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


Watch a beautiful video about vocoder history from The New Yorker

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 12 Jul 2019 9:59 am

It’s time for a throwback – this video was produced in 2014. But don’t miss out on a serious vocoder love fest full of history and celebrity interviews. And just wait, because the vocoder may be about to make an AI-fueled comeback.

The New Yorker talks to the likes of Laurie Anderson, Cozmo D, Dave Tompkins, and Frank Gentge about what made this instrument special, and traces its weird, twisted history through military applications to Kraftwerk parties.

The topic of vocal encoding and the vocoder has become freshly relevant with the rise of machine learning for vocal synthesis. The “AI” trend is driven in no small part by a resurgent vocoder – only this time, powered by neural networks (themselves a revived technology, after a long “winter”). These vocoders use neural networks to “learn” and process, enabled by massively parallel computation on GPUs and specialized “AI” chips:

https://gfx.cs.princeton.edu/pubs/Jin_2018_FAR/reived tec

https://github.com/candlewill/RawNet

… just to give two examples. The expected application of most of this is text-to-speech (TTS). Think talking translators and speaking apps and so on, just more futuristic (or nightmarish, depending on your feelings about that futurism).

But as always with the vocoder, musical applications do have a way of holding their own. Right now, it’s computationally expensive to train vocoders. But it is possible to cheat, by doing most of the pre-training work and then letting a user do some light training at the end. That is, you probably sound similar to other people speaking your native language, so it’s possible to train a machine on those details rather than make it start from scratch.

What I’m getting at: it’s almost inevitable that we’ll soon see musical vocoders and pitch correction that is trained on your voice. And in turn, that could create presets that abuse different vocal characters for various creative impacts. (Maybe there’s something like this now, I just haven’t seen it in the market.)

Whether or not that proves useful, understanding the history of the vocoder means getting a deeper grasp of how communications technology has evolved generally – and how people can push its envelope to make something expressive. Whatever useful applications folks like military leaders may imagine, us humans do love to be human and push the emotional boundaries of the tech we touch.

(Just of course “no one needs a vocoder” – Robert Henke. Okay, he was joking.)

The post Watch a beautiful video about vocoder history from The New Yorker appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Vector dreams, in a new book on sound-modulated light

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 9 Jul 2019 2:04 am

Like alien artifacts dug up in sci-fi, once-forgotten technologies are resurfacing as newly futuristic. And so behold vector synthesis – that moment when signal for light and sound intertwines.

It’s all the topic of a new book from artist/technologist Derek Holzer. Here’s how in-demand this story is: a mere glimpse of his MA thesis on the topic already drummed up demand for a printed copy. That edition gets a Kickstarter boost in Vector Synthesis: a Media Archaeological Investigation into Sound-Modulated Light.

And the Cathode Ray Tube gets a new lease on life.

Derek isn’t just digging into media archaeology. He’s also part of a movement to resurrect this vector tech – and the audiovisual fusion inspired by it – through events, workshops, and open source tools. (Just beware – one day, you’re pahttps://www.kickstarter.com/projects/macumbista/vector-synthesis-book?fbclid=IwAR0KOwytiUkH6pqJNly9LZ0xd0NP33ldZFrNyrCKax-P7aqhtZMtSAQgC-Mtching in Pure Data, the next, you may be rummaging through display tubes.)

Artists:

Mary Ellen Bute, Ben Laposky, Lyn Lye, Norman McLaren, Desmond Paul Henry, James Whitney, John Whitney Sr., Dan Sandin, Steina Vasulka, Woody Vasulka, Larry Cuba, Bill Etra, Mitchell Waite, Rosa Menkman, Cracked Ray Tube, Andrew Duff, Benton C. Bainbridge, Philip Baljeu, Jonas Bers, Robin Fox, Robert Henke, Ivan Marušić Klif, Jerobeam Fenderson, Hansi Raber, Ted Davis, Roland Lioni, Bernhard Rasinger, and the Kikimore group.

The book traverses history, philosophy, and a decent amount of practical experimentation – it’s history and how-to and invention all at once. That’s perhaps fitting for today’s media art. It’s not just a whiz-bang demo of something new that fades. It’s practice and technique, in a time-warp jump between past and future.

25EUR gets you a copy in a beautiful edition with 122 pages.

And yeah, we’ve covered this phenomenon before:

Check out the book now on Kickstarter.

More (ah, okay, WordPress even embeds this for me now automatically – neat):

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/macumbista/vector-synthesis-book

The post Vector dreams, in a new book on sound-modulated light appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Decolonizing Pop Music

Delivered... Holger Lund | Scene | Fri 5 Jul 2019 4:00 pm

Colonialism is not over, it's just less visible, especially in culture. As a curator of the Berlin based label Global Pop First Wave focussing on non-western pop music, Holger Lund sees himself entangled in neo- or post-colonial paradoxes. An essay about the dialectics of local and global pop music and how decolonizing could be done.

Image 5: Record sleeve for Brahim Izri, Celluloid (©: D’Ifrax-I-N’Ella 1988)

«When you are decolonized, colonialism is not simply taken away from you. The essential subject of decolonization is a critical view on colonial patterns of thinking, colonial categories, colonial history of knowledge […].»
(Rassool 2017: 150, translated by the author H.L.)

«As a matter of fact we have a problem with our history and our memory, since these have been written by the conquerors and not by the colonized people. Generations of Cameroonians were told that their ancestors had been the Gauls, although that is completely wrong.»
(Obolo 2017: 179, translated by the author H.L.)

Points of Departure

In this text I want to take a look at some of the mechanisms for constructing global pop music history and to question them from a decolonial point of view. To achieve this, I will examine some examples and case studies, specifically in regard to Turkish and Brazilian pop music history. There are two points of departure for the following notes on decolonizing pop music and rewriting global pop music history: one is my work with the vinyl record label Global Pop First Wave, the other the observation that colonialism is not over yet. Global Pop First Wave is a sublabel of Berlin-based Corvo Records. While Corvo Records publishes contemporary experimental music, Global Pop First Wave has a focus on music archeology with re-releases of historical non-Western, especially Turkish pop music.

To produce the re-releases, which are dealing with the so-called first wave of global pop music in the 1960s and 1970s in the form of compilations, I work with a worldwide network of record sellers, connoisseurs, and scholars. In addition, I am conducting research internationally in record shops and private archives as well as using databases on the internet. To produce the compilations, the original vinyl records have to be tracked down, retrieving information from the records sleeves and record labels, which often give important first hints about the music and its production. Then the original records are digitized, restored, and newly mastered in a mastering studio in Berlin, before being cut, again on analog vinyl, to be sent to a pressing plant.

As a curator, I try to give access to music that has been neglected, overlooked, or peripheralized, and my efforts are therefore part of an attempt to rewrite and redefine the canon of pop music. Depending on your perspective, the notion that colonialism is not over yet can be based either on a conviction that colonialism has never ended, or on the analysis of a neo- or para-colonial push observable today (cf. Mbembe 2015: 229 and 244f). Of course, it also depends on what we mean by the term colonialism. If we think of land grabbing, then we will find that there is indeed a process of massive land grabbing as a form of neo-colonization going on in Africa, escorted by armed police forces and initiated by multi-national agriculture organizations.

This process is described in the two documentaries Bauer unser (dir. Robert Schabus, Germany 2017) and Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas (dir. Joakim Demmer, Germany 2017). In the documentary The Revolution Won’t Be Televised (dir. Rama Thiaw, Senegal 2016) we are told about the EU using corrupt African governments, installed with the aid of the Western world, to buy fishing licenses for the west coast of Africa, especially for the Senegalese waters. The EU is then selling these licenses to multi-national fishing companies, thus threatening the existence of thousands of local fishermen. Many of these people, cut from their means of subsistence, are turning into refugees, which are exploited as cheap labor forces in Europe. The film shows how this licensing policy produces the refugees.

The Politics of Being Cool

One of the rooms with Brazilian music, Casarão do Vinil, São Paulo (© Holger Lund 2018)

However, we can find the problem of (neo-)colonialism almost everywhere. For instance, if we have a look into the kitchen of the restaurant in the House of the World’s Cultures (HKW) in Berlin, an institution officially supporting a very critical discourse on colonialism, we will find the classic first – to third-world hierarchy: a white male director is in charge of the whole institution, a restaurateur of Turkish descent runs the restaurant, and many low-paid kitchen assistants of African descent are doing the dirty work. It seems to me that colonial structures are even more powerful here than the — thoroughly serious—dedication to a critical discourse on colonialism. What is the reason for this? Why does the critical discourse seem to have less power than conventional colonial structures in its own home of anti-colonial thinking? And how does that relate to my own work for the label Global Pop First Wave? I feel entangled in neo- or post-colonial paradoxes as well when it comes to Global Pop First Wave.

The concern to decolonize pop music—meant as a detachment from colonial structures of power, thought, and judgment relating to pop music—is pushed forward mainly by writers in the US and Europe, where the crucial centers of power and decision-making are located, even for the post- and decolonial discourse. For an example, let us look at Peruvian psychedelic music of the 1970s. Only after the Brooklyn-based label Barbès Records had begun to re-release several records from this genre in 2004, Peruvians in Peru started appreciating their own psychedelic music of the past, according to the motto: if the Brooklyn hipster tags this music as cool and re-releases it, it really has to be cool. Hence this kind of music is now played again at parties and clubs in Peru by Peruvians. The defining fact is that the archeological workup and revaluation of the genre is passing through Brooklyn hipsterism.

For Turkish pop music of the 1960s and 1970s, the procedure is about the same. From the Californian Stones Throw podcast #12, Turkish Funk Mix (2006), up to the compilation series Saz Beat Vols. 1–3 (2013–2017) on Global Pop First Wave, as well as the frisky use of Turkish samples for hip hop beats in the US (Oh No, Dr. No’s Oxperiment, 2007) or in Sweden (Rikard Skizz Bizzi, Ur Funktion 2, 2016), Western engagement caused a new wave of admiration for historical Turkish pop music both inside and outside of Turkey. This admiration also led to the foundation of new Turkish music labels by Turkish people, both inside and outside the country, often doing archeological work such as Volga Coban’s Arşivplak (translates as «archival records»; since 2012) and Ercan Demirel’s Ironhand Records (since 2016). These labels cope with the task of working through and re-archiving Turkish pop music history, which had been deleted by the coup and the following military dictatorship in the 1980s. An important step to do so in the future is the re-establishing of a Turkish pressing plant in Turkey with Nova in 2019.

Similar models of re-archiving are offered by the Nigerian label Odion Livingstone run by the producer and musician Odion Iruoje and dedicated to Nigerian pop music of the 1960s to the 1980s, or the Ugandan label Nyege Nyege Tapes, which focuses on Ugandan pop music both contemporary and historical. Let us take a deeper look at this process of rediscovery in the case of Brazilian pop music. DJane Mafalda from the label Melodies International recently asked the Brazilian DJ and producer Tahira how he had begun collecting Brazilian pop music. This is what he answered:

I’ve been buying records since the 90s. It’s funny how it all started, as it was actually because of a foreigner. I’ve always been a music fan but I didn’t have much of an affinity with Brazilian music. I was a fan of American music, Jazz, Soul. I didn’t have a connection with Brazilian music because on the radio here they played a lot of Pagode, a very Pop Samba which I didn’t like much and so that was my reference of Brazilian music at the time. In the beginning of the internet, I was part of an Acid Jazz mailing list that was big in Europe, but that here in Brazil no one knew about it. They found out I was Brazilian and someone asked me: «Ah, you’re a Brazilian. I’m a fanatic, I love Brazilian music and I’m looking for some records, I’m a collector. Do you think you could help me find them?» So I agreed: «I don’t know much about it, but I can have a look.» He made a list with 20 titles and I started looking. At the time there wasn’t really a digging culture here like there was in Europe and the U.S., I found a lot of those records and they got me curious. «What does this guy want, what is it?», he had asked for Banda Black Rio, Azymuth, Batudaca, Fantástica, many Jazz, Funk and Soul records.

«There’s a Whole World to Discover»

I looked for these records, found some and I listened to them I was amazed! It was completely different from the Brazilian music I knew from the radio. […] I felt silly about what he showed me. That’s when I thought, «There’s a whole world to discover here.» That’s when I started collecting and searching for Brazilian music. It was from this moment and it was because of a foreigner. […] In the 90s, Brazilian radio wasn’t very good. Brazil was dominated by Rock, there was only national Rock and commercial Samba (Pagode) playing. There was no way for you to know unless you were a researcher, there wasn’t a way of having access […]. Thank god someone from abroad showed me and I followed him […]. [sic!]

With this quote in mind, we can see the barriers which hindered access to Brazilian pop music history: a restrictive and non-historical radio program as the main means of music distribution, coupled with a lack of historical pop music education. Similar developments can be noticed for Turkey (military coup, 1980) and Iran (religious and military coup, 1978/79), where the new governments blocked all previously existing pop music. In Brazil, the military dictatorship ended in 1985.

Tahira’s example points to the fact that some real research energy (and the methods to do research) would have been necessary to gain any knowledge. The lack of what he calls «digging culture» is also important. Digging culture is part of a countermovement against the physical vanishing of music during the course of music media history (cd, mp3, streaming). It is connected to Western «retromania,» as described by Simon Reynolds (cf. Reynolds, 2009), to Western audiophile listening culture, as well as to a Western beat-making culture. In many countries worldwide, non-Western music on vinyl was regarded as worthless and generally outdated.

The turning point for Tahira was the European foreigner he mentions who — ironically—led him to the same styles of music, that is Jazz and Soul music, he favored already. So, the estimation and revaluation of Brazilian music that developed in Tahira — as an example for a Brazilian music lover — was triggered by someone from outside of Brazil belonging to the Western world. Tahira summarizes: «recognition came from outside.» And Caio Beraldo explains it in a similar way: «[…] gringos have been interested in the ‘B side’ of Brazilian music, way before Brazilian people, and you have got to respect that in a way.»

A «whole world to discover» — that is how Tahira calls it. And indeed, it still remains a «whole world to discover.» Brazil was put on the music-digging map drawn by Western vinyl collectors in around 2000. For about 10 years, there has been a continuous stream of re-releases of historical Brazilian pop music on vinyl, first made outside, then inside Brazil. A very important step was made 2016with the establishing of the pressing plant Vinil Brasil, «a factory made by musicians and music lovers for the use of musicians and music lovers,» which allows Brazilians «staking a claim to their own music once again».

The Westernized Approach to Brazilian Music

Like a fortress — the palace of vinyl, Casarão do Vinil, São Paulo (© Holger Lund 2018)

Even trends are recognizable, such as the Brazilian Disco-Boogie music of the 1980s, which has been re-released continuously for about five years, and predictions for trends can be made, e.g. for Brazilian hip hop of the 1990s. As yet, there are just very few re-releases of the latter, but they will come for sure since the national hip hop scene of the time was totally under the radar globally, with labels like TNT, Kasakata and Zimbabwe, and the dainty and dirty music of formations such as Comando D.M.C., Baseado Nas Ruas, DF Movimento, P.MC Poetas de Rua, Duck Jam e Nação Hio Hop, and Geração Rap, to name but a few. And still the mechanism is the same: already, collectors from outside Brazil are demanding more and more Brazilian hip hop of the 1990s, therefore setting the focus on a genre that the Brazilians themselves still tend to neglect or even regard as irrelevant (especially as a genre related to the favelas). Everything will follow the usual pattern, Western collectors will draw the map and set the agenda for re-releases, the Brazilians will follow, re-thinking and revaluating their own music history and joining in with re-releasing their own historical pop music.

Another example for the effects of a specifically Westernized approach to Brazilian music is given to us by Rodrigo Plaça. He is a young Brazilian record dealer in São Paulo, making a living out of it. What is special about him? He has no physical store of his own, instead he digs in record stores all over the country, from Salvador to Porto Alegre. One of his many working places is the huge Casarão do Vinil in São Paulo.

Rodrigo Plaça in front of the Casarão do Vinil, at the entrance the owner and his watch dog, São Paulo (© Holger Lund 2018)

He sells his findings via the internet (e.g. on discogs) to customers in Brazil and all over the world. The specific point is that, according to his own story, he has trained himself to be able to listen to Brazilian music with «Western ears,» keeping in mind what Western people would like or search for in Brazilian music. He is doing this so well that his «Western ears» are his business model. At the same time, he is connected to Brazilian DJs and producers like Millos Kaiser, one half of the Brazilian duo Selvagem, who recently published the compilation Onda de Amor (2018) for Soundway Records in London (image 4). Thus, Rodrigo’s work feeds into Kaiser’s work, which is described in a promotional text as follows:

The release also covers a decade that has been intentionally forgotten and brushed aside by many in the country. Onda De Amor is a release that is loaded with smooth grooves, bubbling bass, glistening synthesisers, funk strutting guitar lines and sheen of production that undeniably marks it of its time. For Kaiser this compilation is about reintroducing music during a period of reappraisal, catching a new wave and hoping contemporary listeners will ride it with him. «The idea is to do justice to these songs. Songs that combine all the right ingredients that should have put them on radio playlists when I was growing up or at least in the cases of more adventurous DJs.»

Having an ear for «hits that never were» — or, perhaps better, hits that were not allowed to become, due to the restrictive music policy of the radio—is exactly what Rodrigo’s work is about. He is re-writing music history by helping to prepare releases like Onda de Amor, promoting a fresh view on a part of Brazilian music history for Brazilians as well as an international audience, given the fact that Soundway Records operates from London and distributes worldwide.

How to Decolonize Pop Music?

The following questions remain crucial for music history writing—and crucial as well for decolonizing pop music: where, how, and by whom is a revaluation of historical pop music undertaken? Especially of non-Western historical pop music? Who can initiate a new appreciation? Who owns and administrates the archives? Who is writing the canon, who the history—and based on what? The crucial power and decision-making centers for pop music discourse are still located in the US and Europe.

Let us have a closer look at an example. Despite of several Turkish publications about the pop music history of Turkey, with a first one titled Türk Pop Müziği Sanatçilari Ansiklopedisi published as early as 1978, the first prevalent international pop music history of Turkey in English is Daniel Spicer’s The Turkish Psychedelic Explosion: Anadolu Psych 1965–1980 (2018). Spicer is a music journalist and editor of the well-known British music magazine Wire. The decisiveness of his book has to do with the discursive position of the writer, with the fact that it is written in English, commonly and globally used as an academic language due to its colonial history, and that there has been practically no book about the subject in English published until now in Turkey or from a Turkish scholar. Thus, Turkey has hardly participated in the global pop music discourse—which is mainly held in English or in French.

According to Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung’s position—developed in his Berlin-based project space Savvy Contemporary, where he recently reclaimed a genuine African physics—a truly extensive approach to decolonizing pop music should not only deal with writing a non-Western pop music history, but with doing it in an appropriate way—for example, when writing a genuinely African pop music history one should proceed from an African perspective, working off their own musical past and evaluating it. Being a non-African and living in Europe, I myself can do something like this only in a very limited way, nonetheless I can support such a pathway. This text itself is hopefully a kind of support.

Onda De Amor: Synthesized Brazilian Hits That Never Were (1984​-​94) (© Soundway Records 2018)

Coming back to questions of evaluation, which are always at the same time questions of hierarchy and power: who is writing the history of global pop music? Primarily it is the Western world with its institutional agents such as journalists, editors, scholars, as well as label owners with their re-releases, and collectors buying original and/or re-released records. So how does Western pop music history evaluate non-Western pop music? In general, not very well—at best as exotic, if it is not ignored. Simon Reynolds in Retromania (2009) as well as Diedrich Diederichsen in Über Popmusik (2014), two seminal publications on pop music from recent years, tend to conclude that non-Western pop music has the «right» intentions but is realizing them badly by merely copying Western pop music with doubtful equipment, doubtful recording processes, and doubtful musical quality. Later on, Simon Reynolds continued to attack the value of non-Western pop music in his article on «Xenomania» (2013), using a rather colonial vocabulary: «[…] what all these exotic dance genres share is impurity: they are bastard and creole children […].»

Unquestioned benchmarks from a Western perspective remain mainly white, male Western pop musicians like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, etc. Non-Western pop music is compared to their music and easily dismissed: it seems far from the original regarding central aspects of pop music—such as the vocals (if in English at all), music graphics on the sleeves, fashion, etc.—in all a weak copy of Western originals. Again Reynolds sets the agenda of putting down non-Western pop music when he calls it «heavily influenced» by Western pop music, following «the template laid down by their British and American arena-touring models as closely as possible.» As a result, non-Western pop music «provides a distorted mirror image of Western pop: in other words, a slightly askew, exotic-but-ultimately-familiar version of things we already love.»

Eurocentric Non-Sense

This point of view, which only registers the borrowing and copying from Western originals, serves to devaluate non-Western pop music and generates a colonial way of music history writing with music divided into first-class Western pop music and second-class non-Western pop music. This division reflects, and conforms to, the greater dividing project of colonialism: classifying people into first-class Western people and second-class non-Western people. In doing so, the hierarchical and classificatory project of missionary work is continued, as explained and critically outlined by Jean-Marie Teno in his documentary Le malentendu colonial (Cameroon, France, Germany 2004). As Teno shows, certain rights are demanded and claims are staked by the colonial project of classification, positions are defined and evaluations are made, which then, no wonder, always favor the superior class and disadvantage the inferior.

Another possibility is that the non-Western elements of non-Western pop music become an exotic value, to be savored like part of a special dish, just like you are willing to accept curry in a curry dish as a welcome change to the domestic cuisine. And not to forget the projecting orientalist gaze in the sense of Edward Saïd, with all its yearnings and fears, mystifying the non-Western elements.
Yet, we should also not forget the depth of ignorance on this topic. One can devaluate whole continents and their musical productions by simply ignoring them. Condor, the airline, has done so with their maps of musical styles and deeply Eurocentric non-sense comments like: «Depuis les années 1990, la majorité des genres musicaux s’est développé en Europe.» It is interesting to cast a closer look at Condor’s mapping of the musical world, where the US and Europe are the leading continents, full of inventions of musical styles, whereas Asia, for example, has obviously big parts with no musical invention at all, or where merely non-styles such as Karaoke are mentioned.

Image 6: Record sleeve for the vinyl single «Beddua»/«Tanrı Misafiri» by Aşık Küçük Şehriban, batı plak, no date, probably early 1970s (© Aşık Küçük Şehriban)

The turning point

So far we have not discussed the actual positions and intentions of non-Western musicians. In the 1960s and 1970s many of them were indeed fascinated by the new electrified and electronic pop music of the Western world. The electrification of music served as a symbol of the modernity they were longing to be a part of. However, the musicians did not follow a simple borrowing or copying approach to Western music, but a hybridizing one. They combined numerous elements of their own musical culture — such as language, lyrics, composition, instruments, rhythms, harmonies, and melodies—with elements of Western pop music to forge something new, a common thread, which transcended their traditional music culture as well as Western pop music: hybrid pop. Prime examples for mixing and combining traditional indigenous musical structures with global Western musical structures are genres like Anatolian Rock or Ghanaian Highlife. Their hybrid pop points to a specifically non-Western modernity, a multi-local position of another modernity. Hybrid pop allows musicians as well as listeners to participate and identify with global modernity without losing their local, regional, or national identity.

As an example, look at the sleeve for Brahim Izri’s record, D’Ifrax-I-N’Ella (1988, image 5). It announces what happens musically on the record by presenting the combination of modern urban and traditional rural clothing as well as the combination of modern synthesizer and traditional Algerian mandole. The record sleeve promises a kind of music that gives us both, by juxtaposition and by amalgamation: a «tradi-modern» music, including the Algerian past and transferring it to an Algerian modernity.

Image 7: Huri Sapan, photo from the Turkish music magazine Hey, p. 32. (© Hey Magazine 18. 9.1974)

Modernities Can Differ

Another downright symbolic example is offered by the instrument featured on the already mentioned Saz Beat series on Global Pop First Wave. The saz is a traditional oriental string instrument, by optics and sound in between a sitar, a lute, and a guitar. During the 1960s the saz was electrified by pioneering Anatolian rock musician Erkin Koray and pioneering Arabesk musician Orhan Gencebay and subsequently played in a more Western way, like an electric guitar, using distortion and wah-wah effects. Listen, for example, to Cengiz Coskuner’s instrumental «Samsun’un Evleri» (1973), re-released on the compilation Bosporus Bridges Vol. 3 by the Berlin-based label Black Pearl (2019).

The composition of the tune relates to a Turkish folk song, provided with drums and electric bass as well as with two electrified sazes—one for rhythm, one for lead—played with a warm distortion and using the wah-wah pedal in a rock music style. Here both are included: electrified urban modernity and Anatolian rural culture, pointing toward an electrified rural-urban, different modernity. The electrified saz meant a lot to the musicians back in the days, even on record sleeves and promotional photography they proudly displayed this instrument, shifting it from an electrified rural modernity to an electrified urban modernity (images 6 and 7), and even to an electrified super-modern modernity by inventing new types of a double and a triple neck electric saz-guitar (images 8 and 9).

Image 6: Record sleeve for the vinyl single «Beddua»/«Tanrı Misafiri» by Aşık Küçük Şehriban, batı plak, no date, probably early 1970s (© Aşık Küçük Şehriban)

The compilation series The Trip. Psychedelic Music from the Hippie Trail Pts. 1–4 (2015–2016), released on Global Pop First Wave, offers further examples for different concepts of hybrid pop, a different mix ratio within the hybrid constructions. The greater the distance from Europe into Asia gets on the Hippie Trail, the higher the amount of non-Western, indigenous elements in the music. This is not only because of curatorial choices, but due to changes in the mix ratio of the music itself—not all of the time, of course, exceptions do exist.
There also exists another construction form of hybrid pop, though, not as an amalgamation but rather a co-existence of the starting substances, like in Niama Makalou et African Soul Band’s Kognokoura Drissa Coulibaly (1980). Elements from Malian music are placed beside Afro-American disco-funk, like two separated layers, so you can listen to the same song as a rather traditional song from Mali or as an up-do-date piece of disco-funk.

Finally, we should note that there are forms of hybrid pop existing in the Western world itself. Listen to the Spencer Davis Group and their song medley «Det war in Schöneberg/Mädel, Ruck Ruck Ruck» (1966). Here Anglo-American rock’n’roll is hybridized with the German treasury of songs. Hybrid pop music is not exclusive to non-Western pop music, although it is much more likely to be found there.

Vanishing point: Combining The Local And The Global

If we return to the title of this text, the questions of decolonizing pop music and of rewriting global pop music history are closely connected: a decolonization of non-Western pop music can only be achieved with a new presentation of global pop music history as both pop music history and hybrid pop music history. This presentation would also need local perspectives on music history, for example an African, Arabic, Turkish, Brazilian, etc. pop music history.

In doing so, specific functions of pop music should be addressed critically to understand them. During the Nigerian Biafra Civil War (1967–70), for example, pop music was encouraged by the military forces to serve recruitment purposes as well as the musical promotion of an African modernity. In this case, pop music was militant music—just not that kind of Western military marches one would expect as official music to produce discipline. Sexualized funk and soul music was used as an official music to attract and seduce young people to join the military or for soldiers to stay in it and fight. Even here, in the realm of the military, there is another modernity to be glimpsed.

While currently global pop music history is being rewritten, this is still a fragmented effort. When you look for the bigger picture, global pop music histories are mostly either oriented toward structures and general principles, avoiding the local details, like Motti Regev’s Pop-Rock Music (2013), or publications are more oriented toward contemporary phenomena, like the Berne-based platform norient.com. Other major attempts are British publication series like Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, Global Music Series. Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture, and Routledge Global Popular Music Series. Still I am sure that rewritings of global pop music history as pop music history and hybrid pop music history will appear soon. Why? The tendency of so many non-Western pop music archeological labels to extend to a global level, supported by important archives for traditional non-Western music like the Amar Foundation for Arab Music, as well as the approved musical qualities of original and re-released hybrid pop music can no longer be ignored.

Who Sets Ethical Standards?

And so it comes to an ambivalent development: on the one hand, the musical qualities of historical hybrid pop music are fed into contemporary Western pop music, mostly via sampling in hip hop and Afro house. On the other hand, there is a new interest for non-Western pop music, in its countries of origin as well as in Western countries, which gives quite a few musicians the opportunity of a second career and quite a few musical styles a refreshment and continuation. Take, for example, The New Generation of Turkish Psychedelic (2016). Here Ercan Demirel, born in Turkey, raised in Germany and Turkey, and living in Germany now, has compiled contemporary Turkish (post-)psychedelic music for fans of historical Turkish psychedelic music worldwide. And even an American hip hop act like the Hispanic group Cypress Hill will go global today, as can be heard and seen in their current video «Band of Gypsies» (2018), which includes the Egyptian electro chaabi rappers Sadat and Alaa Fifty.

Most important of all, the globally approved qualities of hybrid pop music lead to a new self-image, a new identity in the non-Western world and its diaspora, as its respective musical past and culture is no longer regarded as something inferior, but as something that earns and receives recognition and appreciation on a global level. This process is pushed — which shows its ambivalences—by Western and non-Western groups with different aims and intentions. Ercan Demirel’s compilation The New Generation of Turkish Psychedelic is made from a completely different spirit than Cypress Hill’s «Band of Gypsies,» and yet they both deliver contemporary hybrid pop.

Nonetheless it is the mentioned aspect of revaluation that is probably most important, at least as it concerns the decolonization of (non-Western) pop music. This is relevant even for the areas of pop music that present a problematic complexity, such as the use of pop music as militant music when Nigerian pop music developed in quality within an—ethically doubtful—military context. However, such complexities and contradictions have not been unknown in Western music history, if we just think of the war-loving Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and his avant-garde circle of Futurists at the beginning of the 20th century. The Futurists would have been delighted —u nfortunately — to see their music used as militant music. Anyhow, do we have the right (ethical) standards and a justified position to judge these aspects outside the Western world, when we have similar difficulties inside the Western world? Should there not be an African music ethics developed and assessed here?

Image 9: Record sleeve for the vinyl lp «Çoban Mamoş – Disco Folk» by Derdiyoklar (© Türküola 1984)

The Cooperative Approach

Let us go back, once more, to Global Pop First Wave and my work for this label. At present, when it comes to decolonizing approaches, one can observe more and more cooperative working structures, including Western and non-Western partners on a preferably equal level. Tendencies to exclude Western people, especially white ones, like explicitly proposed in the South African web series The Foxy Five, are still the exception.

I regard the cooperative approach as the model for my own future decolonizing work for Global Pop First Wave and related curatorial and scholarly efforts. At present, my partner Cornelia Lund and I collaborate with the Turkish scholar and curator Banu Çiçek Tülü on the project «Hybrid Glamour—Turkish Pop Music Images. The Music and Its Communication Design: Record Covers, Photos & Posters & Ads in Magazines, Cinema Posters, Music Performances in Films & Clips 1960s–early 1980s.» It is a scholarly-curatorial project, with an extended team that includes Mona Mahall and Asli Serbest as well as a wider Turkish community network with additional input from Murat Meriç, Erbatur Çavuşoğlu, Hilmi Tezgör, and many others.

With our independent media art and media design platform fluctuating images, Cornelia Lund and I are planning to extend our cooperation with African partners like the Senegalese platform for cultural production Wakh’Art in Dakar. Currently we are working on the exhibition project «Connecting Afro Futures. Fashion x Hair x Design» (2019), for which fluctuating images is cooperating with the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Applied Arts and Design) Berlin and Wakh’Art.

Because nothing is more important to us than mutual exchange to achieve a critical and self-reflexive decolonizing practice. Here we treasure the continuous dialog with Luiza Prado and Pedro Oliveira, two Brazilian agents of the international group Decolonizing Design. Their input is on a next level reflecting and criticizing decolonial discourse and the different interests involved in it. As every intellectual practice, decolonial thinking needs attentive revaluation itself.

How Does Streaming Affect the Future of Music?

And a last point: when we consider that streaming is the most influential way of hearing music today, new questions are turning up: «Will our digitally connected music world result in a globally informed pop monoculture, created at the whim of Western streaming companies?» the New York-based writer Liz Pelly asked recently. She points to the fact that music-streaming services produce a lack or even a loss of context, bringing historical and contemporary music to one and the same level, evening out the geographical differences: music from nowhere/anywhere and timeless/from any time. Music from the Non-Places of Marc Augés? Developing a historical sense becomes difficult here. But this annihilation of history concerns images as well as music, it concerns cultural production and its perception in general. Music history writing has to take this cultural practice in mind and has to deal with it — streaming history against music streaming.

Bibliography

Eothen Alapatt, Uchenna Ikonne, Wake Up You!: The Rise and Fall of Nigerian Rock 1972–1977, Los Angeles: Now Again, 2016.

Ozan Baysal, «Reconsidering Anadolu Pop», in: Rock Music Studies, 5:3, 2008, pp. 205-219, DOI: 10.1080/19401159.2018.1544357

Patricia Shehan Campbell, Bonnie C. Wade (eds.), Global Music Series. Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture, Oxford University Press, (Vol. 1-23, 2003-ongoing), https://global.oup.com/academic/content/series/g/global-music-series-gms/?cc=de&lang=en& – accessed: 08.06.2019.

Condor (ed.), «Un Monde de Musique,» no date, https://www.condor.com/fr/inspiration/actions-offres-speciales/un-monde-de-musique-condor.jsp – accessed: 08.06.2019.

Diedrich Diederichsen, Über Popmusik, Cologne: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2014.

Ali C. Gedik (ed.), Made in Turkey, Routledge Popular Music Series, London, New York: Routlegde, 2018.

Güven Erkin Erkal, Saykodelik Yillar. Türkiye Rock Tarihi – 1, İstanbul: Esen Kitap, 2014.

Franco Fabbi, Goffredo Plastino (eds.), Routledge Global Popular Music Series (Vol. 1-13, 2013-ongoing), https://www.routledge.com/Routledge-Global-Popular-Music-Series/book-series/RGPMS – accessed: 08.06.2019.

Martin Greve, Die Musik der imaginären Türkei, Stuttgart: Metzler, 2003.

David Horn, John Shepherd (eds.), Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World (Vol. 1-12, 2003-ongoing), https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/series/encyclopedia-of-popular-music-of-the-world/ – accessed: 08.06.2019.

Eva Knopf, Sophie Lembcke, Mara Recklies (eds.), Archive dekolonialisieren. Mediale und epistemische Transformationen in Kunst, Design und Film, Bielefeld: transcript, 2018.

Mafalda, «Tahira,» in: The Melodies Melozine. Trio Ternura. Afrobrazuca, Tahira and much, much more, MM06, London, 2018, no pages.

Achille Mbembe, Critique de la raison nègre, Paris: Édition La Découverte, 2015.

Murat Meriç, Yerli Müzik, Berlin: bi’bak, 2018.

Naeem Mohaiemen, «Same Old Stories. The Meaning of Hegemony,» in: frieze. Contemporary Art and Culture, Issue Decolonizing Culture, No. 199, November/December 2018, p. 20, online: http://www.academia.edu/37838511/The_meaning_of_hegemony_same_old_story – accessed: 08.06.2019.

Pascale Obolo, «Occupy Schloss von Puttkamer. Decolonize Architecture Now,» in: AfricAvenir International e.V. (ed.), No Humboldt 21! Dekoloniale Einwände gegen das Humboldt-Forum, Berlin, 2017, pp. 178–187.

Liz Pelly, «Exotic Nap,» in: frieze. Contemporary Art and Culture, Issue Decolonizing Culture, No. 199, November/December 2018, p. 32, online: https://frieze.com/article/age-lean-back-listening-does-spotify-have-neocolonial-ambitions – accessed: 08.06.2019.

Ciraj Rassool, «Rückführung und das Neue Museum,» in: AfricAvenir International e.V. (ed.), No Humboldt 21! Dekoloniale Einwände gegen das Humboldt-Forum, Berlin, 2017, pp. 142–157.

Daniel Spicer, The Turkish Psychedelic Explosion: Anadolu Psych 1965-1980, London: Repeater Books, 2018.

Motti Regev, Pop-Rock Music, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013.

Simon Reynolds, Retromania. Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past, London: Faber & Faber, 2009.

Simon Reynolds, «Xenomania. Nothing Is Foreign in an Internet Age,» in: reynoldsretro.blogspot.com, June 10, 2013, http://reynoldsretro.blogspot.com/2013/06/xenomania-nothing-is-foreign-in.html – accessed: 08.06.2019.

Russ Slater, «It’s about taking responsibility for our future: How Brazil is reclaiming its record culture», in: The Vinyl Factory, 10.01.2018, https://thevinylfactory.com/features/brazil-reclaiming-records/ – accessed: 08.06.2019.

Filmography

Bauer unser (dir. Robert Schabus, Germany 2017)

Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas (dir. Joakim Demmer, Germany 2017)

Le malentendu colonial (dir. Jean-Marie Teno, Cameroon, France, Germany 2004)

Müslüm Gürsüs (dir. Can Ulkay Ketche, Turkey, 2018)

The Revolution Won’t Be Televised (dir. Rama Thiaw, Senegal 2016)

FL Studio 20.5 adds free FLEX, a surprisingly powerful preset synth

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 2 Jul 2019 6:04 pm

So, I hear you like tuned 808s. And strings. And pianos. And wavetables. And FM. And filters. And… okay, let’s just put all of those in one synth but make everything a preset. Meet FL Studio 20.5.

The folks at Image Line are always full of surprises – somehow their always-free-upgrades churn out more and more diverse updates. So, as music tech makers all try to figure out ways to encourage you to get to the sounds you want more quickly, FLEX is both that and – not that.

a

Yes, it’s a “preset-based” interface. So you get lots of sounds to navigate to pre-designed sounds quickly, plus macro controls that let you tweak them to your own purposes. That preset library also includes an in-line store for buying more sounds, which will give Image-Line room to grow later – and to make some money off users in the process, since they give you your FL upgrades for free.

We’ve seen this idea before, everywhere from Arturia’s Analog Lab to Native Instruments’ Komplete Kontrol. It makes sense that not everyone wants to be a sound designer, and even those who do are sometimes up against a deadline or need some fast inspiration. So you want quick access to sounds, but you still want the ability to modify those sounds and make them your own – a little or a lot.

But this is FL Studio, so you know this won’t just work exactly like everything else does. FLEX has a crazy number of possible sound engines under the hood – subtractive, wavetable, multisample, FM, and even amplitude modulation synths. It seems it also consolidates sound presets from elsewhere, including FL’s own Sytrus and Harmless, and could be a front end to sounds in the tool in future.

And then there are the extras. You can opt for lots of visualizations, including a vectorscope, frequency histogram, and nice colored sepctrogram, in addition to the usual waveform oscilloscope view. The envelopes aren’t dumbed down, either – you get full AHDSR envelopes for both amplitude and filter.

Wow – then, also, 22 (I think I counted right) filter types. That includes two comb filters, a vowel filter, notch, and lots of different shapes of shelves, low pass, and high pass – even three different variations of phaser effects. So, uh, what started as a freebie “beginner” synth somehow accidentally morphed into a filter-packed rival to flagship soft synths of late.

You also get effects, which also have tons of variants, including reverb and delay. The Limiter gets alternative distortion models.

It’s like you went in for a plain hamburger Happy Meal on sale for a dollar, and the kitchen went mad and added siracha sauce and replaced the meat with truffles, but … you know, no complaints there.

Also new in this version:

You can use FL as a VST or AU on Mac (Windows already worked as a VST)
Browser audio previewing
Performance monitoring
Tons of plugin updates
Tons of workflow updates

See the full release notes:
https://www.image-line.com/documents/news.php

FLEX manual:
https://www.image-line.com/support/flstudio_online_manual/html/plugins/FLEX.htm

The post FL Studio 20.5 adds free FLEX, a surprisingly powerful preset synth appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

The OP-Z now samples, too, in Teenage Engineering software update

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 1 Jul 2019 4:04 pm

The OP-Z is the aggressively minimalist, love it-or-hate-it compact synth. But now an update makes it make way more sense – with sampling available, this pint sized synth turns into the instrument it was meant to be.

Teenage Engineering have always said the OP-Z isn’t a replacement for the Teenagers’ original OP-1. Instead, it’s a … successor that comes after the OP-1, builds on the OP-1 features, and at first was available in place of the OP-1, which was initially not available and now is available but prohibitively expensive.

Okay, whatever. The OP-Z is totally a replacement for the OP-1, with some new ideas and form factor and no more screen. But that’s great, actually. To the extent the OP-Z pisses off and confuses some consumers, it does so even more than the OP-1 initially did.

And what’s the point of having a compact, candy bar-shaped synth that obviously resembles a Casio CZ-1 if it doesn’t sample?

Adding sampling to the OP-Z means you can really make it your own, mangling sounds through its grungy but expressive interface. All that minimalism may lessen the value of this device for some, but for those willing to throw themselves into the workflow, it’s liberating – the portability and lack of distraction or surface complexity propelling your musical imagination somewhere different.

Or not. Because I think the thing that’s lovely about Teenage Engineering is that their synths don’t have to please everyone – they’re willing to please some people more while pleasing other people less.

But the bottom line is, this is the update that brings the OP-Z in line with its initial promise and what the OP-1 could do. Once you learn the shortcuts and use the force, you might not even miss the display (though the iPhone/iPad app is there, at least while you memorize the layout).

Sampling also lets this double as an audio interface. I still think you’ll want the oplab module for I/O, and I wish they’d just make that standard. But if you’re willing to splurge on an idiosyncratic device, there’s nothing quite like the OP-Z.

In this update:

new sampling mode

2 channel audio interface

full OP-1 sample format support (pitch, gain, playmode, reverse)

improved stability

support importing raw samples to drum tracks

apply track gain before fx sends

don’t allow copying empty steps
restart arpeggio with TRACK + PLAY on arpeggio track
don’t trigger gate step component if track is muted
toggle headset input with SCREEN + SHIFT

send clock out if enabled even though midi out is disabled
don’t loose clock sync when switching project via pattern change
fix broken parameter spark random setting
fix force save not working on project 1
fix inverted headphone gain levels dep. on impedance

note!
this firmware adds support for the gain, play direction and playmode settings of the OP-1 sample format. in older firmwares, these settings were ignored. this might lead to your patterns sounding different if you are using custom samplepacks. the most likely culprit will be the playmode setting. the OP-1 defaults to GATE, while the OP-Z used to treat everything as RETRIG. Adjust your playmode setting on each sample to RETRIG, to get it sounding like before.
if your track levels change due to the gain setting, either adjust the track volume, or adjust the per sample gain value.

Here’s the original OP-1 sampling feature, explained:

The post The OP-Z now samples, too, in Teenage Engineering software update appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

The OP-Z now samples, too, in Teenage Engineering software update

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 1 Jul 2019 4:04 pm

The OP-Z is the aggressively minimalist, love it-or-hate-it compact synth. But now an update makes it make way more sense – with sampling available, this pint sized synth turns into the instrument it was meant to be.

Teenage Engineering have always said the OP-Z isn’t a replacement for the Teenagers’ original OP-1. Instead, it’s a … successor that comes after the OP-1, builds on the OP-1 features, and at first was available in place of the OP-1, which was initially not available and now is available but prohibitively expensive.

Okay, whatever. The OP-Z is totally a replacement for the OP-1, with some new ideas and form factor and no more screen. But that’s great, actually. To the extent the OP-Z pisses off and confuses some consumers, it does so even more than the OP-1 initially did.

And what’s the point of having a compact, candy bar-shaped synth that obviously resembles a Casio CZ-1 if it doesn’t sample?

Adding sampling to the OP-Z means you can really make it your own, mangling sounds through its grungy but expressive interface. All that minimalism may lessen the value of this device for some, but for those willing to throw themselves into the workflow, it’s liberating – the portability and lack of distraction or surface complexity propelling your musical imagination somewhere different.

Or not. Because I think the thing that’s lovely about Teenage Engineering is that their synths don’t have to please everyone – they’re willing to please some people more while pleasing other people less.

But the bottom line is, this is the update that brings the OP-Z in line with its initial promise and what the OP-1 could do. Once you learn the shortcuts and use the force, you might not even miss the display (though the iPhone/iPad app is there, at least while you memorize the layout).

Sampling also lets this double as an audio interface. I still think you’ll want the oplab module for I/O, and I wish they’d just make that standard. But if you’re willing to splurge on an idiosyncratic device, there’s nothing quite like the OP-Z.

In this update:

new sampling mode

2 channel audio interface

full OP-1 sample format support (pitch, gain, playmode, reverse)

improved stability

support importing raw samples to drum tracks

apply track gain before fx sends

don’t allow copying empty steps
restart arpeggio with TRACK + PLAY on arpeggio track
don’t trigger gate step component if track is muted
toggle headset input with SCREEN + SHIFT

send clock out if enabled even though midi out is disabled
don’t loose clock sync when switching project via pattern change
fix broken parameter spark random setting
fix force save not working on project 1
fix inverted headphone gain levels dep. on impedance

note!
this firmware adds support for the gain, play direction and playmode settings of the OP-1 sample format. in older firmwares, these settings were ignored. this might lead to your patterns sounding different if you are using custom samplepacks. the most likely culprit will be the playmode setting. the OP-1 defaults to GATE, while the OP-Z used to treat everything as RETRIG. Adjust your playmode setting on each sample to RETRIG, to get it sounding like before.
if your track levels change due to the gain setting, either adjust the track volume, or adjust the per sample gain value.

Here’s the original OP-1 sampling feature, explained:

The post The OP-Z now samples, too, in Teenage Engineering software update appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

A documentary on Dresden’s techno scene, now free to watch

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 1 Jul 2019 3:38 pm

Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne … try Dresden. Rauschen im Tal, a documentary of the emergence of Dresden electronic music, struck a nerve and sold out theaters. And now it’s free to watch (in German, with English subtitles).

Here’s the original trailer for the film, though you get mainly disembodied male voices there:

From the producers’ description:

The noise of a city opens up only to those who are completely immersed. In the early 90s, a new sound appeared. It was an uncompromising electrical noise. Someone said, “This is techno!” At that time, a multitude of people – around this new sound – discovered a new cosmos. The city’s eclectic party life made Dresden a Techno stronghold in the East. Since then, an active music scene developed, an almost 30-year-old culture of electronic music in Saxony’s capital with more than 20 record labels and about two dozen dance clubs.

A new cosmos, indeed.

Also nice – the music takes long breaks to just play tracks, with track IDs – plus some nice interpretive dancing. It’s ideal chill-out watching, a documentary on music that has actual music in it. (The lineup is pretty boy heavy; I’m curious to get feedback from my German neighbors on that and other elements. But it’s still a great introduction.)

This quote: “The best parties I ever played, as far as Europe is concerned, is in Dresden – because I never had to … conform myself to a certain style.” -Melvin Oliphant III. Cough, Berlin, cough. Something to consider.

The full documentary makes a nice watch for exploring the darker corners of Germany’s electronic underground. And of course, as usual, the answer to where “techno” as we now know it came from – Germany or Detroit (or Latin America, or wherever you like) is – yes. All of that. Pairing that often wild and disconnected German identity with the far-off pioneers of America’s scene (and progenitors of ‘techno’ as genre) makes that experience richer. Now as many of those Detroit legends haunt the streets of Berlin, perhaps it’s the perfect time to understand the world of Germany’s own fringe culture, and the unprecedented big bang as a nation was put back together from two pieces, against the collapse of an entire political-economic regime and the global ripples it caused. It says something about Americans that the people pushed out of our own culture were able to find new opportunities and kindred spirits on the other side of the world.

And, actually, maybe the best way to escape techno as history museum is to actually learn the history.

The film, from creators Roman Schlaack, Denis Wrobel, and Thamash Kestawitz, runs just over an hour and a half.

Enjoy!

DE:

Das Rauschen einer Stadt erschließt sich nur demjenigen der ganz eintaucht. Anfang der 90er Jahre tauchte ein neues Geräusch auf. Es war ein kompromissloses elektrisches Geräusch. Irgendjemand sagte: „Das ist Techno!“ Damals eröffnete sich für eine Vielzahl von Menschen – um diesen neuen Klang herum – ein eigener Kosmos. Der vielseitige Partyalltag ließ Dresden zu einer Techno-Hochburg im Osten avancieren. Seitdem entwickelte sich eine aktive Musikszene, eine fast 30 Jahre existierende Kultur der elektronischen Musik in der Sächsischen Hauptstadt mit über 20 Plattenlabels und gut zwei dutzend Tanzklubs.

The post A documentary on Dresden’s techno scene, now free to watch appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

A documentary on Dresden’s techno scene, now free to watch

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 1 Jul 2019 3:38 pm

Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne … try Dresden. Rauschen im Tal, a documentary of the emergence of Dresden electronic music, struck a nerve and sold out theaters. And now it’s free to watch (in German, with English subtitles).

Here’s the original trailer for the film, though you get mainly disembodied male voices there:

From the producers’ description:

The noise of a city opens up only to those who are completely immersed. In the early 90s, a new sound appeared. It was an uncompromising electrical noise. Someone said, “This is techno!” At that time, a multitude of people – around this new sound – discovered a new cosmos. The city’s eclectic party life made Dresden a Techno stronghold in the East. Since then, an active music scene developed, an almost 30-year-old culture of electronic music in Saxony’s capital with more than 20 record labels and about two dozen dance clubs.

A new cosmos, indeed.

Also nice – the music takes long breaks to just play tracks, with track IDs – plus some nice interpretive dancing. It’s ideal chill-out watching, a documentary on music that has actual music in it. (The lineup is pretty boy heavy; I’m curious to get feedback from my German neighbors on that and other elements. But it’s still a great introduction.)

This quote: “The best parties I ever played, as far as Europe is concerned, is in Dresden – because I never had to … conform myself to a certain style.” -Melvin Oliphant III. Cough, Berlin, cough. Something to consider.

The full documentary makes a nice watch for exploring the darker corners of Germany’s electronic underground. And of course, as usual, the answer to where “techno” as we now know it came from – Germany or Detroit (or Latin America, or wherever you like) is – yes. All of that. Pairing that often wild and disconnected German identity with the far-off pioneers of America’s scene (and progenitors of ‘techno’ as genre) makes that experience richer. Now as many of those Detroit legends haunt the streets of Berlin, perhaps it’s the perfect time to understand the world of Germany’s own fringe culture, and the unprecedented big bang as a nation was put back together from two pieces, against the collapse of an entire political-economic regime and the global ripples it caused. It says something about Americans that the people pushed out of our own culture were able to find new opportunities and kindred spirits on the other side of the world.

And, actually, maybe the best way to escape techno as history museum is to actually learn the history.

The film, from creators Roman Schlaack, Denis Wrobel, and Thamash Kestawitz, runs just over an hour and a half.

Enjoy!

DE:

Das Rauschen einer Stadt erschließt sich nur demjenigen der ganz eintaucht. Anfang der 90er Jahre tauchte ein neues Geräusch auf. Es war ein kompromissloses elektrisches Geräusch. Irgendjemand sagte: „Das ist Techno!“ Damals eröffnete sich für eine Vielzahl von Menschen – um diesen neuen Klang herum – ein eigener Kosmos. Der vielseitige Partyalltag ließ Dresden zu einer Techno-Hochburg im Osten avancieren. Seitdem entwickelte sich eine aktive Musikszene, eine fast 30 Jahre existierende Kultur der elektronischen Musik in der Sächsischen Hauptstadt mit über 20 Plattenlabels und gut zwei dutzend Tanzklubs.

The post A documentary on Dresden’s techno scene, now free to watch appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

MASSIVE X synth arrives; here’s what makes it special

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 27 Jun 2019 2:12 pm

The last time Native Instruments released a synth called Massive, they accidentally helped define genres (EDM, dubstep). But MASSIVE X returns to the original vision: make it easier to get deep with wavetables and modularity and go wild with sound. And now, the wait is over.

It’s been years in the making. But the original team behind Massive are back with a sequel to one of the most influential software synths ever made.

I was actually the very first press meeting for Massive, back in the day. But what that tells you is, initially they thought they were making something for nerds, not what would become EDM mainstages.

In 2019, MASSIVE X enters a world that’s not only been shaped by the first Massive, but is also far more comfortable with digital sounds and modularity, the staples of the original. Even inside NI, you’ve got REAKTOR and BLOCKS. There are plenty of other wavetable synths, plenty of semi-modular plug-ins. There are semi-modular synths – heck, Moog alone has three just in one line. There are Eurorack modulars in pricey hardware racks that require a screwdriver and modeled in software so you just need a laptop.

I mean, basically, those of us who love synths are all really spoiled. And like any spoiled child, little wonder there are bunches of those people whining and crying and rolling around on the floor like a toddler who ate too much candy. Well… if you read message forums, which I try not to.

So is there a place for MASSIVE X? You’ll hear plenty of talk from Native Instruments and reviewers alike, but let’s boil this story down.

MASSIVE X is a rarity – a kitchen sink digital synth plug-in that keeps its front panel easy to read.

Deep routing lets you path when you want to. But unlike a full-blown modular, that doesn’t stop you from creating sounds (and even modularity) straight away – and your sound design remains within a consistent interface and architecture.

Bigger on the inside than it is on the outside

Basically, the latest MASSIVE gives you this: it makes an argument for a semi-modular design by packing the oscillators with features, and then giving you ways of playing and modulating and inter-connecting all that depth easily. It walks that balance between complexity under the hood and legibility inside a coherent interface. So while other people might easily dismiss adding another semi-modular plug-in when you could just patch, there is a fundamentally different method to constructing sounds based on this architecture:

All about those oscillators. 170 wavetables, 10 oscillator modes, submodes for each of the oscillator modes – Massive focuses you on one architecture and one UI, but then gives you loads of choices once you’re there.

Get weird without even patching. It’s a true semi-modular, so you can make sounds without patching anything – and you can use its phase modulation oscillators to start that modulation just from the oscillator section. (Yeah, you’ll wind up doing some sound designs where you never get past those oscillators. And that’s fun, anyway.)

Route and patch in ways conventional modulars can’t. With a huge routing matrix and a unique approach to insert effects, you can swap all sorts of unique processors inside an individual sound – and recall all of those as presets. Any control output can be connected to any input; audio can go to and from anywhere you like. It’s enormously flexible.

There are plenty of synths out there with deep architectures, but MASSIVE X allows you to then take that depth and work with it:

Trackers give you sophisticated control over how MASSIVE X behaves as an instrument – by designing how it responds as you play.

Make uniquely playable instruments. NI have added a number of tools for tracking input from performance, as in velocity, and then scaling and mapping that where you like. This means you can make sounds like instruments, and ‘play’ a lot of that sonic depth live. (There are four Tracker modules to accomplish this.)

Add variety in performance and modulation. Tracker modules let you play live; Performer modulators let you draw in up to eight bars of modulation patterns and use those without playing. That can mean either unattended modulation in the sound, or can be triggered live with your controller.

You have 9 slots for LFOs, voice randomization, and then a bunch of potential sources and shapes for those variations.

The original MASSIVE isn’t going anywhere. And that’s important, because it’s light on the CPU in a way the new X – and other plug-ins – aren’t.

But MASSIVE X is simply a beast. As a flagship for Native Instruments, it enters some competitive waters – not the least being the fact that NI itself has, effectively, more than one flagship.

Performer envelopes give you the kind of extensive, visual modulation you expect from 2019 flagship software. The Remote Editor lets you trigger those envelopes live, making this a tool for improvisation or onstage.

Inside the Voice

Having said MASSIVE X is all about having a consistent architecture and UI – there is definitely a candy store inside. Just some rough ideas of specs, to give you an idea:

Wavetable modes: Standard, Bend, Mirror, Hardsync, Wrap, Forant Capture, ART, Gorilla, Random, Jitter

Insert Effects: Anima, BitCrusher, Correction Filter & VCA, Fold Wrap, Frequency Shifter, Distortion, Track Delay

Unit FX: Dimension Expander, Flanger, Nonlinear Labs, Phaser, Standard EQ, Stereo Delay, Stereo Expander

The Voice page. You can also find some possibilities messing about with Noise Restart, Oscillator Restart, Spread and Engine Reset – think serious sound design with phasing. Combine that with the various oscillator types and modes and poly/mono/unison modes, and a really wild option called Unisono (for unique, analog-ish drifts and detunes), and you could probably devote a whole month in the studio just on this page and be perfectly satisfied.

Filling a Massive niche?

The thing is, MASSIVE X makes even more sense in 2019 than it did when it first arrived. And if MASSIVE demonstrated that a larger slice of the population was ready for edgy, hyper-modulated experimental sounds, MASSIVE X might demonstrate that more people are ready for experimental sound design..

This isn’t a straight modular workflow. It isn’t a Eurorack. It isn’t REAKTOR. And it shouldn’t be any of those things. Instead, MASSIVE X brings back what made the first MASSIVE compelling – drag and drop routing, easy visual “saturn ring” modulation – and adds more sonic depth, the kinds of organic quality now possible on today’s CPUs, and more visual feedback. We all spend too much time staring at screens, but MASSIVE X gives us a good reason to look back – and is far easier on the eyes (and brain) in the process.

So, sure, we are spoiled for choice, which I’m sure means MASSIVE X will get some significant hostility from the sorts of people who lurk in comment threads instead of make sounds. But I’m happy to have my cake and eat it, and my other five cakes, too.

From my own vantage point, having not been entirely swayed by would-be contenders to the plug-in throne, I think MASSIVE X will be ideal as a complement to open-ended modulars. Having a single oscillator section that does this much means you don’t get lost window-shopping modulars. And that matrix and the depth of Trackers and Performers means MASSIVE X is manageable when other modulars (hardware or software) turn into messes of spaghetti-routing, at least for sounds you want to pack to the brim with subtle shifting transformations over time.

More details of this as I spend more time with the now-finished build. (Sound design, too – just give me some time on that!)

[watch this space, we should have the overview video from NI shortly…]

https://native-instruments.com/

Cost:
USD / EUR 199
USD / EUR 149 upgrade from the previous version
Included in KOMPLETE 12 (and greater editions)

The competition

There’s indeed a lot of competition. Look to:

U-he‘s ZEBRA2, Hive 2. Also deep modulation, but with a single window mode – more like Massive 1 – to MASSIVE X’s various pages and options.

ARTURIA Pigments We’ll be looking more soon at the sound possibilities of this one. It’s perhaps more conservative than MASSIVE X, but its virtual analog/wavetable hybrid is a crowd pleaser, there’s a unique and easy-to-follow interface, and it has a clear high-contrast dark look to the all-gray/beige Massive approach.

Serum of course arguably stole the bass crown from Massive as NI bided their time on an update. It is focused on wavetables (and custom wavetables) compared to MASSIVE X’s fascinating sprawl.

Who else would you want to see up for comparison? Let us know.

To me, at least my initial impression is all this mayhem of choice makes MASSIVE X stand out, but we’ll be interested to dig deeper and get feedback from other sound designers.

The post MASSIVE X synth arrives; here’s what makes it special appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

MASSIVE X synth arrives; here’s what makes it special

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 27 Jun 2019 2:12 pm

The last time Native Instruments released a synth called Massive, they accidentally helped define genres (EDM, dubstep). But MASSIVE X returns to the original vision: make it easier to get deep with wavetables and modularity and go wild with sound. And now, the wait is over.

It’s been years in the making. But the original team behind Massive are back with a sequel to one of the most influential software synths ever made.

I was actually the very first press member scheduled to see Massive, back in the day. But what that tells you is, initially they thought they were making something for nerds, not what would become EDM mainstages. (Presumably they might have asked someone important not only as a nerd, otherwise.)

In 2019, MASSIVE X enters a world that’s not only been shaped by the first Massive, but is also far more comfortable with digital sounds and modularity, the staples of the original. Even inside NI, you’ve got REAKTOR and BLOCKS. There are plenty of other wavetable synths, plenty of semi-modular plug-ins. There are semi-modular synths – heck, Moog alone has three just in one line. There are Eurorack modulars in pricey hardware racks that require a screwdriver and modeled in software so you just need a laptop.

I mean, basically, those of us who love synths are all really spoiled. And like any spoiled child, little wonder there are bunches of those people whining and crying and rolling around on the floor like a toddler who ate too much candy. Well… if you read message forums, which I try not to.

So is there a place for MASSIVE X? You’ll hear plenty of talk from Native Instruments and reviewers alike, but let’s boil this story down.

MASSIVE X is a rarity – a kitchen sink digital synth plug-in that keeps its front panel easy to read.

Deep routing lets you path when you want to. But unlike a full-blown modular, that doesn’t stop you from creating sounds (and even modularity) straight away – and your sound design remains within a consistent interface and architecture.

Bigger on the inside than it is on the outside

Basically, the latest MASSIVE gives you this: it makes an argument for a semi-modular design by packing the oscillators with features, and then giving you ways of playing and modulating and inter-connecting all that depth easily. It walks that balance between complexity under the hood and legibility inside a coherent interface. So while other people might easily dismiss adding another semi-modular plug-in when you could just patch, there is a fundamentally different method to constructing sounds based on this architecture:

All about those oscillators. 170 wavetables, 10 oscillator modes, submodes for each of the oscillator modes – Massive focuses you on one architecture and one UI, but then gives you loads of choices once you’re there.

Get weird without even patching. It’s a true semi-modular, so you can make sounds without patching anything – and you can use its phase modulation oscillators to start that modulation just from the oscillator section. (Yeah, you’ll wind up doing some sound designs where you never get past those oscillators. And that’s fun, anyway.)

Route and patch in ways conventional modulars can’t. With a huge routing matrix and a unique approach to insert effects, you can swap all sorts of unique processors inside an individual sound – and recall all of those as presets. Any control output can be connected to any input; audio can go to and from anywhere you like. It’s enormously flexible.

There are plenty of synths out there with deep architectures, but MASSIVE X allows you to then take that depth and work with it:

Trackers give you sophisticated control over how MASSIVE X behaves as an instrument – by designing how it responds as you play.

Make uniquely playable instruments. NI have added a number of tools for tracking input from performance, as in velocity, and then scaling and mapping that where you like. This means you can make sounds like instruments, and ‘play’ a lot of that sonic depth live. (There are four Tracker modules to accomplish this.)

Add variety in performance and modulation. Tracker modules let you play live; Performer modulators let you draw in up to eight bars of modulation patterns and use those without playing. That can mean either unattended modulation in the sound, or can be triggered live with your controller.

You have 9 slots for LFOs, voice randomization, and then a bunch of potential sources and shapes for those variations.

The original MASSIVE isn’t going anywhere. And that’s important, because it’s light on the CPU in a way the new X – and other plug-ins – aren’t.

But MASSIVE X is simply a beast. As a flagship for Native Instruments, it enters some competitive waters – not the least being the fact that NI itself has, effectively, more than one flagship.

Performer envelopes give you the kind of extensive, visual modulation you expect from 2019 flagship software. The Remote Editor lets you trigger those envelopes live, making this a tool for improvisation or onstage.

Inside the Voice

Having said MASSIVE X is all about having a consistent architecture and UI – there is definitely a candy store inside. Just some rough ideas of specs, to give you an idea:

Wavetable modes: Standard, Bend, Mirror, Hardsync, Wrap, Forant Capture, ART, Gorilla, Random, Jitter

Insert Effects: Anima, BitCrusher, Correction Filter & VCA, Fold Wrap, Frequency Shifter, Distortion, Track Delay

Unit FX: Dimension Expander, Flanger, Nonlinear Labs, Phaser, Standard EQ, Stereo Delay, Stereo Expander

The Voice page. You can also find some possibilities messing about with Noise Restart, Oscillator Restart, Spread and Engine Reset – think serious sound design with phasing. Combine that with the various oscillator types and modes and poly/mono/unison modes, and a really wild option called Unisono (for unique, analog-ish drifts and detunes), and you could probably devote a whole month in the studio just on this page and be perfectly satisfied.

Filling a Massive niche?

The thing is, MASSIVE X makes even more sense in 2019 than it did when it first arrived. And if MASSIVE demonstrated that a larger slice of the population was ready for edgy, hyper-modulated experimental sounds, MASSIVE X might demonstrate that more people are ready for experimental sound design..

This isn’t a straight modular workflow. It isn’t a Eurorack. It isn’t REAKTOR. And it shouldn’t be any of those things. Instead, MASSIVE X brings back what made the first MASSIVE compelling – drag and drop routing, easy visual “saturn ring” modulation – and adds more sonic depth, the kinds of organic quality now possible on today’s CPUs, and more visual feedback. We all spend too much time staring at screens, but MASSIVE X gives us a good reason to look back – and is far easier on the eyes (and brain) in the process.

So, sure, we are spoiled for choice, which I’m sure means MASSIVE X will get some significant hostility from the sorts of people who lurk in comment threads instead of make sounds. But I’m happy to have my cake and eat it, and my other five cakes, too.

From my own vantage point, having not been entirely swayed by would-be contenders to the plug-in throne, I think MASSIVE X will be ideal as a complement to open-ended modulars. Having a single oscillator section that does this much means you don’t get lost window-shopping modulars. And that matrix and the depth of Trackers and Performers means MASSIVE X is manageable when other modulars (hardware or software) turn into messes of spaghetti-routing, at least for sounds you want to pack to the brim with subtle shifting transformations over time.

More details of this as I spend more time with the now-finished build. (Sound design, too – just give me some time on that!)

[watch this space, we should have the overview video from NI shortly…]

https://native-instruments.com/

Cost:
USD / EUR 199
USD / EUR 149 upgrade from the previous version
Included in KOMPLETE 12 (and greater editions)

Video walkthroughs

Our friends at SonicState and NI themselves have now posted walkthrough videos.

Also I’ve been talking to Richard Devine about how much he’s into MASSIVE X. Here’s a video of him enjoying it:

The competition

There’s indeed a lot of competition. Look to:

U-he‘s ZEBRA2, Hive 2. Also deep modulation, but with a single window mode – more like Massive 1 – to MASSIVE X’s various pages and options.

ARTURIA Pigments We’ll be looking more soon at the sound possibilities of this one. It’s perhaps more conservative than MASSIVE X, but its virtual analog/wavetable hybrid is a crowd pleaser, there’s a unique and easy-to-follow interface, and it has a clear high-contrast dark look to the all-gray/beige Massive approach.

Serum of course arguably stole the bass crown from Massive as NI bided their time on an update. It is focused on wavetables (and custom wavetables) compared to MASSIVE X’s fascinating sprawl.

Who else would you want to see up for comparison? Let us know.

To me, at least my initial impression is all this mayhem of choice makes MASSIVE X stand out, but we’ll be interested to dig deeper and get feedback from other sound designers.

The post MASSIVE X synth arrives; here’s what makes it special appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Motor Synth is brutal, electro-mechanical synth – last days of discount

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 24 Jun 2019 2:48 pm

Gamechanger Audio’s Motor Synth is a devastating industrial machine – with actual motors driving the sounds, all built in Latvia. Here’s everything you need to know about it, as this week is the end of its steep crowd funding discount.

Electro-magnetic induction is a technique beloved by noise artists and experimental sound creators – about 40 seconds into the promo video, you’ll see what happens when you run a power drill near an electric guitar.

The Motor Synth creators ask the question, what if you took that gnarly, unruly chaos, and packed it into a desktop synth? That makes this raw sound force and not only makes it more portable, but also more controllable. You can unleash the full power of electro-magnetic sonic destruction if you want, but you can also direct it into musical form.

The result is a unique combination of sound produced by mechanical motors and electro-magnetic energy, and musical, digital and electronic control.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/motor-synth#/

Gamechanger Audio also have the track record to pull off this kind of custom manufacturing. As with their other neighbors in the capital city of Riga, Latvia, Gamechanger benefit from having their engineering and design in an industrial city that’s newly reborn, and ready to work with innovative clients while literally speaking the same language. (That’s inside the European Union, in case you’ve been asleep since the 80s – sit down, there’s something huge I need to tell you about the USSR.) And they’ve made some exceptionally fine products, like the PLUS Pedal and PLASMA Pedal.

There are plenty of crowd-funded projects that seem to do it for the sake of it or for lack of a better idea. But the Motor Synth really does appear to be something where a crowd funding campaign, preorder style, enables a unique design. And in exchange, you get a steep discount – right now US$899 early bird instead of $1299.

So, what can you do with those motors?

The basic sound itself produces wild harmonics and overtones. There are eight motors, grouped into four-note polyphony – two motors/two voices per note.

The interesting twist is that there are two simultaneous synthesis methods build around the motor:
Magnetic pickups, for raw electro-mechanical chaos, and
Optical (infrared) sensors, which produce pitched signal by “reading” the discs’ motion visually

The optical approach echoes the optical synthesis approaches of early Russian pioneers and BBC Radiophonic Workshop innovator Daphne Oram. Check Derek Holzer’s terrific outline history of these optical tonewheels, or Moscow’s Andrey Smirnov. Smirnov in particular had championed a revived interest in these approaches – and Evgeny Sholpo’s Variophone, an early instrument that did what the Motor Synth did, at its most basic level. Like the Motor Synth, the Variophone employs mechanical, rotating disks.

Andrey’s presentations can become almost wistful in imagining an alternate history where optical and mechanical synthesis evolved instead of just today’s analog synths. Gamechanger are punching a hole through the multiverse and taking us into an alternative future.

Okay, but with that as the sound source, how does this actually become a synth and not just a sound art experiment? That’s where the Motor Synth comes alive:

Waveshape between three optical waveshapes and one (noisy!) inductive motor sound
Amplitude envelope
Accelerate, brake (your glide here is mechanical!)
Filter with drive
Modulation of voice envelopes (tremolo), pitch, filter
Onboard keyboard with scale, latch/momentary, and adjustable pitch – very analog
Mono, poly, unison modes
Arpeggiator, sequencer, loop modes
Digital recall of parameters
MIDI control of all parameters – you can even use MTS for microtuning, send MIDI CC, or assign velocity and aftertouch

It’s really pulling this together with the sequencing options, including slots for live-saving sequences, loops, and arpeggiators as motion sequencing as you play, that makes this a full-featured instrument. You’re limited to 4-voice polyphony, not 8-voice, but they are planning something called split mode for working with per-motor controls.

You also get not only the requisite MIDI, USB, and audio out I/O, but also audio input (which you can pitch track), separate sends pre-filter for inserting effects, CV (pitch/clock/gate), and more. Those features are evolving but already look terrific.

Check all that I/O, including CV on the lower left-hand side of the image.

All in all, it’s a complete and new sonic toolkit, not just a simple synth with a weird motor gimmick. And having heard it live, it really comes alive – the properties of both the optical and electro-magnetic sound sources produce something that’s deeply organic and beautifully unpredictable.

Plus there’s a strobe light to make the whole thing look insanely cool.

Heck, even Jim Jarmush wants one:

There’s lots more information on the crowd-funding page, plus my favorite FAQ addition, which I’ll paraphrase – no, you don’t want to touch the motors, unless you like turning your fingers into a bloody mess. (I don’t want to know how you handle power tools, either.)

Motor Synth @ indiegogo.com

The post Motor Synth is brutal, electro-mechanical synth – last days of discount appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Motor Synth is brutal, electro-mechanical synth – last days of discount

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 24 Jun 2019 2:48 pm

Gamechanger Audio’s Motor Synth is a devastating industrial machine – with actual motors driving the sounds, all built in Latvia. Here’s everything you need to know about it, as this week is the end of its steep crowd funding discount.

Electro-magnetic induction is a technique beloved by noise artists and experimental sound creators – about 40 seconds into the promo video, you’ll see what happens when you run a power drill near an electric guitar.

The Motor Synth creators ask the question, what if you took that gnarly, unruly chaos, and packed it into a desktop synth? That makes this raw sound force and not only makes it more portable, but also more controllable. You can unleash the full power of electro-magnetic sonic destruction if you want, but you can also direct it into musical form.

The result is a unique combination of sound produced by mechanical motors and electro-magnetic energy, and musical, digital and electronic control.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/motor-synth#/

Gamechanger Audio also have the track record to pull off this kind of custom manufacturing. As with their other neighbors in the capital city of Riga, Latvia, Gamechanger benefit from having their engineering and design in an industrial city that’s newly reborn, and ready to work with innovative clients while literally speaking the same language. (That’s inside the European Union, in case you’ve been asleep since the 80s – sit down, there’s something huge I need to tell you about the USSR.) And they’ve made some exceptionally fine products, like the PLUS Pedal and PLASMA Pedal.

There are plenty of crowd-funded projects that seem to do it for the sake of it or for lack of a better idea. But the Motor Synth really does appear to be something where a crowd funding campaign, preorder style, enables a unique design. And in exchange, you get a steep discount – right now US$899 early bird instead of $1299.

So, what can you do with those motors?

The basic sound itself produces wild harmonics and overtones. There are eight motors, grouped into four-note polyphony – two motors/two voices per note.

The interesting twist is that there are two simultaneous synthesis methods build around the motor:
Magnetic pickups, for raw electro-mechanical chaos, and
Optical (infrared) sensors, which produce pitched signal by “reading” the discs’ motion visually

The optical approach echoes the optical synthesis approaches of early Russian pioneers and BBC Radiophonic Workshop innovator Daphne Oram. Check Derek Holzer’s terrific outline history of these optical tonewheels, or Moscow’s Andrey Smirnov. Smirnov in particular had championed a revived interest in these approaches – and Evgeny Sholpo’s Variophone, an early instrument that did what the Motor Synth did, at its most basic level. Like the Motor Synth, the Variophone employs mechanical, rotating disks.

Andrey’s presentations can become almost wistful in imagining an alternate history where optical and mechanical synthesis evolved instead of just today’s analog synths. Gamechanger are punching a hole through the multiverse and taking us into an alternative future.

Okay, but with that as the sound source, how does this actually become a synth and not just a sound art experiment? That’s where the Motor Synth comes alive:

Waveshape between three optical waveshapes and one (noisy!) inductive motor sound
Amplitude envelope
Accelerate, brake (your glide here is mechanical!)
Filter with drive
Modulation of voice envelopes (tremolo), pitch, filter
Onboard keyboard with scale, latch/momentary, and adjustable pitch – very analog
Mono, poly, unison modes
Arpeggiator, sequencer, loop modes
Digital recall of parameters
MIDI control of all parameters – you can even use MTS for microtuning, send MIDI CC, or assign velocity and aftertouch

It’s really pulling this together with the sequencing options, including slots for live-saving sequences, loops, and arpeggiators as motion sequencing as you play, that makes this a full-featured instrument. You’re limited to 4-voice polyphony, not 8-voice, but they are planning something called split mode for working with per-motor controls.

You also get not only the requisite MIDI, USB, and audio out I/O, but also audio input (which you can pitch track), separate sends pre-filter for inserting effects, CV (pitch/clock/gate), and more. Those features are evolving but already look terrific.

Check all that I/O, including CV on the lower left-hand side of the image.

All in all, it’s a complete and new sonic toolkit, not just a simple synth with a weird motor gimmick. And having heard it live, it really comes alive – the properties of both the optical and electro-magnetic sound sources produce something that’s deeply organic and beautifully unpredictable.

Plus there’s a strobe light to make the whole thing look insanely cool.

Heck, even Jim Jarmush wants one:

There’s lots more information on the crowd-funding page, plus my favorite FAQ addition, which I’ll paraphrase – no, you don’t want to touch the motors, unless you like turning your fingers into a bloody mess. (I don’t want to know how you handle power tools, either.)

Motor Synth @ indiegogo.com

The post Motor Synth is brutal, electro-mechanical synth – last days of discount appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Delaydelus 2 is a patchable sampler/delay from Daedelus, Dr. Bleep

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Fri 21 Jun 2019 6:04 pm

Delaydelus 2 is a devilishly clever box that’s really two devices in one – it’s a sampler, and it’s a pitch-able delay with feedback. And the whole thing is patchable. Meet the latest from Daedelus and Dr. Bleep.

Daedelus is the southern California producer and artist who among other things has pioneered visual immersive shows and was one of the first champions for the monome. Dr. Bleep is John-Mike Reed, the imaginative engineer behind the likes of the Thingamagoop. The original Delaydelus certainly embodied their collective ideas. But it was more of a alligator-clipped art oddity. Delaydelus 2 looks like a serious pedalboard contender.

There’s a great demo video:

Check the specs:

Stereo 16bit 44kHz audio i/o
Banana plug patch bay allows you to play up to 4 samples at once triggered from the two arcade buttons or trigger inputs.
Control the speed and direction of the samples with the knobs as well as the CV FM (-5V to 10V) input
CV envelope follower out (0-8V) based on audio playback level
Trigger outs (10V) from each sampler button.
One shot mode, Gate (mpc style) mode, + Send external audio through the built in 1 second stereo delay.
Record into one of 10 banks. Each can hold up to 17 seconds of high quality audio.
Delay sync in and out with the ability to divide and multiply incoming sync rate.
Micro SD card slot allows loading and saving WAV files to and from the 10 banks.
Built-in new samples from Daedelus
Powered by a 12V DC adapter – included.

Gorgeous artwork on the top panel by Chicago’s Trek Matthews, too.

What I think makes this musical, as on any musical delay, is really making pitch and time open to control and modulation. Pairing the delay with a sampler means this instrument can do a whole lot – and it’s nice having removable SD storage.

This is available for preorder now, with the first units hitting production in August (if you get in on that preorder).

US$295.

https://bleeplabs.com/product/delaydelus-2-preorder/

By the way, as we wait on this preorder, I’m in the next days putting the wraps on my review of Snazzy FX pedals, including in particular their wonderful WOW AND FLUTTER. I could imagine this pairing with the Bleep offering nicely – like faking a whole tape studio in two compact pedals:

The post Delaydelus 2 is a patchable sampler/delay from Daedelus, Dr. Bleep appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Delaydelus 2 is a patchable sampler/delay from Daedelus, Dr. Bleep

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Fri 21 Jun 2019 6:04 pm

Delaydelus 2 is a devilishly clever box that’s really two devices in one – it’s a sampler, and it’s a pitch-able delay with feedback. And the whole thing is patchable. Meet the latest from Daedelus and Dr. Bleep.

Daedelus is the southern California producer and artist who among other things has pioneered visual immersive shows and was one of the first champions for the monome. Dr. Bleep is John-Mike Reed, the imaginative engineer behind the likes of the Thingamagoop. The original Delaydelus certainly embodied their collective ideas. But it was more of a alligator-clipped art oddity. Delaydelus 2 looks like a serious pedalboard contender.

There’s a great demo video:

Check the specs:

Stereo 16bit 44kHz audio i/o
Banana plug patch bay allows you to play up to 4 samples at once triggered from the two arcade buttons or trigger inputs.
Control the speed and direction of the samples with the knobs as well as the CV FM (-5V to 10V) input
CV envelope follower out (0-8V) based on audio playback level
Trigger outs (10V) from each sampler button.
One shot mode, Gate (mpc style) mode, + Send external audio through the built in 1 second stereo delay.
Record into one of 10 banks. Each can hold up to 17 seconds of high quality audio.
Delay sync in and out with the ability to divide and multiply incoming sync rate.
Micro SD card slot allows loading and saving WAV files to and from the 10 banks.
Built-in new samples from Daedelus
Powered by a 12V DC adapter – included.

Gorgeous artwork on the top panel by Chicago’s Trek Matthews, too.

What I think makes this musical, as on any musical delay, is really making pitch and time open to control and modulation. Pairing the delay with a sampler means this instrument can do a whole lot – and it’s nice having removable SD storage.

This is available for preorder now, with the first units hitting production in August (if you get in on that preorder).

US$295.

https://bleeplabs.com/product/delaydelus-2-preorder/

By the way, as we wait on this preorder, I’m in the next days putting the wraps on my review of Snazzy FX pedals, including in particular their wonderful WOW AND FLUTTER. I could imagine this pairing with the Bleep offering nicely – like faking a whole tape studio in two compact pedals:

The post Delaydelus 2 is a patchable sampler/delay from Daedelus, Dr. Bleep appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

VCV Rack hits 1.0; why you need this free modular now

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 19 Jun 2019 2:25 pm

Software modular VCV Rack just hit a major milestone – it’s now officially version 1.0, with polyphony, full MIDI, module browsing, multi-core support, and more. And since it’s a free and open platform, you don’t want to sleep on this.

VCV and developer Andrew Belt have hit on a new formula. Rack is free and open source on Mac, Windows, and Linux, and it’s free for developers to make their own modules. It also has tons of functionality out of the box – both from VCV and third-party developers. But then to support ongoing development, those developers offer some superb paid modules. Once you’re hooked, spending a little extra seems a good investment – because, well, it is.

All those modules… now seen in the new 1.0 visual browser.

Crucially, it’s a good deal for developers as well as users. Independent software developers, VCV included, are able to communicate directly with users, who in turn feel good about supporting the platform and community by spending some money. And hardware makers have a new way of reaching new audiences, as well as offering up try-before-you-buy versions of some of their modules. (Open source hardware makers like Mutable Instruments and Music thing were early adopters, but I hear some other names are coming.)

Maybe you’ve heard all this. But maybe you weren’t quite ready to take the plunge. With version 1.0, the case is getting pretty strong for adding Rack to your arsenal. Rack was appealing early on to tinkerers who enjoyed messing around with software. But 1.0 is starting to look like something you’d rely on in your music.

And that starts with polyphony, as shown by the developer of the VULT modules, which include many of my own personal favorites:

Rack 1.0

1.0 is really about two things – new functionality for more flexible use in your music, and a stable API for developers underneath that makes you feel like you’re using modules and not just testing them.

Mono- to polyphonic, on demand. Modules that want to support polyphony now can add up to 16 voices. Cables support polyphony. And the built-in modules have added tools for polyphonic use of course, too.

Polyphony, now a thing – and nicely implemented, both in UI and performance under the hood.

Multi-core accelerated engine. Adding polyphony, even on newer machines, means a greater tax on your CPU. There are a number of under-the-hood improvements to enable that in Rack, including multi-core support, threading, and hardware acceleration. This is also partly built into the platform, so third-party modules supporting Rack will get a performance boost “for free,” without developers having to worry about it or reinvent the wheel.

Adjustable performance: From the menu you can now adjust CPU performance based on whether you want lower CPU usage or more modules.

Adjust priority of the CPU based on your needs (more modules with higher CPU usage, or fewer modules but lower CPU).

MIDI out. You could always get MIDI into Rack, but now you can get it out, too – so you can use sequencers and modulation and so on to control other equipment or via inter-app MIDI routing, other software. There are three new modules – CV-GATE, CV-MIDI, and CV-CC. (VCV describes those as being suitable for drum machines, synths, and Eurorack and talks about hardware, but you could find a lot of different applications for this.)

Assign MIDI control easily. Previously, controlling Rack has been a bit of a chore: start with a MIDI input, figure out how to route it into some kind of modulation, assign the modulation. Many software racks work this way, but it feels a bit draconian to users of other software. Now, via the MIDI-MAP module, you can click a parameter onscreen and just move a knob or fader or what have you on your controller – you know, like you can do in other tools.

That will be essential for actually playing your patches. I can’t wait to use this with Sensel Morph and the Buchla Thunder overlay but… yeah, that’s another story. Watch for that in the coming days.

Meet the new MIDI modules, which now support output, mapping, and even MPE.

Numeric pad input as well as revised gamepad support. Now in addition to gamepads (which offer some new improvements), you can hook up numeric keyboards:

MPE support: MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) now works with MIDI-CV. That makes Rack a fascinating new way of controlling MPE instruments.

Enter parameters manually. You can also now right-click a parameter and type in the value you want.

Browse modules visually. All the previous options for navigating your collection of virtual modules textually are still there – type module names, use tags, search by manufacturer or type. But now you also get a pretty visual browser so you can spot the module you want at a glance, and click and drag to drop modules into place. VCV isn’t the first computer modular to offer this – Softube has an awfully pretty browser, for one – but I find the Rack 1.0 browser to be really quick and easy. And it’s especially needed here as you quickly accumulate loads of modules from the Web.

Get new modules by sorting by build. This feature is actually on the VCV website, but it’s so important to how we work in Rack that it’s worth a mention here. Now you can search by build date and find the latest stuff.

Sort by build now on the plugins interface on the Web.

Move and manage modules more easily. You can now disable modules, force-drag them into place, and use a new, more flexible rack. The rack is also now infinite in all four dimensions, which is a bit confusing at first, but in keeping with the open-ended computer software ethos of software modular. (Take that, you Eurorack people who live in … like … normal physical space!)

You can also right-click modules to get quick links to plugin websites, documentation, and even source code. And you can see changelogs before you update, instead of just updating and finding out later.

Undo/redo history. At last, experiment without worry.

Parameter tooltips. No need to guess what that knob or switch is meant to do.

You can check out the new features in detail on the changelog (plus stuff added since 1.0, in case you live in the future and me in the past!):

https://github.com/VCVRack/Rack/blob/v1/CHANGELOG.md

Or for even more explanation, Nik Jewell describes what all those changes are about:

An unofficial guide to the Rack v1 Changelog

Getting started

Rack 1.0 will break compatibility with some modules, while you wait on those developers to update to the new API (hopefully). Andrew tells us we can run the old (0.6.x) and new Rack versions side by side:

To install two versions that don’t clash, simply install Rack v1 to a different folder such as “Program Files/VCV/Rack-v1” on Windows or “/Applications/Rack-v1” on Mac. They will each use their own set of plugins, settings, etc.

You can duplicate your Rack folder, and run the two versions side by side. Then you’re free to try the new features while still opening up your old work. (I found most of my previous patches, even after updating my modules, wound up missing modules. Rack will make the incompatible modules disappear, leaving the compatible ones in place.)

Right from the moment you start up VCV Rack 1.0, you’ll find some things are more approachable, with a new example patch and updated Scope. And for existing users, be prepared that the toolbar is gone, now replaced with menu options.

Here are some useful shortcuts for getting around the new release:

Now you can right-click a plug-in for an updated contextual menu with presets, and links to the developer’s site for documentation and more.

Double-click a parameter: initialize to default value

Right-click a parameter: type to enter a specific value.

Ctrl-click a connected input, and drag: clones the cable connected there to another port. (This way you can quickly route one output to multiple inputs, without having to mouse back to the output.)

Ctrl-E: Disables a module. (You can also choose the context menu.)

Ctrl- / Ctrl+ to zoom, or hold down control and use a scroll wheel.

Ctrl-drag modules. This is actually my favorite new feature, weirdly. If you control drag a module, it shoves other modules along with it into any empty space. It’s easier to see that in an animation than it is to describe it, so I’ll let Andrew show us:

Do check out the Recorder, too:

All the new internal modules to try out:
CV-MIDI
CV-CC
CV-Gate
MIDI-Map
Recorder

And developers, do go check out the migration guide.

Full information:

https://vcvrack.com/

The post VCV Rack hits 1.0; why you need this free modular now appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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