Beatseqr: 808-Inspired DIY Step Sequencing Controller, and Making Just What You Need

God bless you, 4/4. Yes, there’s still something about that four-beat, sixteen step bar that gets toes tapping and booties shaking and floors fouring on the… floor. So, when musician and maker Steve Cooley decided he wanted more physical control, he didn’t want some perfectly generic controls, and he didn’t want rows and columns. He wanted sixteen steps and faders alongside. The result is Beatseqr, an Arduino-powered hardware controller recently spotted at the Maker Faire outside San Francisco. Because it’s just a controller, they’ve built Roxor, a Mac software step app that sends OSC, and Steppa, a Max/MSP patch, though …

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DIY Community: Digitópia Seeks World’s Best Patchers, and More Open Source Competition

What if a competition didn’t just encourage entrants to try to make a better product? What if it encouraged friendly rivalry between makers to produce entries that were also shared across the community? That’s the idea behind Digitópia’s upcoming series of competitions, now entering its third year. Digitópia itself is based in Porto, Portugal, at the Casa da Musica. But even if Portugal isn’t exactly in your neighborhood, entrants and onlookers alike can benefit from shared, open sourced contributions. In fact, even the prizes itself are open projects. The simple, anthropomorphic-looking controller above is a free project. It’s dead-simple, a …

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Artists We Love: edison is monome Instrumentalist; Look Ma, No Loops!

edison – tonka truck from edison on Vimeo. edison has become an underground sensation, a monome-playing virtuoso with soul. And now he’s just showing off. Sure, the monome lacks velocity sensitivity, but here, it remains an instrument, a 64-button sampler. It’s not so much the tool itself as the choice: edison has chosen to focus on this interface and build musical dexterity on its grid, to be a monome player. I caught the artist live at the monomeet, a get-together for the fans of the instrument, and can say he’s not just some online video wonder – if you can …

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NI’s Traktor Kontrol X1: High-Res Traktor Controller, MIDI Mode

The Traktor Kontrol X1 is an exercise in minimalism, reducing the various uses of Traktor to a few encoders and buttons and a compact form factor. But while it supports MIDI for use with any DJ software, its “high-resolution” mode – as with Maschine before it – uses a proprietary protocol. The unit will sell for US$229 when it ships in February of next year.

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Novation Releases All MIDI Details for Launchpad

Novation’s Launchpad, its affordable (< $200) "grid" controller, may have a big Ableton logo on it. But underneath, it's just a MIDI controller. Bi-colored LEDs, containing a red and green element for red, green, and amber output (amber = red+green), can be triggered using simple MIDI note and control messages. That means, whether you're looking forward to Max for Live or you're sequencing in a tracker or writing Processing sketches, you can use the Launchpad just like any other MIDI controller. One of the things I thought was a major demerit for Akai was the fact that they failed to ...

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Compact Foot Controller Mod: KORG nanoKEY for Your Feet

Compact MIDI controllers for your fingers are plentiful, but tiny foot controllers are far fewer. map~map aka Marcus Fischer decided to build his own by performing a simple but clever mod of the KORG nanoKEY. Now, personally, I find the nanoKEY the one product in the nano series that’s lacking; it feels more like a QWERTY keyboard than anything resembling a MIDI keyboard. But Marcus transforms it into the world’s most compact and portable foot controller. You may have to be somewhat delicate with your toes, but he says the solution works perfectly! i’ve been wanting a compact usb midi …

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First Hands-on: Novation’s New $199 Launchpad Grid Controller for Ableton Live

A monome-like grid controller built for Live, shipping in November for $199 – and I’ve got a first hands-on look with the hardware. The feature that makes Ableton Live Ableton Live has always been its Session View, an array of Lego-like blocks of music triggering samples and patterns. In the grand tradition of the MPC, mapping hardware controls that make music non-linear has been a major theme of computer music, leading to the monome and the Tenori-On. Usually, consumer gear has only combined these with traditional drum pads, knobs, or faders. Enter the Novation Launchpad. It’s $199. It’s a grid …

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NI Teases New DJ Controller in Richie Hawtin Maschine + Traktor Video; Twitter App

It’s Richie Hawtin Watch time! The latest: NI teases an upcoming DJ controller by sharing video of Richie playing it in a club. The surprise: it’s actually what he’s doing with Maschine that seems most interesting to me. And if you recall the Twitter DJ app that he promised in the spring, it’s here, ready to use so long as you have Traktor and a Mac. (If you’re reading, Richie, do let me know if I’ve gotten my facts straight…)

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Studiologic Numa Nero: Finally, a Serious, High-End 88-Key Software Controller?

There’s a curious distinction in hardware keyboards. You’ll find plenty of keyboards geared for performance with software at the low-end to mid-range. But if you want a keyboard with uncompromising durability and action – and you’re willing to pay more and lift more weight – those choices suddenly disappear. Suddenly, you have to buy a workstation keyboard or something with built-in sounds or even built-in speakers. What if you want a really uncompromising keyboard to use with software and nothing else? It’s almost as though manufacturers assume “serious” musicians want to gig with built-in sounds on a standalone keyboard. That’s …

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Also New From Korg: A Pretty Stage Piano, A Better WaveDrum

KORG has other new product announcements, and I think both are going to be big hits for them. The SV-1 stage piano falls well into the category of “why didn’t anyone else do this first?” First, it looks beautiful – finally, a keyboard designed for the stage that actually looks good onstage. (I don’t know, maybe manufacturers assume us keyboardists are ugly?) Second, it combines all the sounds many gigging keyboardists need, instead of an odd assortment that covers some bases but not all, or overkill workstation keyboards that do too much and get too complex. Third, it’s finally a …

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