arc2

Reinventing the Wheel: Engineering arc2, Digital Instrument from monome Creator [Gallery, Interview]

Engineering a production instrument is a kind of study in compromise. For mass-produced musical instruments, it’s a fusion of practicality and economics, made affordable by a mass-market supply chain. What makes the monome creations special isn’t just that they look beautiful; the art isn’t aesthetic only. They are uncommonly uncompromising. They’re designed in such a way that tells a story about materials, one that weaves connections between suppliers – many of them local suppliers – and focuses the experience of the device on the interface. They have the kind of obsessive attention to detail associated with the finest acoustic musical …

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machinedrum

Get Inside the Musical Brain of Machinedrum [Free Ableton Downloads, Listening]

“Blah, blah, I use Acme MusicStation Pro because it sounds completely dope – I love that compressor.” Okay. Before we begin, you’re not alone. Yes, a lot of artist profile endorsements, even some well-meaning ones, can wind up being rather useless. But at the risk of being redundant – since many of you get their mailing list – what’s special about a new set of profiles and downloads from Ableton is, you have a rare chance to dig deeper into the world of some musicians, learning about their techniques and approach in a way you can apply to your work. …

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Not Just Sampling, Studying: Frente Cumbiero and Maschine, 1.8 and Human Upgrades

Yes, the tools are better and shinier – but there is a method to what musicians are doing with them. Maschine 1.8 arrives today, a bit early, a free update. I looked at this release when we went hands-on with the updated software and new color hardware. Whether or not you get the new controller, it features a new transient follower and tube and tape saturation effects, improvements to pitch and time shift, and better file handling. You also get a free serial for NI’s Massive synth. This is a good thing. But let’s back up and talk about what …

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stvincentpedals

The Harder Side of St. Vincent’s Live Rig: Custom Rack, Eventide Stompboxes, MIDI

St. Vincent is doing some amazing live shows, so it’s little wonder that a look inside the software rig and approach to computer-enhanced performance got some attention Friday. Eagle-eyed readers, though, weren’t only satisfied hearing from the band about the role of Ableton Live and Reason. That expansive rack of stompboxes, including some of my personal favorites from New Jersey-based maker Eventide, clearly matters, too. In comments, there’s a full explanation of what you’re seeing. As Dan writes: Mike Vegas of Nice Rack Canada (formerly Nice Rack NYC) built that board for Annie. The MasterMind provides switching for the analog …

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How St. Vincent Plays Live, ‘Through the Looking Glass’ [Video Behind-the-Scenes]

At the end of the day, what motivates extra technical preparation is the same thing that drives musicians to practice scales or work long hours in the studio: that extra discipline can pay off in real freedom of expression. So, it’s moving to hear St. Vincent talk about musicality as the end point for onstage computer-based coordination. In the behind-the-scenes video, you can see how the band combines Ableton Live, a loaded rack of instruments in Propellerhead Reason (presumably running via ReWire into Live), and a whole big mess of pedals. Interestingly, MIDI triggers for those pedals helped focus on …

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The Future’s Sonic History, And 14-Year-Old Dreams: In The Studio with Matthew Dear [Video]

A Studio Visit with Matthew Dear presented by AIAIAI and Ghostly International from Ghostly International on Vimeo. What does the future sound like? For musicians using technology, that question can resonate on two levels. It can be an attraction to imagined futuristic worlds, and the connection of synths and gadgets to that world. And, even each time we sit down to make music, it can be a dream of our own future self – if not the rockstar, that future self who has finished this track that right now is just an idea or a feeling. In a film that’s …

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badhotel

In Bad Hotel, Addictive iOS Game, Composing Music to Tapped Interactions [Behind the Scenes]

What if a game made you both player and remixer/composer? What if that music plugged into your gameplay brain just like the interactive elements? This week, we get another try at just that – and find out how the whole thing works behind the scenes, with free software you can use, too. If you’re like me, you’ve loved the soaring, gaslight-style music soundtrack, as it makes its sweep across a film, swelling at just the right moments. Or you’ve closed your eyes and enjoyed the frozen narrative of a great score or great record as it washes over you. But …

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Can make the biggest acts' live shows tick - but can also rock a live performance like she's just landed from a flying saucer. Check. Laura Escudé, achieving superhuman levels of music-technological knowhow, can still share what she's learned with us Earthlings.

Live Music Tools at the Bleeding Edge: Laura Escudé, From Herbie Hancock Collabs to Solo (Live Berlin, Sat)

It’s one thing to talk about tools. It’s quite another to put them into action, to make them withstand the rigors of creative process and idiosyncracy, let alone the torture test of touring. Laura Escudé is as deep in the trenches, on a day-to-day basis, as just about anyone on the planet. The music tech guru has worked with some of the world’s best-known artists, bending technology to their imaginative desires and world-trotting live shows. (Think Herbie Hancock, Bon Iver, and Cirque du Soleil, among others.) But she’s still found time to develop her own, unique sonic voice and live …

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Mostly Robot, Behind the Scenes: When Electronic Masters Form a Band [Video, Panel Audio]

It began as a way to demonstrate Native Instruments technology. But watch the video above of Mostly Robot, and you’ll see what happens when some well-loved solo electronic stars work to form a band. This isn’t just about some cool toys: it’s about really playing electronics as an instrument. And as the Internet debates what it means to play, they ask a question that could be even more important: what does it mean to play together? Mostly Robot is an “all-star band” made up of some really amazing people. Jamie Lidell is known as the Warp artist who has gone …

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musicbranches

Music in the Browser: A Soundtrack from a Crowd, A Keyboard for a Mouse

Slowly but surely, the web audio API creeps toward being something that’s usable in more than one browser at a time. In the meantime, we get a glimpse of how generative music could be a part of what’s to come. It’s a long way from those horrid, looping audio files that plagued the Web in its heady 1990s adolescence. Today on Create Digital Motion, I look at the aesthetics of crowd-sourcing in work by Aaron Koblin and Chris Milk – and how the view of the significance of the crowd has changed over time. Substitute “music” for “motion,” and you’ll …

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