Far From Four on the Floor, Digital Cumbia’s Colorful Syncopations [Video, Playlist]

Emanating from Latin America, cumbia rhythms are fast becoming as international as the ubiquitous sounds of house and techno. And as they spread, they’re bringing shuffling syncopations and vibrant polyrhythms, bright-colored timbres that blend traditional sounds with new electronic forms. When those noises dance out of familiar hardware and software rigs, they’re also a reminder that common tools need not mean homogenized results – not once in the hands of creative musicians. Thump, the VICE property which has been putting out fine-quality and diverse music reporting even despite a name with crowd-grabbing EDM overtones, visits Lima in their latest video. …

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Could You Someday Wear Speakers? Wearable Tech and Expression

Wearable tech so far has often tended to dresses that light up or wristwatches that act as remote controls for your smartphone. But what if wearable tech actually produced sound – and it wasn’t a pair of headphones? That’s the question posed by SubPac. It’s a sort of backpack subwoofer aimed both at improving tactile bass response for consumers and allowing proper bass monitoring for DJs and producers – you know, when they can’t just try their latest mix on a big club PA. We’ve covered wearable tech on CDM before – we’ve even hosted workshops and labs on the …

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Plaid’s Tether is an Interactive Web Song You Can Remix – Music, or Code

Now that your Web browser can do what music creation software can do, presenting a song can be more than just giving people a play button. And allowing people to “remix” your music might mean sounds and software alike. First, there was Jono Brandel’s terrific Patatap with Lullatone. Press keys on your keyboard, and a warm, Lullatone-inspired sample machine delights with brightly-colored abstract objects and sounds, a sort of custom browser beat box. Patatap went viral, perhaps because it brought musical wonder to the carousel of distracting tabs on the Web. Now, Jono Brandel (of the Google Creative Lab, with …

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Me the Machine: Imogen Heap Navigates Music, Music Video with Her Gloves

Watching Imogen Heap dance her way through cyber visuals and glowing-LED percussion, it’s easy to forget that you’re not watching a special effect. What was once a hypothetical, speculative scenario in sci-fi is now just what Imogen is doing with gloves and sensors. At the same time, the lineage to artists like Pamela Z or Laurie Anderson is clear, too. Now the question is, what’s next? “Me the Machine” debuted in a performance on her gloves. The music really is one that she can play with wearable tech. The music video just adds visualization to that performance – and, in …

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Pattern and Design: A 2-Day Festival Turns Vintage Type into Musical Scores

It’s time to reinvent the graphical score. With musical practice more international, more broad and varied than ever, and electronics in the mix, conventional notational idioms just aren’t enough. For curator and prolific electronic producer Hanno Leichtmann, the starting point was a collection of vintage Letraset and Letratone type, as pictured above. Leichtmann, a graphic designer himself (and maker of beautiful record covers), is passionate about digital and ink-based design processes alike; even the posters for the event are exquisitely (and expensively) hand-produced. He then invited a who’s who of illustrators and graphic designers from Germany, Austria, France, Great Britain, …

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Why Frankie Knuckles Mattered: Read, Watch, and Hear

The passing last week of Frankie Knuckles has led to an outpouring of remembrance for this dance music pioneer, a signal of just how deeply and broadly his work was felt. To give us greater insight, CDM turns in our obituary to Denise Dalphond, the enthnomusicologist who has devoted much of her work to researching the roots of electronic dance music in America. (Her PhD dissertation, “Detroit Players: Wax, Tracks, and Soul in Electronic Music,” is due soon.) She gives us her thoughts on Knuckles’ significance as well as lining up some of the best places to watch and hear …

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In Living Rooms, Homes, Beautiful Music as a Ritual: Olafur Arnalds; Matthew Flook; Free

For centuries, music was something made in a living room, made at home. It was a brief fluke of the 20th Century that music came out of a heroic process in a hidden-away studio. But if the gold-plated, magical record is threatened, some artists are trying to bring the daily ritual of home music making back. ├ôlafur Arnalds and Matthew Flook are each making gorgeous, cinematic-ambient tracks, and each have made projects that involve doing so on a regular basis in their homes. Let’s listen. Arnalds has been making some of the finest scores anywhere, and now has earned the …

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Been there. The artist Dillon, working magic on the studio and stage - but finding her muse in bed and beta waves, half-asleep with no one else around.

Writing Music When You’re Vulnerable: Dillon on Finding Creativity in the Middle of the Night

Electronic music has become associated with over-the-top lyrics, the plastic veneer of party-time superficiality. But in any medium, some people are writing from the heart, and that can obscure a simple reality: writing from your most vulnerable places can be hard. Whatever your music-making medium of choice, you may resonate with artist Dominique Dillon de Byington – born in Brazil, raised in Germany, now goes by the simpler Dillon. Berlin-based, English-language Electronic Beats has taken their superb video series Slices from a hard-to-locate DVD to the mass audience of YouTube, and shorts like this demonstrate why that’s good news. Dillon …

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Brian Eno, portrait by Ralf Schmerberg.

Watch Artists Talk The Meaning of Life, Musically Speaking, In Free Feature Film [RBMA]

Forget for a moment that Red Bull Music Academy has for a decade and a half assembled some of the world’s greatest-known artists to dish out inspiration. Forget that that’s Brian Eno’s mug staring back at you with cool, blue eyes. Forget that music “careers” can span from finding ranking in Forbes to scraping together extra tips at a bar to own a synth, with a gulf in between that can make people question the value of their work. If you’re reading this, it means that you probably have made music your life. You build music and maybe you build …

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Learn from the Master: Diego Stocco Makes Music with Sound Design, Then Shows You How

Is it sound design, or is it composition? Is it musicianship, or is it technical control? Is it live, or is it Ableton Live? Yes. Diego Stocco is simply one of the best bleeding-edge musicians, composers, and sound designers – all in one. And that has made him rightfully in-demand in the media of technology (Spectrasonics), movies (Sherlock Holmes), TV (The Tudors), and games (Assasin’s Creed). He’s of course also a big hit around sites like this one. Now, he’s sharing his secrets. He revealed about a week ago that he would be offering the first of his sound design …

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