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


Bitwig Studio 3.1 lets you do loads of creative stuff with pitch, tuning, slicing

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 15 Nov 2019 4:27 pm

The latest update from Bitwig offers variations on a theme – from microtuning to lots of new features for working with pitch editing and playing live. Oh, and it’s easier to learn, too.

Bitwig Studio 3.1 is now in testing, and while there’s a ton of new stuff, it’s really pitch and tuning that stand out.

Micro-pitch lets you get away from generic Western digital piano tuning and embrace lots of other options. That includes full support for the Scala SCL standard, which has now thousands of tunings from around the world. But since that can get, uh, overwhelming fast, there are also 30+ tuning presets that cover some basics for composers, theorists, and lovers of music traditions of China, Java, and more. There are even composer-specific options based on seminal works by the likes of Wendy Carlos and Harry Partch. Nerd. On.

Tuning freaks may already be using these in plug-ins – I’ve just gotten going in VCV Rack – but I really admire the elegance of the interface Bitwig built, including a nice graphical visualization.

I really hope it’s something other software copies, actually, because all of us benefit if music software is more open to tunings. It’s otherwise like being in an ice cream shop with only vanilla. I love vanilla, but not all the time.

It’s not just about this microtuning, as equally important are some other additions:

Pitch-12 lets you assign pitch classes as modulation sources for … well, anything you can imagine. This continues the evolution of Bitwig Studio into a modular design. Rough translation: playing keys on your keyboard can now do some freaky things with sound, easily and quickly. Cool.

PluckSlope ↗Slope ↘, and Follower in the modular Grid give you new envelope options. And yes, Pluck is useful for physical modeling ideas.

Transpose lets you create chords and stereo effects in the modular side of Bitwig Studio even without an input.

You’ll also find some great fast draw features. Quoting:

  • Quick Draw action: holding [ALT] with the pen tool will draw multiple notes at the current beat grid interval
  • Quick Draw action: drawing defaults to a single pitch for each note (think hi-hats), but adding [SHIFT] allows various pitches to be drawn (like a step sequencer)
  • Quick Slice action: holding [ALT] with the knife tool will cut any clip/event at the beat grid interval, for as far as you drag the mouse
  • Quick Slice action: slicing snaps its initial cut position to the beat grid, but adding [SHIFT] allows an off-grid starting position
  • Slice In Place function: will slice any selected clip(s)/event(s) at the detected audio Onsets, the set Beat Markers, or at a set beat grid interval

With some practice, those look like big timesavers.

Also, if you’re behind on exploring all this new stuff, Bitwig are expanding interactive help to more devices.

There are a bunch of new scripts and lots of additional fixes and improvements. Think little details like a ‘note chase’ option that lets you hear MIDI notes when you start the transport in the middle of them. See the full release notes:

https://downloads-as.bitwig.com/beta/3.1/Release-Notes-3.1-Beta-1.html

(at least for now, that’s a testing link)

And news item:

https://www.bitwig.com/en/19/bitwig-studio-3_1.html

Video walkthrough:

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Finish music faster in Ableton Live 10 with these Arrangement View tips

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 4 Nov 2019 6:43 pm

Ableton Live is best known for its Session View grid, but the faster you are with Arrangement View, the more fluidly you can compose finished tracks. I put together a quick reference tutorial to help you work faster.

I’m pleased for this project to get to partner with Riemann Kollektion here in Berlin. Virtuoso techno producer and DJ/live act Florian Meindl heads Riemann as a label for sound content, mastering, nerdy apparel, and now various resources for honing your craft. Riemann is really a story in itself – it’s the natural evolution of electronic music business, catering to a world with more producers and DJs. Instead of lamenting the proliferation of music makers and the diminishing value of records, Florian is adapting, by serving that new market, while still remaining focused on the artists and sound of underground techno.

To me, being able to work quickly in a DAW means the power to make the tool disappear. It means shortening the distance between an idea and its execution. And Ableton have made some significant workflow changes in Live 10 and Live 10.1, which mean this is worth revisiting.

My basic strategy is this:

  • Exploit Scenes in Session View to make your basic song structure
  • Map parameters so you can not only mix, but tweak devices in real time
  • Learn the latest keyboard shortcuts to focus the display on your work, without mousing around
  • Adjust envelopes more directly and draw shapes
  • Use time operations and bounces to make big changes

I also point to some third-party tools that add additional power and control.

Check out the full tutorial:

Tutorial: Super Fast Arrangement in Ableton Live 10

And I’d love your feedback on additional tips to add. (Florian and I will keep updating it.) Plus if there’s another tool you’d like to see covered, let us know – especially if you’ve worked out some tips in your tool of choice.

The post Finish music faster in Ableton Live 10 with these Arrangement View tips appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Abyss is a free doom effect for Max for Live – happy Halloween!

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 31 Oct 2019 7:40 pm

Subtle, nuanced, transparent, almost inaudible sonic adjustment? No – let’s kick things into the deep, terrifying flaming pits of Hell. Meet Abyss.

So, yes, it’s Halloween. That means even if you don’t have a costume, you can make up for it by grabbing this free Max for Live device and plugging in a microphone. (Say your costume is “audio engineer.” Pretty much anything works.)

But the cats at Max for Cats have put together a wonderfully disturbing audio effect in “Abyss” that I’m sure some of us will use year-round. Their description says it:

… lets you forward any input signal into the abyss. The result is an ominous, gory and hellish version of your original input signal. Use with extreme caution and only if you have a strong, sane mind.

Sorry, what was that last bit? I tuned it out. Never mind.

What’s actually here: repitching, reverb, delay with feedback, but all mashed together in a truly wonderfully demented way. So you get precise controls for damping, tail, spread, early reflections, flanging delay feedback, modulation rate and depth, and pitch presets.

Plus included Mirror, Cat, and Crow at no additional cost.

As it’s a Max for Live device, you’ll need Ableton Live 10 or later and a Max for Live license (included in Live Suite).

The post Abyss is a free doom effect for Max for Live – happy Halloween! appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

mutateful is a must-have, free live coding tool for Ableton Live

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 29 Oct 2019 2:54 pm

mutateful brings live coding – real-time musical pattern manipulation, expressed as code – to Ableton Live. And it looks like a must-have for arrangement and composition, too.

So yes, there are knobs and faders and pads and keys and wind inputs and whatnot for playing music live. And then there are the often clunky graphical interfaces found in music software. The core of live coding is all about finding that immediacy of compositional ideas – being able to get directly to patterns.

mutateful lets you do that by typing directly into the Session View of Ableton Live. That paradigm isn’t new to Live – the software already lets you enter tempo changes in scenes by including the number. mutateful just takes that idea way further out.

Type transformations into clips, and those clips then transform patterns inside the clips. You can add simple transformations, or chain a bunch together.

Some of the tasks those transformations can accomplish:

  • Arpeggiate
  • Combine clips (in various ways)
  • Change length (via cropping or setting to certain lengths)
  • Filter out notes by length
  • Remove silences
  • Remove overlaps, making polyphonic clips monophonic
  • Quantize
  • Create stuttering retriggers
  • Rescale pitches
  • Shuffle
  • Slice notes into divisions
  • Transpose

And you can do all of this by clip, musical fractions (like 1/8 notes), and whole or decimal numbers.

Watch just how cool this is:

It’s a pretty radical addition to Live, and arguably more radical than anything we’ve seen officially from Ableton Live in the software itself for years. But it’s still fairly simple.

I almost hesitate to categorize this as live coding, because it looks really useful in arrangement relative to the GUI, and you might not use it as a livecoder would onstage. (I do expect this means people will invade live coding events running this, though.)

Documentation is limited to a quick reference, but it’s fairly easy to follow and more is coming.

How it works: it’s actually a native app, made for macOS and Windows, which then communicates with the Live API via Max for Live and UDP. That means the usual qualification is involved – you’ll need the latest version of Ableton Live and a license for Max for Live (either separately or as part of Live Suite). That could open up this idea to other software with APIs / scripting interfaces of their own.

You can grab it from GitHub and check out more examples:

https://github.com/carrierdown/mutateful

The post mutateful is a must-have, free live coding tool for Ableton Live appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Blackhole routes audio between Mac apps, even on Catalina, as ideal Soundflower alternative

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 28 Oct 2019 1:19 am

Need to record audio from an app, or route sound from one tool to another? Blackhole is an easy, free way to do that on the Mac, right through the latest macOS Catalina.

The utility Soundflower got some brand recognition among music and audio nerds after its introduction way back in 2004, but that tool is now largely defunct. It’s based on now-deprecated Mac tools, so fine for older machines, but fairly useless for newer Macs running the latest OS. JACK audio is a powerful option across platforms, and it’s especially powerful and easy on Linux, on which platform developers are more likely to write native clients. But it was never as friendly to new users as Soundflower.

Blackhole gives you more of that sort of simplicity, with modern updates – including full support for macOS Catalina that has eluded some other tools. Basically, look to Soundflower for older OSes, and consider Blackhole for 10.10 (Yosemite) and later, especially if you’re up to Mojave or Catalina.

You get 16 channels of audio (configurable up to 256 if you need that for some reason), lots of sample rates, and – as with the other solutions mentioned here – zero latency.

It’s pretty simple stuff, and my initial tests suggest this it’s solid. I think given the pace of Apple’s updates, the actively developed Mac-specific tool here wins:

https://github.com/ExistentialAudio/BlackHole

This triggered a lively discussion after the developer mentioned it on Reddit:

By the way, it’s interesting that users expect a tool made for macOS audio architectures to work on Windows. Since most pro audio tasks rely on ASIO, you’ll want to use that architecture for inter-app audio routing.

On Windows and ASIO, for a cross-platform implementation, JACK really is your best bet. In the past, that meant some complex installation, but there’s now an easy guide:

https://jackaudio.org/faq/jack_on_windows.html

Some tools also come with their own virtual ASIO driver, like ReaRoute in Reaper:

https://wiki.cockos.com/wiki/index.php/ReaRoute

For a flexible driver that runs without requiring software to support ASIO, I recommend LoopBeAudio. It’s paid, but from a great developer who’s really focused on Windows support:

https://www.nerds.de/en/loopbeaudio.html

While you’re there, that’s also the best way to route MIDI between apps on Windows. Check out LoopBe1 – it’s good enough that I don’t even miss the native tools I use on macOS and Linux:

https://www.nerds.de/en/loopbe1.html

JACK remains the tool that works everywhere, but I do make use of these specific tools for the Mac and Windows. Let us know how Blackhole is working for you, if you’ve found an interesting use case, and if you run into trouble.

The post Blackhole routes audio between Mac apps, even on Catalina, as ideal Soundflower alternative appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Quick! This ffmpeg cheat sheet solves your video, audio conversion needs, for free

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 11 Oct 2019 7:33 pm

Video, audio, convert, extract – once, these tasks were easy with QuickTime Pro, but now it’s gone. ffmpeg to the rescue – any OS, no money required.

It’s Friday, some deadlines (or the weekend) are looming, so seems as good a time as any to share this.

ffmpeg is a free, powerful tool for Mac, Windows, and Linux, with near magical abilities to convert audio and video in all sorts of ways. Even though it’s open source software with a lineage back to the year 2000, it very often bests commercial tools. It does more, better, and faster in a silly number of cases.

There’s just one problem: getting it to solve a particular task often involves knowing a particular command line invocation. You could download a graphical front end, but odds are that’ll just slow you down. So in-the-know media folks invariably make collections of little code bits they find useful.

Coder Jean-Baptiste Jung has saved you the trouble, with a cheat sheet of all the most useful code. And these bear striking resemblance to some of the stuff you used to be able to do in QuickTime Pro before Apple killed it.

19 FFmpeg Commands For All Needs [CatsWhoCode]

And on GitHub: https://gist.github.com/protrolium/e0dbd4bb0f1a396fcb55

There are some particularly handy utilities there involving audio, which is where tools like Adobe’s subscription-only commercial options often fail. (Not to mention Adobe is proving it will cut off some localities based on politics – greetings, Venezuelan readers.)

It’s great stuff. But if you see something missing, put it here, and we’ll make our own little CDM guide.

The post Quick! This ffmpeg cheat sheet solves your video, audio conversion needs, for free appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Around VCV Rack modular community, eclectic flowing sounds

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 11 Oct 2019 6:44 pm

A funny thing happened on the way to the VCV Rack forum. In a paradigm many still stubbornly imagine as chin scratching noise, software modular makers are producing beautiful, liquid electronic sounds.

The latest fruits of these labors can be heard in volume 3 of the Switched On Rack series. Actually forget that this has anything to do with software at all – what you get is really a perfectly gorgeous compilation of experimental sounds, lush textures, expansive ambient music, intelligent rhythms.

It’s hypnotic, warm, entrancing stuff:

What strikes me is actually how coherent the result can be. Despite coming from an open submission online, the results hold together both than … well, than the vast majority of various artist compilations! I occasionally hear some familiar sounds, particularly from the influential Mutable Instruments-derived stuff, but even that in a good way. It’s almost unfortunate that this is associated with a tool, and people might miss the musical significance.

But maybe that isn’t incidental at all. There’s always this question of what makes a scene. Having access to the same set of instruments and tools is always significant to music-making – VCV Rack itself is free, and even paid add-ons are relatively affordable and one click away. And not only that, but VCV Rack users also have various ways to share tips about modules, whether they prefer reading forum posts or sending messages to friends or watching detailed YouTube tutorials.

Or they can even simply post videos of their patches to share and inspire – and even if you prefer not to try to squint to see what they’ve done, it might still prompt you to try an idea or find a previously unknown module.

For developers, this also demonstrates that you don’t necessarily need a comprehensive online strategy to make users do this. If you make inspiring tools, they may well do it on their own. (In CDM parts, we’ve seen this story repeat, from Eurorack hardware to the open monome community to live coding and even larger phenomena like Ableton Live use.)

https://switchedonrack.bandcamp.com/album/switched-on-rack-vol-3

For still more music, one person I’ve been following closely is Iowa IDM maestro Kent Williams aka Chaircrusher. Not This Time, his newest, is crisp, brain-tickling stuff. It isn’t 100% VCV Rack here, but the mind dancing textural precision is very much influenced by his Rack workflows, which are, quite frankly, where I’ve gotten a lot of my own tips. And I love the artwork.

It comes with this poetic, provocative accompanying text to puzzle over:

Somehow the main point of the story got lost in the telling. The digressions were full of details too specific to be true.

Over the course of a long life, the past disappears. New memories arise of alternate timelines, things that were never to be.

The ax laying rusted in the tall grass might cut again.

I have forgotten her face and her name, but the memory of my feeling for her is so vivid.

People are outlived by the smell of the cigarette smoke on their possessions.

What I want is to hear the music that no one makes, and to which no one will listen.

Everything is deadly if you wait long enough.

http://chaircrusher.bandcamp.com/album/not-this-time

So this really is somehow the point – some of the people close to their tools will be the ones working together to push a shared musical language forward, together.

For more on VCV Rack and the community – which now runs on an excellent independent forum as well as on The FaceBook:

VCV Rack: vcvrack.com
Community Forum: community.vcvrack.com
Facebook User Group: www.facebook.com/groups/vcvrack
Sign-up sheet: docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1FUi3cekjhm_WmEocb7KXg_qdnIYosZIyQyr1i_Q6EK4/edit#gid=0

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Testing G-Stomper Producer on Android – and how it helped unlock new rhythms

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 10 Oct 2019 6:19 pm

It started with some feedback from a musician and music theorist to a developer. What happened next: this powerful set of Android music tools evolved some new rhythmic chops.

Android doesn’t get a lot of musical love, despite its popularity. But while the assortment of apps is a fraction of what’s available on iOS, some of the choices that are there are real gems. That opens up possibilities in case you prefer Android as your smartphone (some of which already get into tablet sizes), or if you’ve picked up an inexpensive Android tablet.

In this case, CDM reader Jon Stubbs had bought the Planet-h line of apps, and decided to get in touch with the developer about some additional rhythmic features he wanted. The results exceeded his expectations.

I’m recently back on Android myself with a Huawei phone and I do have a tendency to, uh, collect devices, so I found this fascinating. Jon asked if we would reprint his review. And it has everything I love – engineering and music theory meeting to let you do more with music-making. Here’s Jon:

Exploring rhythm

As a life-long learner, composer, performer, teacher and tinkerer, I’m obsessed with exploring new rhythms. It’s not just a pursuit of odd-for-odd’s-sake. Rather, I love hearing and crafting compositions where delightfully unusual rhythmic elements are presented in a blanced and compelling context.

This obsession began with the humble triplet and the music of Zimbabwe. I studied jazz and was accustomed to the well-worn rhythms of swing and triplets. Later, I found my way into the community of Zimbabwean music, where I was surprised to hear entirely new triplet-based rhythms; and where even the triplet grid itself has a “swing” that is refreshingly different from the even “grid” of western music.

Around that same time, I started creating quintuplet (5 steps-per-beat) grooves using a couple of drum machine apps. These apps forced me to fake the beat divisions using 16th notes, but I was still able to get my feet wet. Then I discovered the wonderful Metronomics app by John Nastos, which allowed me to delve into more unusual ideas. [Ed.: That app, dubbed a metronome for “real musicians,” is available on macOS, iOS, and Android, all three – you can also run it on Windows or Linux in an Android emulator.]

The grooves I eventually made with quintuplets, septuplets and nonuplets were serious fun – especially when using the technique of starting out with ordinary rhythms but then shifting them to fit the new subdivisions. The results are glitchy grooves with a new flavor of “shuffle”; these beats are quite natural sounding after only a few listenings.

A Simple Favor

From time to time, I’ve submitted requests to mobile app developers that they expand their step-rate (steps-per-beat) options to allow for greater exploration of new rhythms. Though my requests mostly go unanswered, I have had a few successes. However, no developer has met my requests with as much enthusiasm and determination as Andreas Graesser of Swiss-based Planet-h.com. The scope and quality of his G-Stomper Producer app are massively impressive, giving the user immense creative and sonic freedom.

I originally asked that he add quintuplets and septuplets to the existing step-rate options. He responded saying, “I have room for six more options”. We settled on expanding the step rates to include 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 16 steps-per-beat! He made this change for all four apps in the G-Stomper lineup.

We worked together on ways to integrate time-signatures so that they look and act the way experienced musicians expect them to. For example, most mobile apps treat 6/8 (if they include it at all) as equal to 3/4– (3 beats, each divided into 2 or 4 steps) but 6/8 should actually be two beats with triplets (3 or 6 steps per beat). It is the same with 3/8, 9/8, 12/8, where the dotted-quarter note is the actual beat (and NOT the quarter, nor the eighth). Andreas had to make a few special cases to reveal more information than a typical time-signature would allow, yet without making it hopelessly confusing for seasoned users of his apps. He found an elegant set of solutions.

Andreas puts great care into the documentation– which is essential for this feature-packed, deep software. The docs were updated to clearly explain the new features. We both had very specific ideas about how to communicate things. We even debated over how to format a table. When there were a couple of button labels that were unclear to me, Andreas quickly adapted the docs to make things more clear. It was a fascinating and fun process.

G-Stomper apps

The apps in the G-Stomper product line include:

All of these apps provide slightly different features, approaches, and workflows. Yet they all use the same expanded system for step-rates and time signatures. It’s worth mentioning here that every step can be individually shifted by 32 micro steps (separate and apart from the timing system).  G-Stomper Producer provides the most flexibility by providing the aforementioned step-rates, 1-16 steps per bar, 1-8 bars, all on a PER TRACK basis. That means the kick, hat, snare, (or user samples) can all have their own timing setup. The other G-Stomper apps use a more standard groovebox approach with rhythm settings applying to all the tracks of a pattern. I like the flexibility and power of Producer, but I also appreciate the ease of workflow in the Studio, Rhythm, and VA-Beast apps. There are several best-in-class features in all of the apps, but rather than list them here, you can try out the demo and discover for yourself. 

If you’re an Android user and maybe you thought Caustic was the only game in town, you owe it to yourself to check out G-Stomper Producer. There’s a whole world of new sounds and rhythms to explore!

Jon Stubbs

www.jonstubbsmusic.com

G-Stomper Producer is available for $12.99 USD via Google Play or Amazon. A free demo version is also available.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.planeth.gstomperproducer

https://www.amazon.com/gp/mas/dl/android?p=com.planeth.gstomperproducer

Planet-h website:

https://www.planet-h.com/

This story was edited from an original version on Jon’s site, with permission:

https://jonstubbsmusic.com/2019/09/25/g-stomper-producer-review/

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Accusonus Rhythmiq is an AI assistant that works with your rhythms and control

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 9 Oct 2019 4:20 pm

“AI” in the popular imagination has become a vision of machines making the music. Rhythmiq is a new plug-in that’s the opposite – software that promises to let you do more with your own grooves.

Rhythm is one of the areas where machine learning seems already to excel. The science around these AI techniques at the moment focuses on just this sort of pattern recognition – it’s powerful for analyzing time-domain nuance, like grooves. So for anyone who complains about the cookie-cutter impact of “on the grid” music software, AI might actually offer some hope. “The grid” no longer needs to be a mechanical, perfect division of the beat or repetitive groove and swing. You can train machines on recognizing more sophisticated patterns, and producing variations accordingly.

I’ll go into a deep dive as far as how Rhythmiq works at another time, but you can certainly count it as an early attempt to chart music software into just these waters. And yeah, the whole idea here is to get more out of your own loops. Accusonus have even produced an elegant-looking interface with hands-on controls so you can dial in what you want interactively.

The basic workflow is this:

Add a loop. Yep, you can use your own sounds.

Make variations on that loop, by turning an on-screen knob (or mapping that to hardware) – essentially guiding the software algorithms where you want them to go.

Play the variations in real-time as you jam, even without looking at the screen, for fills, breaks, build-ups, drops, and, uh, whatever else you want as you play.

Yep, it has controls on it. So this isn’t just a ghost in the shell – the whole idea is to give you something you can play. It’s machines as more interactive, not less.

This is in stark contrast to the primitive way you might be tempted to work with loop- and sample-driven software and hardware. That use case is more like: start a loop, let that loop play repetitively forever, and attempt to jam over top of that loop as it gets progressively more annoying. (Whee!) Sure, that works really well for music that relies on repetitive patterns – behold, the mystery of the techno 4/4 kick. But it applies pretty poorly for everything else.

This also demonstrates that the real-world applications of AI may be more sophisticated, and more appealing to actual musicians, than some of the popular fantasy. We’ve been told for years that AI needs to be autonomous – that it needs to replace us as humans, or come up with ideas when we’re uninspired. If you talk to actual data scientists working in real-world applications of machine learning, though, they will routinely still refer to their work as “AI” without being concerned with this autonomy. Why? Well, as far as I’ve been able to ascertain:

  • a) because it’s not presently possible to make that sort of autonomous machine code, and
  • b) because there isn’t necessarily a real world demand for it.

This should particularly obvious in music, however. I think musicians want the machines to make the music for them in the same way that they want video games to play themselves, or to watch someone else doing it.

No, if you’re willing to invest in music technology, odds are that you do have some inspiration and ideas and you do actually enjoy, you know, making music yourself. Where the frustration comes in is that software works in ways that are often pretty foreign to the way we hear music. And that’s why Rhythmiq is part of a promising direction in adding intelligence to the music.

In short, this isn’t about making you dumber. It’s about making your music software smarter – more like you. Even as beginners, you are already pretty damned smart when it comes to understanding rhythm. (Seriously. Humans are amazing.)

Anyway, that’s the concept. Actually making this work involves some deep research and technology on one side, and requires some extensive testing in user music making on the other. I’ll be investigating both sides of that shortly. (I’ve already started looking at pre-release versions of the software.)

One note – this does still rely on audio content. That means you do have some of the audible artifacts of deriving portions of the sound from the larger sound material, which gives the loops some of that lo-fi, IDM sound – which you might love or not. It seems there is also potential in driving variations in MIDI (or other timing information) alone, and then triggering slices in a more conventional way.

But this is a huge leap forward for Accusonus’ technology, and delivers on some of what we saw previously in their Regroover plug-in. (See links below, which also go into some of the AI behind this.)

Also, stay tuned, as I’m part of a team continuing to explore the applications of AI and music. Following our work with GAMMA Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, we head next to a partnership in November with MUTEK.JP in Tokyo, again pairing data scientists and technologists with musicians and curators and lots of people fitting several of those descriptions at once.

Rhythmiq is available today. It’s US$99 through the end of October, $149 after that. And you can try a 14-day test version, so you don’t have to trust me or the developers or anyone else about how well it works; you can find out yourself.

You’ll be better off in certain hosts than others – yep, try Reaper and its free evaluation version if all else fails. According to Accusonus:

Compatible and fully tested: Ableton Live 10, Apple Logic Pro X

Compatible: FL Studio 20, Presonus Studio One, Cockos Reaper

https://accusonus.com/products/rhythmiq

There are a couple of marketing videos, but I actually think you should start with the playlist of tutorial videos to see how this works – especially if you’re trying the demo:

Here are the developers talking a bit about their thinking going into this, but I’ll try to get a little deeper with them about how it all works and why go this way:

Previously:

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Don’t upgrade to Catalina yet – here’s an easy explanation why not

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 8 Oct 2019 12:38 pm

I’ve done the deep dive. Here’s the easy explanation of why it’s too soon to upgrade to macOS Catalina – either if you’re pressed for time, or to forward to your friends.

macOS Catalina will break some music and visual software and hardware, because of changes to backward compatibility and some major new security features never before seen on a desktop OS.

The question is whether you want to find the incompatibilities and bugs yourself, or wait a while and let someone else do it for you.

Also, there is no reason to upgrade right now. Features like Sidecar, letting you use Apple Pencil and iPad as a second display/input device, are available elsewhere. (Try Duet. Or upgrade to Mojave if you haven’t already.)

So the fact I see people rushing to upgrade tells me they don’t understand why it’s a bad idea. Here’s why it’s a bad idea.

What could go wrong if you upgrade too soon

Some software won’t launch. Just one 32-bit dependency can break software like DAWs from launching. There is a tool that checks for whether apps are entirely 32-bit called Go64. But many DAWs and notation tools, for example, do require updates even to what could be labeled a 64-bit version.

DAWs will require an update before they work with plug-ins. Security changes mean that DAWs need to be specifically updated for Catalina in order to work. Check with your DAW maker. Ableton Live 10 in its latest, Catalina-specific release work, as does Apple’s own Logic Pro X. Many popular DAWs don’t have updates, and won’t until later in October (or even beyond that). And just because a DAW says it’s updated is not a 100% guarantee on your specific system, because —

Plug-ins and other tools may behave in unexpected ways. New macOS features for providing security permissions haven’t been tested in every combination yet. And new security requirements can also mess with software in obscure ways, because some of the things we do in music and visuals interact with input hardware (like keyboards and mice). Developers tell me this can cause unexpected behaviors – think bugs or even crashes with certain plug-ins or other tools. If you update today, you’re the one testing some of these combinations, even if you think your software is up to date. If you wait, you can let developers test it for you.

Some installers won’t work. A lot of older installers and uninstallers are 32-bit, not 64-bit. So if you update a system, then decide to install a plug-in or driver you forgot, you may hit a hard wall. If these are not actively supported devices or plug-ins, you may be unable to use them without rolling back the OS version.

You won’t be able to use iTunes with DJ software. Do you manage your music library with iTunes, then DJ with that library with Traktor, Serato, Rekordbox, and other tools? Do you use iTunes on the Mac for playlists and library management and then use Rekordbox to load the library on USB sticks? iTunes is removed from Catalina, it doesn’t run on Catalina, this functionality doesn’t work, and there’s currently no information on what workaround will be possible or how the new Music app will or won’t work with these tools. It’s very possible this will get fixed, but right now it doesn’t work and there’s no information on what the fix will be. Got it?

You’re going to see a whole bunch of dialog boxes. Yeah, about those new security features – the first run can be, uh, exciting. Here’s an image. Fortunately, this is only on the first time you launch software. It’s another example of why you should do major OS updates basically when you have no critical work coming up and some free time on your hands.

Printers and other hardware may need an update. Look around you. See every device you rely on? Double-check that device has support. Does that seem like too much time? Maybe wait some weeks or months, because it will get better.

How long is long, and who should upgrade, and how?

Even waiting two weeks helps. Various developers including heavyweights like Steinberg and Pioneer are saying they expect to have more information by the end of October. That may sound arbitrary, but it has to do with the amount of time developers have had to deal with final pre-release versions of the OS and, as of yesterday, the OS being out in the wild with all of us.

Who should upgrade now? Developers and system administrators or anyone whose job is support.

For everyone else, plan on this:

If you want to retain support for older plug-ins and drivers that may not be updated, expect to keep one Mac around that runs Mojave or earlier.

If you do want to upgrade, just use a second hard drive to test first. This is even more effective than making a full backup (though that’s always a good idea, too). Here’s an easy guide. But even if you’re thinking of a testbed system, you should probably wait 2-4 weeks minimum.

If you’re thinking of buying a new system, for now, these will all still run Mojave if you need them to do so. In the future, Apple may upgrade its Mac hardware in such a way that will require Catalina, so be aware of that if you need to run any old 32-bit tools.

Use a break soon to upgrade to … Mojave

For stable systems, many of us for years have simply lagged Apple by one year, because macOS is now on an annual autumn release cadence.

So now is – seriously – a great time to update to Mojave. That upgrade is still available from the Mac App Store. It’s now quite stable and thoroughly tested, and updates are available to most tools.

It’s also an ideal “long term” upgrade for the Mac for a long time to come. It has the most stable audio system of recent updates, it has support for most of the newest Apple APIs (even including Metal graphics), and yet it retains support for 32-bit software.

https://support.apple.com/macos/mojave

Download directly from the App Store

Hey, remember, some people still have Atari machines they use actively for music.

What about Windows? Look, all OSes are complicated to support. And yeah, Windows users, don’t get snarky yet. While Microsoft has excellent developer support and tends to prioritize backward compatibility in ways Apple does not, it’s very likely Windows will also face some challenges as it moves away from 32-bit support and deals with security threats. Basically, let’s leave OS wars for the 1990s and focus on what works best for your actual use case. Though I would happily engage in an Atari versus Amiga debate for nostalgia’s sake if someone wants.

Why would we ever want this upgrade?

Okay, good question. This isn’t limited to Catalina – you might even wait for the OS update after this one – but Apple is adding features that could eventually matter to the Mac. (It’s hard to compare this directly to Linux or Windows, but at least for Mac users.)

More iOS apps will work on the Mac. 10.15 is the minimum OS version that supports a technology called Catalyst that will make it easier for iOS-only apps to run on the Mac, too.

The Mac is getting more accessible. Users with disabilities will find additional features in macOS Catalina, both for people with impaired vision and those using voice control and entry.

There should be expanded performance working with visuals. We’re waiting on more test data on this, but just as Apple is dumping some old graphics APIs, you should expect enhanced video and 3D graphics performance from many of the new ones. (As I said, for now you do getthe Metal benefits under Mojave, though some specific features for working with for instance Apple’s own displays are Catalina-only.)

There are various consumer features, too. If you’re involved in game development, for instance, you may care that Apple Arcade is on the new Mac release.

And yes, I think for people with iPads, the Sidecar combination with Catalina will be great – though I’m sticking with iPad Pro / Pencil and Duet on Windows and Mac for now, personally.

The post Don’t upgrade to Catalina yet – here’s an easy explanation why not appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

macOS Catalina is here; Final Cut update, Logic compatibility, who should wait

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 7 Oct 2019 10:56 pm

macOS Catalina is here as a free update today, along with updated information on Apple’s own pro apps. But music users should continue to delay upgrading for now.

I’ve already written about what changes in macOS Catalina, and why many DAWs, plug-ins, and hardware drivers will be incompatible without updates. You can read that full deep dive, which also includes resources on how to backup your system if you do want to upgrade, and how to retrieve previous macOS versions in case you want to upgrade to something like Mojave instead. (Mojave is now very stable, most readers and developers support, meaning a Mac upgrade that lags Apple’s annual upgrade cadence may make sense.) To catch up, check that article here:

The short version: Catalina adds security requirements for installers and software, and removes support for 32-bit code.

This isn’t an argument about whether or not those changes make sense – generally speaking, they do. But basically, if you have any need for stability and compatibility for critical creative work, you probably shouldn’t upgrade today. (And even if you do, you absolutely should back up everything first, and plan in advance how you would roll back the OS if needed.)

In fact, nothing has changed as far as the compatibility situation described in the article. Some developers do have updates ready for their latest software, as in the case of Ableton Live 10.

Most don’t, though, and it might only take one hardware driver or piece of software to ruin your day. Steinberg, for instance, referred back to their September 24 announcement and tell CDM they’ll need more. That illustrates just how fragile this can be – they’re working with Apple on issues involving their Dorico software and the Soft-eLicenser.

There’s also a lot of new technology in this update, meaning that if you really want a stable release, you need to wait anyway, even to give developers ample time to test the final build.

Start scratching off those lotto tickets, and this could be your desk. Final Cut Pro on the new Apple Mac Pro and matching display.

Apple Pro Apps updates

Here’s where I do have some news – Apple’s own pro apps are verified as compatible. (That isn’t necessarily a given, I might add.)

Logic Pro X and Motion are each compatible as of their most recent updates – Logic’s latest came in July, and Motion in March.

You’ll see in particular a significant notice in Motion that indicates that Apple has removed some deprecated media file support: “Detects media files that may be incompatible with future versions of macOS after Mojave.” (That may be related to 32-bit removals, but yeah, you might want to keep one machine around running an older OS, generally speaking.)

Logic release notes: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203718

Motion release notes: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202203

Final Cut Pro actually gets a dedicated update, optimized for the newest Apple hardware and software tech, version 10.4.7. You don’t need Catalina to run this latest FCP – Mojave 10.14.6 is the minimum – but you do get some additional functionality unlocked if you pair the latest Final Cut with the latest macOS.

What’s new:

  • A new engine powered on Apple’s Metal graphics API that the company says delivers enhanced performance
  • Specific Mac Pro optimizations, as expected, and support for Apple’s Pro Display XDR hardware
  • Support for the Mac Pro’s Afterburner card
  • Specific support for Sidecar, which lets you use your iPad as a second display (wired or wireless)
  • High dynamic range (HDR) video grading, with color mask and range isolation tools (this may actually be the coolest feature, hidden in the fine print)
  • HDR video is now tone-mapped to compatible displays on Catalina only – and that’s across Motion, Final Cut, and Compressor
  • Select which internal or external GPU you want to use

Apple claims a 20% performance gain for editors on the current 15-inch MacBook Pro or 35% on the iMac Pro, versus the past release.

The important thing here, though, is that you get most of this with macOS Mojave. So I think there’s no huge rush to update – give this one some time so you can, for instance, test out on an external drive before you commit your production system to an OS that could ruin things. And that’s what pros should do anyway.

As always, this is a free update.

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2019/10/final-cut-pro-x-update-introduces-new-metal-engine-for-increased-performance/

If you have further compatibility information (hello, developers), do let us know.

More on what’s new in macOS:

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2019/10/macos-catalina-is-available-today/

The post macOS Catalina is here; Final Cut update, Logic compatibility, who should wait appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

What are all the synths hiding in Mutable’s modules (and their free VCV ports?)

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 2 Oct 2019 8:21 pm

Mutable Instruments packed a lot of different sound models into a single module with Braids and “spiritual successor” Plaits. Learn what they do in these videos.

Émilie’s work in modular is some of the most innovative of recent instrument designs. Braids and the later Plaits are so deep, in fact, that they can seem a bit like cheating – like the sound design work is already done for you in that engine. But that’s before you begin to appreciate the simplicity of the interface, on one hand, and the flexibility of being able to dial in entirely different models. Plaits and Braids break with the uni-tasker tendencies of modular; they can shift into very different roles in different patches. See the original source:

https://mutable-instruments.net/

Actually, sorry for saying that if you were trying to haggle down a used price. (Maybe complain about teal and French rose as colors? Dunno.) But it’s also worth noting that even if you don’t have a rack and hardware, you can explore the possibilities of these modules. Braids is available as Macro Oscillator, and Plaits as Macro Oscillator 2. Just download VCV Rack, and add the fully authorized port of the hardware as the Audible Instruments collection. As the code is open source, you have a one-to-one translation of the sound and function of the hardware, which is also useful in evaluating if you want to invest in the gear.

If you like reading, the manuals suffice for hardware and software – Braids, Plaits.

But even as someone who does like reading, video has proven a medium for people to go beyond just making a manual and talk about how they work, demoing sounds as they go.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t MK1 and MK2 so much as two really distinct takes on the idea, each built from scratch, and each with its own character and musicality.

Omri Cohen has built a whole series of episodes around the original, Braids.

Hat tip as ever to Synthtopia.

Check the full playlist – it’s an epic series. (Too much Civil War talk. “Dearest, it is now the 34th day I have been tweaking this patch, and I fear I may never return to our warm bed again…”)

The excellent and prolific YouTube channel “VCV Rack Ideas” has been covering Plaits. And just as you could translate the Braids series above from hardware to software, you can do the reverse and apply the VCV Rack notions to your physical rig.

Here are 15 tips and tricks:

There’s even a specific idea around melodic techno:

And, actually, bonus, let’s throw in my personal favorite Clouds even though I didn’t mention it in the headline. It’s a wonderful granular audio processor, and I imagine we’ll all be overusing it in this version when VCV Rack finally has a proper VST plug-in implementation, too:

It’s good stuff. And it’s been wonderful to watch Émilie’s embrace of open source lead to variations and twists. It’s something I talked about a lot with open source, but rarely got to witness in action – and it’s encouraging.

Speaking of which, if you’re doing interesting things with either the technology here or you’re particularly pleased with your musical results, and want to share tips or sounds, do get in touch.

The post What are all the synths hiding in Mutable’s modules (and their free VCV ports?) appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Native Instruments is struggling to provide customer support following cuts

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 26 Sep 2019 8:35 pm

Recent staff cuts at the company have hurt customer support, according to sources familiar with the matter and user complaints.

Native Instruments did not mention cuts to customer support in its statements to me earlier this month. NI cut an estimated 30% of its workforce this summer — fully 20% in a single day, as reported by the company. Yet despite promises from NI management that these changes would “improve the experience for all users of our products,” one immediate impact is constrained support options and increased service backlogs.

Direct personal support options, previously offering email and phone support, are now reduced or gone. You can observe this for yourself by navigating NI’s site.

Software support now dead-ends at a set of documentation articles; then you’re able to create a post on the community forums if you don’t find an answer, but direct contact is gone.

Hardware support does provide some direct contact options – you can directly contact repair service if you have faulty hardware, which allows you to open a ticket. But even most hardware options now also lead only to the knowledge base.

It’s also possible to open a chat for presales or order and account support, but that change may be flooding account support with queries that would normally go elsewhere, sources tell us.

Your best bet if you are having problems is still to make a post in the forums – or talk to other users. But reaching NI support is more difficult; a message across all support pages now reads:

“Due to the high amount of incoming requests, we currently cannot achieve our desired response times. We thank you in advance for your patience until we get to your request.”

You will find a September 10 update to Traktor DJ 2 on the site, and Native Access has recently delivered updates for Komplete Kontrol, Controller Editor, and Maschine, though at least some of these involve development that would have preceded the cuts.

Native Instruments did not immediately respond to CDM’s request for comment.

Previously:

The post Native Instruments is struggling to provide customer support following cuts appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

What if your gear could MIDI map itself? This open schema and iOS app do it now

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 24 Sep 2019 7:03 pm

So, you’ve got a plug-in or a hardware synth – and you want to control part of the sound with a physical knob or some iPad modulation. One clever iPad app and an open source scheme could make what happens next happen faster.

Early 1980s MIDI still gets the job done in a lot of ways. But then you hit this problem of mapping. Let’s say you’re an app developer, and you want to support a whole lot of different synths. (You know, like your customers may have been reading CDM and Synthtopia and Sonic State and bought, like, everything.) Your time is valuable, so you don’t want to spend all of it mapping gear.

Users, of course, have the same issue – from controllers to desktop software to apps, we often find ourselves having to manually create templates.

Developer Eokuwwy Development (aka Steven Connelly) faced this challenge with the app MIDI Mod. MIDI Mod is clever stuff, and worth a separate article – it gives you a ton of modulation options you can use to control gear, and then the ability to modulate the modulators internally (routing an LFO to the modulation that’s then routed to your synth). So you can get a bunch of elaborate changing, morphing sounds on whatever you choose.

The breakthrough from Mr. Connelly was to establish a standard schema for defining all those parameters to control. Got a Roland System-8? A Behringer Neutron? Yamaha Reface? BigSky reverb pedal? Moog Minitaur KORG volca sample IK multimedia Uno? Even other iOS apps? He’s got all of them. (Here’s a list.)

Other developers have done things like this before. (Native Instruments Maschine, for one, had similar mappings – though unfortunately, the engineers working on this support were to my knowledge included inthe layoffs last month.)

This developer is going one step further, by releasing the entire schema on GitHub for manufacturers and developers. And it could be relevant to anyone – someone making a hardware synth, a Web-based tool, an iOS app, desktop software, whatever.

As a user, you may not necessarily need to know how this works – only that it allows makers of software and hardware to make more stuff compatible, and work more consistently, faster. But the basic idea is, this not only defines a consistent way of defining parameters, but tools for automating testing and supporting control. (There are even just-added tools for generating specs from CSV files and HTML documentation from specs .)

Got a synth you want supported? Make the document once, and then – once they provide support for this schema – other tools will be able to work with your tool, check for errors, and even generate code and documentation. It’s a JSON schema, plus a whole bunch of useful examples. iOS developers should be able to get going really fast – even using Swift – but it’s pretty clear to everyone else, too.

I remember this conversation going on for at least a decade, even specifically talking about “wouldn’t it be nice if there were a JSON schema” for this. The reason is, Web developers do this sort of work all the time. It’s just that these were in the form of APIs for Web applications that … uh, stole all your data from a weird online survey that then sold that data to foreign spies or whatever the heck has been going on for the intervening time. I’m kidding, mostly – okay, most of this sort of JavaScript work is more like boring day job stuff.

Isn’t it about time that we applied that intelligence to music?

I don’t know that this particular implementation is perfect, but it is open source, it has everything I and others I had talked to wanted for such a thing, and so it seems time to put it out there.

(Yeah, maybe like minijack MIDI, we can all talk about this now, rather than wind up with two competing formats. Just a thought.)

I know there have been similar discussions to add this sort of functionality to a future version of MIDI. But this particular kind of schema doesn’t require anything in the MIDI spec itself – it’s only built around it. So this is something that works with MIDI 1.0.

Developers, have a look and let us know what you think. Maybe you can add to that list of apps supporting this.

Users, well, you don’t have to wait – you can check out MIDI Mod now, if you have an iPad. (And I better take the opportunity to make some docs for all our MeeBlip synths.)

https://github.com/eokuwwy/open-midi-rtc-schema

https://github.com/eokuwwy/open-midi-rtc-specs

MIDI Mod at the App Store

Developer site and a lot more info: https://eokuwwy.blogspot.com/

The post What if your gear could MIDI map itself? This open schema and iOS app do it now appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

LiveCore is a free low-level, live patching for Reaktor

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 20 Sep 2019 1:31 pm

Reaktor lovers no longer have to be jealous of live coders – now they get a performance-ready, free, low-level tool of their own. Sonic mayhem awaits you.

Okay, first – “live coding” doesn’t necessarily have to mean typing. Text is just one way to represent software logic, that is – and tools like Reaktor (and Pd, and Max, and TouchDesigner) simply use a “dataflow” visual representation for that same logic.

Reaktor Blocks now gives you a high-level, Eurorack hardware-style way to patch. But there hasn’t been anything that can exploit the low-level, high power DSP capabilities of Reaktor in real-time.

Enter LiveCore. The goal: “inreasing liveness” when you work with Reaktor, so you can actually patch live. It’s the work of co-creators David Alexander (@freeeco) and Jack Armitage (@jarmitage), and it’s all free and open source on GitHub (provided you have a Reaktor license, of course). And it’s capable of some seriously awesome musical madness:

You actually don’t need to know that much about Core, Reaktor’s low-level DSP objects, to use LiveCore. It effectively makes Core more powerful for existing users, and gives an entry point to people who may have avoided it.

LiveCore gives you a set of modules, each insanely optimized (just a few bytes compiled, and efficient on your machine’s processor). In the first release you’ll find the following – and the developers say more are on the way:

  • Phase Driver
  • Sequencer (quantizes phase Driver Output to make patterns)
  • Splitter
  • Gate
  • Mixer
  • Limiter (not like a traditional audio studio limiter – it’s actually more like a simple two-stage envelope)
  • Waveshaper
  • Reader (intended for sample playback, from a table)

And, like, holy s*** this idea is cool. Everything is built around the Phase Driver – you make one-shot triggers or ramps with that, and then do all your signal mangling and such with the other modules to create interesting patterns for sounds.

It’s also refreshing to have a modular environment that isn’t tied up in a whole bunch of idiosyncratic hardware modules. If you look at the display, it’s very nerdy in appearance, sure. But the actual use of this is so simple that it seems open to exploration, even for people who don’t normally think about patterns in terms of signal flow.

And this looks like a really unique way to approach patterns. That Waveshaper, for instance, can be used to create irregularities and interest in patterns. (There’s also nothing stopping you from routing this to a patch built in Reaktor Blocks, if you really want to.)

This project is brand new, so please don’t immediately bug the developers with too many questions. Documentation is mostly still forthcoming, so you’re pretty much on your own. It seems like they’re progressing quickly, though, and I think you’ll agree – this was too cool not to immediately share.

https://github.com/freeeco/livecore

The post LiveCore is a free low-level, live patching for Reaktor appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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