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Back at Musikmesse, it really looked as though Pioneer had simply cloned the legendary Technics 1200 turntable and re-badged it Pioneer.

But… that seems sort of obvious, right? Maybe there’s some sort of digital interface. Or extra I/O. Or some feature we hadn’t thought of. Maybe there’s a connection to digital vinyl control systems. Maybe it integrates with a new line of Pioneer hardware. Maybe they’ve invented a new platter mechanism. Maybe it was all an enormous distraction, and then they were unveil some new DJ touchscreen or line of running shoes or Minority Report interface for big clubs. Maybe they were starting a boutique vinyl record label. Maybe it’s a clothing line. Maybe inside the turntable is some new hardware. Maybe inside the turntable is another turntable. Maybe it will support Keurig K-Cup coffee pods, and you’ll be able to enjoy delicious brewed coffee for those 8-hour Sunday DJ gigs.

Okay, actually, spoiler alert – it is really just a 1200 clone with a Pioneer logo on it.

But it’s supposed to be … really good. And that’s good. I think.

It’s called the PLX-1000. List price US$699.

It has “a user friendly layout familiar to top DJs of the past and present.” Yeah, it looks like a Technics 1200 with a Pioneer logo on it. If you’ve never seen a Technics, they go on to explain that means it has “a quick tempo control capability on the right side of the player, start/stop button on the left side, and a high-torque platter with a lighted speed guide.”

It has a “high-torque direct drive system,” like a Technics 1200.

It is “Designed for optimal sound quality.” Um… good!

It has “Detachable power and audio cables.” Even better. The actual news there, though, is that the connections are just phono/cinch cables and electricity – nothing digital here. That’s frankly to me not so surprising – lovers of the 1200s probably just want a new 1200 from Pioneer, and would view any new-fangled addition as blasphemous. On the other hand, what makes this decision predictable and perhaps logical also makes it fairly boring. (In Pioneer’s defence, bad decisions would have entertained me more, but then they would have had to make a bad decision, so I’m not really faulting them so much as hunting around in the dark for something to write about.)

Okay, let me try harder. Continue reading »

wu_advisory_album

If the album business model is collapsing, the frantic rush to everything else is at least interesting.

Hip hop as a genre, of course, came from a deconstruction and reconstruction of the album, from the early evolution of DJ techniques and sampling. So, the fact that Wu Tang is skipping the conventional release altogether is new, but it’s also connected to history.

Sure, plenty of artists have gone for remix contests and the like. What’s different in Wu Tang’s case is that this time, the debut track “So Many Detailz” from their Parent Advisory will head straight to Blend as raw session files.

Instead of downloading stems, Blend provides would-be remixers with Avid Pro Tools, Ableton Live, and Apple Logic Pro session formats, the exposed ingredients of the tracks.

Blend is a site and collaboration platform, backed by funding from NYC VC/startup seed Betaworks. (Tumblr, Airbnb, Groupon, and Twitter all saw Betaworks funding – this is one hot Silicon Alley property.) Blend uses Dropbox as the back end in order to manage multiple people manipulating session files in a variety of popular DAWs. Pro Tools, Live, and Logic are your three choices here, but FL Studio, Maschine, and GarageBand are supported, too, with more promised. We looked at GitHub earlier today for notation, but that tool was built for code (and text) first. Blend applies a similar approach to the more-complex DAW project format. As with GitHub, individual users “pull” projects and contribute them back again with changes – ideal for the solo workflow.

The site has so far been popular with nerdy electronic music producers – not so much hip hop. Think Moby and Prefuse73; Mad Zach even released an entire EP as a collaborative project. Continue reading »

Can I get an Amen break?

Can I get an Amen break? Photo (CC-BY) MyBiggestFan.

Before there was computer code, there was music notation. And before there was forking code or remixing music, there were centuries of variations to the musical code, stored in notation. So it’s fitting that musicians would begin to use GitHub – built originally as a repository for programmers – to store notation.

And that means that in addition to music software and the like, you can find the WWII-era Nova Organi Harmonia organ accompaniments today on GitHub. Adam Wood, Director of Music with St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Hurst, Texas, made the addition, with help from a team including Jeff Ostrowski. The GitHub repository is hosted by the Church Music Association of America.

For musicologists and composers alike, Git seems a perfect fit. It makes it easy to track the contributions of any number of people, to file and manage variations, and to keep track of revisions over time. Continue reading »

While my elected representative gently weeps?

Yes, don’t miss this video, going social today, from Japan, in which a guitarist perfectly times playing to a politician’s sob story.

You might assume this isn’t relevant to CDM. But let’s say it hits the whammy bar — on your MIND. Earlier this month, I attended the NIME2014 conference – New Interfaces for Musical Expression. Year after year, groups like these discuss the merits of instrumental interfaces for expression. Generally, instruments like the guitar – good. Instruments like the piano – bad. No ability to add nuance after you hit a note, no ability to find any intonation between the pitches specified by the keys.

And with electronic instruments, the notion was to find things closer to guitars and violins and whatnot, rather than the preferred electronic method of making synths into a keyboard – or, better yet, a machine where you press a button and rhythms come out. Continue reading »

Kid_Kameleon-Bumper-Boats

Kid Kameleon Live at False Profit Tues Night Party BM ’11. Photo by Steph Goralnick

Here in the northern hemisphere, it’s the season of overabundance – bounties of overflowing fresh picnic fare, sun that stretches deep into the evening, celebrations and friends and saying yes to everything and no to nothing. And musically, we’re well into 2014′s surfing safari, atop the crest of a wave of new music. So for music listening, now is not the time for the cloistered contemplative curation of winter. It’s time to toss it all together, roll the windows down, and enjoy. CDM’s resident selector Matt Earp, aka DJ Kid Kameleon, sums up that kids’ fair-enthusiasm summer vacation ethos with a big new mix of sounds. But because it’s Matt, we also can count on discovering some new music missed in the click-chasing cool-kids dance of the bigger music blogs. -Ed.

I still believe in sticking to the craft of the DJing as presenting a story, whether it’s in the headphones or on the dance floor. Maybe in that sense, this mix is a little strange. I can hear people saying, “Project Mooncircle and Trap in the same mix? You’re crazy!”

But next week, I’ll take the drive from my native Chapel Hill in North Carolina to my beloved Outer Banks in 90-degree heat. This is a mix for that drive, and similar ones you may take.

I’d like to shout out just few artists who are making summer 2014 special to me. I share Peter’s overwhelming positivity about a new generation of digital creators – even as we’re awash in knockoffs, every day I find new artists and tunes that shine through, thanks to the ever-increasing interest in digital production techniques. So if you’re feeling the mix, please look closer at these producers. Continue reading »

NV_angle_2

In the digital age, the metaphor for DJing has been fragmented. You’ve got big wheels, but they represent missing turntables and don’t provide visual feedback. You’ve got CDJs, but then the waveform and the wheel are still separate. You’ve got vinyl records, but then you have to look at a computer screen to see where you are in the track. (A recent presentation at the NIME conference projected images on the record – see below – but projectors lack enough resolution for cue points on the vinyl.)

The iPad is the one device that seems to get it right. It displays a waveform, and by touching the waveform, you can navigate the sound. The cost, though, is all the other tangible, physical controls – iPads’ virtual faders and knobs just aren’t as satisfying to use as the real thing.

Oh, and then you also have controllers that focus instead on trigger points and percussive slicing on a grid — essentially, the MPC as found on a DJ controller.

Numark’s NV is either the first of a new generation of controllers, or the last gasp of all the remaining idioms. Or maybe it’s a little of each.

Displays for waveform views of decks. You get color waveform displays as on something like a CDJ or your computer screen. You can’t touch them as on the iPad – but at least you don’t have to look at your computer. And the displays are really nice, a “1:1″ view of what you’d see on a computer display in Serato – at least of each deck. (For everything else, there are physical controls.) There are two dedicated displays, but you can switch them among four decks.

- and displays for library navigation. Just to make sure you really aren’t looking at that laptop, the displays double as a way of browsing your library.

Big wheels. As on the CDJ and many controllers, wheels stand in for the feeling of using a turntable deck.

Knobs and faders, mixer style. Dedicated EQ, filter, effect, mixing, and the like – real knobs and faders. The knobs are capacitive, so you can switch modes, including multiple filter modes that add, if you desire, effects. And these also allow you to add “effects tweaking, EQ kills, and filter sweeps” – though that stuff always makes me shudder a little in fear of hyper-active DJs.

Velocity-sensitive pads. Yes, you get 16 drum pads, which do everything you’d expect – triggering samples (with velocity if you like), jumping to cues and loops, and slicing. Continue reading »

Hey, look: a controller, right in your browser, with drag-and-drop editing. No app needed.

Hey, look: a controller, right in your browser, with drag-and-drop editing. No app needed.

Tablet or phone or touch-enabled desktop computer – now it doesn’t matter. A free tool called (for the moment) Nexus lets you make any browser a canvas for music. iOS, Android, Windows, Mac – if the browser is there, your creations become omni-platform.

Shown at the NIME (New Interfaces for Musical Expression) conference in London earlier this month, Nexus is the most complete foundation for this idea seen yet. And since it’s free, it’s open to others to build upon. Right out of the box, it includes basic interface widgets obviously inspired by Lemur (and apps like TouchOSC), so you get faders and knobs and multi-touch arrangements of balls and keyboards and so on. But because it’s all built with Web tech, anyone can create any interface they imagine – with a custom look and feel, and complete with animations. And even in the browser, it uses OSC (Open Sound Control), for flexibility with a range of commercial or custom-built software.

Various demos are featured in a video:

There are a few ways you can work with Nexus, depending on whether you’re an end user or a coder, and which tools you prefer: Continue reading »