A guy I went to college with once swore there was a ghost in a practice room, tapping along as he played late one night. Augmenta might make that experience happen all the time.

Call it augmented drumming. An algorithm listens as you play, and adds wild IDM-style glitches and additions and more percussion. Simple patterns become complex – fast.

The work is the research project of CDM reader Alessandro Guerri, who completed it as the thesis for his Electronic Music Bachelor Degree at the Conservatory of Music G. Rossini in Pesaro, Italy. I’m not sure what Maestro Rossini would think, but I think it’s wild. He describes the concept:

Agumenta is a project born to discover the projectual [sic] strategies of an interactive system and the feedback relationship between musician and software.

The concept of an augmented instrument was the starting point of what has became my thesis … timbral and rhythmic features, unachievable by a human activity,could be created and managed by the interaction of the musician with the software.

Agumenta is a continuously- evolving project; its random nature gives a specific musical behaviour to the software and it opens up new possibilities of control ranging from a total randomness to sequential approach.

The system’s features can be applied to all electronic percussion instruments which are able to transmit Midi messages and Audio signal,and to all the acoustic percussions through microphones and triggers.

For more, you can reach Alessandro on Facebook.


Electro-Harmonix have a new looper out, introduced last week in Nashville, that I suspect could be a really big hit. The winners: dual stereo operation, loads of recording space, and then easy connection via USB so a looped improv today could be the beginning of a track tomorrow. Oh, and it’s not expensive, either.

When it comes to looping in live performance, most folks haven’t taken to the computer as much as the standalone looper, particularly BOSS’ LoopStation line. And that’s with good reason: you want dead-simple operation so you can focus on playing.

The heart of the idea is giving you access to two loops. And their implementation couldn’t be simpler. There are two footswitches, one for each loop, so you can record, play back, or overdub on each loop with your foot – tap once to start, tap twice to stop.

You can use those individually or link them together, with separate mix controls for each.

Around that, there’s a lot more power if you want it: Continue reading »

What’s the sound of one person performing Clapping Music? This.

Before there was Rock Band and Guitar Hero, there was Steve Reich. His 1972 work Clapping Music is a rhythmic etude, and like all compositional etudes, it’s also something you can think of as a “game.”

Any musical score is a graphical representation that’s meant to help you understand something that’s normally heard, not seen. You can use traditional notation – and Clapping Music works well as that.

As an iPhone app, Clapping Music the work has some new tricks. The “score” – the app – can judge your rhythm. Fail to tap accurately, and it’s “game over” – start over and try again. And whereas the composition requires two people, now you can play along with your iPhone. You can also see a different visual representation, one that’s, incidentally, close to those used in some forms of ethnomusicology and that presents time in a more proportional way than classical Western scores do. (That is, whereas engraved scores arrange things to make them look visually neat, but squeezes and expands the representation of time in the process, this form of graphical notation displays time and spacing as one and the same.)

The app also has some extras to learn more about Reich’s music.

Continue reading »


We’re really proud of our MeeBlip anode synthesizer. It’s gotten some great reviews, and you’ve made some terrific music with it in a bunch of genres. It’s fully open source hardware, but you can get it out and play it right away even if it’s your first synth – as far as we know, it’s the first widely-available synthesizer hardware that can say that.

So, to celebrate anode, we’re bringing out a special limited edition for summer. As you’ve no doubt noticed, it comes in a new creamy white case. But the controls have been updated, too. People liked the wavetable mode so much, we’ve made that the default, so you can dial in a wide range of sounds from the front panel. And to give you blindingly-quick access to envelopes, there’s one knob for amplitude and one knob for decay. Sound performance has also been fine-tuned, so it’s even more responsive.

We’re only making 250 of these, hand numbering them, so once they’re gone, they’re gone. (The original anode will remain available, both direct and at worldwide dealers.)

Get yours here (ships worldwide, free shipping for the limited edition launch in North America):
MeeBlip anode limited edition

Or in Europe, via our dealer network.

I got to jam on dual anodes with the legendary Andreas Schneider and had an obscene amount of fun. (Thanks to the ever-prolific Synthtopia for featuring this video.) That’s Andreas on Jomox Xbase09 drum machine. I used a Future Retro Zillion as sequencer, which worked delightfully well once I learned to let go and embrace the Zillion’s generative way of thinking. Here’s the result:

Meeblip at SchneidersBuero from Andreas Schneider on Vimeo.

Continue reading »

None other than Surgeon, going by his forum handle youknowiloveyou (we love you, too, man!), walks through his live set one module at a time on the Muff Wiggler forums. Image attached. And you can watch the full performance video via Boiler Room at the Netherlands’ lovely Dekmantel Festival. Read the full discussion here for details:

Surgeon Boiler Room x Dekmantel Festival DJ + Modular set

It’s a nice who’s who of creative modules, from Mutable’s innovative Braids to musical sound sculpting options from Make Noise.

And without taking a stand on modular itself, this is the sort of playing I like to see – far from getting, um, tangled in noodling, Surgeon’s sets are nimble, danceable, and visceral. And here’s Boiler Room performing a valid public service: this is one video you do actually want to watch. (I’ve been lucky to catch him in the flesh, but even there couldn’t look over his shoulder this easily.)

Thanks to Stephan Koller for the tip.

And if you’d like to share how you play, you don’t have to be a legend – or you don’t have to be a legend yet. Just get in touch.


Edited: This post somewhat embarrassingly suggested this thread was taking place “right now.” This being the Internet, of course, “now” can include archival content; the thread was concurrent with the video. And part of the beauty of modular is that the rig can change, though I believe I saw something close to this setup.


Yamaha’s Reface synth line are out now, with full details. You can dig through the site rather than have to do it here – but let’s look at what you might find surprising.

It has Web MIDI, not just MIDI. Yamaha promises the line will connect to Google Chrome via Web MIDI. Now, theoretically, that’s possible in the latest Chrome builds with any MIDI keyboard, not just the Yamaha. But it suggests that Yamaha are atypically embracing bleeding edge tech (previously seen only at hackdays and such) and making it a standard feature. And there’s more: “Soundmondo is a free sound sharing community that lets you discover, create and share reface Voices and Set Lists using Google Chrome any place, any time you’re online.” Okay, then.

Those mini keys don’t have a mini action. This is the best news. Yamaha says the action comes from their Motif XF flagship – and those feel great. So this may be the first mini keys that don’t make you say, at best, “meh,” and at worst, “$#(&*$.”

refaceback Continue reading »

After all of this talk about streaming license rates and Taylor Swift and tangible media and the vinyl resurgence and cassette tape labels – no.

This is the future of music. Tortillas.

Actually, come to think of it, what are three things hipsters love? Mexican food, record players, and laser cutters. Done and done.

Yes, it’s ridiculous. But you have to admit: the phonograph is kind of one of the most ingeniously simple gadgets the human race has ever devised.

Also, I want to be able to stuff my next release with beans.

Apparently inspired by this, only – real. Thank you, Andrew Cavette, for making my day. And my lunch.