zaq

Zaquencer 1.5 is here, still a budget sequencer miracle

The Zaquencer is a gift – an insanely powerful step sequencer that turns a used Behringer BCR2000 into a completely new piece of hardware. It’s a testament to the ingenuity of the underground music tech community – and a glimpse of how gear can come back to life rather than get thrown away. And now, it’s more powerful than ever.

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functionofmusic

Watch a beautiful meditation on the function of music

As co-host of the American public radio show Radiolab, Jad Nicholas Abumrad is usually in the business of giving you sounds on their own. You provide the mental images. But in a stimulating new film from director Mac Premo, thoughts become images as well as sounds. It’s a fitting conversation. Abumrad (a Lebanese-American, as I am) comes from a background in music composition. Premo, apart from being a filmmaker and commercial director, is an artist. Both live in New York. So what we get is a counterpoint of two imaginations running at once: sonic and visual, musical and optical. And …

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cheetahflyer

Aphex Twin uses an obscure British synth to sell new EP

If you’re looking for the nerdiest way possible to market a music album, you’re going to have a tough time one-upping Aphex Twin. The Warp Records artist has used a rare British synth as the cornerstone of the record – one with a reputation for being impossible to use – alongside a speech synth for the ZX Spectrum computer. He and his label have been teasing the resulting EP with marketing that looks like a vintage synth flyer. But that’s not even the biggest measure of how serious he is about this. Aphex Twin went so far as to rent …

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20_2

Check out this ultra-limited, monochrome “design” synth

Would we love synthesizers if they were a little, well, nuts? And, by extension, don’t we love them even more if they’re a lot crazy instead of a little? If that’s how you feel, you’ll love the 20. Everything about it screams sex appeal. Apart from luxe materials, this is finally a synth that looks like someone kidnapped Dieter Rams to do the panel design. And the “20” is a reference to how limited it’ll be – twenty black, twenty silver. But if you’re Darth Vader, you really do need those black keys with black body. I mean… why did …

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Reason-9_1000-new-sounds

Watch ten hours of Reason 9 presets, played on a road trip

Included sounds: if you care about them, you probably care about them a lot. Now, to some of us, sound design is an essential part of the pleasure of music making. Give us an INIT preset and let us muddle our way to making something work – even badly. But then there are people who don’t enjoy that, or simply don’t have the luxury. (You do not want to fall down a sound programming rabbit hole when you’ve got a TV score deadline looming on the clock.) And so the folks who make music software routinely focus on lots of …

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IMG_4055

A report from the futuristic Continuum Fingerboard’s first Con

The 19th Century was the century of the piano. The 20th Century, for all its innovation, still saw the piano keyboard as the dominant interface for all those new sounds. But the 21st Century finally looks to offer some choice. And so it’s high time for the Continuum Fingerboard to get its day. The instrument allows you to find pitch as you can on a piano keyboard, but with expressive continuous control both in pressure and position – letting you bend pitch and shape sound more fluidly. Now having inspired instruments like the ROLI Seaboard (and with ROLI raking in …

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OB-6-Right-1

That dreamy Dave Smith OB-6 is now in desktop form

Be relieved, budget-constrained synth addicts. Now, instead of coveting the OB-6 six-voice analog synthesizer in keyboard form and working out what you’d need to sell to get it, you can … covet the OB-6 six-voice analog synthesizer in desktop form and work out what you’d need to sell to get it. Or, alternatively, if you have extra money lying around, you can get twelve-voice polyphony by chaining two OB-6 together — like, for instance, a desktop unit and a keyboard unit. I say if you can’t presently afford that, you should fire your booking agent. (“But I have two kids!” …

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Forte-36

Berlin warms up for techno and visuals in a Portuguese castle

Techno lineups don’t have to be scraped off of the top of DJ charts and Google searches. And visuals don’t have to look like a screensaver that got drunk. Festival Forte, set for the end of August at the castle of Montemor-o-Velho, between Porto and Lisbon on the Portuguese coast, is a glimpse of something different. Already last year, it ran against the grain of dumbed down summer festivals with some of the bleeding edge of concert visuals, set to an exceptional lineup. And it appears to be set to do that again. So, let’s check in on what’s happening …

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rockmen-devices

This amp and FX pack shows what you can do with Reason

In music software, you have things that are modular, and things that aren’t. Modular environments like Reaktor and Max/MSP let you build things from scratch with essentially unlimited flexibility. DAWs tend to lock you into fairly rigid options for how you combine different instruments, effects, and other tools. Well, Reason sits somewhere in between. Every virtual synth, effect, and signal tool can be patched into another in a single, integrated environment – even as it still remains a production tool with a timeline and mixer (or mixers). In a great example of why that’s cool, hard-core Reason expert Marco Raaphorst …

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Reason 9 is available to download now.

Why you should care that Reason 9 just arrived

Reason 9 is here, updating that singular virtual rack of instruments and effects combined with song recording and arrangement. And a quick look at the features will likely have some people saying “fine, sure, but my DAW can already do that.” But – exactly. And also – can it, really? Because Reason has a of doing things in a, well, Reason-y way – one that keeps its die-hard fans uniquely loyal. And it sometimes has a way of doing things best.

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