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


Arturia’s MiniBrute gets a sequel, and now it’s mini modular

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 15 Jan 2018 2:35 pm

Arturia reveals the follow-up to edgy, distinctive little MiniBrute monosynth keyboard. This time, they’ve fit a tiny patch bay to make it semi-modular.

The Arturia synths are portable, affordable, and … weird. And this continues that tradition, with the nicer MatrixBrute keys and a “use every millimeter” patch bay wedged on the side. So now you can use more cables to make things, like, more weird.

The MicroBrute, the MiniBrute’s baby brother, actually had very basic patching capabilities – the “mod matrix” let you route the LFO and envelope (or external signal) to control timbre, pitch, and filter. That made it an easy favorite of the Brute line.

The MiniBrute 2 on the other hand bests both Mini- and MicroBrute with a full blown architecture for patching stuff into other stuff. And let’s be clear that that’s what this is about. Technically, yes “semi-modular architectures” give you more ability to create original sounds blah blah blah …

Translated into simple terms, “plugging wires into jacks for making noises” is what we mean. And of course that can be true if you have just the MiniBrute 2 or if you want to combine it with other analog and modular gear.

So, now you get that, plus full-sized keys with aftertouch (as on the flagship, and completely insane, MatrixBrute). The result could be a real winner: semi-modular architecture plus monosynth plus full-sized keyboard, but still with a low-ish price tag and the usual unique character. So you get patching atop the love-it-or-leave-it wild sound of the original, including the Steiner-Parker filter and that, uh, “Brute” quality – think aggressive, metallic timbres that change wildly as you twist knobs.

And there’s a step sequencer/arpeggiator, building on the existing line, with easy SH-101-like sequencing and lots of performance features. (Actually I know a lot of people who bought these instruments even especially for that sequencer – good stuff.)

London’s trip-hop act The Salvador Darlings do the demo.

Part of me actually loves that Arturia keeps putting out mental stuff that looks like something someone mocked up on a forum, only real. It’s a safe bet what this sounds like given the heritage, but it’ll be fun to test how that patch bay is to use in practice. Stay tuned (and if you’re at the NAMM show, Arturia will show it there).

More:
https://www.arturia.com/minibrute-2-landing

The post Arturia’s MiniBrute gets a sequel, and now it’s mini modular appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Behringer teases Oberheim, Roland remakes; hints at production delays

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 10 Jan 2018 9:05 pm

Behringer are busy teasing still more analog synth remakes. But messages from the company suggest they may be struggling to produce their Minimoog clone.

Right now, Behringer are shipping the synth that represented their first major foray into the synth business. That would be analog polysynth DeepMind 12 – a 12-voice keyboard loaded up with extras, including built-in Wi-Fi and a bunch of effects from TC ELECTRONIC and KLARK TEKNIK. And it represents a significant acquisition of engineering talent, as Behringer has brought the MIDAS team into the fold.

The DeepMind is unquestionably inexpensive for a polysynth and, from people I know who’ve had it for longer tests, at least reasonably good. If you don’t need 12 voices, you can get a number of great instruments, some of them for less than the DeepMind. And if you’re willing to spend a bit more, Novation, Moog, Dave Smith and others have offerings, as well. But it is fair to say the DeepMind 12 has found a sizable market for itself, at least for now.

Irrespective of the price, the DeepMind seems to face the challenge all synths do at the moment: potential customers are far more familiar with classic instruments of the past. And remakes of a classic Moog, Roland, KORG, Yamaha, or even Oberheim or Sequential instrument seem to earn more immediate attention and recognition than anything new. (Make of that what you will.)

And so it is that Behringer have managed to upstage… themselves.

The DeepMind was itself accompanied by a whirlwind of teasers and spec-by-spec leaks from Behringer across social media and forums, and … then all hell broke loose. There was an unexplained “spy” shot of someone holding an SH-101 (with different lettering) on a day Roland planned a press briefing. There were threads asking users what remakes they wanted to see. There were random photos of gear and prototypes that might or might not represent something they would make. And then there was the weirdest moment of them all – various clones of drum machines and synthesizers suddenly appeared on the official Behringer website, only to be immediately followed by the suggestion that maybe that was all just a dream.

The Behringer synth story over the past twelve months has had as many unexplained appearances as a season of LOST. (Sorry, dated reference. Hey, you know – retro, like synths.)

In the midst of this, there was one synth we know to be real, and we know to be in production – a rack-mount model D based on the original Minimoog circuit design (minus the keyboard, of course). And Behringer got as far as bringing a prototype around for people to test and hear – with reasonably good results.

But while Behringer was busy teasing the Minimoog recreation – and many other synths – Roland went ahead and actually shipped their own compact Minimoog-style instrument, partnering with independent US maker Studio Electronics. Unlike the other Boutique Series from Roland, the SE-02 is analog – should you care about such things. The SE-02 has some extras, too, like a step sequencer, cross modulation, and filter feedback loop, and sound characteristics that come from SE’s Boomstar line.

And you can buy it now.

So what about the Behringer model D? Well, you should be able to buy it soon. I’ve seen preorders at Germany’s Music Store, though haven’t talked to anyone who’s got one in-hand.

Let me turn it over to Uli Behringer, then, who this week wrote:

Please allow me to clarify that the first batch of Model D’s had arrived at our German retailer Music Store right before yearend, which you can easily verify with them.

The next batch will hopefully leave the factory by end of coming week with some units being air-shipped to the US. The production is still relatively slow due to the fact that each unit takes over 30 minutes to warm up followed by a meticulous one-hour calibration and quality assurance procedure.”

Wait… back up. Couple things here.

First, this suggests that in the midst of teasing literally dozens of remakes, Behringer are stumbling on shipping just this first one. The Model D was shown publicly at Superbooth in Berlin in the first half of last year, with preorders taken early in the summer and shipping promised soon. This represents a significant delay – acceptable maybe for a small builder, but less so a massive instrument manufacturer.

Second, the Minimoog authenticity here may have gone a bit far. Recall that there are reasons other than cost that synthesizer engineers largely moved away from pure analog oscillators, opting for digital oscillators or digital-controlled analog oscilllators.

Thirty minutes to warm up? An hour to calibrate?

Some manual tuning is evidently involved in this instrument, just like on the original. And that’s consistent with the specs, which mention an A-440 tuning reference. Note that one feature of the Roland/Studio Electronics SE-02 is temperature-stabilized oscillators with automatic tuning. That plus the extra features on the Studio Electronics piece (and a better stock outlook) make the Roland look like a better compact Minimoog alternative than the Behringer.

Reading through Uli’s convoluted messages, it generally seems Behringer for all this hype are now lowering expectations for their analog clones.

And that should mean reevaluating their impact on the industry. Low price is one thing, but availability matters, too.

Of course, the model D delays are conveniently here buried by Behringer teasing still more instruments – based on the Oberheim OB-X and the Roland VP-330 vocoder / string machine.

But again, availability is an issue. There’s no pricing, and no ship date. There’s no information on the vocoder at all. And the OB-Xa is described as being fairly far off, if in the hands of the same Midas team who did the DeepMind:

Since this is more a labor of love than a commercially viable project, our engineers can’t work full time on this synth and will use some of their free time, hence the project will likely take more than 12 months.

So, here’s the current status:

DeepMind 12: shipping now. ($999 with 49-key keyboard, 12D without $899)
DeepMind 6: shipping now. ($699 with 37-key keyboard, six voices)
Model D: limited quantities, still a preorder. ($299)
Vocoder Plus: unconfirmed; status unknown.
OB-Xa clone: confirmed, 12+ months out, pricing unknown.

(Prices/availability confirmed for US retailers, starting with Sweetwater. Model D appears to be backordered both in Europe and stateside – though you’re welcome to “call and confirm” as Uli suggests.)

Everything else is just vaporware until proven otherwise.

And here’s the weird thing: Behringer have managed to steal the show from themselves and the fact that the full DeepMind range is shipping.

The post Behringer teases Oberheim, Roland remakes; hints at production delays appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Behringer teases Oberheim, Roland remakes; hints at production delays

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 10 Jan 2018 9:05 pm

Behringer are busy teasing still more analog synth remakes. But messages from the company suggest they may be struggling to produce their Minimoog clone.

Right now, Behringer are shipping the synth that represented their first major foray into the synth business. That would be analog polysynth DeepMind 12 – a 12-voice keyboard loaded up with extras, including built-in Wi-Fi and a bunch of effects from TC ELECTRONIC and KLARK TEKNIK. And it represents a significant acquisition of engineering talent, as Behringer has brought the MIDAS team into the fold.

The DeepMind is unquestionably inexpensive for a polysynth and, from people I know who’ve had it for longer tests, at least reasonably good. If you don’t need 12 voices, you can get a number of great instruments, some of them for less than the DeepMind. And if you’re willing to spend a bit more, Novation, Moog, Dave Smith and others have offerings, as well. But it is fair to say the DeepMind 12 has found a sizable market for itself, at least for now.

Irrespective of the price, the DeepMind seems to face the challenge all synths do at the moment: potential customers are far more familiar with classic instruments of the past. And remakes of a classic Moog, Roland, KORG, Yamaha, or even Oberheim or Sequential instrument seem to earn more immediate attention and recognition than anything new. (Make of that what you will.)

And so it is that Behringer have managed to upstage… themselves.

The DeepMind was itself accompanied by a whirlwind of teasers and spec-by-spec leaks from Behringer across social media and forums, and … then all hell broke loose. There was an unexplained “spy” shot of someone holding an SH-101 (with different lettering) on a day Roland planned a press briefing. There were threads asking users what remakes they wanted to see. There were random photos of gear and prototypes that might or might not represent something they would make. And then there was the weirdest moment of them all – various clones of drum machines and synthesizers suddenly appeared on the official Behringer website, only to be immediately followed by the suggestion that maybe that was all just a dream.

The Behringer synth story over the past twelve months has had as many unexplained appearances as a season of LOST. (Sorry, dated reference. Hey, you know – retro, like synths.)

In the midst of this, there was one synth we know to be real, and we know to be in production – a rack-mount model D based on the original Minimoog circuit design (minus the keyboard, of course). And Behringer got as far as bringing a prototype around for people to test and hear – with reasonably good results.

But while Behringer was busy teasing the Minimoog recreation – and many other synths – Roland went ahead and actually shipped their own compact Minimoog-style instrument, partnering with independent US maker Studio Electronics. Unlike the other Boutique Series from Roland, the SE-02 is analog – should you care about such things. The SE-02 has some extras, too, like a step sequencer, cross modulation, and filter feedback loop, and sound characteristics that come from SE’s Boomstar line.

And you can buy it now.

So what about the Behringer model D? Well, you should be able to buy it soon. I’ve seen preorders at Germany’s Music Store, though haven’t talked to anyone who’s got one in-hand.

Let me turn it over to Uli Behringer, then, who this week wrote:

Please allow me to clarify that the first batch of Model D’s had arrived at our German retailer Music Store right before yearend, which you can easily verify with them.

The next batch will hopefully leave the factory by end of coming week with some units being air-shipped to the US. The production is still relatively slow due to the fact that each unit takes over 30 minutes to warm up followed by a meticulous one-hour calibration and quality assurance procedure.”

Wait… back up. Couple things here.

First, this suggests that in the midst of teasing literally dozens of remakes, Behringer are stumbling on shipping just this first one. The Model D was shown publicly at Superbooth in Berlin in the first half of last year, with preorders taken early in the summer and shipping promised soon. This represents a significant delay – acceptable maybe for a small builder, but less so a massive instrument manufacturer.

Second, the Minimoog authenticity here may have gone a bit far. Recall that there are reasons other than cost that synthesizer engineers largely moved away from pure analog oscillators, opting for digital oscillators or digital-controlled analog oscilllators.

Thirty minutes to warm up? An hour to calibrate?

Some manual tuning is evidently involved in this instrument, just like on the original. And that’s consistent with the specs, which mention an A-440 tuning reference. Note that one feature of the Roland/Studio Electronics SE-02 is temperature-stabilized oscillators with automatic tuning. That plus the extra features on the Studio Electronics piece (and a better stock outlook) make the Roland look like a better compact Minimoog alternative than the Behringer.

Reading through Uli’s convoluted messages, it generally seems Behringer for all this hype are now lowering expectations for their analog clones.

And that should mean reevaluating their impact on the industry. Low price is one thing, but availability matters, too.

Of course, the model D delays are conveniently here buried by Behringer teasing still more instruments – based on the Oberheim OB-X and the Roland VP-330 vocoder / string machine.

But again, availability is an issue. There’s no pricing, and no ship date. There’s no information on the vocoder at all. And the OB-Xa is described as being fairly far off, if in the hands of the same Midas team who did the DeepMind:

Since this is more a labor of love than a commercially viable project, our engineers can’t work full time on this synth and will use some of their free time, hence the project will likely take more than 12 months.

So, here’s the current status:

DeepMind 12: shipping now. ($999 with 49-key keyboard, 12D without $899)
DeepMind 6: shipping now. ($699 with 37-key keyboard, six voices)
Model D: limited quantities, still a preorder. ($299)
Vocoder Plus: unconfirmed; status unknown.
OB-Xa clone: confirmed, 12+ months out, pricing unknown.

(Prices/availability confirmed for US retailers, starting with Sweetwater. Model D appears to be backordered both in Europe and stateside – though you’re welcome to “call and confirm” as Uli suggests.)

Everything else is just vaporware until proven otherwise.

And here’s the weird thing: Behringer have managed to steal the show from themselves and the fact that the full DeepMind range is shipping.

The post Behringer teases Oberheim, Roland remakes; hints at production delays appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Grid Music goes beyond traditional synths sequencers through its unique generative propagation model

Delivered... Ashley Elsdon | Scene | Sat 30 Dec 2017 8:21 pm

It’s always great to see an app return to the app store. Especially after a very long gap. So it is with Grid Music. It was around in its original form around 5 years ago on the app store, and at that point was for iPhone only. Now it’s back, it’s better, it’s universal and it is quite different from a lot of other synths and sequencers.

Way back then I made a small (and slightly awful) video of it.

However, it appears that my video could be the only one of the original app. That in itself would be weird.

Anyway, the original app was pretty cool in my opinion. I enjoyed it a lot, so when I heard from the developer that he intended to bring it back in a new form, I was so pleased. The new Grid Music is even better than the original, and, what’s more, I know it’s going to get even better. I’ve been testing Grid Music for several weeks now. It’s stable, it’s fun, it is quite different to other sequencers and synths and it can generate some really unusual and interesting patterns.

In the words of the developer …

Grid Music is a flexible, generative step sequencer and synthesizer. It’s an easy way to make music that has a mind of its own. It offers creative possibilities beyond traditional step sequencers by using a propagation model: pulses follow connections around a grid, triggering notes and timbre changes.

  • Simple pattern editing. Easily adjust pitches, modulation, and rhythmic intervals. Easily modify pattern layout to create multiple tracks, random branches, and loops.
  • Pitch quantization. Notes are quantized to a key, scale, and octave range and can be instantly transposed.
  • Pattern queueing. Easily perform a sequence of patterns in time.
  • PWM synthesizer with pulse width ramping, vibrato, and envelope settings.
  • Supports Ableton Link for tempo, beat, and phase synchronization with other apps and devices.
  • Supports the iOS Files app.

You can find Grid Music on the app store. It costs $4.99:

The post Grid Music goes beyond traditional synths sequencers through its unique generative propagation model appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Bastl’s tiny, patchable Kastle now more durable, sounds better

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 14 Dec 2017 4:31 pm

The tiny, 80 Euro, 8-bit Kastle synth from Bastl just got better. A 1.5 revision updates the case, sound, and features.

First off, in addition to batteries, you can now run on micro USB power.

The case is updated, too. It’s fiberglass instead of acrylic for added durability, and has a slick black matte finish, plus better patch points.

And then there’s sound. Bastl Instruments say they’ve done a total rework on the sound engine, improving smoothness, ranges, and anti-aliasing performance.

Two sound engines running in parallel deliver three new modes: formant synthesis, noise mode, and tonal mode. Plus there are the existing phase modulation, phase distortion, and track & hold modulation, each with new improvements.

Formants: Inspired by the 1865 Helmholz synthesizer, you get combinations of harmonics / vowel sounds.

Noise: This glitchy mode comes from granular playback of a piece of code that’s run from the sound chip – basically an edgy ultra-digital glitched-out wavetable/granular source.

Demo here:

More:

http://www.bastl-instruments.com/instruments/kastle/kastle-v1-5/

I’ll be in Brno, CZ Friday and Saturday this week and catching up with team Bastl, if you’ve got questions for them.

The post Bastl’s tiny, patchable Kastle now more durable, sounds better appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Behringer’s so-called “website glitch” trades credibility for buzz

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 14 Dec 2017 1:49 pm

The day after Behringer posted a lineup of remakes of classic analog synth and drum machines, the company is calling it an error – and making no promises.

One one level, you can’t blame Behringer. You surely don’t need press conferences at pricey trade shows if you can mess around with buzz spread on forums and social media. And I’m surprised more manufacturers don’t devise some way of using that to their advantage – perhaps more honestly than here.

But you can blame Behringer for dissembling in communication, for setting out to harm competitors, and for mucking about with the trust of customers. All three of those things appear to have happened here.

In short: Behringer are again earning buzz, at the expense of the already questionable credibility of the brand.

Let’s review:

Yesterday, Behringer for the better part of the evening German time published complete product specs for drum machines and synthesizers, across multiple categories on their public website. That included references to a wide array of products from the KORG MS-20 to the Roland 808 and 909 to ARP 2600 and various other historical models.

Then, at 4 am German time, the company published the follow apology/correction or … whatever this is … to their Facebook page:

Dear Friends,
It was brought to our attention that early this morning a rather unfortunate error occurred on the Behringer product page. This error mistakenly posted information for a number of different product design concepts from our product management repository which is contained and part of an automated backend system for our websites. The cause of the error was due to a website glitch and was completely unintentional. The moment we realized the error, we removed the content.
As we are owning the mistake, we also feel it’s necessary to inform the public about this error as a sign of good faith. It was not our intention to mislead customers in any way nor use this as a marketing tool. To be perfectly transparent, the leaked information does not imply any availability at this time or even definitive evidence that we intend to officially develop or deliver these products in the future. At this stage, the leaked products are merely concepts and nothing more.
To be honest we are embarrassed by this glitch and sincerely apologize to you who have been so supportive of our efforts over the years. We greatly appreciate your support and understanding of the situation.

Sorry, assume a few people spit coffee on their computers there. “Automated backend system for our websites”?

This line we’ve heard before, too – that Behringer appears to view teasing products as a kind of trial balloon for measuring demand. The difference is, in the past, at least, they said that was what they were doing – they didn’t do it via a staged site bug.

Let’s talk about why this is problematic.

Fake news? Fake drums? Real Oberheim… Retro Synth Ad.

Behringer are being disingenuous in their communication. More bluntly: it’s very likely that they’re flat-out lying – or at least being tongue-in-cheek about this whole thing. Sure, it’s possible they keep product planning documents in the content management system they use for the site. And maybe then they use the production server for the task rather than a backup. And maybe they somehow automatically, accidentally published that same content to a production server publicly.

Though, if that sequence of events actually happened, uh, to the Web team … wow. Either way:

This encourages customers to delay purchasing competitors. This isn’t just about getting buzz. By hinting that Behringer will have low-cost alternatives of stuff users want, the brand can encourage customers to hold off purchasing shipping products from companies like KORG, Roland, and Moog. Indeed, specifically teasing recognizable products targets those competitors even more explicitly. And there’s anecdotal evidence to think there’s harm there, based on impressions on forums and comments. Even if that isn’t the case, retailers read those same threads, and this can spook them.

Uli Behringer’s extended rants about value and price, which imply (I think unfairly) that competitors’ products should be cheaper, also seems related to this strategy.

Behringer are hurting their own relationship with customers. I actually would encourage those same competitors to focus on this. Behringer are now over-promising in a pretty fantastic way. If they don’t ship this stuff, customers are likely to be disappointed with Behringer, not other companies.

And sure enough —

They’re still not shipping their Model D. Way back in March, Behringer were promising a low-cost Minimoog clone. But that clone still isn’t shipping, or seen on the site here – a fact not lost on social media (or CDM commenters).

They’re not exactly making the Curtis family happy, either. This is what the widow of Doug Curtis had to say about Behringer offering remakes of her late husband’s chips:

We are starting to see authorized chip remakes, however, as a competitors to what Ms. Curtis is referencing here. (COOLAUDIO Semiconductors have made the inexpensive chips that likely formed the basis for the product ideas above.)

Just don’t read too much into this. This understandably has generated a lot of buzz in December, a lull during which most manufacturers are focused on holiday sales, with product announcements mostly paused until late January.

But I think most people wanting a new drum machine, or a Roland Boutique, or KORG’s ARP recreations, or new Eurorack modules, on down the list are likely to go ahead and invest anyway. I think the relationships between those brands and their customers – from the Japanese giants to the one-person Eurorack boutique makers – are safe, too.

If this was (improbably) a mistake, Behringer, fix it. If it wasn’t, well – yeah, expect some of us to question your intentions.

Exclusive reader contest! What’s the most “embarrassing” thing you recently posted to a Website “accidentally” that just happened to make it unintentionally look like some sort of awesome things were happening in your future? Sound off in comments!

The post Behringer’s so-called “website glitch” trades credibility for buzz appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

The amazing classic synth and experimental moments on children’s TV

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 30 Nov 2017 5:51 pm

Before it reverted to Internet age-blandness, American kids’ TV enjoyed a golden age of music, scored by oddball indie composers and legends alike.

And, wow, it could even teach you about synthesis.

Perhaps the most famous of thesse moments is when none other than Suzanne Ciani went on 3-2-1 Contact in 1980 to step inside her studio:

Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame was actually a composer before going into television, and the show’s deep commitment to music education reflected that. That music was generally of the acoustic variety, but he did one day tote a rare ARP Soloist synthesizer along with his trademark shoes and handmade sweaters – and his message and song about “play” might well be an anthem for us all.

Canadian-born composer Bruce Haack made an epic appearance on that same show in 1968, where he demonstrated a homemade electronic instrument. Haack himself as as prolific a composer of far-out sci-fi music for children as he was (much darker) experimental compositions and psychedelic works.

The best all-time “Fairlight CMI on a kids’ program” (because, amazingly, there’s been more than one of those) – Herbie Hancock, Sesame Street, 1983. Herbie keeps a terrific sense of cool and calm that all kids’ shows could learn from in this day of cloying, sugar-sweet patronizing programming:

Synths were all over vintage Sesame Street, often providing sound effects as in this oddly hypnotic Ernie puzzle:

Steve Horelick, the composer behind Reading Rainbow, showed off his Fairlight CMI and how digital sampling worked. (I have vivid memories of watching this as a kid – sorry, Steve.) Steve apparently came up at a time when Fairlight ownership was rare enough to get you gigs – but a good thing, too, as a whole generation still sings along with that theme song. And you probably got a second educational gift from Steve if you ever followed one of his brilliant video tutorials on Logic.

Even better than that is Reading Rainbow‘s synesthesia 3D trip – John Sanborn and Dean Winkler’s Luminaire, which was made for Montrea’s Expo ’86, to music by composer Daniel “No, I’m not Philip Glass” Lentz.

Better video of the actual animation and music, which – sorry, Mr. Glass, I actually kind of prefer to Glassworks:

Somehow this looks fresher than it did when it was new.

A young, chipper Thomas Dolby explained synthesis to Jim Henson’s little known 1989 program The Ghost of Faffner Hall!:

Oh yeah, also, apparently Jem and the Misfits imagined an audiovisual synth in 1985 that predicts both Siri and Coldcut / AV software years before their time. Plus dolls should always have synthesizer accessories:

Suggested by:

Mister Rogers, Sesame Street & Jim Henson Introduce Kids to the Synthesizer with the Help of Herbie Hancock, Thomas Dolby & Bruce Haack [Open Culture]

Apart from education, there’s been some wildly adventurous music from obscure (who’s that?) and iconic sources (the Philip Glass?!) alike.

For a time, an experimental music Tumblr followed some of these moments. Here are some of my favorites.

Joan La Barbara does the alphabet (1977):

And yes, trip out with a composition by Philip Glass written especially for Sesame Street:

You can read the full history of this animation on Muppet Wiki,

More obscure, but clever (and I remember this one) – from HBO’s Braingames (1983-85), evidently by a guy named Matt Kaplowitz.

Not growing up in the UK, I’d never heard of Chocky, but it has this trippy, gorgeous opening with music by John W. Hyde:

American composer Paul Chihara’s 1983 score for a show called Whiz Kids is hilariously dated and nostalgia-packed now. But the man is a heavyweight in composition – think Nadia Boulanger student and LA Chamber Orchestra resident. He has an extensive film resume, too, which now landed him a position at NYU:

From Chicago public access TV, there’s a show called Chic-A-Go-Go, which in 2001 hosted The Residents.

But The Residents were on Pee-Wee, too:

Absurdly awesome, to close: “The Experimental Music Must Be Stopped.” This one comes to us from 2010 and French animation series Angelo Rules:

Thanks, Noncompliant, for the suggestion!

The post The amazing classic synth and experimental moments on children’s TV appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

It’s Cyber Monday; here’s where to find deals on music gear and apps

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 27 Nov 2017 4:20 pm

Over the holiday season, developers of software and hardware for music making are offering steep discounts. Here’s where to find them.

First, it’s really a no-brainer to pick these big sales to load up your iPad, iPhone, or other mobile device with apps cheaply.

Mobile shopping: Our very own Ashley Elsdon, he of Palm Sounds, has an absolutely insane list of music apps, covering the gamut of tools from experimental soundscape generators to DJ software, instruments and effects, drums and synths, and powerful sequencers and production tools. It’s worth a skim just to see if there’s anything you’re missing that you wanted:
Black Friday means some seriously good discounts on excellent apps

Shopping for everything: Another great place to start is a thread on Reddit tracking different deals (including our MeeBlip, so thanks!):
Holiday Sales Thread! (self.synthesizers)

These tend more to software than hardware, of course, because of margins, but you’ll see even the likes of Moog, Waldorf, Audio Damage, and Critter & Guitari in there.

As seen on CDM: A few products we’ve written up recently are also discounted.

That includes Reason 10 at 25% off and Ableton’s ongoing 20% off Live sale (which includes a free upgrade to Live 10 early next year).

Accusonus is discounting Regroover.

Cakewalk’s excellent z3ta+ waveshaping synth is just US$35 – which might be your last chance to snap it up now that Cakewalk are going the way of the dodo.

Native Instruments have a huge sale on – including a great time to buy Reaktor, which I’ve been talking about lately (and, genuinely, using sort of nonstop). See discussion.

Isotonik’s stuff is on sale, including their tools and add-ons for Ableton Live, etc.

More tidbits: Moog apparel and merch is on 20% discount with code TURKEYMOOG in the USA only.

Soundtoys has 50% off everything, including upgrades.

Plugin Boutique have an up-to-80% sale.

DJ Tech Tools have discounts on their store, including their Midi Fighter hardware (thanks to comments for this one).

And if you’ve written a Christmas song, these folks are offering a competition and free mastering.

CDM deals: Back here in CDM territory, we’ve got deals on the stuff we’re producing.

Our MeeBlip hardware is available now for US$119.95, with all the cables you’ll need – power plus MIDI plus audio.
MeeBlip triode

And our record label Establishment has its whole catalog available for 50% off. Use code “cybersale” when you check out, through tomorrow Tuesday evening:
https://establishmentrecords.bandcamp.com/

Have a great Monday, and do remember the reason for the season – we purchase gear and apps now because the superior race of Cybermen overlords demand it of us. They’re already using the Gravitron on Berlin, where I haven’t seen the sun in eons, and I suspect if we don’t do their bidding, we will soon face full conversion to cyberpeople and see our home planet destroyed entirely as we’re hauled back to the planet Mondas. Now, happy cyber-holidays! Go shopping, because resistance is futile … especially when it comes to the need to acquire synthesizers!

The post It’s Cyber Monday; here’s where to find deals on music gear and apps appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Watch a completely mental set of MeeBlip synth stop motion animations

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 24 Nov 2017 11:05 pm

You’ve got your acid basslines. Then, you’ve got your acid trips involving a bass synth. Roikat takes us in the direction of the latter.

Creatures dance around urban streets. AI deep dream wildlife stares at you on title cards. Worms amiably amble from car doors and make their way onto the amplitude knobs.

And there are cats. Of course there are cats.

It’s all adorable stop motion with the raw sounds of our MeeBlip synth and no, I really didn’t have any idea this was going to happen until I spotted it on YouTube. Roikat is evidently both animator and MeeBlip composer. The combination is brilliant. I’d go for a whole show.

Your sound demos will never be the same. Behold:

Of course, perhaps the wildest of all is this … ultrasonic demo?! (Watch it drive your cats crazy.)

Plus there was a Halloween jam some time back

Whoever you are, Roikat, you’re crazy and a genius. Looking forward to more synth vids and those promised presets for Dave Smith – we’ll share them here!

The MeeBlip in question here is anode series, but our triode is closely related to the anodes – and it’s on a Black Friday sale now with a lower price and all the cables you need included:

https://meeblip.com/

MeeBlip triode [shop]

The post Watch a completely mental set of MeeBlip synth stop motion animations appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

R is a reactive, emotional robot speaker from Teenage Engineering

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 17 Nov 2017 1:19 am

What if a portable speaker, the lamp from Pixar, an assembly line robot, and Wall-E had a love child that was also a toy and a synth accessory?

That appears to be what Stockholm digital agency and electronic music instrument maker Teenage Engineering have done with their latest oddball design commission. While we wait on the OP-Z – Teenage Engineering’s hotly-anticipated synthesizer / audiovisual instrument – it seeems Baidu in China decided to import a little Swedish magic. (Baidu is China’s tech giant and search engine, a kind of answer to Google but a rapidly growing global power by its own measure.)

The result is a six-axis articulated speaker that has eyes / an animated pixel display, and gets … emotional.

R for .. Raven?

Teenageeee…. RRRRRR?

R?

Arr.

R is the worlds first emotional 6-axis life form.with unique possibilities to express emotions and react to a conversationdriven by baidu’s leading artificial intelligence technology.with six fully independent axes, loaded with sensors and microphones,and with the same loudspeaker design as the H built into the base,the industry grade motor control will make it dance and express feelingsin a way you have never experienced before.and maybe, just maybe it will be compatible with OP-Z.

Take that, Apple. You’ve been served … by something actually more fun, if also … much more useless. (But who cares? It’s a dancing red robot thing!)

But this is Teenage Engineering, who in the past experimented with ideas for high-end bicycles and table lamps to integrate with their electronic instruments, and who have not only created pocket and mobile instruments, but also disposable cameras for IKEA. So, of course there’s a twist.

They’re already hinting at OP-Z synthesizer integration.

All I know is, if you’ve tired of humans, one personable red robot and a couple of TE synths and… really, I think hiding away is a fairly friendly looking option. Heck, it makes Stockholm’s couple of mid-day hours of kinda-sorta daytime seem positively cheery and welcome. Let’s hang out with the bot and the synth and make madness.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes:

More:

https://teenage.engineering/designs/R

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Two new ways to integrate MeeBlip triode synths with Ableton Live, free

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 14 Nov 2017 7:15 pm

Software control means preset recall and easy automation, on top of all that tactile control. Here’s the latest combination of our MeeBlip and Max for Live.

I don’t know exactly what astrological event causes people to decide to want to create controller layouts in Max for Live for the MeeBlip triode. But whatever it is, two friends wrote me last night from two different hemispheres to say they’d decided that they needed to create a tool for using their MeeBlip monosynths. And, with no contact with one another, they both released their work within a few hours.

Here’s what that means for you.

MeeBlip triode is our affordable, red-colored hardware synth with a friendly, edgy voice and analog filter. And we’re down to the end of this run, but … there are a few left. Plus, nice timing (they really didn’t know this) – we’ve just started our Black Friday sale early, with all the free cables you need and free North American shipping.

Ableton Live, so long as you’ve got Live Suite (that is, Max for Live included), lets you include devices that control hardware synths. Since everything you see on the front panel of triode can be controlled by MIDI – plus a few things that aren’t even there – using these add-ons lets you automate and store and recall presets.

Why would you want to do that, given you’ve already got this box with knobs and switches? Well, you might want to store and recall presets with a particular Live project, so your ‘blip is sounding the same way when you load it up and get back to work, or to save a sound you really like. And you might want to use Live’s automation controls to sculpt your sound as part of a pattern, by drawing it in or using Push hardware.

And from there, you can add additional features, like randomization.

Both of these devices are free, so you can grab both and see which you like best. From South American virtuoso hypergeek Gustavo Bravetti, comes a cute, color-coordinated design. It looks nicest, and also includes full resend, a helper for drawing envelopes, and more:

Triode CTRL 1.0

Don’t miss Gustavo’s amazing performances and so on via his Facebook artist page.

And in this corner:

Kent Williams aka Chaircrusher has made something that isn’t quite as pretty. But two nice things about it: one, you get a randomization feature. Two, as it’s based on previous, similar work, it might be a way to learn how to make these for yourself. Since the MeeBlip is nice and simple, it makes a great template.

Meeblip Triode Control 0.01

Kent’s also an awesome musician, so check out:
https://chaircrusher.bandcamp.com/

What? You don’t have a triode?

We can help.

Let’s start Black Friday early. Let’s start your holiday shopping season early – by making sure you (or a lucky person who’s getting a triode gift) gets all the cables the triode needs.

So now, triode includes our audio & MIDI cable bundle ($24.95 value) until November 30, or while supplies last. Free shipping in the USA. As always, our power adapter is included. And this on top of our new everyday US$119.95 price.

Have at it:

Get a MeeBlip triode synth

Previously:

Here’s how MeeBlip can get you started with hardware synths

Some of our favorite MeeBlip triode synth jams

The post Two new ways to integrate MeeBlip triode synths with Ableton Live, free appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

What happens when you make a 100-oscillator synth?

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 8 Nov 2017 7:05 pm

Look Mum No Computer has been at it again – building his own 100-oscillator synth, bestrewn in knobs and lights, just because he can.

Mental:

There are actually two plotlines here, which you might miss in the video, hyperactive as it is.

First, there was the initial trip down into the basement of Ghostix Labors, a one-man circuit bending / sound circuit building shop. It seems his studio is – seriously – “in the dark caves under the old castle” in Schwerin, Germany (near Hamburg). I think “don’t be afraid of the bats” isn’t actually a joke.

So, Ghost Labors had a lot of 555 chips to unload, and then… actually, nothing happened to those chips, not yet.

But an idea was born, and Mr. No Computer returned to build a massive experiment in over-engineering.

It’s not just 100 oscillators, but 100 voices – each oscillator gets its own filter. And in case that’s not enough, there’s a routable LFO. The blinky lights visualizing the behavior of the oscillator, too, in that it’s all one circuit, so it’s both showy and meaningful.

And you get a lot of knobs. And it sounds a lot like things like the Swarmatron, so I suppose we’ve learned that more oscillators really is better.

Via enmoreaudio.com

The post What happens when you make a 100-oscillator synth? appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Celebrate the birthday of an amazing resource with free stuff for Ableton Live

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 20 Oct 2017 3:02 pm

It’s perhaps the most useful Ableton Live-focused resource on the Web. And we’re celebrating its fifth birthday with exclusive freebies for CDM readers.

To put it plainly, I think this whole music tech business is at its best when it supports those people willing to share their skills and knowledge. And I can think of few better examples of individuals who I’d want to support than Madeleine Bloom. A veteran of Ableton support, she’s an inexhaustible source of wisdom for how to use that tool precisely and creatively.

Sonic Bloom is full of free tips and inspiration, so it’s a great place to start if you’re just stuck and want to feel more comfortable and effective with this ubiquitous tool. From there, you can then go shopping for more advanced courseware, and packs for Live and Max for Live.

Talk about a personal story – Madeleine was able to solve health issues by using revenue from the site.

Five years ago, on October 19, I released the first Ableton Live tutorial on Sonic Bloom. I started it as a resource hub after realising there was a need while working in tech support at Ableton. Since then it has grown into the biggest Ableton related website on the net, with close to 600 articles available in English and German each. And that, even though I was very ill for about half of Sonic Bloom’s existence (I used my troubleshooting skills to figure out my health issues). I often just about managed to keep it going, the positive feedback I keep receiving from Sonic Bloom readers has helped a lot. I’m now looking forward to the next five years and creating more things I’ve dreamt up. I feel like I’m still just getting started.

I can relate to that struggle to make things work independently, and I’m really hugely happy Madeleine stuck it out. So, let’s celebrate a little.

We have a bunch of stuff to give away – including additional creations by Ableton’s Christian Kleine (like the modular Oscillot):

5 Max for Cats Complete Collection (6 packs, 9 devices)
5 Ableton Live & Push Video Course Bundles
5 House Operators Vol. 1
5 Oscillots
5 Pallas
5 Bengal

Feeling unlucky? Hate leaving things to chance? (Ooh, I hear you… I have a tendency to lose such contests!) Fret not – I asked Madeleine to provide one free download for everyone. So everyone who signs up gets a nice House Operator Device. I demonstrate how not to use it (but hey, I was having fun) here, and prove it’s not limited to house music:

And you can go shopping, because through the 25th of October, everything is half off.

Sign up for our giveaway here. By the way, I’d dragged my feet and had some false starts with the email list. I’ve now got a format I think should work perfectly – we’ll get all the big headlines to you in your inbox, plus some of the music I’m listening and tools I’m using, and the latest on our new video streams, so you don’t lose track. That’ll just be once a week, plus the occasional promo deal and giveaway (for more stuff free).

I’m actually rather enjoying email again as alternative to social media, so maybe the time is right.

Good luck with the giveaway. We’ll announce winners on Monday.


http://sonicbloom.net/

The post Celebrate the birthday of an amazing resource with free stuff for Ableton Live appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Check out some loving synth images and inspiration from Moscow

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Events,Scene | Fri 6 Oct 2017 4:13 pm

Even as rave culture faces new hurdles in Russia, nerd culture thrives. That was the feeling at August’s Synthposium in Moscow; here’s another look.

For an impressionistic feeling of the space station adoration of electronic sound production, here’s a montage shot inside the Expo, which somehow captures the milieu of the event and passion of its attendees.

Apart from space exploration, Russia has its roots in rigor both engineering and compositional, as nicely embodied by Synthposium artist Alex Pleninger. An interview (English subtitled) takes you inside his world, and an adeptness for machines then led him to the classic Buchla modular from … a Nintendo Game Boy. (Love that lofi camera.)

Lest you think Russia is all synth noodling, freestyling (seriously) was a lot of what I heard. Hip hop seems to be resurgent in the Russian capital. (Fight the powers that be?)

We also get fresh views of the gear.

Builder Vyacheslav Grigoriev was there representing VG-Line; here’s a look inside his workshop:

Vyacheslav Grigoriev, the founder of the VG-Line workshop and production, is Moscow’s chief man when it comes to repairing and modifying synthesizers. An expert in Soviet electronics, Vyacheslav is known for his modified and upgraded version of the cult RITM-2 synthesizer, as well as the TR-909-inspired desktop bass drum module, that goes far beyond the original. His workshop is a unique enterprise with a DIY attitude, that denies any corporate classification, where he repairs and manufactures synthesizers of different designs and basically lives. Grigoriev will join the Expo section and present his newly-engineered products at the Vintage Hall on August 26 and 27.

As we were wandering the expo floor, manufacturers were queued up to demo their gear in a convenient light box a series called Things had set up. Here’s a look at the (mostly) Russian entries – starting with VG-Line:

https://thngs.co/things/10267

The VG Line bass drum BD 9Q9. Totally analogue clone of legendary Roland TR-909 kick with wide range of settings, which original TR 909 doesn’t have — a switcher to extend decay and the pitch.

https://thngs.co/things/10257

https://thngs.co/things/10256

35 years after the release of the first model, the creator of Polivoks, Vladimir Kuzmin, decided to release an updated version, which already fell into the hands of many lucky people and, judging by the existing reviews, the legend has already returned. In the work on a modern embodiment, engineers Alex Pleninger and Alexey Taber took part. At the moment there are only 100 copies of the new Polivox and each of them is collected manually.

https://thngs.co/things/10279

You’ve seen Roland’s kit a lot lately, but for one international input, let’s add a Czech input – especially as Bastl’s Thyme just became available for preoder:

The Thyme is an effects processor that is best described as a sequenceable robot operated digital tape machine. With a lot of parameters at hand it enables the exploration of all the time based effects and the vast space in between their classical multi-effects categories (delay, phaser, reverb, chorus, pitch shifter, multi-tap delay, tape delay, tremolo, vibrato, compressor) and in stereo! Each of the 9 different parameters (Tape Speed, Delay Coarse & Fine, Feedback, Filter, extra heads Spacing and Levels, Dry Wet Mix and Volume) has a dedicated, very flexible modulation source – called the Robot – which can be phased out differently for left and right channel to create psychedelic new sound effects.

https://thngs.co/things/10260

and SoftPop, for that matter:

SoftPop is a playfully organic, semi-modular light and sound synthesizer with wide variety of sounds: from random dripping water pops to heavy subtractive basslines. Its fully analog core consisting of a heavily feedbacked system of dual triangle-core oscillators, state variable filter and sample and hold is played through an intuitive interface of 6 faders that provide countless combinations which can be explored by anyone.

https://thngs.co/things/10262

The Pribore MDP101 Baby connects to a computer or a phone via bluetooth, defined as a MIDI device. It has 2 assignable control knobs (Rotary Knob CC), 2 assignable keys (Button CC), 5 transport keys (Rewind, Stop, Play, Record, Loop), 1 angular acceleration sensor (accelerometer), for capturing emotions and expression (Motion Sensor), 1 battery for stand-alone operation, and a USB port for charging and connecting as a usb-midi device.

https://thngs.co/things/10263

From Playtronica came some of the more experimental, DIY / physical computing-tilted entries:

https://thngs.co/things/10205

Touch Me is a HCI device that turns human touch into music.
When the surface area or intensity of skin contact between two or more people changes Touch Me modifies sound output according to selected scale and tone parameters.

https://thngs.co/things/9879

And yes, for when you win the lottery / sell your startup / swap bodies with Trent Reznor or deadmau5 or Hans Zimmer (Freaky Friday!), it’s the Deckard’s Dream! That beats Blade Runner tickets:

The post Check out some loving synth images and inspiration from Moscow appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Reason 10 is a return to form: all about the instruments

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 29 Sep 2017 7:46 pm

Remember when the main draw of Reason was adding a whole bunch of toys to your computer and playing until you couldn’t play any more? Those days are back.

The last few years have seen lots of workflow refinements and maturity in music production software. And that’s all fine and well. We’ve even seen new DAWs entirely, new combinations of hardware controllers and software (Maschine, Push), standalone production tools that work without a computer (the new MPC). And we’ve seen a whole lot of music production software evolution, gradually working through the elaborate wish lists we foist on the developers – and with good reason. Heck, maybe you begin to think that adding new sounds is about buying fancy modular rigs, and the computer will quietly disappear into the background.

But since the beginning, Reason was always about something different. Reason users didn’t just get a whole bunch of effects and synths as a bonus, icing to sweeten the deal. Reason was those effects and synths. And you’d be forgiven if you assumed that era had come to a close. After all, most Reason upgrades focused on adding in the openness and multifunctional capabilities of rivals – audio recording, Rack Extensions and a store to buy add-ons, even VST plug-in compatibility. Once you have VST support in Reason, maybe Reason isn’t really about the stuff Propellerheads put in the box.

Think again, because – Reason 10.

Now, there’s some chatter at Propellerhead about this being the “biggest content upgrade” ever, but let’s talk specifically about which instruments are getting added. And it’s a big ‘ol Swedish smörgåsbord of the kind of synths that made us notice Reason in the first place.

So, to answer Thor, there’s Europa – a wavetable synth.

To those granular goodies in Reaktor and Max for Live, there’s The Grain.

And in the tradition of Reason, they look, well, Reason-y. Functions are encapsulated, simplified, hardware-like, but without sacrificing deep modulation. The Grain, for its part, looks like the native granular synth Ableton never quite got (outside Max add-ons). Europa has its own biggie-sized instrumental quality.

For more acoustic timbres, you get new sampled instruments: Klang for tuned percussion, Pangea for a potpourri of “world” instruments, Humana for choir and vocal sounds. (Even if Humana makes those of us in Germany think of retro DDR fashion…)

Happily, these aren’t just ROMplers or sets of presets – you still get the control panels that mimic vintage hardware, and CV routing for patching monster hybrids and strange sound designs.

Propellerhead took a similar approach with their aptly-named Radical Piano, which allows the construction of hybrid, physically-modeled piano instruments, and it’s nice to see that instrument now included in the box.

And there’s one really killer effect, too: Synchronous, which brings modulated signal processing, with sidechaining and LFOs, even with the ability to draw your own curves to route into filter, delay, reverb, distortion. That alone could fill albums of material, and with a lot of different takes recently on how to do this, the Props’ take looks genuinely unique.

There are a lot of samples, too – Drum Supply and Loop Supply get a refresh. Now, that would normally bore me, except — oh yeah, that granular thing. Interested again.

In beta now, out 25 October.

I think it’s going to be a good winter.

They’ve worked hard; let’s embed their video. They earned it.

https://www.propellerheads.se/en/reason/new

The post Reason 10 is a return to form: all about the instruments appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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