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Game Meets Album: Behind the Music and Design of the iPad Indie Blockbuster Swords & Sworcery

Jim Guthrie was a rockstar long before the iPad was. Paired with pixel-intense artist Craig D. Adams (aka Superbrothers) and the co-design and coding effort of a crack team of video game “wizards” at the indie studio capy, he’s made a soundtrack that’s destined to be a gaming classic. But if you don’t want to play it, you can still listen to it. And if you’re playing it, you may find that it feels as though you’re listening to it, and gazing into its artwork. From the moment you tap to launch it, Swords & Sworcery plunges you into a …

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Monday Morning Distractions: Bach on Talkbox, Ravel on Theremin, Odd Keys

From Wendy Carlos to the Swingle Singers, artists have proven over and over again that great music is great music, regardless of instrumentation. (Music historians would be just as quick to point out that most Classical performances don’t really match the original instrumentation, anyway.) So, since it’s Monday and we’re due for a distraction, we have from reader Jack Stratton a delightful rendition of Bach on TalkBox. (BachBox?) Something’s in the air, as our friend Synthtopia also shares novel instrumentations. Here, it’s Ravel: Trois beaux oiseaux du paradis by Maurice Ravel – performed by thereminist, Randy George and the Gaudete …

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Handmade Music, From 3D to Wires, on October 10 in NYC, Austin, or Your Workbench

Handcrafted CD covers for records and mixes, meditative music made in game engines, handheld chip music creations, analog light synths and drone labs, VL-Tone classical music, and more surprises are coming to New York on Sunday, October 10. (Austin, Texas gets its own event, making noisemakers and ring modulators.) We promise music you can dance to, music you can’t, and tapas (at least in NYC). And on October 10, a little secret will finally be revealed to Manhattan and the world. If you’re a citizen of The Internet, we’ve got lots of sounds and creations to explore here on The …

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Teenage Engineering Reveals OP-1 Details: $799, Beta, Features

Few synths in memory have created the amount of pre-launch buzz that the Teenage Engineering OP-1 has. Looking like a futuristic, luxury spiritual successor to the Casio VL in its compact brick form factor, the OP-1 combines computer-like synthesis features with a unique approach to virtual tape sampling and step sequencing, all viewed on its high-resolution OLED screen. We’ve been covering it for some time, and got some hands-on at NAMM in January. It’s even the surprise star of a Swedish House Mafia music video, above. (It’s perhaps a non-speaking role – I need to verify if there are any …

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Operator-1 Details: The Casio VL-Tone of the 21st Century, Plus the Synth Alarm Clock!

For lovers of the simplicity and fun of the Casio VL series, a successor seems is finally here. The Operator-1 (OP-1), even in prototype form, has us hot and bothered more than anything we’ve seen recently. We’ve been able to snag some additional details. MusicRadar got a video with the creators, though you won’t learn anything new from that. In the interview, Teenage Electronics are just as tight-lipped as they were on the website, and the video “demo” is basically watching the OLED screen light up inside a glass case, with no sound – the prototype just isn’t ready to …

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8-bit and Retro Holiday Cheer: Advent Calendar Albums, Casio and Coneheads

Kasio Kristmas from Jim McKenzie on Vimeo. Feeling a warm, holiday glow – or is that just nostalgia for simpler times, times when less digital information was needed to capture sound? Bits were real bits; sampling rates were low enough you could count to the top of them. Kids walked uphill through the snow both ways to buy a new Casio keyboard, and they didn’t yet believe Nintendo’s R.O.B. was a gimmick. They had none of your Grand Theft Audio nonsense: they hummed along to annoying tunes and watched sprites dance across the screen like a derezzed Sugar Plum Fairy. …

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Retro 80s Casio Keyboard Ad from Allmusic

Allmusic.com’s blog is doing vintage music-related ads. A true classic: this ad for Casio keyboards. Grab an MT-100 and some hair product, hit the NYC subway, crank your volume, and pick up trashy 80s women! The NYPD will nod in approval. Wow, now I know how to supplement my income. Retro Ad of the Week Thanks to Zach Steiner for this one! Just don’t circuit bend that MT-100 — then you might run afoul of the policeman.

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Make Chats with Bender Maestro Gijs Gieskes

Circuit Bent Casio SK 1 from Gijs on Vimeo. Note: we are temporarily having problems with Vimeo’s embedded video. (So is MAKE, evidently, so it’s not our fault!) Click through to see the video, or enjoy the lovely garbled characters if they’re there. Regular followers of the music tech blogs know the wild and wonderful work of bender/inventor Gijs Gieskes (here or all over here), in which Casio keyboards get massive mechanical add-ons and Sega games become fuzzy, distorted video art. Phillip Torrone writes us to let us know MAKE has taken a closer look at the artist: In the …

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Kermit the Frog Casio EP-30 Keyboard

It’s easier being green than you thought. Dig the fantastic green sharp and flat keys on this Casio EP-30, a kid-friendly variant on the legendary (okay, maybe just infamous) Casio SK-1 sampling keyboard. Our friend Bohus Blahut covered this on Retro Thing, but I missed it during various travels. It’s worth repeating here for one reason and one reason alone: it should inspire you to paint the keys on your MIDI keyboard. (Speaking of which, anyone got some good tips for that? Sounds like a tutorial wants to happen there. Nothing worse than peeling painted keys.) As a keyboard, otherwise, …

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From the Forums: Beauty of the Simple, Portable Casio VL-1

How attitudes change. Once viewed as cheap and cheezy, portable, battery-powered Casio keyboards suddenly seem kinda cool in retrospect. The Casio VL-1, perhaps the most infamous of the Casiotone line, featured mechanical beats, paper-thin sounds, and buttons that barely qualified as a keyboard, and doubled as a calculator. Now, not only do those very points make it sound like more fun, but the whole design starts to look more inspired than gimmicky. Battery power? A simple interface? An ultra-portable design that fits in a case? Why aren’t more synth designers thinking this way? What’s stopping Roland, for example, from giving …

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