The death of 28-year-old star producer/DJ Avicii comes as a shock to many. It’s also easy to reduce to another example of party world excess, or to say it’s just about big-money EDM and pop. But it should be a bigger wake up call than that.
To me, the most alarming reaction I’ve heard from the electronic music world is, “oh, who’s that?” – not from people who genuinely don’t know, but from those who are making a show of pretending not to know. And the reason that should be unsettling is, it allows people in the larger industry of electronic music to try to separate themselves from their own connections to this story.
Some of the warning signs that we got from Avicii are relevant to all dance music – including the bits that like to style themselves as underground. Some relate to the dangers of the industry around music, and its priorities. Some are personal ones, for anyone working in music and creative arts. And some of those speak on a pretty basic human level to asking ourselves what we’re doing with our lives. These are not questions any of us should be somehow “above.”
They’re also relevant to music technology, because our business is fueled by the music industry, because we’re personally often involved in this other world, and because we have self-care challenges of our own.
But, okay, let’s back up. If you genuinely don’t know who Avicii is – which in today’s heavily fragmented musical world...
Volt is a pretty amazing app. We haven’t had many MPE enabled apps, but what we have had is pretty good. Even though Volt is pretty new it’s already gathering a great deal of respect. In version 1.1 the developer, Kai Aras has added the usual array of fixes, updates and functionality. Here’s everything that’s new:
– Fixed crash when loading the AU into Auria Pro
– UI: Main UI can now be scrolled left and right
– UI: improved 12.9 inch layout
– UI: fixed an issue where double tapping some controls would cause them to center rather than default to their init value
– UI: tapping on the tempo section now brings up a text input
– ARP: fixed an issue where presets using up/down mode would not work
– Presets: added support for managing favourites
– Presets: tapping the active preset display now brings up a quick select popover
– Presets: moved preset manager into the AU part
– Keyboard: added option to configure MPE glide sensitivity
– Keyboard: added option to switch between a range of 1, 2 or 3 octaves
– Keyboard: settings will now be restored when restarting the app
– Keyboard: fixed an issue where glide would not be sent on initial key down resulting in a noticable bend once glide was engadged.
– Keyboard: fixed an issue with the onscreen keyboard where latched keys would not persist changing octaves
– Keyboard: onscreen keyboard now supports quantized glide in regular mode
The music world is overloaded with people who talk about music – how it works, what has happened, what is happening. Few people can really delve articulately into questions of why. Susan Rogers is one of those few.
Her talk at Ableton Loop this fall was, in all three years of attending Ableton’s bespoke event, the one that has stood out for me the most. I instantly nagged friends at Ableton to release the video, not only because I wanted people to see it, but because I wanted to watch it again just to process everything she said.
She talks about trying to understand Prince’s genius and how he worked. (She was sound engineer on Purple Rain and Sign o’ the Times.) She talks about how the brain works (she’s a neurologist) and why sometimes great music doesn’t find an audience. She talks in personal terms, and about how sometimes great people don’t find a partner. She does what I think great teachers do: she has something to say, and she gets to it directly. But there’s empathy in every insight, and each thought makes you feel a desire to go learn more – to do the homework.
I think whether we’re talking about machines or music or people, the further we go, the more we may realize understanding the mind is the key to all we want to investigate – of course.
I’ve got a lot more I’d want to talk to her about;...
At the tail end of China’s Cultural Revolution, one inventor secretly created a futuristic take on traditional instruments – and it easily still inspires today.
I don’t know much about this instrument, but given CDM’s readership, I expect our collective knowledge should say something (not to mention some of you speak the language). But according to the video, it’s the work of Tian Jin Qin, a ribbon-controlled analog synthesizer first prototyped in 1978 and featured here in a documentary movie entitled “Dian Zi Qin / 电子琴” (1980).
There’s some irony to the fact that a simple touch instrument was something driven underground in China just one generation ago. Now, of course, China leads the world in manufacturing touch interfaces, has been the center of a global revolution in touch-powered smartphones (based loosely on the same principle, even), and even drives a significant portion of today’s technological innovation.
But… even without getting into that, this design is freaking great. It’ll make you immediately wonder why a single ribbon design is so popular, when the ability to finger multiple ribbons, fretless style, both relates to traditional instrument designs and allows more sophisticated melodic playing and expression.
Like… you’ll watch this video and want to go build one right now.
The synth is essentially two connected designs. An main synth console features organ-like push-button timbre controls and rotaries, plus four touch plates that respond both to being depressed and to continuous control vertically along the surface. (That arrangement,...
There’s a big push among software makers to deliver integrated solutions – and that’s great. But if you’re a big user of both, say, MASCHINE MK3 and Ableton Live, here’s some good news.
NI made available two software updates yesterday, for their Maschine groove workstation software and for Komplete Kontrol, their software layer for hosting instruments and effects and interfacing with their keyboards. So, the hardware proposition there is the 4×4 pad grid of the MP3, and the Komplete Kontrol keyboards.
For Maschine users, the ability to use Ableton Live and Maschine seamlessly could make a lot of producers and live performers happy. Now, unlike working with Ableton Push, the setup isn’t entirely seamless, and there’s not total integration of hardware and software. But it’s still a big step forward. For instance, I often find myself starting a project with Maschine, because I’ve got a kit I like (including my own samples), or I’m using some of its internal drum synths or bass synth, or just want to wail on four pads and use its workflow for sampling and groove creation. But then, once I’ve built up some materials, I may shift back to playing with Ableton’s workflow in Session or Arrange view to compose an idea. And I know lots of users work the same way. It makes sense, given the whole idea of Maschine is to have the feeling of a piece of hardware.
So, you’ve got this big square piece of gear plugged in. Then sometimes literally you’re...
The growing power of gaming architectures for visuals has a side benefit: it can produce elaborate visuals without touching the CPU, which is busy on musicians’ machines dealing with sound.
But how do you go about exploring some of that power? The code language spoken natively by the GPU is a little frightening at first. Fortunately, you can actually have a play in a few minutes. It’s easy enough that I prepared this lightning tutorial:
I shared this with the #RazerMusic program as it’s in fact a good artistic application for laptops with gaming architectures – and it’s terrific having that NVIDIA GTX 1060 with 6 GB of memory. (This example can’t even begin to show that off, in fact.) These steps will work on the Mac, too, though.
I’m stealing a demo here. Isadora creator Mark Coniglio showed off his team’s GLSL support more or less like this when they unveiled the feature at the Isadora Werkstatt a couple of summers ago. But Isadora, while known among a handful of live visualists and people working with dance and theater tech, itself I think is underrated. And sure enough, this support makes the powers of GLSL friendly to non-programmers. You can grab some shader code and then modify parameters or combine with other effects, modular style, without delving into the code itself. Or if you are learning (or experienced, even) with GLSL, Isadora provides an uncommonly convenient environment to work with graphics-accelerated generative visuals...
Vulse is an interesting idea for an app, in fact a concept that I don’t think has been done elsewhere, and so far it’s getting some pretty good updates with new features updates and more. In version 1.5 the app has received a massive update with a new effects, control modes and loads more.
Here’s a full list of what’s new in version 1.5:
Serendipitous collaboration can be magical. Combine an eccentric high-tech guitar company from Switzerland with some high-powered nerds from the USA, and you get some spectacular ways of adding sub octaves and picking apart and modulating sounds.
From Memphis to Messe: on a hot tip from one of the engineers, I found myself roaming Hall 8.0 at Musikmesse in Frankfurt Friday. Just this one hall is already cavernous; I passed a portrait of Hillary Hahn in a violin booth, stumbled across two nice women giving away CDs of unsigned Estonian concert music, and strolled past the signature-blue of the G. Henle Urtext (what my piano teacher called the “Voice of God edition.”).
But this is how music instrument design should work. It should be collaborative; it should have unexpected combinations of new and old. I love Berlin’s SuperBooth, but by no means would I ever imagine modular synths to exist at the center of the music world.
And so I found myself in the narrow booth of Paradis Products. They’re a legendary, boutique guitar maker out of a Swiss small town, producing exotic creations that look like what you’d splurge on if you’d just won a Eurovision contest. But they know their stuff, from electrical engineering to woodworking.
The woodworking side of the equation is who I got on Friday afternoon, so apologies to Heinz for I think terrorizing him. (I kept repeating the word “Eurorack” to his utter befuddlement. I unfortunately have less to say about mechanical engineering and...
Uli Behringer is apparently just getting started trolling the industry, promising US$49-99 Eurorack. But so far, that announcement involves renderings of Roland gear and a plea for user forums to tell them what to do.
Let’s be clear: promising Eurorack modules for under a hundred bucks ought to be a popular idea. It’s perhaps worth pointing out, if you don’t mind doing some soldering yourself – or even prefer that – you can assemble a budget modular system. Or, heck, you can run VCV Rack and even buy some top-quality modules for it for $100, all in. But that’s unlikely to stop random people on forums and news comments, who will embrace the idea that Behringer alone could do modular on a budget.
The thing is, Uli Behringer now regularly takes to forums promising all sorts of things people would like, long before actually delivering a product. In this case, what we have are some renders.
Nor are these new designs. Behringer describes them as related to the “legacy 100m” modules. Uh… that “legacy” would be Roland’s. And as with other Behringer forum posts targeting Roland, there seems to be no original idea other than copying what Roland has done.
The timing is suspicious, as well. Uli took to the forums Saturday. CDM readers will know that we shared the news (along with some German press also in attendance) that Roland was reviving its 100M line with new SYSTEM-500 modules, showing them here in Berlin on Thursday. And of course,...
With some 128 voices, the Valkyrie packs dense sound and effects that never let up. The all new UK-built synth was available to try in prototype form at Musikmesse – and it’s seriously impressive.
When I say “play with your forearm,” I’m not kidding. I got my hands on the prototype. Glancing around, I noticed people were cautiously plucking a note or two there and noodling some melodic lines.
With that much polyphony, I wanted to hear a cloud – a doomsday-sized swarm – of oscillations. And this literally involved cranking up various parameters, dialing up portamento, and then playing the keys with… my fist… my arm… I decided sticking a leg up there might upset someone, but we’re talking a serious amount of sound.
The heart of this machine is an FPGA. You don’t need to care about that if you’re not an engineer, but suffice to say the idea of the thing is hardware that can be “re-wired” on the fly. So you get the power of dedicated hardware, without the enormous investment of time and money to create something so inflexible. That means the Valkyrie has horsepower DSP chips – or your high-end laptop – can’t reliably deliver.
And it’s not just about having a bunch of voices, though that’s already formidable. The Valkyrie drives 10 oscillators for each voice, and all those real-time effects keep up, even...
Moog’s Minimoog Model D 1.1 brings a big bunch of new features to this excellent synth app. Here’s all that’s new:
Minimoog Model D costs $14.99
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Back in December Akai / Retronyms brought us the iMPC Pro 2. This was a big step from the previous app (iMPC Pro). The 2 app is really well on the way to being a full DAW, as it can handle audio tracks, audio units and lots more. In this update they’ve brought us new features that are again going to move this app forward in a significant way.
Here’s what’s new:
iMPC Pro 2 is on the app store and costs $24.99
The post iMPC Pro 2 adds automation editing and more in version 2.0.8 appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.
Roland hasn’t made any announcement about new modular – but it seems a handful of SYSTEM-500 analog modules have just made an appearance in the wild, rounding out an existing range. We’ve got some “spy” shots.
Yes, it seems unannounced Eurorack products from the Japanese maker found their way into a shoe event. These modules will extend Roland’s existing range of SYSTEM-500 modules, made in collaboration with boutique Eurorack manufacturer Malekko Heavy Industry Corporation. Like the other AIRA offerings, Roland is looking to their own past: the SYSTEM-500 line is inspired by the SYSTEM-100M made in the early 80s.
But what’s significant about the SYSTEM-500 is that Roland are working with a smaller maker. And lest you confuse these with the 303, 808, 909 remakes and the like, these are analog, as was the original source material.
All of that’s interesting, even in the crowded Eurorack landscape, because it isn’t just following the mold of the Moog or Buchla modulars. So you might add SYSTEM-500 to your rack to get a distinctive Roland modular sound.
Okay, so how do we know these are new? Well, first, here’s the range of Roland SYSTEM-500 that was available previously:
512 Dual VCO
521 Dual VCF
540 Dual Envelope Generator and LFO
530 Dual VCA
572 Phase Shifter, Delay and LFO
Malekko actually have the best overview:
Now, here’s what was spotted in Berlin:
iVCS3 is a truly amazing recreation of the 1969 classic from Peter Zinovieff’s EMS company. It is one of a great collection of unusual apps for more experimental uses and has had a steady stream of updates to make it more useful to those of us who would like to experiment with the real thing but could almost certainly never afford it.
In the latest update we have …
The post iVCS3 2.3 brings Audiobus MIDI reception amongst a big collection of updates and fixes appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.
As if you hadn’t had enough of the retro 808 drum machine craze, Puma are creating a pair of runners in collaboration with Roland. And this time, you can actually buy them.
So, who needs some new kicks?
I got a chance to take a look at the new Roland TR-808-inspired Puma sneakers. They’re basically just a color scheme for Puma’s relaunch of the RS (RUNNING SYSTEM) shoe line. The RS-0 is a reboot; the 1980s original was built around a unique-for-the-time cushioning system. To capitalize on 80s nostalgia, Puma went to Polaroid, Roland, and Sega for special looks for the shoes. Sadly, you don’t get any special drum machines sneakers. (No built-in metronome or clock source; no TB-303 runners that have acid basslines printed in the soles. In other words, I didn’t design them.)
What you do get is a slick-but-subtle black color scheme, with accents taken from the drum machine and a nod on the heel to the front panel label on the original.
“Jeez, CDM,” say the readers, “first balalaikas and now some branded runners, just how desperate are you this week to avoid the subject matter of the site?” Ah-ha – but we’re not done yet, folks. First twist to the...
IK were one of the first to bring FX to the iOS world with AmpliTube. Since the app first arrived on iOS it has blossomed into a full range of variants of the app that can bring you just about whatever kind of tone you could possibly want. And IK have continued to update the core since day one. They’ve consistently brought new features to the whole range and this is no exceptions.
Here’s what’s new in version 4.5:
The post IK brings a new ‘Live’ mode to their flagship AmpliTube range appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.
Some of it, you’d expect: accordions, balalaikas. Some of it, you’d crave: post-Soviet electronic sounds. And some of it would surprise you: ready to play some pineapples? Meet the Russian makers at Musikmesse.
There’s now growing bi-directional interest and involvement between Europe and the Russian Federation. For all that may be happening elsewhere in trade, geopolitics, and social media, when it comes to musicians, inventors, and makers, now feels like a renaissance in exchanges between Russia and Europe.
At least in music, the thing is, there are a range of instruments, traditional and electronic, that no one else makes quite like this – partly because of the history of the country and how that’s extending to new instrumental creations.
Superbooth in Berlin is becoming the go-to European show for synths and electronic music, but Musikmesse in Frankfurt, like NAMM in the USA, focuses across new music technology and traditional instruments. And those traditional instruments remain big business. What’s interesting looking at the Russian selections is how you get a range of instrumental possibilities.
Hosted by the Russian government’s Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia, some eight different manufacturers will show their wares. Yes, I think we’re probably not wrong when we assume these folks deal more with heavy industry and energy than they do, uh, weird stompboxes. But for once, we get the full mix. Have a look:
For accordion lovers, there’s Tula Harmonica...
Sunvox is 10 years old. That’s an impressive thing to achieve for any product, and especially in the world of apps. When Sunvox started out of course there were no ‘apps’, and instead we had software and applications which magically morphed into ‘apps’ when the iOS app store arrived. But Sunvox predates all of that. I can remember waiting for Sunvox 1.0 to arrive so that I could try it out on my PalmOS device. Probably it would have been either a Palm T3, or a Treo 650.
Sunvox was cross-platform from date one. You could run it on PalmOS and Windows Mobile, and Windows desktop. The PalmOS and WinMo versions still exist, although they haven’t kept pace with the core application for obvious reasons, but the app has expanded and now runs on iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, PocketCHIP and Pi. That’s pretty impressive stuff. I’m not sure that many other cross platform apps could claim quite so many.
But Sunvox isn’t a simple application, it’s a complete modular music engine in one go that really does put the V into versatile. It’s a tracker and much more. To be fair, it isn’t always the easiest music making tool to get your head around, but if you take the...
Hey, if running a label to release music seems a daft idea these days, there’s always selling hardware. And Ninja Tune’s new hardware effect looks like it’s got some serious potential.
Gear guru and underground weirdo music impresario Ingmar Koch and his Liquid Sky Berlin / gearporn.berlin blog get the scoop here. But already from the hardware we can tell a few things:
So, it’s apparently some retro-style chip delay with analog filter and … tube for overdrive? That could get nicely nasty.
Plus if Erica was working on this, having tried their Acidbox line, expect all the right kind of mayhem.
I’ll be eager to get hands on this. The involvement of Ninja Tune suggests...
Mixvibes have brought us a number of music apps for iOS and Android, including Cross DJ, Cross DJ Pro, and Remixlive. Now they’ve introduced a new music making app, Beat Snap. They describe Beat Snap as:
“An intuitive app for music lovers. Right from the start, the users will feel like they already know about, music making since they can visualize every family of instruments they are playing on the 32 pads. More than playing beats live and adding FX, creating a full track ready to be shared has never been so easy thanks to the 4 sequences! The sound packs inspired by the hottest tracks and genres give access to unlimited creativity and will give music lovers this unique “I’m a beatmaker now!” feeling.”
Some big claims right. Lots of people have tried to create the perfect beginner level music making app. Figure was a great step in the right direction, and Allihoopa are doing some interesting things (more on that another time), but let’s see how Beat Snap gets on.
Here are the app’s details:
MAKE BEATS, PLAY LIVE
RECORD YOUR OWN BEATS
POWERFUL LIVE FX
ENTER A WORLD OF SOUND