said, in China as internationally, the law states that something is only libelous if it’s untrue. The “copycat” reference refers to Behringer gear shown at Superbooth, for instance, that literally was designed to look and sound like classic instruments (Roland TR-808, Sequential Circuits Prophet One, etc.). “Shameless” is a matter of opinion. Arguably, too, sending cease and desist letters to media outlets because they called you shameless and a copycat would presumably also not be a great way to demonstrate you possess shame.

Behringer Pro-One, 808, ARP Odyssey Clones At Superbooth 2018

For their part, Midifan have posted a response on their site (no English translation available):

https://www.midifan.com/modulenews-detailview-29955.htm

Midifan tell CDM that they have removed all references to the words “copycat” and “shameless” and replaced them with “more neutral words like “TRIBUTE and CLONE.”

Here’s the full letter from Behringer as translated by Midifan into English.

Lawyer’s Letter
In Relation to Urge You to Stop the Willful Infringement Behavior

Dear Sir or Madam,
Upon the entrustment of Zhongshan Behringer Electronic Co., Ltd (hereinafter referred to as Behringer Corporation), Zhongshan Ouke Electronic Co., Ltd (hereinafter referred to as Ouke Corporation), Uli Behringer and MUSIC Tribe Global Brands Ltd, Guangdong Baoxin Law Firm sends you the lawyer’s letter to your company on matters that urging you to stop the willful infringement behavior.

In accordance with the information and statements from four aforementioned clients, MUSIC Tribe Global Brands Ltd is the registered holder of the trademark “BEHRINGER”. On the basis of the authorization of MUSIC Tribe Global Brands Ltd, Ouke Corporation has the right to use the “BEHRINGER” trademark to engage in production and business activities within the scope of relevant authorizations. Behringer Corporation,whose English name also includes the word “Behringer”, is an affiliate enterprise of MUSIC Tribe Global Brands Ltd and Ouke Corporation.

Since 2017, you have continuously published articles such as “Exclusive breaking: Behringer’s recent crazy copycat stems from a trap of imitation chip more than a decade ago.” “, Can’t stop copycat: Behringer will make the Eurorack module next?” , “Shameless: Behinger exhibited copycat of TR-808, SH-101, Pro-One and Odyssey” on the website “https://www.midifan.com/”

and

Tencent WeChat public account “Midifan” without any factual basis, claiming that the above four principals have plagiarized the products of other companies. Beyond that, the fact that you repeatedly used insulting words such as “shameless”, “copycat” has caused the reputation of my four clients to be seriously damaged.

In view of this, Ouke Corporaiton has reported to its local public security agency and plans to pursue your legal responsibilities through criminal way. Meanwhile, the four principals entrusted me with this letter expressly:

Please be sure to remove all the insulting infringement articles four principals involved and other related information posted on the internet platform such as “https://www.midifan.com/” and Tencent WeChat public account “Midifan” , etc. within seven days of receipt of this letter, and issue a clarification announcement within the above-mentioned period to eliminate all adverse effects caused by the negative reputation of the four principals due to your inappropriate comments.

If you fail to perform the above obligations within the time limit, the four principals will continue pursuing your legal liabilities (including but not limited to
the criminal responsibility for defamation) through legal ways. All consequences and expenses resulting from this shall be borne by you.

In order to avoid inconvenience, please weigh the pros and cons and perform the above obligations in a timely manner!
Best regards.

CDM has reached out to Music Tribe / Behringer for comment via their public contact form, but has not yet received a response. Curiously, I found many of my colleagues don’t have direct, current media contacts with the company.

Oh, also – it seems Germany has criminal libel laws, too. So, naturally, let me then reiterate – what I saw at Superbooth were … meticulous recreations of famous electronic instruments of yore by a …. manufacturer of equipment that is … Behringer.

Now, please, I don’t want to go to German jail. Aber wenn ich ins Gefängnis gehe, wird sich mein Deutsch verbessern.

http://midifan.com/

The post Behringer threatens legal action against a site that called it a copycat appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Blawan On Impatience, Anxiety And How He Makes No-Frills Techno

Delivered... Interview by Sven Von Thülen | Scene | Wed 13 Jun 2018 12:41 pm

The post Blawan On Impatience, Anxiety And How He Makes No-Frills Techno appeared first on Telekom Electronic Beats.

Streemur is an iOS streaming sound palette for experimental musicians, sound designers and artists

Delivered... Ashley Elsdon | Scene | Tue 12 Jun 2018 10:44 pm

Streemur is not your common iOS audio app. It really is pretty different, and I have to say that I’m really pleased to see something this different on the app store for a change. There was a time when we would see far more experimental and esoteric apps arrive on the app store, but this seems to happy far less frequently these days. So it’s good to see Streemur arrive and bring back something more interesting to the world of iOS music.

Streemur is a streaming sound palette for experimental musicians, sound designers and artists and it includes over 40 preset randomized Internet audio streams. You can add IAA and AUv3 effects to streams in supported DAWs ( Digital Audio Workstations ) such as GarageBand, AUM, AudioShare, Cubasis, and Auria Pro. You can also add up to 5 of your own user presets.

Streemur is a universal app, running on iPhone and iPad, it’s on the iPad for just $2.99

Please Note: If using Streemur as an IAA node, be sure to start your IAA host first!

The post Streemur is an iOS streaming sound palette for experimental musicians, sound designers and artists appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

SynthMaster One is here, and it’s pretty close to the desktop

Delivered... Ashley Elsdon | Scene | Tue 12 Jun 2018 10:02 pm

SynthMaster One coming to iOS is a big deal, and also it’s been a long time coming. SynthMaster One iOS is the mobile version of KV331 Audio’s SynthMaster One software synthesizer.

The iOS version of SynthMaster One is identical to the desktop version except the following features:

  • 16 voice polyphony (32 for the desktop version)
  • Comes with 500 presets (800 for the desktop version)

HERE ARE THE FEATURES:

  • 500 Factory Presets: SynthMaster One iOS comes with inspiring factory presets from a world class team of sound designers: Arksun, Aiyn Zahev, BigTone Studios, Bluffmunkey, Bulent Biyikoglu, Gercek Dorman, Dejavu Sound, Nori Ubukata, Rob Lee, Ufuk Kevser, Selcuk Ergen, The Machine, Vandalism Sound, Vorpalsound and Xenos Soundworks
  • AUv3: SynthMaster One iOS supports AudioUnits V3, allowing multiple instances to run under supporting DAW apps like GarageBand, Cubasis or Beat Maker. It also supports parameter automation and full screen when running inside GarageBand.
  • AirDrop: Easily share your presets over AirDrop, Mail or other iOS Applications. SynthMaster One iOS presets are interchangeable with the desktop version.
  • Semi-Modular Architecture: For each SynthMaster One instance, there are 2 oscillators with 2 sub oscillators, 2 Filters, 4 ADSR Envelopes, 3 LFOs, a powerful 16 step arpeggiator/sequencer and also 11 different effects that can be inserted on to 6 FX insert slots. The sub oscillators can be connected to the oscillators in 5 different modes which let you use it as a regular sub oscillator or do complex modulations such as ring modulation, amplitude modulation, phase modulation or frequency modulation.
  • 16 Step Arpeggiator/Sequencer: The arpeggiator in SynthMaster One features classic arpeggiator modes such as Up, Down, UpDown, DownUp, UpDown2, DownUp2, AsPlayed as well as Sequence, Chord and Arpeggiate modes. Each of the 16 steps of the arpeggiator has its own Velocity, Note Number, Note Length, Slide and Hold parameters.
  • Wavetable Synthesis: SynthMaster One implements true wavetable synthesis which opens up new possibilities for sound design. SynthMaster One comes with a rich wavetable library and you can extend that by dragging and dropping wavetable files using the Files App (requires iOS 11+)
  • Stereo Oscillators with up to 16 voices Unison: Each of the 2 oscillators in SynthMaster One have stereo output, and can have up to 16 voices “unison”. Using the “voices”, “voices mix”, “detune curve”, “detune spread”, “pan stread”, “tone spread” and “phase spread” parameters, each oscillator can generate a rich “supersaw” type sound.
  • Zero Delay Feedback Filters: All of the 4 filter categories in SynthMaster One are developed using the zero delay feedback filter technology. With advanced filter parameters like input gain, drive, acid, filter nonlinearities and up to 4 times oversampling you can get that “analog” sound from the filters!
  • Rich Set of Effects: SynthMaster One features 11 different effect types: Distortion, LoFi, Ensemble, Phaser, 6 Band EQ, Compressor, Vocoder, Delay, Chorus, Tremolo, Reverb.
  • Microtuning: SynthMaster One supports Scala tuning, so tuning can be set either for each preset or globally by loading from a Scala tuning file.
  • Preset Browser: SynthMaster One features a comprehensive preset browser with separate search criterias for instrument type, preset attributes, music style or preset author.

THE APP SUPPORTS

  • All 64-bit iPad devices
  • AUv3 Audio Unit Extensions
  • Note-per-channel MIDI controllers (MPE)
  • Ableton Link
  • Interapp Audio and AudioBus
  • Bluetooth LE MIDI Controllers
  • Share presets over AirDrop, Mail or other iOS applications

SynthMaster One costs $14.99 on the app store:

The post SynthMaster One is here, and it’s pretty close to the desktop appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Output’s Arcade is a cloud-based loop library you play as an instrument

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 12 Jun 2018 6:51 pm

The future of soundware is clearly on-demand, crafted sounds from the cloud. Output adds a twist: don’t just give you new sounds, but give you a way to play them and make them your own.

So, the latest product from the LA-based sound boutique Output is called “Arcade” – so play, get it?

And it’s an early entry and fresh take on an area that’s set to heat up fast. To get things rolling here, your first 100 days are completely free; then you pay a monthly subscription rate of $10 a month (with cancellation whenever you want, and you don’t even lose access to your sounds).

As the number of producers grows, and the diversity of the music they may want to make seems to grow, too, as genres and niches spill over and transform at Internet speed, the need to deliver music makers sound and inspiration seems a major opportunity. We’re seeing subscription-based models (Native Instruments’ Sounds.com, Splice) and à la carte models (Loopmasters). And we’re seeing different ideas about how to organize releases (around genre, producer, sound house, or more curated selections around a theme), plus how to integrate tools for users.

Here’s where Arcade is interesting. It’s really a single, integrated instrument. And its goal is to find you exactly the sound you need, right away, easily — but also to give you the ability to completely transform that sound and make it your own, even loading your own found samples.

That’s important, because it bridges the divide between loops as a way of employing someone else’s content, and sound sampling as a DIY, personal affair, with a spectrum in between.

I suspect a lot of you reading have been all over that spectrum. Let’s consider even the serious, well-paid producer. You’ve got a tight scoring deadline, and the job needs a really particular sound, and you’re literally counting the minutes and sweating. Or… you’ve got a TV ad spot, and you need to make something sound completely original, and not like any particular preset you’ve heard before.

This also really isn’t about beginners or advanced users. An advanced user may have a very precise sound in mind – even to sit atop some meticulously hand-crafted sounds. And one of the first things a lot of beginners like to do is mess around with samples they record with a mic. (How many kids made noises into a Casio SK-1 in the 80s?)

I got to sit down with Output CEO and founder Gregg Lehrman, and we took a deep look at Arcade and had a long talk about what it’s about and what the future of music making might be. We’ll look more in detail at how you can use this as an instrument, but let’s cover what this is.

Walkthrough:

Choose your DAW – here’s Arcade running inside Ableton.

It’s a plug-in. This is important. You’ll always be interacting with Arcade as a plug-in, inside your host of choice – so no shuttling back and forth to a Website, as some solutions currently make you do. Omni-format – Mac AU / VST / VST3 / AAX, Windows VST / VST3 / AAX 32- and 64-bit. (Native Linux support would be nice, actually, but that’s missing for now.)

Sounds can match your tempo and key. You can hear sounds in their original form, or conform to the tempo and pitch that matches your current project. (Loopmasters does this too, actually, but via a separate app combined with a plug-in, which is a bit clunky.)

Browse through curated collections of sounds, which are paid for by subscription, Spotify/Netflix-style.

It lets you find sounds online. On-demand cloud browsing lets you check out selections of sounds, complete kits, and loops. You can preview all of these right away. Now, Netflix-style, Output promises new stuff every day, so you can browse around for something to inspire you if you’re feeling stuck. And at least in the test, these were organized with a sense of style and character – more like looking at the output of a music label than the usual commodity catalog of samples.

Search, browse, tagging, and the usual organizing tools are there, too – but it’s probably the preview and curation that puts this over the top.

— but it works if you’re offline, too. Prefer to switch the Internet off in your studio to avoid distractions? Work in an underground bunker, or in the hollowed out volcano island you use as an evil lair? Happily, you don’t need an Internet connection to work.

The keyboard (or whatever MIDI controller you’ve mapped) triggers loops, but also manipulates them on the fly. That lets you radically transform samples as you play – including your own sounds.

You can play the loops as an instrument. Okay, so the whole reason we went into music presumably is that we love the process of making music. Output excels here by letting you load loops into a 15-voice synth, then mangle and warp and modify the sound. It works really well from a keyboard or other MIDI controller.

This isn’t a sample playback instrument in the traditional sense, in terms of how it maps to pitch. Instead, white notes trigger samples, and black notes trigger modifiers. That’s actually really crazy to play around with, because it feels a little like you’re doing production work – the usual mouse-based chores of editing and modifying samples – as you play along, live.

There’s also input quantize, in case your keyboard skills aren’t so precise.

There are tons of modifiers and modulation and effects. Like all of Output’s products, the recipe is, build a deep architecture, then encapsulate it in an easy interface. That way, you can mess around with a simple control and make massive changes, which gets you discovering possibilities fast, but also go further into the structure if you want to get more specific about your needs, and if you’re willing to invest more time.

In this case, Arcade is built around four main sliders that control the character of the sound, both subtle and radical, and then another eleven effects and a deep mixing, routing, and modulation engine underneath.

So, let’s get into specifics.

Each Loop Voice – up to 15 of them – has a whole bunch of controls. It really would be fair to call this a synth:

• Multimode Filter with Resonance and Gradual/Steep Curve
• Volume, Pan, Attack/Release and Loop Crossfade
• Speed Control (1/4, 1/2, x1, x2)
• Tune Control (+/- 24)
• Loop Playback (Reverse, Pendulum, Loop On/Off, Hold)
• FX Sends Pre/Post x2
• Modifier Block
• Sync On/Off

Loop editing.

There’s also a time/pitch stretch engine with both “efficient” and resource-intensive “high quality” modes:

• BPM & Time signature Control
• Key Signature control
• Formant Pitch Control

Since the point is playing, you can map to velocity sensitivity, too, so how hard you hit keys impacts filter cutoff and resonance, voulme and formant.

But you have stuff that can do all the above. It’s the modifiers that get interesting – little macros that are accessible as you play:

• ReSequence (16 steps with Volume, Mute, Reverse, Speed, Length and Attack
Decay control per step)
• Playhead (Speed, Reverse, Loop On/Off, Cup Point per Loop)
• Repeater (Note Repeat with Rate, Reverse, Volume Step Sequencer)
Session Key Control

Plus there’s a Resequencer for sequencing sound slices into new combinations.

The Resequencer gives you even more options for manipulating audio content and turning it into something new.

– combined with modulation:

• LFO/Step (x2) Sync/Free mode with Retrigger and Rate.
• Waveshape Control
• Attack, Phase, Chaos and Polarity Control

Deep modulation options either power presets – or your own sound creations, if you’re ready to tinker.

And there’s a complete mixer:

• 15 Channel Mixer with Volume, Pan, Pre/Post Send FX(x2), Solo
• Send Bus (x2) with Volume, Pan and Mute
• 2 insert FX slots per Bus
• Master Bus with Volume, Pan, Mute and 4 Insert FX slots

The Mixer combines up to 16 parts.

Plus a whole mess of effects. Those effects helped define the character of earlier Output instruments, so it’s great to see here:

• Chorus
• Compressor
• MultiTap Delay
• Stereo Delay
• Distortion Box
• Equalizer
• Filter
• Limiter
• LoFi
• Phaser
• Reverb

It wouldn’t be an Output product without some serious multi-effects options.

But if Output likes to pitch itself as the “secret sauce” behind everything from Kendrick Lamar to the soundtracks for Black Panther and Stranger Things, I absolutely adore that you can load your own samples.

Native Instruments has built a great ecosystem around their tools, including Kontakt – and Output have made use of that engine. But it’s great to see this ground-up creation that introduces some different paradigms around want to do with sampled sound. That instant access to playing – to tapping into your muscle memory, your improvisation skills – I think could be really transformative. We’ve seen artists like Tim Exile advocate this approach in how he works, and it’s an element in a lot of great improvisers’ electronic work. What Output have done is allow you to combine sound discovery with instant playability.

The subscription model means you don’t have to reach for your credit card when you find sounds you want. But if you cancel the $10 a month subscription, unlike a Spotify or Netflix, you don’t lose access to your sounds. Output says:

If you open an older session, you will be prompted to log in, and you will not be able to click past the log in screen. You will be able to play back any MIDI or automation data recorded in your saved session. It will sound exactly the same, but you won’t be able to browse or tweak the character of the sound within the plugin. The midi can still be changed as the preset stays loaded in a session as long as you don’t uninstall Arcade which will remove all the audio samples. The best way to see what I mean is to test it yourself. Put ARCADE into a midi track, then log out of the plug-in. With the GUI still open albeit stuck on the log-in screen, play your track and hit some keys.

The fact that it’s all powered by subscription also means you’ll always have something there to use. But I do hope for the sake of sound creators – and because this engine is so cool – that Output also consider à la carte purchasing of some sounds selections. That could support more intensive sound design processes. And the interface looks like it’d work well as a shop, too. I share some of the concerns of sound artists that subscription models could hurt sound design in the way that they have music downloading. And — on the other hand, to use downloading as an example, a lot of us have both a subscription and buy a tone of stuff from Bandcamp, including underground music.

Let us know what you think.

I’ll be back with a guide to how to load your own sounds and play this as an instrument / design and modify sounds in a more sophisticated way.

More:

https://output.com/arcade

The post Output’s Arcade is a cloud-based loop library you play as an instrument appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Private funeral held for Avicii in Stockholm

Delivered... Agence France-Presse in Stockholm | Scene | Tue 12 Jun 2018 1:41 pm

Ceremony for Swedish DJ, 28, attended by only his family and closest friends

The funeral of the Swedish DJ and music producer Avicii, one of the biggest stars in electronic dance music, took place in a private ceremony in Stockholm last week, his publicist has said.

The musician, whose real name was Tim Bergling, “was buried [on] Friday at the Skogskyrkogården cemetery in Stockholm”, Ebba Lindqvist said on Tuesday. “Only his family and closest friends were present.”

Continue reading...

The month’s best mixes: Eris Drew, Afrodeutsche, Sharda and more

Delivered... Lauren Martin | Scene | Tue 12 Jun 2018 11:00 am

In the first of a new monthly Guardian series picking out the best DJ mixes, radio shows and other musical ephemera, we explore Afrofuturistic UK techno and Colombian sound design

This is the first in a new monthly column that will look at new music beyond the usual round of albums and singles, sharing the latest DJ mixes, digital releases, radio shows, recorded conversations, documentaries on music and any other ephemera. The sheer volume of cutting-edge music online means that it can be, even for the most faithful digital trawler, a challenge to keep up – so I, along with Tayyab Amin on alternate months, will be skimming off the best bits. This month’s column features ecstatic rave breakbeats from the US, fizzing bassline bangers with big licks of Jamaican dancehall, Afrofuturistic UK techno, Colombian sound design, and more.

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apeSoft bring a whole new way to route audio and MIDI in iOS with apeMatrix

Delivered... Ashley Elsdon | Scene | Mon 11 Jun 2018 11:25 pm

apeSoft have a history in the iOS world of bringing us unique and innovative apps and concepts. But I think that this time they may have outdone even themselves. They’ve now brought us apeMatrix, which is a truly unique and innovative AU/IAA routing tool that aims to give you total control over what you want to do with your audio and how you want to do it.

Here’s what apeSoft have to say about their new app apeMatrix:

Holding true to the standard of apeSoft, apeMatrix continues to push the limits of possibilities in music creation. Automating almost every aspect of linked control, apeMatrix brings all your creation tools together and links them both in MIDI and audio. Letting you inject all your favorite FX both AU and IAA in a very easy and intuitive way. apeMatrix can also assign its Control Manager MIDI, Accelerometer, Scrub and LFO’s to modulate every built-in parameter and any parameter available inside the AUv3 (Audio Unit Plugins).

apeMatrix offers 10 slots on each of the three Matrix grids with 2 bus slots on each grid that make it possible to interconnect all 3 Matrix. The MIDI Patchbay also offers endless possibilities for MIDI routing and control in a similar grid design for both internal and external MIDI control. So you can send and receive MIDI and have ultimate control over where its routed.

Each Audio Connection on the grid has its own gain control. Just tap on the node and drag will give you the full range of volume control. Or use Mixer to controls the RAU output and automate them using apeSoft’s unique Control Manager MIDI, Accelerometer, Scrub and LFO’s to modulate every built-in parameter and any parameter available inside the AUv3 (Audio Unit Plugins).

Turn each slot on or off by a control switch on the Matrix or MIDI control. Control output, pan, mute and solo of each slot and Master output of each Matrix with the built in mixer control or MIDI control.

Route your sounds through all a series of FX or route multiple sounds through the very same FX. The possibilities are as endless as your creativity.

Features include:

  • 3 Matrix Audio
  • 3 MIDI Matrix
  • 10 Open Slots per Matrix (hosts up to 30 plugins)
  • 2 Audio Bus Slots per Matrix
  • 2 MIDI Bus Slots per Matrix
  • MIDI Monitor
  • MIDI Scale Filtering, Transpose etc…
  • Control Manager (MIDI, Accelerometer, LFO, Scrub) for all Built-In Parameters
  • Control Manager (MIDI, Accelerometer, LFO, Scrub) for all AUv3 (Audio Unit Plugins)
  • Presets Manager and Morphing Pad
  • Save Custom AUv3 Presets
  • Session Saving/Load
  • Save/Load View’s Frame in Presets
  • Transport to sends host sync to Audio Unit plugins and IAA
  • Integrated and configurable MIDI keyboard with scales
  • Connections output and panning controls
  • Post Dynamic Processor
  • Audiobus and Inter-Audio App (Sender and Fx)
  • Audiobus state saving
  • Ableton Link
  • Precise MIDI Clock In/Out
  • AudioShare Compatible
  • AudioCopy Compatible
  • MIDI Manager: Virtual Midi and Network, 14 bit NRPN controllers
  • File Manager, sharing common audio files via iTunes, Dropbox and AudioCopy etc…
  • Variable Sampling Rate (up to 96 kHz)
  • Variable Buffering Size
  • Variable UI Color Schemes

Personally I think that this is going to be a big step forward in iOS music making, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how people use it and how it evolves the use of iOS music in general.

apeMatrix from apeSoft costs $9.99 on the app store now

The post apeSoft bring a whole new way to route audio and MIDI in iOS with apeMatrix appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

If noise is your thing then Noise Maschine Premium may be just what you’re looking for

Delivered... Ashley Elsdon | Scene | Mon 11 Jun 2018 11:02 pm

The original version of NOISE MASCHINE arrived back in September last year and was an ad supported app. Now Noise Maschine Premium has arrived, which is another version of the digitally controlled noise synthesizer. Also, this version has no ads in it at all.

The app bills itself as giving you the ability to “create powerful noise music or aural relaxation sounds for health and sleep phase improvements”. It goes on to say that the app is “an easy to use noise machine dedicated to instantly generate continuous playing of feedback loops and drone sounds”.

In the premium version of the app the developer has added a new sequencer with TR-style buttons that can be used to store up to 16 of sounds permanently. The trigger pads also switch quickly between your patches. Once a step is selected it will remember all control values including volume. You can randomize a single step via a RNDC button – or randomize all steps with the same random sound by pressing RNDA. This allows you to create variations when played in sequence. For further experimentation try Evolver running together with sequencer at slow BPM. To enable the sequencer panel press the dedicated button (SEQ) in Menu. You can seamlessly switch back to touch control pad – just as you prefer.

NOISE MASCHINE PREMIUM is on the app store and costs $1.99

The post If noise is your thing then Noise Maschine Premium may be just what you’re looking for appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

THE BONNAROO 2019 DATES HAVE BEEN ANNOUNCED!

Delivered... Spacelab - Independent Music and Media | Scene | Mon 11 Jun 2018 7:00 pm
It's a brand new weekend in 2019, different from the dates this year. Get the details.

A look at AI’s strange and dystopian future for art, music, and society

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 11 Jun 2018 6:01 pm

Machine learning and new technologies could unlock new frontiers of human creativity – or they could take humans out of the loop, ushering in a new nightmare of corporate control. Or both.

Machine learning, the field of applying neural networks to data analysis, unites a range of issues from technological to societal. And audio and music are very much at the center of the transformative effects of these technologies. Commonly dubbed (partly inaccurately) “artificial intelligence,” they suggest a relationship between humans and machines, individuals and larger state and corporate structures, far beyond what has existed traditionally. And that change has gone from far-off science fiction to a reality that’s very present in our homes, our lives, and of course the smartphones in our pockets.

I had the chance to co-curate with CTM Festival a day of inputs from a range of thinkers and artist/curators earlier this year. Working with my co-host, artist and researcher Ioann Maria, we packed a day full of ideas and futures both enticing and terrifying. We’ve got that full afternoon, even including audience discussion, online for you to soak in.

Me, with Moritz, pondering the future. Photo: CTM Festival / Isla Kriss.

And there are tons of surprises. There are various terrifying dystopias, with some well-reasoned arguments for why they might actually come to fruition (or evidence demonstrating these scenarios are already in progress). There are more hopeful visions of how to get ethics, and humans, back in the loop. There are surveys of artistic responses.

All of this kicked off our MusicMakers Hacklab at CTM Festival, which set a group of invited artists on collaborative, improvisatory explorations of these same technologies as applied to performance.

These imaginative and speculative possibilities become not just idle thoughts, but entertaining and necessary explorations of what might be soon. This is the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come, if a whole lot more fun to watch, here not just to scare us, but to spur us into action and invention.

Let’s have a look at our four speakers.

Machine learning and neural networks

Moritz Simon Geist: speculative futures

Who he is: Moritz is an artist and researcher; he joined us for my first-ever event for CTM Festival with a giant robotic 808, but he’s just at adept in researching history and future.

Topics: Futurism, speculation, machine learning and its impact on music, body enhancement and drugs

Takeaways: Moritz gives a strong introduction to style transfer and other machine learning techniques, then jumps into speculating on where these could go in the future.

In this future, remixes and styles and timbres might all become separate from a more fluid creativity – but that might, in turn, dissolve artistic value.

“In the future … music will not be conceived as an art form any more. – Moritz Simon Geist”

Then, Moritz goes somewhere else entirely – dreaming up speculative drugs that could transform humans, rather than only machines. (The historical basis for this line of thought: Alexander Shulgin and his drug notebooks, which might even propose a drug that transforms perception of pitch.)

Moritz imagines an “UNSTYLE” plug-in that can extract vocals – then change genre.

What if self-transformation – or even fame – were in a pill?

Gene Cogan: future dystopias

Who he is: An artist/technologist who works with generative systems and its overlap with creativity and expression. Don’t miss Gene’s expansive open source resource for code and learning, machine learning for artists.

Topics: Instrument creation, machine learning – and eventually AI’s ability to generate its own music

Takeaways: Gene’s talk begin with “automation of songwriting, production, and curation” as a topic – but tilted enough toward dystopia that he changed the title.

“This is probably going to be the most depressing talk.”

In a more hopeful vision, he presented the latest work of Snyderphonics – instruments that train themselves as musicians play, rather than only the other way around.

He turned to his own work in generative models and artistic works like his Donald Trump “meat puppet,” but presented a scary image of what would happen if eventually analytic and generative machine learning models combined, producing music without human involvement:

“We’re nowhere near anything like this happening. But it’s worth asking now, if this technology comes to fruition, what does that mean about musicians? What is the future of musicians if algorithms can generate all the music we need?”

References: GRUV, a generative model for producing music

WaveNet, the DeepMind tech being used by Google for audio

Sander Dieleman’s content-based recommendations for music

Gene presents – the death of the human musician.

Wesley Goatley: machine capitalism, dark systems

Who he is: A sound artist and researcher in “critical data aesthetics,” plumbing the meaning of data from London in his own work and as a media theorist

Topics: Capitalism, machines, aesthetics, Amazon Echo … and what they may all be doing to our own agency and freedom

Takeaways: Wesley began with “capitalism at machine-to-machine speeds,” then led to ways this informed systems that, hidden away from criticism, can enforce bias and power. In particular, he pitted claims like “it’s not minority report – it’s science; it’s math!” against the realities of how these systems were built – by whom, for whom, and with what reason.

“You are not working them; they are working you.”

As companies like Amazon and Google extend control, under the banner of words like “smart” and “ecosystem,” Wesley argues, what they’re really building is “dark systems”:

“We can’t get access or critique; they’re made in places that resemble prisons.”

The issue then becomes signal-to-noise. Data isn’t really ever neutral, so the position of power lets a small group of people set an agenda:

“[It] isn’t a constant; it’s really about power and space.”

Wesley on dark connectionism, from economics to design. Photo: CTM Festival / Isla Kriss.

Deconstructing an Amazon Echo – and data and AI as echo chamber. Photo: CTM Festival / Isla Kriss.

What John Cage can teach us: silence is never neutral, and neither is data.

Estela Oliva: digital artists respond

Who she is: Estela is a creative director / curator / digital consultant, an anchor of London’s digital art scene, with work on Alpha-ville Festival, a residency at Somerset House, and her new Clon project.

Topics: Digital art responding to these topics, in hopeful and speculative and critical ways – and a conclusion to the dystopian warnings woven through the afternoon.

Takeaways: Estela grounded the conclusion of our afternoon in a set of examples from across digital arts disciplines and perspectives, showing how AI is seen by artists.

Works shown:

Terence Broad and his autoencoder

Sougwen Chung and Doug, her drawing mate

https://www.bell-labs.com/var/articles/discussion-sougwen-chung-about-human-robotic-collaborations/

Marija Bozinovska Jones and her artistic reimaginings of voice assistants and machine training:

Memo Akten’s work (also featured in the image at top), “you are what you see”

Archillect’s machine-curated feed of artwork

Superflux’s speculative project, “Our Friends Electric”:

OUR FRIENDS ELECTRIC

Estela also found dystopian possibilities – as bias, racism, and sexism are echoed in the automated machines. (Contrast, indeed, the machine-to-machine amplification of those worst characteristics with the more hopeful human-machine artistic collaborations here, perhaps contrasting algorithmic capitalism with individual humanism.)

But she also contrasted that with more emotionally intelligent futures, especially with the richness and dimensions of data sets:

“We need to build algorithms that represent our values better – but I’m just worried that unless we really talk about it more seriously, it’s not going to happen.”

Estela Oliva, framed by Memo Akten’s work. Photo: CTM Festival / Isla Kriss.

It was really a pleasure to put this together. There’s obviously a deep set of topics here, and ones I know we need to continue to cover. Let us know your thoughts – and we’re always glad to share in your research, artwork, and ideas.

Thanks to CTM Festival for hosting us.

https://www.ctm-festival.de/news/

The post A look at AI’s strange and dystopian future for art, music, and society appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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