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See the Exquisite Drawings Bob Moog Made of Prototypes, Circuits

We’re all touched by the musical inventions of technologists. But it’s something special to see those creations in their original hand. The Bob Moog Foundation has been posting circuitry, panel layouts, and prototype drawings made by Bob Moog (many in his hand) – and they’re beautiful. Don’t drink a lot of coffee before drawing plans if you want yours to look anything like this. You’ll see a range of creations – oscillator circuits from classic modular units, synth control panels, and even a percussion controller and tape heads. I’ve pasted a few here, but go to the Moog site for …

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On the Eve of New 808 Film, Techno’s Roots Matter More Than Ever [Videos]

If rock music had the Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster, hip hop and dance music have the TR-808. And if its sound seems sometimes overly familiar, even that is in some sense a hat-tip (pardon the pun) to its enduring ubiquity. Now, the Roland TR-808 gets its own full-length documentary, told primarily through the eyes of the people who repurposed its idiosyncratic sound to spin new musical genres and start a revolution. The film features extensive input from Arthur Baker, who acts as a centerpiece for the movie. Baker was the producer behind Afrika Bambaataa’s ‘Planet Rock,’ a record …

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This 1971 Dancing Rectangle from Poland Predicts Modern Techno, AV

Sonic history in electronic music may be made with technology, but it’s also the output of someone’s brain. As such, it’s natural that liberated creativity can produce all kinds of possibilities. And it should be no surprise that history sometimes comes in cycles. Or… make that rectangles. Speaking of Poland, this short animation, crafted in 1971, features spooky sounds that would be at home on any modern dark techno floor. Entitled “Prostokąt dynamiczny” – literally, “dynamic rectangle” – the animation is by experimental filmmaker Józef Robakowski, with music by the incredible Eugeniusz Rudnik. We saw Rudnik yesterday in our piece …

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Marek Biliński live in Warsaw, 2013. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Robert Drózd.

Discover Poland’s Electronic Music Pioneers, Modern Artists: Boiler Room and Beyond

The setting looks futuristic — like Stanley Kubrick teamed up with Syd Mead to make a theme park. But it’s actually Warsaw and environs. And the path the future is via the past, and a history largely unknown outside of the country. Boiler Room, best known for webcasting parties, shifts gears from what’s new-and-hip to where it all began, and the result is inspiring. The film was directed by Marcin Filipek for Boiler Room with the input of Gosia Herman of Boiler Room Poland, and is the result of half a year spent gathering artists. The stunning imagery is the …

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Crowd-funding Campaign Wants to Pay Back Amen Break Creator

It’s the best-known sample of all time. It might be the most-heard six seconds of sound in modern recording. But before it became the “Amen break,” the signature riff was part of The Winstons’ song “Amen, Brother.” And so, how much did the artists who actually produced the original sound earn from their “success”? Well, that’ll be … nothing, apart from the original revenues from the 1969 release. Nothing in royalties from its use … well, seemingly everywhere. (N.W.A.? Oasis? Futurama? Check.) Zip. Zero. The drummer, Gregory Coleman, died homeless in 2006. Richard L. Spencer, the vocalist and sax player …

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Put a Radio in Your Modular: Music Thing Radio Music

Once upon a time, musicians made music from the sound content pouring invisibly, inaudibly from the air. The likes of John Cage and Kalrheinz Stockhausen turned the radio into stochastic source and instrument, a means of making music in the now. And now, you can, too, in the latest Eurorack module. Whether you want a modular or not, this is one module you definitely don’t need. You don’t need to act out Cage-ian fantasies and turn your local hit FM station greatest tracks of the 80s and 90s into an experimental noise performance. Nor do you really need to understand …

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Dave Smith Prophet 6 Synth: 6 Analog Voices, and a Dilemma

Never say never. Few would have imagined just a few short years ago that essentially all – not most, but all – the major 2015 electronic instrument news out of the annual NAMM trade show would come down to 70s-/early 80s-style analog synthesizers, in the form of keyboards and modular. Nor would you imagine two of the big names would still be Tom Oberheim and Dave Smith, alongside Korg and Moog. (Well, maybe Tom and Dave did – how ambitious were you three decades ago, gentlemen?) Certainly, no one ever expected to see the name Sequential Circuits again. But that’s …

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Everything You Need to Know About KORG’s Arp Odyssey Remake

KORG, having resurrected their own MS-20 monosynth, have now turned to another analog classic: the duophonic ARP Odyssey. We’ve known for some time that they would begin manufacturing a new edition of that in collaboration with its original creators. Now we know what it looks like, and what it’ll cost. If you already love the classic ARP Odyssey, there’s not much to say. KORG’s launch, in fact, focused on the ARP you know – the fact that its sound is something you recognize from songs. That’s partly an explanation of why such instruments deserve recreation. And the original holds up …

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Nintendo Game & Watch Inspires Tiny, $59 Synths from Teenage Engineering [CDM Hands-on]

“Pocket” is a term often used loosely to mean anything small. Not so the Teenage Engineering PO-12 series of instruments. They’re each literally small enough that you could put them in your jeans comfortably and still cram in your phone. We’ve got units from TE (and collaborator Cheap Monday) here at CDM, so let’s talk about what our wacky Stockholm friends have done this time. Remember Nintendo’s Game & Watch series? These business card-sized pocket games used crude but charming LCD animations, characters making jerky, repetitive movements for basic games. The ultra-cheap toy titles preceded the NES, the ingenious work …

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Moog’s Historic Big Modulars Return – You Say You Want a Resurrection?

Synthesizers are now old enough to become “classics,” to have a canonical form – much like the Steinway D in pianos or the Stradivarius violin. So, that leaves us a choice: do we make something new, even if fashioned out of the old, or do we reissue the historical instrument as it originally was? Answer: all of the above. At NAMM this week, I expect you can find representatives from the whole spectrum between past and future. But the company that more than any other has defined what it means to be a “classic” is now setting their time machine …

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