Eletronic music as a medium is now interwoven with nightlife culture, even in a lot of the experimental end of the spectrum. So that means for those of us who care about the medium, it’s time to face a reality about night venues: a lot of people, particularly women, don’t feel comfortable and safe.

Talk to regular clubgoers, and you’ll hear an unnerving number of tales about harassment. We’re not talking people just getting a little aggressive – we’re talking being groped repeatedly on the dance floor. Continue reading »


Theoretically, digital sound can sound like anything.

And I do mean anything: at the frontier of what is conceptually possible, digital representations can produce any sound. Despite this, so many of the sounds we hear, well, the same.

Dealing with that kind of generative freedom is no minor challenge. And that could explain the cult-like dedication of some sonic explorers to the sound environment Kyma. Kyma isn’t the only tool that can do spectral analysis and resynthesis. But it has a special history of working with data in this way, both as one of the first tools to do so and one of the environments uniquely refined in its approach to the task now.

Of course, finding people who know about such things is a bit like a hunt for a very special form of sound design druid. In other words – well, exactly our sort of people. NeverEngine Labs, aka Cristian Vogel and Gustav Scholda, are building on the Kyma 7 environment to make a suite of libraries to deal with these sounds. They’re making their tools your tools, in other words. Continue reading »

Novation are promising something new on the 1st of October. Let’s just say whatever [redacted] may be, we’ll cover [redacted] when the time is right. But what I find interesting is the way they’re introducing the message. Just as Ableton did with Push, the message is about “starting something” – about getting past that initial creative impulse.

I think we’re seeing a shift in the way we talk about music technology in general. The old way of selling was to make the process as mysterious as possible. Serious professionals would tell you how they had the killer tool that you didn’t – the thing you’d want. Continue reading »

Reaktor Blocks Love Eurorack from listentoaheartbeat on Vimeo.

Sorry, couldn’t resist. Can you combine computer software with analog hardware? Can you route control signal from computer software to hardware? Can you combine something accessible with a grid (like a drum machine) with more advanced, open-ended machines with wires? Yes, yes, and yes.

Does all modular synthesis stuff sound like indecipherable noodling? Do you have to make a religious decision between analog and digital, hardware and computer? Do all modular setups have to be sprawling rigs that eat up all your money and home? No, no, and no.

Make what you want. Continue reading »


We broke the news (okay, uh, I changed the contrast values on the video) of a new line of budget Roland synths last week. Details continue to leak out about those products, and though no one has heard anything yet, the public reaction has been really positive. Now we know more: portable with battery power, optional keyboard, and lots of built-in features. Continue reading »


The MeeBlip synthesizer project is about to reach five years old. I feel this collaboration with engineer James Grahame has been one of the most important to me and to CDM. We haven’t talked so much about its open source side, though – and it’s time.

In five years, we’ve sold thousands of synths – most of them ready-to-play. The MeeBlip isn’t a board and some bag of parts, and it isn’t a kit. You don’t need a soldering iron; after our very first batch, you don’t even need a screwdriver. The MeeBlip is an instrument you can use right away, just like a lot of other instruments on the market.

But unlike those other instruments, the MeeBlip is open source hardware. Not just the firmware code, but the electronics design that makes it work are all available online and freely-licensed. We became, to my knowledge, the first ready-to-play musical hardware to be available in that form in any significant numbers. Continue reading »