Goodies for KORG monotribe, monotron, from Japanese Overlays to MIDI Mods

monotribe, in limited silver and gold. Photo by Marsha Vdovin for CDM. It’s a beautiful thing when music hardware improves with age. And lately, that’s been what’s happening to Korg’s monotribe and monotron. Over the past few months, we’ve seen a major update from Korg for the monotribe that makes its sequencing functions easier and more useful. To save you the trouble of navigating the Korg Japan site – a difficulty for those of us who don’t speak Japanese – here on CDM, we’ve got a number of downloads for saving monotron patches, and the Japan-exclusive overlay for the monotribe …


Tetrafol, Sound Object by monome + machineproject + Fol Chen, in Videos, Sounds, and Interview

LA-based bang Fol Chen (Asthmatic Kitty records) wanted to go beyond the computer as the playback and manipulation device for their music. So they worked with collaborators to invent a solution. In a new video, sounds, and an interview, we can share some of how this came into being. Built with the monome creators (Brian Crabtree and Kelli Cain) and LA research and experimentation center Machine Project, the Tetrafol is a custom, pyramidal sound device. The object warps Fol Chen’s music using gestural manipulation of playback, but can also use your own samples. And with open-source circuit and firmware, the …


Korg Releases monotribe Drum Schematics; Mod and Breadboard Away (Resources, Thoughts)

Photo: Marsha Vdovin. As they did with the monotron synthesizer, Korg has quietly released schematics for its the analog drum synthesis portion of its monotribe synth and step-sequencing rhythm machine. You just see the bits that make the drum sounds, but that’s the interesting and modifiable part. In order to grab the download, you’ll need to fill out a form with your name and address, saying you acknowledge you’re voiding the warranty and that you won’t turn around and sue Korg. That address doesn’t get used for anything, though, so long as you uncheck the “newsletter” box. Once you do, …


Reed Ghazala and Circuit Sound Artists in Videos, as NYC’s Bent Festival Gets Underway

Circuit bending has a reputation as involving far-out, unstructured experimental noise, of real violence and distortion done to instruments. And there’s probably a place for that. But Reed Ghazala, circuit bending’s spiritual father and electronic practitioner, takes a more organic, evolutionary approach. Reed recently told me about his favorite application of his iPad, apart from exploring new experimental soundscapes with tools like the brilliant granular app Curtis. He brings it with him into the forest, using GPS for location, and tracking plants and animals, identifying the sounds of bird and beasts. In our electronic ecosystem, fowl and beast are finding …


Korg Monotribe: Questions and Answers, More Details

Korg’s Monotribe became the surprise hit of gear announcements at this month’s Messe trade show. It’s little, it’s cute, and it seems entirely focused on synthesis and pattern-making fun. Plenty of videos have circulated, but odds are you haven’t seen the Japanese-language demo above (well, Japanese titles – the video itself speaks the international language of synth). It’s a nice jam on Monotribe and the recently-released Kaoss Pad Quad. Korg’s James Saveja answers some questions for CDM, rapid-fire style. CDM: Can you describe the drum voices? James: Drum voices are all analog. A nice punchy snare, kick and hat part. …


Elegant, Simple Soundmakers Handmade by Brian McNamara

Dead-simple, focused on one task, the Wicks Looper reminds us why we liked looping. And I love the handmade gift case he made to go with it – an idea worth duplicating with other gear. All images courtesy Brian McNamara. For all that latest plug-in may perform every kind of synthesis ever, much of electronic sound boils down to a few basic techniques. Perhaps that’s part of the appeal of DIY electronics: it’s a chance to do less. What strikes me about Brian McNamara’s work is how elegant it is: simple boxes interconnect with basic functions. These are digital instruments …


Create Analog Music: All-Analog Kick Percussion Joins Compact Boutique Range

Image courtesy Abstract Data. Rockstar sparkle not included. Operating small runs out of his basement, Justin Owen is on a mission to bring his idiosyncratic, all-analog sounds to musicians in affordable, portable form. “Affordable” and “portable” often aren’t associated with analog, though even players as big as KORG have gotten in on the game recently, with KORG’s monotron. Now that musicians are spoiled for choice in “things making noise with numbers or electricity,” though, I think there’s added pressure. For lack of a better way to put it, you have to be interesting. And Justin’s circuits are indeed interesting. The …


Batteries and Suitcase Music: Chris Carter’s No-MIDI, No-Keyboard Musical Rig

How much can you do with a suitcase full of soundmakers? Quite a lot, as it happens. The 20th Century gave sound two great achievements. One was the successful modeling of filtering in digital software form. The other was the production of the electronic filter, first in quartz crystal form. Today, all of those advancements are available in cheap, often battery-powered devices that fit in the palm of your hand. Spurred by yesterday’s discussion of sonic mobility and battery power, Sasa Rasa points us to the recent work of Chris Carter (of Throbbing Gristle and Chris & Cosey fame). Chris …


Korg monotron: Pocketable, $85 Real-Analog Synth with MS Filter; Hackable?

Image courtesy KORG, USA. Looking for all the world like it was inspired by the Gakken SX-150 synth, but packed with Korg analog electronics, the monotron has to be one of the biggest surprise announcements from a major vendor in recent memory. The tiny has the filter from the classic KORG MS-10 and MS-20 and is called a “real analog” synth. It’s also likely to be very hackable, though we’ll know more about that soon. I think we’ve found the stocking stuffer of 2010, and it’s only March. Pricing: MSRP US$85 Availability: August 2010 (note: this is official information from …


Scenes from Amsterdam’s Music Inventors: When Circuits, Code, and Concept Meet

Making your own instruments may not be for everyone, but getting to witness the bleeding edge of musical DIY can give real insight into how electronic music performance can work, and what matters in sound. Last week, the famous sound research center in Amsterdam STEIM generously hosted an edition of Handmade Music, inviting inventors to make noises and performances with their self-made creations and to talk about their work. Ben Terwel, one of the artists, shot the video above. It includes discussion in both Dutch and English, but if you don’t speak Dutch, you’ll still get the gist of a …