The next innovations in music and sound may come somewhere between fashion and instrument, between hardware, software, and service.
The AUUG Motion Synth represents one idea of how to do that. In terms of hardware, it’s just aluminum – albeit aluminum in a rather clever configuration. Worn on your wrist, it solves the problem of how to gesture with an iPhone or iPod touch without … well, without dropping it. There isn’t any additional sensor; it simply uses the sensing already in the device. Then again, with Apple’s iPhone 5S, that may be what you want, and the presence of the wearable accessory directs motion more specifically by controlling the orientation of your device. In addition to gripping the phone, the windows in the case also provide tactile feedback for buttons on the synth.
On the software side, AUUG the app handles tracking and synthesis. Sharing is built in, too, with a “cloud” for exchanging presets and ideas.
“Great! A big bracelet that lets me use one app!” No, actually – you can send MIDI to any iOS app, or transmit MIDI to your computer. Any Core MIDI-compatible app or WiFi-MIDI-enabled computer will work. Since there’s CoreMIDI support, you can also use wired MIDI if you choose. Continue reading »
Live 9.1, in beta for some weeks, is now available to everyone. We’ve covered in some detail what 9.1 includes. But if you’re a Live 9 user, you shouldn’t hesitate to grab this. I’ve been splitting time between 9 stable and 9.1 beta, and the beta has been operating perfectly for me. If you have two monitors, of course, you get dual monitor support – or dual window support on bigger displays. (Sadly, I don’t have either at the moment, so haven’t been able to test that). But everyone will benefit from enhanced audio rendering and stability improvements – the latter essential if you’re upgrading to OS X Mavericks.
Now, that said, none of this would be terribly newsworthy. But the feature I’ve found made me want to use 9.1 is its new step sequencing features in Push.
Sounds like something basic, but I would go further. Before melodic step sequencing, I messed around with Push, but it wasn’t essential. With melodic step sequencing and automation sequencing, I’ve become a Push addict. Now, that doesn’t mean I step sequence everything – far from it; I’m a keyboardist. But the addition of these two features makes Push really feel like a complete vision, like a fully-fleshed-out musical tool. It’s not that I couldn’t live without those features. It’s that they really make it clear what Push is as a hardware extension of Ableton Live.
And, interestingly, user extensions and documentation are already going further than the product alone: with the help of fellow users, you can make this your own.
So, if you’re interested in diving in, here are some resources to get you going. And if you don’t have Push, we’ve also got some useful tools that can inspire anyone with the Live software, whether or not you have Push. Because, really, all of this is useless unless you’re making the original music that no one else can.
First, the official videos are a good place to start, and very nicely done and clear. Get started with step sequencing melodies and chords: Continue reading »
With Facebook and WhatsApp and FaceTime and Skype, we can be chatting with anyone in the world. Why not also recording music with them, via MIDI or audio?
Steinberg’s vision of bringing Minority Report-style hand-waving to moving your transport controls may or may not be something you’d actually want to do – cool factor aside. But the other announcement this week that echoes science fiction films is a technology for letting you record musicians from far-off places. (Remember video conferencing in 2001? Or that horrible scene in Back to the Future 2? I digress.)
Online collaboration is something many, many tools have tried. VST Connect for Cubase 7 is interesting, though, for its focus: it’s entirely designed for letting you add musicians to a project, regardless of where they are on the planet. Audio and MIDI, sync and record levels, video communication, and sample-accurate sync combine to make the distance studio experience almost as good as being there.
And true to the name, it’s the way it works that sets it apart. Adding another human is as easy as adding a plug-in.
VST Connect arrived with Cubase 7. This week, it goes “Pro” with multichannel support, and – perhaps more interesting – adds the ability to “dial into” sessions from an iPad or iPhone.
Continue reading »
Cubase iC Air, erm… artists’ rendering. Just about got that mix right. (Hold on – red ball. This track is not going to be premeditated.)
When it comes to big, flagship audio tools, you don’t get a whole lot of sci-fi in your software. That makes Steinberg’s announcements this week more of a change of pace. They aren’t the first to talk about virtual studio sessions, or even gesturally-controlled music. But seeing this as an add-on to Cubase, not just an experimental hack, counts as news.
And Cubase users can add on those futuristic capabilities in the form of two new tools.
You can fly through Cubase sessions with gestural controls using depth cameras (on Windows) or LEAP Motion (on Windows and Mac). And you can cross time and space by connecting remotely to Cubase projects – soon, even through your mobile device.
Cubase iC Air: Gestural Control
iC Air is a new add-on, available free, that lets Cubase 7 users (in any edition) control various parameters without touching a controller, simply by using hand gestures in front of a camera or sensor.
Continue reading »
An irony of the 808 is that it began as an everyman’s machine – a disliked relic that no-name musicians could acquire for prices approaching free. It helped that Keyboard infamously likened its sound to “marching anteaters.” (Note to self: idea for DJ name.) Yet now, the quirky Roland original commands high prices that have transformed it into an (often-unreliable) luxury item.
The fall and rise of the 808 isn’t just arbitrary, however. There is something distinctive about the sound design and usability of the original beast, the result of a twist of fate and history that compelled Roland engineers to bend their will into an instrument that was neither entirely synthetic nor entirely natural. People scoffed at violins and pianos when they were new, too, after all; while the TR-808 isn’t exactly on that level, it is a unique entity, one with a personality all its own.
But as KORG reissues a part-by-part remake of the MS-20 and fits 1970s filters into … well, nearly everything imaginable, Japanese rival Roland is thus far silent. Names make comebacks, yes. Actual circuitry, not so much.
The Yocto isn’t the first hardware to attempt to clone the original 808. It just happens to do it in a way that is promising – in function, in price, and in claimed accuracy.
Cost: 379€. Just be prepared for some DIY.
Each of the eleven drum sounds from the original 808 are here copied component-by-component, say the makers, with only the BA662 VCA Clap replaced by a BA6110.
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Imagine if you could take apart your favorite recent KORG analog creations, chop it up into little blocks, and then snap them together with magnetic ease?
In other words, imagine if you could put together a KORG synth as easily as you did LEGO?
It’s every bit as much fun as you’d imagine. I’ve been testing the littleBits Synth Kit for a few days now. I’ve got some sounds for you here so you can hear some of what’s possible. (They’re Creative Commons-licensed, if anyone wants to try to sample them in a track; I know I’ll be working on that soon.)
I made a few one-take, all-live jams with my rig and recorded them. Have a listen:
All the tracks were recorded live with only light edits and no post-processing, directly into an iPad via Sonoma Wire Works‘ (very nice-sounding) GuitarJack and Sonoma StudioTrack. Continue reading »
Charles Lindsay, artist to aliens.
New York? Berlin? London? San Francisco?
Lately, it’s looking like Asheville, North Carolina is the place to be.
In case you missed the aptly-named Mountain Oasis and its gathering of big-name electronic artists and inventors, you don’t have to wait even until next fall. Asheville will next host Moogfest, April 23-27. Nighttime programming falls to Paxahau, the team behind Detroit’s Movement, already one of the biggest electronic tickets of the year worldwide. (AC Entertainment, the Bonnaroo-producing Knoxville team, have taken over Mountain Oasis. Rather than splitting the energy, the results seem to have more than doubled it.)
We should learn more about that lineup, and what Moogfest attendees will be dancing to, shortly. But the daytime programming for tickling your brain has to be described as nothing short of historic. I can’t think of a time this group of people was in one place:
Cliff Martinez (the composer behind the beautiful scores for Drive, Solaris, Traffic, Contagion, and many others)
Jerome C. Glenn (futurist and founder of The Millennium Project)
Dr. Nick Bostrom (futurist/philosopher, the University of Oxford, Future of Humanity Institute, Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology)
George Dvorsky (expert on the ethical and sociological impacts of emerging technologies)
Dr. Joseph Paradiso (MIT Media Lab, Things That Think Consortium, easily one of the foremost experts on embedded computation and sensing and particularly ways in which those relate to music)
Bruce Walker (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Mark Frauenfelder (MAKE magazine, Boing Boing)
Claire Evans (the musician who is rebooting OMNI as a science and science fiction magazine)
Forrest M. Mims III (oh, you know his beautiful hand-drawn circuits – and if you don’t, suffice to say they taught and inspired the people who make the music electronics you use)
Charles Lindsay (Artist in Residence at the SETI – Search of Extraterrestrial Intelligence – Institute)
Hans Fjellestad (documentarian behind 2004 Moog and 2009 The Heart Is A Drum Machine)
Malcolm Cecil (creator of TONTO, the first multi-timbral, polyphonic analog audio synth)
Keith Emerson Continue reading »