Will Your Next Controller Be 3D Printed? Meet Adafruit’s Open Source Grid

The original monome project did more than just create a novel piece of hardware for music. It established a design language for what essential digital interfaces might be, in the deceptively simple form of its light up grid of buttons. It’s not so interesting to just copy that hardware, then. More compelling are efforts to extract the elements of the design in ways that can be turned into new things. Adafruit has been slowly building up a nice set of building blocks clearly inspired by monome. Trellis is a system for making the grids component work – lighting the buttons …

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Watch the Wonders of Grids, as monome Makers Defend Minimal Design

As electronic musical instruments have evolved, it’s been surprisingly easy to point to specific designs that lead others. Creators do often reach the same cluster of ideas at about the same time. But the specifics of how those ideas catch on have very often coalesced around one iconic instrument. Bill Hemsath’s layout, with Bob Moog, for the Minimoog became the standard for monosynth keyboards with knobs. Roger Linn’s design for velocity-sensitive pads, and eventually the MPC 4×4 grid, became the standard for drum machines. And Brian Crabtree and Kelli Cain I think deserve credit for making the 8×8 grid the …

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Roger Linn’s Linnstrument Could Finally Make Grids Expressive for Music [Hands On]

Roger Linn is largely to blame for the fact that so many instruments have grids of pads on them. He was the first to use custom touch-sensitive drum pads on drum machines as we now know them, and the rectangular arrays of pads – first on the Linn9000, but particularly on Akai’s break-out hit, the 4×4 MPC60 – became an iconic and popular interface. But now, he has a design that might change the way you think about grids. The problem is, input methods for digital instruments are still famously limited. Our computers themselves can produce astounding ranges of sound, …

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Bitwig Studio Arrives Today; What Can You Expect?

The long wait for the new production software Bitwig Studio has created anticipation and exasperation in equal measure – people were excited, people were impatient; some drooled over every tiny feature details, some dismissed them and said they’d wait until it shipped. But the wait is over; today is actually the day Bitwig Studio is something you can download, try out, and buy. It’s not a beta; this is it. 299€ / US$399 buys you the full download version; a demo is available. (Boxed versions cost more.) So, what can you expect on today as release day? Well, at least …

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Control, Shortcuts for Ableton Starting at $99: A Look at the New AKAI APC Line

For any tool that has “live” in the name, physical control will always be important. And so even with a broad market for controllers targeting Ableton’s flagship software, now including the slick Push hardware from Ableton themselves, AKAI’s re-vamped APC line earned intense interest when it debuted at Musikmesse this month. Let’s make sense of what the new APCs can do and how you might choose between models. I got some hands-on time at Messe, and now even in advance of a review of finished, shipping hardware, it’s worth teasing out the breakdown of the 2014 APC line. The original …

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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford vs Ableton Push

This is … real. This is really the famed “crack-smoking” mayor of Toronto, laying down a beat live with Ableton Live and Ableton Push. And it’s definitely not an official Ableton artist endorsement, nor is Rob Ford a certified Ableton trainer. (Though if he does want to consider another career…) Well, some people do find Push addictive. Next: Putin on monome? If you aren’t impressed by Ford randomly jabbing pads, you might watch this instead, via Synthtopia:

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In Sync, Spare, Beautiful Audiovisual Duet of R. Lippok + D. Delcourt [Mapping Festival, Ableton]

R. Lippok + D. Delcourt – Raster Noton Showcase, Mapping Festival 2013, Geneva from Dimitri Delcourt on Vimeo. Minimalism for its own sake isn’t terribly meaningful. But economical sound and geometries can become a medium for beautiful moments, if artists truly focus on form and relationship. It’s doubly true when combining music and visual elements, and that leads to some gorgeous intersections of the aural and optical in the work here. Robert Lippok, the Berlin-born Raster-Noton artist, and Dimitri Delcourt, the Swiss designer and live visualist, collaborated in one of my favorite performances of last year’s Mapping Festival in Geneva, …

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Fake a Modular Rig inside Ableton Live with DopeMatrix, Then Play it from a Controller

Are modular rigs too pricey for your budget? Hate the thought of all those patch cords, and wish you could just have everything at the ready on your laptop? DopeMatrix might just be for you. That’s “Dope” as in “Doepfer,” and they aren’t just making something modular-ish here. They’re actually giving you a set of sounds from popular Eurorack synth modules – think A-110, Plan B, Cwejman, and Piston Honda. Those four oscillator modules are coupled with twelve effects modules and a step sequencer with matrix controls. Built in Max for Live, you can add the modules (and dozens of …

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M-Audio Trigger Finger Pad Controller is Back – with a Step Sequencer, High-Res Screen

This is not your father’s Trigger Finger. The Trigger Finger has to be one of the biggest success stories in controllers, ever. Back before “controllerism” was a thing, this was what you took along – cheap, light, easy-to-abuse, it was a warhorse 4×4 grid of pads with faders. I’ve watched Flying Lotus tear up his; I’ve seen it win laptop battles. I’ve seen people play them with pads weirdly half ripped-off and all the knob and fader caps missing. I’ve seen Trigger Fingers that looked like someone dragged them through the mud tied to a pickup truck. (I knew that …

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Getting Intuitive with Machines: Inside the Music of Lando and Machinedrum

Getting closer to your machines shouldn’t mean getting further from the feelings that drive your work. That sense of instinct is what keeps music moving forward. How do you make that connection? How to you link your musical roots to the track you’re banging out in the studio today, that first intuitive inspiration to the end product? It’s nice to have artists like Machinedrum and Lando for some insight – even if you’re working in a different genre – as they have a terrific handle on the craft of channeling emotion into finished tracks. Odds are better that you know …

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