Once, weird instruments only made the rounds at exclusive academic conferences. Now, they go viral on Facebook. Such is the case with Collidoscope, the creation of a UK-based mixing and mastering service (out of London label Sunlightsquare Records) and Queen Mary researchers – Ben Bengler and Fiore Martin. It’s a massive tangible table-top interface to a granular instrument.
Techno has become folk art, popular music idiom. Yet it’s still often viewed through the machines that first made it. What if you could give it some sort of physical, mechanical form? That’s what Graham Dunning has done with Mechanical Techno. And in a new video (produced by Michael Forrest), he shows how it’s done.
We covered Andy Grobengieser’s lovely Minimoog LEGO kit proposal. But perhaps the iconic synth keyboard just isn’t open-ended enough in terms of sound design. You want kids to play with the wide sonic palette of the legendary Moog Model 55. Now, they can.
Okay, OK Go fans – now there’s synth hardware as quirky and charming as the band’s Internet-viral synth-pop. We got our hands on a very limited edition KORG volca sample made especially for OK Go. This is the battery-powered sample unit with grungy digital sound playback and loads of knobs for manipulating sound, plus the usual touch strip step sequencer for making patterns. It’s fun to play, a unique collectors’ item even if you just want an extra sample playback instrument around. And the built-in samples can be terrific, as you can hear in our playlist.
Touchplates are so in this year. Yes, it’s a testament to the legacy of synthesizer pioneer Don Buchla: electronic musicians evidently long for something new. And the latest is a glimpse of something found in our news tip inbox. It’s called “HYVE” and it’s a hybrid synthesizer, combining a number of ideas about pitch arrangement into a single touch-plate layout. There’s a keyboard. There’s a hexagonal pitch array. And there’s a heck of a lot of polyphony. And… well, it’s best to just watch the video:
Okay, we’ve had pirates and Star Wars and cute houses and such. It’s about time synth lovers got the LEGO set they deserve. Andy Grobengieser is a music pro and LEGO enthusiast out of New York, and he’s got one heck of a Minimoog set designed. (Thanks for telling us about this on Twitter, Andy.) You can even help make it a for-sale set from LEGO – hopefully the first of a whole synth line, if we’re lucky.
If you’re using Ableton Live, you simply need to know about Sonic Bloom. It’s like a spa-slash-university for your Live-using self: you’ll come out refreshed, smarter, and even a bit better looking. Creator Madeleine Bloom has been busy. The site, at the age of three this month, now has five hundred tips, tutorials, and informational articles on Ableton Live. (And, occasionally, you’ll pick up an Oblique Strategy, or two – like fill every beat.) There are some ninety freebies, too – from Live Packs to skins and colors to keep your Live set looking spiffy. For instance, just this week, …
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 …
Are you in a warranty-voiding mood? Have you got a soldering iron? The KORG volca bass is already a nice enough little synth. But mix in a modification that adds frequency modulation to the filter, and you get some delicious, acid good times. Skip ahead to the end of the video above to hear what we mean.
“I’m the operator with my pocket calculator.” No — like, actually. HoustonTracker 2 runs on the TI-82/83/83+/84+ Texas Instruments graphing pocket calculators – the kind you probably had to buy for your high school math class. And it doesn’t just make the calculator into a sequencer. All the sounds come straight out of the calculator itself, thanks to some gorgeous-sounding 1-bit noises. (Who needs those 15 or so extra bits, anyway? This is beautiful.) What do I mean? Just watch: