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.

Continue reading »


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 »


Pretty lights are no fun if they’re off limits. So, Reaktor gurus, your fun starts now. As promised here, you get some example patches to begin working with those light-up keyboards from Native Instruments (Komplete Kontrol S-Series, to be technical). And they’re available now:

Here are two example ensembles showing how to control the KOMPLETE KONTROL S-series LEDs and key properties from Reaktor.

HWControl_BasicUse.ens – can be used with an S-series keyboard to directly control the key LED colours and note properties.

HWControl_KB-LED-Simulator.ens – includes a keyboard LED simulator instrument so that you can test your Reaktor HWControl messages without having an S-series keyboard.

HWControl Module Examples: Hardware Control module examples for builders [Native Instruments User Library]

If only one person reads this article and that person makes something amazing with Reaktor, it’ll be worth it having published it. So do let us know here at the CDM Office Tower. (Dizzying, the view from the executive suites, I will say that.)

Nothing yet for controlling the display text, though – that should be interesting.

See, previously:
Komplete Kontrol Integration Will Work with Your Own Reaktor, Kontakt Creations, Too; Details


The phenomenon of techno’s growth right now can’t even be confined to one corner of Berlin. Rødhåd and Dystopian Records demonstrate not only the uncontainable nature of their own particular brand of shadowy dance creations, but perhaps this folk quality of electronically-produced music generally.

And if you happen to like that flavor, we have quite a lot of media for you to gobble up. Dubby, dark, and distant, it’s all as always perfectly constructed, reserved in its trajectory as it builds energy. I suppose it’s predictable that getting Berghain’s stamp of approval brought Rødhåd to an international audience, but it’s just as interesting that he and the Dystopian crew were running their own parties for so long.

Before we get to the music, though, here’s the ever-calm man himself talking to INPUT’s Urban Stories, set against spectacularly futuristic architecture of Tbilisi, Georgia. If the talking head thing isn’t doing it for you, there’s some nice music and slow-motion shimmying later on.

Or – listen/watch: Continue reading »

Um... excuse me. I'll see you in February or so.

Um… excuse me. I’ll see you in February or so.

Simple, lightweight, minimal.

No, not really.

This is a total monster, the grandest synth yet from plug-in maestro Urs Heckmann, aka u-he. ACE, aka “Any Cable Everywhere,” already introduced us to computer plug-ins with massive tangles of virtual cables – in a good way. Bazille, then, is the plug-in that ate the plug-in that ate Chicago.

And after first making an appearance in 2009, it’s finally here, like a beast foretold in legend.

Its oscillators are digital, with FM (frequency modulation) and phase distortion and the wild-sounding fractal resonance. And then it has analog-style filters. And then it has effects and processors up the wazoo. But, most importantly, it has insane parallel outputs all over the place and the ability to patch anything to anything without ever running out of cables.

It’s not just a bunch of connections and oscillators and effects, though. There are clever wave shapers called mapping generators with drawing tools and the like. There’s a 8x 16-step “morphing” sequencer. When you combine all those oscillators and filters and wave shapers and effects and sequencers, you really have a complete modular sound design environment. There’s not a whole lot of software I want to test at the moment – just being plenty busy with what I’ve got – but this just made the short list. You can test it, too; there’s a free demo download for Mac and Windows.

It’s also on sale for US$89 (before VAT, Europe), which I think is about a third of what users of physical modulars pay for their cabinet, if they’re lucky. (Or, perhaps the IKEA desk it sits on.) Yes, there are advantages to digital and software (ducks). After the intro, it rises to $129.


The specs alone will make your eyes bleed: Continue reading »

It was inspired by Nikolas Tesla’s radical ideas about energy in air – and site-specific opera. It breaks every notion you have of how to mix, how to set volume, and what “panning” or “stereo” means. It’s, specifically, the forest of metal columns filled with omni-directional speakers we’ve come to know as 4DSOUND. And it’s all coming to Amsterdam Dance Event in October in a big way.

But what’s most important about 4DSOUND isn’t just this particular, not-inexpensive and specific installation. It’s the fact that once you start imagining sound as virtually projected into three-dimensional space, you probably won’t really think about sound in the same way.

Taking something like a site-specific spatial audio system and putting it into an online video is a recipe for failure. But the team at Ableton have done a pretty bang-on job of doing just that in two films, one focused more on the system in general and its significance, and one on specifically how the technique works.

Various composers have worked on 4DSOUND; this film focuses on Stimming. That makes an interesting choice, because his set is so live. In his work, Ableton Live is mostly a control interface for the spatialization; its audio duties are limited to mixing in the system and adding some clips. Everything else is outboard, like the MFB Tanzbär drum machine, a Teenage Engineering OP-1, and an acoustic piano.

Just as important, 4DSOUND’s Paul Oomen, a classical composer, talks about the connections to Tesla and theater. See the deeper meaning introduced at top, then the technical – and thoughts for the future – below.

Continue reading »