Steinway Model D. Photo courtesy Steinway & Sons.

These piano breakthroughs changed music forever

Yesterday was Piano Day – a day recently christened by composer/pianist Nils Frahm in order to celebrate that ubiquitous keyboard instrument. (It’s held on the eighty-eighth day of the year.) There are concerts, marathons, project, releases – and unlike Record Store Day, this event won’t clog the ability to produce piano music. With that day as inspiration, I thought it was a good moment to look at some of the technology of and around the piano, to understand what has made this instrument special. That includes both strictly acoustic innovations as well as design features and breakthroughs that either inspired …

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Tingle

Mold Sound with Tingle, a Music Controller That Looks Like Pin Art

[vimeo width=”640″ height=”360″]109389202[/vimeo] It looks like Pin Art or Pinscreens – those moldable frames full of pins popularized in the 80s. But the result is something that lets you dig your hands into sound and musical structures in new ways. It looks expressive and, let’s be honest, really fun. (For the research minded, there’s also a NIME report below.) From the edge of the Netherlands’ slick design scene, industrial designer and music technologist Arvid Jense joins CDM for a series of interviews with Eindhoven Music Startups. Here’s his encounter with Nupky. Eindhoven Music Startups: Nupky Rhys Duindam is a graduated …

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Op Ed: What Do “Mastered for iTunes” and “Sound Check” Do To Music Listening?

One way or another, Apple is involved in a whole lot of the music to which people listen. Here, writer David Dodson considers what that means (and similar issues with other digital music listening beyond Apple, like Spotify. Photo CC-BY) Yutaka Tsutano. What does it mean to “master for iTunes?” Apple tripped that question with the launch of a suite of utilities and sound-processing algorithms intended to master music for their codecs and software, rather than more generically as would be done with the CD. More significantly, what does it mean that an increasing number of music listeners experience all …

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Crafting New Twisted Tools: A Chat with Reaktor Patchers Making New Sonic Instruments

Ed. Twisted Tools are a special breed of music software makers, concocting wild-sounding instruments, sequencers, and effects, all with a distinctively-colorful and graphical approach to interface design. And they do all of this in Reaktor, Native Instruments’ deep toolbox for visual development of soundmakers, a patching cousin to tools like Max/MSP, Pd, and Plogue Bidule. Various patchers take a DIY approach to building musical tools in such environments, but Twisted Tools have successfully turned those creations into a business. That’s part of what makes this interview well worth a read, whether you’re an end user or a developer. Writer Markus …

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Future Shock: The Emergence of Detroit Techno, Told by Wax Poetics

Derrick May in the Michigan Theatre parking garage, 1988. Photos by Bart Everly. Reproduced courtesy Wax Poetics. In the words of Yogi Berra, the future ain’t what it used to be. Drawing from futurist philosophy and the machine aesthetic of bands like Kraftwerk, the moment at which techno comes into the world is a seminal birth in the creation of the age in which we live. Its creative energy is focused a the nexus of technology and music, set against the impoverished landscape of Detroit as America’s industrial urban centers implode. And while we’ve lost the people who could tell …

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Create Analog Music: Buchla Love, Visiting the Studio of a Custom Modular Maker

All photos by Marsha Vdovin for CDM. Click for full-sized, gear pr0n versions. Print large-format, hang above your bed. CDM guest and photographer Marsha Vdovin joins us for a photo essay. Given free reign to choose what she wanted to do, she visits a Buchla module maker. Photos can speak volumes, and here the beauty of Don Buchla’s synth designs come through, a decades-long legacy of open-ended, eminently-musical sound possibilities. So, too, does the craft of the custom Eardrill modules. Disclosure: while we loved both, a number of us preferred the Buchla 100-series modular to the Moog modular we had, …

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Gallery: Vintage Moog Ads, Vintage Bob Moog, from the Bob Moog Foundation Archives

All images courtesy The Bob Moog Foundation. Used by permission. Go visit them, and enjoy many more. Moog made the scene, indeed. In this birthday week for Bob Moog, here’s a gallery looking back at the man and in advertisements, the Minimoog, the keyboard that shaped so much of synthesis to this day. I could say more, but the images already say so much. Indeed, it seems we’re long overdue for a resurrection of this kind of romance with synthesis and electronic music technology. As I’m also editing remembrances of Max Mathews – a digital counterpart to Moog’s analog breakthroughs …

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Expanding Touch and MIDI, Mobile iOS Control Gets More Mature in New and Updated Apps; Round-Up

The Molten drum machine meets MIDI and sync, via the Camera Connection Kit. It’s just one of a number of improvements that have made iOS tools more mature, more powerful – and easy to integrate with other, less Apple-y hardware and software. Image courtesy One Red Dog. It’s nice to think software gets better, not worse, with age. And so it is that if you use an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad in the studio, your mobile gizmos are getting more powerful and useful. Expanded support for MIDI – using both wireless and wired connections to interface with gear of …

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Making Music with Free and Open Source Software: Top Picks from Red Hat, Dave Phillips

There are plenty of reasons to consider free software tools as part of your toolchain for music making. They might fit your budget, give you needed flexibility, allow you to use a tool driven more by development needs than commercial ones, give you tools that would otherwise lack proprietary commercial niches, allow you to run (via Linux) on a wider variety of hardware or with greater low-latency performance, or allow you to contribute more directly to a project, from documentation to actual development. And increasingly, they don’t mandate some sort of philosophical choice, either – I routinely use free software …

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Inside Handheld Game Art: The Art Style and Making of Swords & Sworcery, Superbrothers Pixel Cinema

Visualist? VJ? Live cinema? Here’s a new one for you: Input Output Cinema. And while IO Cinema has already found a niche in the indie Toronto scene as “an ambiguously pluralized and irritatingly cryptic audiovisual art and design organization,” it now has its first blockbuster game. Superbrothers: Swords & Sworcery EP on the iPad is big – Angry Birds big, only with, erm, a very different visual sense. That’s before an imminent release for the iPod touch and iPhone has even come to fruition, sure to open it up to even more casual gamers. (I can’t wait to see it …

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