b2fm4l

Take Ableton sets Back to the Future with a time machine effect

It’s the future – this time, for real. Yes, today, the 21st of October 2015, is the destination “future” in the Back to the Future movies. (Photoshopping created some false alarms on other dates.) And that’s time to look back. Ha, remember 1985? An arcane format called “MIDI” was king. (Kids, ask your parents.) The big synthesizers came from Roland, KORG, Moog, and Yamaha. The most sought-after computer was from a company called Apple. People made electro and dance music hits using mono, analog synthesizers and and digital pads and samples and deep basslines, sought after the creations of the …

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303

Sync that 303: One little box does MIDI to DIN sync

Put some actual “computer-controlled” in the 303. The folks at British maker Kenton have a way of churning out little boxes that do things people need. MIDI Thru, check. Connecting those USB gizmos that lack MIDI, check. Plugging MIDI to your modular, roger. So, to that, add a single box that translates MIDI to DIN Sync (sync24) – and back again. DIN Sync, as developed by Roland, is suddenly news again because of a rekindled interest in vintage gear. If you want to synchronize a TR-808 or a TB-303, DIN Sync is what you need. The Kenton D-SYNC isn’t the …

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eyewitnessnews

Watch a 1986 TV story on house music, plus too many documentaries

In our last episode of “watching things on the Internet instead of doing real work,” we were enjoying a full-length 90s electronic music documentary and a bunch of music videos. Well, here we are at yet another weekend. And hopefully we can give you some video watching pleasure yet again, in those moments when you aren’t, well, hopefully, making music. Leading the pack is a 1986 story from Chicago TV news back when house music was in its early days, as spotted by Dancing Astronauts. And it’s an astounding document, featuring Danny “Sweet-D” Wilson, Farley “Jackmaster” Funk, Steve “Silk” Hurley, …

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roltr808ad

Celebrate 808 day by building a beat live with Egyptian Lover

Happy 8th of August, everybody – that means it’s 808 day, of course. So, to celebrate, let’s flash back to a 2012 video of Egyptian Lover assembling a beat in his hotel room. The LA rapper/producer was a big part of the early hip hop and electro roots of 808 use. There’s something that still resonates in the beautiful simplicity of this Roland box. I’m struck when I hear it and watch in use that there’s something that seems futuristic – cold, even, but in a Stanley Kubrick 2001 sort of way. Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to …

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horner

Watch James Horner Play Piano, Talk Overnight ‘Aliens’ Climax

On a very personal note, I’m saddened this week to learn of the news of the death of the great film composer James Horner. See him talk about his approach to scoring Field of Dreams at top for some of his approach. Best of all, you get to see him at the piano. When I was a kid, Horner was one of the people who inspired me to investigate composition. I was entranced with the sweeping romanticism of the Star Trek II score that was his big break – an aching, yearning, but dreamy vision of the future, filled with …

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reface

Is Yamaha Finally Joining the Retro Synth Party?

Well, you saw this one coming – if probably a lot earlier. With the dance music market growing and synth fever spreading, Japanese giant Yamaha seems to have some new keyboard up its sleeves. In a teaser video today, the first of a series, Yamaha promises something called “reface.” Updated: there’s more. New Yamaha Synths Will Include “Totally Alien” New Technology, Says Interview The video shows a blurry show of a Yamaha CS-80, the one synth mentioned by name in the artist videos. And there are keys involved (from the spread of the hands in the one artist video, they …

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hoff

8-bit Remake of Hasselhoff’s True Survivor is the Best Thing We’ve Watched This Week

Okay, we hit some sort of nerd singularity just now. Start with David Hasselhoff’s cheeky, cheesy “True Survivor.” Remake it on the 8-bit SidTracker 64 app. You’ll swear all of this actually happened in the 80s, even if it didn’t. Retrorgasm. And yes, this gem is included in the app. Musical arrangement: Fredrik Segerfalk Graphics by Vanja Utne: http://twitter.com/CheesePirateEq2 Video and extra GFX by Moppe SidTracker programming by Daniel Larsson Please roll down your windows and ghetto-blast this one this weekend.

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ST64_screen1

SidTracker 64 Puts Retro Chip Music Creation on Your iPad

Pity the iPad. Unlike the Commodore 64, Apple’s wundertablet doesn’t come with a state-of-the-art SID synthesizer chip inside. Well, now emulation solves that problem. SidTracker 64 is both an emulation of the SID sound chip on the Commodore computer line, plus a workstation for arranging your own songs. And it’s already got some songs to get you started, like the classic “Commando” by Rob Hubbard, which you can play or remix. It’s loaded with all the usual production extras. And don’t let the “tracker” name put you off: you can play in real time, which naturally works well on the …

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vintagedrumelements

Add Classic 80s Yamaha Drum Machine Sounds to Your Set, Free

Ready for some poppy, retro Cocteau Twins feeling in your Mac or Windows plug-in collection? The aptly-named “Vintage Drum Elements” does the job for free. The sound source for the plug-in drum machine is the classic Yamaha RX5, with its distinctive, synthetic sound sets. And while this is advertised for your synthpop and chillwave 80s fans, you get a range of cutting timbres you could easily apply to something else – not just Depeche Mode throwbacks. There’s also more than one kit. Four basic drum selections are included, including a harsher “synthetic” option and and “ethnic” variant, plus some really …

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The 100m is probably a more appropriate model for whatever is coming from Roland next, but check out the stunning industrial design on the original System 100. This might inspire a custom Eurorack cabinet with keyboard, or two. Photo (CC-BY Notreshuggie.

The Last Time Roland Did Modular: The System 100

With widespread reports that Roland will soon have a new modular product, it’s worth remembering: Roland has done modular before. That legacy carried the name System-100. The original 100 semi-modular lineup of the late 70s, and the Synthesizer-101, might actually be more relevant today than it was when it first shipped. The clever concept here was to put a full-featured monosynth with a keyboard at the center, then add modules around it. That seems to make loads of sense to me, as it creates a playable instrument that can nonetheless be patched for more creative sound design options. The full …

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