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


Years of MySpace music deleted; Internet weeps

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 18 Mar 2019 9:53 pm

It’s not so much that anyone expected MySpace to be alive at this point, let alone a safe place for music uploads. The demise of years of MySpace music is more like a sad reminder of the direction of the Internet.

First, there’s actually a few events in the timeline of how so much music disappeared from the service in the first place.

Remember that about ten years ago it had only just been surpassed by Facebook. Since then, relative traffic, revenue, and headcount have plunged dramatically. The 2016 acquisition by Time Inc. was of a far weaker company, but even then ad revenue was seen as its value. Part of what Apple, Spotify, Facebook, and Google-owned YouTube have done, arguably, is weaken the overall market for ad revenue and premium services in music. That’s why it’s still worth watching SoundCloud’s creator-driven strategy, in contrast to the rest of the industry.

In the midst of the business meltdown, the circumstances of MySpace’s “loss” of years of much are highly suspicious.

Users on reddit have been the ones to chronicle what was going on at each step. Keep in mind, here they’re referring to their own user-uploaded content.

About one year ago, reddit users reported being unable to access a lot of previously available music, and got this cryptic response from MySpace:

There is an issue with all songs/videos uploaded over 3 years ago. We are aware of the issue and I have been informed the issue will be fixed, however, there is no exact time frame for when this will be completed. Until this is resolved the option to download is not available. I apologize for the inconvenience this may be causing.

Also from March of last year:

We’re in the process of doing a huge maintenance project for videos and songs. Due to this maintenance, you may notice some issues playing songs or videos. During this process, there may be possible downtime. We are actively working to ensure there is little to no issues with your listening experience. Please bear with us.

You may also notice missing artwork during this transition. We’re diligently working to get this resolved asap.

Please also note, all FLV videos can no longer be played due to an update to the player. We updated our player to HTML5. Unfortunately, we do not offer a way to play or download these videos.

Eight months ago, the player displayed this notice:

As a result of a server migration project, any photos, videos, and audio files you uploaded more than three years ago may no longer be available on or from Myspace. We apologize for the inconvenience and suggest that you retain your back up copies. If you would like more information, please contact our Data Protection Officer, Dr. Jana Jentzsch at DPO@myspace.com.

The timeline of news around the issue this week is actually incorrect, because it appears that all of this happened about a year ago. Seven months ago was when one redditer got a notice from the company saying files had been deleted. Yet only this week it seems mainstream sites (including this one, erm, okay mainstream sites plus this one) took notice.

You’ll notice what happened there. Files disappeared without notice, then messages suggested that they might be somehow part of a migration, then suddenly they were “corrupted.”

By the way, Dr. Jentzsch apparently a third-party legal counsel in Germany, not MySpace management.

This paints a clear picture. It’s highly unlikely that this was an engineering error so much as the company poorly managing messaging about dropping old content entirely. That was the theory put forward on Twitter by Andy Vaio, veteran of Kickstarter, waxy, upcoming.org, and others:

Uh, yeah:

In fact, the language used (“corrupted,” “server migration”) also appears not to be written by an engineer – in that an engineer would be more specific.

BBC and I are at least seven or eight months, maybe one year late on this, but yes, it’s on BBC:

MySpace admits losing 12 years’ worth of music uploads

But, okay, this part is obvious.

Equally obvious: you shouldn’t count on services to be the only copy of your stuff. These services generally have no obligation to keep things accessible.

Also equally obvious: a lot of us know that and do it anyway.

Obvious follow-up: we should go right now to places with our music, download it, and put it multiple places that are safe – both physically and online.

No, like right now.

And we should be particularly mistrusting of big services this month, in which both Gmail and Facebook suffered major, multi=hours outages for which their enormously wealth corporate owners provided absolutely no explanation.

There’s a broader issue, though, beyond our own stuff. We need to begin to properly archive online content, and imagine how it will be more widely available – what we assumed the Internet would do in the first place. And there, folks like Jason Scott of the Internet Archive have been working on just that.

Charmingly, he’s even archiving skins for Winamp:

But I think we need a complete reboot of what we’re doing with the Internet for music. I’ll be writing about that in coming weeks and trying to get your input (readers) and the input of other people involved in projects from the past, present, and future.

The situation right now is bleak – and the fact that people really were still looking to MySpace for their music demonstrates how bleak. Music uploaded to the “old Internet” may quickly be lost forever. Music now disappears into a black box of distribution services. Some of those distributors will actually remove music from streaming and download sites if the creators or publishers don’t pay up on a regular basis. And once on these sites, many artists will never see any amount of real, measurable income – whatever Spotify and Apple may be quarreling about currently.

In fact, I’d go as far as arguing that the focus on whether music makers get paid for their work ignores the fact that a lot of music makers feel they aren’t heard at all.

Which brings us back to MySpace. The early days of the Internet were full of music – even illegal music. It was the age of the netlabel. And then MySpace was the dominant social network from 2004 to 2010 – meaning that social media was dominated by music.

Obviously, that’s not the case now. Now we have “influencers” and selfies and literally Neo-Nazis and hate speech and fake news and almost everything but music.

If people are suddenly lamenting the loss of years-old data on MySpace, it could be because music online hasn’t grown as we hoped it would.

There’s still time to change that. We’re not getting any younger – and neither is the Web. So that time is now.

The post Years of MySpace music deleted; Internet weeps appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Here are some of the weirdest musical instrument ideas from NAMM

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 18 Mar 2019 5:16 pm

Trade shows can be a strenuous onslaught of noise, cost, and crowds – but then it’s often the weirdest stuff that makes it worth it. And no one finds strange quite like Barry Wood and his annual NAMM Oddities.

Barry impressively tracks every kind of freakish appearance at the enormous US music instruments show, and it’s worth digging through his whole NAMM Oddities guide category by category ($1.2 million-dollar guitar straps and all). I’ve taken the liberty of picking some of my favorites from this year’s haul. Some of it is genuinely useful and cool – some will just make you shake your head and mumble, say wha?

One Synclavier knob. Built-to-order, $399 – half of which you owe as a deposit. This is evidently for people who are esoteric rich people, but with a fraction of the money of really rich crazy people. They … I don’t want to use the word “explain” as that would imply I understand who this is for, but they describe how this four hundred dollar knob is historically accurate:

The weight and feel of the knob are identical, as we have used the exact measurements and a balanced spring arrangement. The two-inch diameter knob is milled from a solid bar of instrument-grade aluminium (yes, we were doing this long before Apple). The interface software and hysteresis algorithm are taken from Synclavier II.

Full hammer action, in any quantity of keys. This is actually a great idea – Piano de Voyage is a hammer action keyboard broken into modules. Want just 2 octaves? Get just one module. (I always wondered why people want a full 88 keys in electronic contexts, actually.) Or if you do want as many as 8 octaves, you can break down the modules so they fit in a bag – unlike a usual full keyboard. No word on pricing or availability, but there’s a sign-up. https://pianodevoyage.com/

https://www.synclavier.com/product/synclavier-knob/

A food pedal that looks like it was prototyped in Play-Doh. Effigy Labs Control pedal is what it’s called, and the makers promise unique expression in a foot controller. (This was evidently a big hit at the show, too!)

https://effigylabs.com/effigy-home-page

Color sensing rings. Sphero Specdrums are wireless, optical, color sensing rings. (The idea of having musical rings just keeps coming.)

Giant panda piano. The piano section at NAMM and Germany’s Musikmesse always has something unusual, but this Seiler upright – out there. And if you figured something weird and panda-related came out of Asia, you’d be wrong – Seiler started in Germany, is now a US brand, and recently was bought by Nashville’s Samick Music Corporation.

A light-up uke. Solo Music‘s Lighted Ukulele should qualify as this year’s strangest use of RGB LEDs (though I know given what controllers look like these days, we can’t really make fun of ukelele players).

Brass knuckle mic accessory. Signs you may want to talk to your booking agent about the quality of your venues. Someone at Metaldozer had ideas about what to do with the metalworking.

And basically everything from Game Changer Audio. Need a sound source that’s got spinning discs with optical sensors and electromagnetic pickups? Or 3000 volts of plasma for distortion? Game Changer is all over new ideas; we’ll have reviews of their stuff soon.

https://www.gamechangeraudio.com/

Sonic State takes a look:

— and Gearnews.com did a nice writeup.

Plenty more where these came from – do check them out:

https://otheroom.com/namm/

And you’ll get loads more bizarre finds on Barry’s Facebook page, like… whatever this is:

The post Here are some of the weirdest musical instrument ideas from NAMM appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

NI Massive X synth sees first features, interface revealed

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 14 Mar 2019 2:58 pm

Native Instruments’ Massive synth defined a generation of soft synths and left a whole genre or two in its wake. But its sequel remains mysterious. Now the company is revealing some of what we can expect.

First, temper your expectations: NI aren’t giving us any sound samples or a release date. (It’s unclear whether the blog talking about “coming months” refers just to this blog series or … whether we’re waiting some months for the software, which seems possible.)

What you do get to see, though, is some of what I got a preview of last fall.

After a decade and a half, making a satisfying reboot of Massive is a tall order. What’s encouraging about Massive X is that it seems to return to some of the original vision of creator Mike Daliot. (Mike is still heavily involved in the new release, too, having crafted all 125 wavetables himself, among other things.)

So Massive X, like Massive before it, is all about making complex modulation accessible – about providing some of the depth of a modular in a fully designed semi-modular environment. Those are packaged into a UI that’s cleaner, clearer, prettier – and finally, scalable. And since this is not 2006, the sound engine beneath has been rewritten – another reason I’m eager to finally hear it in public form.

Massive X is still Massive. That means it incorporates features that are now so widely copied, you would be forgiven forgetting that Massive did them first. That includes drag-and drop modulation, the signature ‘saturn ring’ indicators of modulation around knobs, and even aspects of the approach to sections in the UI.

What’s promising is really the approach to sound and modulation. In short, revealed publicly in this blog piece for the first time:

Two dedicated phase modulation oscillators. Phase modulation was one of the deeper features of the original – and, if you could figure out Yamaha’s arcane approach to programming, instruments like the DX7. But now it’s more deeply integrated with the Massive architecture, and there’s more of it.

Lots of noise. In addition to those hundred-plus wavetables for the oscillators, you also get dozens of noise sources. (Rain! Birdies!) That rather makes Massive into an interesting noise synth, and should open up lots of sounds that aren’t, you know, angry EDM risers and basslines.

New filters. Comb filters, parallel and serial routing, and new sound. The filters are really what make a lot of NI’s latest generation stuff sound so good (as with a lot of newer software), so this is one to listen for.

New effects algorithms. Ditto.

Expanded Insert FX. This was another of the deeper features in Massive – and a case of the semi-modular offering some of the power of a full-blown modular, in a different (arguably, if you like, more useful) context. Since this can include both effects and oscillators, there are some major routing possibilities. Speaking of which:

Audio routing. Route an oscillator to itself (phase feedback), or to one another (yet more phase modulation), and make other connections you would normally expect of a modular synth, not necessarily even a semi-modular one.

Modulators route to the audio bus, too – so again like modular hardware, you can treat audio and modulation interchangeably.

More envelopes. Now you get up to nine of these, and unique new devices like a “switcher” LFO. New “Performers” can use time signature-specific rhythms for modulation, and you can trigger snapshots.

It’s a “tracker.” Four Trackers let you use MIDI as assignable modulation.

Maybe this is an oversimplification, but at the end of the day, it seems to me this is really about whether you want to get deep with this specific, semi-modular design, or go into a more open-ended modular environment. The tricky thing about Massive X is, it might have just enough goodies to draw in even the latter camp.

And, yeah, sure, it’s late. But … Reaktor has proven to us in the past that some of the stuff NI does slowest can also be the stuff the company does best. Blame some obsessive engineers who are totally uninterested in your calendar dates, or, like, the forward progression of time.

For a lot of us, Massive X will have to compete with the fact that on the one hand, the original Massive is easy and light on CPU, and on the other, there are so many new synths and modulars to play with in software. But let’s keep an eye on this one.

And yes, NI, can we please hear the thing soon?

https://blog.native-instruments.com/massive-x-lab-welcome-to-massive-x/

Hey, at least I can say – I think I was the first foreign press to see the original (maybe even the first press meeting, full stop), I’m sure because at the time, NI figured Massive would appeal only to CDM-ish synth nerds. (Then, oops, Skrillex happened.) So I look forward to Massive X accidentally creating the Hardstyle Bluegrass Laser Tag craze. Be ready.

The post NI Massive X synth sees first features, interface revealed appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Visualize pitch like John Coltrane with this mystical image

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 13 Mar 2019 3:12 pm

Some musicians see Islamic mysticism; some the metaphysics of Einstein. But whether spiritual, theoretical, or both, even one John Coltrane pitch wheel is full of musical inspiration.

One thing’s certain – if you want your approach to pitch to be as high-tech and experimental as your instruments, Coltrane’s sketchbook could easily keep you busy for a lifetime.

Unpacking the entire music-theoretical achievements of John Coltrane could fill tomes – even this one picture has inspired a wide range of different interpretations. But let’s boil it down just to have a place to start. At its core, the Coltrane diagram is a circle of fifths – a way of representing the twelve tones of equal temperament in a continuous circle, commonly used in Western music theory (jazz, popular, and classical alike). And any jazz player has some basic grasp of this and uses it in everything from soloing to practice scales and progressions.

What makes Coltrane’s version interesting is the additional layers of annotation – both for what’s immediately revealing, and what’s potentially mysterious.

Sax player and blogger Roel Hollander pulled together a friendly analysis of what’s going on here. And while he himself is quick to point out he’s not an expert Coltrane scholar, he’s one a nice job of compiling some different interpretations.

JOHN COLTRANE’S TONE CIRCLE

See also Corey Mwamba’s analysis, upon which a lot of that story draws

Open Culture has commented a bit on the relations to metaphysics and the interpretation of various musicians, including vitally Yusef Lateef’s take:

John Coltrane Draws a Picture Illustrating the Mathematics of Music

Plus if you like this sort of thing, you owe it to yourself to find a copy of Yusef Lateef’s Repository of Scales and Melodic Patterns [Peter Spitzer blog review] – that’s related to what you (might) see here.

Take it with some grains of salt, since there doesn’t seem to be a clear story to why Coltrane even drew this, but there are some compelling details to this picture. The two-ring arrangement gives you two whole tone scales – one on C, and one on B – in such a way that you get intervals of fourths and fifths if you move diagonally between them.

Scanned image of the mystical Coltrane tone doodle.

Corey Mwamba simplified diagram.

That’s already a useful way of visualizing relations of keys in a whole tone arrangement, which could have various applications for soloing or harmonies. Where this gets more esoteric is the circled bits, which highlight some particular chromaticism – connected further by a pentagram highlighting common tones.

Even reading that crudely, this can be a way of imagining diminished/double diminished melodic possibilities. Maybe the most suggestive take, though, is deriving North Indian-style modes from the circled pitches. Whether that was Coltrane’s intention or not, this isn’t a bad way of seeing those modal relationships.

You can also see some tritone substitutions and plenty of chromaticism and the all-interval tetrachord if you like. Really, what makes this fun is that like any such visualization, you can warp it to whatever you find useful – despite all the references to the nature of the universe, the essence of music is that you’re really free to make these decisions as the mood strikes you.

I’m not sure this will help you listen to Giant Steps or A Love Supreme with any new ears, but I am sure there are some ideas about music visualization or circular pitch layouts to try out. (Yeah, I might have to go sketch that on an iPad this week.)

(Can’t find a credit for this music video, but it’s an official one – more loosely interpretive and aesthetic than functional, released for Untitled Original 11383. Maybe someone knows more… UMG’s Verve imprint put out the previously unreleased Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album last year.)

How might you extend what’s essentially a (very pretty) theory doodle to connecting Coltrane to General Relativity? Maybe it’s fairer to say that Coltrane’s approach to mentally freeing himself to find the inner meaning of the cosmos is connected, spiritually and creatively. Sax player and astrophysicist professor (nice combo) Stephon Alexander makes that cultural connection. I think it could be a template for imagining connections between music culture and physics, math, and cosmology.

Images (CC-BY-ND) Roel’s World / Roel Hollander

and get ready to get lost there:

https://roelhollander.eu/

The post Visualize pitch like John Coltrane with this mystical image appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Watch My Panda Shall Fly play KORG volcas with bits of metal

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Mon 11 Mar 2019 6:08 pm

“Play your KORG volcas with bits of metal instead of your fingers” isn’t one of the Oblique Strategies, but maybe it ought to be.

Sometimes all you need for some musical inspiration is a different approach. So My Panda Shall Fly took a different angle for a session for music video series Homework. Since the volca series use conductive touch for input, a set of metal objects (like coins) will trigger the inputs. Result: some unstable sounds.

I mean, maybe it’s just all part of an influencer campaign for Big Coin, but you never know.

My Panda Shall Fly is a London based producer covering a wide range of bases:

And he’s done some modular loops. We’ve seen him in these here parts before, too:

Artists share Novation Circuit tips, with Shawn Rudiman and My Panda Shall Fly

The post Watch My Panda Shall Fly play KORG volcas with bits of metal appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Design, meet music: gorgeous graphic scores from LETRA / TONE fest

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Events,Scene | Thu 7 Mar 2019 7:11 pm

Nine designers created graphics scores. Next, nine musicians will interpret them. LETRA / TONE festival is one of the more compelling experiments in festival programming – an adventure in crossing media. Here’s what it looks like.

Now, in these here parts, we’ve been fans of visual-musical synesthesia, from live visuals and VJing to graphics. LETRA / TONE makes that connection in the score. Curator (and composer/musician) Hanno Leichtmann had the idea. Five years ago, I covered one of the earlier editions:

Pattern and Design: A 2-Day Festival Turns Vintage Type into Musical Scores

The gathering has since blossomed to include a wide arrange of international designers and big-name (and fringe) musical artists across various instruments. There’s a complete exhibition and loads of concerts this weekend.

And you never know quite what you’ll get, because it’s up to these artists to determine how to translate the visual ideas they’re given into performances. This being Berlin, there are some major electronic artists – modular electro duo Blotter Trax (Magda and T.B. Arthur), turntablist Dieb 13, JASSS, Nefertyti, and DEMDIKE STARE are all involved. But you also get pianist Magda Mayas, and Schneider TM takes to experimental guitar, composer and avant garde rocker Jimi Tenor. Hanno has not only paired artists with musicians, but produced some arranged musical marriages, too – commissioning Blotter Trax, pairing Nefertyti with Jimi Tenor.

Graphic scores come from Katja Gretzinger, Anke Fesel, Scott Massey, Daniela Burger, Stefan Gandl, Joe Gilmore, Sulki & Min, Julie Gayard, and T.S.Wendelstein.

To bring a bit of this festival to you, here’s a selection of images from past editions (and current sketches) to show the visual range. You can imagine yourself how you might make music from these.

And snippets of 2019:

To give you a feel of the music, some selected artists:

JASSS:

Demdike Stare:

Blotter Trax:

Nefertyti (bad video but… I’m enjoying this punk aesthetic here):

Facebook event if you’re in Berlin this weekend:

https://www.facebook.com/events/2212145495720491/?active_tab=about

The post Design, meet music: gorgeous graphic scores from LETRA / TONE fest appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Self care in the music business: reflections from Frankie of Discwoman

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 5 Mar 2019 7:01 pm

We talk a lot about survival tips for the music industry, but rarely does that get into the personal. So the moment is right for Discwoman’s Frankie Decaiza Hutchinson to tackle music’s greatest obstacle: ourselves.

Frankie is the co-founder of Discwoman, with Emma Burgess-Olson (aka techno producer UMFANG) and Christine McCharen-Tran, as well as the booker for Bossa Nova Civic Club. Each of those projects has become influential, as Bossa has become a fulcrum for the new Brooklyn scene and a highlight of post-Bloomberg/Giuliani New York, and Discwoman a template for building a collective and booking business around women and non-binary artists.

Frankie is not a DJ or producer (“thank God,” she tells me), but I think it’s then even more relevant that she’s taken on a new role for Crack Magazine – advice columnist. (She’s taken on the role “Agony Aunt.”)

For instance, in the latest installment, she answers a Berlin (huh) writer who worries about comparisons and self-doubt. (Frankie even concedes she can struggle: “It’s completely irrational and I often feel like I’m falling apart but there’s very little space for me to fall apart as there are so many people dependent on my work so it’s a lot of pressure,” she responds.)

This is the thing we often don’t do in the music world – talk honestly about ourselves. The cost of that lack of honesty can be depression – and worse. So just as Discwoman’s motto, is “amplify each other,” emblazoned in enormous letters across their merch and even website, I think it’s high time music makers and the people working with music makers talk about things like – gulp – self sabotage. That can be devastating for people who seek music as a hobby or as a profession.

Frankie was kind enough to take time from her busy schedule at Bossa to answer some questions about that and building Discwoman.

You spoke to Crack a bit about handling social life and partying – then there’s the matter in this business of handling work and communication. I know these cycles can become really intense. And especially in a city like Berlin or NYC, it seems it can be really easy to get lost. How have you coped with that?

I fail at it all the time. I think that’s important to always say when you give an advice, I’m not just giving advice to the person asking me; I’m also giving advice to myself. I used to drink pretty much every single day; I’d often find myself at bars at closing time and making questionable decisions as a result. For me, everything shifted when I started becoming more interested in my work, i.e., Discwoman, and then there was more responsibility. I only really had one option: to not drink everyday and or go out everyday. It’s literally impossible for me to work if I’m hungover – and, in addition, my anxiety is horrendous. I quit weed recently, and that helped me dramatically. But I have routine relapses every now again, which fuck up my days.

It strikes me you’ve really built an extraordinary business around Discwoman. Has that really been about focusing on this existing roster? Or do you see diversifying important – is it important to have merch, for instance, for awareness or even for revenue?

Merch is important for both awareness and revenue; that’s literally how survive. My favorite part is definitely running our booking agency – I’m just so proud of it, honestly. It’s not perfect, but we built something from scratch that we felt was lacking: an agency that represents women/nonbinary talent. Our big vision is to keep on building the agency and perfect a home for even more talent.

You touch a bit on self doubt. I think from the outside, we’ve gotten to see Discwoman’s rise, its successes. I’m sure we don’t always see some of the challenges. Where we cases where you had to learn or adjust what you were doing?

At the beginning the language we used “female-identified” was not sufficient – and the term “female” is [itself] archaic and problematic. So we adjusted our language to be more inclusive and expansive. Now, we tend to use “women” and “non-binary.” But, again, being open to changing your language is part of the process of being inclusive, so no term is ever set in stone.

We’ve learned as we go. When we started the agency, none of us had any real experience; we just kind of made it up and learned on the job. [We were] taking contract templates and rider templates from the internet. There’s no one to really teach you those things, so we had to teach ourselves.

Photo courtesy Frankie Decaiza Hutchinson.

You’re managing a lot of social media for yourself and Discwoman, right? Do you ever find that can feed this sense of comparing yourself to others, or to some idealized sense of what you want to be? How do you manage that – especially since I would imagine in your role, isn’t it hard to unplug from all this media and communication? How do you hang onto yourself in those situations?

Absolutely; I feel jealous or shit about myself all the time, and social media compounds those feelings. But I rarely act on those feelings, and I try my best not to speak hatefully on my accounts, as honestly, it just gives me more anxiety. Like recently, I tweeted that I felt more non-black folks in the scene should have supported the black history event we did at Bossa, and I just felt really shit after tweeting it. Not because it’s not true, but because it mentally makes me spiral and become paranoid which is unnecessary, because the event was a great success. But sometimes I cant keep my mouth shut, ha!

I’m also definitely projecting a narrative into the world. I use my Twitter and Instagram as a storytelling device. For me, that’s fun and creative. I know people are critical of these mediums for being inauthentic, but that’s honestly not something I care about that much. People love to hate famous women on these apps for projecting a false representation of themselves; I personally find this critique extremely boring and short-sighted, which ends up targeting these women as scapegoats for a much bigger problem. Like the way Jameela Jamil’s popularized feminism really bothers me.

[Ed.: For more on that last comment, in case you’re curious about context, here’s one take from The Atlantic – there are others with similar sentiments.]

If you want to check out Frankie’s advice:

Dear Frankie: Tips on self-sabotage and finessing the life-club balance (latest episode, or check out the debut) [Crack Magazine]

Fader in 2017: We Need Discwoman

Let’s get some music here. Just as a sampling of who Discwoman have on their roster (apologies for my own Berlin bias)…

I’ve gotten to know Munich-born mobilegirl based on her great work for Staycore and unique take on production and DJing, including a dynamic high-powered set she played at the bottom of a well (really) when we were all part of Nusasonic Fesival in Indonesia:

Warsaw-to-Berlin artist VTSS has been doing some great mixes between industrial and acid, so I was already jamming out to this Newtype podcast this week:

Akua can mix techno that’s fast, weird, fast and weird… sold. More, please. Oh yeah, and this mix for Discwoman has a tracklist to go with it, as well as an interview. (Because tracklists are good.)

Actually, you know what, let’s throw in another Akua mix.

For another collective that comes from a background that’s more leftfield (and that’s based in Poland rather than New York, which makes for a different landscape), we’ve also talked to Oramics:

In Poland, a collective for women and queer artists becomes an agency

The post Self care in the music business: reflections from Frankie of Discwoman appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Inside the esoteric moon music of Doc Sleep, underground connector

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Labels,Scene | Mon 4 Mar 2019 6:57 pm

Leftfield grooves, cycles inspired by the cinematic qualities of lunar and natural world – welcome to Doc Sleep’s “Your Ruling Planet.” I talked to the Room 4 Resistance resident and Jacktone Records co-owner about her work.

Doc Sleep is a San Francisco-to-Berlin transplant, and apart from her prolific production career and packed DJ schedule, she’s someone who makes connections and creates space for others in an underground scene so often overlooked for solitary solo artists. So that has meant broadcasting on the legendary Intergalactic FM, collaborating and remixing across labels from Twirl to Discwoman, and more recently being a resident and curator of Room 4 Resistance, the activist, queer collective.

And her music productions mirror the thoughtful, eclectic materials of her label Jacktone. “Your Ruling Planet” is comfortably odd, relaxing into organic rhythms that dance hypnotically through the stereo field, gentle ambiences and field loops feathering into one another. She tells us a bit about how this came about and where she’s headed.

Take a listen:

Cover image: album art by Sonja of Lisbon’s LABAREDA label.

Lunar eclipses and whatnot – can you share a bit with us the cosmic narrative for you in this music? What brought it on; how does that translate to the music?

I have a lot of memories from childhood connected to seasons and nature. I’m from a rural area, so it’s all tied up with a bit of colloquial wisdom, farmers almanac kind of context. Something like the harvest moon or spring equinox – these were all part of the vernacular, but in a practical, matter-of-fact way. These memories were on my mind when I was working on the music in January because of the eclipses (partial solar, total lunar). As I was recalling memories and stories, the natural and ‘otherworldly’ elements were always so strong in beautiful cinematic ways – the look of the sky and moon, colors at dusk, constellations, northern lights glimpsed through the trees, and so on. I started to record and structure the release as a narration and soundtrack for these fragments and how to bring them into the present. Sonja (the amazing artist who designed the cover), sent along artwork and referred to it as ‘celestial’ – and it was solidified.

What’s your toolset like for this album? There’s a really organic sound to these elements; how are you working?

I was feeling stuck last year with the DAW tools I had, and a pal made some specific suggestions to spice it up in Ableton – Reaktor, Max for Live, etc. You know, things most people have been using for ages, ha! Since moving to Berlin, I’ve been producing ‘in the box’, so between using a Push, experimenting with Reaktor and just generally getting more comfortable in Ableton – I’m finally able to be more spontaneous. Lots of accidents are happening all that good stuff. Being able to record and manipulate audio out of Reaktor added an imperfect, unwieldy element I was missing from my setup and I use it heavily these days. I also mangle samples and sample packs, use field recordings, analog synth plug-ins, piano and guitar plug-ins – lots of warmer-sounding instruments. I add plenty of effects (reverb, space echo, tape distortion) to give the sounds a bit of depth and character. I am still learning and experimenting with every session, so we’ll see where I end up with the next EPs later this year.

Doc Sleep. Photo: Lydia Daniller.

I’m particularly interested in the element of time – there’s a sense of cycle, but without being too fixed to a grid. How many layers are we hearing at once / how much is real time versus worked out after the fact? There’s a particularly hypnotic sense for me on the last cut (“Emerado Falls”).

I love that you mentioned a sense of cycle. This all fits nicely with the themes and I’m glad this came out in the music.

In general, I like to layer melodic elements and play with the phasing/fading in and out with the different layers… actually, maybe cramming is a better word. I will manipulate a sample or record audio out of Reaktor over percussion and then record several versions of what I want, but all slightly different with effects and then layer it and work on the arrangement from there.

In these tracks, for some of the more ‘ethereal’ parts, I was layering vocals and having them interplay with synths that mirrored the melody line. There are probably four or five mid- to higher-register melodic elements at one time in “Emerado Falls.” I wanted them to be indistinguishable at times, or sometimes the different sounds coming in and out of focus – my friend at Grippers’ Tips referred to it as ‘smudged ambience’, which I really like. As far as the pianos that come in and sort of collide at the end, this was difficult to get them timed in a way that didn’t sound ‘off’ or distracting. I’m not seeking perfection with the music, but I also don’t want it be so off-grid that it pulls the listener out of the moment.

I hear various field recordings. Does that figure into the story of this music for you?

I was very interested in bringing these elements into the music, yes. In the mid 2000s I made music with a friend who had gone to school for sound art, so this is when I started to learn what was possible mixing field recordings into music. Before that, I didn’t really understand how producers were doing it – magic, I guess. For this release, I was very particular about the sounds I used as I was trying to recreate and reconstruct situations / memories that represent something meaningful for me personally. For the listener, I wanted to share these personal experiences, draw them in and see if it would also resonate.

That said, maybe saying “ambient” is really the wrong term – there is some real groove here, too, on “Nim” or even “Your Ruling Planet.” Usually when we start talking DJs and production, we slip into the realm of tools and whatnot – are you feeding your life into a DJ into this, even when it is less obvious dancefloor material?

My first two releases, I wanted to make dancefloor material and hoped some pals would play it out in sets. This time around, since it was at home on Jacktone and I hadn’t released in awhile, I was more focused on realizing and executing ideas. There are dance tempos present, but I didn’t write with the dancefloor in mind, which feels like real progress for me. I’m glad a groove comes through, though – I would be sad if it didn’t!

You’re now in my impression really active DJing. What has the move to Berlin, and to Room 4 Resistance meant for that side of your career – and how do you fit in time for the label and production?

Being part of R4R, I’m surrounded by fantastic, experimental, bold artists that I’m lucky to play with and learn from. Being part of the collective has pushed me to try new things in sets and I’m a better and more confident DJ because of it. Because we now have the experimental/ambient room at Trauma Bar, the events will push even further out of the box of what a club night can look like in 2019. It’s an exciting time and I’m fortunate to be part of it.

As far as time management and prioritizing projects, it’s definitely difficult. I have about 3 hours before work (if I don’t hit snooze) and 3 hours after work to make headway on the various things I’m involved with and working on, so I have to be focused, disciplined and…very boring these days.

For those new to your label, any tips as far as where to begin?

If you poke around the Jacktone Bandcamp store, you’ll find everything from kosmische and dark ambient to pummeling acid and dub techno, psychedelic house to rhythmic noise, concept albums, soundtracks, IDM, lo-fi, breaks, electro… and so on. We’ve collaborated with such a beautiful variety of folks producing in different genres the past 5 years, it’s difficult to single out any one release. I will say, our next release, from a prolific artist named Le Scrambled Debutante from Tennessee, is offering what is probably our most experimental release thus far. I think he best described it: sonic Dada. After that, we’re back in the Bay for another psychedelic house release, and then our first vinyl collaboration of the year with Beacon Sound in Portland (artist TBA). 🙂

https://jacktonerecords.bandcamp.com/

Oh, lastly, I love this artwork – can you tell us about Sonja and how the visual came about?

I’m so glad you like it! Sonja is a fabulously-talented designer, DJ, and label owner from Portugal. I’ve loved her aesthetic for so long and the music she puts out on Labareda is bold and imaginative and I thought she would be a great person to collaborate with for an image. Because it’s a digital-only release, we wanted it to be eye-catching and I think it works beautifully and captures the narrative perfectly. We liked it so much we also made it into a t-shirt.

Thanks! Yes, we’ll be watching for more from you and your label…

https://www.facebook.com/djdocsleep

The post Inside the esoteric moon music of Doc Sleep, underground connector appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Take a 3D trip into experimental turntablism with V-A-C Moscow, Shiva Feshareki

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 1 Mar 2019 9:17 pm

Complex music conjures up radical, fluid architectures, vivid angles – why not experience those spatial and rhythmic structures together? Here’s insight into a music video this week in which experimental turntablism and 3D graphics collide.

And collide is the right word. Sound and image are all hard edges, primitive cuts, stimulating corners.

Shiva Feshareki is a London-born composer and turntablist; she’s also got a radio show on NTS. With a research specialization in Daphne Oram (there’s a whole story there, even), she’s made a name for herself as one of the world’s leading composers working with turntables as medium, playing to the likes of the Royaal Albert Hall with the London Contemporary Orchestra. Her sounds are themselves often spatial and architectural, too – not just taking over art spaces, but working with spatial organization in her compositions.

That makes a perfect fit with the equally frenetic jump cuts and spinning 3D architectures of visualist Daniel James Oliver Haddock. (He’s a man with so many dimensions they named him four times over.)

NEW FORMS, her album on Belfast’s Resist label, explores the fragmented world of “different social forms,” a cut-up analog to today’s sliced-up, broken society. The abstract formal architecture, then, has a mission. As she writes in the liner notes: “if I can demonstrate sonically how one form can be vastly transformed using nothing other than its own material, then I can demonstrate this complexity and vastness of perspective.”

You can watch her playing with turntables and things around and atop turntables on Against the Clock for FACT:

And grab the album from Bandcamp:

Shiva herself works with graphical scores, which are interpreted in the album art by artist Helena Hamilton. Have a gander at that edition:

But since FACT covered the sound side of this, I decided to snag Daniel James Oliver Haddock. Daniel also wins the award this week for “quickest to answer interview questions,” so hey kids, experimental turntablism will give you energy!

Here’s Daniel:

The conception formed out of conversations with Shiva about the nature of her work and the ways in which she approaches sound. She views sound as these unique 3D structures which can change and be manipulated. So I wanted to emulate that in the video. I also was interested in the drawings and diagrams that she makes to plan out different aspects of her performances, mapping out speakers and sound scapes, I thought they were really beautiful in a very clinical way so again I wanted to use them as a staging point for the 3D environments.

I made about 6 environments in cinema 4d which were all inspired by these drawings. Then animated these quite rudimentary irregular polyhedrons in the middle to kind of represent various sounds.

Her work usually has a lot of sound manipulation, so I wanted the shapes to change and have variables. I ended up rendering short scenes in different camera perspectives and movements and also changing the textures from monotone to colour.

After all the Cinema 4d stuff, it was just a case of editing it all together! Which was fairly labour intensive, the track is not only very long but all the sounds have a very unusual tempo to them, some growing over time and then shortening, sounds change and get re-manipulated so that was challenging getting everything cut well. I basically just went through second by second with the waveforms and matched sounds by eye. Once I got the technique down it moved quite quickly. I then got the idea to involve some found footage to kind of break apart the aesthetic a bit.

Of course, there’s a clear link here to Autechre’s Gantz Graf music video, ur-video of all 3D music videos after. But then, there’s something really delightful about seeing those rhythms visualized when they’re produced live on turntables. Just the VJ in me really wants to see the visuals as live performance. (Well, and to me, that’s easier to produce than the Cinema 4D edits!)

But it’s all a real good time with at the audio/visual synesthesia experimental disco.

More:

Watch experimental turntablist Shiva Feshareki’s ‘V-A-C Moscow’ video [FACT]

https://www.shivafeshareki.co.uk/

https://resistbelfast.bandcamp.com/album/new-forms

Resist label

The post Take a 3D trip into experimental turntablism with V-A-C Moscow, Shiva Feshareki appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Azure Kinect promises new motion, tracking for art

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 1 Mar 2019 12:01 am

Gamers’ interest may come and go, but artists are always exploring the potential of computer vision for expression. Microsoft this month has resurrected the Kinect, albeit in pricey, limited form. Let’s fit it to the family tree.

Time flies: musicians and electronic artists have now had access to readily available computer vision since the turn of this century. That initially looked like webcams, paired with libraries like the free OpenCV (still a viable option), and later repurposed gaming devices from Sony and Microsoft platforms.

And then came Kinect. Kinect was a darling of live visual projects and art installations, because of its relatively sophisticated skeletal tracking and various artist-friendly developer tools.

History time

A full ten years ago, I was writing about the Microsoft project and interactions, in its first iteration as the pre-release Project Natal. Xbox 360 support followed in 2010, Windows support in 2012 – while digital artists quickly hacked in Mac (and rudimentary Linux) support. An artists in music an digital media quickly followed.

For those of you just joining us, Kinect shines infrared light at a scene, and takes an infrared image (so it can work irrespective of other lighting) which it converts into a 3D depth map of the scene. From that depth image, Microsoft’s software can also track the skeleton image of one or two people, which lets you respond to the movement of bodies. Microsoft and partner PrimeSense weren’t the only to try this scheme, but they were the ones to ship the most units and attract the most developers.

We’re now on the third major revision of the camera hardware.

2010: Original Kinect for Xbox 360. The original. Proprietary connector with breakout to USB and power. These devices are far more common, as they were cheaper and shipped more widely. Despite the name, they do work with both open drivers for respective desktop systems.

2012: Kinect for Windows. Looks and works almost identically to Kinect for 360, with some minor differences (near mode).

Raw use of depth maps and the like for the above yielded countless music videos, and the skeletal tracking even more numerous and typically awkward “wave your hands around to play the music” examples.

Here’s me with a quick demo for the TED organization, preceded by some discussion of why I think gesture matter. It’s… slightly embarrassing, only in that it was produced on an extremely tight schedule, and I think the creative exploration of what I was saying about gesture just wasn’t ready yet. (Not only had I not quite caught up, but camera tech like what Microsoft is shipping this year is far better suited to the task than the original Kinect camera was.) But the points I’m making here have some fresh meaning for me now.

2013: Kinect for Xbox One. Here’s where things got more interesting – because of a major hardware upgrade, these cameras are far more effective at tracking and yield greater performance.

  • Active IR tracking in the dark
  • Wider field of vision
  • 6 skeletons (people) instead of two
  • More tracking features, with additional joints and creepier features like heart rate and facial expression
  • 1080p color camera
  • Faster performance/throughput (which was key to more expressive results)

Kinect One, the second camera (confusing!), definitely allowed more expressive applications. One high point for me was the simple but utterly effective work of Chris Milk and team, “The Treachery of Sanctuary.”

And then it ended. Microsoft unbundled the camera from Xbox One, meaning developers couldn’t count on gamers owning the hardware, and quietly discontinued the last camera at the end of October 2017.

Everything old is new again

I have mixed feelings – as I’m sure you do – about these cameras, even with the later results on Kinect One. For gaming, the devices were abandoned – by gamers, by developers, and by Microsoft as the company ditched the Xbox strategy. (Parallel work at Sony didn’t fare much better.)

It’s hard to keep up with consumer expectations. By implying “computer vision,” any such technology has to compete with your own brain – and your own brain is really, really, really good. “Sensors” and “computation” are all merged in organic harmony, allowing you to rapidly detect the tiniest nuance. You can read a poker player’s tell in an instant, while Kinect will lose the ability to recognize that your leg is attached to your body. Microsoft launched Project Natal talking about seeing a ball and kicking a ball, but… you can do that with a real ball, and you really can’t do that with a camera, so they quite literally got off on the wrong foot.

It’s not just gaming, either. On the art side, the very potential of these cameras to make the same demos over and over again – yet another magic mirror – might well be their downfall.

So why am I even bothering to write this?

Simple: the existing, state-of-the-art Kinect One camera is now available on the used market for well under a hundred bucks – for less than the cost of a mid-range computer mouse. Microsoft’s gaming business whims are your budget buy. The computers to process that data are faster and cheaper. And the software is more mature.

So while digital art has long been driven by novelty … who cares? Actual music and art making requires practice and maturity of both tools and artist. It takes time. So oddly while creative specialists were ahead of the curve on these sorts of devices, the same communities might well innovate in the lagging cycle of the same technology.

And oh yeah – the next generation looks very powerful.

Kinect: The Next Generation

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: the new Kinect is both more expensive ($400) and less available (launching only in the US and China… in June). Ugh. And that continues Microsoft’s trend here of starting with general purpose hardware for mass audiences and working up to … wait, working up to increasingly expensive hardware for smaller and smaller groups of developers.

That is definitely backwards from how this is normally meant to work.

But the good news here is unexpected. Kinect was lost, and now is found.

The safe bet was that Microsoft would just abandon Kinect after the gaming failure. But to the company’s credit, they’ve pressed on, with some clear interest in letting developers, researchers, and artists decide what this thing is really for. Smart move: those folks often come up with inspiration that doesn’t fit the demands of the gaming industry.

So now Kinect is back, dubbed Azure Kinect – Microsoft is also hell-bent on turning Azure “cloud services” into a catch-all solution for all things, everywhere.

And the hardware looks … well, kind of amazing. It might be described as a first post-smartphone device. Say what? Well, now that smartphones have largely finalized their sensing capabilities, they’ve oddly left the arena open to other tech defining new areas.

For a really good write-up, you’ll want to read this great run-down:


All you need to know on Azure Kinect
[The Ghost Howls, a VR/tech blog, see also a detailed run-down of HoloLens 2 which also just came out]

Here are the highlights, though. Azure Kinect is the child of Kinect and HoloLens. It’s a VR-era sensor, but standalone – which is perfect for performance and art.

Fundamentally, the formula is the same – depth camera, conventional RGB camera, some microphones, additional sensors. But now you get more sensing capabilities and substantially beefed-up image processing.

1MP depth camera (not 640×480) – straight off of HoloLens 2, Microsoft’s augmented reality plaform
Two modes: wide and narrow field of view
4K RGB camera (with standard USB camera operation)
7 microphone array
Gyroscope + accelerometer

And it connects both by USB-C (which can also be used for power) or as a standalone camera with “cloud connection.” (You know, I’m pretty sure that means it has a wifi radio, but oddly all the tech reporters who talked to Microsoft bought the “cloud” buzzword and no one says outright. I’ll double-check.)

Also, now Microsoft supports both Windows and Linux. (Ubuntu 18.04 + OpenGL v 4.4).

Downers: 30 fps operation, limited range.

Somehing something, hospitals or assembly lines Azure services, something that looks like an IBM / Cisco ad:

That in itself is interesting. Artists using the same thing as gamers sort of … didn’t work well. But artists using the same tool as an assembly line is something new.

And here’s the best part for live performance and interaction design – you can freely combine as many cameras as you want, and sync them without any weird tricks.

All in all, this looks like it might be the best networked camera, full stop, let alone best for tracking, depth sensing, and other applications. And Microsoft are planning special SDKs for the sensor, body tracking, vision, and speech.

Also, the fact that it doesn’t plug into an Xbox is a feature, not a bug to me – it means Microsoft are finally focusing on the more innovative, experimental uses of these cameras.

So don’t write off Kinect now. In fact, with Kinect One so cheap, it might be worth picking one up and trying Microsoft’s own SDK just for practice.

Azure Kinect DK preorder / product page

aka.ms/kinectdocs

For more on this, if you’re in Berlin, Stanislav Glazov and Valentin Tszin will show how they connect computer vision (using Kinect) as a link between choreography and music. They also recently explored these fields with techno legend Dasha Rush at CTM Festival.

Workshop:Singularity+Performance w/StanislavGlazov,ValentinTszin [Facebook]

The post Azure Kinect promises new motion, tracking for art appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

A plea to DJs: make sharing part of digging

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 27 Feb 2019 8:48 pm

Many DJs still believe track lists and track IDs are proprietary information to be guarded … for some reason. But however defensible this position may have been in the past, opening up information matters now like never before.

The issue blew up again in the past 24 hours as The Black Madonna and other responded to Developer, the label chief for Modularz. Developer argued that people should “find their own gems” and he had no interest in sharing track listings or track IDs because he spent “hours” digging for tracks. He has since deleted those tweets (including one reply to me suggesting I go use Shazam), and didn’t respond to my request for comment. He did, however, leave up various retweets of people defending the position.

But this isn’t about Developer – and on the contrary, I’d rather he and others changed their minds. I totally agree with his learn to hunt idea. But what I don’t understand is why you’d brag about hiding tracks in the first place. So there’s clearly some disconnect here.

Noncompliant puts it succinctly:

This is about producers. Electronic music is now flooded with new people DJing, new people making music, and new people becoming music fans. That should be a healthy combination, one that supports the people making music.

Making music involves a heck of a lot of vulnerability. A lot of artists are desperate just to be heard – not widely, to be heard and appreciated in some real way even once often means a lot. They fight depression and insecurity and day jobs and the need to do tax accounting to put music out there for an audience that often ignores them.

Total obscurity is toxic to expression. It robs makers of fans, and fans of experiencing something unique. And there’s a lot of music being condemned to that fate. Music streaming isn’t just lowering the value of music returned to creators; it’s raising the cost of getting your music heard – because it’s being consolidated in the hands of a few major companies (Apple, Google, Spotify) who then fix algorithms and channels based on mainstream tastes and inward-turning circles of machine learning. Meanwhile, independent journalism has dwindled, dominated by large corporate interests and pay-for-play schemes even at smaller sites and … okay, I’ll just stop. It’s not all bad, but there are some major challenges out there that can be devastating to some great music. A

With streaming poised to take over DJ booths, far from defending the exclusivity of DJing, we are fighting against a possible future where most DJs select music based on algorithms and Instagram influencers. (There’s some better scenarios here, but some of them are indeed scary.)

But then that makes me utterly mystified why DJs would pick this moment to get precious about their playlists.

So, okay, let me address that crew now, even if it means I have to duck into a phone booth (kids, ask your parents) and change into my not-at-all-secret superhero identity – [Disney Marvel Studios presents] CAPTAIN OBVIOUS!

Photo (CC-BY) jlggb.

You don’t have to answer pests. I get it – there’s that person at a club who ought to be dancing who won’t leave you alone. I’m not talking about any of them; that’s fine to refuse them. And if your Facebook page or Instagram inbox is overflowing with requests, I get that, too. Don’t stress; you’re free to ignore them.

But don’t sell yourself short. Come on. What DJ has ever only made a mark only based on picking obscure secret weapons? You’re a good DJ (or you’re not, but then you really shouldn’t be arguing here). It’s about mixing and placement and edits and adjustment and reading the crowd and the narrative of the evening and the moment and … are you seriously arguing you’re giving away something if you tell someone the name of a track you liked? I’m sorry, I’m still mystified as to why I’m even having to write this, but here we are.

That said …

These tracks aren’t yours to protect. Okay, apart from if you made the track yourself, in which case this resistance is exceedingly weird, what the Hell are you doing? Someone made a track that you played and someone loves it. Don’t you owe it to the person who made that track to give them credit? And speaking of which –

Encouraging people to buy music is great. I found it especially odd that DJs were complaining about people going and buying $2 downloads. Uh… that’s not normally something labels and artists are opposed to having happen more often.

But you know, even apart from that:

We’re lucky to share our passion with other people, right? I talked to Noncompliant who talked about enjoying showing people record sleeves back in the day. Hell, I’ve had the most fun in the booth when people do ask me for IDs or I wind up striking up a conversation with a friend who’s playing. Sometimes those tracks are rare; sometimes they’re totally obvious but still lovable.

We’re living in scary times. The solution to protecting the value of the DJ is not to hide your tracks – because that will only accelerate a trend where music is unknowable and left to unseen forces, and those unseen forces are not benign. It ought to be a privilege to play other people’s music, not a burden to share the authorship of that music. And if DJs go and dig up rare and obscure sounds, nothing will illustrate that like letting people know.

No high tech solutions needed. There are plenty of interesting techie solutions to publishing playlists via Twitter or Pioneer’s servers or Richie Hawtin’s servers or Skynet or whatever, but I’ll leave that for another time.

You can show people record sleeves. You can hit the INFO button on a CDJ someone can see (thanks again to Noncompliant for both of those). You can tell someone or write them a note. You can share playlists manually on Facebook or Twitter or your website, as many people now do, and then you won’t get nagged.

But it’s not just me saying this. And this isn’t just “kids today” wanting all their information free so they can talk about it through fancy Snapchat filters while they eat Tide Pods. In fact, I’m totally biased as a producer first and an independent label and generally a pain in the ass. So here are some other people saying it, using fewer words because they’re not me.

Look, I’m not here to make a point. I really do hope this message spreads.

We need you, DJs – every ID, every listener makes a difference.

#digandshare

Photo at top: CC-BY Irma Daidone.

The post A plea to DJs: make sharing part of digging appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Generate wavetables for free, for Ableton Live 10.1 and other synths

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 26 Feb 2019 10:08 pm

Wavetables are capable of a vast array of sounds. But just dumping arbitrary audio content into a wavetable is unlikely to get the results you want. And that’s why Wave Weld looks invaluable: it makes it easy to generate useful wavetables, in an add-on that’s free for Max for Live.

Ableton Live users are going to want their own wavetable maker very soon. Live 10.1 will add Wavetable, a new synth based on the technique. See our previous preview:

Ableton Live 10.1: more sound shaping, work faster, free update

Live 10.1 is in public beta now, and will be free to all Live 10 users soon.

So long as you have Max for Live to run it, Wave Weld will be useful to other synths, as well – including the developer’s own Wave Junction.

Because wavetables are periodic by their very nature, it’s more likely helpful to generate content algorithmically than just dump sample content of your own. (Nothing against the latter – it’s definitely fun – but you may soon find yourself limited by the results.)

Wave Wend handles generating those materials for you, as well as exporting them in the format you need.

1. Make the wavetable: use waveshaping controls to dial in the sound materials you want.

2. Build up a library: adapt existing content or collect your own custom creations.

3. Export in the format you need: adjusting the size les you support Live 10.1’s own device or other hardware and plug-ins.

The waveshaping features are really the cool part:

Unique waveshaping controls to generate custom wavetables
Sine waveshape phase shift and curve shape controls
Additive style synthesis via choice of twenty four sine waveshape harmonics for both positive and negative phase angles
Saw waveshape curve sharpen and partial controls
Pulse waveshape width, phase shift, curve smooth and curve sharpen controls
Triangle waveshape phase shift, curve smooth and curve sharpen controls
Random waveshape quantization, curve smooth and thinning controls

Wave Weld isn’t really intended as a synth, but one advantage of it being an M4L device is, you can easily preview sounds as you work.

More information on the developer’s site – http://metafunction.co.uk/wave-weld/

The download is free with a sign-up for their mailing list.

They’ve got a bunch of walkthrough videos to get you started, too:

Major kudos to Phelan Kane of Meta Function for this release. (Phelan is an Ableton Certified Trainer as well as a specialist in Reaktor and Maschine on the Native Instruments side, as well as London chairman for AES.)

I’m also interested in other ways to go about this – SuperCollider code, anyone?

Wavetable on!

The post Generate wavetables for free, for Ableton Live 10.1 and other synths appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

The demonic musical Baby Bots of Moon Armada

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 25 Feb 2019 6:55 pm

Why should a synth be a metal box with some wooden endcaps? Why shouldn’t be a severed baby doll head with glowing red eyes and buttons in its skull? Moon Armada helps the forward evolution of synth form factors, and the results are … uh … adorable is the word?

Synthpatchers has a fine overview of Moon Armada’s creations to kick things off here, complete with some gentle sounds:

View this post on Instagram

#Repost @selektafm • • • • • SOUND ON 🔊 Hear the newest run of @moon_armada’s Baby Bots in action 🛸 👶 . US-based creator Honest Kevin thought up something crazy back in 2007. Now over 100 handmade instruments later, his Moon Armada project is becoming instantly legendary in the electronic production world. Self-described as an art project that 'incorporates imaginative concepts with pop culture aesthetics into abstract musical instruments and sound-generators', Kevin's coined creation in the Baby Bot. . Watch the full preview of his 2019 line on our IGTV. Read an interview with Kevin on the blog. Pick up your own 👶 🤖 at MoonArmada.com. . . #synth #modularsynth #synthesizer#modular #musicproduction#electronicmusic #audioengineering#sounddesign #recording #pedals#guitarpedals #homestudio #lofi#circuitbending #circuitbent #cassette#diymusic #diyaudio #sound #art #music#sound #soundart #artinstallation

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Moon Armada was born as a project of musician Honest Kevin in 2017 in Austin, Texas, before he up and moved to Vilnius, Lithuania. (Not just Berlin – now the likes of Czech and the Baltics are also attracting American builders.) That project has been creating weird instrumental and performance creations, and selling those inventions to others – and the project is growing:

Moon Armada is a sound art project started by musician Honest Kevin, which focuses on creating objects that provide alternative modes of interacting with music and sound. It eventually grew to include maker and visual artist Appias Albina, as well as numerous collaborations with with artists Lab Monkey Number 9, Ksenija Shinkovskaja, and Mr. Dibbs.

But let’s talk baby heads. While not exclusively a baby head instrument builder, Moon Armada’s doll enclosures take on a special, animistic quality – part puppet, part sound maker. And they adapt to sonic identities from glitch to noise to ambient wash to beats. Here are some recent examples – the ensemble effect is particularly nice:

Oh, also, sometimes a Space Ape comes to life and roams around the studio. (Spot that LOM sticker, from the experimental Slovakian label.)

Check out the Moon Armada Website. There’s loads of great stuff there – kits, inventions, music, events, and even some nice wearable swag:

https://moonarmada.com/

Oh, plus a gallery of terrifying dolls you will never be able to un-see. See them:

https://moonarmada.com/doll-heads

Good times. Good, good times. Hope to see you around, Kevin & co.

The post The demonic musical Baby Bots of Moon Armada appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

A free, shared visual playground in the browser: Olivia Jack talks Hydra

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 22 Feb 2019 7:50 pm

Reimagine pixels and color, melt your screen live into glitches and textures, and do it all for free on the Web – as you play with others. We talk to Olivia Jack about her invention, live coding visual environment Hydra.

Inspired by analog video synths and vintage image processors, Hydra is open, free, collaborative, and all runs as code in the browser. It’s the creation of US-born, Colombia-based artist Olivia Jack. Olivia joined our MusicMakers Hacklab at CTM Festival earlier this winter, where she presented her creation and its inspirations, and jumped in as a participant – spreading Hydra along the way.

Olivia’s Hydra performances are explosions of color and texture, where even the code becomes part of the aesthetic. And it’s helped take Olivia’s ideas across borders, both in the Americas and Europe. It’s part of a growing interest in the live coding scene, even as that scene enters its second or third decade (depending on how you count), but Hydra also represents an exploration of what visuals can mean and what it means for them to be shared between participants. Olivia has rooted those concepts in the legacy of cybernetic thought.

Oh, and this isn’t just for nerd gatherings – her work has also lit up one of Bogota’s hotter queer parties. (Not that such things need be thought of as a binary, anyway, but in case you had a particular expectation about that.) And yes, that also means you might catch Olivia at a JavaScript conference; I last saw her back from making Hydra run off solar power in Hawaii.

Following her CTM appearance in Berlin, I wanted to find out more about how Olivia’s tool has evolved and its relation to DIY culture and self-fashioned tools for expression.

Olivia with Alexandra Cardenas in Madrid. Photo: Tatiana Soshenina.

CDM: Can you tell us a little about your background? Did you come from some experience in programming?

Olivia: I have been programming now for ten years. Since 2011, I’ve worked freelance — doing audiovisual installations and data visualization, interactive visuals for dance performances, teaching video games to kids, and teaching programming to art students at a university, and all of these things have involved programming.

Had you worked with any existing VJ tools before you started creating your own?

Very few; almost all of my visual experience has been through creating my own software in Processing, openFrameworks, or JavaScript rather than using software. I have used Resolume in one or two projects. I don’t even really know how to edit video, but I sometimes use [Adobe] After Effects. I had no intention of making software for visuals, but started an investigative process related to streaming on the internet and also trying to learn about analog video synthesis without having access to modular synth hardware.

Alexandra Cárdenas and Olivia Jack @ ICLC 2019:

In your presentation in Berlin, you walked us through some of the origins of this project. Can you share a bit about how this germinated, what some of the precursors to Hydra were and why you made them?

It’s based on an ongoing Investigation of:

  • Collaboration in the creation of live visuals
  • Possibilities of peer-to-peer [P2P] technology on the web
  • Feedback loops

Precursors:

A significant moment came as I was doing a residency in Platohedro in Medellin in May of 2017. I was teaching beginning programming, but also wanted to have larger conversations about the internet and talk about some possibilities of peer-to-peer protocols. So I taught programming using p5.js (the JavaScript version of Processing). I developed a library so that the participants of the workshop could share in real-time what they were doing, and the other participants could use what they were doing as part of the visuals they were developing in their own code. I created a class/library in JavaScript called pixel parche to make this sharing possible. “Parche” is a very Colombian word in Spanish for group of friends; this reflected the community I felt while at Platoedro, the idea of just hanging out and jamming and bouncing ideas off of each other. The tool clogged the network and I tried to cram too much information in a very short amount of time, but I learned a lot.

I was also questioning some of the metaphors we use to understand and interact with the web. “Visiting” a website is exchanging a bunch of bytes with a faraway place and routed through other far away places. Rather than think about a webpage as a “page”, “site”, or “place” that you can “go” to, what if we think about it as a flow of information where you can configure connections in realtime? I like the browser as a place to share creative ideas – anyone can load it without having to go to a gallery or install something.

And I was interested in using the idea of a modular synthesizer as a way to understand the web. Each window can receive video streams from and send video to other windows, and you can configure them in real time suing WebRTC (realtime web streaming).

Here’s one of the early tests I did:

https://vimeo.com/218574728

I really liked this philosophical idea you introduced of putting yourself in a feedback loop. What does that mean to you? Did you discover any new reflections of that during our hacklab, for that matter, or in other community environments?

It’s processes of creation, not having a specific idea of where it will end up – trying something, seeing what happens, and then trying something else.

Code tries to define the world using specific set of rules, but at the end of the day ends up chaotic. Maybe the world is chaotic. It’s important to be self-reflective.

How did you come to developing Hydra itself? I love that it has this analog synth model – and these multiple frame buffers. What was some of the inspiration?

I had no intention of creating a “tool”… I gave a workshop at the International Conference on Live Coding in December 2017 about collaborative visuals on the web, and made an editor to make the workshop easier. Then afterwards people kept using it.

I didn’t think too much about the name but [had in mind] something about multiplicity. Hydra organisms have no central nervous system; their nervous system is distributed. There’s no hierarchy of one thing controlling everything else, but rather interconnections between pieces.

Ed.: Okay, Olivia asked me to look this up and – wow, check out nerve nets. There’s nothing like a head, let alone a central brain. Instead the aquatic creatures in the genus hydra has sense and neuron essentially as one interconnected network, with cells that detect light and touch forming a distributed sensory awareness.

Most graphics abstractions are based on the idea of a 2d canvas or 3d rendering, but the computer graphics card actually knows nothing about this; it’s just concerned with pixel colors. I wanted to make it easy to play with the idea of routing and transforming a signal rather than drawing on a canvas or creating a 3d scene.

This also contrasts with directly programming a shader (one of the other common ways that people make visuals using live coding), where you generally only have access to one frame buffer for rendering things to. In Hydra, you have multiple frame buffers that you can dynamically route and feed into each other.

MusicMakers Hacklab in Berlin. Photo: Malitzin Cortes.

Livecoding is of course what a lot of people focus on in your work. But what’s the significance of code as the interface here? How important is it that it’s functional coding?

It’s inspired by [Alex McLean’s sound/music pattern environment] TidalCycles — the idea of taking a simple concept and working from there. In Tidal, the base element is a pattern in time, and everything is a transformation of that pattern. In Hydra, the base element is a transformation from coordinates to color. All of the other functions either transform coordinates or transform colors. This directly corresponds to how fragment shaders and low-level graphics programming work — the GPU runs a program simultaneously on each pixel, and that receives the coordinates of that pixel and outputs a single color.

I think immutability in functional (and declarative) coding paradigms is helpful in live coding; you don’t have to worry about mentally keeping track of a variable and what its value is or the ways you’ve changed it leading up to this moment. Functional paradigms are really helpful in describing analog synthesis – each module is a function that always does the same thing when it receives the same input. (Parameters are like knobs.) I’m very inspired by the modular idea of defining the pieces to maximize the amount that they can be rearranged with each other. The code describes the composition of those functions with each other. The main logic is functional, but things like setting up external sources from a webcam or live stream are not at all; JavaScript allows mixing these things as needed. I’m not super opinionated about it, just interested in the ways that the code is legible and makes it easy to describe what is happening.

What’s the experience you have of the code being onscreen? Are some people actually reading it / learning from it? I mean, in your work it also seems like a texture.

I am interested in it being somewhat understandable even if you don’t know what it is doing or that much about coding.

Code is often a visual element in a live coding performance, but I am not always sure how to integrate it in a way that feels intentional. I like using my screen itself as a video texture within the visuals, because then everything I do — like highlighting, scrolling, moving the mouse, or changing the size of the text — becomes part of the performance. It is really fun! Recently I learned about prepared desktop performances and related to the live-coding mantra of “show your screens,” I like the idea that everything I’m doing is a part of the performance. And that’s also why I directly mirror the screen from my laptop to the projector. You can contrast that to just seeing the output of an AV set, and having no idea how it was created or what the performer is doing. I don’t think it’s necessary all the time, but it feels like using the computer as an instrument and exploring different ways that it is an interface.

The algorave thing is now getting a lot of attention, but you’re taking this tool into other contexts. Can you talk about some of the other parties you’ve played in Colombia, or when you turned the live code display off?

Most of my inspiration and references for what I’ve been researching and creating have been outside of live coding — analog video synthesis, net art, graphics programming, peer-to-peer technology.

Having just said I like showing the screen, I think it can sometimes be distracting and isn’t always necessary. I did visuals for Putivuelta, a queer collective and party focused on diasporic Latin club music and wanted to just focus on the visuals. Also I am just getting started with this and I like to experiment each time; I usually develop a new function or try something new every time I do visuals.

Community is such an interesting element of this whole scene. So I know with Hydra so far there haven’t been a lot of outside contributions to the codebase – though this is a typical experience of open source projects. But how has it been significant to your work to both use this as an artist, and teach and spread the tool? And what does it mean to do that in this larger livecoding scene?

I’m interested in how technical details of Hydra foster community — as soon as you log in, you see something that someone has made. It’s easy to share via twitter bot, see and edit the code live of what someone has made, and make your own. It acts as a gallery of shareable things that people have made:

https://twitter.com/hydra_patterns

Although I’ve developed this tool, I’m still learning how to use it myself. Seeing how other people use it has also helped me learn how to use it.

I’m inspired by work that Alex McLean and Alexandra Cardenas and many others in live coding have done on this — just the idea that you’re showing your screen and sharing your code with other people to me opens a conversation about what is going on, that as a community we learn and share knowledge about what we are doing. Also I like online communities such as talk.lurk.org and streaming events where you can participate no matter where you are.

I’m also really amazed at how this is spreading through Latin America. Do you feel like there’s some reason the region has been so fertile with these tools?

It’s definitely influenced me rather than the other way around, getting to know Alexandra [Cardenas’] work, Esteban [Betancur, author of live coding visual environment Cine Vivo], rggtrn, and Mexican live coders.

Madrid performance. Photo: Tatiana Soshenina.

What has the scene been like there for you – especially now living in Bogota, having grown up in California?

I think people are more critical about technology and so that makes the art involving technology more interesting to me. (I grew up in San Francisco.) I’m impressed by the amount of interest in art and technology spaces such as Plataforma Bogota that provide funding and opportunities at the intersection of art, science, and technology.

The press lately has fixated on live coding or algorave but maybe not seen connections to other open source / DIY / shared music technologies. But – maybe now especially after the hacklab – do you see some potential there to make other connections?

To me it is all really related, about creating and hacking your own tools, learning, and sharing knowledge with other people.

Oh, and lastly – want to tell us a little about where Hydra itself is at now, and what comes next?

Right now, it’s improving documentation and making it easier for others to contribute.

Personally, I’m interested in performing more and developing my own performance process.

Thanks, Olivia!

Check out Hydra for yourself, right now:

https://hydra-editor.glitch.me/

Previously:

Inside the livecoding algorave movement, and what it says about music

Magical 3D visuals, patched together with wires in browser: Cables.gl

The post A free, shared visual playground in the browser: Olivia Jack talks Hydra appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

SoundCloud will now handle distributing your music – and give you a 100% cut

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 19 Feb 2019 6:34 pm

SoundCloud has a new pitch to creators: upload your music not just to SoundCloud, but to all major music services, too. Distribution is launching in a new beta as part of Premier service, and the terms look appealing.

Okay, first, to understand what digital distribution is, let’s go back in time. Digital music for many years meant primarily CDs and … well, piracy, despite some early (fairly horrible) stores. Then along came Apple’s iTunes Music Store. When it launched, you needed to have a label deal of some kind to make your music available; Apple dealt with those labels much as brick and mortar stores deal with labels and distributors. The first loophole was CDBaby – the name is a reminder that at the time, independent music producers were still largely duplicating releases on CDs. Pay for CDBaby, and you get your music on iTunes for sale.

Now, the landscape is different. Apart from DJs and specialists, most people get their music through streaming services. But the only major destination where you can upload music directly these days has been SoundCloud (though Apple and Spotify may soon change that).

So if you want your music on other services, you typically sign a distribution deal. Some of these are pay-once or subscription services open to anyone. More traditional distributors require multi-year contracts you can’t get out of – though they may offer personal relationships with curators at online stores, and the promise, at least, of getting you placed as “featured music” or on playlists.

If you just want to get your music out there, the issue is that the distribution costs can actually cost more than you bring in.

SoundCloud’s offering, then, could be at least cheap and convenient. Here’s how it works:

Qualified users with a SoundCloud Pro or Pro Unlimited account can sign up for an open beta right now.

You can select original music to distribute to a range of services, including Amazon Music, Apple Music, Instagram, Spotify, Tencent (the leading Chinese network), and YouTube Music, inside your SoundCloud account.

Then you keep 100% “of your rights” (need to read the fine print on that), plus 100% of distribution royalties from third-party services. There’s no additional cost for distribution.

Most other services either take a cut of royalties, or charge fees for distribution; here, what you’re paying already for your account already covers those costs.

So wait, what’s in it for SoundCloud if you get all the money? It seems the main goal is to attract users to their subscription services and provide monetization options to keep them there. In fact, you don’t have to include your music on SoundCloud or monetize it there if for some reason you don’t want to – like if for some reason you want it just on Apple or just on Spotify or some other combination. SoundCloud hopes you will, though; a spokeperson for the company tells us, “Monetizing tracks through SoundCloud Premier monetization gets creators the best revenue share rate on SoundCloud and fast payouts.”

I suspect SoundCloud does hope to use this offering to help build up their catalog, of course – which makes sense for them. The big challenge SoundCloud’s business faces is, while the service has a lot of original music the likes of Spotify and Apple lack, their catalog still lags the major music a lot of people want to listen to. And they’re in the unique position of wanting to attract both creators and listeners. That could be good in the long run for us as creators, but so far it’s meant that we tend to use SoundCloud as a way of building audience for other services (and for a lot of us, trying to convince people to buy downloads or physical music).

SoundCloud’s creator-facing tools are essentially unparalleled; the limited tools on Spotify and Apple are fairly weak and confusing. The real pitfalls here aren’t so much about SoundCloud as they are about streaming – streaming revenue for a lot of smaller artists is disappointing or even nonexistent. And this won’t help your music get playlisted or found on those services; it’ll just get you over the initial barrier of distribution.

In other words, I think generally the pricier services for distribution that just dump music on streaming are going to get run out of business, in favor of offerings like SoundCloud’s. But that leaves opportunities for distributors who do work on promotion, as well as the “we’re not dead yet” strangeness of cassette tapes and vinyl still being viable distribution formats in 2019.

Do you qualify?

The open beta requires a SoundCloud Pro / Pro Unlimited subscription, and you have to be an adult (18+ or age of majority).

You have to control all the rights to your music. So if you’ve signed music to a label, for instance, or you have an existing distribution deal, you can’t upload even your own music – technically, you’ve signed away the right to do so.

You also can’t have any copyright strikes against you on SoundCloud. That’s a dicey issue, I know, though SoundCloud points CDM readers to copyright@soundcloud.com if you’ve got a question about copyright policy or you have a strike against you.

And you need at least 1000 plays in countries that have advertising available – US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, New Zealand.

It seems you don’t necessarily have to be living in one of those countries, however.

When do you get data or get paid?

This is the part I really like.

You get monthly reporting of numbers from all the services where you’re distributing.

There are monthly royalty payments, with no minimums.

This is a big break from the truly terrible way the industry often operates, which is to lock you into long-term contracts, take a big slice of the money you’ve earned, and then make data hard to retrieve and slow, and hold up what money is left based on weird payment schedules or minimum thresholds.

So the appeal of just logging into a SoundCloud account and taking care of all of this – leaving time for you to go figure out who to talk to to make your music popular – that’s hugely appealing.

There’s a separate music ecosystem of DJ services like Beatport and Traxsource, plus of course the isolatedbut artist-friendly world of Bandcamp. I hope to check in with both those services soon.

And there will still be room for distributors who offer more advanced customer service and relationships with those outlets, or bundle distribution with other services (including label management).

For everything else, though, the new SoundCloud offering looks like a significant breakthrough. I’ll be testing the beta, for my own music – even though the label we operate, Establishment, has a few weeks left on one of those terrible contracts I mentioned. Let us know if you have questions about this and we can ask our Berlin neighbors at SoundCloud.

For more or to sign up:

creators.soundcloud.com/premier
@creatorsonSC on Twitter

The post SoundCloud will now handle distributing your music – and give you a 100% cut appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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