tb-3_top_gal

This wouldn’t normally be news, but for whatever reason, the Roland AIRAs went flying off the shelves – missing any MIDI documentation. Ahem.

We covered a number of these details before, including a Max for Live patch for the convenience of those of you integrating with Ableton. The good news: the hackers were right, and got more or less the entire implementation via trial and error. So, this is still a good resource:

AIRA Secrets: Here’s How to Take Command of Roland’s TB-3 and TR-8 with MIDI

The TR-8, then, holds no surprises. I’m just hopeful we see extra functionality via a firmware update. Fingers crossed.
TR-8 MIDI Implementation Chart

The TB-3 is more interesting, particularly as I (keep) advocating it as a sequencer. As far as notes, it’s pretty limited – only 24-60 are transmitted, so you’ll have to do some transposition on your synth if you want something other than bass. But the Control Changes are all sent over MIDI: Continue reading »

beatstep_angled

Even if Arturia’s BeatStep did nothing other than act as a dumb controller, it might get your attention.

The compact control surface / sequencer hardware runs about $100 street. As a controller, it has both 16 pads and 16 endless encoders (with notches, so you can feel where you are), plus transport triggers and a larger encoder. With driverless USB operation, some of you will already be happy and can proceed.

But the BeatStep is more ambitious than that. It has sophisticated software customization via a companion program, and a built-in step sequencer. It operates standalone, with MIDI gadgets or analog hardware (with gate and pitch Control Voltage outputs). It could therefore be a compact part of a mobile music-making rig, and it’s at this point that our review gets much more involved. The BeatStep has an impressive lineage – veteran designers Glen Darcey, Axel Hartmann, and Morgan Perrier collaborated on its creation. So there’s a reason to set expectations high.

I’ve been testing the Arturia BeatStep with just those functions in mind. And we’ve collected some of your tips and questions, with information that might help you out whether you’re trying to decide whether to buy or curious just how deep this goes.

The BeatStep already makes a nice controller with pads and encoders. But how much more can it be? Let’s find out. Continue reading »

LIQUID RHYTHM 2

Music software is at its best when it goes beyond cookie-cutter regularity, and spawns something creative. And sometimes, the path there involves retooling how that music is made.

That’s why I’m pleased to get to share this interview with WaveDNA. Liquid Rhythm is something unlike just about anything else in music software. It looks like a music theory class collided with a mandala. In colored patterns, arrayed in bars and wheels, you can produce all kinds of new rhythms, then integrate deeply with your host software. If you use Ableton Live, the integration goes further still. Whether you’re using Drum Racks or notes, you can automatically see what pattern goes with what, working in real-time with everything visible as you go. There’s a whole suite of tools with more than enough of what you could explore in any host. (Then, in Live, it just gets crazier.)

You can randomize and remix and shift, for quick ideas. (They had me at ‘randomize.’) Or, if you’re brave enough to enter the worlds of beat and pattern control, you can use the tools for fine-grained production of unusual musical ideas.

The suite:
Plug-ins, patches. VST, AU, RTAS for any host. Or Max for Live for Ableton Live, now with full integration with Ableton Push hardware.

Palettes of rhythms. Paint with patterns, or make patterns in pitch and rhythm from clusters, in BeatBuilder.

Dial up rhythms. BeatSeeker displays various genetic possibilities of patterns in a huge wheel.

Accents, grooves. Design grooves and velocity by color in an accent editor, or re-groove existing materials with something they call GrooveMover.

MIDI without a piano roll. Yes, this common interface has become tyranny. It’s tough to describe, but they have a different view, one that provides manual control in a unique interface that goes its own direction – more like a genetic cell than a piano roll. (See the video, as it’s easier to see than write about.)

Integrate with Ableton Live clips.

“We’re a music software company that makes no sound,” say the creators in the interview here. Instead, they let you put rhythms where they don’t normally go. Sounds good to me.

Here’s a look at how their in-line editing works, and how the musical concept functions: Continue reading »

Nid & Sancy – The Cut up Jeans Technique app from Lab101 on Vimeo.

Like an attention-starved Tamagotchi – or a two-and-a-half year-old toddler – this is an app that wants to shake around and gets easily bored.

Yes, we’ve seen endless predictions that apps might replace albums. (I said it on a panel once, so I’m guilty.) But… how, exactly? In a novel and entertainingly-juvenile concept, the app R.A.N.D.Y. is a handheld dancing character who wants to be shaken around in order to keep the music playing.

Worth it? Well, with the funky sounds of Belgian electronic/punk act Nid & Sancy, yes. And in exchange for shaking your phone around, you get the album for free.

Apparently getting this into the App Store was more challenging, however. Apple hit the developers with multiple rejections for being “useless.” (Oh, sure, and sliding squares around until you get fired from your job, that’s useful?)

Somehow, that makes us like it … more.

Correction: I misread Kris’ message. In fact, Apple has still not approved the app. There were some revisions – adding additional background information – but this has not made it into the store.

Reader Kris Meeusen worked on this, and made use of free software libraries (creative coding platform Cinder), with a heavy dose of OpenGL and GLSL to keep all the animations happening interactively, in real-time.

I say keep the uselessness coming.

http://www.lab101.be/projects/nid-and-sancy.html

NS_Randy2

Greg Gives Peter Space - press photo 01 by Antje Taiga Jandrig

The label Erased Tapes lies perfectly at the crossroads of craft today, from instrument building and modification (electronic and acoustic) to performance and composition (again, electronic and acoustic). And a new collaboration weaves together all those threads. We couldn’t be more pleased to get to share the first exclusive track from that project, as well as announce an event we’ll co-present here in Berlin in June.

Peter Broderick and Greg Haines are each multi-instrumentalist composers, at home singing and playing instruments both new and old. Their relationship spans several years, but this year brings the debut of a finished record from that collaboration. Greg Gives Peter Space is a unique hybrid of cosy folk and spacey dub, producing a sound a bit unlike either one. And in a live context, the matrix of synths and effects they use in improvisatory constellations should produce a more far-out space journey than the living room-close sound you get here. Either way, it’s gorgeous stuff, the product of the care these two artists bring to the work of sound design and songwriting and performance.

On the evening of June 9, the duo will join us in an event we present with Berghain Kantine and Erased Tapes. (Details below, if you’re in or near Berlin.) The record is out on digital and vinyl June 16.

In the meantime, we can enjoy this cut:

Let’s not stop there, though. Here’s Peter Broderick playing with another collaborator, Martyn Heyne, in 2012 for his album that year, These Walls Of Mine, revealing that same improvisatory acumen. (This one take, no edits, complete with instruments and synths and such – and the floorboards becoming part of the instrument.) Continue reading »

midihack

MIDI: it’s not just a protocol. It’s a state of mind. It’s the interconnectedness of all things musical.

Or, at least, it is at MIDI HACK next month in Stockholm. A 24-hour hackathon will delve deep into musical creation. It’s not just mucking about with code, either: there will be performances and talks, artists and makers, all to feed your ideas.

And whereas past hack days have often focused on Web programmers and music consumption (music what?), this is different. If you’re a singer, or you want to rip a MIDI controller into shreds, or wire up a banana, this is the event for you. It appears equally friendly to someone who writes VST plug-ins as someone who wants to try a new way of performing. And that sounds refreshing.

Also, while it’s called a “MIDI Hack” day, control voltage and OSC are also welcome. Fear not, then, brave advocates of analog and OSC.

But you need to get on this: applications close at the end of the weekend. It’s quick to sign up, and it’s free, and they’ll feed you while you’re there.

Details:
http://www.midihack.com/ (scroll down to ‘Sign Up’ for a form)

The venue is nice, too: the swanky headquarters of Spotify, amidst the already-posh environs of Stockholm. Luxury while you’re awake all night.

I’m doubly excited as I’m evidently the keynote speaker. And if I get enough herring and some mysterious Swedish energy drink (or just their excellent coffee), I hope to get into the hacking, too. So see you there.

Thanks to Rikard Jönsson and Sebastian Höglund for making this happen. And, by the way, Sebastian puts out wonderful music on his label Jämmerdosa, as with the band Varg – with an ethereal, beautiful video to match – extra performance inspiration for what sounds like it’ll be an intensive weekend of creative hacking: Continue reading »

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It’s time to reinvent the graphical score. With musical practice more international, more broad and varied than ever, and electronics in the mix, conventional notational idioms just aren’t enough.

For curator and prolific electronic producer Hanno Leichtmann, the starting point was a collection of vintage Letraset and Letratone type, as pictured above. Leichtmann, a graphic designer himself (and maker of beautiful record covers), is passionate about digital and ink-based design processes alike; even the posters for the event are exquisitely (and expensively) hand-produced. He then invited a who’s who of illustrators and graphic designers from Germany, Austria, France, Great Britain, and Argentina, Dennis Busch, Angela Lorenz, Philip Marshall, Caro Mikalef, Till Sperrle and Damien Tran.

Next step: “marry” them to collaborators, turning to boundary-pushing musical artists Thomas Ankersmit, Cavern Of Anti-Matter, Jan Jelinek & Masayoshi Fujita, Andrea Neumann, Martin Brandlmayr, and The Pitch. (Robert Lippok also DJs.)

With acoustic and electronic ensembles alike, the resulting graphic scores will be creatively reinterpreted by the musicians, for a whopping six world premieres over just two evenings. Audience members are invited to catch drinks and look through the “action scores” in a lounge.

If you’re in Berlin, the event is tonight and tomorrow night – and very affordable – at RadialSystem, and I hear tickets are still available at the door. (Day one and day two are each on Facebook; read more info from host Digital in Berlin or (auf Deutsch) bln.fm. If you’re – more likely – in the rest of the world, though, I think it’s still worth checking out the music, before and after the event. Continue reading »