Free Mark Eats Sequencer, A Beautiful Example of What Pattern Making Can Be [monome]

If we’re living in a golden age of resurgent synthesizers, we’re also in the midst of a renaissance in step sequencers. Faced with the challenge of making machines make musical sense, the lowly step sequencer – a kind of relic from the days of more primitive hardware – is getting renewed. The latest example is Mark Eats Sequencer, a labor of love for the monome platform. And just as we’ve seen with Tomash Ghzegovskyy and Traktor or Julien Fayard and his MTRX-8, this is not so much about reinventing the sequencer so much as getting as much mileage as possible …

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Ableton Goodies: Free Fairlight CMI Sounds, Skins, Amazing Reverb, and … TETRIS!

Want to relive the sweet sounds of the classic Fairlight instrument, because you love the 80s? Want to reskin Ableton so it doesn’t offend your aesthetic sense or blind you and bathe you in blue light when you’re onstage? Do you want a different reverb from a master sound designer and patcher? Do you just want to unwind in the middle of a studio session by playing TETRIS on your Push? We’ve got you covered. Our collection of freebies for the ever-ubiquitous Ableton Live continues to grow – especially as talking about it is causing more people to send stuff …

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Launchpad + Raspberry Pi = Standalone Grid Piano Practice Machine, Boots in 10 Seconds

A standalone grid musical instrument? Done. And it can be a new way to venture into the worlds of harmony. Marc “Nostromo” Resibois is back with another clever Raspberry Pi hack. We saw him last fall, beating KORG to the punch with his own – digital – MS-20 mini, using the Pi. It’s still appealing, in that he has some other synth ideas the analog recreation can’t muster. This time, he’s made a standalone practice instrument for grid players, using a Novation Launchpad and the Raspberry Pi computer. Some shopping around for a Launchpad could mean you could put together …

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DJing with Step Sequenced Traktor: Remix Decks Meet New Hardware

Light-up colored grids are hardly news in the controller scene. But what makes original, boutique hardware worthy of the name “Digital Warrior” is the unique take it brings to DJing and live remix – pushing the envelope with Native Instruments’ Traktor (all the while perhaps making even Ableton Live a little bit jealous). The new hardware takes Traktor’s Remix Decks and transforms them with built-in step sequencing, in a kind of mash-up of a lot of different techniques. You have to see the results in action to really appreciate how nice that can be. CDM reader and electronic music inventor …

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30 Days of Free Ableton Push Tutorial Videos, Now Also Downloadable

Ableton’s Push really is growing on me; it’s astounding to have lots of the working methods from software integrated on a piece of hardware, in pads and buttons and knobs. But because it does so much, because it’s open to so many tasks, it isn’t something that reveals itself in just a day. From mapping harmonies across the pads to understanding every last edit workflow, it takes some time. Josh Weatherspoon took an interesting approach this summer and spent 30 days both teaching himself to better use the hardware, and sharing techniques one at a time, for free, on YouTube. …

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Stirring Solo Vocal + Ableton Push: Thomas Piper, Live at Webster Hall

If the computer can do one thing, it is to vastly expand what a single musician can do live. Whether you rise to that challenge has everything to do with who you are as an individual musician. It’s about the person as much as the machine. Thomas Piper, Jr. is at his absolute best in a soulful, no-holds-barred, energetic performance New York’s famed Webster Hall. (His son Zion, by the way, is also terrifically talented.) Here, his vocal is front and center far more than the computer, but the digital instrument also supports what he’s doing. At the Kompakt pop-up …

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What’s in the Ableton Live 9.1 Public Beta, How to Get It

We broke the news of the headline Live 9.1 features – dual monitor support, melodic sequencing and automation step sequencing on Push, and high-quality sample rate conversion. CDM may have had the exclusive on this, but it was still surprising to see a point release attract so many readers. The lesson seems clear: a targeted update with features requested by users can be as welcome – or even more welcome – than a big, paid update. Smaller developers have done those sorts of updates for some time (Reaper comes to mind), but perhaps it’s a lesson bigger players can apply. …

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Interview: Sheffield’s The Black Dog Branch into Controllers, With Crowd-Funded Gear

The Black Dog are titans of experimental techno and house, with a long record to match. (We reviewed – and praised – their latest album, Tranklements.) But you may not associate them with manufacturing hardware. As the landscape of crowd-funded music hardware grows, though, that’s exactly the venture they’re now willing to take, as the members of that group co-found a new, England-based manufacturing company dubbed Machinewerks. And the results so far already give insights into what they value in controller design and how they use those controllers in their music. They’re now well on their way to funding a …

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Novation Releases $99 Launchpad Mini Grid, $99 Triggers and Knobs [iOS, Mac, PC]

Here’s this week’s theme from Novation, in a nutshell: Stuff that costs US$99 (street). Stuff that’s ultra-mobile/portable. Stuff that works with Mac, PC, and iPad. CDM readers already worked out that they weren’t done, watching the video for the $99 Launchkey mini keyboard, which also fits this theme and combines pads, knobs, and keys. Looking closely at the video, you nailed one of the product releases: a smaller version of the Launchpad grid controller, the product that perhaps more than any other popularized grids in the mass market. (Outside the mass market, that honor surely goes to the monome.) So, …

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Live 9.1 Preview: Dual Monitors, More Push Sequencing, High-Quality Sample Rate Conversion

In the midst of a pop-up week of events held with Köln’s Kompakt Records, Ableton has offered a surprise peek into what’s coming soon to Live. 9.1 is a free update for all users, adding some widely-requested features. There’s no release date yet – we’re awaiting a more formal announcement with details soon – but we have gotten a look at what’s in store. Ableton’s Dennis DeSantis gave attendees a demo of three upcoming features: 1. Dual-monitor support, finally allowing you to see Arrangement and Session Views side by side 2. More functionality in Push, including step sequencing of melodies …

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