Watch Adriano Make Surprising Objects, Laser Beams into Triggers for Wild Music

Now that anything can become an instrument, musicianship can become the practice of finding the spirit in the unexpected. It’s what Matt Moldover championed in the notion of controllerism, what years of DIYers have made evident. It’s not just a matter of finding a novelty or two. It’s really taking those novelties and making them a creative force. Adriano Clemente, the Italian-born, Brooklyn-based artist (aka Capcom), is a shining light of just that sort of imagination. Regular CDM readers will see some familiar techniques. There’s a laser harp, a circuit-bent toy, mic transducers making objects into triggers, a Numark Orbit …

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If You Use Kontakt, Get Cool Bleep and Bass Instruments for Free

Bleeping amazing. There’s some great stuff you can get for free for Native Instruments’ Kontakt sampler. This week, two new instruments are available. First up, a device that makes chip music bleep sounds, and includes sophisticated sound controls and step-sequencing LFOs. The creator, Zombie Queen, describes it thusly: I’m assembling new bleeping device in Kontakt, last one was so twisting complicated, I’ve been getting lost in it myself. I wanted to re-utilize the engine, but simplify things a lot and add some new twists. I’ve got working ‘beta’ version, if you’d like to try it out. It’s focused more on …

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ay3

The Intellivision Synthesizer: Twisted Electrons’ AY3 is a Chiptunes Desktop Synth

8-bit, lo-fi digital, and chip music-influenced sounds have become interwoven with the sounds of modern synthesis. But make no mistake: the AY3 is what you get when you build a desktop synth with the soul of a vintage 80s game console. Made by Twisted Electrons, who make iPad apps and a Eurorack module, as well, the AY3 is synth hardware powered by a music hip of yore. Inside are two 8912 chips, combined for 6-voice polyphony, which give this instrument the same distinctive sound as classic game scores and other music made on the hardware. The 8912, you see, is …

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Play a Retro-Sounding Commodore 64 Emulation in a Browser with WebSID

Dirty, low-fidelity digital sound comes to your shiny, high-fidelity digital device. Yes, WebSID is a beautifully-grungy emulation of the legendary SID synthesis in the Commodore 64. Because it runs in a Web browser, it’s also stupidly-simple to use. On computers, the keys are cleverly mapped to your keyboard, so you can jam by typing. On a phone or tablet with capable browser, you can use touch, meaning this is a bit like having an app. It sounds remarkable, all using the Web Audio API, with a nice filter, envelope controls, and delay, plus lots of authentic sound features (including properly …

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akira^8GB-on-PT1210

Amiga is Back: DJing with Two CDJ-Style “Turntables” will Amaze Your Friends

Eat your heart out, Traktor. Take that, CDJs. The dream of the 90s is alive, again, with new Amiga software. Akira Kei shares the project, which he and hoffman co-created and have dubbed the PT-1210 MK1. It mimics some CDJ-style features, but uses MOD files – a clever music format that employs samples and sequence data for truly portable, interactive music. This isn’t just a nerdy hack. It’s actually a full-blown DJ tool that could make its way through a party – provided that party’s musical tastes trended slightly retro. And since it runs on stock Amiga machines, you might …

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Mixtape Alpha: An 8-bit Stylophone Synth in a Cassette Tape, $42

Electronic instruments really are becoming like folk instruments. US$42 now buys you a small board that you can touch directly, one that’s immediate and from which anyone can coax sounds. You can jam with it, pocket it; it’s affordable and direct and playable. And it all fits in a plastic cassette tape box. The re-released Mixtape Alpha (the first run sold out) looks like a real gem. It’s a crowd-funded run this time – eschewing Kickstarter for the Portland-based Crowd Supply. An ATmega328p-powered 8-bit synth (that is, using the chip that’s also in the Arduino, among others), Mixtape Alpha has …

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Playable 8-bit Game as Promo, and Okkervil River’s Nostalgia-Drenched Wonderlands

The standards for advance promotion of an album may be getting a little … intense. Photos? Track listing? Advance music video? Streaming preview? How about a complete, playable adventure video game in your Web browser, free, with charming graphics and an original chip music soundtrack adapting the songs from the record in 8-bit form? Due out Tuesday, September 3, Okkervil River’s LP “The Silver Gymnasium” isn’t shy about its nostalgia factor. The whole record is a re-imagining of frontman Will Sheff’s 80s childhood. That might be a bit much were the browser game not so beautifully executed. Sheff created the …

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Full-On Music Geekout: Schneiders Buero and RoughTrade, for Musical Delights [Videos]

If someone were to buy you a shopping spree, letting you roam free to stash anything you wanted in your cart, you could do worse than winding up with Schneiders Buero, the Berlin-based music gear boutique. And for records, the wonderful RoughTrade in London would easily be a top pick. Let’s combine them. That’s what happens in a new series of Schneiders Buero videos, as the man Mr. Schneider himself takes to the aisles of one of the world’s best-known record shops – and his own in-store corner full of musical creations. Getting on to some specific gear demos, we …

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frauAngelico: Lo-Fi, Playable, Open Source Drum Instrument and Sequencer [Gallery, Video]

A hackable, playable drum synth not afraid to sound digital: count us in. If you liked last week’s Dam-Drum 2.0, here’s yet another grungy beauty with four triggers and knobs. The frauAngelico also features nicely-low-fidelity drum samples, performance controls, and a built-in sequencer, just like Dam-Drum 2.0. It has some tricks up its own sleeve, though, with built-in MIDI capabilities (promised for a future drum synth from Bleep), some very cool effects and performance controls, and an open source, Arduino-derived foundation for easy hacking. (The software is open source, as is the Arduino-style basis; the hardware itself appears not to …

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This holiday, take a holiday to another world, chip music style. An imagined NES dimension, here envisioned (CC-BY-SA) torley.

Cool Yule: Toy Company’s Free 8-bit/Lo-Fi Christmas Album, from Montreal

Whether you’re unwrapping presents or not, we’re spending these twenty four hours unwrapping some beautiful musical gifts: have a Yule that’s cool with fine, free/donationware releases. First in the queue… If unimaginative holiday music on endless repeat has given you the winter blues, the fine folks of Toy Company have the cure. The Montreal-based collective and 8-bit/lo-fi techno party series have brought together a number of friends with original tunes and noise and digital-fuzz-laden covers of tunes like “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night.” Meticulously-rendered, quirky music is free to hear, or thank the artists by naming your own …

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