Music from Patch Cords, in the Studio with Jimmy Edgar and KOMA Elektronik [Create Analog Music]

Modular music may be associated with densely-layered, sometimes-indecipherable ambiences, but Jimmy Edgar weaves funk and synthesized electro-dance into songs fed by his Detroit roots. (Jimmy’s now on Hotflush, formerly Warp Records, !K7, Poker Flat) In a studio tour with boutique analog maker KOMA Elektronik, he shows off their FT-201 sequenced filter and gestural control on the recently-introduced Kommander X/Y CV controller. I hope Jimmy’s natural musicianship also comes across; having watched him make some quick connections in the studio, this really is a rack he plays like an instrument, not just a fascinating spaceship control panel for sound design. (Not …

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Novation MiniNova: Little Keyboard, Vocal Effects, $500 – From a Synth Design Great [First Look]

Being popular as a person may be a complex formula. But for keyboard synths, “a fun, cute, cheap date” just about covers it. And — sorry, any snobs out there, but no complaints about that. So it is that Novation has a 37-keyboard that combines lots of sound and effects from the company’s UltraNova into a compact body, bringing the price at dealers to about $500 bucks US. (Actually, to quote Novation’s press release, personally I endeavor to be “compact” and “affordable,” myself, though I don’t think I qualify as “amazingly powerful.”) It’s impossible to look at this and not …

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Maschine, in Color: First CDM Hands-On With New Maschine Hardware, Software [Gallery]

Looks smart. There are smart features coming in version 1.8, too – and you get Massive for free. Photos by Arvid Jense for CDM. In living color: the popular drum machine – combining integrated hardware and software – is more colorful, but also more usable, via updates to the screen and pads alike. We’ve gotten a hands-on test with the gear to share some first-hand first impressions. Native Instruments’ Maschine hardware gets a major update today, and color is likely the first thing you’ll notice. The pads are backlit with a rainbow of RGB LEDs, as found on NI’s Kontrol …

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Leaked: New Maschine with RGB Pads, Custom Overlay Colors, New Software Features [Hands-on Coming]

RGB pads, custom hardware colors, and time stretching. Photo: Arvid Jense for CDM. Updated: Maschine is now more colorful (via new hardware), has new accessories including a handy stand, and updated, more usable software. CDM has an exclusive hands-on with the new hardware with impressions, updates on what’s changed in the hardware and software, and loads of pictures. Maschine, which combines custom drum-pad hardware with tightly-integrated production software, now gets a controller with RGB color pads and custom color cases. A software update for all users – including those of you with the original hardware- brings enhanced usability features, new …

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Live does lighting. Mattijs and Michel working on lighting compositions in Ableton Live. All photos courtesy Mattijs Kneppers.

Playing Live From a Giant, Toothy Monster Mouth: Behind the Scenes with Feed Me

Spectacular spaceship showmanship, or actually synchronizing live electronic dance music performances? For Feed Me, aka Englishman Jon Gooch, the show had to be both. Software developer Mattijs Kneppers harnessed Ableton Live, Max/MSP, and Max for Live to make it all work. You may have seen the video; Mattijs gives CDM a unique look even further into how this is working, sharing a gallery of the stage rig and some of the technical details. CDM: So, of course, this was the summer that brought “press-play” performances into the public eye – and we’re actually I think indebted to deadmau5 for blowing …

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Raspberry Pi, Your Next $25 Computer Synth? First Hacks Appearing

Apple may have started the conversation about the “post-PC” age. But part of what this means is that a “computer” doesn’t necessarily have to be something costing hundreds of dollars, in a conventional desktop or laptop form factor. It could look more like the Raspberry Pi, at US$25 and squeezed into a tin of mints. Suddenly, all those years of music software development are liberated from the big, pricey boxes on which we’ve run them all these years. The Raspberry Pi Synthesizer blog documents a project dedicated to this particular device, with a clever UI and yes, even polyphony. There’s …

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Helix, A Digital Turntable Proposal, in a Visual, Touchable Circle [Kickstarter]

The basic idea of the turntable, its round rendering of sound as a physical object, still attracts fascination. But is there a way to truly make the same metaphor fit digital media? Peter Adany is the latest to try, with a design proposal and mock-up he’s trying to fund for iPad (and Mac and Windows) via Kickstarter. What makes his proposal compelling, like some of the best concepts in this field, is that the results are visual and sensitive to movement. It’s a design that stays true to the geometry and physics of the record that inspired it – rather …

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Lauflicht 2 is One Tricked-Out Step Sequencer for Launchpad, Renoise

Late at night, you may hear them, a distant tapping of fingertips against pads and keys. They are the hackers, geeking away the late hours to make insanely-sophisticated custom musical contraptions, engineering some new forms of dance music or other electronic pattern. Thilo Geertzen is the latest, back with an even more pumped-up edition of the step-sequencer-on-stereoids that is Lauflicht. Sure, big hardware vendors are hard at work on hardware/software integration, but this is the DIYer’s answer. It’s a plug-in that combines Renoise’s powerful tracker-derived music construction features with Novation’s popular, now affordable-as-ever Launchpad. It’s bio-directional, fully integrated with the …

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An Amazing Free Touch Controller for Ableton Live; How Touch is Coming Your Way

Ableton Live has a number of robust touch solutions, but a creation from Graham Comerford called Yeco takes things to another level. It’s finally a Live touch controller that provides full views of clips, unlimited parameter controls, and extras like drum pads. There are even undo and redo shortcuts. The cost: free, downloadable now. It’s presently Windows-only (both 32-bit and 64-bit versions), but a Mac version is coming early September. The implementation is really elaborate and beautiful, giving you a much wider set of functionality than existing iPad apps and the like, which tend to focus on basic clip launching, …

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Tibersynth Makes Crazy Sounds in Your Browser, Free

Lovers of experimental sound are finding a new canvas in the Web Browser, thanks to evolving work on standard audio tools. Cory O’Brien sends us his creation: “a real-time vector synth.” The result: crazy sounds. You’ll need Chrome, Chromium, or Safari 6 to try it out, but it’s quite a lot of fun. I especially like the percussive sounds I get just clicking spots. And it’s worth some different tries – and hitting the ‘R’ key to randomize – if at first you don’t like what you hear. The deeper significance: you’re going to be seeing more things like this. …

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