The 100m is probably a more appropriate model for whatever is coming from Roland next, but check out the stunning industrial design on the original System 100. This might inspire a custom Eurorack cabinet with keyboard, or two. Photo (CC-BY Notreshuggie.

The Last Time Roland Did Modular: The System 100

With widespread reports that Roland will soon have a new modular product, it’s worth remembering: Roland has done modular before. That legacy carried the name System-100. The original 100 semi-modular lineup of the late 70s, and the Synthesizer-101, might actually be more relevant today than it was when it first shipped. The clever concept here was to put a full-featured monosynth with a keyboard at the center, then add modules around it. That seems to make loads of sense to me, as it creates a playable instrument that can nonetheless be patched for more creative sound design options. The full …

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redrectangle

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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tsispeech

The Original Speech Chip Is Coming To A New Plug-In

While everyone else worries about emulating the same synthesizers for the umpteenth time, Plogue have been lovingly recreating the greatest chip sounds of all time. They’ve done Chipsounds, the instrument, and Chipcrusher, the effect. And now, finally, your computer will sing to you – not just with any voice, but with the speech chip that launched them all. From computing to arcades to classic tracks, this legendary voice has echoed through the decades with an unmistakable sound. This is the first-ever commercially-available chip to include speech synthesis.

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Beautiful 1974 circuitry makes eerie sounds that inspire today.

Pea Soup to Go Puts Decades of Experimental Sounds into Your Browser

Oh, sure, the future of the music industry might be U2 showing up in your iTunes or streams of chart-topping hits. Or, just maybe, the future just for now will be instead weird, humming soundscapes that drone on in a browser tab, generatively faded from decades of performances of a legendary experimental piece. Option number two may be wildly unrealistic and wholly unviable commercially but – hey, it’s your browser, and you can make that choice happen right now, for free. Sonic legend Nicolas Collins, sound professor, editor of Leonardo Music Journal, and electronic music inventor, has unveiled his latest …

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Meet the Strange, Wonderful 70s Machine that Used AI to Make Music

The 70s were one heck of a groovy time. When they weren’t postulating theories about the very underlying essence of all physical reality being reduced to computational models, pioneering AI scientists were … creating weird music sequencers? Seriously? The Singularity will be brought to you by Giorgio Moroder, perhaps? Yes, as we saw earlier this week, AI legends Edward Fredkin and Marvin Minsky somehow managed to take their research in philosophy, digital physics, and cognitive science, and make a weird box that most definitely is capable of blinking lights and making sequences of bleeps. The Triadex Muse really seems like …

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Zillion is a Generative Step Sequencer from Future-Retro with Loads of Possibilities, Performance Tools

Machines give us something that would have amazed musicians from centuries past: they let us make melodies without playing them directly. Now, there are three ways of doing that. One, there are tools that take what you play and turn them into sequences. Two, there are interfaces for making melodies with touch, sliders and knobs. And then there’s a third category: boxes that can actually generate new melodies, all under your control. You control the parameters of the sequence, but the content is algorithmically produced. Future-Retro’s Zillion does just about anything you would ever dream of in that third category. …

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Watch Mick Jagger Rock a Moog Modular

Hard to add words to these few moments of Mick Jagger, apparently auditioning for the part of prettiest modular synth operator face ever, in a take from the 1970 promo for the film Performance by Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg. Note to self: makeup needed for next performance, clearly. The narrator will likely make you smile a bit, partly for mispronouncing “Moog” like a cow (not that that’s a rare occurrence – rhymes with ‘rogue,’ people), but for the bold claim that a clever-enough operator can make any sound in the world. Much as I love analog and modular, that …

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Build a Classic Synth, Reissued: Hands-on with KORG’s MS-20 Kit [Gallery]

Call it the MS-20 “Biggie.” A year after remaking their classic 1978 MS-20 synthesizer in a hugely-popular “mini” version, KORG surprised everyone by unveiling a second reissue this year, the limited-edition MS-20 Kit. Its innards are entirely identical to the MS-20 mini; component-by-component, the sound circuitry is the same. And since the MS-20 was a fairly convincing replica of the original, inaccurate mostly in that it can’t reproduce the aged components we’re now used to, that’s a good start. Now I’ve had the experience of assembling and playing the kit, following up our debut with the mini last year, and …

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KORG to Re-release ARP Odyssey, as Time Machine Goes to 1972

We live in a strange world when it comes to music hardware. On one hand, there are near-daily introductions on Kickstarter of new hardware, and people willing to put up money for future products that don’t exist yet. On the other, we’re seeing a new stream of historical recreations of products from the 1970s. And then, in between, like some sort of 70s-turned-2014 steampunk-style mashup, a lot of people are making things with analog that are genuinely new. It’s as though the entire industry has been given a time machine, at any moment ready to lurch forward into either the …

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KORG MS-20 Kit: Analog Classic Remake Now Full Size, Assembled Yourself

This one is just for the superfan. KORG’s MS-20 mini, a circuit-for-circuit analog re-release of the original MS-20, stole the show last year. But apart from adding a MIDI input, there was one glaring change that would distinguish the mini from the original – the whole thing was shrunk down. Not so this year’s MS-20 Kit, announced today and released as a limited edition this spring. Call it the MS-20 Full-Sized, if you like. The MS-20, like the mini, recreates the analog signal path of the original. And like the mini, it cheats a little to give you MIDI input …

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