On a very personal note, I’m saddened this week to learn of the news of the death of the great film composer James Horner.

See him talk about his approach to scoring Field of Dreams at top for some of his approach. Best of all, you get to see him at the piano.

When I was a kid, Horner was one of the people who inspired me to investigate composition. I was entranced with the sweeping romanticism of the Star Trek II score that was his big break – an aching, yearning, but dreamy vision of the future, filled with tension in the right moments and fine details of inventive timbres, a panoramic view of space. (I expect I wore out my cassette tape of that soundtrack, and the almost unimaginably long litany of films that were the accompaniment to growing up as an orchestral music lover and young cinemagoer in the 80s.)

This interview regarding Aliens is perhaps the best fit for the case. He talks about the struggles of working with James Cameron up against the clock, and even the woeful inability of the vaunted Abbey Road studio to handle more complex ideas (or patching synths).


But most poignant is Maestro Horner talking about the collisions of passion and perfectionism with time and reality.

“We both felt life is too short … I only wanted the best score … It was very difficult, again because of the time, and because we’re both perfectionists.”

Indeed, at so many moments like this, we’re reminded that life is too short.

My condolences to Mr. Horner’s family, friends, and the many people with whom he’s worked.

With this sort of inspiration, if only we all had more time.

Fan site: http://jameshorner-filmmusic.com/

“When you grow up, you can be whatever you want. you don’t have to be a dj.”

“This is lit.”

“It’s just really fun dancing and stuff.”

I’ve spent some time at Cielo and – all due respect to the residents – these kids.

It’s funny, my Dad and I were on the phone yesterday and somehow wound up in a conversation about SFX Entertainment, and he asked me about their confusing use of the acronym “EDC” for electronic dance culture. It’s this. Then everything else will work out. There’s hope for all the rest of us yet. And, uh, thank you Vfiles, whoever you are.


Making a futuristic new music instrument requires more than just the spark of a clever idea. It needs resources, funding, input from musicians, and other ingredients, in perfect balance. Those dimensions can offer cold, hard reality, but met properly, they can also offer opportunity. And that’s part of what made Barcelona’s SONAR+D such a compelling place to be last week. Tucked into the packed SONAR festival was a convergence of the engineering, musical inspiration, and business knowhow required to make musical inventions.

The Oval, superstar of a pavilion hosted by Kickstarter, was the highlight for me. We saw it in the run-up to SONAR, as its crowd funding campaign was just taking off:
Hand Pan Percussion, Reimagined as Futuristic Musical Instrument

A hang drum or hand pan, reconceived as a digital instrument, it could prove a breakthrough in new instrument controller design as product. Meeting its creators in Barcelona, I got to try the first prototype and see how the version that will eventually ship to backers will be even better. And I have to say, I’m impressed.

First, let’s compare Oval, a digital controller, to the acoustic Hang that inspired it. The makers have made a video that makes that clear:
Continue reading »


Gustavo Bravetti is indeed a man of mystery. The Uruguay-born artist is a live virtuoso of dance music, pulling out all the stops. And in his latest feat, he tackles a trio of Elektron black boxes.

Fortunately, it’s not all mysterious. The Ableton Push-controlled, Max for Live-based tool that gives him these octopus-like powers over the gear will soon be coming to you.

First, let’s watch. Even if this isn’t your own musical idiom, you have to concede it’s a nice rig, nicely played. And it’s a pleasure to premiere here on CDM:

The secret sauce is something called Performer. Built in Max for Live, it gives you snapshot controls over Elektron’s Octatrack, Analog Rytm, Analog Four, and Analog Keys. Continue reading »


It seems synth guru Richard Devine couldn’t resist revealing something about upcoming Yamaha technology. In an interview earlier this month, he let slip that the instrument includes “alien” new tech:

Usually when I work with a company – for instance I’m working with Yamaha on a project right now; I can’t say what it is, but it’s pretty crazy. This synthesizer has new technology that’s never been implemented before, so it’s totally alien to anything I’ve ever used. I’ve had to spend a few weeks just understanding the architecture of it.

This tells us two things. One, whatever Richard is working on is now almost certainly digital at least in large part; there’s a whole lot more you can do in the digital realm than the analog realm, at least as far as “new.” (It could be he’s talking about something to do with the form factor, but since he mentioned architecture here and he’s presumably doing sound content for them, that’s unlikely.)

Two, we’re now officially 1000% more interested than we were before, because Richard Devine – for those of you who don’t know him – has used a lot. The man is an obsessive-compulsive sound designer on the Rain Man order of productivity.

The whole interview is worth a read, whether you’re into what Yamaha is teasing or not:


And, uh, Yamaha, please don’t hurt Rich over this story. All PR is good PR.

Thanks to Joey Blush, another great modular synth instrumentalist, for the catch. He’s at:

Updated: a source (not Richard) tells CDM that the project he’s describing isn’t Reface. Wait, now that’s very interesting, indeed.

Well, you saw this one coming – if probably a lot earlier. With the dance music market growing and synth fever spreading, Japanese giant Yamaha seems to have some new keyboard up its sleeves.

In a teaser video today, the first of a series, Yamaha promises something called “reface.”

Updated: there’s more. New Yamaha Synths Will Include “Totally Alien” New Technology, Says Interview

The video shows a blurry show of a Yamaha CS-80, the one synth mentioned by name in the artist videos. And there are keys involved (from the spread of the hands in the one artist video, they seem full-sized rather than mini keys).

It seems unlikely Yamaha is re-releasing the CS, and there’s already the phrase “new take” in the video. More likely than the KORG reissue route, Yamaha almost certainly is pursuing a Roland-style AIRA product – something with a clear connection to a classic, but via a new take. And digital seems more likely. Continue reading »


Okay, we hit some sort of nerd singularity just now. Start with David Hasselhoff’s cheeky, cheesy “True Survivor.” Remake it on the 8-bit SidTracker 64 app. You’ll swear all of this actually happened in the 80s, even if it didn’t. Retrorgasm.

And yes, this gem is included in the app.

Musical arrangement: Fredrik Segerfalk
Graphics by Vanja Utne: http://twitter.com/CheesePirateEq2
Video and extra GFX by Moppe
SidTracker programming by Daniel Larsson

Please roll down your windows and ghetto-blast this one this weekend.