october

Make DJ Charts from Traktor, and More Free Playlist Tricks

If DJing with vinyl leaves traces in our memory, recollections of physical handling of album sleeves and crates, then for digital DJing, we must rely on data. Traktor DJ is quietly noting everything you do as you play – at the gig, in the studio. The key is how to do something with that data. The coolest trick came last month from our friend Tomash Ghz – he of the superb Digital Warrior, among others. (Very keen to get back to my desk in Berlin to muck about with the latest step sequencer there, but I digress.) Tomash has whipped …

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How Gestures and Ableton Live Can Make Anyone a Conductor of Mendelssohn [Behind the Scenes]

Digital music can go way beyond just playback. But if performers and DJs can remix and remake today’s music, why should music from past centuries be static? An interactive team collaborating on the newly reopened Museum im Mendelssohn-Haus wanted to bring those same powers to average listeners. Now, of course, there’s no substitute for a real orchestra. But renting orchestral musicians and a hall is an epic expense, and the first thing most of those players will do when an average person gets in front of them and tries to conduct is, well – get angry. (They may do that …

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Why Mobile Low-Latency is Hard, Explained by Google; Galaxy Nexus Still Musicians’ Android of Choice

Saying your device isn’t as responsive to sound as you’d want is a bit like saying you’re feeling sick to your stomach. The symptom is easy to describe, and everyone would agree it’s not a desirable state. But the fix can be rather complex. And when it comes to engineers who care about music and sound, experiencing latency – or its equally evil mirror cousin, crackles-and-pops – will make you sick to your stomach. Google I believe is deserving of some criticism over this issue. Years of subsequent updates saw the company largely silent or unresponsive about critical audio issues. …

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megagrid

Meganome: A Massive Super-Monome Capable of Jazzy Rhythmic and Melodic Robotic Feats

Minneapolis-based artist Patrick Flanagan is no ordinary drummer or electronic musician. His rig does everything the hard way – and the results are fantastic. With robotic drum kit mechanically playing acoustic drums, his fingers command complex feats of rhythm and melody from an oversized, custom grid controller. There are idiomatic musical possibilities unlocked by software he’s built in Max/MSP and Java. Repeat increments, of the sort found in drum machines, produce complex rhythmic figuration on multiple drums – partly because, unlike the dumber implementation on drum machines, it’s possible to play multiple repeat increments at the same time. (In other …

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Across the Universe: Mind-Blowing AV Performance Makes Music a Spacey Trip

Turning music and sound into three-dimensional worlds often yields something that fields like a trip through space. But this feels like a real trip. Through pulsing, glowing starfields, “Versum”‘s audiovisual movements are brain-bendingly transformative. Artist Tarik Barri has created an integrated world of sound and image that makes the interface and the compositional realms seamless. It seems as though this really is a musical universe, through whose harmonies of the spheres you can fly like. Boldly going, indeed. Ingredients: Max/MSP/Jitter, Processing, Java, SuperCollider, GLSL [the 3D shading language], and … some serious skill and time, I imagine. The work has …

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Shake It Like Euclid: Grooving Patterns, Open Source Tool, Now Sends MIDI – Watch

There’s something about symmetrical rhythms, it seems: through the power of math, these rhythms sound really good. We’ve looked a couple of times before at the spread of the Euclidean Algorithm for producing rhythms; see below. Wouter Hisschem√∂ller has updated what began as an in-browser Flash tool to build an free and open source, Java-based MIDI utility. You dial in the rhythms you want, and now, with the addition of MIDI output, you can play those rhythms in any software of your choice. (Ableton Live plays the part of the MIDI recipient in the video above.) Yes, you can actually …

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Favorite Synths Emulated in the Browser, Monotron to Minimoog; A Chat with the Developer

The beauty of modeling an instrument is that it involves ideas – taking a design from one context and translating it to another. With software, we’re able to put sound-making things everywhere, from obscure game consoles to a tab in your web browser that can distract you with music instead of Facebook updates. In the process of moving those ideas from place to place, we discover things. Just ask Shannon Smith. He’s been on a great tear emulating favorite synthesizers in free toys for the browser. Through the power of the Internet, the New Zealand-born, California-based developer heard from Japan-based …

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nanoloopscreen

Nanoloop Comes to Android, with its Lovely, Minimal Music Idea-Making Interface

I think the first time I really understood handheld music making was when I first tried Nanoloop on Game Boy. While the more-popular LSDJ tracker is powerful, Nanoloop’s interface was unlike anything I’d seen before: aggressively minimal, it embodies in its interface design the feeling of a blank sheet of paper. Adding an idea feels like composition, like genuinely exploring open-ended possibilities and discovering what melodies may result. Now, Nanoloop – already on iOS – is available for Android, too. It remains simple stuff, the sense of what a music maker looks like when designed for your hand rather than …

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Turn Ordinary Cell Phones into Beautiful Noisemakers

In your pocket, or perhaps orphaned in your closet, is a sophisticated piece of electronics going to waste. So, whether you’re suffering from iPhone envy or simply want to put toxic used electronics to useful musical applications, the cell phone noisemaking project at GetLoFi could help make a happier, noisier world. The ingredients:

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libpd: Put Pure Data in Your App, On an iPhone or Android, and Everywhere, Free

What if you could make any device or any software a re-programmable musical instrument, effect, or soundmaker? Your phone could be a touch-controlled effect, your tablet a sketchpad for interactive drum sequencers. Patches assembled on your desk on a computer could be taken with you in your pocket. And what if you could do all of this for free, using a time-tested environment? libpd, authored by Peter Brinkmann, takes on that vision. It’s a way of making Pure Data (Pd), the visual development tool for interactive music and media, more accessible across a range of applications and gadgets. It lets …

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