Warning: mysql_get_server_info(): Access denied for user 'indiamee'@'localhost' (using password: NO) in /home/indiamee/public_html/e-music/wp-content/plugins/gigs-calendar/gigs-calendar.php on line 872

Warning: mysql_get_server_info(): A link to the server could not be established in /home/indiamee/public_html/e-music/wp-content/plugins/gigs-calendar/gigs-calendar.php on line 872
Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » Tech


Softube’s Modular is on sale – here’s why you might want to grab it

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 20 Jul 2018 5:29 pm

Software modulars are the new hardware modulars. And a steeply discounted summer sale from Softube might mean it’s time to reconsider their offering.

Softube Modular is a beautiful, complete emulation of modular tools on a computer screen. It’s demanding – you’ll want a recent computer with decent specs and updated software – but stable. The problem is, even though it’s a lot cheaper than buying “Eurocrack” hardware, I suspect the price turned some off. A hundred bucks is actually a great deal for a bunch of modules in software, but then some add-on modules cost nearly as much as just the base platform. And a lot of users may already have something like Reaktor already installed, with its free user library, or the free VCV Rack and its free and inexpensive add-ons.

But wait a minute – now all those prices are slashed for summer, presumably because normal people in the northern hemisphere are out, like, at the beach or something.

And now it’s worth giving Modular a second look. US$89 is great; $45 is must-buy. And some of those lavish modules you might have thought were out of reach start to look tempting, too.

So here’s why you might want to think about Modular, even with other offerings available.

All those modules are available virtually, via a friendly selector.

It’s the most stable, polished software, coming closest to the hardware experience. Nothing comes this close to hardware, down to the Doepfer modules that defined the Eurorack format. And while Reaktor is also stable and mature, it doesn’t have front panel patching or other expected modular features. VCV Rack is wonderful, but it’s also a bit of a Wild West of weird developer modules, constant updates, and frequent development. (In some sense, maybe it should be that way, as the open source and experimental offering – but then Softube is worth investigating when you need something stable and reliable.) And tools like Pd and SuperCollider are just, well, geekier and more DIY. (Also nice, but a different experience.)

It’s got all the basics. This isn’t in Reaktor or VCV. Doepfer’s modules are vanilla, but by design – they’re ideal for learning synthesis and getting creative with your actual patch rather than the module designer doing it for you. In addition to Softube’s built in utility modules for dealing with clock and control signal and MIDI and the like, you also get the full range of Doepfer essentials. (A-110-1 VCO, A-108 VCF, A-132-3 Dual VCA, A-140 ADSR, A-118 Noise/Random, A-147 VCLFO, A-114 Ring Modulator)

There’s full plug-in support. VST, VST3, Audio Unit, and AAX Native formats for Mac and Windows mean you can drop it in your existing DAW.

You can set it up for live performance. There are a lot of interface details that make this, bar none, the easiest-to-use computer implementation of modular environment – and arguably far easier and more convenient than actual hardware. (Ducks) But one of the most important is the ability to design your own performance panels and consolidate lots of parameters into a few – essentially combining the performance friendliness of desktop synths with the patchability of modular.

It might be worth splurging on deluxe add-ons. It’s a bit funny to buy a software module for the price of a decent, say, guitar pedal in the real world. But if Softube wanted our money, they sure picked some nice ones – Mutable Instruments Clouds, the Buchla 259e Twisted Waveform Generator, and the gorgeous 4ms Spectral Multiband Resonator (SMR) are on a lot of our “if I only had money” hardware wishlist. So whereas the prices might have stopped you before, now at $29, $69, and $35, respectively, you might change your mind. (There are some fine Intellijel offerings, too.)

There’s integrated hardware control with NI and ROLI gear. Support for Native Instruments’ NKS format means you can dial up presets and parameter controls – with on-screen text labels – on both the Komplete Kontrol and Maschine. (Maschine might be ideal, actually, because it also includes handy scene and pattern support, making Softube viable live.) ROLI’s Seaboard RISE – the squishy futuristic keyboard – might seem bonkers when you just want to play a grand piano solo, but out-of-box support here with modulars totally makes sense, too.

Softube have equipped some of their other tools to run inside Modular. Buy Softube’s EQ tools or their lovely Heartbeat drum synth, and you can use them in the Modular environment, too.

All in all, it’s a lovely package; I hope to spend more time in the rest of summer and fall diving in myself, so I’ll try to write y’all back if I can tear myself away from the patches. (Uh oh.)

Just make sure you have a computer rig that’s capable – see Softube’s note about why it’s CPU intensive, plus the minimum system requirements.

Check out the sale here:

https://www.softube.com/buy.php

Product page:

https://www.softube.com/index.php?id=modular

The post Softube’s Modular is on sale – here’s why you might want to grab it appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Get your Marbles: VCV adds free Mutable Instruments module

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 20 Jul 2018 4:28 pm

Out of a huge landscape of modules, Mutable Instruments stands alone with some of the best options. And those Mutable tools continue to make their appearance, for free, in VCV rack in software.

As we reported previously, VCV Rack are porting the open source, digital module line from hardware to software form once they’ve been shipping for a while.

The latest is another special addition: Marbles is a random voltage generator, reborn in the onscreen Rack software as Random Sampler. (That term also describes me, at a buffet.)

Random what?

Well, basically, Marbles is both a source of randomness and a sampler that can reproduce patterns. On the randomness side, you can generate clock or control signals – or modify external inputs – and add variation, from subtle to chaotic, slight fuzziness to branching patterns. That keeps things from getting too repetitive.

And then, in case you actually want some repetition or a recognizable phrase, you also have a sampler that stores and recalls patterns of voltages, cleverly dubbed “deja vu.”

That’s to me is a beautiful model of how you might want to control chance and variation, giving ears new and recognizable sounds, compositionally. Of course, this being a Mutable module, that power is consolidated in a few knobs, which can also be a delight to play with.

To try these in VCV’s Rack application, first install Rack, then look to the Audible Instruments preview plug-in:

https://vcvrack.com/AudibleInstruments.html#preview

And a lot of us are now installing multiple modulars on our computers and choosing to use a particular one when the use arises. So if the constantly-under-construction, wild and woolly developer side of VCV Rack makes you long for a more stable solution, it’s worth mentioning that Softube’s excellent Modular and all the paid add-ons are now steeply discounted. That includes an implementation of Mutable’s superb Clouds:

https://www.softube.com/index.php?id=mi_clouds

Kudos to Mutable and creator Olivier Gillet. He’s proven that software can be open source but sustainable commercially, and that it can be successful across multiple platforms at once – hardware and software. For anyone bold enough to follow, that could be a compelling direction for musical tools to take.

Previously:

A life cycle for open modules, as Mutable Instruments joins VCV Rack

The post Get your Marbles: VCV adds free Mutable Instruments module appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Novation Circuit 1.7 adds song mode and more, in yet another update

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 19 Jul 2018 5:55 pm

Every time you think, okay, that’s the last update for Novation’s Circuit – there’s another one. What started as a simply entry-level groove box continues to evolve.

Version 1.7 is out now. As with past updates, you can get it by connecting your Circuit and heading to Novation’s Web hub for content, updates, and managing your own creations, Novation Components.

Find it here:
https://components.novationmusic.com/circuit/new-pack

New in this build:

Chain patterns, make songs. It’s called “Pattern Chain Sequence,: and it lets you chain together up to 32 patterns into a chain… or even chain chains into more chains, for 16 chains of patterns, then select any order you want. You can also use this live as you play by appending patterns.

Tied/drone notes. Each step can be tied to another, all the way into long drones.

Nudge off the grid: Each step gets 1-5 ticks delay, or use Synth Micro-Nudge “create new, more complex rhythms like triplets across the beat.”

Novation Circuit updates … they just keep going … and going … and going …

The post Novation Circuit 1.7 adds song mode and more, in yet another update appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Arturia DrumBrute Impact: smaller size, bigger sound, $349

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 19 Jul 2018 4:28 pm

Talk about less is more. The Arturia DrumBrute impact is sure to be a hit at US$349 for a packed analog drum machine – but its newfound focus and re-built sounds also make it more fun to play.

Fitting a drum machine into a smaller size and cutting the price this low does mean taking some things out. But it’s what’s left in that may make people find the DrumBrute Impact appealing.

Arturia has been trying their hand at drum machines for a while. It began on the software side, with the Spark series, but the workflow and functionality of that line never seemed to grab users quite like with Native Instruments’ Maschine or Ableton Live combined with Push, to say nothing of people who want to get away from the computer and use some hardware. The DrumBrute was promising, packing some novel analog sound circuitry together with workflow features from Spark and BeatStep Pro, but its sound felt like a work in progress. (Case in point: my studio neighbor has one and loves it, but he mutes the kick and replaces it with something else. Making drum machines is hard.

So, that’s the surprise of DrumBrute Impact. The “impact” which I thought was just smart marketing for it being small and cheap actually is a clue to the fact that the Impact has all new circuitry inside. It’s the Arturia brain here, but the soul has been upgraded.

Finally, Arturia have made something that doesn’t just feel like another Roland TR drum machine. And that’s good, because much as I love the TR, having only that color is a bit like having a Wurlitzer but no Rhodes. But simultaneously, it also sounds like a new set of sounds you want to use, without requiring you to invest a huge amount of money in those sounds. The original DrumBrute sounds pretty good – don’t get me wrong – but this sounds better, which is …better.)

The result: this thing hits really hard. That matters. We’re humans. We like things that go thud. We can feel it. This isn’t theory; it’s visceral.

The sound engine:

You get a full complement of parts, each analog and with controllable parts. “Analog” remains something of a marketing hook, but the important thing about these parts is you get a set of sounds you can manipulate directly. That means:

KICK: pitch and decay
SNARE 1: snap and decay.
SNARE 2: tone and decay.
TOM: pitch, switch between high/low.
CYMBAL: decay.
COWBELL
CLOSED HAT: tone
OPEN HAT: decay (mute linked to the open hat)
FM DRUM: carrier pitch, decay, FM amount, and mod pitch.

I’ll work on some videos and music in the coming days. Drum machines are all about taste, so you may differ, but I liked each one of these sounds – which is really hard to get on a new machine. (The TR has a huge advantage based on familiarity, too. None of us can really say what we’d think of it if someone brainwiped us and we hadn’t heard any the music made with Rolands over the years.)

More importantly, you get a huge range as you twist the encoders on these, with a sense of power across that range rather than that usual feeling of … okay, this is the sweet spot and the rest is shite.

Snare 2, for instance, can sound like a rimshot or a clap, even, depending on where you adjust it, and lots of things in between. Tom Low easily doubles as a kick with a darker color. The cowbell is an exception, but it’s a nice grown-up homage to Roland.

It’s really the FM voice that’s the big winner, though. And it’s clear you could not only cook up some unexpected percussion with it, but also hack it into a usable, potentially weird if you want, FM bass synth.

Features:

If you want lots of I/O, well… come on, this thing is $349. But you still do manage a mono mix out, four separate outs for parts, and dedicated clock in/out, MIDI in/out, and USB.

Arturia could have made this a fairly dumb box that’s just a sound engine, but they crammed a whole lot of powerful features for playing into it, as you might expect from some of their past outings. So you get:

Step sequencing with 64 patterns (64 steps each)
Song mode for chaining patterns
Polyrhythms (set each track to its own length)
Swing, either global or per-instrument
Random pattern variations
Pattern looper, beat repeat
Real-time rolls (with that touch strip again)
Multiple sync options: Internal / MIDI / Clock, including 1PPS, 2PPQ, DIN24, and DIN48
Per-drum accents

There’s even a metronome that automatically overrides itself on the main out when you plug in headphones.

You don’t have easy MPC-style note repeat, which I personally prefer to those touch rolls, and the drum pads are basic (though you get one for each part, unlike the more expensive Roland TR-8S). Other than that, it’s hard to complain.

One surprise is the distortion circuit. It’s nice, and adds some dirt, but I almost expected something raunchier. Anyway, it’s useful to have, and you can always run those outs through some distortion pedals and really go nuts. I did run it through some light effects and delays, and it sounds unreal.

I mean, what’s to say? This thing is going to sell like crazy. $349 / 299 €. Preorder now, full availability in August.

It’s turning out to be quite a summer for hardware drum machines, with the ongoing success of the Elektrons (and some updates), the breakout hit Roland TR-8S, the coming boutique MFB TanzBar II, and now this as your cost-effective choice. If you’re still failing to play drum machines live or writing dull drum parts, you have no excuse.

https://www.arturia.com/products/hardware-synths/drumbrute-impact/overview

The post Arturia DrumBrute Impact: smaller size, bigger sound, $349 appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Star Shepard is Legowelt’s insane hacked-together DIY synth

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 18 Jul 2018 11:37 pm

This is a serious Frankenstein’s monster: a DIY synth made of a 1981 Casio keyboard, an AM radio, stompboxes, and more – and held together with glue and tape.

Legowelt is somewhere between modding, circuit bending, and instrument design here, concocting a kind of wonky workstation of weirdness from the cannibalized bits of other stuff.

Essentially, it’s a Casio keyboard fed through a series of effects and circuit-bent circuitry, with a looper pedal thrown in and an AM radio as noise source. Maestro Legowelt explains:

Enter the STAR SHEPHERD a synth I Build/bent/hacked/modified from old guitar pedals FX and EQ boxes, a small AM radio and a 1981 Casio 403 keyboard. The oscillator section is made out of Pitchshifter/Harmonizers/Sub Octavers and a graphic EQ pedal to create complex harmonic tones – transmorphed from the simple keyboard sounds fed by the Casio. The sound then goes through a bunch of circuitbend Analog delays, reverbs, Tremolos & Vibratos (figuring as makeshift LFO sources) and Wahwah pedals as filters. The AM radio is figuring as a random noise source. There is also a very simple keyboard style ‘sequencer’ made from a looper pedal.

The case is made out of cheap plywood and everything is held together with screws, glue and tape. There are also some LED strips pulsating from the inside for some extra intense magic.

It is very noisey, crackly and sometimes starts doing its own thing like some sentient synthesizer being that is alive. This makes it quite an adventurous experience.

It has all the spirit of electronics pioneer Reed Ghazala’s original notion of circuit bending: it’s modification of equipment as a way to “evolve” it into some organic machine life. But that AM radio alone gives it some unique and scifi sounds. It sounds like a whole studio for some rich communist-era space epic. And the formants on the filters give you the impression it’s singing to you.

Listen/watch:

Oh yeah, and there’s a painting, entitled “The Star Shepherd guiding his flock through Palm Springs”. Of course:

Your store-bought synth is now way too new, too generic, and involves too little taped-together assembly.

More of this on the official site, which has an impressive 1996 Web design:

http://www.legowelt.org/

The post Star Shepard is Legowelt’s insane hacked-together DIY synth appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Modular for dancing: Florian Meindl and Leonard de Leonard

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 17 Jul 2018 9:15 pm

Yes, nests of patch cords and racks of modules will make noodle-y noise for chin scratching. It can also make pounding techno – and we’re going inside some of the sonic brains who’ve mastered that.

Our mission: let’s learn how people are actually using modular synthesis to express their musical ideas, and demystify some of the basic concepts in sound creation behind all those cool flashing lights and tangles of wire.

To do that, we need musicians like Florian and Leonard.

Join the Facebook event to tune into the live stream
Roland + CDM + Florian Meindl + Leonard de Leonard, talking modular synths
Wednesday July 18
7 PM Berlin / 1 PM New York / 10 AM San Francisco / 2 AM Thursday Tokyo

Florian Meindl and Leonard de Leonard will join us tomorrow in Berlin thanks to Roland organizing a visit in the artist center they’ve set up in Kreuzberg. These are two producers with a deep knowledge of music history and production skills as well as technical knowledge. They’re proof that musicianship is a combination of engineering and intuition. So whether you’re interests tend to beats or beatless, the main takeaway is that they can master creative sound design as an instrument.

Florian in the studio.

Florian has been a guest with CDM (and Roland) once before. He’s a real workhorse of Berlin’s techno scene, having produced music for about a decade and a half, various high-profile remixes (Hot Chip & Royksopp), and helmed a label (FLASH) that has released a who’s who of quality techno from around the world – with a stunning 130 releases, ranging from Sigha to Noncompliant, and not a dud in the bunch. I have to say from trying to juggle multiple threads like this, this stuff isn’t easy. He’s also some kind of ninja of social media.

Plus, for synth lovers, his Riemann Kollektion and Riemann Modular build businesses around boutique sounds and DJ tools and Eurorack modular, respectively.

Florian’s hybrid DJ sets effortlessly mix from club bangers to fluid modular improvisations – I saw particularly heavy, concrete-shaking sets at both Berlin’s Arena and Griessmuehle recently. I think the key was, the modular stuff never sounded like filler – it was just as dead-on.

Here’s a beautiful example of his music, which goes full-on dark and industrial without ever losing site of groove.

And because the future of DJing is also playing live, here’s his round-up of mixes and live sets:

https://soundcloud.com/florian-meindl/sets/mixes-dj-live

Leonard’s stunning Sound Provider studio, otherwise known as “okay, that’s a good motivation to try to go to heaven when I die instead of Hell, maybe?”

Leonard de Leonard is a kind of sonic polyglot, a deep expert in modules and synths (well beyond my own modular knowledge – let me be totally clear about that), and with a resume across various genres, in composition, arrangement, and production. He’s also worked in sound design. You can tell a really clever producer/sound creator when it’s musically satisfying to listen to samples of their loops – like, his loop libraries sound better than a lot of producer’s tracks.

We’ll also get to look at Roland’s entry into Eurorack modular, a collaboration with Portland, Oregon boutique maker Malekko. What I appreciate about Roland’s work in modular, and why I would chose to work with them, is that they’re helping give back to the odd and wonderful underground collection of people now making modules. So apart from bringing back some of the vintage Roland System 100 designs that helped shape what modular looks like today, they’re also making a point of showing how their modules fit with other smaller makers, in a larger ecosystem.

To tune in, you can join the Facebook event from Roland:
https://www.facebook.com/events/199047457455896/

The post Modular for dancing: Florian Meindl and Leonard de Leonard appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Your smartphone needs a pocket mixer: Roland Go:Mixer Pro review

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 17 Jul 2018 8:00 am

The Roland Go:Mixer Pro packs a complete mixer into a handheld device, and it interfaces with your iPhone, Android phone – or anything else. We got one of the first units to test.

Compact enough to make the compact TR-09 behind it look huge. From left: inputs for guitar/bass (high impedance), plug-in mic (like a lapel mic), phantom power switch (needed for some microphones to function), and a full XLR-1/4″ combo jack for a mic – that last one is why it’s got the big bulge.

Your phone is missing a mixer

Smartphones at least ought to mean that we don’t carry around dedicated recorders (and their batteries and SD cards) as often. Your iPhone or Android phone or other mobile device also boasts apps for editing and managing recordings, even before you get into more creative production and live effects tools. And most importantly, they’re connected for live streaming or uploading the results.

Various products will let you connect and record instruments, or serve as more practical sound recording solutions for video shoots.

But what about the scenarios where you have a send of sound toys, synths and drum machines, instruments and microphone, or even different gadgets (like a jam session with a couple of iPads or a couple of fun phone apps)?

That’s where the Go:Mixer Pro comes in. It’s a stereo in/stereo out interface to phones and smartphones and computers, but it’s also a mixer. (It’s a standalone mixer, too, and you might even wind up using it just as much as that.)

You can connect and mix multiple inputs (9 channels in, 2 channels out):

  • Two 1/8″ stereo line inputs (for other mobile gadgets, a drum machine, a synth, whatever)
  • Two 1/4″ instrument inputs (two mono or one stereo pair)
  • Guitar/bass instrument 1/4″ jack input
  • Minijack plug-in mic (for a lapel mic, etc.)
  • One XLR/jack combo mic connection with phantom power

That’s the domain normally of ultra-small Behringer mixers and … not much else beyond that. Depending on the gear you’re using and whether you want mono and stereo connections, that’s somewhere between four and six independent sources.

There’s no line-level output – just a monitor output, though I did connect it to my studio mixer.

But there’s also a USB connection round the back. So the Go:Mixer Pro is also a 48K/16-bit stereo audio interface – you get two channels of input and two channels of output.

Front jacks – those are actually two separate inputs (each stereo) on the right.

USB means out-of-the-box support for computers and Android (OTG) phones and so on, a well as Raspberry Pi and other goodies. For iOS, Roland also supports “Made for iPhone” and includes a Lightning cable, so you get seamless operation with iPhones and iPads.

This isn’t a multichannel audio interface, only stereo, but that still fits many use cases – like recording gigs and jam sessions.

While it’s billed as a phone accessory, the mixer also works standalone – so you can just use that USB jack for power, via the dongle you already have for your phone or other gadget.

Three cables are included, for each possible device.

Form factor

Roland has packed this mixer/interface into a tiny form factor. The footprint is only about as deep as the iPhone 6 is tall. And it’s fairly slim, apart from a big bulge at the back to house the XLR combo jack and a battery compartment.

The batteries come in handy – you’ll need them to use the mixer standalone without USB power plugged in, if you want to avoid drawing power from your phone, or if you want to use a mic with phantom power with your iPhone. (Android phones will let you draw battery from the phone for phantom power; Apple are … more protective.)

Roland has included all the necessary cables in the box – USB-C, Micro USB, and Apple Lightning connections. That covers just about any computer or external power or Android or Apple phone.

But that cute little tabletop format is awfully useful. Yes, it’s marketed for smartphones, but you could also connect a Roland TR-8S, TB-03, and SH-01A to this little gadget for some on-the-go acid techno.

One constructive criticism to Roland on out-of-box experience: since this is geared for beginners, it’s a shame the box comes with no batteries and only a sheet pointing to a website in place of a copy of the (very friendly) short manual. Also a bit puzzling as they try to reach newbies: there are graphical icons on the top panel (a keyboard! a guitar!), but text labels on the connections (“instrument?”).

How it works

Operation is really plug-and-play. There’s not much feedback on level apart from a tiny “PEAK” light, but that’s okay — there are big, easy-to-see knobs.

Routing is rudimentary, but there’s a useful LOOP BACK switch – this records video while looping audio from your phone back into the device. Roland suggests doing this when you want to “play back music” while shooting video, but obviously it’s useful for production applications, as well.

And in case you forgot Roland is a Japanese company, there’s a karaoke mode. A center cancel feature is designed to remove vocals so you can host your own karaoke night.

Roland also makes Android and iOS devices intended for shooting video, though any audio device-aware application will also make good use of the hardware.

Here’s what’s really important: the thing sounds good. The mic pre and mix circuitry is transparent – I tried it with a couple of higher-end condenser mics and had no qualms inserting the mixer in my studio signal chain.

And that’s what sets this and some other recent mobile gear apart. It’s consumer-friendly, yes — but there’s no reason you can’t use this as a serious studio tool, as well. And that’s how it should be.

Key specs:
Runs on USB or 4xAAA batteries or your phone
170 mA power draw
Size: 104 x 155 x 41 mm, 220 g (that’s 8 oz)

Street price: USD$169.99 – okay, that’ll turn some people off, but frankly I’m glad to have a quality, quiet mixer

Battery case, and the two instrument jacks – you can use those as two mono inputs, or a stereo pair.

The competition

Anyone who’s been to a Berlin flea market in the past half decade will no doubt be reminded of the locally made POKKETMIXER. But that device, while a cute and cool proof of concept, is entirely unpowered, so it only mixes headphone outputs. It’s useful for crossfading between two smartphones, and that’s about it.

IK have so many devices that it’s possible one of theirs is more what you need than the Go:Mixer Pro. If it’s mainly an interface you want, for a guitar, for a mic, or for line recordings, IK Multimedia has an array of options. Apart from specialized guitar, stompbox/pedalboard, and AV options, the iRIG Pro DUO is most capable with dual preamps and balanced outputs. That interface also, crucially, has MIDI. (IK also makes standalone MIDI interfaces.)

And then there are devices that are just mixers, though for the moment few are challenging Behringer’s offerings in the subcompact mixer space. Some of those additionally have USB audio interface capability ,but that’s not the same as native iOS support, and they tend to be bulkier than this.

So to me, the Go:Mixer Pro just solved a major need for quick recordings and jam sessions. The fact that it’s a mixer as well as an interface makes it doubly convenient, and easy access to those input levels is also a big plus.

I just wish the interface with the Roland brand on it had MIDI, too – this is just shy of being an ideal ultra-compact mixer for, say, the Boutique Series. But I plan to make this a permanent part of my carry-on, and I bet I’m not alone.

https://www.roland.com/global/products/gomixer_pro/

The post Your smartphone needs a pocket mixer: Roland Go:Mixer Pro review appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Exploring a journey from Bengali heritage to electronic invention

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Labels,Scene | Mon 16 Jul 2018 8:42 pm

Can electronic music tell a story about who we are? Debashis Sinha talks about his LP for Establishment, The White Dog, and how everything from Toronto noodle bowls to Bengali field recordings got involved.

The Canadian artist has a unique knack for melding live percussion techniques and electro-acoustic sound with digital manipulation, and in The White Dog, he dives deep into his own Bengali heritage. Just don’t think of “world music.” What emerges is deeply his and composed in a way that’s entirely electro-acoustic in course, not a pastiche of someone else’s musical tradition glued onto some beats. And that’s what drew me to it – this is really the sound of the culture of Debashis, the individual.

And that seems connected to what electronic music production can be – where its relative ease and accessibility can allow us to focus on our own performance technique and a deeper sense of expression. So it’s a great chance not just to explore this album, but what that trip in this work might say to the rest of us.

CDM’s label side project Establishment put out the new release. I spoke to Debashis just after he finished a trip to Germany and a live performance of the album at our event in Berlin. He writes us from his home Toronto.

First, the album:

I want to start with this journey you took across India. What was that experience like? How did you manage to gather research while in that process?

I’ve been to India many times to travel on my own since I turned 18 – usually I spend time with family in and near Kolkata, West Bengal and then travel around, backpacking style. Since the days of Walkman cassette recorders, I’ve always carried something with me to record sound. I didn’t have a real agenda in mind when I started doing it – it was the time of cassettes, really, so in my mind there wasn’t much I could do with these recordings – but it seemed like an important process to undertake. I never really knew what I was going to do with them. I had no knowledge of what sound art was, or radio art, or electroacoustic music. I switched on the recorder when I felt I had to – I just knew I had to collect these sounds, somehow, for me.

As the years went on and I understood the possibilities for using sound captured in the wild on both a conceptual and technical level, and with the advent of tools to use them easily, I found that to my surprise that the act of recording (when in India, at least) didn’t really change. I still felt I was documenting something that was personal and vital to my identity or heart, and the urge to turn on the recorder still came from a very deep place. It could easily have been that I gathered field sound in response to or in order to complete some kind of musical idea, but every time I tried to turn on the recorder in order to gather “assets” for my music, I found myself resisting. So in the end I just let it be, safe in the knowledge that whatever I gathered had a function for me, and may (or may not) in future have a function for my music or sound work. It didn’t feel authentic to gather sound otherwise.

Even though this is your own heritage, I suppose it’s simultaneously something foreign. How did you relate to that, both before and after the trip?

My father moved to Winnipeg, in the center of Canada, almost 60 years ago, and at the time there were next to no Indian (i.e. people from India) there. I grew up knowing all the brown people in the city. It was a different time, and the community was so small, and from all over India and the subcontinent. Passing on art, stories, myth and music was important, but not so much language, and it was easy to feel overwhelmed – I think that passing on of culture operated very differently from family to family, with no overall cultural support at large to bolster that identity for us.

My mom – who used to dance with Uday Shankar’s troupe would corral all the community children to choreograph “dance-dramas” based on Hindu myths. The first wave of Indian people in Winnipeg finally built the first Hindu temple in my childhood – until then we would congregate in people’s basement altars, or in apartment building common rooms.

There was definitely a relationship with India, but it was one that left me what I call “in/between” cultures. I had to find my own way to incorporate my cultural heritage with my life in Canada. For a long time, I had two parallel lives — which seemed to work fine, but when I started getting serious about music it became something I really had to wrestle with. On the one hand, there was this deep and rich musical heritage that I had tenuous connections to. On the other hand, I was also interested in the 2-Tone music of the UK, American hardcore, and experimental music. I took tabla lessons in my youth, as I was interested in and playing drums, but I knew enough to know I would never be a classical player, and had no interest in pursuing that path, understanding even then that my practice would be eclectic.

I did have a desire to contribute to my Indian heritage from where I sat – to express somehow that “in/between”-ness. And the various trips I undertook on my own to India since I was a young person were in part an effort to explore what that expression might take, whether I knew it or not. The collections of field recordings (audio and later video) became a parcel of sound that somehow was a thread to my practice in Canada on the “world music” stage and later in the realms of sound art and composition.

One of the projects I do is a durational improvised concert called “The (X) Music Conference”, which is modeled after the all-night classical music concerts that take place across India. They start in the evening and the headliner usually goes on around 4am and plays for 3 or more hours. Listening to music for that long, and all night, does something to your brain. I wanted to give that experience to audience members, but I’m only one person, so my concert starts at midnight and goes to 7am. There is tea and other snacks, and people can sit or lie down. I wanted to actualize this idea of form (the classical music concert) suffused with my own content (sound improvisations) – it was a way to connect the music culture of India to my own practice. Using field recordings in my solo work is another, or re-presenting/-imagining Hindu myths another.

I think with the development of the various facets of my sound practice, I’ve found a way to incorporate this “form and content” approach, allowing the way that my cultural heritage functions in my psyche to express itself through the tools I use in various ways. It wasn’t an easy process to come to this balance, but along the way I played music with a lot of amazing people that encouraged me in my explorations.

In terms of integrating what you learned, what was the process of applying that material to your work? How did your work change from its usual idioms?

I went through a long process of compartmentalizing when I discovered (and consumer technology supported) producing electroacoustic work easily. When I was concentrating on playing live music with others on the stage, I spent a lot of time studying various drumming traditions under masters all over – Cairo, Athens, NYC, LA, Toronto – and that was really what kept me curious and driven, knowing I was only glimpsing something that was almost unknowable completely.

As the “world music” industry developed, though, I found the “story” of playing music based on these traditions less and less engaging, and the straight folk festival concert format more and more trivial – fun, but trivial – in some ways. I was driven to tell stories with sound in ways that were more satisfying to me, that ran deeper. These field recordings were a way in, and I made my first record with this in mind – Quell. I simply sat down and gathered my ideas and field recordings, and started to work. It was the first time I really sustained an artistic intention all the way through a major project on my own. As I gained facility with my tools, and as I became more educated on what was out there in the world of this kind of sound practice, I found myself seeking these kinds of sound contexts more and more.

However, what I also started to do was eschew my percussion experience. I’m not sure why, but it was a long time before I gave myself permission to introduce more musical and percussion elements into the sound art type of work I was producing. I think in retrospect I was making up rules that I thought applied, in an effort to navigate this new world of sound production – maybe that was what was happening. I think now I’m finding a balance between music, sound, and story that feels good to me. It took a while though.

I’m curious about how you constructed this. You’ve talked a bit about assembling materials over a longer span of time (which is interesting, too, as I know Robert is working the same way). As we come along on this journey of the album, what are we hearing; how did it come together? I know some of it is live… how did you then organize it?

This balance between the various facets of my sound practice is a delicate one, but it’s also driven by instinct, because really, instinct is all I have to depend on. Whereas before I would give myself very strict parameters about how or what I would produce for a given project, now I’m more comfortable drawing from many kinds of sound production practice.

Many of the pieces on “The White Dog” started as small ideas – procedural or mixing explorations. The “Harmonium” pieces were from a remix of the soundtrack to a video art piece I made at the Banff Centre in Canada (White Dog video link here???), where I wanted to make that video piece a kind of club project. “entr’acte” is from a live concert I did with prepared guitar and laptop accompanying the works of Canadian visual artist Clive Holden. Tracks on other records were part of scores for contemporary dance choreographer Peggy Baker (who has been a huge influence on how I make music, speaking of being open). What brought all these pieces together was in a large part instinct, but also a kind of story that I felt was being told. This cross pollination of an implied dramatic thread is important to me.

And there’s some really beautiful range of percussion and the like. What are the sources for the record? How did you layer them?

I’ve quite a collection, and luckily I’ve built that collection through real relationships with the instruments, both technical and emotional/spiritual. They aren’t just cool sounds (although they’re that, too) — but each has a kind of voice that I’ve explored and understood in how I play it. In that regard, it’s pretty clear to me what instrument needs to be played or added as I build a track.

Something new happens when you add a live person playing a real thing inside an electronic environment. It’s something I feel is a deep part of my voice. It’s not the only way to hear a person inside a piece of music, but it;s the way I put myself in my works. I love metallic sounds, and sounds with a lot of sustain, or power. I’m intrigued by how percussion can be a texture as well as a rhythm, so that is something I explore. I’m a huge fan of French percussionist Le Quan Ninh, so the bass-drum-as-tabletop is a big part of my live setup and also my studio setup.

This programmatic element is part of what makes this so compelling to me as a full LP. How has your experience in the theater imprinted on your musical narratives?

My theater work encompasses a wide range of theater practice – from very experimental and small to quite large stages. Usually I do both the sound design and the music, meaning pretty much anything coming out of a speaker from sound effects to music.

My inspiration starts from many non-musical places. That’s mostly, the text/story, but not always — anything could spark a cue, from the set design to the director’s ideas to even how an actor moves. Being open to these elements has made me a better composer, as I often end up reacting to something that someone says or does, and follow a path that ends up in music that I never would have made on my own. It has also made me understand better how to tell stories, or rather maybe how not to – the importance of inviting the audience into the construction of the story and the emotion of it in real time. Making the listener lean forward instead of lean back, if you get me.

This practice of collaborative storytelling of course has impact on my solo work (and vice versa) – it’s made me find a voice that is more rooted in story, in comparison to when I was spending all my time in bands. I think it’s made my work deeper and simpler in many ways — distilled it, maybe — so that the story becomes the main focus. Of course when I say “story” I mean not necessarily an explicit narrative, but something that draws the listener from end to end. This is really what drives the collecting and composition of a group of tracks for me (as well as the tracks themselves) and even my improvisations.

Oh, and on the narrative side – what’s going on with Buddha here, actually, as narrated by the ever Buddha-like Robert Lippok [composer/artist on Raster Media]?

I asked Robert Lippok to record some text for me many years ago, a kind of reimagining the mind of Gautama Buddha under the bodhi tree in the days leading to his enlightenment. I had this idea that maybe what was going through his mind might not have been what we may imagine when we think of the myth itself. I’m not sure where this idea came from – although I’m sure that hearing many different versions of the same myths from various sources while growing up had its effect – but it was something I thought was interesting. I do this often with my works (see above link to Kailash) and again, it’s a way I feel I can contribute to the understanding of my own cultural heritage in a way that is rooted in both my ancestor’s history as well as my own.

And of course, when one thinks of what the Buddha might have sounded like, I defy you to find someone who sounds more perfect than Robert Lippok.

Techno is some kind of undercurrent for this label, maybe not in the strict definition of the genre… I wonder actually if you could talk a bit about pattern and structure. There are these rhythms throughout that are really hypnotic, that regularity seems really important. How do you go about thinking about those musical structures?

The rhythms I seem drawn to run the gamut of time signatures and tempos. Of course, this comes from my studies of various music traditions and repertoire (Arabic, Greek, Turkish, West Asian, south Indian…). As a hand percussionist for many years playing and studying music from various cultures, I found a lot of parallels and cross talk particularly in the rhythms of the material I encountered. I delighted in finding the groove in various tempos and time signatures. There is a certain lilt to any rhythm; if you put your mind and hands to it, the muscles will reveal this lilt. At the same time, the sound material of electronic music I find very satisfying and clear. I’m at best a middling recording engineer, so capturing audio is not my forte – working in the box I find way easier. As I developed skills in programming and sound design, I seemed to be drawn to trying to express the rhythms I’ve encountered in my life with new tools and sounds.

Regularity and grid is important in rhythm – even breaking the grid, or stretching it to its breaking point has a place. (You can hear this very well in south Indian music, among others.) This grid undercurrent is the basis of electronic music and the tools used to make it. The juxtaposition of the human element with various degrees of quantization of electronic sound is something I think I’ll never stop exploring. Even working strongly with a grid has a kind of energy and urgency to it if you’re playing acoustic instruments. There’s a lot to dive into, and I’m planning to work with that idea a lot more for the next release(s).

And where does Alvin Lucier fit in, amidst this Bengali context?

The real interest for me in creating art lies in actualizing ideas, and Lucier is perhaps one of the masters of this – taking an idea of sound and making it real and spellbinding. “Ng Ta (Lucier Mix)” was a piece I started to make with a number of noodle bowls I found in Toronto’s Chinatown – the white ones with blue fishes on them. The (over)tones and rhythms of the piece as it came together reminded me of a piece I’m really interested in performing, “Silver Streetcar for The Orchestra”, a piece for amplified triangle by Lucier. Essentially the musician plays an amplified triangle, muting and playing it in various places for the duration of the piece. It’s an incredible meditation, and to me Ng Ta on The White Dog is a meditation as well – it certainly came together in that way. And so the title.

I wrestle with the degree with which I invoke my cultural heritage in my work. Sometimes it’s very close to the surface, and the work is derived very directly from Hindu myth say, or field recordings from Kolkata. Sometimes it simmers in other ways, and with varying strength. I struggle with allowing it to be expressed instinctually or more directly and with more intent. Ultimately, the music I make is from me, and all those ideas apply whether or not I think of them consciously.

One of the problems I have with the term “world music” is it’s a marketing term to allow the lumping together of basically “music not made by white people”, which is ludicrous (as well as other harsher words that could apply). To that end, the urge to classify my music as “Indian” in some way, while true, can also be a misnomer or an “out” for lazy listening. There are a billion people in India, I believe, and more on the subcontinent and abroad. Why wouldn’t a track like “entr’acte” be “Indian”? On the other hand, why would it? I’m also a product of the west. How can I manage those worlds and expectations and still be authentic? It’s something I work on and think about all the time – but not when I’m actually making music, thank goodness.

I’m curious about your live set, how you were working with the Novation controllers, and how you were looping, etc.

My live sets are always, always constructed differently – I’m horrible that way. I design new effects chains and different ways of using my outboard MIDI gear depending on the context. I might use contact mics on a kalimba and a prepared guitar for one show, and then a bunch of external percussion that I loop and chop live for another, and for another just my voice, and for yet another only field recordings from India. I’ve used Ableton Live to drive a lot of sound installations as well, using follow actions on clips (“any” comes in handy a lot), and I’ve even made some installations that do the same thing with live input (making sure I have a 5 second delay on that input has….been occasionally useful, shall we say).

The concert I put together for The White Dog project is one that I try and keep live as much as possible. It’s important to me to make sure there is room in the set for me to react to the room or the moment of performance – this is generally true for my live shows, but since I’m re-presenting songs that have a life on a record, finding a meaningful space for improv was trickier.

Essentially, I try and have as many physical knobs and faders as possible – either a Novation Launch Control XL or a Behringer BCR2000 [rotary controller], which is a fantastic piece of gear (I know – Behringer?!). I use a Launchpad Mini to launch clips and deal with grid-based effects, and I also have a little Launch Control mapped to the effects parameters and track views or effects I need to see and interact with quickly. Since I’m usually using both hands to play/mix, I always have a Logidy UMI3 to control live looping from a microphone. It’s a 3 button pedal which is luckily built like a tank, considering how many times I’ve dropped it. I program it in various ways depending on the project – for The White Dog concerts with MIDI learn in the Ableton looper to record/overdub, undo and clear button, but the Logidy software allows you to go a lot deeper. I have the option to feed up to 3 effects chains, which I sometimes switch on the fly with dummy clips.

The Max For Live community has been amazing and I often keep some kind of chopper on one of the effect chains, and use the User mode on the Launchpad Mini to punch in and out or alter the length of the loop or whatnot. Sometimes I keep controls for another looper on that grid.

Basically, if you want an overview – I’m triggering clips, and have a live mic that I use for percussion and voice for the looper. I try and keep the mixer in a 1:1 relationship with what’s being played/played back/routed to effects because I’m old school – I find it tricky to do much jumping around when I’m playing live instruments. It’s not the most complicated setup but it gets the job done, and I feel like I’ve struck a balance between electronics and live percussion, at least for this project.

What else are you listening to? Do you find that your musical diet is part of keeping you creative, or is it somehow partly separate?

I jump back and forth – sometimes I listen to tons of music with an ear to try and expand my mind, sometimes just to enjoy myself. Sometimes I stop listening to music just because I’m making a lot on my own. One thing I try to always take care of is my mind. I try to keep it open and curious, and try to always find new ideas to ponder. I am inspired by a lot of different things – paintings, visual art, music, sound art, books – and in general I’m really curious about how people make an idea manifest – science, art, economics, architecture, fashion, it doesn’t matter. Looking into or trying to derive that jump from the mind idea to the actual real life expression of it I find endlessly fascinating and inspiring, even when I’m not totally sure how it might have happened. It’s the guessing that fuels me.

That being said, at the moment I’m listening to lots of things that I feel are percolating some ideas in me for future projects, and most of it coming from digging around the amazing Bandcamp site. Frank Bretschneider turned me on to goat(jp), which is an incredible quartet from Japan with incredible rhythmic and textural muscle. I’ve rediscovered the fun of listening to lots of Stereolab, who always seem to release the same record but still make it sound fresh. Our pal Robert Lippok just released a new record and I am so down with it – he always makes music that straddles the emotional and the electronic, which is something I’m so interested in doing.

I continue to make my way through the catalog of French percussionist Le Quan Ninh, who is an absolute warrior in his solo percussion improvisations. Tanya Tagaq is an incredible singer from Canada – I’m sure many of the people reading this know of her – and her live band, drummer Jean Martin, violinist Jesse Zubot, and choirmaster Christine Duncan, an incredible improv vocalist in her own right are unstoppable. We have a great free music scene in Toronto, and I love so many of the musicians who are active in it, many of them internationally known – Nick Fraser (drummer/composer), Lina Allemano (trumpet), Andrew Downing (cello/composer), Brodie West (sax) – not to mention folks like Sandro Perri and Ryan Driver. They’ve really lit a fire under me to be fierce and in the moment – listening to them is a recurring lesson in what it means to be really punk rock.

Buy and download the album now on Bandcamp.

https://debsinha.bandcamp.com/album/the-white-dog

The post Exploring a journey from Bengali heritage to electronic invention appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Apple MacBook Pro revision boosts CPU, display – so should you buy?

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 13 Jul 2018 7:31 pm

If you’ve been waiting for a revision of Apple’s MacBook Pro, it’s here. And Apple gives its users some significantly improved CPU performance, among other features. That’s not making Mac buying decisions much easier, though.

The MacBook Pro retains the same radical redesign, love it or hate it, that we saw in the previous revision. That includes some choices that upset some users. The keys still lack travel, which can be less satisfying for regular typists. There’s still a TouchBar and no dedicated “Escape” key, apart from one entry-level model (and that entry-level doesn’t get any upgrades). You’re still going to need dongles to cope with the USB-C port. And these models are expensive, especially once you figure in their high-end internal storage and RAM configurations. The 13″ model, the one that’s more affordable, is paired with only internal graphics. The 15″ gets dedicated graphics, but from AMD – and Adobe software is largely optimized for NVIDIA.

Okay, so what’s the good news?

New MacBook Pro 13" and 15"

Well, don’t be too glum. Apple have given these machines insanely powerful CPUs. The 15″ MacBook Pro offers 6-core Intel Core i7 or Core i9 processors. Even the base model there gives you a pretty stupid amount of CPU power – and that’s great for audio, or running expensive soft synths. The 13″ MacBook Pro gives you Quad-core Intel Core i5 or i7 processors.

The other features are more consumer-oriented, perhaps – there’s a True Tone display that adjusts its color temperature automatically, as found on the iPad, and a quiet keyboard.

But if you’re looking for a silver lining, it’s those CPUs. Powerful CPUs + macOS as the platform + the ability to service Apple laptops around the world easily + fast connectivity via those USB-C ports for audio and storage = a MacBook Pro that will make a lot of pro musicians happy. The previous MacBook Pro was no slouch, too, so the other good news is, obviously, bargain hunters can (and should) consider shopping around for used or refurbished or open box models at discount prices.

The trick is configuration. You want to save some money by getting the model without TouchBar, but I wouldn’t recommend that – you get only two USB ports and slower processors. It’s better to shop around for refurb or used and just live with the TouchBar, frankly.

I had a MacBook Pro to test last year. The keyboard I found a bit uncomfortable, but I didn’t have the reliability issues some users have reported. And talking to a lot of musicians with these machines, they’ve all been really happy – if they did express some frustration at being poorer, or having to make spec compromises they didn’t want to make, or both. But they did like the machines. As always, Apple’s industrial quality feels great – the machines are slim, the displays are gorgeous, and the keyboard is … okay, well everything but that keyboard. The TouchBar also seems to grow on people over time, and there are some options for creating custom shortcuts – nothing I’d write home about, and not really a reason to buy the machine, but something that could make you happy enough once you already own the laptop.

No, the problem is, Apple are still damned pricey. You probably want 512MB of internal storage so you aren’t constantly swapping around files just to connect a drive.

That means the “sweet spot” is really this 15″ model:

MacBook Pro 15"

15″ MacBook Pro

2.6GHz 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor
Turbo Boost up to 4.3GHz
Radeon Pro 560X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory
16GB 2400MHz DDR4 memory
512GB SSD storage
Retina display with True Tone
Touch Bar and Touch ID
Four Thunderbolt 3 ports

High-end specs, to be sure – but at a high-end price of US$2799.

If you don’t need the GPU and the bigger screen, the 512M 13″ is the other good price point:

13″ MacBook Pro

Touch Bar and Touch ID
2.3GHz Processor
512GB Storage

2.3GHz quad-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor
Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655
8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory
512GB SSD storage
Retina display with True Tone
Touch Bar and Touch ID
Four Thunderbolt 3 ports

But that’s US$1,999.

The price premium for Apple is hefty. And Windows is a perfectly serviceable operating system for audio production, if you’re willing to make some adaptations. Just be careful in the PC market. You can get some high-end GPUs, which appeal not only to gamers but for video production and creative live visuals (and running Adobe software), but it’s also clear why Apple didn’t opt for NVIDIA – those machines, even though they now increasingly conserve battery life, can run hot. And other PCs, while they have cheap sticker price, show that part of how they got there was cutting corners on industrial design. Check out The Verge’s guide to gaming laptops for a sense of what that picture looks like.

The issue with Apple, though, is that if you do go for a mid-range GPU – the same class that Apple includes in their machines – you can get PC laptops with similar industrial design and much better specs at a lower price. And that’s not the best news for Apple.

Oh, with just one caveat – you know how Apple is showing DaVinci Resolve and not Adobe software in their screenshots? I totally agree. Screw Premiere. Screw Final Cut, for that matter. Resolve is freakin’ awesome – and I have no idea why Adobe are as wedded as they are to NVIDIA GPUs. (Yes, a lot of machine learning stuff is also optimized for NVIDIA, but there are plenty of libraries running now on other architectures.)

It’s kind of a weird time to buy a new laptop – well, as usual. (Compromise! Always…) I’d love to see Apple improve their industrial design here, by coming up with a better keyboard and answering concerns about the GPU, or simply making a more competitive entry level option. But while the PC is stronger than ever, it does feel like we’re just one generation early when it comes to NVIDIA finally getting GPUs with desktop performance but low power generation and heat generation (and they are close).

But that’s just if you care about GPU. For audio production, it’s the CPU that really matters – and hot damn, no complaints there. Both Apple and the PC offer blazing-fast CPUs that still have absurdly long battery life. They now also both have high-speed buses – which on the PC had for a while been a stumbling block.

If you really want a Mac, I’d bargain shop to get a previous generation model with fairly high specs. If you want a PC, don’t fear Windows (and for that matter, Linux) too much.

At least now the landscape is fairly clear as we come into the end of the year. If you’ve been putting off a purchase and suffering with an old machine, the rich array of software that will run on these faster CPUs I think will mean a purchase now will make you pretty happy musically. There’s great hardware out there, but it’s also an exceptionally wonderful time for making music in the box, too. And it’s hard to complain about that.

https://www.apple.com/macbook-pro/

Photos courtesy Apple.

Previously:

Turn that MacBook Pro Touch Bar into a MIDI controller, free

The new MacBook Pro will work with your gear – if you add adapters

The post Apple MacBook Pro revision boosts CPU, display – so should you buy? appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Bitwig Studio 2.4: crazy powerful sampler, easier control

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 12 Jul 2018 6:44 pm

The folks at Bitwig have been picking up speed. And version 2.4, beta testing now, brings some promising sampler and controller features.

The big deal here is that Bitwig is going with a full-functioning sampler. And as Ableton Live and Native Instruments’ Maschine pursue somewhat complex and fragmented approaches, maybe Bitwig will step in and deliver a sampler that just does all the stuff you expect in one place. (I’m ready to put these different devices head to head. I like to switch workflows to keep fresh, anyway, so no complaints. Bitwig just wins by default on Linux since Ableton and NI don’t show up for the competition. Ahem.)

Meet the new Sampler: manipulate pitch, time, and the two in combination, either together in a traditional fashion or independently as a digital wavetable or granular instrument. Those modes on their own aren’t new, but this is a nice way of combining everything into a single interface.

Sampler

The re-built Sampler introduces a powerful wavetable/granular instrument. At its heart are multiple modes that combine effectively different instruments and ways of working with sound into a single interface:

“Repitch” / Speed + pitch together: The traditional sampler mode, with negative speeds, too (allowing it to behave the way a record player / record-scratch / tape transport does).

“Cycles” / Speed only: Speed changes, pitches stay the same. There’s also a Formant control, and the ability to switch on and off keyboard tracking. (In other words, you can scale from realistic-sounding speed changes to extreme metallic variations.)

“Textures” / Granular resampling / independent pitch and speed: Granular resynthesis divides up the sound into tiny bits allowing independent pitch and time manipulation (in combination), and textural effects. Independent speed, grain size, and grain motion (randomization) are all available as parameters.

Freeze: Each mode lets you directly manipulate the sample playhead live, using a controller or the Bitwig modulators. That emulates the position of a needle on a record or playhead on a tape, or the position in a granular playback device, depending on mode – and this is in every single mode.

Oh. Okay. Yeah, so those last two are to me the way Ableton Live should have worked from the beginning – and the way a lot of Max, Reaktor, Pd, and SuperCollider patches/code might work – but it’s fantastic to see them in a DAW. This opens up a lot of live performance and production options. If they’ve nailed it, it could be a reason to switch to Bitwig.

But there’s more:

Updated Multisampler Editor: Bitwig’s Sampler already had multisampler capabilities – letting you combine different samples into a single patch, as you might do for a complex instrument, for instance. Now, you can make groups, choose more easily what you see when editing (revealing samples as you play, for instance), and set modulation per zone. There’s also ping-pong looping and automatic zero-crossing edits (so you can slice up sounds without getting pops and clicks).

Multi-sample mode lets you work with zones in new ways, for more complex sampling patches.

Sequence modulation

There’s a new device that lets you step sequence modulation. Here’s how they describe that:

ParSeq-8 is a step sequencer for modulation.

ParSeq-8 is a unique parameter modulation sequencer, where each step is its own modulation source. It can use the project’s clock, advance on note input, or just run freely in either direction. As it advances, each step’s targets are modulated and then reset. It’s a great way to make projects more dynamic, whether in the studio or on the stage. (Along the way, our Steps modulator got some improvements such as ping-pong looping so check it out too.)

Also in the modulation category, there’s a Note Counter — count up each incoming note and create cycles of modulation as a result.

Note Counter.

Note FX Layer.

More powerful with controllers

Bitwig has been moving forward in making it easy to map hardware controls to software, even as rival tools (cough, Ableton) haven’t advanced since early versions. That’s useful if you have a particular custom hardware controller you want to use to manipulate the instruments, effects, and mixing onscreen.

Now there’s a new visualization to give you clear onscreen feedback of what you’re doing, making that hardware/software connection much easier to see.

Visualize controllers as you use them – so the knob you turn on your hardware makes something visible onscreen.

There’s also MIDI channel support. MIDI has had channels since the protocol was unveiled in the 80s – a way of dividing up multiple streams of information. Now you can put them to use: incoming MIDI can be mapped and filtered by channel. That’s … not exciting, okay, but there are dedicated devices for making those channels useful in chains and so on. And that is fairly exciting.

MIDI channel support – essential for working with MIDI, but implemented here in a way that’s powerful for manipulating streams of control and information.

And more stuff

Also in this release:

Bit-8 audio degrader gets new quantization and parameters for glitching or lightly distorting sound
Note FX layer creates parallel note effects
There’s more feedback in the footer of the screen when you hover over parameters/values
Resize track widths, scene widths
Color-code scenes

Looks like a great upgrade. Beta testing starts soon, to be followed by a release as a free upgrade for Upgrade Plan users this summer.

http://bitwig.com

The post Bitwig Studio 2.4: crazy powerful sampler, easier control appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Eurorack’s prices are dropping, as Herr Schneider laments

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 11 Jul 2018 9:15 pm

With the proliferation of modules, the phrase “Eurorack bubble” has been floating around for a while. But now it appears to be translating into falling prices.

The basic problem is this: more demand means more interest, which translates into more manufacturers, and more production. So far, so good. Then, more distributors pick up the goods – not just boutique operators like Schneider, but also bigger chains.

Where’s the problem? With too many modules out there in the marketplace, and more big retailers, it’s easier for the big retailers to start to squeeze manufacturers on price. Plus, the more modules out in the world, the greater the supply of used modules.

Andreas Schneider has chosen to weigh in on the issue personally. You can read his statement in German:

Jetzt auch XAOC bei Thomann ..

And in an English translation (with more commentary by Schneiderladen in English):

HerrSchneiders statement on current developments in the Eurorack market [stromkult]

There’s actually a lot there – though the banner revelation is seeing the cost of new modules suddenly plummet by 30%:

You asked for it: Due to the increased demand for Eurorack modules in Europe, even the large retailers for musical instruments are now filling the last corners of their warehouses and buying complete production runs from manufacturers and everything else they can get. Some manufacturers might be happy about this, but the flooding of the market already leads to a significant drop in prices here and there, some modules are already available with a 30% discount on the original calculated price and yet were still quite hot the other day!

As SchneidersLaden we have decided to go along with this development and of course offer corresponding products for the same price to our customers, although most of them have already bought them when the goods were still fresh and crisp! We’re almost a little sorry about that, but hopefully the hits are already produced and the music career is up and running? Nevertheless, sorry – but the decision for this way lies with the manufacturer and was not our recommendation!

By the way… we don’t advertise with moneyback-warranty… we’ve always practiced it. But please: get advice first, then buy – like in the good old days. Because it’s better to talk to your specialist retailer – we know what we are selling. And by the way: We do free shipping throughout Europe and there are Thursdays on that we are in the shop until nine o’clock in the evening …and real CHAOS serves creativity.

That had to be said – end of commercial break.

Okay, so some different messages. To manufacturers, with whom Schneider seems to place a lot of the blame, the message is to avoid glutting the market by selling so many units that then they lose their price margin. (That seems good advice.) There’s also a “dance with the one that brung you” attitude here, but that’s probably fair, as well.

To buyers, work with specialists, and please research what you buy so you don’t shoulder retailers and manufacturers with lots of returns. That seems good advice, too.

(Hope I’ve paraphrased that fairly.)

It does seem there’s a looming problem beyond just what’s here, though. For the community to continue to expand, it will have to find more new markets. It does seem some saturation point is inevitable, and that could mean a shakeout of some manufacturers – though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The used market should also be a worry, though on the other hand, some people do always seem to buy new.

I’d echo what the two posts here say, which is the synth maker world will likely be healthy if manufacturers and consumers do some research and support one another.

Before anyone predicts the sky is falling, I’ve had a number of conversations with modular makers. Those with some experience seem to be doing just fine, even if some have expressed concern about the larger market and smaller and newer makers. That is, those with some marketing experience and unique products still see growth – but that growth may not translate to greener manufacturers who are trying to cram into what is becoming a crowded field.

Other thoughts? Let us know.

The post Eurorack’s prices are dropping, as Herr Schneider laments appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

The strange, cartridge-powered speech of TI Touch & Tell

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 11 Jul 2018 4:23 pm

No, not the better-known Speak & Spell. TI’s 1981 Touch & Tell was a singular moment in speech synthesis. Here’s its story – and a beautiful circuit bent mod.

Before the iPad, the Texas Instruments Touch & Tell was a kid’s robotic learning assistant – a marvel of simple chip-based electronics combined with some Reagan-era toy design and mechanical engineering. As was the fad in home game systems, you added capabilities by popping in cartridges.

The Smithsonian in Washington, DC found it important enough to put the Touch & Tell in its collections. And yes, gasp – the Smithsonian has a chip collection. (Sorry, there’s a link hole to destroy productivity for the rest of today.)

http://smithsonianchips.si.edu/texas/t_453.htm

I spoke with Ivo Ivanov, who had for some years made gorgeous custom modifications of this and other 80s classics. He was giving them slick futuristic paint jobs and useful, expressive circuit bend controls for transforming and glitching out the sound.

He shares more tidbits about these gems:

Cartridges pose with one of Ivo’s mods.

Yes, the little cartridges are basically vocabulary add-on carts. They each have a specific theme, with words and phrases that pertain to the theme. My favorite is the “World of Transportation” (yellow cart) which talks a lot about space, planets, satellites etc. 🙂

There is even a ULTRA rare ET cart that has words and phrases from the ET movie – very hard to find, but very very cool.

OH and there’s even a version of this toy that was made for disabled people – it’s called the Vocaid:

http://www.datamath.org/Speech/Vocaid.htm

The Vocaid has all kinds of “emergency” and “medical” words and phrases which, when bent, are super diabolical haha.

Anyway the cartridges are inserted into the device in a slot that lies under that panel on the left of the unit. Normally, you would need to insert a thin plastic overlay that matches the cartridge – this would activate the pins that give you access to the particular bank in question. I decided to modify that and completely removed the membrane pad so that I could wire up my own bank switches (top row of switches on the face of unit). This way, the user can basically select any bank of words/phrases without having any of the inserts. Much cleaner and more convenient way to access to all possible banks.

Last bit of info on these: the TI Touch & Tell uses a slightly different chip than the Speak & X family of toys. This one sounds deeper and more menacing, which is why I always preferred them. They are also lesser known, which made them a bit cheaper and easier to find.

And they have a nice open flat surface, which was perfect for my painted designs.

A slick, sexy all-black mod from Ivo.

Circuit bent instruments by Ivo Ivanov [Facebook]

Datamath has a nice view of the chips inside:

Reed Ghazala, father of circuit bending, personally designed the modifications of this instrument. What I find so lovely about them is that they deconstruct the voice synthesis in such a way that it really does begin to sound like an instrument – not just a special effect, but some weird, alien approach to producing noise.

Here’s a 2007 video by John Madere employing Reed’s bends:

And here are some other benders modding the VOCAID:

HELP! FIRE! EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY!

Yeah, fits the times reasonably well…

To check out these sorts of sounds in software, look no further than Plogue’s amazing plug-in:

chipspeech

The post The strange, cartridge-powered speech of TI Touch & Tell appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Don’t know how to use Ableton Live? These videos can teach you

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 10 Jul 2018 2:00 pm

Just because everyone you talk to may know Ableton Live in and out doesn’t mean you do. Ableton have quietly posted an official series of videos that covers the basics, quickly.

And yeah, it’s actually a bit funny that we’ve gotten to 2018 without an official set of Ableton videos like this. But here we are – and yes, the quality is a lot better than most of what you’ll find online. Paid training products may still do better on going in depth, but … for the essentials, you’d expect Ableton as the developer to come up with something fast, direct, and free, and that’s what you get here.

If you’re not a Live owner, there’s a fully functioning demo version you can try out so you can follow along with these without spending money.

I’m going to guess for some of you readers, this really is your chance to see how Live works – and for others, this will be an easy reference to point to so you don’t have to personally tutor all your friends.

The full playlist is some 59 videos:

But let’s work through some highlights. Note: you do not need white walls and IKEA furniture to use Ableton Live. 😉

First, I know the stumbling block for many people is just getting sound working and hooking up keyboards and controllers, so you can start there:

And there’s the requisite interface tour:

The soul of Ableton Live, and a big clue to its popularity, is Session View. This screen lets you try out ideas by combining loops, samples, and patterns in various combinations, which is useful for exploring musical materials and for live performance.

This also means you should understand warping – mastering this view will help you manipulate audio “The Ableton Way” – and the interface may not be immediately obvious:

Personally, I like using Simpler (a basic sample instrument), because it lets you quickly move to playing sounds, so don’t miss the tutorial about warping inside Simpler:

Session View is what Live is arguably about. But since the beginning, some Live users have stuck to Arrangement View, a more traditional, linear layout. And some even use this view for live performance. Understanding it together with Session View is the main task in getting comfortable with Ableton’s workflow.

Happily, after some years of users demanding the feature, you can use the two side by side. (I have to confess to not doing this as much as I probably should, partly because I got in the habit of switching as an early adopter of the software.)

There’s a lot more in there for you to explore depending on where your interests lie, but let’s highlight some of the Live 10-specific stuff, as well:

New in Live 10

Live 10’s changes to Arrangement View are really most useful if you learn the keyboard shortcuts, which can now allow you to edit ideas more quickly:

It’s also significant that Live 10 added multi-clip editing, which brings Arrangement View pattern editing more in line with some of Live’s competition:

There are a lot of sound capabilities tucked into the new Live 10 devices, but check out some of these in particular:

Oscillator effects in Wavetable are really cool.

Having Echo in Live 10 is a little like having a hybrid-Roland Space Echo toy with you at all times. But the far-out modulation of delay time is where things go wild:

Live 9 and Live 10, but let’s close out with a reminder that you can use Ableton Link to make it easy to sync other software and mobile apps and jam with your friends:

Got more stuff that confuses you? Software or hardware you’d like CDM to help you learn? Let us know.

The post Don’t know how to use Ableton Live? These videos can teach you appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Escape look-alike Ableton Live colors with these free themes

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 10 Jul 2018 1:04 pm

You stare at its interface for hours on end. Why not give your eyes something different to look at? Now Ableton Live 10, too, gets access to custom colors.

Judging by looking over people’s shoulders, a lot of Live users simply don’t know that you can hack into Ableton’s custom theme files and modify things. And so we’re all caught in drab uniformity, with the same color theme – both unoriginal and uninspiring.

Fortunately, we have Berlin native and leading Ableton Live guru and educator Madeleine Bloom to come to our rescue. Madeleine has long made some pleasing variations for Live’s colors. Now she’s got two new sets (with more on the way) for Ableton Live 10. Live 10 can still read your old color modifications, but because of some minor changes to the interface, files made for its new XML-based format will work better. (Ableton also changed the name from “skins” to “themes,” for some reason.)

Free Ableton Live Themes Set #1

Free Ableton Live Themes Set #2 [I spot a naming pattern here]

To install theme, follow this tutorial (for both Live 10 and Live 9 and earlier):

Ableton Live Tutorial: How to install new Skins

And if you think these colors aren’t quite right, Madeleine has also written a tutorial for creating your own themes or making modifications to these:

How to Create Your Own Ableton Live Themes & Free PDF Theming Guide

There’s even a link there to a graphical theme editor for Mac and Windows with previews, in case you don’t like editing XML files.

“But, Peter!” says you, “you’re just now a paid shill for Ableton, trying to force me to upgrade to Live 10 when I don’t need it!”

Why, you’ve just made me spit out some of this lifetime supply of Club-Mate soda that Ableton has delivered to my flat every day, you ungrateful readers! Of course, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t upgrade to Live 10 — why, it’s The Future of Sound. Oh… wait, actually, that’s Native Instruments’ slogan. Sometimes I forget who I’m shilling for.

Anyway, if you are stuck on the clearly inferior and not-having-an-Echo effect Live 9 or earlier, Madeleine is nice enough to have you covered, too, with a whole bunch of skins for those versions. There are dozens of those, including various from readers:

https://sonicbloom.net/en/?s=ableton+live+skins&submit=Search

And there’s an accompanying guide to making your own skins, as well.

Now, enjoy. I have to go lie down, as I think all this Club-Mate sponsorship has made me feel a bit lightheaded.

You’ll find a ton of resources for Live at Sonic Bloom, the site Madeleine runs. It’s a complete hub for information, which is way better than trying to navigate random YouTube uploads:

https://sonicbloom.net/en/

The post Escape look-alike Ableton Live colors with these free themes appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Go inside Berlin’s synth heaven – and one of its top modular makers

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 9 Jul 2018 6:07 pm

Electronic music is understood by the general public mostly through artists – tech is just something in the background with knobs. But there’s more to the story than that.

And while it’s certainly well known in synth loving circles, Berlin has accordingly been techno capital and club capital, but is finally getting recognition as a mecca for technology.

These two films take you inside one retailer and one manufacturer that have each championed the return to boutique sonic electronics, to patch cables and modular synthesis, and that have resisted anything like mass market mentalities or commodification.

They could have easily been mistaken as throwbacks, but there’s some futurism to the visions of both Mark Verbos and Andreas Schneider. Schneider’s name is associated with Berlin, having established his shop as the hangout, wallet emptier, and community pillar of the synth scene. Verbos, who was himself once a Berlin resident, has only recently brought the modular business he established in New York City across the Atlantic. And even though their wares are unmistakably fetish objects, I’d say both brands make their value proposition through a commitment to adventurous sound. So yes, you get vintage-looking knobs and slightly anachronistic telephone switchboard interfaces. But the investment, their message says, is in exploring strange new worlds and undiscovered sounds.

Schneidersladen, toured by Synth Anatomy, is a clinic and community hub as well as a place to surrender to gear acquisition syndrome. And it retains the same personality and idiosyncracies that mark the larger synth loving scene.

Mapping the Schneider empire is getting tricky these days, but the short version: Schneidersladen in Kreuzberg is the new retail iteration of what was once Schneidersbüro (at Alexanderplatz, the old location)). ALEX4 is a distribution company. Superbooth, while once just an actual booth at the Musikmesse, is now an event series with its own production company.

At Verbos Electronics, Mark – who cut his teeth as a Buchla expert and repairperson – walks through the passion that drives his business in high-end modules. Side note: Mark is also a consummate live techno musician on his own instruments, having fired up these boxes in the likes of Berghain (and, back in the day, the old Ostgut and Tresor). Hearing him play should leave little doubt that these machines are for dancing, not just chin scratching. (You can, of course, attempt doing both at once. Full support.)

Check out the online presence of each:

http://www.verboselectronics.com/

https://www.schneidersladen.de/

Photo: Verbos Electronics.

The post Go inside Berlin’s synth heaven – and one of its top modular makers appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Next Page »
TunePlus Wordpress Theme