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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the sale here:

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

Product page:

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

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

Bitwig Studio 2.4: crazy powerful sampler, easier control

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

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

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

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

Sampler

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

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

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

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

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

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

But there’s more:

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

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

Sequence modulation

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

ParSeq-8 is a step sequencer for modulation.

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

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

Note Counter.

Note FX Layer.

More powerful with controllers

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

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

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

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

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

And more stuff

Also in this release:

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

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

http://bitwig.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The full playlist is some 59 videos:

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

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

And there’s the requisite interface tour:

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

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

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

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

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

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

New in Live 10

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

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

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

Oscillator effects in Wavetable are really cool.

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

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

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

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

The vaporwave Windows 98 startup sound remix no one asked for

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 27 Jun 2018 9:49 pm

Time-stretched remixes of Microsoft startup sounds: they just never get old. But maybe we need this vaporwave Windows 98 in our lives.

The source material in this case isn’t Brian Eno – that’s Windows 95. Instead, Microsoft’s own Ken Kato is credited with the composition.

Apart from the glitched-out thumbnail and wonderful sound, I’ll give extra points to this remix on a couple of counts. First, it leads to Indonesian artist Fahmi Mursyid, who has a Bandcamp full of sonic delights. Fahmi, if you were using this as a scheme to bait us into clicking on your music, well … why not? I did:

https://ideologikal.bandcamp.com

And second, it has this fantastic quote attached to it … for some reason:

“Global capitalism is nearly there. At the end of the world there will only be liquid advertisement and gaseous desire.

Sublimated from our bodies, our untethered senses will endlessly ride escalators through pristine artificial environments, more and less than human, drugged-up and drugged down, catalysed, consuming and consumed by a relentlessly rich economy of sensory information, valued by the pixel. The Virtual Plaza welcomes you, and you will welcome it too.”
— Adam Harper, in his initial Dummymag article

I miss those innocent days when the thing we were afraid of was too many computers using Windows.

Now we live in the fantastic world where totalitarian governments are watching us through our phones and we aren’t just paranoid … and that’s presuming a social network on our phone doesn’t make us so depressed we ourselves become a danger.

No, let’s loop this beautiful 90s sound and make the world … melt away.

You’re welcome.

The post The vaporwave Windows 98 startup sound remix no one asked for appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Pioneer’s $250 DDJ-400 will appeal to DIYers, iOS users, too

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 26 Jun 2018 6:00 pm

We’re flooded with cheap DJ controllers. But the new Pioneer is interesting for two reasons: one, it’s a home accessory for CDJ users, and two, its driverless functionality means you can plug into anything.

Okay, first, the obvious: the DDJ-400 is a US$249 (279 €) controller with audio interface. And the massive “Rekordbox” logo applied to the side of it means it works with Pioneer’s preferred DJ software. For beginners, the idea is, you plug this thing in and the controller and software teach you basic DJ chops – playing techniques and how the technology works – via an included on-screen tutorial.

Gradually, Pioneer have done what was obvious to most of us for them to do – they’ve made that controller work as much like their expensive club DJ players do as they can. A CDJ-2000NEXUS2 will set you back US$2199 each, so out of range of even most moderately successful DJs. This duplicates the rough layout of the wheels, the play/pause and cue buttons, Beat FX, and looping controls of the full-sized CDJ.

Now, why I need to get this in to test is, the key variable is the feel of the wheels. What a lot of DJs presumably would be practicing, at least in part, is beat-matching – the security to turn off that dreaded sync button. I don’t want to get too far into that, other than to say, whatever the musical utility of your ability to do that or whether it makes you a “real” DJ, it does have the potential to make DJing “really” less boring for the human operator.

My hope is that Pioneer has taken the improved low latency performance of the latest revision of their high-end controllers and brought it to this model, too – but we’ll see. Low latency and low jitter will make this more fun to play.

But either way, as a prep tool, this looks like a good investment. The latest Rekordbox is included free, which already amounts to half the purchase price here. (That license is 139 €). If you’re organizing your catalog in Rekordbox to drop on a USB stick, you might as well have a play and mix a bit, too.

But that’s not why I think the DDJ-400 is interesting.

Driverless and hacker/DIYer friendly

No, this is the interesting part. Pioneer says the DDJ-400 is driverless and class-compliant. That means you have an audio interface, with cuing, and a MIDI control surface, that work with any device.

So… let’s say you’re a fan of the iOS app Soda. That’s the app that I claimed in December might make you take DJing seriously again. Soda didn’t catch on, but … it also didn’t have a good controller and audio interface to go with it.

The DDJ-400 plus Soda are actually more flexible as musical tools than what you get with a $5000 DJ hardware setup… but the total purchase price here, with some recent iPad revisions, is more like $500. And it’s more portable.

Or, let’s say you’re sick of controllers and laptops in the DJ booth – as you should be. Now you can add a Linux DJ tool, throw it on a small computer (like a Raspberry Pi), and DIY fashion your own case.

That should be priceless for the reaction of people in a DJ booth alone.

“Aw, look, another n00b with a laptop and controller because he can… hey … the… where’s the computer?”

I wish Roland had done this with their recent DJ controller line, but … now Pioneer have, so we’re sorted.

I’m not endorsing it yet, as I haven’t tried the hardware yet or seen how MIDI mapping works, but suffice to say – I’m interested.

And even if the above is really the use case, this one is … fun.

By the way, if you’re wondering why makers like Native Instruments and Serato haven’t come up with their own integrated hardware, instead of making us plug in unwieldy laptops in the middle of a party like we thought we were looking for an Internet cafe instead of a booth, well…

I wonder that, too. Constantly.

In the meantime, if anyone will turn a controller into some wild all-in-one DIY solution, and even come up with novel, out-of-the-mainstream ways of DJing in the process, it’s readers here.

Enjoy.

And for everyone else, yeah, the ubiquity of Rekordbox and CDJs means this is probably the $250 controller to beat. (Rival makers, you knew already this was the challenge.)

Specs:
24-bit sound card
2-channel control surface
Pad FX
High/low pass filter (software)
Sampler (software), 16 slot / 4 bank
8 hot cues
Manual looping
Beat jump
Fader start / adjustable crossfader
USB port
1 mic input (1/4″ TS)
RCA master out
Dedicated headphone monitor (minijack) (note that you can also use this for cueing even as your computer speakers or other connected speakers handle output)

Pioneer DDJ-400

The post Pioneer’s $250 DDJ-400 will appeal to DIYers, iOS users, too appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

This free tool could change how you think about sequencers

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 25 Jun 2018 6:11 pm

Context, built in Pure Data, is a free and open source modular sequencer that opens up new ways of thinking about melody, rhythm, and pattern.

Sequencers: we’ve seen, well, a lot of them. There are easy-to-use step sequencers, but they tend to be limited to pretty simple patterns. More sophisticated options go to the other extreme, making you build up patterns from scratch or program your own tools.

The challenge is, how do you employ the simplicity of a step sequencer, but make a wider range of patterns just as accessible?

Context is one clever way of doing that. Building on modular patching of patterns – the very essence of what made Max and Pd useful in the first place – Context lets you combine bits and pieces together to create sequencers around your own ideas. And a whole lot of ideas are possible here, from making very powerful sequencers quick to build, LEGO-style, to allowing open-ended variations to satisfy the whims of more advanced musicians and patchers.

Where this gets interesting in Pd specifically is, you can built little feedback networks, creating simple loopers up to fancy generative or interactive music machines.

It’s all just about sequencing, so if you’re a Pd nut, you can combine this with existing patches, and if not, you can use it to sequence other hardware or software instruments.

At first I thought this would be a simple set of Pd patches or something like that, but it’s really deep. There’s a copious manual, which even holds new users by the hand (including with some first-time issues like the Pd font being the wrong size).

You combine patches graphically, working with structures for timing and pattern. But you can control them not only via the GUI, but also via a text-based command language, or – in the latest release – using hardware. (They’ve got an example set up that works directly with the Novation Launchpad.)

So live coder, live musician, finger drummer, whatever – you’re covered.

There are tons of examples and tutorials, plus videos in addition to the PDF manual. (Even though I personally like reading, that gives you some extra performance examples to check out for musical inspiration!)

Once you build up a structure – as a network of modules with feedback – you can adapt Context to a lot of different work. It could drive the timing of a sample player. It could be a generative music tool. You could use it in live performance, shaping sound as you play. You might even take its timing database and timeline and apply it to something altogether different, like visuals.

But impressively, while you can get to the core of that power if you know Pd, all of this functionality is encapsulated in menus, modules, and commands that mean you can get going right away as a novice.

In fact… I really don’t want to write any more, because I want to go play with this.

Here’s an example of a performance all built up:

And you can go grab this software now, free (GPL v3) — ready to run on your Mac, Windows PC, Linux machine, or Raspberry Pi, etc.:

https://contextsequencer.wordpress.com/documentation/

https://contextsequencer.wordpress.com/

The post This free tool could change how you think about sequencers appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

This plug-in is a secret weapon for sound design and drums

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 14 Jun 2018 12:26 pm

It’s full of gun sounds. But because of a combination of a unique sample architecture and engine and a whole lot of unique assets, the Weaponiser plug-in becomes a weapon of a different kind. It helps you make drum sounds.

Call me a devoted pacifist, call me a wimp – really, either way. Guns actually make me uncomfortable, at least in real life. Of course, we have an entirely separate industry of violent fantasy. And to a sound designer for games or soundtracks, Weaponiser’s benefits should be obvious and dazzling.

But I wanted to take a different angle, and imagine this plug-in as a sort of swords into plowshares project. And it’s not a stretch of the imagination. What better way to create impacts and transients than … well, fire off a whole bunch of artillery at stuff and record the result? With that in mind, I delved deep into Weaponiser. And as a sound instrument, it’s something special.

Like all advanced sound libraries these days, Weaponiser is both an enormous library of sounds, and a powerful bespoke sound engine in which those sounds reside. The Edinburgh-based developers undertook an enormous engineering effort here both to capture field recordings and to build their own engine.

It’s not even all about weapons here, despite the name. There are sound elements unrelated to weapons – there’s even an electronic drum kit. And the underlying architecture combines synthesis components and a multi-effects engine, so it’s not limited to playing back the weapon sounds.

What pulls Weaponiser together, then, is an approach to weapon sounds as a modularized set of components. The top set of tabs is divided into ONSET, BODY, THUMP, and TAIL – which turns out to be a compelling way to conceptualize hard-hitting percussion, generally. We often use vaguely gunshot-related metaphors when talking about percussive sounds, but here, literally, that opens up some possibilities. You “fire” a drum sound, or choose “burst” mode (think automatic and semi-automatic weapons) with an adjustable rate.

This sample-based section is then routed into a mixer with multi-effects capabilities.

In music production, we’ve grown accustomed to repetitive samples – a Roland TR clap or rimshot that sounds the same every single time. In foley or game sound design, of course, that’s generally a no-no; our ears quickly detect that something is amiss, since real-world sound never repeats that way. So the Krotos engine is replete with variability, multi-sampling, and synthesis. Applied to musical applications, those same characteristics produce a more organic, natural sound, even if the subject has become entirely artificial.

Weaponiser architecture

Let’s have a look at those components in turn.

Gun sounds. This is still, of course, the main attraction. Krotos have field recordings of a range of weapons:

AK 47
Berretta 92
Dragunov
GPMG
SPAS 12
CZ75
GPMG
H&K 416
M 16
M4 (supressed)
MAC 10
FN MINIMI
H&K MP5
Winchester 1887

For those of you who don’t know gun details, that amounts to pistol, rifle, automatic, semiautomatic, and submachine gun (SMG). These are divided up into samples by the onset/body/thump/tail architecture I’ve already described, plus there are lots of details based on shooting scenario. There are bursts and single fires, sniper shots from a distance, and the like. But maybe most interesting actually are all the sounds around guns – cocking and reloading vintage mechanical weapons, or the sound of bullets impacting bricks or concrete. (Bricks sound different than concrete, in fact.) There are bullets whizzing by.

And that’s just the real weapons. There’s an entire bank devoted to science fiction weapons, and these are entirely speculative. (Try shooting someone with a laser; it … doesn’t really work the way it does in the movies and TV.) Those presets get interesting, too, because they’re rooted in reality. There’s a Berretta fired interdimensionally, for example, and the laser shotguns, while they defy present physics and engineering, still have reloading variants.

In short, these Scottish sound designers spent a lot of time at the shooting range, and then a whole lot more time chained to their desk working with the sampler.

Things that aren’t gun sounds. I didn’t expect to find so many sounds in the non-gun variety, however. There are twenty dedicated kits, which tend in a sort of IDM / electro crossover, just building drum sounds on this engine. There are a couple of gems in there, too – enough so that I could imagine Krotos following up this package with a selection of drum production tools built on the Weaponiser engine but having nothing to do with bullets or artillery.

Until that happens, you can think of that as a teaser for what the engine can do if you spend time building your own presets. And to that end, you have some other tools:

Variations for each parameter randomize settings to avoid repetition.

Four engines, each polyphonic with their own sets of samples, combine. But the same things that allow you different triggering/burst modes for guns prove useful for percussion. And yes, there’s a “drunk” mode.

A deep multi-effects section with mixing and routing serves up still more options.

Four engines, synthesis. Onset, Body, Thump, and Tail each have associated synthesis engines. Onset and Body are specialized FM synthesizers. Thump is essentially a bass synth. Tail is a convolution reverb – but even that is a bit deeper than it may sound. Tail provides both audio playback and spatialization controls. It might use a recorded tail, or it might trigger an impulse response.

Also, the way samples are played here is polyphonic. Add more samples to a particular engine, and you will trigger different variants, not simply keep re-triggering the same sounds over and over again. That’s the norm for more advanced percussion samplers, but lately electronic drum engines have tended to dumb that down. And – there’s a built-in timeline with adjustable micro-timings, which is something I’ve never seen in a percussion synth/sampler.

The synth bits have their own parameters, as well, and FM and Amplitude Modulation modes. You can customize carriers and modulators. And you can dive into sample settings, including making radical changes to start and end points, envelope, and speed.

Effects and mixing. Those four polyphonic engines are mixed together in a four-part mix engine, with multi-effects that can be routed in various ways. Then you can apply EQ, Compression, Limiting, Saturation, Ring Modulation, Flanging, Transient Shaping, and Noise Gating.

Oh, you can also use this entire effects engine to process sounds from your DAW, making this a multi-effects engine as well as an instrument.

Is your head spinning yet?

About the sounds

Depending on which edition you grab, from the limited selection of the free 10-day demo up to the “fully loaded” edition, you’ll get as many as 2228 assets, with 1596 edited weapon recordings. There are also 692 “sweeteners” – a grab bag of still more sounds, from synths to a black leopard (the furry feilne, really), and the sound recordists messing around with their recording rig, keys, Earth, a bicycle belt… you get the idea. There are also various impulse responses for the convolution reverb engine, allowing you to place your sound in different rooms, stairwells, and synthetic reverbs.

The recording chain itself is worth a look. There are the expected mid/side and stereo recordings, classic Neumann and Sennheiser mics, and a whole lot of use by the Danish maker DPA – including mics positioned directly on the guns in some recordings. But they’ve also included recordings made with the Sennheiser Ambeo VR Mic for 360-degree, virtual reality sound.

They’ve shared some behind-the-scenes shots with CDM, and there’s a short video explaining the process.

In use, for music

Some of the presets are realistic enough that it did really make me uncomfortable at first working with these sounds in a music project – but that was sort of my aim. What I found compelling is, because of this synth engine, I was quickly able to transform those sounds into new, organic, even unrecognizable variations.

There are a number of strategies here that make this really interesting.

You can mess with samples. Adjusting speed and other parameters, as with any samples, of course gives you organic, complex new sounds.

There’s the synthesis engine. Working with the synth options either to reprocess the sounds or on their own allows you to treat Weaponiser basically as a drum synth.

The variations make this sound like acoustic percussion. With subtle or major variations, you can produce sound that’s less repetitive than electronic drums would be.

Mix and match. And, of course, you have presets to warp and combine, the ability to meld synthetic sounds and gun sounds, to sweeten conventional percussion with those additions (synths and guns and leopard sounds)… the mind reels.

Routing, of course is vital, too; here’s their look at that:

In fact, there’s so much, that I could almost go on a separate tangent just working with this musically. I may yet do that, but here is a teaser at what’s possible – starting with the obvious:

But I’m still getting lost in the potential here, reversing sounds, trying the drum kits, working with the synth and effects engines.

The plug-in can get heavy on CPU with all of that going on, obviously, but it’s also possible to render out layers or whole sounds, useful both in production and foley/sound design. Really, my main complaint is the tiny, complex UI, which can mean it takes some time to get the hang of working with everything. But as a sound tool, it’s pretty extraordinary. And you don’t need to have firing shotguns in all your productions – you can add some subtle sweetening, or additional layers and punch to percussion without anyone knowing they’re hearing the Krotos team messing with bike chains and bullets hitting bricks and an imaginary space laser.

Weaponiser runs on a Mac or PC, 64-bit only VST AU AAX. You’ll need about five and a half gigs of space free. Basic, which is already pretty vast, runs $399 / £259/ €337. Full loaded is over twice that size, and costs $599 / £379 / €494.

https://www.krotosaudio.com/weaponiser/

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Output’s Arcade is a cloud-based loop library you play as an instrument

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 12 Jun 2018 6:51 pm

The future of soundware is clearly on-demand, crafted sounds from the cloud. Output adds a twist: don’t just give you new sounds, but give you a way to play them and make them your own.

So, the latest product from the LA-based sound boutique Output is called “Arcade” – so play, get it?

And it’s an early entry and fresh take on an area that’s set to heat up fast. To get things rolling here, your first 100 days are completely free; then you pay a monthly subscription rate of $10 a month (with cancellation whenever you want, and you don’t even lose access to your sounds).

As the number of producers grows, and the diversity of the music they may want to make seems to grow, too, as genres and niches spill over and transform at Internet speed, the need to deliver music makers sound and inspiration seems a major opportunity. We’re seeing subscription-based models (Native Instruments’ Sounds.com, Splice) and à la carte models (Loopmasters). And we’re seeing different ideas about how to organize releases (around genre, producer, sound house, or more curated selections around a theme), plus how to integrate tools for users.

Here’s where Arcade is interesting. It’s really a single, integrated instrument. And its goal is to find you exactly the sound you need, right away, easily — but also to give you the ability to completely transform that sound and make it your own, even loading your own found samples.

That’s important, because it bridges the divide between loops as a way of employing someone else’s content, and sound sampling as a DIY, personal affair, with a spectrum in between.

I suspect a lot of you reading have been all over that spectrum. Let’s consider even the serious, well-paid producer. You’ve got a tight scoring deadline, and the job needs a really particular sound, and you’re literally counting the minutes and sweating. Or… you’ve got a TV ad spot, and you need to make something sound completely original, and not like any particular preset you’ve heard before.

This also really isn’t about beginners or advanced users. An advanced user may have a very precise sound in mind – even to sit atop some meticulously hand-crafted sounds. And one of the first things a lot of beginners like to do is mess around with samples they record with a mic. (How many kids made noises into a Casio SK-1 in the 80s?)

I got to sit down with Output CEO and founder Gregg Lehrman, and we took a deep look at Arcade and had a long talk about what it’s about and what the future of music making might be. We’ll look more in detail at how you can use this as an instrument, but let’s cover what this is.

Walkthrough:

Choose your DAW – here’s Arcade running inside Ableton.

It’s a plug-in. This is important. You’ll always be interacting with Arcade as a plug-in, inside your host of choice – so no shuttling back and forth to a Website, as some solutions currently make you do. Omni-format – Mac AU / VST / VST3 / AAX, Windows VST / VST3 / AAX 32- and 64-bit. (Native Linux support would be nice, actually, but that’s missing for now.)

Sounds can match your tempo and key. You can hear sounds in their original form, or conform to the tempo and pitch that matches your current project. (Loopmasters does this too, actually, but via a separate app combined with a plug-in, which is a bit clunky.)

Browse through curated collections of sounds, which are paid for by subscription, Spotify/Netflix-style.

It lets you find sounds online. On-demand cloud browsing lets you check out selections of sounds, complete kits, and loops. You can preview all of these right away. Now, Netflix-style, Output promises new stuff every day, so you can browse around for something to inspire you if you’re feeling stuck. And at least in the test, these were organized with a sense of style and character – more like looking at the output of a music label than the usual commodity catalog of samples.

Search, browse, tagging, and the usual organizing tools are there, too – but it’s probably the preview and curation that puts this over the top.

— but it works if you’re offline, too. Prefer to switch the Internet off in your studio to avoid distractions? Work in an underground bunker, or in the hollowed out volcano island you use as an evil lair? Happily, you don’t need an Internet connection to work.

The keyboard (or whatever MIDI controller you’ve mapped) triggers loops, but also manipulates them on the fly. That lets you radically transform samples as you play – including your own sounds.

You can play the loops as an instrument. Okay, so the whole reason we went into music presumably is that we love the process of making music. Output excels here by letting you load loops into a 15-voice synth, then mangle and warp and modify the sound. It works really well from a keyboard or other MIDI controller.

This isn’t a sample playback instrument in the traditional sense, in terms of how it maps to pitch. Instead, white notes trigger samples, and black notes trigger modifiers. That’s actually really crazy to play around with, because it feels a little like you’re doing production work – the usual mouse-based chores of editing and modifying samples – as you play along, live.

There’s also input quantize, in case your keyboard skills aren’t so precise.

There are tons of modifiers and modulation and effects. Like all of Output’s products, the recipe is, build a deep architecture, then encapsulate it in an easy interface. That way, you can mess around with a simple control and make massive changes, which gets you discovering possibilities fast, but also go further into the structure if you want to get more specific about your needs, and if you’re willing to invest more time.

In this case, Arcade is built around four main sliders that control the character of the sound, both subtle and radical, and then another eleven effects and a deep mixing, routing, and modulation engine underneath.

So, let’s get into specifics.

Each Loop Voice – up to 15 of them – has a whole bunch of controls. It really would be fair to call this a synth:

• Multimode Filter with Resonance and Gradual/Steep Curve
• Volume, Pan, Attack/Release and Loop Crossfade
• Speed Control (1/4, 1/2, x1, x2)
• Tune Control (+/- 24)
• Loop Playback (Reverse, Pendulum, Loop On/Off, Hold)
• FX Sends Pre/Post x2
• Modifier Block
• Sync On/Off

Loop editing.

There’s also a time/pitch stretch engine with both “efficient” and resource-intensive “high quality” modes:

• BPM & Time signature Control
• Key Signature control
• Formant Pitch Control

Since the point is playing, you can map to velocity sensitivity, too, so how hard you hit keys impacts filter cutoff and resonance, voulme and formant.

But you have stuff that can do all the above. It’s the modifiers that get interesting – little macros that are accessible as you play:

• ReSequence (16 steps with Volume, Mute, Reverse, Speed, Length and Attack
Decay control per step)
• Playhead (Speed, Reverse, Loop On/Off, Cup Point per Loop)
• Repeater (Note Repeat with Rate, Reverse, Volume Step Sequencer)
Session Key Control

Plus there’s a Resequencer for sequencing sound slices into new combinations.

The Resequencer gives you even more options for manipulating audio content and turning it into something new.

– combined with modulation:

• LFO/Step (x2) Sync/Free mode with Retrigger and Rate.
• Waveshape Control
• Attack, Phase, Chaos and Polarity Control

Deep modulation options either power presets – or your own sound creations, if you’re ready to tinker.

And there’s a complete mixer:

• 15 Channel Mixer with Volume, Pan, Pre/Post Send FX(x2), Solo
• Send Bus (x2) with Volume, Pan and Mute
• 2 insert FX slots per Bus
• Master Bus with Volume, Pan, Mute and 4 Insert FX slots

The Mixer combines up to 16 parts.

Plus a whole mess of effects. Those effects helped define the character of earlier Output instruments, so it’s great to see here:

• Chorus
• Compressor
• MultiTap Delay
• Stereo Delay
• Distortion Box
• Equalizer
• Filter
• Limiter
• LoFi
• Phaser
• Reverb

It wouldn’t be an Output product without some serious multi-effects options.

But if Output likes to pitch itself as the “secret sauce” behind everything from Kendrick Lamar to the soundtracks for Black Panther and Stranger Things, I absolutely adore that you can load your own samples.

Native Instruments has built a great ecosystem around their tools, including Kontakt – and Output have made use of that engine. But it’s great to see this ground-up creation that introduces some different paradigms around want to do with sampled sound. That instant access to playing – to tapping into your muscle memory, your improvisation skills – I think could be really transformative. We’ve seen artists like Tim Exile advocate this approach in how he works, and it’s an element in a lot of great improvisers’ electronic work. What Output have done is allow you to combine sound discovery with instant playability.

The subscription model means you don’t have to reach for your credit card when you find sounds you want. But if you cancel the $10 a month subscription, unlike a Spotify or Netflix, you don’t lose access to your sounds. Output says:

If you open an older session, you will be prompted to log in, and you will not be able to click past the log in screen. You will be able to play back any MIDI or automation data recorded in your saved session. It will sound exactly the same, but you won’t be able to browse or tweak the character of the sound within the plugin. The midi can still be changed as the preset stays loaded in a session as long as you don’t uninstall Arcade which will remove all the audio samples. The best way to see what I mean is to test it yourself. Put ARCADE into a midi track, then log out of the plug-in. With the GUI still open albeit stuck on the log-in screen, play your track and hit some keys.

The fact that it’s all powered by subscription also means you’ll always have something there to use. But I do hope for the sake of sound creators – and because this engine is so cool – that Output also consider à la carte purchasing of some sounds selections. That could support more intensive sound design processes. And the interface looks like it’d work well as a shop, too. I share some of the concerns of sound artists that subscription models could hurt sound design in the way that they have music downloading. And — on the other hand, to use downloading as an example, a lot of us have both a subscription and buy a tone of stuff from Bandcamp, including underground music.

Let us know what you think.

I’ll be back with a guide to how to load your own sounds and play this as an instrument / design and modify sounds in a more sophisticated way.

More:

https://output.com/arcade

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Ableton’s Creative Extensions are a set of free tools for sound, inspiration

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 6 Jun 2018 12:00 pm

On the surface, Ableton’s new free download today is just a set of sound tools. But Ableton also seem focused on helping you find some inspiration to get ideas going.

Creative Extensions are now a free addition to Live 10. They’re built in Max for Live, so you’ll need either Ableton Live 10 Suite or a copy of Live 10 Standard and Max for Live. (Apparently some of you do fit the latter scenario.)

To find the tools, once you have those prerequisites, you’ll just launch the new Live 10 browser. then click Packs in the sidebar, and Creative Extensions will pop up under “Available Packs” as a download option. Like so:

I’m never without my trusty copy of Sax for Live. The rest I can download here.

Then once you’re there, you get a tool for experimenting with melodies, two virtual analog instruments (a Bass, and a polysynth with modulation and chorus), and effects (two delays, a limiter, an envelope processor, and a “spectral blur” reverb).

Have a look:

Melodic Steps is a note sequencer with lots of options for exploration.

Bass is a virtual analog monosynth, with four oscillators. (Interesting that this is the opposite approach taken by Native Instruments with the one-oscillator bass synth in Maschine.)

Poli is a virtual analog polysynth, basically staking out some more accessible ground versus the AAS-developed Analog already in Live.

Pitch Hack is a delay – here’s where things start to get interesting. You can transpose, reverse audio, randomize transposition interval, and fold the delayed signal back into the effect. If you’ve been waiting for a wild new delay from the company that launched with Grain Delay, this could be it.

Gated Delay is a second delay, combining a gate sequencer and delay. (Logic Pro 10.4 added some similar business via acquired developer Camel, but nice to have this in Live, too.)

Color Limited is modeled on hardware limiters.

Re-enveloper is a three-band, frequency dependent envelope processor. That gives you some more precise control of envelope on a sound – or you could theoretically use this in combination with other effects. Very useful stuff, so this could quietly turn out to be the tool out of this set you use the most.

Spectral Blur is perhaps the most interesting – it creates dense clouds of delays, which produce a unique reverb-style effect (but one distinct from other reverbs).

And the launch video:

All in all, it’s a nice addition to Ableton you can grab as a free update, and a welcome thank you to Live 10 adopters. I’m going to try some experimentation with the delays and re-enveloper, and I can already tell I’m going to be into this Spectral Blur. (Logic Pro’s ChromeVerb goes a similar direction, and I’m stupidly hooked on that, too.)

Creative Extensions: New in Live 10 Suite

If these feel a little pedestrian and vanilla to you – the world certainly does have a lot of traditional virtual analog – you might want to check out the other creations by this developer, Amazing Noises. They have something Granular Lab on the Max for Live side, plus a bunch of wonderful iOS effects. And you can always use an iPad or iPhone as an outboard effects processor for your Live set, too, taking advantage of the touch-centric controls. (Think Studiomux.)

https://www.ableton.com/en/packs/by/amazing-noises/

https://www.amazingnoises.com/

http://apps.amazingnoises.com/

If you’re a Max for Live user or developer and want to recommend one of your creations, too, please do!

Want some more quick inspiration / need to unstick your creative imagination today? Check out the Sonic Bloom Oblique Strategies. Here’s today’s:

And plenty more where that came from:

http://sonicbloom.net/en/category/oblique-strategies/

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Apple to open source, cross-platform GPU tech: drop dead?

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 5 Jun 2018 2:18 pm

Apple’s decision to shift to its own proprietary tech for accessing modern GPUs could hurt research, education, and pro applications on their platform.

OpenGL and OpenCL are the industry-standard specifications for writing code that runs on graphics architectures, for graphics and general-purpose computation, including everything from video and 3D to machine learning.

This is relevant to an ongoing interest on this site – those technologies also enable live visuals (including for music), creative coding, immersive audiovisual performance, and “AI”-powered machine learning experiments in music and art.

OpenGL and OpenCL, while sometimes arcane technologies, enable a wide range of advanced, cross-platform software. They’re also joined by a new industry standard, Vulkan. Cross-platform code is growing, not shrinking, as artists, researchers, creative professionals, experimental coders, and other communities contribute new generations of software that work more seamlessly across operating systems.

And Apple has just quietly blown off all those groups. From the announcement to developers regarding macOS 10.14:

Deprecation of OpenGL and OpenCL

Apps built using OpenGL and OpenCL will continue to run in macOS 10.14, but these legacy technologies are deprecated in macOS 10.14. Games and graphics-intensive apps that use OpenGL should now adopt Metal. Similarly, apps that use OpenCL for computational tasks should now adopt Metal and Metal Performance Shaders.

They’re also deprecating OpenGL ES on iOS, with the same logic.

Metal is fine technology, but it’s specific to iOS and Mac OS. It’s not open, and it won’t run on other platforms.

Describing OpenGL and OpenCL as “legacy” is indeed fine. But as usual, the issue with Apple is an absence of information, and that’s what’s problematic. Questions:

What’s the timeline for deprecating OpenCL/OpenGL?

What about support for Vulkan? Apple are a partner in the Khronos Group, which develops this industry-wide standard. It isn’t in fact “legacy,” and it’s designed to solve the same problems as Metal does. Is Metal being chosen over Vulkan?

What happens on the Web? Cross-platform here is even more essential, since your 3D or machine learning code for a browser needs to work in multiple scenarios.

Transparency and information might well solve this, but for now we’re a bit short on both.

Metal support in Unity. Frameworks like Unity may be able to smooth out platform differences for developers (including artists).

A case for Apple pushing Metal

First off, there is some sense to Apple’s move here. Metal – like DirectX on Windows or Mantle from AMD – is a lower-level language for addressing the graphics hardware. That means less overhead, higher performance, and extra features. It suggests Apple is pushing their mobile platforms in particular as an option for higher-end games. We’ve seen gaming companies Razer and Asus create Android phones that have high-end specs on paper, but without a low-level API for graphics hardware or a significant installed base, those are more proof of concept than they are useful as game platform.

And Apple does love to deprecate APIs to force developers onto the newest stuff. That’s why so often your older OS versions are so quickly unsupported, even when developers don’t want to abandon you.

On mobile, Apple never implemented OpenCL in the first place. And there’s arguably a more significant gap between OpenGL ES and something like Metal for performance.

Another business case: Apple may be trying to drive a wedge in development between iOS and Android, to ensure more iOS-only games and the like. Since they can’t make platform exclusives the way something like a PlayStation or Nintendo Switch or Xbox can, this is one way to do it.

And it seems Apple is moving away from third-party hardware vendors, meaning they control both the spec here and the chips inside their devices.

But that doesn’t automatically make any of this more useful to end users and developers, who reap benefits from cross-platform support. It significantly increases the workload on Apple to develop APIs and graphics hardware – and to encourage enough development to keep up with competing ecosystems. So there’s a reason for standards to exist.

Vulkan offers some of the low-level advantages of Metal (or DirectX) … but it works cross-platform, even including Web contexts.

Pulling out of an industry standard group

The significant factor here about OpenGL generally is, it’s not software. It’s a specification for an API. And for the moment, it remains the industry standard specification for interfacing with the GPU. Unlike their move to embrace new variations of USB and Thunderbolt over the years, or indeed the company’s own efforts in the past to advance OpenGL, Apple isn’t proposing an alternative standard. They’re just pulling out of a standard the entire industry supports, without any replacement.

And this impacts a range of cross-platform software, open source software, and the ability to share code and research across operating systems, including but not limited to:

Video editing
Post production
Generative graphics
Digital art
VJing and live visual software
Creative coding
Machine learning and neural network tools

Cross platform portability for those use cases meets a significant set of needs. Educators wanting to teach how to write shaders now face having students with Apple hardware having to use a different language, for example. Gamers wanting access to the largest possible library – as on services like Steam – will now likely see more platform-exclusive titles instead on the Apple hardware. And pros wanting access to specific open source, high-end video tools… well, here’s yet another reason to switch to Windows or Linux.

This doesn’t so much impact developers who rely on existing libraries that target Metal specifically. So, for instance, developing in the Unity Game Engine means your creation can use Metal on Apple platforms and OpenGL elsewhere. But because of the size of the ecosystem here, that won’t be the case for a lot of other use cases.

And yeah, I’m serious about Linux as a player here. As Microsoft and Apple continue to emphasize consumers over pros, cramming huge updates over networks and trying to foist them on users, desktop Linux has quietly gotten a lot more stable. For pro video production, post production, 3D, rendering, machine learning, research, and – even a growing niche of people working in audio and music – Linux can simply out-perform its proprietary relatives and save money and time.

So what happened to Vulkan?

Apple could have joined with the rest of the industry in supporting a new low-level API for computation and graphics. That standard is now doubly important as machine learning technology drives new ideas across art, technology, and society.

https://www.khronos.org/vulkan/

And apart from the value of it being a standard, Apple would break with important hardware partners here at their own peril. Yes, Apple makes a lot of their own hardware under the hood – but not all of it. Will they also make a move to proprietary graphics chips on the Mac, and will those keep up with PC offerings? (There is currently a Vulkan SDK for Mac. It’s unclear exactly how it will evolve in the wake of this decision.)

ExtremeTech have a scathing review of the sitution. it’s a must-read, as it clearly breaks down the different pipelines and specs and how they work. But it also points out, Apple have tended to lag not just in hardware adoption but in their in-house support efforts. That suggests you get an advantage from being on Windows or Linux, generally:

Apple brings its Metal API to OS X 10.11, kicks Vulkan to the curb

Fragmentation or standards

Let’s be clear – even with OpenGL and OpenCL, there’s loads of fragmentation in the fields I mention, from hardware to firmware to drivers to SDKs. Making stuff work everywhere is messy.

But users, researchers, and developers do reap real benefits from cross-platform standards and development. And Metal alone clearly doesn’t provide that.

Here’s my hope: I hope that while deprecating OpenGL/CL, Apple does invest in Vulkan and its existing membership in Khronos Group (the industry consortium that supports that API as well as OpenGL). Apple following up this announcement with some news on Vulkan and cross-platform support – and how the transition to that and Metal would work – could turn the mood around entirely.

Apple’s reputation may be proprietary, but this is also the company that pushed USB and Thunderbolt, POSIX and WebKit, that used a browser to sell its first phone, and that was a leading advocate (ironically) for OpenGL and OpenCL.

As game directors and artists and scientists and thinkers all explore the possibilities of new graphics hardware, from virtual reality to artificial intelligence, we have some real potential ahead. The platforms that will win I think will be the ones that maximize capabilities and minimize duplication of effort.

And today, at least, Apple are leaving a lot of those users in the dark about just how that future will work.

I’d love your feedback. I’m ranting here partly because I know a lot of the most interesting folks working on this are readers, so do please get in touch. You know more than I do, and I appreciate your insights.

More:

https://developer.apple.com/macos/whats-new/

https://www.khronos.org/opengl/wiki/FAQ

https://www.khronos.org/vulkan/

https://developer.apple.com/documentation/metalperformanceshaders

… and what this headline is referencing

The post Apple to open source, cross-platform GPU tech: drop dead? appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

LABS is a free series of sound tools for everyone, and you’ll want it now

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 31 May 2018 5:41 pm

Everyone’s talking these days it seems about new users and finding an entry way into production. But Spitfire’s take is pretty irresistible: give you some essential sounds you can use anywhere, then charge you … nothing.

Spitfire Audio are a little bit like the “recording studio, engineers, and world-class rented orchestra” you … never had. These are exceptionally detailed sample libraries, including collaborations with Hans Zimmer and Ólafur Arnalds.

LABS is something different. Spitfire says they’re planning a series of these bite-sized sample library instruments, integrated as plug-ins for Mac and Windows / all DAWs. Since they are more focused, they’re also smaller – so we’re talking a few hundred megs instead of many gigs of content, meaning you also don’t have to think about plugging in an external drive just to install. A new build of their online tool goes and grabs them for you.

VST/AU/AAX/Mac/Windows … free:

https://www.spitfireaudio.com/labs/

Now, just describing it, that sounds not all that exciting – plenty of sample houses offer freebies to get you hooked. But LABS’ debut two entries are something special. There’s an intimate “soft piano” that’s good enough that I temporarily got distracted for half an hour playing even on my QWERTY keyboard in Abeton before I remembered I was supposed to be doing something. It’s beautiful and delicate with loads of sounds of the piano action and … it’s sort of hard not to make some film score with it. (Plugging in a hammer action keyboard was, of course, better.)

Grab those downloads … and more arrive every month. (Here seen alongside their paid libraries.)

There’s also an essentials string ensemble that covers the bread-and-butter articulations you need, exceptionally well recorded on a 40-piece ensemble.

All of this is wrapped into a minimalistic interface, made in collaboration with UsTwo – the folks who did the hit game Monument Valley. Spitfire tells me that something like six to nine months of work between them and UsTwo led to the final design.

Dial in specific settings using the minimal interfaces, designed by the creators of Monument Valley.

LABS has just these settings so far, but they’re already pretty engaging.

This minimalism, from sound selections to interface, almost demands experimentation. You know, there’s a reason so many keyboards have pianos at patch 00 – we’re all often imagining a piano sound or string sound in our heads. It’s just rare you get one you’d want to return to, which is what this is. And I suspect for more adventurous producers and electronic work, the perfectly-recorded, back-to-basics nature of these selections will be perfect for transformation. (So you can weave them into electronic textures, and reverse and chop them up and re-pitch them and so on – all with good source material.)

And, of course, the price is right.

LABS is part of a larger project, with more sounds coming, also for free, monthly. Spitfire promises both more of these basic starting points for new producers or musicians wanting to cover their basic ingredients (like the samples you’ll want on your internal SSD and not just the big external drive), plus a testing bed for experiments in sound design and projects they want feedback on. (It’s not a freemium model, then – it’s more like a free laboratory, rather like what I was discussing yesterday around modules in VCV Rack, but for soundware. I wonder if we’ll see this elsewhere.)

There’s also a content plan around the sounds, a notebook of projects and ideas to go with the LABS sound downloads.

It’s also nice to see soundware companies pushing to increase the value of live musicians and composers/sound designers, rather than engage in a race to the bottom. I’ve heard some real concerns around the industry about the subscription model for sounds, and whether it will do to sound designers and recording artists what Spotify and iTunes Music streaming have done to record labels – but it seems the players in this industry really are committed to finding models that do something different. (Getting into this is obviously a matter for another day.)

Here’s their statement, whether you buy into that or not:

It remains Spitfire’s ethos to use live performances where possible, but when up against time and budget, Spitfire is the next best thing. By paying the players and collaborators royalties, Spitfire Audio helps sustain an incredible part of our musical heritage at the same time as championing innovation within it.

The plug-ins are free forever, not for a limited time. We’ll be watching to see what’s next.

Download:

https://www.spitfireaudio.com/labs/

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

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 30 May 2018 11:58 am

The free and open VCV Rack software modular platform already is full of a rich selection of open source modules. Now, Rack users get first access to the newest Mutable Instruments modules – and your $20 even goes to charity.

Mutable Instruments is unique among modular makers partly in that its modules are open source – and partly in that they’re really exceptionally creative and sound amazing.

Mutable’s Olivier Gillet was an early adopter of the open source model for music hardware, (along with CDM and our 2010 MeeBlip), starting with the classic Shruthi-1 desktop module (2012). But it’s really been in modular that Mutable has taken off. Even as Eurorack has seen a glut of modules, Olivier’s creations – like Braids, the Macro Oscillator, Clouds, and others – have stood out. And the open source side of this has allowed creative mods, like the Commodore 64 speech synthesis firmware we saw recently.

But Rack, by providing an open software foundation to run modules on, has opened a new frontier for those same modules, even after they’re discontinued. Rack’s ecosystem is a mix of free and open modules and proprietary paid modules. Here, you get a combination of those two ideas.

The hardware.

The software. (Macro Oscillator 2, “Audible Instruments,” in VCV Rack.)

Mutable’s Plaits, a successor to the original multi-functional Braids oscillator, isn’t out yet. And its source will be delayed a bit after that. But for twenty bucks, you get both Plaits (dubbed Macro Oscillator 2 inside VCV) ahead of release, opening up a wonderful new source for pitched and percussion sounds. Most of your money even goes to charity. (Actually, I’m happy to support these developers, too, but sure!) These are two of the more versatile sound sources anywhere.

The idea is, would-be hardware purchasers get an advance test. And everyone gets a version they can run in software for convenience. Either way, all synth lovers win, pretty much. Synthtopia has a similar take:

Is This The Future Of Eurorack Modules?

Maybe, maybe not but — on another level, even if this is just the model for Mutable’s stuff, it’s already good news modular fans and VCV Rack users.

And let’s not forget what it all sounds like. Here’s a mesmerizing, tranquil sound creation by Leipzig-based artist Synthicat, showing off Plaits / Macro Oscillator 2:

Another bonus of VCV Rack support for studio work – you get multiple instances easily, without buying multiple modules. So I can imagine a lot of people using elaborate modular setups they could never afford in the studio, then buying a smaller Eurorack rig for live performance use, for example. Check out Synthicat’s music at his Bandcamp site:

https://synthikat.bandcamp.com/

You’ll find a bunch of sound models available, from more traditional FM and analog oscillations to granular to percussive to, indeed, some of that weird speech synthesis business we mentioned. You also get a new interface with more flexible control and CV modulation, unifying what are in fact many different models of sound production into a single, unified, musical interface.

Loads and loads of models. Pop them up by right-clicking, or check the different icons on the center of the module panel.

As for Plaits hardware, here’s some more beautiful music:

https://mutable-instruments.net/modules/plaits/

The official announcement:

When Mutable Instruments releases a new Eurorack module, its source code is kept closed to limit the proliferation of opportunistic “DIY” clones at a time when there is a lot of demand for the module and to avoid exposing dealers to canceled pre-orders. After several months, a second production run is finished and the source code is released.

In a collaboration between VCV and Mutable Instruments, we allow you to test these new modules before their source code is publicly available with the “Audible Instruments Preview” plugin.

We don’t intend to profit from this collaboration. Instead, 80% of sales are donated to the Direct Relief (https://www.directrelief.org/) Humanitarian Medical Aid charity organization. The price exists to limit widespread distribution until each module is mature enough to be merged into Audible Instruments.

I have no doubt this will get hardware people hooked on the software, software people hooked on the hardware, and everybody synth-y and happy.

Note from VCV deveoper Andrew Belt [Facebook VCV Rack Group]

https://mutable-instruments.net/modules/plaits/

It seems more ports/previews may be coming, too, even just in the Audible Instruments preview purchase.

That’s not the only Rack news, either. VCV also have a powerful patchable parametric EQ called Parametra:

It’s $30 – so another proprietary offering that then supports development of the Rack platform.

https://vcvrack.com/Parametra.html

The post A life cycle for open modules, as Mutable Instruments joins VCV Rack appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Inside the livecoding algorave movement, and what it says about music

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 29 May 2018 2:30 pm

Using code for live music has gone from geeky fringe to underground revolution, offering a fresh approach to music and pattern, even for first-time coders. Alex McLean is one of the people at the center of this medium’s growth.

“Code” in this environment isn’t just about software language. The free, open source tool Alex McLean created, TidalCycles, found its original inspiration in research into analyzing Indian tabla rhythms. These environments are very much about getting closer to the essence of what makes music tick – the underlying technology of musical culture.

https://tidalcycles.org/ (powered by SuperCollider)

With Alex set to play and teach this weekend in Berlin, it seemed the perfect time to get his personal and musical story, and to have him take us on a tour of live coding’s latest frontiers. Alex is a laptop musician and developer, as well as a social organizer for a movement that’s spreading these tools worldwide. Johnny Appleseed style, Alex and others are planting seeds and building up a network of people who share knowledge and support one another. From my vantage point, the live coding scene represents a kind of free, open, collective model for supporting musical practice and culture, in contrast to the generally competitive dominant paradigm.

And oh yeah – that does include the “algorave,” a format Alex has promoted. Step into these marathon live code jams, and you may be surprised – this is danceable stuff, often with shoe-smoldering high tempos.

But if you only saw the novelty of people typing code on laptops to produce sound, you might miss the musical explorations it’s enabling. Perhaps because TidalCycles’ syntax lets you directly express loops and rhythmic ideas from a blank slate, without wrestling with all the chrome and complexity of typical musical software, it’s empowering some very creative work. For instance, I’ve had the fortune to get to know Miri Kat, a London-based artist using TidalCycles in her music (as well as making live algorave visuals). Late last year, through the CDM music label side project Establishment Records, we released her first EP (with generative visuals provided by Max/MSP/Jitter). I’m biased, of course, but to me, Miri’s work has sophistication in texture and pattern. So you don’t really need to know that live coding was used in its production – but then once you do know, it’s worth finding out how the tool represents musical ideas, and how the person who designed the tool thinks about those topics.

If you’re in Berlin, Alex joins a diverse live lineup Saturday at an event we’re organizing with Modular+ Space:

Encoded LIVE

And Alex will offer a workshop in TidalCycles and musical pattern Saturday afternoon. There are still some (limited) spots available if you act quickly.

Learn music patterning in TidalCycles, a free livecoding tool

Register for the workshop [30EUR incl. VAT]

We’re walking here at the edge between music theory and interface design, code and musical material, artist and organizer, musician and developer. So I was eager to ask Alex about how those pieces interlock – and how he manages his various roles and time.

Live coding really does involve dark rooms and screens full of code, like hacker representations in scifi and TV. Alex McLean, live; photo: Vitalija Glovackyte.

First, before we get into algorithmic music or livecoding, what was your entry into music, as far as training? What was your earliest musical experience?

I don’t have any formal musical training. I tried to play the guitar when I was young, but got nowhere. I just got ‘stuck’ playing the same things over and over (mainly “Wild Thing” by the Troggs). I’m a 70s child, so grew up during the home computer revolution in the 80s, but couldn’t buy a decent [computer] myself. But for some unknown reason, one day, our provincial state school received some great synths, including a Yamaha DX7, drum machine, and four-track recorder. Our music teacher let us play on them during lunchtimes, and so instead of going outside, we more or less recreated “Blue Monday” ever day.

You’ve done just a massive amount of event organization – that 100+ event count in your bio is real, yes? How do you keep all of that together in your head, in terms of organizing and logistics? How do you have any time for music making on top of everything else you do?

Yep – it’s an addiction, really. As well as dozens of algoraves, I’ve organized around 100 Dorkbot electronic art events, loads of ‘placard’ headphone parties, started two international conferences (ICLC on live coding and ICLI on live interfaces) and am now planning the third edition of the Festival of Algorithmic and Mechanical Movement in Sheffield. I do it mainly by collaborating with great people, and also by sending and receiving a lot of emails. It’s a great thing, imagining a weird event, talking to some people, and then a few months down the line, it’s happening. Usually, at that point, I’ve decided never to do another event ever again — but a few weeks later, a new idea pops up.

Really, though, it’s out of necessity. Interesting things happen in the gaps between communities, and the best way of making that happen is by making an event and forming a new community around it. It’s also really part of my music-making. You can’t really separate music from community.

On that note, actually, do you find you have to set aside some time that’s just for being a musician again?

Not generally, because I rarely record anything or make ‘tracks’ — just mainly play improvised, broken techno, live. So I just wait until someone invites me to play somewhere and I go and do it. That said, I do have a crowdfunded album project that is now about two years overdue. I keep setting time aside for that, but then find a new idea to explore for it. I’ve also formed a new duo (Class Compliant Audio Interfaces) with my friend Damu, and we are practicing regularly; that’s going well.

Tell us a little bit about TidalCycles. There was a connection to Indian classical rhythm in the way you conceived this software, right? How did you get from there to building a live coding environment?

Yes, that’s right. My first live coding environment was written in Perl, but it was frustratingly slow to work with. Then I came across BP2 – the second version of Bernard Bel’s “Bol Processor”, originally made for transcribing Indian tabla rhythms. I transferred the syntax into Haskell for a project I was doing for my Masters degree at Goldsmiths, around generating rhythmic continuations. A lot of Bernard’s ideas, and the reading I did around musical time in Indian classical music, still form the basis of the mini-language inside Tidal for describing polyrhythmic sequences, as well as Tidal’s conception of cyclic time.

Bol Processor 2 (BP2) at SourceForge

It strikes me that the essence of this is about pattern and rhythm. Did you try to think consciously in those musical terms when designing the tool?

Yes that was my motivation – to make a language for musical pattern. A lot already existed that I learned from, e.g. in SuperCollider, HMSL, Common Music, and in the writings of Laurie Spiegel. But although I put the code online for the first few years, I don’t think anyone else tried to use it. It was just for me, to make my own music as part of our band Slub.

Now, having edited the Oxford Guide, where would you position TidalCycles relative to other livecoding tools? What other tools should people be aware of – realizing there are a lot of these – on desktop or on browser?

Oh.. There’s absolutely loads of great stuff! There’s a lot to discover, and it’s almost all free/open source. Here’s the exhaustive list:

https://github.com/toplap/awesome-livecoding/blob/master/README.md

I’m particularly excited by FoxDot and Gibber taking things to the next level. Of course you can also livecode visuals, and Hydra [by Olivia Jack] is the new + exciting thing on the scene there. Both Gibber and Hydra run in the browser, and Foxdot is a fairly easy cross-platform download..

Is there anything to be said about the relationship between live textual coding and live visual/dataflow environments? (I was going to say Pure Data as an example.)

I don’t see any difference, really; a Pd patch has plenty of text in it, it’s just that the syntax comes from connecting the words together instead of arranging them next to each other. In fact, on one level, TidalCycles is a kind of pure, functional approach to dataflow. You can see this in the experimental visual frontend I made for it:

https://slab.org/colourful-texture/

We’ll give you a fresh group of people Saturday in Berlin to teach the software. Where do you start in a workshop, in terms of how to present it – once installation and such is done, that is?

I like to get people to think about what a pattern really is. In computer music, we too often think of patterns in terms of straight sequences or piano rolls. But patterns are a lot more than that — it’s a way of making, really. So I get people to think about patterns in terms of repetitions, symmetries, and reflections on multiple levels, and (I think) most importantly interference patterns which often create fascinating complexities from simple ingredients. Then of course there’s deviation from a pattern, the random numbers which are an important (if perhaps massively overblown) aspect of algorithmic composition.

This stuff it seems is really taking off. What can you say about the > state of the larger livecoding or live laptop scene? Is there something giving it some new velocity?

I think it’s been a slow burner, but has grown into a global network of local communities. A vibrant scene grew in Mexico City and is spreading around South America. There’s an increasingly active scene in Tokyo, too. It really comes down to local organizers deciding to dedicate their spare time to running workshops and putting on shows.

It’s sort of funny to me in a way that there’s a renewed interest in laptop performance just as many people are very vocally abandoning laptops for, say, Eurorack modular. Are these opposed forces? Or are we just getting to the point where people are getting more interested in live performance and improvisation? Is it about trying all sorts of interfaces to connect their thoughts to what they’re playing?

Yes, I think it’s all connected — people wanting to open up boxes and work with what’s inside, work with systems as material. I see the same motivation behind wiring and re-wiring a modular synthesizer and modifying live code while it runs.

Plus, of course, some people do both. There are people connecting Tidal and other live coding systems to modular synths.

Alex live, as Yaxu.

You’re going to play as a solo artist (Yaxu) – what’s that music about for you? There are some musical ideas that are separate from the tool, or would you say the tool is part of how you express that musical vision?

Well, I often degenerate into making deconstructed gabber whatever I do. But I guess when I perform solo, I try to make it about learning something new with Tidal – work it into new territory, perhaps by using a new function I’ve added or trying out a new combination of functions. That’s what makes it exciting for me and, hopefully, the audience. I don’t like the idea of musical vision, though, because I think live coding (and indeed music in general) isn’t at all about expressing fully conceived musical ideas in an efficient manner, but starting with something and seeing where it takes you. Working with pattern is great for this, because it’s so full of surprises.

Is there ever tension between working on building tools and communities, and working on your own music, or how did you harmonize them?

Making languages for music leads to making music, as does making parties, so it all fits together nicely. If I’m honest, it’s a bit concerning when other people make fantastic music with Tidal, but that just encourages me to push my own music forward. The idea of an individual voice in music is probably a fairly recent thing. I like the folk music model where people borrow tunes from each other all the time. Free/open source music fits into that nicely.

Yeah, I think in Western music history we can look to the Middle Ages for that individualist model – though then, too, that era was definitely into open source. Cantus firmus on GitHub, anyone?

So, looking beyond you — all these people who have picked up TidalCycles and gone and made their own expression, in their own art and teaching. Who are some of the people you’d point to who represent the range of what’s happened in the livecoding scene?

Oh gosh! In terms of Tidal people in particular:

I love Scotts-Berliner Calum Gunn’s stuff, both with and without Tidal:

http://www.calumgunn.com/

The same with Lucy Cheesman aka Heavy Lifting in Sheffield, she does top-notch Tidal stuff. We had a really fun collaboration recently, but she also performs with [live coding tool] Foxdot:

https://heavy-lifting.github.io/

Kindohm over in Minnesota makes totally amazing music too, and has been integral to the community from the start:

https://kindohm.bandcamp.com/

Alexandra Cardenas, I guess a Columbian-Mexican-Berliner, is another huge force for good in the community, currently spreading Tidal on tour across South America, and with every performance different and inspiring.

http://cargocollective.com/tiemposdelruido

I’ve really enjoyed following the development of audiovisual live coding in Japan e.g. Atsushi Tadokoro — looking forward to hosting an exchange with him + others soon!

Malitzin Cortes (CNDSD)’s Tidal experiments are also pushing Tidal into new ground, and her collaborations with visual artist Ivan Abreu
are something else:

http://blog.tidalcycles.org/cndsd/

Rodrigo Velasco aka Yecto from Mexico City, just love his inspired a/v work + experimental events:

Oh, this is so hard, to leave people out, but I guess I’d pick those out as being particularly active in growing the community in their different ways, as well as developing their own strong sound and approach. I’ll probably kick myself for forgetting someone.

Music from Yaxu (Alex)

Yaxu (audio) + Miri Kat (video) live at algorave sheffield 01/09/17

Algorave generation – we love repetition. 😉

Collaborating with Damu, as CCAI:

This recent stream to Algorave Moscow gives you a sense of how Alex builds up his tracks:

And Alex has put out an EP, on Computer Club:

And yes, there is still that massively overdue crowdfund project to do a full-length. Now you can see why the guy is busy, though, for sure.

Come join us in Berlin if you can:

Workshop

Concert/party

The post Inside the livecoding algorave movement, and what it says about music appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

VCV Rack modular is about to get gamepad support

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 23 May 2018 4:14 pm

Computer or Eurorack, you still want to get those grubby hands on your sounds. So the latest update to the free and open modular platform Rack makes that cheap and easy, with gamepad support.

Developer Andrew Belt is clearly a busy man. His latest update maps from gamepads to virtual voltage inside the software modular environment. Watch via this — uh gentle ambient demo?

Anrew explains on Facebook:

Just added gamepad and computer keyboard support to VCV Rack, soon to be released in Rack 0.6.1.

Joysticks are mapped to voltages -10 to 10V for each axis using the MIDI-CC module from Core with the new “Gamepad” MIDI driver. Buttons can be converted to 10V gates using MIDI-Trig. Similarly to actual MIDI controllers, click the CC or note name display to learn/assign a gamepad joystick/button.

“But I don’t have a USB gamepad controller!”

They’re super cheap on eBay or Amazon by searching “usb gamepad” for around $10. Compare that with $300 MIDI controllers, and this is more fun per dollar if you’re on a budget (so you can save your money for the next upcoming VCV module!)

The “Computer Keyboard” driver supports the QWERTY US layout and spans two octaves with octave up/down buttons.

This update also adds the ability to use the same MIDI device on Windows with multiple virtual MIDI modules. Previously this was caused by the Windows MIDI API requiring exclusive access to each MIDI device, so having multiple instances would crash. I have written a MIDI “multiplexer” that solves this.

Good stuff. I can also imagine an ultra-portable sound rig with a compact PC and a gamepad and keyboard attached – running Linux, of course.

More:
http://vcvrack.com/

Speaking of Linux, until there’s native support in JACK at some point, hopefully, there’s already a hack for the best audio system on Linux (and the best way of piping sound between software):

https://gitlab.com/sonusdept/hijack

Oh yeah, and while VCV Rack is free (with inexpensive software add-ons for high-quality modules), there is this problem – it could make you buy hardware.

The post VCV Rack modular is about to get gamepad support appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Get a powerful spectral delay, free, in MSpectralDelay plug-in

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 23 May 2018 3:29 pm

What makes a delay more interesting? A delay that’s combined with spectral controls. What makes that better? Getting it for free. MSpectralDelay is here – and looks like a must-download.

It’s been a while – I’m sure I’m not alone in missing Native Instruments’ Spektral Delay, discontinued some years back. MSpectralDelay is a different animal – NI’s offering had a whopping 160 bands, whereas this has just six – but you do get a powerful, musical interface that lets you treat delays in a different way.

The idea is this: divide up your sound by frequency, with one to six bands, then add the delay effect with tempo sync and apply modulation.

What the developers Melda have done that set their offering apart is to provide really precise parameter controls with clear visual feedback, MIDI control of everything, and clever features like automatic gain compensation and a “safety” limiter to prevent you from overdriving the results.

Also surprising: not only is there mid/side processing, but you can set up to eight channels of surround, offering some spatial applications.

Melda plugins also feature some nice standard features like modulators with time signatures, morphing and preset recall, different channel modes, and more.

Full feature list from the devs:

The most advanced user interface on the market – stylable, resizable, GPU accelerated
Dual user interface, easy screen for beginners, edit screen for professionals
Unique visualisation engine with classic meters and time graphs
1-6 fully configurable independent bands
Modulators
Adjustable oscillator shape technology
Multiparameters
M/S, single channel, up to 8 channels surround processing…
Smart randomization
Automatic gain compensation (AGC)
Safety limiter
Adjustable up-sampling 1x-16x
Synchronization to host tempo
MIDI controllers with MIDI learn
64-bit processing and an unlimited sampling rate
Extremely fast, optimized for newest AVX2 capable processors
Global preset management and online preset exchange
Supports VST, VST3, AU and AAX interfaces on Windows & Mac, both 32-bit and 64-bit
No dongle nor internet access is required for activation
Free-for-life updates

There’s also this kind of funny demo video, which first explains why you want a delay, and then – as is custom in our industry – tell you that, naturally, everyone from complete beginners who barely know how to switch on their computer to advanced professionals will be able to have exactly the same experience because presets parameters blah blah.

That said… well, you do need a delay. And this is awesome. And beginners and pros will probably have fun with it. And there are presets. So… fair points, all.

Go grab it:

http://www.meldaproduction.com/MSpectralDelay

via Sonic State

Free download requires registration; the offer ends June 3.

The post Get a powerful spectral delay, free, in MSpectralDelay plug-in appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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