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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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.


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.)


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


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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Put some of the best brains in music and sound together in a room. Give them a deadline. Tell them to invent the future as quickly as they can.

What results is crazy, from better ways of teaching music production to composing inside Minecraft to strapping displays on your wrist to simulate the Apple Watch before anyone’s even able to get one. So, we sent one of the smartest brains we know to find the best stuff – that’ll be Gina Collecchia, engineer, technologist, and data scientist as well as writer/musician, the kind of person who studies acoustics in Peru and “conditional entropy” to help you navigate music. Pictures by Alex Park.

On September 20, 2014 in San Francisco, CA, over 70 of the top creative minds in music production, software, and product design came together for the first Audio Hack SF: a one-day hackathon dedicated to prototyping new music technologies and software. Participants were given the freedom to work on any topic in audio, with several projects proposed at the beginning of the day. Here’s a recap of the standouts.


1. Ableton and YouTube tutorial syncing
Yeuda Ben-Atar, Thavius Beck, Peter Nyboer, Neal Riley, Andrew Stern, Michael McConnell, Chuck Knowledge, Andrew Hall
Flipping between applications during something as time-sensitive as making music can really hinder learning. This group, comprised of educators from Dubspot and Ableton and engineers from Roger Linn Instruments, Gobbler, and Livid Instruments, used a JSON file to mark cue points between one of Thavius Beck’s tutorial videos and the state of the Ableton session. They used Gobbler to download the Ableton sessions, which is a service designed specifically for music and media project files. Another version featured the video directly in Ableton, and with Max for Live, the actions of the tutorial were replicated in the working session. This gave the tutorial a native feel, as if it were included with the DAW. Continue reading »

meadowphysics possibilities from tehn on Vimeo.

Here’s a lovely new monome demo, demonstrating their meadowphysics module interfacing between Eurorack hardware (that’s the stuff with the cables and knobs and things) and monome (that’s the stuff with the light-up grid).

Call your family and random strangers and tell them that today you’re really stoked about “rhizomatic cascading counters,” which is what this is. (In more technical terms, let’s go with “chimey note-y thing.”)

I’ve heard people who don’t like computers much complain that USB is some sort of source of planned obsolescence. On the contrary, with serial and standard class-compliant implementations over serial, USB seems poised to take its place alongside MIDI and control voltage as things that never go away. That’s particularly true of hardware that’s community-supported, user-serviceable, or open in some way (doubly so if its key components are open source).

In this case, swapping USB cables works like swapping other jacks on your modular. As the monomers say:

we’ve introduced a new grid-enabled module called meadowphysics. it is a rhizomatic cascading counter. it’s great for polyrhythmic sequences, evolving drum patterns, and rule-based explorations.

you do not need multiple grids to run several monome modules in your eurorack setup— the USB cable is hot-swappable between modules, and each will continue running when disconnected. swapping a USB cable is as easy as swapping a patch cable.

meadowphysics is available now via our retailers:

thank you for your ongoing support and we hope you are all very well.

brian and kelli and trent


Full specs on the new module: Continue reading »