simplertools

It slices! Patches make Ableton’s new Simpler more powerful

By letting you get creative with audio, Ableton’s Simpler and slicing workflows have always opened up musical possibilities, and they got a lot more powerful in Live 9.5. But it could do even more. Developer Mark Egloff has released four clever Max for Live patches that let you slice without Push, chop in new ways, and more. 

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This Could Be Your Next DJ or Visual Controller: Allen & Heath Xone:K1

UK DJ builder Allen & Heath may be best known as a mixer company, not so much a controller maker. But that’s a pity, because they make one of the most compelling controller units on the market. Spoiler alert – the K1, like the K2 before it, feels great, has a terrific layout, works with anything you like, and more or less beats every other slim-line controller for DJing or VJing. Whatever you own now, you may find yourself wanting one of these to go along with it.

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A USB MIDI Controller, Designed Like a Mixer, from Dubspot + Livid: DS1 [Q&A]

We’ve got grids, more grids, and disco grids. We’ve got fake platters and big, whirling plates. We’ve got iPads and things you wave around in the air. But as controllers have embraced digital design, the number of controllers that have the logical layout of a mixer has, remarkably, diminished. And what really don’t have much of is a controller that’s truly DAW-agnostic. Integration is great, but you need hardware for people who don’t believe in One Tool as religion. It’s taken New York-based learning center Dubspot to reignite that idea, in a controller collaboration with Dave Cross and Livid Instruments. …

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Cut From a Different Cloth: Threads and Circuits at MusicMakers Hacklab CTM [Video, Gallery, Pt. 2]

So much is possible when we just open up the materials of musical invention to a range of people – and those materials can be cloth, circuits, acoustic, electronic, light, sound. I was reminded of that yet again last week, thanks to an amazing group of artists, developers, facilitators, and organizers. I’m still recovering – in a good way – from five days last week filled with people sewing and soldering, wearable interfaces and constructed projection-mapped kinetic sculptures and new digital instruments. Native Instruments and Ableton took us inside their development process – and provided hardware, pretzels, pastries, and Club-Mate. …

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Reaktor - and any Reaktor Player instrument/effect - meets easier hands-on control. iPad, no brainer. Images courtesy Native Instruments, for createdigitalmusic.

Reaktor 5.8, with OSC: Now, Easily Control Reaktor-Built Sound Creations with Touch – Even in Play Mode

With any instrument, getting your hands on the sounds is essential. Reaktor is a platform for all kinds of strange and wonderful instruments and sound makers. It’s been that for Reaktor DIYers in particular, but it also powers a variety of creations used by Komplete owners and built in Reaktor Player. Today’s update to Reaktor 5.8 might easily fly under the radar. But make no mistake: improving control capabilities is potentially huge, because it makes it easier to make sound hands-on. Adding a few cool new ensembles, for instance, is nice. Being able to control Reaktor creations more easily is …

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Max for Live Gems: Easier MIDI Mapping, Automation Recording, and Alternative Sequencing

As Max for Live has matured, this tool for extending the functionality of Ableton Live has played host to a growing wave of brilliant custom tools – enough so that it can be hard to keep track. This month saw a few that deserve special mention. In particular, two tools help make MIDI mapping and automation recording easier in Live, and point the way for what the host itself could implement in a future update. (Live 9, we’re looking at you.) And in a very different vein, from Max for Live regular Protofuse, we see an intriguing alternative approach to …

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Touch to Control: Usine Learns Music Parameters with the Magic of OSC

Touchable tablets may be all the rage at the CES trade show, showcase to consumer-friendly gadgetry. But quietly, developer Sensomusic has accomplished multi-touch control of an open-ended music system on standard-issue PCs and accessories. They’ve pointed the way to just what this mechanism could be. The latest video isn’t terribly easy to see, but it realizes something that has been the dream of fans of the music control protocol OSC (OpenSoundControl). “Learn” functionality lets you touch a control, then assign that control to something in your music software. But because these functions have relied on MIDI, they’ve generally been a …

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Mobile Recording with SoundCloud: More Powerful, Less Buggy, Android + iOS, FourSquare Locations

Photo (CC-BY) John Fischer/stickergiant. Sometimes things look interesting even before you can fully grasp just what they mean. Such is the case, I think, with what’s happening with SoundCloud’s on-the-go tools. Now, back in the beginning of this service, I predicted it’d become the Flickr of audio, and I wasn’t alone. But it’s becoming something else, something that really involves mobility. The SoundCloud crew are out at South by Southwest, as good a gathering as any for the intersection of Web nerd culture with music and film. And they have something to show for it, too: they’re unveiling new Android …

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Free, Geotagged Sound Samples from Around the World

While on the topic of locating yourself using sound, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point to Freesound, the fantastic community sound library (currently pushing some 17,000+ Creative Commons-licensed samples). If you’re not yet familar with Freesound, you can broadcast your recordings to the planet, free for use in music worldwide, and pull recordings without attracting the attention of intellectual property lawyers. Rather than dig through samples by abstract categories, you can use Freesound’s geotags to pull the exact ambience of certain parts of the world. It gives you the power to soak up the vibe of the beach at …

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Mapping and Location with Sound

Follow your ears! Yes, there was a time when aural senses were vital to location and geography. In the spirit of resurrecting that spirit, Spencer Kiser’s projects look at new ways of mapping using sound. Full details on his thesis page, but in brief: Sound maps: Field recordings in Forest Hills, Queens (outside Manhattan) are overlaid with an interactive map of the area. Upshot: drag with your mouse, and you can hear how the sound changes from one intersection to another, rather than just look at the usual visual representation. Geo-tagging with a phone: This “participatory sound map” (shown below) …

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