Wanted: Alternative Music Controllers or Software to Overcome Disabilities

One of the reasons to look beyond conventional controllers for music (like the ubiquitous, piano-style black-and-white keyboard) is that these controllers have a certain range of expression. But these constraints also impact people with different physical abilities. The piano assumes a certain kind of physical facility, and even as it makes playing easy for people with that facility, it prevents others from being expressive. Case in point: reader Niels Schuddeboom has been looking for alternative controllers or software that would allow him to overcome cerebral palsy: I am looking for a solution to make it easier for me to play …

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Ask CDM: Configuring Windows for Maximum Performance

Most musicians will be waiting some time before running Vista, so if you can’t upgrade to a new OS, upgrade the OS you’ve got. Our friend Brad, aka Internet indie singer-songwriter star Brad Sucks, is getting into laptop performance and wants some tips for tuning Windows XP. He writes: I’d be interested in asking your readers how they set up their laptops for live performance OS-wise. I’ve been giving some thought to doing a dual boot WinXP install. So I can have one install as my desktop, mail, etc. And another one with say XPlite or nLite with Live set …

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What are Your 2007 Musical Resolutions?

Happy New Year’s, everyone. It’s been a lazy, rainy day here in New York opening up 2007, but I’m contentedly looking forward to what for me, at least, promises to be a good year for making music. Sure, forming New Year’s Resolutions is a pretty arbitrary activity, but I say any excuse that lets you add to your resolve is a good one. Here are a few resolutions that come to mind: Play out more: I’ve been in a cycle, personally, of going back to develop material and ideas and get out of the playing-out mode, and I’m ready to …

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Ask CDM: Switching to iMac for Music, Novation Keyboards

I get a regular stream of Q&A in my inbox, so as a new feature on CDM I’ll be answering selected questions for all our readers. Today, we’ve got a new Mac switcher wondering if an iMac will suit his needs, and a reader who wonders why he hasn’t been able to find any of those Novation keyboards I keep raving about. iMac: Sufficient for Music? Michael writes: “I have been running Ableton Live and “[Propellerhead] Reason on a very outdated 800MHz [Pentium III] Gateway which I’ve owned for over five years. I’m finally ready to purchase a new computer …

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Ask CDM: Best Live Headphones?

Okay, CDM readers. We’ve got a dual challenge this week: what headphones are perfect for gigging, perfect for DJing, and make a perfect birthday present? Reader-turned-CDM columnist atariboy writes: I am looking for some good headphones for my girlfriends (jemgirl) birthday later this week. Around the $100 mark. Will be used for DJing/gigging. The Sony mdrv700dj’s seem to fit the bill. What else should I look into? Thanks! -atariboy I was going to suggest the Sony headphones, assuming you want the DJ-style design. (If not, there are plenty of classic headphones, like the Sennheiser HD280s; I’ve used my Sennheisers on …

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VJ Day Mailbag: What VJ Software to Use?

In celebration of tonight’s monthly Eyewash party here in NYC, CDM brings you a day of VJ coverage. And yes, I’ll be on tonight, so New Yawkas, stop by and say hi. To get things rolling, we’ve got a letter (cue the Official Mailbag Theme Song). Wally writes: I saw that you are going to be VJing soon, and I wanted to ask what tools you use to VJ, and also, what is your approach? I’ve been asked by some friends of mine to VJ a gig of theirs on July 9th, and while I’ve played around with a couple …

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Mailbag Monday: Mastering on SONAR instead of Pro Tools

Pierre Hilaire writes: Thank you for taking my e-mail. I am a Recording Engineer who has [Cakewalk] SONAR Producer Edition Software. Can I Master songs on SONAR? I know the ideal mastering tool is Pro Tools, but how about SONAR? This sounded like an important opportunity to correct some common misinformation — namely, that Pro Tools is the only “real” digital audio tool. Secondly, mastering, which traditionally meant making a final 2-track stereo mix from which you could produce a stereo record (though a master these days might be in surround), is a process that can be done in any …

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CDM Asks: Your Favorite Video Game Scores

Once upon a time, “composers” wrote only for Classical instruments. The greatest found ways of pushing their instruments — even violin pizzicato was once avant-garde extended technique. Now, of course, composers are writing for film, digital media, multimedia, robotic guitars, cell phones, and yes, video games. While Hollywood movies have remained conservative in their taste for original music, games have become a new field for exploration. So, while we’re on the topic of orchestral concerts of game music, I’m curious: what video game scores do you think are the most original and inspirational? 8-bit or 64-bit, I’ll compile your faves …

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CDM Asks: Recording Any App (Windows and Mac)?

You the readers remain my best resource, so here goes: What are your favorite tools for recording audio from applications that don’t have a recording/render-to-disk facility? I’ve been stunned when I’ve seen Windows users suggest that you wire up a recorder, bounce out through the analog outs on the computer, and then re-record. Nonsense! On the Mac, we have four great options: $$: Use Ambrosia’s WireTap Pro $$: Use Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack (my favorite option) FREE: Route audio from app to app with Jack (also possible on Linux) FREE: Route audio from app to app with Cycling 74’s Soundflower …

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CDM Asks: Show Us Your Workspace

Creating the ultimate workspace for digital music creation isn't easy. You need the right mood — available liquor cabinet and copious candles lining the piano is always a good start. And you need a great desk and office chair. Right now, I'm thinking about finding a great new, ergonomic chair — see Joy of Tech's clever analysis of office chair options, and what I really want, of course, which is the Herman Miller Aeron. CDM asks its readers: what's your workspace look like? What's your furniture of choice? And what workspace do you dream of? Send us photos via email …

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