In an episode last week, South Park took on 17-year-old producer Lorde. The punchline: Stan’s Dad is actually Lorde. (For some reason, publications like SPIN think the writers are serious about this. In the immortal words of MST3k, guys, just repeat to yourself, “it’s just a show. I should really just relax.”)

What makes all of this interesting to us is that the show did go to some detail creating a realistic DAW UI. Eagle-eyed readers may figure out which UI elements were modelled here. It’s closest to SONAR, I would say, though with a GarageBand / Tracktion-style loop browser and a very clear Pro Tools toolbar at top.

And, yes, it does take an amusing shot at how production tools can mask … a lack of talent. (Guilty as charged.)

autotuner Continue reading »

I love wires. You might even say I dream of them. But it’s time to stop thinking of MIDI as being a wire. MIDI has always been transport independent; that is, it’s a protocol that can run over anything.

Apple has been doing more than anyone lately to exploit that potential, building wireless MIDI capabilities into iOS and (with the upcoming Yosemite) OS X. Now, here’s where wireless starts to look appealing – when you go mobile. Bluetooth is now capable of more reliable, low-latency, easy-to-configure setup than before, which means you might want to wipe your brain of your previous impressions of what going wireless means. We’ll do a full test as this stuff comes out (I’ve just received a PUC, and need to do some proper performance testing). But here are some previews of some of the tricks this setup can pull off. And they all work today – well, in some form, though not always on released software.

“Wej,” at top (pronounced “wedge”), is the most ambitious Bluetooth MIDI-based solution of those here. Cable lovers, it’s blasphemy. All MIDI and even all audio communication from the iPad is wireless, using bluetooth MIDI and AirPlay, respectively. Instead, you use the connector on your iPad exclusively for power. The Wej base station performs other functions, instead: Continue reading »

There is a mysterious and wonderful appeal to the dangerous power of music.

Music can come from the harmonious sound of the spheres, yes. It can sound like a sunny summer picnic. Or – it can sound like it’s trying to kill you. Not every genre goes there, but speaking for Germany’s label Snork Enterprises, Neil Landstrumm and Syntax Error refer to that murderous quality of techno.

Today’s words and sounds therefore come from Snork.

The interview at top I felt had to be published on CDM just for this quote from Syntax Error, aka label boss Christian Schachta. But keep watching. At two and a half minutes, you think it’s over, but stick around for one- (or three-) word answers. And it seems to want more than

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Click.

It’s incredible how much sound is part of our world, sometimes in ways so profound we actually somehow miss them.

Tech site The Verge wanted to spice up a story on the anniversary of IBM’s Model M keyboard, a product for which sound was an integral part of the experience. (That’s so true, in fact, that people will pay a premium for products like Das Keyboard that emulate it.)

The result will come as beautiful music to touch typists everywhere, an etude in spacebars performed on a dizzying array of gadgets of the past.

Producer John Lagomarsino goes into the how-to — the project involved extracting typing noises, then playing them back on Apple’s EXS24 sampler in Logic.
How we turned 12 clicky keyboards into a music video

That workflow falls apart when it comes time to add the videos back – the effect is beautiful, but the process is quite a lot of manual labor. My answer to this would have been Sony’s Vegas; that editor treats audio and video on level playing field and has thus been a tool of choice for AV mashups for the likes of Eclectic Method. (There’s a reason for this: Vegas was originally created by audio folks.)

There’s a deeper issue here: too many creative apps treat visuals and sonic as unrelated entities. (They’re distinct, but very often you want to do something … well, like make music out of people typing.) I’m curious if readers have other ideas for how to accomplish this? Regardless, fun to feast on this.

typewriter

The world of circuit bending continues to help electronics to mutate, finding new organic selves.

There’s a steady stream of this stuff these days on social media (ah, I remember covering this before anyone had used The Facebook), but sometimes things will catch your eye. Take this brilliantly-evil rendition of a Marshall RG1 “regenerator.” This actually sounds as alien, glitchy, and weird as something with that name would make you expect. Details (and, um, I’m really sorry if you were bidding on this): Continue reading »

For years, pundits have wondered what physical form would accompany the ephemeral nothingness of digital downloads. Maybe it would be USB sticks, or t-shirts, or big coffee table books, or strange sculptural totems, or USB sticks shaped like cassette tapes.

Funny story. What if it turned out just to be the vinyl record? What if vinyl, reborn, really is what today’s digital music scene looks like in tangible form?

The counter-narrative, domain of the naysaying cynic, is that the vinyl record is an ill-conceived throwback, a punchline to the joke of valueless music. Vinyl as hipster parody, as Portlandia sketch, is perhaps best embodied by Urban Outfitters claiming recently it was the number one outlet for vinyl sales. That’s the record, surely, at its worst – chain-store pastiche, novelty nostalgia. (Adding insult to injury, Hot Topic ranks #2 in brick and mortar.) And it would lump vinyl alongside Lomography cameras, those plastic photographer toys – lovely as their light leaks are, that might not be where the turntable wants to be for a bright future.

Not so, says Billboard Magazine. In a more detailed breakdown of sales, Urban Outfitters tops physical outlets, but only because the market is so fragmented. The sales leader in the USA when you add in online retail is Amazon – and maybe no coincidence that the biggest vinyl seller is also one of the biggest music download stores. Amazon looks even bigger globally.

But the biggest winner of all is the independent record store. Musicians and DJs, not Millennial mallrats, are the driver, which could see the biggest growth coming from music stores. Continue reading »

Photo (CC-BY) @ fr4dd. Music below.

Photo (CC-BY) @ fr4dd. Music below.

Modular aficionados are fond of describing the potential of their boxes full of wires as unlimited, endless. That might well raise the question – where do you actually start?

Schneidersladen, the unofficial headquarters for European lovers of Euroracks hidden away above a grocery store, has an intro course. Don’t watch this expecting stunning sounds – this isn’t about showing off. Instead, get ready for a big basket of bread and butter, the starting points to learn how to actually begin working. From there, you can get as fancy as you like. But the pace is methodical and beginner-friendly.

German, but with English subtitles – and you know that sounds cooler, anyway. (Added motivation. It is, after all, Eurorack, not Englishrack or Amerirack. Though for that, you can always stop by a German market and pick up some McKennedy’s mac ‘n cheese, fake OREO and Chips Ahoy, and marshmallows, for extra American culture.)

Watch:

20 Kabel .. sounds like this. from Andreas Schneider on Vimeo.

Description:

Thomas K. – modular expert at SchneidersLaden – is introducing a mixed eurorack modular system for newbees and/or basic starters here. Explaining all single components nessesary in a classical analogue synth he is showing some first patch possibilities and finally a more complex installation with all modules combined over 20 cables.

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