Make Modular Musical Mayhem Telegraph-Style, with Make Noise Teleplexer

Introducing the MakeNoise Teleplexer Module (First Look) from Richard Devine on Vimeo. Conductive plates have let telegraph operators tap out messages and Stylophone players sing sweet melodies. Now, running a patch cord along the plates of the MakeNoise Teleplexer lets you turn signals in a modular synth rack into new musical patterns. Touch here – get wonderful, delicious chaos. It’s the latest module from Make Noise, the modular makers who are perhaps the black sheep of Asheville, North Carolina. And at a NAMM music trade show this week dominated by gear with, you know, more conventional appeal to musicians, these …

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The Newest Analog Goodness: Highlights from Berlin’s ALEX4, at Musikmesse [Synth pr0n]

Andreas Schneider, famed owner of Berlin synth boutique Schneidersladen, has a unique talent for finding the best idiosyncratic electronic sound creations. Now leading European distributor ALEX4, he’s bringing more of those goodies to the rest of us. There’s something a bit odd about going to Frankfurt when ALEX4, Schneidersladen, and Andreas himself all live in my neighborhood. But amassed at Musikmesse, you get a sense of the current state of the ALEX4 stable of gear – and we’ve got the synth pr0n to prove it. And you know Musikmesse is off to an interesting start when you head behind the …

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3-way-rand-seq

A New Sequencer Module, Open Hardware from Music Thing, Crowd-sources Manufacture

Sometimes, when you want something, you have to make it yourself – literally. The blog Music Thing, back in the day, was a favorite reason for any music tech lover to fire up the browser. Now, Tom Whitwell – whose day job at The Times of London keeps him plenty busy – is back, with open source modular hardware. The Music Thing Random Sequencer is an analog module you can examine and modify, one with completely open source licensing, inspired by classics like Don Buchla’s 266 Source of Uncertainty module. If you want one for yourself, though, the process is …

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Tom's FM radio-sequencing module project, in all its glory.

Music Thing: A Radio Sequencer, How to Get Into DIY Synth Modules, How to Have Fun

Lured by the siren song of modular synthesis and DIY electronics, but not sure how to navigate the piles of requisite knowledge – or uncertain what the trip down this rabbit hole might have in store? For years, Tom Whitwell’s Music Thing was a beloved daily read, as that site and this one were among the early blog-format destinations for music tech. Tom moved on – something about a major day-gig at a paper called The Times, perhaps named after the font? – but that makes us all the more delighted to get a dispatch from him. In this guest …

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Exclusive: Metasonix Prototype VCO, the R-55 Thyratron – With Tubes

Metasonix, the maker celebrating the mad science of tubes for making wonderfully-terrible noises, reveals to CDM that next week they’ll unveil a new Voltage Controlled Oscillator. Behold, videos! From top: “A prototype R-55 thyratron VCO is controlled with a Makenoise Rene sequencer, with an R-54 VCO tuned to track along.” “A prototype R-55 thyratron VCO tunes along with an R-54 VCO, both driven with the same CV.” Analog: you can scare small children with it. In a good way. And as if you needed another reason to visit their booth at NAMM – or follow along as we visit them …

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makenoise

Modular Mega-Roundup: Some of the Greatest New Stuff in Analog+Digital Eurorack for Musicians

In action, a Eurorack module by superb builder MakeNoise, with whom we caught up in March in a get-together in Austin, Texas. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Andreas Wetterberg. Modular music making is a throwback to the early days of electronic music, in which a spaghetti of patch cords is the price of open-ended sound creation. Fairly or unfairly, it has often been viewed as the domain of the eccentric wealthy musician. You needed cash, endless patience, and lots of space – well, unless you happened to be lucky enough to pick up a vintage modular as people were getting rid of them. …

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500ladder

Moog Goes Classic: Ladder Filter 500 Series Module

If you think Moog’s entry into iPad synthesizers is too new-fangled, something for the kids, and nothing compared to the authentic analogness of … uh … analog, you’ll like this, at the opposite end of the spectrum. In the same week they unveiled their first iOS synth, Moog has their first 500 series module – and it’s a classic, derived from Dr. Moog’s legendary Ladder Filter design. Engineering audio isn’t quite like engineering bridges and airplanes: it’s actually the unique flaws in what might have otherwise been a forgettable filter design that led to a distinctive distortion, first heard in …

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Numerology 3.1 Sequencer Adds Realtime Pattern Goodness, VST; See it in Action

Numerology is a sophisticated Mac modular step sequencer, capable of brewing patterns from simple to elaborate using combinations of note-making building blocks. It’s also a powerful host, opening up signal routing and modulation to AU plug-ins. Version 3.1, released this week, may be a “point” release, but its two additions are significant. First, it’ll run as a VST plug-in in any host, which adds direct MIDI routing from plug-in to host. (Somewhere, plug-in developers are nodding, knowingly – AU may be more commonly associated with the Mac, but VST can be a better choice even for Mac users.) Second, as …

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Generative Ambient Event Bots, Free in Ableton + Max for Live

Composing with rules instead of playing notes directly, composer Richard Garrett has built a series of generative, algorithmic, ambient note makers and processors in Ableton Live and the Max for Live add-on. (And yes, user-generated content continues to be a rationale for why many people would purchase Max for Live in addition to Live itself.) With loads of useful controls for duration, start, and voicing – and the ability to feed events into anything you like – the results in your own work could sound very different than what you see hear. But whatever your musical aspirations, you can check …

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muirbuchla12

Create Analog Music: Buchla Love, Visiting the Studio of a Custom Modular Maker

All photos by Marsha Vdovin for CDM. Click for full-sized, gear pr0n versions. Print large-format, hang above your bed. CDM guest and photographer Marsha Vdovin joins us for a photo essay. Given free reign to choose what she wanted to do, she visits a Buchla module maker. Photos can speak volumes, and here the beauty of Don Buchla’s synth designs come through, a decades-long legacy of open-ended, eminently-musical sound possibilities. So, too, does the craft of the custom Eardrill modules. Disclosure: while we loved both, a number of us preferred the Buchla 100-series modular to the Moog modular we had, …

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