The piano has been living with a beautiful legacy, but that legacy can double as tyranny. The Steinway Model D, favorite instrument of mine that it is, has also frozen the technological development of the keyboard instrument. And that’s why the Una Corda is different. Built custom by David Klavins, and associated with that builder’s collaboration with pianist Nils Frahm, this lightweight piano is unlike any you’ve seen or heard before. And now, you can get a taste of playing the real thing with a software instrument.
The funny thing about Ableton Link is that it doesn’t require Ableton Live. It isn’t even an app. It’s a sync technology, one that allows software to jam together, wirelessly, without any one clock having to be the source or “master.” But as of today, if you do use Ableton Live, that wireless magic is built-in – and requires almost no configuration.
Celemony’s flagship Melodyne audio editor has long been reaching past the limits of what most people imagine as pitch correction. It was clear the mission of the software was no less than seamlessly transforming audio – shaping sound as directly as you can MIDI notes. Well, now it’s gone even further. Now we’re not just talking about moving polyphonic notes around. In Melodyne 4, we’re talking reaching into the spectra of polyphonic sound material itself. It’s like playing God with a recording.
Urs Heckmann just combined “reverb” with “experimental, possibly sonically unstable plug-in with unpredictable results.” And it’s free. Urs – how did you know exactly what I wanted for Christmas?
There may be an Ableton logo splashed on it and integration designed specifically for Live. But one of the nice things about Ableton’s Push and Push 2 hardware are that, at their core, they’re open. Everything sends and receives standard MIDI messages. As we’ve seen, even the display is hackable. And that is admirable not only from an engineering standpoint, but because it means the hardware you invest in has a life beyond just specific drivers and software updates. Now, that extends even to rival software Bitwig Studio – which means you can even use a Push 2 on Linux.
As more people bring home hardware, the next question is how to get that running smoothly with software – for recording and control. We just saw a really great tutorial for doing it in Reaper, using our MeeBlip synth. Now there’s another unsolicited MeeBlip tutorial (really, I had nothing to do with this), this time with Bitwig Studio. Watch at top.
It’s a marvelous time to be a musician. You can imagine a musical instrument, a compositional invention, and then realize that idea in short order. So I was glad to get the chance to emcee an evening of discussion with Reaktor experts, including the folks who built the tool, last month in the software’s hometown Berlin. That discussion ultimately was partly about Reaktor, but partly about the act of instrument building itself – meaning there were insights for anyone interested in working with electronics or software to dream up new musical tools.
With a little setup, you can integrate a hardware synth with Reaper as if it’s a software plug-in. Check out the video tutorial from The Reaper Blog to see how. Reaper is a terrific “indie” DAW for the budget-conscious. Just $60 buys you an individual personal license with a bunch of free upgrades. (“Commercial” use is described as anyone making more than $20k a year – plenty of very serious musicians make less than that.)
Working with samples is great fun, but there’s a certain sameness to approach. Load a sample. Play back a sample. Slice a sample. FLESH takes a unique angle: it analyzes sound samples and mangles them into new animals. And it’s the latest from Tim Exile, a one-man live performer of madness himself (Warp, Planet Mu), and one of Reaktor’s greatest patching virtuosos on Earth. His first two instruments, THE FINGER and THE MOUTH, were already weird and wonderful tools for performance, but FLESH could be the deepest one yet. (Yes, that’s just Flesh, not The Flesh. So it could be, …
The iPad has matured into a serious musical instrument and production tool. So it only makes sense to give it a serious audio interface. Now you can add to the list of candidates MOTU’s MicroBook IIc. MOTU announced this week their mobile interface is class-compliant, which means you can use it with the iPad. Since powering an audio interface would drain the iPad’s battery, you’ll instead connect this device via USB and the anachronistically-named Camera Connection Kit adapter, then use the AC power adapter in the box for juice. (It’s bus-powered on other devices.)