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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


http://sonicbloom.net/

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

Jazzari lets you sketch musical ideas in your browser, with JavaScript

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 16 Oct 2017 10:41 am

Open up a browser tab, use code sketch musical loops and grooves (using trigonometry, even), and play / export – all in this free tool.

Jazzari has been making the rounds among passionate music tech nerds, as a lovely free code toy. There are a bunch of easy-to-modify tutorial examples, so you don’t necessarily have to know any JavaScript or code. But there’s no graphical control at all – that visualization and the cute cartoon characters are just to give you feedback on what the code does.

So — why?

Developer Jack Schaedler is quick to caution that this is neither intended for teaching code nor teaching music, that better tools exist for each. (Sonic Pi is a particularly accessible entry for learning how to express musical ideas as code, used even by kids!)

Then again, you don’t have to believe him. That same spirit that made him decide to do this for fun seems to be infectious. And this might be an entry into making this stuff.

For coders, it’s yet another chance to discover some code and libraries and perhaps bits and pieces and inspiration for your own next project. For everyone else, well, it’s a terrific distraction.

And you can export MIDI, so this could start a new musical project.

https://jackschaedler.github.io/jazzari/

https://jackschaedler.github.io/jazzari/about.html

By the way, someone want to join me in building this actual inspiration for Jazzari? It could be killer by next summer, at least.

The name is a riff on the 12th century scholar and inventor Ismail al-Jazari. al-Jazari is thought to have invented one of the first programmable musical machines, a “musical automaton, which was a boat with four automatic musicians that floated on a lake to entertain guests at royal drinking parties.”

Bonus, for my Arabic, Kurdish, and Persian friends in electronic music – no one knows which of those accurately can claim this guy. We clearly need to get something going.

The post Jazzari lets you sketch musical ideas in your browser, with JavaScript appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Koma just unveiled a whole patchable analog effects toolkit

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 12 Oct 2017 4:33 pm

Koma today revealed a sequel to their crowd-funded smash hit Field Kit. And it’s a whole bunch of patchable effects, for €249 (€219 for funders).

Inside that box, there’s a load of different effects to play with:

  • Looper
  • Frequency Shifter
  • Sample Rate Reducer / Bitcrusher
  • Digital Delay
  • Analog Spring Reverb

Yeah, you read that last one right – there’s actually a physical spring in there for reverb. Behold:

Looping of course means that you could make the FX a hub of performance. And in addition to the other digital effects, that frequency shifter opens up some really interesting possibilities.

So, whereas the first Field Kit depended on you attaching contact mics and working with the mixing functions, the Field Kit FX actually has a lot more sonic possibilities included right out of the box. There’s still a companion book to go with it, and of course this is already intended as a clever

But, for a kind of “weirdo modular effects toolkit” in a case, you also get a bunch of tools for applying these effects, by mixing and sequencing them:

  • 4 Channel VCA Mixer
  • 4 Step Mini Sequencer
  • Envelope Generator

All over the place, you’ve got various patch points. That’s a chance to connect to other analog I/O – which certainly includes Eurorack modulars, but these days a lot of other gear, as well, even desktop units from Novation, Roland, Arturia, KORG, and the like.

And there’s a new 4-Channel CV Interface for bringing it all together, meaning you can come up with pretty elaborate modular connections.

4-channel CV interface for communications with other gear – now not just modular, but a lot of new desktop stuff, too.

In fact, for under three hundred bucks, the whole thing looks a bit like either a shrunken Eurorack modular or a tabletop of analog and digital effects merged together for patching.

Now, this is still definitely geared for advanced users. There’s no MIDI. And the CV routing, while powerful, might be overwhelming to newcomers – for instance, there’s not a single, simple trigger in to clock that sequencer. (That’s not necessarily a criticism – the various CV options mean loads of creative flexibility. But it does probably mean this box is more for people who want to get deep into patching.)

Watch the overview video, natch:

FIELD KIT FX – CV Controlled Multi Effects Processor

The post Koma just unveiled a whole patchable analog effects toolkit appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Dreadbox Hades analog monosynth is yours to assemble, or not

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 10 Oct 2017 5:38 pm

Dreadbox, purveyors of gnarly electronic synths and effects, have come back with a modular-friendly analog synth, which you can assemble – if you dare.

The core synth itself is simple – just a single-oscillator synthesizer, to which you can add two suboctaves for lots of low end bass punch, and three waves (pulse with width, double saw with width, saw). In the tradition of Dreadbox and their love for edgy distortion, you can add some angry sounds with the drive circuit and 3-pole resonating filter.

And, mostly, you’re likely to appreciate this thing for its modulation and patchability. There are some 13 patch points, which you can use with Eurorack or other analog circuits, external audio input, a triangle and square wave LFO, and two separate envelope generators.

You can stick this on your desk and patch into stuff. Or you can bolt it into a Eurorack.

Now, here’s the somewhat bonkers bit. If you’re sensible, I think you’ll just buy this thing pre-assembled, and think hard about finding space in a Eurorack. It’s a nice 250€ buy.

Or, if you’re a bit bored, you’ll DIY the kit version. It’s all through-hole parts, so it’s not a difficult build. It’s just a lot of them. Expect to … free up some time to put this together.

Also cute but not totally practical, they’ve decided that the box is a case. And it is kind of a nice cardboard box. I mean, sure, why not, but … it’s not so much a selling point as it is a cute way around the fact that it doesn’t have a case. It doesn’t have a power supply, either, so figure that into the purchase price.

Don’t get me wrong, though – I think this thing is terribly clever as a synth. And Dreadbox are making some utterly genius distortion, based on the couple I’ve played with.

If you’re looking for a cheap buy that’s fun to patch into other stuff – really desktop or Euro – this isn’t a bad buy at all. And maybe save yourself the time on the busywork of assembling the kit version, and put that time into making a nice wooden case for the assembled version.

Though, while we’re at it, technically every product I’ve ever owned has come with a free enclosure / kid’s playhouse / pencil case / advanced part storage / tiny spaceship for paper people … uh, you know, box.

Also, you can turn a lot of the manuals into really ace paper airplanes.

The post Dreadbox Hades analog monosynth is yours to assemble, or not appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Logitech brings back the trackball – that studio and creation boon

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 9 Oct 2017 4:50 pm

Remember trackballs? Logitech does, and that means if you’ve missed this input device, you can bring it back to your creative projects and studios.

The appeal of the trackball is simple: take up less space, avoid all that business with surfaces and mouse mats and the like, keep your hand in a comfortable position, and get more precision when performing precise mousing.

Now, of course, some people just hate the feeling of the trackball, but the above reasons have made some people swear by them in studios, in particular. When you’ve got other gear, mixing desks and so on, trackballs are appealing for their fixed position. And that precision comes in handy when you’re using Adobe CS (visual folks) or making detailed edits on a timeline (sound, video).

Logitech were the kings of this device category, much as they remain a leader in mice today. So, it’s notable that Logitech are bringing back this creation by popular demand.

And this being 2017, the MX Ergo gets wireless support, modern hardware internals, and modern connectivity. It also addresses the one thing that kept me away from a lot of trackballs in the 90s, particularly the horizontally oriented ones. There’s now adjustable tilt, which means you can fit this to your hand.

I’m intrigued; I might go back to this, especially for studio work. If we get one, of course we’ll do a review. Brings back fond forgotten memories of my Kensington Orbit. Behold:

Logitech MX ERGO

The post Logitech brings back the trackball – that studio and creation boon appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Ableton Live is going 64-bit only – so what does that mean?

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 9 Oct 2017 12:18 pm

Later this year, Ableton Live will only be available in a 64-bit version. But what does that mean for you?

This is a development that has some implications for Ableton Live’s compatibility, stability, the pace of features and improvements, and that question of “wait, which version am I supposed to choose on the Ableton download page?” Ableton invited CDM to their offices to discuss the change and give us a chance to understand the thinking behind the decision and to help figure out what users might want to know.

But first, it’s actually worth understanding what 64-bit music software actually does.

What are 64-bit and 32-bit, anyway?

First, you know, 64-bit is twice as much as 32-bit, which means it’s twice as … well, 32 more … double the …

Okay, let’s be honest, even lots of fairly tech-savvy don’t really know what these terms mean, let alone what impact they have in real-world use.

Software runs on numbers. So when we refer to “64-bit” or “32-bit” software, we’re talking about the word length, or precision, of the numbers the software uses to reference memory. If you have a higher word length, you have more precision, and the software can address more memory.

Think of phone numbers for comparison. Leave out the area code and country code, and you eventually run out of available phone numbers. But add some additional digits, and you have more available numbers – and you can call a greater number of individual people.

With 32-bit software, Ableton Live and all of its plug-ins can use only up to 4 GB of available RAM (or even less on some versions of Windows). But 64-bit software can address all of your RAM, on any computer sold today. (The theoretical limit is so high, you can’t even buy a computer that comes close to hitting the ceiling, at least for the foreseeable future.)

What does more memory mean when you’re making music?

If you have a computer with 8GB or 16GB or more of RAM, there’s some reason to want to use all of that memory. As you load big sample libraries, and add plug-ins or ReWire clients, and as your Live set grows, all of that uses up memory.

Oh, yeah, and one other thing – running out of RAM can cause a DAW to crash. You might not even know that was the cause of a crash: Live crashes, you curse, and you might not realize that the choice you made on that dropdown when you downloaded could be a factor.

32-bit and backwards compatibility

Live added 64-bit support way back at Live 8.4 – that’s the summer of 2012. So if 64-bit is better than 32-bit, why did Ableton keep making new 32-bit versions of its software for over five years?

Running a 64-bit DAW requires a 64-bit operating system – for Live, that’s a 64-bit version of Windows Vista or later, or Mac OS X 10.5 or later. (Microsoft has their own FAQ to help you figure out if you’ve got the right OS for 64-bit.)

64-bit DAWs also need 64-bit versions of plug-ins. Most plug-in developers have already updated their plug-ins for 64-bit, but some haven’t. (There are wrappers you can use, and these were more popular when DAWs first started to go 64-bit, but let’s not go there – especially since part of the idea here is to improve stability!)

Okay, so you need a 64-bit OS, you need to update your plug-ins, and you need to have more than 4GB of RAM for this to be useful. Back in 2012, a non-trivial population of Live users fit that description.

Years later, the picture looks different. Nearly everyone has more than 4GB of RAM, meaning they’re going to benefit from the 64-bit version of the software. And not everyone seems to be aware of that. Ableton tells us that 85% of current Live users who are running the 32-bit version of the software have more than 4GB of RAM. That means 85% of those 32-bit users are actually unable to take advantage of hardware they already own.

That tips the scales. Now Ableton Live’s user base may be better off without new 32-bit versions coming out than with them.

Why are these developers smiling? Going 64-bit only will make the development process faster – and the Live experience more crash-free. Also, Club Mate.

Why go 64-bit only?

First off, nothing is changing for versions of Live up through and including Live 9.7.4. You can still download and run those older versions in their 32-bit versions. And remember that you can install more than one version of Live on the same computer, side by side. So if you’ve got a Live set that uses some old 32-bit plug-in, you can keep a 32-bit version of Live on your machine to open it.

What’s changing is, that dropdown on the download page is going away for every version starting later this year. Ableton will only develop a 64-bit version of Live and Max for Live going forward.

The downside of this is pretty simple: you won’t be able to use some old 32-bit plug-in and the latest version of Live at the same time. (Though you can still use the older Live with the older plug-in.) You’ll also need a 64-bit operating system (though on the Mac side, Apple tends to drag you along to new OSes and new hardware, anyway).

But the upsides to forcing Live users to go 64-bit when they update may be bigger than you’d expect.

Fewer crashes. The 32-bit version of Live crashes more than the 64-bit version – a lot more. Ableton collect the number of crashes. The 32-bit version of Live crashes 44% more often than the 64-bit version.

Most of these crashes are as simple as Live running out of memory – not a bug, not a misbehaved plug-in, but just hitting that 3.5-4GB memory ceiling imposed by running a 32-bit version of the software. (Some may be the result of dubious old 32-bit plug-ins, too, but that’s also a reason to dump plug-ins that haven’t been updated to 64-bit.)

Fewer Live crashes overall means fewer people having to talk to support about these crashes, which is better for everybody.

Faster updates. I also spoke with Ableton’s engineering side about why they’d want to drop 32-bit development.

Supporting both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Live adds overhead to the entire development process. More overhead can translate to us getting fewer new features, or getting them less quickly.

That overhead impacts the time spent coding and debugging Ableton Live, not only for the humans, but also for the machines those humans rely on to do their work. When engineers make a change in Live’s code, they have to wait while servers build, test, and output the results. Even with a room full of racks of pricey, powerful computer hardware making that happen, the process takes hours, especially at peak times.

Take away the 32-bit side of things, and developers get their results faster. In practical terms, that could mean they get their change back today, instead of having to wait until coming into the office tomorrow morning. Since engineers typically like to stay focused and in the zone, that’s important.

Add everything together – supporting more use cases, more old plug-ins, dealing with more crashes, added development time to support two versions, added time to test and build two versions of the software – and you get a lot of added drag to Live’s development.

This isn’t just about making Ableton happy. Removing that drag from the process means those engineers can work on Live more efficiently. The upshot for us is, we get more the stuff we want – fixes and new features.

What you need to do

It may actually have taken more time to read this article than it will to make the leap to 64-bit Ableton Live use. But hopefully it gives you some notion of what’s going on in the world of the people making the software we use.

For your part, assuming you aren’t already running the 64-bit Ableton Live, here’s what to consider:

On Windows, you might want to double-check you have the 64-bit version of the OS installed. (Click your Start button, right-click Computer, click Properties. Under System, you’ll see which version of Windows you’re running.)

As far as checking your plug-ins, Ableton have some resources on the topic:

Recommendations for using VST plug-ins on Windows

Recommendations for using AU and VST plug-ins on Mac

Since 32-bit plug-ins don’t show up in the 64-bit version, the easiest way to check compatibility is to launch the 64-bit version and see if the plug-in disappears. (Don’t laugh – this really is the easiest method.) If it’s invisible, odds are you need to go to the developer and download a 64-bit version, if available. And as mentioned earlier, you can still keep the 32-bit Live on your hard drive if you find a plug-in that requires it.

Relevant to versions from 8.4 [64-bit introduction] through now [prior to going 64-bit only], here’s Ableton’s existing FAQ:

64-bit vs 32-bit – FAQ

I hope this gives you some insight into how Live works, and ideally makes your Live use more productive and crash-free. If you have any more questions, let us know.

Thanks to various engineers and product managers at Ableton who contributed to this story, particularly Alex Wiedemann (former Ableton software engineer and now head of Technical Support Berlin).

The post Ableton Live is going 64-bit only – so what does that mean? appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Original Octatrack owners are about to get all the MKII features

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 6 Oct 2017 6:27 pm

Got an original Octatrack? That MKII envy is about to get a cure, with updated firmware that brings feature parity to the MKI.

The original Octatrack is still a classic in the studio and ubiquitous in live sets. So while you might have complained that Elektron’s MKII didn’t actually introduce enough new features, owners of the original model now get some very good news. Elektron today says that an update is imminent that will bring MKII features to the MKI.

And that’s a big deal – think instant stereo sampling with real-time pitch shift and time stretch, and more effects and LFO slots.

And yes, I wrote earlier that I hoped this is what would happen. (That was a easy call given Elektron said the two units were already project-compatible.)

Wait, so does that mean the MKII is now the same as the original except in color? Not quite.

Unique to the MKII hardware are some minor but significant physical improvements. The display is nicer (OLED). You get back-lit buttons and high-res encoders, as on the Digitakt. There’s a new contactless crossfader and higher-endurance buttons. And you get more dedicated controls.

But other than that, I’d say the firmware update probably means you’ll hang onto your MKI rather than upgrade – maybe spending the money you saved on a fresh, new Digitakt, for example. Elektron and users win, regardless.

We’ll take a deeper look at these machines soon.

https://www.elektron.se/support/?connection=octatrack#resources

For more background:
Elektron unveils Octatrack MKII and a new would-be laptop killer is born

And comparing the smaller sibling:
Check out this detailed workflow comparison of Digitakt, Octatrack

The post Original Octatrack owners are about to get all the MKII features appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Check out some loving synth images and inspiration from Moscow

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

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

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

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

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

We also get fresh views of the gear.

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

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

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

https://thngs.co/things/10267

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

https://thngs.co/things/10257

https://thngs.co/things/10256

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

https://thngs.co/things/10279

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

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

https://thngs.co/things/10260

and SoftPop, for that matter:

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

https://thngs.co/things/10262

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

https://thngs.co/things/10263

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

https://thngs.co/things/10205

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

https://thngs.co/things/9879

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

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

Those standalone MPCs do wireless Link and MIDI and it’s the future

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 4 Oct 2017 8:40 pm

The world now: a bunch of mismatched cables, and then complicated setup. The world of the future: wireless, easy to configure. Or so we hope.

Akai has managed to deliver MPCs that function both as standalone production boxes, untethered from your computer, and computer accessories (they’re a controller/software combo when you plug them in).

But they’re also making these things work wirelessly with some new technologies.

Via Bluetooth, you can connect keyboards (making this a kind of weird computer, or letting you touch-type your musical sets), or wireless MIDI devices (so you can use a piano-style interface instead of just pads, among other solutions).

Via Ableton’s Link technology, you get the ability to jam with other software, hardware, and mobile apps over a wifi network. In fact, that makes this about the only standalone hardware to do so – though of course it’s really just a PC beneath that skin (and that’s kind of a good thing).

I suspect the stumbling block to this happening more is simply having more of a hardware ecosystem of stuff that does this.

It makes the MPC Live and MPC X still more appealing right now, as well as being a glimpse of things to come.

Now, you still have to decide whether Akai’s workflow is what you want, or whether you want to buy another piece of gear, with competitors from the likes of Elektron and Native Instruments eager to keep you on their side. But if you do, here’s what you get to enjoy, explained in video:

The post Those standalone MPCs do wireless Link and MIDI and it’s the future appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

There’s a synth symphony for 100 cars coming, based on tuning

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 3 Oct 2017 4:43 pm

100 cars, 100 sound systems, 100 different versions of the pitch A: Ryoji Ikeda has one heck of a polyphonic automobile synthesizer coming.

The project is also the first new hardware from Tatsuya Takahashi after the engineer/designer stepped down from his role heading up the analog gear division at KORG. And so from the man who saw the release of products like the KORG volca series and Minilogue during his tenure, we get something really rather different: a bunch of oscillators connected to cars to produce sound art.

Tats teams up for this project with Maximilian Rest, the man behind boutique maker E-RM, who has proven his obsessive-compulsive engineering chops on their Multiclock.

And wow, that industrial design. From big factories to small run (100 units), Tats has come a long way – and this is the most beautiful design I’ve seen yet from Max and E-RM. It’s a drool-worthy design fetish object recalling Dieter Rams and Braun.

I spoke briefly to Tatsuya to get some background on the project, though the details will be revealed in the performance in Los Angeles and by Red Bull Music Academy.

The original hardware is simple. In almost a throwback to the earliest days of electronic music, the boxes themselves are just tone generators. Those controls you see on the panel determine octave and volume. Before the performance, details on the execution are a bit guarded, but this sounds like just the sort of simple box that would perfectly match Max’s insanely perfectionist approach.

What makes this tone generator special is, there are a hundred of them, each hooked up to one of one hundred cars.

Yeah, you heard right: we’re talking massively polyphonic, art-y ghetto blasting. The organizers say the cars were selected for their unique audio systems. (Now, that’s my way of being a car fan.) Car owners even contributed special cars to the symphony, making this an auto show cum sound happening, evidently both in an installation and performance.

One hundred cars tuned to the same frequency would sound like … well, phase cancellation. So each oscillator is tuned to a different frequency, in a kind of museum of what the note “A” has been over the years. The reality is, we’re probably hearing a whole lot of classical music in the “wrong” key, because the tuning of A was only in standardized in the past century. (Even today, A=440Hz and A=442Hz compete in symphonies, with A=440Hz is the most common in general use, and near-universal in electronic music.)

That huge range is part of why any discussions of the “mathematically pure” or “healing” 432 Hz is, well, nonsense. (I can deal with that some time if you really want, but let’s for now file it under “weird things you can read on the Internet,” alongside the flat Earth.)

Once you get away from the modern blandness of everything being 440 Hz, or the pseudo-science weirdness of the 432 Hz cult, you can discover all sorts of interesting variety. For instance, one of the oscillators in the performance is tuned to this:

A = 376.3Hz
*1700 : Pitch taken by Delezenne from an old dilapidated organ of l’Hospice Comtesse, Lille, France

Hey, who’s to say that particular organ isn’t the one “tuned to the natural frequency of the universe”?

You’ll get all those frequencies in some huge, wondrous cacophony if you’re lucky enough to be in LA for the performance.

It’s presented as part of the Red Bull Music Academy Music Festival, October 15. (I have no idea how you’d evaluate the claim that this is the largest-ever symphony orchestra, though with one hundred cars, it’s probably the heaviest! If anyone has historical ideas on that, I’m all ears.)

And of course, it’s in the perfect place for a piece about cars: Los Angeles. Wish I were there; let us know how it is!

https://la.redbullmusicacademy.com/event/ryoji-ikeda-a-for-100-cars

Photo credit: Carys Huws for RBMA.

The post There’s a synth symphony for 100 cars coming, based on tuning appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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

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

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

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

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

Think again, because – Reason 10.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In beta now, out 25 October.

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

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

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

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

Deerful, aka Emma Winston, is a singer-songwriter gone mobile tech

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Thu 28 Sep 2017 6:50 pm

Deerful is the singer-songwriter imagined by mobile developers, found in real life. She’s not just another producer, but an earnest lyricist.

You can follow Emma on her YouTube channel, crooning covers to Game Boy accompaniment or deftly playing with a Novation Circuit in place of guitar. And now she’s got a full-length LP to her name, called Peach, released on London indie label wiaiwya (CD/vinyl/download).

Ed.: With Emma’s unique take on music production with apps and mobile gear, we turn over interview duties to the writer who turned us on to her work – and who foresaw just this kind of creative application for such tools. Ashley Elsdon, recently joining CDM and helming our Apps channel, having built the influential Palm Sounds blog on mobile tech, understands the advantage of mobile instruments, apps, battery power, and simple design empowering creativity. So, he’s the ideal person to lead this conversation with fellow UK resident Emma Winston. -PK

I’ve been following Deerful for some time now. Mostly people who make music with the kind of gear she’s using tend to electronic and dance genres, rather than the kind of singer-songwriter material she’s creating – producing more melodic output than you might associate with apps and mobile gear. And I’ve found her lyrics quite unusual, and her musical voice unique.

So, I took the opportunity to ask her about reflect her creative process, how tools fit in, and her sources of musical inspiration.

CDM: How do you make the decision to use a particular technology or instrument in your music?

Deerful: I am actually not very logical or rational about this. Almost every instrument I own, I own because I fell in love with it. (I think the only exception is the [KORG] Electribe 2 I use live – it’s a bit of a pain, but I absolutely could not find a practical alternative which wasn’t wildly expensive.) Consequently, my gear collection is pretty quirky. Nobody needs a [Teenage Engineering] OP-1 or a Pocket Operator or a [Critter & Guitari] Septavox or a Game Boy, but I adore all of them, and it makes me even more excited to make music. It’s also because I feel like a lot of staple gear can be covered by software much more cheaply, so if I’m going to buy hardware, I want it to be special.

You seem to use a lot of mobile gear in your music. Is that a conscious choice?

It’s more that I really love miniature things, and also producing in bed and on the sofa. I definitely like not having to think about wires/speakers. It’s cool to be able to get down ideas with very little gear, but I think it’s more that the tiny, compact, quirky gear I gravitate towards is often mobile, rather than that I consciously look for mobile gear.

Being able to run off batteries also helps when I’m dealing with a live sound engineer who’s never seen an electronic instrument before and wants to have as little to think about as possible, but again, a lesser consideration!

How do you approach the writing process in technology terms? Do you start with a device or a specific technology, or does the song / track come first and the technology support it?

It depends. Sometimes the song comes first, and I’ll decide later exactly how it gets made or arranged. But if I have absolutely no ideas and a deadline to meet, my first recourse is always to pick up a device and see where it takes me. Something always comes from it.

This also varies from device to device and app to app – Korg Gadget, for instance, is an app I pretty much always go to when I already have an idea and want to flesh it out fast – I use it pretty much entirely as an ultra-fast DAW. The Pocket Operators are the opposite – I think of them primarily as idea-factories and a jumping-off point.

Aside from Gadget, do you use other iOS, or indeed Android apps? What’s your motivation for using them? How differently do you find using apps from using hardware?

I definitely use Gadget more than anything else. It’s funny, because I see people talking about it as a groovebox app that’s best for looping, and that’s not how I use it at all. It essentially replaces Ableton for me when I don’t want to haul my laptop around, or if I need to get something that sounds fairly polished together fast and don’t have much time to do lots of production on it.

For actual idea-generation and more groovebox-type applications, my favorite app at the moment is Studio Amplify’s KRFT; it has a really nice interface that’s flexible enough not to just lock you into endless looping, which is what I feel like a lot of iOS apps veer towards. (They also have a more stripped-down free version called NOIZ, which is fun). For more experimental stuff, I love Samplr. I made my first EP mostly in Nanostudio, so that one’s worth a shout-out, although I’ve had a bit of a break from it since – it was the thing that was finally both flexible enough and un-intimidating enough to stop being scared of trying to produce and actually do it.

Every app is different, just as every piece of hardware is different, which is one reason I find the idea that one is somehow inherently better than the other and that you have to pick to be extremely strange. The fastest thing I can do to generate ideas when I’m stuck is switching to a new interface, whether that’s on a touchscreen or on my laptop or boxed up as a dedicated synth. It depends how I’m feeling and where I am and what I need.

I don’t own an Android device entirely because of the relative lack of music apps. I’m really hopeful that will change as their issues with audio improve – mobile music was a huge part of getting me into production and I would love it if that experience was available to more people on a platform with broadly much lower-cost hardware. I said this in an iPad music forum once and people were amazingly defensive about it. As far as I am concerned, all access to music-making is good, and if the 70% or so of smartphone users who own an Android device had a music market as rich as the App Store available to them, I would be stoked about it.

If you could design an app that would be perfect for you, what would it look like and what would it do?

Terrible response, but it would honestly just be Ableton optimized for a 10” touchscreen. Ableton, if you’re reading this, I’m your mobile market.

How do you approach writing lyrics? Do the lyrics come as part of your overall inspiration for a track, or is that something you find separately? What makes you feel like you have a great lyric?

I have recently started referring to myself as a singer-songwriter-producer, because honestly that’s what I am. I’m a songwriter who tells my own stories in performance, but does it with a box with buttons on it instead of a guitar. The lyrics and the song itself and the details of how it’s put together are equal parts. Sometimes a lyric comes first, sometimes a riff, sometimes a chord sequence – sometimes they’re simultaneous.

It’s very much a symbiotic thing. I’m constantly looking for ways to balance the abstract and the specific in my songs – describing moments and fragments of time in detail, but without so much specificity they become alienating.

Who are your influences musically, and who do you find inspiring in terms of technology and approach to process?

The Postal Service was the band that started me out wanting to make electronic music, and I still adore them. I feel like there’s still this idea that electronics are not particularly well-suited to singer-songwriters, which I find so strange because it gives you so much opportunity to design, right down to the sonic building-blocks which make up the song. It becomes part of the storytelling, and I think the Postal Service did that in such a beautifully tactile and warm way. I can literally point to the sample that comes in at 0:28 of ‘Nothing Better’ as the moment I realized I wanted to make electronic music myself – it acts almost like a third vocal melody but also this kind of plaintive emotional punctuation, warm and bit-crushed and sad.

I’ve been listening to a lot of the stuff that’s come out of the label PC Music over the last couple of years. I feel like a lot of what they’re doing is almost the polar opposite to Deerful, which is an almost embarrassingly honest project – they’re very self-aware, very detached, very cool, all things I’m not. A lot of people seem to respond to their artists as if the whole thing is completely ironic, but I hope (and believe) it’s not, because they’ve released some of the most intensely joyful pop music I’ve ever heard, and I desperately want that intensity of happiness to be real on some level.

EasyFun’s “Full Circle” is the track I’ve had on repeat for the last few days. It’s hyper-fun EDM-pop, but there are all these odd details thrown in, strange pitch-shifted samples, bizarre non-functional harmonies that are thrown into the chord and never repeated, weird, unnatural reverb tails and a lead vocal that’s chopped up and treated like a synth. I don’t sound anything like EasyFun, but I really want to get to the point where I can marry full-on unashamed fun with bizarre experimentalism in a similar way and have it all hang together.

In terms of process, I also find Grimes hugely inspiring – she made Visions in three weeks, in GarageBand, because it was what she knew, and she smashed it. She works fast when she needs to, but she knows when to zoom in, when to work on detail, when to really hone in on sound design and tone and tempo. (There’s a great interview where she talks about using samples of dentist drills to add aggressiveness to an 808 in ‘Venus Fly’, and it’s something I never would have even thought of.) I find her confidence and adaptability and willingness to move between pop and noise really impressive. It seems like she’s never held back by limitations or expectations; she just ploughs in and makes what she wants to make and it’s always brilliant.

Finally, let’s talk about your new album. When you set out to create it, what were your specific inspirations? What were you looking to achieve and how successful do you feel you’ve been?

Stylistically, Emily Reo’s gorgeous fuzzy alt-electropop has been a huge influence on all my releases so far (I also accidentally stole the album title, Peach, from one of her songs – it genuinely was an accident, but I think it probably speaks of how much her work has lodged itself in my creative brain.) I credit her music with finally giving me the push I needed to start writing and performing myself. Owen Pallett’s songwriting and storytelling has also always been a huge inspiration, but I’m not sure if that really comes through in the resultant album – I wish it did!

What was I looking to achieve? God, I’ve no idea. Everything is an experiment and an exploration. Everything I release, I do so having no idea how anyone’s going to react to it, and being excited to find out. It’s a brilliant lesson in exactly how bad at mind-reading I am. In general people seem to have liked it; I’ve no idea how it’s sold, and from an artist perspective that doesn’t really matter. When I listen to it now three months after release, I hear a lot I would do differently – I’m very proud of it but also excited to move on to the next thing!

CDM: Thanks, Emma!

It’s been an enlightening experience talking to Deerful. It’s shed light on her music and I’m certainly looking forward to listening to whatever the ‘next thing’ is she’s got planned, and also understanding how it was put together.

Deerful’s latest ablum can be found at wiaiwya and is available as a download, CD, or vinyl.

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Buchla’s twisted waveforms get a software rendition

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 27 Sep 2017 6:18 pm

It’s pretty close to sticking Buchla inside your PC: Softube are adding a Buchla 259e Twisted Waveform Generator to their virtual Eurorack, “Modular.”

This is in fact the first officially licensed software rendition of a Buchla module, though the official part may be the source of some controversy. Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments wound up in court with its original founder, Don Buchla, before his death. The parties settled out of court, but certainly some of the shine of the brand was lost in the process.

That said, branding aside, this looks like it might be the most complete software rendition of a modern hardware Buchla module yet. And it’s got a price to match – US$99, so oddly just one module model costs you the same range as a lot of full-blown software modules. (US$79 intro price through end of October.)

What you get is one of the more interesting modules around, though – digital waveshaping and deep modulation. I’ll let them describe:

The 259e consists of two separate oscillators—Principal and Modulation—where Modulation can be used either to modulate the Principal oscillator or as a separate generator of audible notes. Furthermore, the sine wave generated by the Principal oscillator is simultaneously applied to two of the eight available waveshape tables. A morph voltage pans between the two tables and a warp voltage varies the amplitude of the sinusoidal (driving) waveform. Both these functions can be modulated by the Modulation oscillator. Three of the waveshape tables are actually not tables in the classical sense—they are simply portions of the 259e operating program, full of unpredictable noise and frequent silences. This is the innovative Mem Skew mode, possibly the most unique feature of the Buchla 259e. When these tables are selected, the FM controls are re-assigned to table scanning functions and the FM inputs become table modulators.

In short, while the Buchla 259e can certainly be used for more traditional sounds, it excels at creating otherworldly twisted digital sonic landscapes. Which is why it is one of the most coveted synth modules on the market.

Why is this man smiling? Softube tapped Buchla engineer Todd Barton to work on this recreation.

Video intro:

More:
https://www.softube.com/index.php?id=buchla_259e

The post Buchla’s twisted waveforms get a software rendition appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

A giant-sized music box, made with digital tech and antique furniture

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 27 Sep 2017 5:41 pm

An oversized music box takes to the streets, packed in vintage furniture and cranked by passersby, in this Portuguese sound art piece.

It’s the latest work of friend-of-the-site Nuno Santos, who has gone viral in social media with this enchanting demo video. For more information, though, you can watch a detailed making-of series he’s produced. (Portuguese, but with original English subtitles – the behind-the-scenes bits follow just after the demo.)

There’s a lot of clever engineering work in this award-winning project. It’s an achievement in packing a sound system into a mobile form factor using vintage furniture. It’s a great physical computing project, complete with that huge crank. And it’s a great example of what you can do with pisound and Raspberry Pi – adding high-fidelity audio functionality to the ubiquitous, dirt-cheap tiny PC.

https://blokas.io/

Highlights —

Adding that pisound bit:

And, of course, for mechanical engineering and some 3d printing, the crank!

Nuno shares a gallery of how this all comes together.

Imaginando are creating all sorts of good stuff, including my favorite Traktor iPad controller and one of my favorite Ableton controllers – plus a nice way to connect your Teenage Engineering OP-1 to Ableton Live.

https://www.imaginando.pt/

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Novation Circuit won’t stop: 1.6 does panning, dimming, Micro Steps

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 26 Sep 2017 6:55 pm

Novation keeps giving Circuit users want they want, step by step by step. Circuit 1.6 comes with still more user-requested features.

Now, eventually, I expect Novation is going to run out of the ability to cram things into Circuit. Not only would you expect the developer to focus on newer hardware, but Circuit has a restricted processor speed and memory – you just run out of horsepower to do everything users might imagine. But whenever the day will come, today is not that day. (And, in fact, I think Circuit will continue to see interesting new applications in editors and sound content, from the user community if not from Novation themselves. My opinion only here.)

The just-released 1.6 firmware comes with three really nice additions:

1. Panning. Novation says this is the most user-requested feature. That makes sense, given this is a little workstation, not just a single monosynth or something like that.

2. Light dimming. Blinded by Saturday Night Fever no more. Take heed, all developers.

3. Micro Steps. This is a simple but fairly genius idea: you can retrigger a sample inside each step up to six times, for more complex rhythms, fills and stutter effects, or whatever.

4. Program Change. The Settings menu doesn’t just keep from blinding you – it also lets you send Program Change messages, which is useful for working with other gear.

Now, all this comes just in time for us to feature Circuit and Circuit Mono Station on our next webcast of CDM x Beatport: Plugged In. So if you have questions for us on either product and want us to answer on-air, leave them now in comments and we’ll try to get to them.

Also, I’d better practice, so I don’t shred in front of y’all.

You can grab 1.6 for free from Novation, at the Components site (alongside that clever browser editor and whatnot):

https://components.novationmusic.com/

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