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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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Video Explains Why Difference Between Analog, Digital Isn’t What Most People Think

“Analog versus digital” – the discussion, it seems, is everywhere. The problem is, many people simply don’t understand what these terms mean. In one 25-minute video – engaging and entertaining to watch straight to the end – the biggest myths all get busted. In short: 1. 16-bit, 44.1 kHz really is okay for many tasks. (You’re saving that data for the computer and processing rather than your own ears. Hope to talk about this question in more detail soon.) 2. Digital audio doesn’t involve stairstepping. 3. Digital signals can store and be used to reproduce sound that’s identical to what’s …

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In Berlin, Mixing Learning with Hacking and Jamming, All With Free DIY Tools

CDM and yours truly team up with Berlin arts collective Mindpirates next week for a learning event we hope will be a little different than most. The idea behind the gathering is to combine learning in some new ways. The evenings begin with more traditional instruction, as I cover, step-by-step, how you’d assemble beat machines, instruments, effects, and video mixers using free software (Pure Data and Processing). But, we’ll go a little further, opening up sessions to hacking and jamming, finally using the event space at Mindpirates to try out ideas on the PA and projectors. By the last night, …

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Massive Veg Attack: Makey Makey + Fruits, Vegetables = Music

Pianos made of apples are becoming, suddenly, commonplace. Photo (CC-BY) Pete Prodoehl. Call it a massive attack of fruits and veg. Simple circuits have long been able to make use of sensors in real-world stuff like apples or JELL-O. But Make Makey deserves special credit for making interfacing those circuits with a computer silly-simple. (The project grew out of research at MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten; to get a small sense of how much is involved in getting an idea like this off the ground successfully, check out the incredible list of men and women who contributed on the about …

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The 555 chip, imagined as delicious chocolate-covered graham crackers. And it was indeed a tasty chip, a major landmark in electronics. Photo (CC-BY) Windell H. Oskay.

Inventor of 555 Dies; Remember Him with an Atari Punk Console, Circuit You Can Make

Hans R. Camenzind, the Swiss-born engineer who worked in the United States, is responsible for major advancements in electronics and circuit design, but perhaps none so great as the 555 chip. This single integrated circuit is one of the most ubiquitous ever created, but even more importantly, has been for many a curious youngster, electronics hobbyist, or musician a window into the world of electronics. It can be a key to a world where you make your own electronic creations, rather than just relying on some distant manufacturer to produce them for you in a sealed case. And, oh yes, …

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30 Tips for Ableton Live Everyone Should Know, with Live Master Thavius Beck [Tips, Videos]

Thavius Beck live in Los Angeles playing the legendary Low End Theory party, in 2009. Whadayaknow, Ableton users? Whether you’re an existing user or considering it for the first time, this month online school Dubspot is giving away 30 video lessons on using the software, free, through the end of June only. So, I turned to my friend Thavius Beck (Plug Research Records), LA-based producer and rapper, and master instructor, to make something exclusively for CDM to add a little more free knowledge. If you are playing with Ableton for the first time, you can unlock the 30-day free trial …

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gTar, Digital Guitar that Scales from Easy Mode Up; Now Does Ableton Control, Too

Music games like Guitar Hero introduced the notion of musical instruments that scale digitally to the masses. By the time Harmonix introduced the latest version of Rock Band, complete with MIDI controllers, you are able to go from something that’s a toy to simply playing the instrument in a conventional way. The idea of scalability isn’t even new in instrument design – from capos to an instrument like the Autoharp to the very invention of frets, instrument builders have always designed instruments in ways to make them easier to play. In a digital/software realm, though, the plasticity of an instrument …

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Learn Max for Live By Building an Arpeggiator: Video Tutorials by The Ableton Cookbook, More

Some of you are probably already sitting on top of a Max for Live license for your copy of Ableton Live. It’s there, just waiting to do … something. Maybe you’ve loaded one of the many extraordinary patches out there – good move. But as for building your own patches, you may easily have become overwhelmed by choice. Max is a blank slate, and a blank slate that can do everything can make it hard to start with anything. It’s easy to overlook simple first steps. Max was originally built just to do simple math on messages, before it even …

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csGrain Gets Granular Goodness on iPad 2/3; Vanguard of Multi-Platform Csound Renaissance

Technology may be about the next Big New Thing, but as with music making in general, making music with tech is for many of us a lifetime vocation. So, it’s welcome news to find that time-tested tools, maturing over decades rather than months, are enjoying greater use than ever before. We saw Pure Data (Pd) attracting new interest as the embeddable libpd version allows use in a range of development environments and mobile platforms. Now, it’s about to be Csound’s turn. Of course, before we get to that, if you’ve got an iPad 2 or “3” (aka “the new iPad”), …

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Workshop in LA: Make Your Own Musical Tools, Free, with Processing and Pd

Music visualization in Processing by yours truly. If you’re in the LA area, I’m teaching a reasonably beginner-friendly workshop in making musical tools with visual interfaces, using entirely free software (Processing and Pd, on Mac, Windows, Linux, and if you like, Android). It’s this coming Thursday night, September 8 – the perfect way to get back to school! (For me, too…) I’ll also be sharing some resources as I put them together for that workshop, so wherever you are, keep an eye on CDM soon. The workshop is US$60, but you’ll leave with the skills you need to make your …

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