rico

Watch a wild Loop Station performance made in one shot

Can you whistle? Can you hum? Sing? Dance? Let’s assume for a moment that the problem isn’t your musicality, because you have something to express. The point of technology and music skill is really to express that inner musicality. For a beautiful demonstration of that, watch one guy roam the streets of Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood with one piece of gear – and make an amazing song just from looping.

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figurekorg

Get simple cheap mobile music making tips in these videos

Backpack-friendly rigs on the cheap are yours – if you know how to put them together. Fortunately, we’ve got some expert help. For starters… fancy tools? No. Sync? Who needs it. Just a Korg Kaossilator and the Propellerhead Figure app are part of a little jam here from our friend Jakob Haq.

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floppies

Watch an orchestra of floppy and hard drives play Star Wars

The Internet has seen obsolete disk drives play tunes from Star Wars before – but not like this. Hacker Paweł Zadrożniak of Poland has outdone himself with a maximalist rendition of John Williams’ iconic music. Just how big is it?

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functionofmusic

Watch a beautiful meditation on the function of music

As co-host of the American public radio show Radiolab, Jad Nicholas Abumrad is usually in the business of giving you sounds on their own. You provide the mental images. But in a stimulating new film from director Mac Premo, thoughts become images as well as sounds. It’s a fitting conversation. Abumrad (a Lebanese-American, as I am) comes from a background in music composition. Premo, apart from being a filmmaker and commercial director, is an artist. Both live in New York. So what we get is a counterpoint of two imaginations running at once: sonic and visual, musical and optical. And …

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cheetahflyer

Aphex Twin uses an obscure British synth to sell new EP

If you’re looking for the nerdiest way possible to market a music album, you’re going to have a tough time one-upping Aphex Twin. The Warp Records artist has used a rare British synth as the cornerstone of the record – one with a reputation for being impossible to use – alongside a speech synth for the ZX Spectrum computer. He and his label have been teasing the resulting EP with marketing that looks like a vintage synth flyer. But that’s not even the biggest measure of how serious he is about this. Aphex Twin went so far as to rent …

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20_2

Check out this ultra-limited, monochrome “design” synth

Would we love synthesizers if they were a little, well, nuts? And, by extension, don’t we love them even more if they’re a lot crazy instead of a little? If that’s how you feel, you’ll love the 20. Everything about it screams sex appeal. Apart from luxe materials, this is finally a synth that looks like someone kidnapped Dieter Rams to do the panel design. And the “20” is a reference to how limited it’ll be – twenty black, twenty silver. But if you’re Darth Vader, you really do need those black keys with black body. I mean… why did …

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IMG_4055

A report from the futuristic Continuum Fingerboard’s first Con

The 19th Century was the century of the piano. The 20th Century, for all its innovation, still saw the piano keyboard as the dominant interface for all those new sounds. But the 21st Century finally looks to offer some choice. And so it’s high time for the Continuum Fingerboard to get its day. The instrument allows you to find pitch as you can on a piano keyboard, but with expressive continuous control both in pressure and position – letting you bend pitch and shape sound more fluidly. Now having inspired instruments like the ROLI Seaboard (and with ROLI raking in …

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reaktor

Reaktor Blocks works with modulars, Maschine, adds drums

Native Instruments keeps adding to Reaktor Blocks, the patch-and-play toolkit they’ve built atop Reaktor. And… it’s turning into kind of an awesome product in its own right. Reaktor Blocks 1.2 adds a bunch of the sort of stuff I think you or I would add to it were we in charge of the product. It’s suddenly got drums. It’s got a new sequencer that you can power with Maschine. It’s connecting via MIDI and CV to outboard gear and analog modular. In short, it’s something you actually want to play with.

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The Subharchord. Photo Gerhard Steinke.

Meet the Subharchord, subharmonic organ of the DDR

Once upon a time in East Germany, an alternate branch of the evolution of the synthesizer and the organ came into being. And now it has a second chance to capture imaginations. The Subharchord was the DDR-era invention of engineer Enrst Schreiber, first designed in 1958. It was an original production but inspired by Oskar Sala’s so-called Mixtur-Trautonium. State backing came from the unlikely goal of serving as a commercial rival to the Hammond organ, thus bringing revenue to the cash-strapped Communist nation. Unfortunately, practicality and politics intervened. But that’s not to say the Subharchord wasn’t ahead of its time …

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train

Get some inspiration in the magic of field recording

Field recording isn’t just an empty exercise. It can change how you think. Just listen to Chris Watson, who records nature for a living: “Listening in a positive way – that is, actively taking the decision to focus on certain things and reject others … stimulates my thought process. It makes me think more laterally about problem solving. It makes me think in a different way.”

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