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


Spin abstract geometries from your music, with Ableton Live visualizers by artist Arash Azadi

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 8 Apr 2020 5:22 pm

Many of us imagine visuals when we close our eyes and listen to music. Here are two devices you can drop directly into Ableton Live to make that happen – from an artist whose work weaves together visual and sonic realms.

Iranian-born, Armenia-based composer and music and media artist Arash Azadi has built his own body of evocative work that explores imagined topographies of sound and image. (We put out one on our Establishment project – see below.)

What’s special about these devices is you can connect to his imagination – and let these inventions interpret your music live, too. One works with generative visuals, and one with a camera.

Sonic Geometry is a reactive visual generator that spits out gorgeous abstract imagery in response to your sound input. It’s a minimalistic mathematical sacred sonic geometrical trip.

It’s also a great example of Max’s power to allow people to build on one another’s work and create variations. Sonic Geometry began its life as Sound Particles by Kevin Kripper, and Arash took it in another direction. That’s long been a part of music composition (see cantus firmus tradition for one example); patches and code in these environments make it easier in the medium of software.

https://gum.co/sonicgeometryv1

Here’s how to use it, step by step:

If camera input is more your speed, look to Body Glitch, which uses live video as input instead of sound.

https://gum.co/bodyglitchv1

Arash’s music

Come for the Max for Live Devices, stay for the experimental releases? Arash has been prolific lately across a variety of great projects; here are some of the most recent.

His new Structure Experience serves as a platform for artists around Armenia, across the full electroacoustic and electronic spectrum, through-composed and improvised.

https://www.structuredexperience.com/label

That includes Totem and the Fears:

The EP is a sonic pilgrimage of the soul liberating itself from the mind. Through repetitive phrases and circular rhythms, Azadi and Marutian create hypnotic soundscapes to open the windows of listener’s subconscious. The recording is the outcome of a fully improvised set at Azadi’s studio. This is the first time that Arash Azadi appears as the pianist on a record.

Marut Marutian: electric guitar and pedals.
Video by: Karen Khachaturov Photography

https://structuredexperience.bandcamp.com/album/totem-and-the-fears

There’s the side project Marginal Twilight, which marked the occasion of the Persian new year already disrupted by quarantine and lockdowns – a solitary new beginning:

In these times that we all are separated from each other and in fear of death, it’s good to realize that nature is becoming new and spring is bringing life to earth. Even now we can choose to celebrate life and Nowruz the Persian New Year (the New Day) through music and dance.

It’s earlier work, but I’m still quite fond of Arash’s Geosonic Journeys for us – and people slowly keep discovering its aural landscapes:

All the best to all our readers and my friends in Iran and Armenia and around the world. We’re listening. And I miss a lot of you.

The post Spin abstract geometries from your music, with Ableton Live visualizers by artist Arash Azadi appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Not in C: transform pitch with Scale-O-Mat for Ableton Live [M4L/Suite]

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 8 Apr 2020 4:48 pm

120 bpm. 4/4. C major. Yawn. What if you could use those same Ableton Live project defaults to do something different? A new Max for Live devices dares you to do just that.

It all started with an idea from the mighty composer/artist Tyondai Braxton. Developer Tim Charlemagne wove that notion into Scale-O-Mat – an all-in-one pitch transformer device for Max for Live (so compatible with any copy of Ableton Live Suite).

You can start simple – the devices let you change a scale over the whole project. You can filter out notes that don’t fit the scale, or constrain notes to the scale you want. That could mean basic transpositions, too – for instance, if needed by instrumentalists or vocalists.

But Scale-O-Mat goes deeper, too, with multiple devices that talk to one another, up to four different groups, a chord feature, presets, and of course, a ton of scales.

Ableton’s own Push hardware comes with a decent selection of scales and modes, from “church” modes like Dorian to Indonesian and Japanese selections. Tobias Hunke has added to those selections, which you should check out both for use with this device and outside it. Check those here:

https://www.ableton.com/de/blog/explore-new-scales-40-free-presets/

https://abletonkurse.wordpress.com

Scale-O-Mat works in tandem with Tim’s other Max for Live creations, so you can work with his chord device and elaborate modular sequencer.

It’s great stuff, both for people who have had some theory and those who didn’t but want to spice up their lives a bit.

Download for 10 € / US$12 (includes VAT).

https://www.soundmanufacture.net/scaleomat/

The post Not in C: transform pitch with Scale-O-Mat for Ableton Live [M4L/Suite] appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Uganda’s Afrorack goes from modular synths to a DIY disinfectant; more efforts worldwide

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 7 Apr 2020 1:54 pm

Brian Bamanya made a name making DIY modular synths, but now he’s applying voltage to another task – making sodium hypochlorite (aka bleach). Science! That joins a growing number of efforts of DIYers turning to fight the pandemic head-on.

Please, do not try anything like this before reading advisories below.

First off, this stuff is what’s known as household bleach or liquid bleach. Despite the fact that it’s sold readily, it is potentially very toxic – don’t let it touch other cleaning substances based on ammonia and acidic cleaners, for instance, or you’ll brew some harmful fumes. In fact, don’t even leave it sunlight. (Here’s a list of don’ts.) Don’t drink it, obviously (okay, not obvious to some), but also don’t let it touch anything that you’re going to consume – don’t get this anywhere near food.

But used with care, bleach is fantastic. You’ll see it in the toolkits of professional cleaners for a reason – it’s good at certain tasks. And it is very effective on surfaces against SARS-CoV-2, that virus known as the coron— yeah, I know, you hear about it every 15 seconds. Let’s get back to bleach and chemistry, because they’re cool.

But the important thing here is – yes, this can produce a WHO-approved surface cleaner. And no, you should not take any advice in chemistry or health from CDM. Honestly, I’m not sure I would claim you should take synth advice from CDM. Here are reliable sources on bleach and SARS-CoV-2:

World Health Organization on disinfecting [WHO PDF]
COVID-19 – Disinfecting with Bleach [Michigan State University]
National Center for Biotechnology Information on bleach specifically [they’re part of the National Institutes of Health, a US government branch]
Environmental Protection Agency document on the topic

Brian’s approach leans as much on electronics background as it does chemistry, because you can make it by running electricity through sodium chloride salt solution. Yeah – it’s analog. And that’s how it is manufactured.

What Brian is doing that’s clever is making this on a small scale when industrially-produced material has been subject to price hikes – and reusing plastic bottle trash in the process.

Is this a good idea? I don’t want to comment, as I am neither an expert on infectious disease nor anything like a chemist. So I want to put it out there to hear reaction, as normally given the range of backgrounds on the site, someone has an answer. I’ll update this story and our social channels with whatever we hear.

You can support the project here:

https://gogetfunding.com/diy-sanitizer/

And find Brian here:

Bleach is effective in small concentrations; alcohol requires greater purity. But theoretically it should be possible to DIY ethanol alcohol, and off-the-grid types have been doing that before the COVID-19 outbreak. Also, unlike distillation, this will be legal in most places – though be careful not to sell it or make health claims, as that requires a license.

Let me again restate that I am not in any way qualified to talk about this, and you should not listen to me, though you should get in touch if you are qualified, and it is worth reading the experts – if for no other reason than to pass the time.

More efforts from the music makers

It’s also an indication of the changed world we’re in that the synth DIY community in general is in some cases turning to things other than musical instruments.

From Slovakia, Jonáš Gruska of LOM label – an experimental music label and maker of various sound electronics – is one of many people making 3D-printed face masks. (He’s also experimenting with UV hardware, but the face masks I know are being actively advocated by health care professionals around the world for their supplies.)

Groups like NYCResistor, who had been a partner of ours back in NYC, are engaged in similar projects – though the calls are as diverse as places looking for plexiglass boxes for intubation equipment.

Our friend Geert Bevin now of Moog has been making protective gear with UNC Asheville students working at the STEAM Studio:

UNCA students help make protective gear for health care workers [WLOS news]

People are sewing cloth masks, too – originally specifically excluded from guidance, but now part of international recommendations as the contagion and our knowledge of it evolve. Take for instance SewnMasksNYC, and (too many to list here) various efforts undertaken by musicians and media artists in our circle.

Places to find DIY help

I’ll refer to the official US Center for Disease Control instructions here (English + Spanish), just posted as they updated their guidance to begin advocating them. After some mixed messages here, this document is clear and concise and applicable everywhere – uh, once you convert from inches. (Some day, my native country will go metric.)

Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 [CDC]

You’ll also find active open source groups for equipment. The main hub is currently on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/opensourcecovid19medicalsupplies/

With a preferred 3D-printed face shield plan living at:

https://www.prusaprinters.org/prints/25857-prusa-protective-face-shield-rc3

And here’s some music to accompany this article, by Ana Quiroga as NWRMNTC, who I understand has been sewing masks together with curator/artist Estela Oliva in the UK:

We needed some music, for sure, somewhere in this.

Let us know your feedback and what you may be involved in. I certainly don’t mean to intend that everyone in our community needs to contribute in this way – staying at home or doing your day job may be your best bet, and there’s plenty that matters in music itself these days. But I do hope we can use our networks to stay informed and connected.

The post Uganda’s Afrorack goes from modular synths to a DIY disinfectant; more efforts worldwide appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Streamlabs is an easier, free all-in-one streaming app, now on Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 3 Apr 2020 5:40 pm

Start with OBS, the now industry-standard streaming app, and add a bunch of special sauce to make it easier and friendlier. Now you’ve got Streamlabs – and it just added Mac support to its other platforms.

Mention live streaming any time in the past year or so, and someone no doubt told you to use OBS. Open Broadcaster Software, aka OBS Studio, is indeed free and powerful – not only for streaming but live recording, too. (It quietly displaced a lot of pricey and often incomplete commercial screencasting software, too.)

OBS has gotten a lot easier – a cash infusion from Twitch, Facebook, NVIDIA, and Logitech no doubt helped. But it’s still a bit intimidating as far as configuring settings for recording, to say nothing of the manual settings required to then make it upload to various streaming platforms.

That’s where Streamlabs comes in. It’s got its own desktop apps based on OBS, plus apps that let you easily stream from Android and iOS, too. So while you could do all of this on OBS desktop, Streamlabs makes it easier – basically, it’s a bit like having a custom distro of OBS. And then by adding mobile access, those platforms become easier, too.

Looks like OBS – but 100% less intimidating.

So in addition to all the things that make OBS powerful – using any video source or onscreen inputs, switching between them, handling resolutions and recording as well as connecting, you get:

  • Pre-configured streaming platforms and easy login (think YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, etc.)
  • Auto-optimized video settings
  • Custom alerts (so you can also beg for donations, add engagement)
  • Themes and widgets for customizing your stream
  • Built-in chat (normally requiring you to open another window in OBS, which gets surprisingly clumsy fast)
  • Easy recording
  • Cloud backups (so you don’t lose your recording)

https://streamlabs.com

Honestly, having played around with it a bit, maybe the best part of Streamlabs is that all the power of OBS is there, but easier to use. So it doesn’t feel like a dumbed-down version of OBS so much as a polished, beginner-friendly interface with all the same features – and some useful additions.

The easier-to-follow Sources dialog alone is probably worth the price of admission. And price of admission is free, anyway.

The mobile apps also feature a lot of nice integrations on these lines, too. Think similar cross-platform streaming support, importing OBS settings from desktop, and adding widgets for events, donations, and chat.

https://streamlabs.com/mobile-app

The spin here of OBS is open source, like its sibling. It’s based on Electron, so I hope that now that macOS was added, we’ll see Linux, too. Linux users should meanwhile note that OBS packaging has improved a lot across distros, and Ubuntu Studio for instance even bakes a pre-configured OBS right into the OS. I have no idea how much work would be required to do the same with Streamlabs. (PS, you can beta test 20.04 LTS right now and help them squash bugs before what I think will be a very essential global pandemic stay-at-home OS release!)

So, since this is free and open source, what’s the business model?

Basically, you can grab this for free and have a nicer version of OBS. Tips and donations to content makers go 100% to you – no cut for Streamlabs. (Good – and a major difference with a lot of horrible startups.)

Then for a monthly fee, you can add additional effects (US$4.99/month, “PRO”), or a bunch of custom widgets, custom domain and website, and other extras (Prime, $12/mo billed annually).

https://streamlabs.com/pricing

I hope they allow month-to-month billing, but regardless, it’s nice to see a business built on open source software and that still has sustainable business support. (CDM is possible because of just that idea – thank WordPress.)

I’m sure some people are groaning at me even sharing this information, given how many streams are out there right now. But”streaming” doesn’t necessarily mean to a wide audience – it’s useful in any case where you want to teleport yourself around the world (while under stay-at-home orders, for instance) even if it’s to a small group. Plus, even if you haven’t been struggling with this yourself, now you can tip off your friends so they don’t a) bug you for how to set up their stream and/or b) stream really low-quality material you have to then watch.

And I think just as with blogs, the question is not really quantity or openness, but quality – and whether there’s a model for supporting the people putting out that quality. More on this soon.

The post Streamlabs is an easier, free all-in-one streaming app, now on Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

The Internet is throwing synth maker legend Dave Smith a 70th birthday party

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 2 Apr 2020 5:41 pm

Happy birthday to Dave Smith – founder of Sequential, co-creator of MIDI, and the innovator behind some wonderful instruments and tech that make us smile even when we’re in isolation.

And while it sure would be great to be toasting Dave in person, wow has the Internet contributed – with quite a few Prophets and such in the background.

Artists and other inventors – what a bunch. I can needle drop just to give the range. John Carpenter. Jason Miles. Cory Henry. Roger Linn and Ingrid Linn (Ingrid is also an electrical engineer). Monika Heidemann. Dave Rossum. Suzanne Ciani.

Honestly, watching this, you may start to feel like it’s your birthday, too. And it’s a nice reminder of what talented and nice friends we have in the world of synthesizers – a world that continues to add more of you around the world as inventors and artists and thinkers, all three.

Suzanne even speaks Italian and Roger and Ingrid demonstrate that it’s okay to break out bubbly.

Happy birthday, Dave.

PS, if you want to get the guy a gift – Sequential are also joining in supporting musicians during the COVID-19 crisis.

The post The Internet is throwing synth maker legend Dave Smith a 70th birthday party appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Learn how to live stream your music with these two easy, quick videos, gear tips

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 1 Apr 2020 5:25 pm

Okay, so everyone is suddenly live streaming. But the thought of setting this up hurts your brain. Fortunately, two of our friends have put together concise videos to get you started.

Live streaming music performances hardly started with this pandemic era – and to be fair, a lot of us have been putting off working out how to do it anyway. So let’s do it properly. Live streaming can be a good way to connect with people and to try out material. Its main enemy is often technical trouble. Michael and Tom to our rescue!

Tom Cosm has a desktop guide that takes just two minutes – he captures both from his screen and a webcam, which could also work for tutorials, live coding, and more creative ideas.

Tools:

OBS https://obsproject.com

Streaming platform (Twitch, Facebook Live, etc.)

Desktop platforms (mobile and custom options coming soon)

Michael Forrest has a live streaming how-to – from August 2019, and a reminder that this can be a good idea that you genuinely enjoy rather than an endtimes substitute for live performance as civilization collapses and you abandon hope of ever playing for a crowd of more than two people or within 2 meters of a human. (I mean – let’s definitely not think about it that way.)

And there is a ton of useful gear here. From his list (and his affiliate links). Crucially, since the OBS part is pretty straightforward, having a good stand and lighting is essential – and based on my cursory research, you can ship from a lot of electronics providers at the moment even given lockdowns (and not only Amazon, in case you want to protest that company).

Best of all, he’s got a terrifically useful scene switcher script:

https://github.com/michaelforrest/obs-scripts

Rest of the gear:

Streaming software - https://obsproject.com/
Audio Mixer with USB out - http://amzn.to/2eu59iW
Audio limiter / compressor - http://www.fmraudio.com/rnla.html
Wirelessly receive video to computer from phone -  http://bit.ly/2f6ti0A
iPhone app for clean camera feed - http://apple.co/2f6t21J
Tripod - http://amzn.to/2dVuhON
Tripod phone mount - http://amzn.to/2eKAGeV
Lighting LED lighting - http://amzn.to/2ePZxMw
Lighting stand - http://amzn.to/2feGJe8
Video from DSLR
Thunderbolt video capture - http://amzn.to/2eu3iKP
Connect camera to video capture - http://amzn.to/2eKDHfl
Connect video capture to computer - http://amzn.to/2f6vBB5
My DSLR Camera Body - http://amzn.to/2dJ0GF3
Prevent camera from sleeping after 30 mins - http://www.magiclantern.fm/
Wide angle lens if you’re in a tight space - http://amzn.to/2ePXh8e
50mm lens for portraits-style shots - http://amzn.to/2eu37PD
Macro lens for close ups - http://amzn.to/2eu3iKP

Lots of little relevant tips in this video, as well.

And some more gear…

A few more bits of kit I’ve had an eye on. IK Multimedia have started daily livestreams:

https://www.ikmultimedia.com/news/?item_id=9290

But it’s also worth noting they have some rather useful looking kit for podcasting and streaming, particularly solving this on mobile:

iRig Stream is a useful interface, and

iRic Mic Video bundle (and the associated grip and mics in their Creator Series)

…all look useful.

Roland have their GO:LIVECAST which I’ve mentioned, though it seems to lack stereo line input (still trying to get hold of one of these). See also their GO:MIXER.

Sometimes it’s the stuff not specifically directed at streaming that looks most useful for audiovisual use cases. In particular, one friend clued me into the ZOOM U-24 – 2-in, 4-out interface, with preamps:

https://www.zoom.co.jp/products/production-recording/audio-interfaces/u-24-handy-audio-interface

I’m still not entirely seeing the perfect solution I’d imagine here, so I’m keen to hear what you’re thinking.

And this being CDM, absolutely taking your ideas – and intend to discuss some different approaches to online performance, not only the traditional video Web stream. Watch this space.

The post Learn how to live stream your music with these two easy, quick videos, gear tips appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Exclusive: a gig and a half of finely-crafted Riemann techno sounds, free for 48 hours

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 31 Mar 2020 7:20 pm

It’s hard to get that deep, crowded club feeling right now in isolation. So here from our friend Florian Meindl and Riemann Kollektion is a big boost – and a master class in techno craft.

Honestly, I’ve said this to folks before, but I’ll say it again – it really says something to me about Riemann and Florian that these demo songs bang harder than most released music. It’s almost worth just browsing this 1.4GB collection of 24-bit sounds just to understand a bit about how his heard works. (I’ve been browsing through.)

So, for 48 hours, just for CDM, Florian has swapped over the price of one of his best sound packs – Best of Riemann 2019 Techno (24bit WAV – Loops & Oneshots). (Ah, I remember 2019 … so … fondly now …)

There’s now really no reason not to get started. Ableton has a free 90-day trial of Live Suite, just announced, which even includes Max for Live. (It’s normally 30 days.)

https://www.ableton.com/en/trial/

Then you can read the free guides I wrote for Riemann Kollektion to get going:

Tutorial: Unlock hidden sound tricks in Ableton Live 10’s effects

Tutorial: Super Fast Arrangement in Ableton Live 10

Max for Live: the techno producers’ guide

Plus if you have some hardware – even some stompboxes will do – you should also check out Florian’s approach to analog effect chains in that tutorial.

Then stock up on the samples with the free Best of Riemann pack. And sorted.

For some more inspiration, here’s a bit of how Florian works live – very hardware focused, but something you could apply to other setups, as well, in terms of raw musicianship and sound:

The post Exclusive: a gig and a half of finely-crafted Riemann techno sounds, free for 48 hours appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Endlesss is a musical jam app; Imogen Heap, KiNK, Matt Black, more join a stream today

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Tue 31 Mar 2020 9:51 am

If you’re bored of just video chatting with Zoom, Houseparty, and the like, Endlesss might be the musical switch-up you need. And some big personalities are joining in a day long stream today to give you a taste of what it’s about.

First, Endlesss – it’s an iOS-only (for now) collaborative music creation app. The idea is, you get started right away building loops, using built-in instruments, playable pads, and add-on effects. That makes it accessible to first-timers – so it could be ideal for introducing your friends and family to some music jamming now, especially as an antidote to grainy underlit camera footage of all of us in sweatpants.

Plus, hey, slick visuals, for things like this:

Some apps might just dead-end there. But if you are a musician, you can push Endlesss further. There’s an all-critical microphone input, meaning skilled vocalists and rappers and beatboxers can blow this thing away. Instrument and effects packs go fairly deep. And for musicians, you can connect via Ableton Link, export materials (even as stems, at last), and choose custom key, scale, tempo, time signature and quantization.

Yeah, it’s almost like this thing was made by real musicians. And, of course, it was – Tim Exile has led the Endlesss team; he’s known to us as the ultra-virtuoso mega-geek behind Reaktor tools such as The Mouth and Flesh. And that sensibility is here, too – build on looping facilities to let your musical fancies take flight.

So it’s fitting that some key personalities are joining the stream today.

Imogen Heap is of course another defining artist in modern looping-vocal technique.

KiNK has proven that virtuoso live performance has a place on dancefloors, too, even in the age of linear CDJ mixing.

Matt Black and his act Coldcut built some of the software and performances that showed what audiovisual sampling cut-up culture could be.

And there’s more. Flux Pavilion is a major name in EDM at that meeting point between mainstage and producer, singer-songwriter and electronic production. Dan Le Sac is another legendary UK name (and also crossing into game production). And from our Internet music tech world, Gaz Williams of Sonic State is there both as a presence from journalism and synth and bass musicianship – hi, Gaz!

Twitch.tv, while first established for gaming, has of late become a refuge for musicians. Higher-quality streams, better community features that actually work properly, and proper monetization that might not drive artists further into the poor house all set it apart from the major US tech oligopoly providers. (You know who you are.) So this feed is appropriately launching on the channel by touring app Bandsintown with Twitch, just as artists look for ways to keep some trickle of funds and activity coming in during global lockdown.

https://www.twitch.tv/bandsintown/

Tune in today Tuesday daytime UK time. (I’m inquiring about replays for the USA, which will be slowly waking up toward the end of the programming.) If you’re personally puzzling on how to stream while dealing with competing platforms, they’re using the most popular tool for that, restream.io.

And if you’ve got an iOS gadget (iPad and iPod touch work, too), head to:

Endlesss – Multiplayer Music

The app is free, with in-app purchases of additional content.

https://endlesss.fm

The post Endlesss is a musical jam app; Imogen Heap, KiNK, Matt Black, more join a stream today appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Fantastic Voyages, a simulated Tascam Portastudio, and a voice from isolation

Delivered... David Abravanel | Scene | Mon 30 Mar 2020 7:36 pm

From his machines’ novel ideas like neural network distortion to AV installation made from DNA, Giorgio Sancristoforo is a defiant, powerful musical voice – coming to us from deep in pandemic quarantine.

David Abravanel reports for CDM.

“At the end we will make it,” says Giorgio Sancristoforo. “Though I honestly don’t know what to expect in the aftermath.”

It’s an anxious and trying time for the entire world, dealing with the fallout of an unprecedented pandemic. The world’s hardest-hit region remains Lombardy, the northern province of Italy that contains industrial and fashion capital Milan, where musician, software developer, and visual artist Giorgio Sancristoforo lives.

Giorgio is perhaps best known for Gleetchlab, his music software environment designed for making experimental electro-acoustic music. Currently in its fifth incarnation as Gleetchlab X, it includes such unusual features as effects that use neural network modeling for distortion, replicate skips from scratched CDs (instant Oval!) or magnetic data corruption of a hard disk.

Improvisation in Gleetchlab X.

Giorgio’s music and audio-visual art are as eclectic as his software – whether it’s disco house as Tobor Experiment, or, lately, working with radiation and his own DNA sequence as sound sources and controllers.

Shortly before the pandemic hit, Giorgio emerged from a period of relative silence on the software release front with GleetchDrone, a gorgeous synth that showed off his new GUI design – skeuomorphic, yet remarkably clean and very friendly. Now comes Fantastic Voyage, a “Portable Cosmic Studio” inspired by the Tascam Portastudio, and featuring many of Giorgio’s own decidedly experimental ideas. 

I caught up with Giorgio to get a glimpse of his life – the new software, his latest music and audiovisual projects, and living through the pandemic.

“Radiation Grooves”, an improvisation from Giorgio with sonified gamma radiation.

David: You took a break from releasing software, then came back to release GleetchDrone. You’ve been working with DNA, including your own sequence – how did that happen?

Giorgio: I code software for my work almost every day. The software for sale to the public is just the tip of the iceberg. 

I’ve worked the whole year to get my DNA sequenced and to craft a “radiation projector” to use radioactive materials in an installation. I designed several algorithms to translate my genetic code into sound with quaternary mathematics. I call this system “Phonosomic Code”.

Once I get the sound out of my DNA, I use radioactive elements such as Sr90 to stimulate a mutation of the code. This research was possible thanks to the precious help of the scientists of the JRC Nuclear Security Unit, the JRC Biochemistry and Genomics Unit, and the JRC Knowledge for Health & Consumer Safety Unit. The installation was the first phase of this research. 

I am working at 360°with genomics and radioactive materials to produce sounds, images, photos and meta-sculptures and of course software.

The quarantine put many events on hold that I should have attended in Spring 2020, so I thought that I could take a little break and code a couple of new instruments for the people who are stuck at home like me.

GleetchDrone.

GleetchDrone is an impressive interface – were you inspired by any existing hardware?

Well yes. Soma Lyra-8 was the inspiration for GleetchDrone, in addition to some memories of my days with ADDAC modules. (I don’t have hardware synths anymore). 

You know, many times it starts just as challenge between me and me. If I want a certain piece of hardware [in software form], I start coding and see what can I do to improve it for my needs.

For Fantastic Voyage, you said you were inspired by working with a Tascam Portastudio. Do you still have one?

No, I don’t have any analog equipment nowadays, except a Teac A3440 1/4”. But it must be repaired [laughs].

The Portastudio was my first recorder in the early 90s, I literally learned to play music thanks to that recorder. At that time I was into the psychedelic/indie scene (Spacemen3, Stereolab, Inspiral Carpets, etc.) and I learned to play guitar, bass, organ and synths to record songs on that machine. Fantastic Voyage is my ideal stomp-box/studio for tripping guitars, but people will do amazing things with it using any kind of instrument. It’s my tribute to psychedelia.

Fantastic Voyage.

GleetchDrone and Fantastic Voyage were released within weeks of each other. Is there more software that you’re working on? Is this a new series?

I’ll tell you the truth: this very much depends on the length of the quarantine. I’ve been working on my personal software for the DNA work for months and I want to finish this as soon as possible, but I don’t rule out making new public releases in the coming weeks. There is much time nowadays.

An audio-visual installation based on Giorgio’s DNA sequence.

Another of your programs, Berna, replicates a 1950s-style early electronic music studio. Are there any pieces from that era which remind you of what’s possible with Berna?

Berna is 90% a clone of the RAI Studio di Fonologia in Milan, so many musical pieces crafted in that studio could be theoretically re-recorded with Berna. But, keep in mind that a significant part of the job was tape splicing, the machines often played a secondary role in the early days of electronic music. The biggest part was the manual job on tape with scissors and scotch tape.

A classic piece that one could do on Berna is “Scambi” by Henri Pousseur. 

Henri Pousseur – “Scambi”.

Of course, if you are crazy enough, you could record Stockhausen’s “Studie II” (adding a lot of work in a DAW to edit the tape fragments), which was originally made at WDR studio in Cologne in 1954.

In the manual for Fantastic Voyage, you mention that it was developed during lockdown isolation in Italy. Obviously, it’s been a very difficult time for Italy with COVID-19. How have you been doing in isolation? What do you think about the role of artists and developers during this period?

I live in downtown Milan, and my region, Lombardy, has been hit very hard by the virus. We still don’t see the light out here.

As an artist and hardcore nerd my life has not changed dramatically. My loft is my atelier. I have more time to concentrate and fewer distractions, so I am very productive despite the situation. Of course I miss my friends, my bookstores trips, and sushi on the river.  Each time I go to the supermarket I feel a little bit like I’m attending a Russian Roulette party. 

Giorgio, in isolation in Milan.

The most frightening thing for me is the surreal silence broken by sounds of ambulances the whole day. One night we had an army helicopter flying over our heads shining light beacons; it was patrolling downtown, and I tell you, it was not a pleasing experience. I’ve never seen that before. It felt very dramatic, but at the end we will make it.

Though I honestly don’t know what to expect in the aftermath.

It could be a chance to change our society. I hope that this virus will make us better persons. 

But I also see many irrational responses to the crisis. A lot of ideological polarization driven by fear and denial of science, plus a good deal of confusion among politicians and journalists which is now showing how many of them are unfit for the job. The virus is a test for us all. For sure this is an historical event of unprecedented size. We’ll see what the future will bring.

Artists and developers are doing a great job. Artist are hit very hard by the virus with the cancellation of exhibitions, concerts etc. The whole art industry will suffer income losses for millions of euros. Yet the artistic community is doing a great job to make the people who are stuck at home feel a little better, with streaming of music, events, lessons. I am truly amazed by this tenacious response. It is also true that creative people are lucky. They can invest this quarantine time to serve the community and at the same time they have the intellectual means to cope with a long forced lockdown.

My artistic work is about mutation and transformation. Transformation is the very essence of life.

Changes are never easy and seldom painless. We are facing a huge transformation, It’s up to all of us, to turn this tragedy into a change for the better.

War, social injustice, poverty, famine, climate change, are all out there. 

The virus is a tough teacher, we must learn from it. Climate change will be a much powerful enemy, we must be prepared for a bigger war.

The virus shows us how anachronistic and useless are the idea of nations. We are one single planet.

This war will not be fought with weapons, but with compassion, care, solidarity and a radical shift in our priorities.

Stay safe.

Play loud.

Love

Giorgio

Trial/purchase Giorgio’s software – including Gleetchlab X, GleetchDrone, and Fantastic Voyage

Giorgio Sancristoforo on Vimeo

Giorgio Sancristoforo on Bandcamp

The post Fantastic Voyages, a simulated Tascam Portastudio, and a voice from isolation appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Did Apple just leak a new version of Logic with Ableton-style clip launching?

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Sun 29 Mar 2020 8:47 pm

Apple appears to have accidentally leaked an upcoming version of Logic Pro with the signature feature of Ableton Live – nonlinear pattern launching.

While spotted on Reddit, the source of this leak at the famously secretive company appears to be … Apple itself. As I write this, the screenshot is still live on a public education site:

https://www.apple.com/education/products/

If this is real – and not a mock-up that accidentally wound up on the page – it represents a landmark. That landmark might best be described as “what took you so long,” arguably, given that Apple Loops have been a feature of Logic Pro and GarageBand back to the reveal of GarageBand in January 2004. (Time flies!)

We can pretty easily analyze the screenshot. At the top, new icons appear to let you view a nonlinear Session View-style layout, the normal track arrangement, or both. (In this screen shot, the two are side-by-side.)

Navigation icons.

As with other copies of Live’s signature Session View, the horizontal and vertical axes are flipped. So whereas Live shows you tracks the way channel strips appear on a hardware mixer, vertically, Apple opt for a view more like a software DAW. Tracks are laid out horizontally, so that they match up with the arrangement.

The grid. Note the circular displays with waveforms – something seen in iPad apps, for instance – though essentially the opposite of Ableton’s embrace of minimalism.
Remix FX – here made to look very Ableton-esque. (These were in GarageBand; I can’t recall exact versions and the relation to Logic… anyone?)

Really, my issue with this is that you wind up with kind of a jumble of interface elements. That’s been the challenge in other DAWs trying to do the same. (An ill-fated effort in Cakewalk nee SONAR springs to mind; MOTU has tried the same in DP, but it’s a bit too soon to know yet how DP users are responding.)

Part of the appeal of Ableton Live is that the entire engine and software operation are structured around the idea, and the UI is clean and compact as a result. Here, part of the reason people may have responded that the image was fake was that it gives the user a lot to digest.

You’ll also see X/Y-pad effects at the bottom, including a filter and repeater – aping something that was in Ableton Live way back at the start.

I’m not sure how users will receive this. It could represent a blow to Ableton in the crucial education market, however, regardless – because it might allow education buyers to standardize on just Logic seats. But it represents a challenge independent software developers face, up against a company the size of Apple, when it comes to value.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t assume anything until there’s official word from Apple. Given this absolutely represents some kind of screw-up, it’s possible the screenshot itself is not representative of something Apple will actually ship.

And I wouldn’t worry too much about Ableton – the company has proven time and again that users are loyal to its workflow and simplicity, whatever the competition. Those of us sometimes swapping between Logic and Live might meanwhile just find this a welcome convenience. Time will tell.

Mainly I’m just sorry for whoever is working at home who may have, erm, just let this out.

The post Did Apple just leak a new version of Logic with Ableton-style clip launching? appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Arturia, Logic, Final Cut, Reaper, and more offer these free tools while you stay at home

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 27 Mar 2020 10:19 pm

Apple Logic Pro, Reaper, and other free and inexpensive tools mean there’s no reason to stare at the walls in self=isolation. Even if your budget is hurting, you can make some music. Here’s an overview.

Plus, bonus – because all these are free for the next 90s days, they’re perfect for collaborating with friends, since you can make sure you’re running the same software. And even if you don’t collaborate in real-time (yeah, I get nervous when people watch me stream messing around with knobs), this is a way for us to feel a little less like we’re on our own.

Play with Pigments, learn tools, get an iPad drum machine app free, thanks to Arturia.

Arturia have a complete stay-home guide: The Pigments software synth is free through July 3, iSpark drum machine is free on the iPad, plus just as importantly, you can catch a whole series devoted to learning tools, improving skills, checking out livestreams and Q&A, and even sharing your work. It looks like it makes loads of sense – Arturia’s folks are also stuck at home, so we all get to interact:

https://www.arturia.com/make-music#en

Even if you use another DAW, Logic might be worth playing with for its wonderful toys – and once you get tired of only live streaming, Final Cut lets you, like, also edit video.

Apple have made a full 90-day license for both Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X, so you can get to work editing video and making music. (Hey, you could probably spend 90 days just playing around with the Sculpture and Alchemy synths alone!)

https://www.apple.com/final-cut-pro/trial/

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

I recommend you adjust the viewing angle of your monitor. This is seriously not ergonomic. But REAPER is seriously awesome.

REAPER is a great low-cost DAW to begin with and allows free evaluation, but they’ve even created a temporary free license you can use through the 1st of July. Download Reaper if you don’t have it already, then install the license file by copy-pasting text. So they’re even more generous than normally, and their DAW runs on 32-bit and 64-bit macOS and Windows, plus macOS Catalina – just about any machine old or new works. (There’s even an experimental Linux build, or try running in WINE.)

Novation goodies: This actually a normal deal, not pandemic related, but Novation hardware owners can get a free plug-in emulating the rare Sound Master SR-88 analog drum machine, among other goodies. If you missed signing up/registering, and you own some Novation gear, head to – https://novationmusic.com/en/sound-collective

Tracktion Waveform Free is the always-free version of this DAW, which runs on Mac, Windows, Linux (tested on Ubuntu), and even Raspberry Pi . Even the free version has unlimited track count and a simple drum sampler and 4-oscillator subtractive synth. That makes it another ideal choice for collaboration – and you can always bounce down your particular set of plug-ins or output from other software, then use Waveform Free to work on the mix.

Cherry Audio are giving away their starter kit Voltage Nucleus so you can try out modular synthesis for free – with a very capable set of modules already. Get patching and take your mind off the news:

https://cherryaudio.com/free

Also, this is just free. It’s not like, free because of pandemic, it’s just part of the usual free goodies we always get because we’re blessed to be using music software, apparently! But Filterstep looks like a really cool sequenced filter effect for iOS, macOS, and Windows, with a gorgeous interface. Please go use it. I’m afraid to add another filtered effect to my own setup. I rely on you. Thanks to Synthtopia for catching this one.

https://audiomodern.com/shop/plugins/filterstep

Native Instruments came out with their free Analog Dreams instrument, which despite the vaporwave graphic actually covers the full range of analog synth sounds. They’re not new, but while you’re on NI’s site, check out the free Mikro Prism, superb Blocks Base modular synth. and other free stuff.

Analog Dreams

Hainbach has taken his gorgeous aesthetics with tape and analog equipment and made a free sample pack dubbed Isolation Loops. I hear people are already making music with them, so one lovely side effect of this project is people sharing music and not being isolated.

Plus some deals!

Humble Bundle may be best known for gaming and other bundles, but they have a unique Music Producer bundle now. There’s some great Applied Acoustics Software (AAS) starting at just one $USD/EUR. But the really important story here is that they’re supporting Musicians On Call, an organization that sends live and recorded music to people in hospitals. And even if you don’t support this software, I recommend checking out that organization.

Humble Software Bundle: Music Producer

Air Music Tech Ignite is US$9.99 (normally 70 bucks) with a whole bunch of instruments and simple recording facility. There are tons of options here that make this ideal for keyboardists and songwriters, or beginners looking to get some ideas going. And you can use it as a sketchpad for other software – so even if this seems basic for you, it might be a place to start songs before you get lost in more advanced environments like Pro Tools.

Got Ableton Live and ready to finally learn how to use it? Well even with Ableton Loop canceled in Berlin next month, you can get a full 4-week course for free from Berklee on Live Fundamentals. It comes from Erin Barra and Loudon Stearns as instructors, so we’re talking some excellent fundamentals.

Take Your Free Ableton Live Fundamentals Course

Visualists, I’ve got more for you coming shortly.

I’m sure there’s more I’ve missed here; if you’ve got something to share, let us know. I expect we’ll have some great music at the end of all this.

I know you don’t need reminders to stay home and stay safe at this point. So let me remind you instead that your music matters, there’s never too much music, and whether it’s good enough or not is never the question to ask. We all need that reminder now and then. But it’s good to know that even if we’re having some solitary time with music, other people are out there working, too. Look forward to chatting and hearing what you’re making.

The post Arturia, Logic, Final Cut, Reaper, and more offer these free tools while you stay at home appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

There’s a new home for custom visuals and graphics FX – and a $99 on the VDMX VJ app

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 26 Mar 2020 6:41 pm

Find generators and FX for VJing, Motion, Final Cut Pro X, and more – or make your own, in GPU-accelerated ISF format. And need a VJ tool? VDMX is on sale for $99.

That’s the news from our friends at Vidvox, makers of VDMX, and developers of the open GLSL format for generators and effects.

Okay, first – that shader graphics effect… thing. Interactive Shader Format, or ISF, is all about having plug-ins for visuals to make graphics and add effects, accelerated on your computer’s graphics card. There was already a website, but now it’s far cooler.

For visual producers, you can check out sample shaders and browse and search. So this is an easy one-stop shopping guide to some new eye candy:

Browse ISF shaders

Want more resources? Check those here, including with applications you can work with:

https://isf.video/

If you’re handy with code and ready to make your own shaders, the site revision is also ready for you. So – on this week’s theme of “I’m going to learn sword swallowing and Jiu jitsu” yeah, there’s also a primer to learn GLSL, plus an ISF quick start. And actually, if you’re a CDM reader making visuals, getting into a little code for GPUs is not a bad idea.

Once you’re up to speed with your skills, there’s a new code editor – with better error checking, which you’ll want while you debug as you learn.

All of this looks Mac heavy at first glance (VDMX is Mac-only), but TouchDesigner and openFrameworks and Max are all supported, too, so think Apple visual tools, but also VJ apps, but also dataflow environments and live coding tools. There is support for Linux and iOS as well as Mac and Windows in the C++ framework, and there’s even a browser, JavaScript version. See integrations.

But wait – what if you do have a Mac, and you want VDMX as a cool live visual environment? (And it’s one that can easily host all these cool new shaders you just coded yourself / found on the site.) For the next month, the “student / struggling artist” cost is down to US$99. (Full licenses are on sale $249, for any of you mercifully not struggling right now.)

Info on the sale:

https://vdmx.vidvox.net/blog/vdmx-sale-celebrating-launch-of-new-isf-website

Dig through, as they have a bunch of freebies on their site, too.

And I’m having lots of fun here:

https://isf.video/

Pictured at top: Dédoublement, Cie Cobalt, mapping by Silvia Fabiani, built in ISF.

The post There’s a new home for custom visuals and graphics FX – and a $99 on the VDMX VJ app appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Add these Max for Live devices for inspiration in Ableton Live – or learn to make your own

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 25 Mar 2020 6:43 pm

A surprising number of Ableton Live users haven’t discovered the power of Max for Live inside. Here’s how to get started – but, oh, you’ve seen it all before? Okay, smarty-pants, learn how to make your own devices, too.

Beginners and those needing some fresh ideas…

Anxious times can be a big barrier to inspiration. And that’s why this guide is useful now. Max for Live add-ons can be particularly useful not just for solving problems, but pushing you in a different direction or getting you back in a state of play. That’s been useful even for me – I was feeling stuck, and wound up finding some new tools that got me going again, just while writing this.

As long as you’ve got a copy of Ableton Live Suite, Max for Live is waiting for you. If not, it’s also a pretty major reason to upgrade.

I’m thrilled to again partner with Riemann Kollection to make a complete guide:

Read up, get started.

Max for Live: the techno producers’ guide

It starts at the beginning; no previous knowledge – what Max for Live is, how to use it, and how to get started with a lot of useful devices in a host of different categories.

Max for Live has an impassioned following, but I suspect a lot of users of Live are afraid to go there. Here’s the thing: you really don’t need to know how to use Max. The fact that Ableton baked in one the most mature and most powerful toolkits for making music production and live visual inventions means you can use the tools everybody else is making.

As it happens, ELPHNT also produced a two-part list of their favorite devices on maxforlive.com. I purposely ignored this list, and still imagined we would overlap. Speaking to the depth of the M4L world, not one device is on both lists. (I even plugged ELPHNT on my list, but it’s not in the Ableton.com story!) Read: [ Part 1 | Part 2 ]

… and those ready to make your own stuff

Okay, maybe you are curious to dig into Max and Max for Live and try customizing devices or creating your own from scratch? And, uh, maybe for some reason you find you have a bit of time on your hands? Well, you’re in luck.

Ableton has an official page with resources. Pay particular note to this line – “Access the Max for Live built-in lessons by clicking on the Help menu–>Help View.” That’s really where you most likely want to begin.

Max for Live tutorials and learning resources [Ableton]

Probably the best comprehensive resource is this Kadenze course from the imimitable expert Matt Wright; it’s a full course equivalent to serious college instruction, and it’s free:

Programming Max: Structuring Interactive Software for Digital Arts

But for a single video intro, try this:

or this –

or this –

More recently, Cycling ’74 also shared best practices in making devices, which would be useful if, uh, you want to share with others. (I mean, for yourself, be as horrible as you like!)

Multichannel audio is what is really useful in the most recent major upgrade:

Finally, because of the current crisis, you can shadow a college course in Max here. I once taught this course for CUNY. I would not be able to do it now – Max has changed radically since I did it, and I have forgotten a bunch – so I’ll be checking it out! There are some sharp tips in there. (and if you know Max a bit, crank up the speed and pretend you’re Data from Star Trek as you go rapid-fire through the parts you know.)

Overwhelmed?

Well, this is about play. So as I said, it’s totally valid to just grab a fun device or two and … try something.

So I still recommend my guide – as a break from dev work, or if you realize your brain is more tired than you thought and you got over-ambitious (never happens to me – I’m lying):

https://riemannkollektion.com/blogs/techno-producer-knowledge-hub/max-for-live-the-techno-producers-guide

See the complete Riemann techno producer knowledge hub for lots of advice.

Images courtesy Ableton.

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Patterning is as unique and as circular as drum machines get – now on your iPhone

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 23 Mar 2020 7:10 pm

Stuck for ideas and inspiration? Maybe you just need something on your iPhone that brings its own groove and is more, um, circular.

It’s a match that was waiting to happen – the handheld interface of an iPhone meets the drum machine and pattern maker that runs in a circle. That’s a beautiful way to visualize time, waiting only for the modern smartphone screen. (And Star Wars fans, am I the only one who finds this reminiscent of the episode IV radar displays? In a good way.)

It does meters. It does polyrhythms. It has a sophisticated sound engine. It sequences parameters as well as the beats themselves.

Patterning 2 had already matured into a rich, circular interface for exploring rhythm and beats and grooves. And if you want to kick back with a big interface and explore, the iPad is still the way to go. Patterning then becomes an instrument on its own, or a sequencer for other iPad apps, or – thanks to full-blow export and Ableton Link – a sketchpad for your DAW. Ashley Elsdon wrote about this back in the day:

Patterning 2 arrives with a host of new features to play with

But if you’ve got an iPhone handy, and you like having this palm-top based, Patterning 2’s arrival for iPhone will be just as welcome. Okay, “mobile” is not really a thing on planet Earth for most jobs at the moment, but that could mean doing this while cooking, or leaning back in your chair and away from home office and conference calls for a quick groove exploration.

One other bonus on the iPhone version – haptic feedback. That circular interface looks like it belonged there all along.

It’s been amazing to see how iOS has matured. When we started, it was all about simple toys and experiments. Now, the iOS tools sometimes can seem more sophisticated than many desktop counterparts – and they’re all about spawning ideas, jamming with others, and connecting ideas to other apps (whether on mobile or desktop).

That is, basically, what you see in this list:

  • 8 Independent Loops Per Pattern
  • Unlimited Patterns
  • Automation Layers like Coarse Tune, Ratcheting, and more.
  • MIDI Output
  • Export to Ableton Live Set – Comes with Ableton Live 10 Lite
  • Export Perfect Audio Loops in WAV or AIFF format, Stereo or Multitrack Output
  • Export Songs to Patterning 2
  • Import Songs and Drumkits from Patterning 2 (some limitations apply)
  • Ableton Link
  • MIDI Clock Send and Receive
  • Inter-App Audio Clock
  • Multi-track Inter-App Audio Output
  • Hundreds of free factory and user created drum kits
  • Quantize Pattern Launch
  • Haptic Feedback!

http://patterning-for-iphone.app

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Live coders from all over the world are playing music and visuals live online, right now

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 19 Mar 2020 9:37 pm

It’s just business as usual for the live coding scene and algorave movement. From every corner of the globe, freely-coded performance is happening for four days straight – now.

They come from Brasilia. They come from Detroit. They come from Indonesia and Antwerp, Ukraine and Mumbai, Rome and Miami and Japan. They’re running free software and browsers and DIY electronic and visuals. You can dance to what they’re doing. You can’t dance to what they’re doing. This is an experiment.

They’ve all come to Algorave.

youtube.com/eulerroom
twitch.tv/eulerroom
facebook.com/eulerroom

Something rather nice is on as I type this.

Check the full schedule:

http://equinox.eulerroom.com/schedule.html

This is not a new idea, either – TOPLAP live coding community is using this event to celebrate their sixteenth anniversary. So while everyone else is suddenly discovering the fragile nature of our world and the distances between us, these are tools with a significant head start. And the tools are not a gimmick, either – because they’re free and open source and run on low-end hardware, they’re uniquely global and agile.

They’re part of the fabric that makes electronic music now dynamic – and durable.

So algorave on! And hi to some friends playing, see you online soon!

Happy March equinox everyone – spring to the northern hemisphere, fall to the southern. Sonic festivities on the Eulerroom Equinox stretch through 1:30 Greenwich Mean Time 23 March.

(Wait, make that Stardate 97813.31 – 97824.25.)

Want some tools to try live coding now? Many are approachable even if you’re a non-coder – don’t be afraid to try stuff out and break things! Check out:

Gibber – great place to start in-browser

TidalCycles for music

Hydra for visuals in the browser (see our interview with Olivia, the creator)

Side note: I know a lot of these artists and developers will need support soon, in this health and economic crisis. I know a lot of them needed it long before things have gotten tougher. Let’s keep that conversation going here on CDM, too, and find out what solutions we can create together. Don’t hesitate to be in touch and let me or other members of this community know how you’re doing and what you need.

The post Live coders from all over the world are playing music and visuals live online, right now appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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