For all the variety in synths and control methods, patterns and sequencing often tend to be rather same-y.
That’s why it’s wonderful to see things like this short video from Jakob Penca. In it, rhythms mutate and vary, all as clever gestures on an iPad manipulate the beat-making noises of an Elektron Machinedrum. The app is still under development, but it’s nice to see this early glimpse. Description:
a quick improvisation demo of my upcoming iOS app for the Elektron Machinedrum. This shows how you can mutate a pattern with copy & paste operations directly on an iPad.
This app itself is not a sequencer; it works directly with the onboard sequencer on a Machinedrum. The bad news, for those of you without Machinedrums: you need a Machinedrum. (Think p-locks, Machinedrum owners. Everyone else: this works with the hardware sequencer rather than sequencing its own events, so you can’t just use it with your own MIDI hardware.) The good news, for those of you with Machinedrums: you may be about to have a whole lot of fun.
Oh, yeah, and Live 9 also has a new “disco” color scheme skin, if you like. Photo (CC-BY) Andrew Malone.
One of the tough things about reviewing software is that your own experience is intensely personal. So, I’ve regularly reviewed software and gotten an angry response from someone who didn’t understand why I didn’t comment on a particular stability experience they had found.
Those readers are right to be frustrated, but I can tell you that it software experiences are highly variable.
So, I do know that some people found some issues with Live 9′s newest features. None of it is so out of the ordinary for this kind of upgrade. A big culprit: the new smart browser indexing features. In particular, many users found that larger libraries were very slow to load, particularly on OS X. Worse, because of the way Live indexes files, these could cause degraded audio performance when you first opened a session.
Live 9.0.3 includes a number of improvements, but based on feedback I’ve gotten, I suspect these indexing optimizations will be the most important. Specifically:
The performance of the Ableton Index process has been improved, especially on OS X.
The Ableton Index process would sometimes not scan all folders after adding them to the sidebar.
The Ableton Index process could block the GUI during saving and exporting of Live sets, presets or clips.
Scanning folders containing a huge amount of files could take longer than necessary.
I don’t have a very big Library, so I couldn’t test this easily. If you were one of the people having trouble, I’d love to hear from you as you try this fix.
Also worth looking at, Live now gives you a choice at how you trigger new clip recording, which looks useful:
Added a new option to the “Record/Warp/Launch” preferences pane: “Start Transport with Record”. If activated, the transport will start immediately when clicking on the Session- or Arrangement-Record buttons. If deactivated, it prepares for recording as in Live 8, so you have to launch a clip in Session View or click the ‘Play’ button. You can hold down the Shift modifier key when clicking on the record buttons to invert the behavior temporarily.
Update: unfortunately, as I write this, 9.0.3 is temporarily unavailable. We’ll update you when it is again available. These should be the changes you can expect when it does become accessible, though.
Where the goodness happens: set a Threshold, record some sounds.
Where I live, at least, the darkest winter on record has given way to spring. The trees outside my flat have sprouted leaves in the past 48 hours. And so, the idea of making electronic music out in the sun suddenly has a lot of appeal. This spring and summer, we’ll be featuring some ways to make music en plein air – even with technology.
There are now a number of drum machines for iOS, and Native Instruments’ iMaschine hasn’t seen much of an update since its release. But iMaschine is my choice here for several reasons:
It’s built for the iPhone, so an ideal handheld solution
It’s really good at sampling, particularly with its Threshold control
It’s dead-simple, meaning you get to sets of sampled pads and patterns more quickly (or can use various sound banks)
It connects to Maschine on desktop, so you can start a project on the go and then finish it in the studio – perfect for summery weather.
We cover a lot of experiments that make an interesting proof of concept, or that make performance, frankly, more difficult but in interesting ways. Here’s an idea that might just work. You know, like might actually make an existing technology better.
The idea is this: rather than clumsily using gates to isolate individual drum mics, use lasers (“lazorrrs”) to measure vibration. And if the demo video is to be believed, it works damned well. You can use this to get better recordings, or use it to transform a drum into a better MIDI trigger (without just the mics alone), or both. It’s the work of Sennheiser’s California R&D folks.
Sennheiser, you might just want to start adding this to your drum mic kit. (Now, if somehow this could also make a little laser show appear atop the drums when coupled with a smoke machine, a bit like the silly security systems featured in action movies, we’d really be sold.)
Seriously, it’s a good idea. Cooper Newby of Sennheiser USA explains:
Here is our newest Sennheiser R&D prototype. It is a laser that triggers a drum gate or Midi trigger when the drum is hit without applying any pressure to the drum head. It could turn a live drum kit into a totally new instrument by accurately triggering effects or samples along with each specific drum hit. Here is a video demonstrating its live drum mic-ing applications to prevent microphone bleed though.
Thanks, Cooper. I’d love to see this move beyond R&D – or perhaps it’ll inspire other experiments, too.
Keith shows onlookers how he makes music with wires.
We make music through objects, whether instruments or machines. And so we have this relationship between our ideas and those objects, between our imagination and the imagination of the people who built them. Talking to Keith Fullerton Whitman about his suitcase of modular gear, then, wasn’t just geeking out. It was a chance to understand how he relates his music to those bits of gear, and the community of people who make them. (For another glimpse of that community, see our tour of a booth of a passionate distributor at Musikmesse.)
Keith joined us at CTM Festival, Berlin, over the winter, as part of our MusicMakers Hacklab. I had a long conversation with him, in which he talked about why he works with modular and how he uses it in performance. We also took questions from the audience, and he demonstrated with sounds. (Not heard on this recording: audience members hung out with Keith for what must have been well over an hour, as seen above, to get an inside look at how modular music making works.)
“Modular” and “analog” are often assumed to be synonymous, but in Keith’s rack, they definitely aren’t. A growing number of digital modules takes the software that previously ran only on computer and encases it in these small boxes, allowing software to be patched with cables instead of operated, as I say in the audio, via a “folding typewriter” interfaced of a laptop.
None of this would mean anything if Keith didn’t make good music. If this were beard-scratching music, he’d have the beard for it, but it’s more than that. I heard Keith’s live performance this year first at Berghain, the cavernous former power station dance club in Berlin, and then in a pristine array of speakers provided by GRM at Paris’ Présences électronique. Continue reading »
How can hardware make the computer-based studio more productive? Each trade show invariably brings new offerings that seek to answer that problem as vendors hawk their wares. At Frankfurt’s Musikmesse, steps from one another, three well-known names each each offered their own take.
It comes at a time when the industry is re-imagining the role of our machines. It used to be that big, metal boxes said “pro” – and the studio was no exception. (Cue flashbacks trying to set up Digidesign expansion racks in the late 90s. Okay, now putting that out of my mind.) That’s still true in gaming and 3D rendering, but in audio, there’s no reason you can’t use a svelte laptop, to say nothing of the tablets (okay, iPads) finding their way into studio rigs.
From Universal Audio is perhaps the boldest sign that those days are behind us, as massive amounts of processing power and I/O are piped through a single Thunderbolt adapter (alongside FireWire). In fact, there’s no reason you couldn’t pair this rack with a MacBook Air.
But Softube and SPL also had their own offerings for the (now-mobile) studio, and they’re both just fine over USB. Softube is a hardware/software combination (Kore meets the channel strip?), and SPL is doing an audio interface that’s also a hardware controller.
I’m mentioning them together not necessarily because of what they have in common so much as how they differ. Do you want your software running on your host (Softube) or dedicated DSP chips (UA)? Do you want a controller for your DAW (SPL) or for dedicated, consistent channel strips (Softube)? Do you want an audio interface with DSP (UA) or an audio interface with controller (SPL) or a controller with no audio interface (Softube)? Do you want to provide your own plug-ins (SPL) or get some modeled stuff in the package (Softube, UA)?
And that’s only with three products introduced in adjacent booths in the same week. Let’s do a quick run-down of what these offerings are: Continue reading »
Andreas Schneider, famed owner of Berlin synth boutique Schneidersladen, has a unique talent for finding the best idiosyncratic electronic sound creations. Now leading European distributor ALEX4, he’s bringing more of those goodies to the rest of us.
There’s something a bit odd about going to Frankfurt when ALEX4, Schneidersladen, and Andreas himself all live in my neighborhood. But amassed at Musikmesse, you get a sense of the current state of the ALEX4 stable of gear – and we’ve got the synth pr0n to prove it. And you know Musikmesse is off to an interesting start when you head behind the curtain of the booth into the back with the ALEX4 guys to toast with a Kreuzberg Special – before 11 am. The mixture of sekt (German sparkling wine), absinthe, and Club-Mate (German maté tea-extract soda) is … uh, hard to describe. Let’s go with “breakfast of champions.” Is it possible to be hungover before tipsy?
On offer: modulars, drum machines, synths, keyboards – and even a Trautonium.
And Andreas is making sure no one forgets the “Euro” in Eurorack. So, even with all the fantastic American modules of late, Europe isn’t standing still, from Eurorack originator Dieter Doepfer to some new modules.
The original Eurorack: Dieter Doepfer started a small revolution in modular, and he’s still a benchmark in synth building.