Blessed be MIDI, again, for making us independent.

Frankfurt am Main-based untergeekDE decided he didn’t want to go to a Mac or Windows PC just to edit settings on his Arturia BeatStep. MIDI (System Exclusive messages)m to the rescue. Actually, even calling this a ‘hack’ isn’t really fair: this is exactly how this is supposed to work. Edit the settings you want on the hardware using anything you like, in this case taking advantage of TB MIDI Stuff. That handy app is practically reason enough to get an iPad, even a compatible used one. In the process, untergeek even changed things to work more in the way he desired. Continue reading »


In the last couple of weeks, we’ve gotten not just one, but two new synthesizers that piggy-back on the Arduino electronics platform. The result, then, is instruments that you can modify via Arduino code.

You’ll need an Arduino for each of these to work, so figure on adding some bucks to the purchase price. (I also recommend only using a real Arduino or Genuino; the clones I’ve found are often unreliable, and it’s better to support the developers of the platform.) Continue reading »

With each creation tool, each means of broadcasting audio via the Web, the force of music technological access accelerates. What was once limited to an elite able to make use of studios and labels spreads to more corners of the globe. But what will that democratization mean?

Earlier this summer, I got to speak to two people whose companies have been instrumental in the ways in which people make and share music today. Eric Wahlforss is co-founder and CTO of SoundCloud; Daniel Haver is CEO of Native Instruments. Those jobs keep them pretty busy, so this is the first time they’d actually been on a single stage together. We had a public panel discussion (below) followed by a briefer, private interview (above) for Berlin’s Tech Open Air festival in July.

We cover a range of topics from the explosive growth of mobile production and sharing to the influence of online connectivity on genre and geography to new ways of DJing and listening. Continue reading »


It’s hard to imagine what the evolution of the synthesizer would have been without Leon Theremin.

For one, it was Theremin’s invention that first captivated Robert Moog. Theremin kits were Dr. Moog’s first product and many would say, his first electronic instrumental love. That impact was significant, too, on a whole generation – actually, even my own father made building a kit Theremin one of his early experiences with electronics.

The fall of the Soviet Union still has ripples felt in the electronic music world today. And surely there’s no more poignant moment in the intertwining of post-Cold War history with musical invention as Leon Theremin’s 1991 visit to the USA – at 95 years of age.

Robert Moog wrote up that experience for Keyboard Magazine (USA), along with writer Olivia Mattis. Much of the history will be familiar, but it’s moving to read about the event.

The gathering with Lev Sergeyevich Termen may have been the single greatest convergence of the 20th century’s electronic inventors ever – John Chowning (CCRMA, FM synthesis), Don Buchla, Roger Linn, Bob Moog, Tom Oberheim, Max Mathews, and Dave Smith were all there. (It’s also remarkable to think how much Chowning, Linn, Oberheim, and Smith continue to contribute as teachers and inventors today, not to mention the ongoing contributions of Moog, Buchla, and Theremin instruments.)

And of course, because of history (hello, KGB), these inventors had never really had the opportunity to meet face to face. They had “met” through their instruments. Moog and Mattis also write eloquently of ghostly guests: Continue reading »


Panasonic, the company that still owns the Technics name, is engineering what it says is an all-new direct drive turntable.

And it certainly looks beautiful. Looks are all we get, as a prototype shown at Berlin’s IFA electronics show is just a futuristic aluminum slab with a platter on it. But as far as aesthetics, the company isn’t messing around: this thing looks like something you’d find in the listening lounge of a flying saucer.

Also interesting: just as Pioneer has done with their (excellent, by the way) new turntables, with the Technics model there’s a whole lot of new engineering. Japan seems to prefer doing that to simply reissuing the legendary Technics 1200 – and in the case of the Pioneer model, at least, the results work.

But, while DJs ears ring the moment they hear Technics (okay, DJs’ ears are generally ringing all the time), that doesn’t necessarily mean this is really DJ news.

Continue reading »

Floating Points – Silhouettes (official video) from floating points on Vimeo.

Two videos for us today transport us to other imagined worlds.

‘Silhouettes’ from Floating Points is already lush and fantastic, synths crooning atop buttery strings and vocals, cinematic extravagance for a new generation. It’s sexy stuff.

And for the video, Barcelona-based experimental filmmakers Pablo Barquín, Junior Martínez, Nathan Grimes, and Anna Diaz Ortuño make some optical fireworks in the form of some seriously sophisticated light painting. At one point in the video the camera pulls back on the rig, and you see that, while the process goes digital, it begins with painstaking real-for-real photography. What they’ve done is transport nature to the photo rig rather than the other way around, apparently lending a higher degree of control.


Details: Continue reading »