Watch a Short Film on the Play Between Musicians and Instruments, Design and Technology

From Rush to the classical clarinet to rethinking the keyboard interface, a lovely new film by Michael Shane explores the relationship between music and technology, and the philosophy behind new musical inventions. Two New York-based characters figure prominently in that investigation. There’s Martin Yee, the drum tech, who talks about humans and drums. (Sadly, we don’t get into the question of acoustic technology – that’s something I hope to cover in upcoming reports, both in transforming and augmenting the drum kit, and re-designing the acoustic piano.) Then, there’s the ubiquitous keyboardist Jordan Rudess, whom I think puts on one of …

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frankie_gray

Why Frankie Knuckles Mattered: Read, Watch, and Hear

The passing last week of Frankie Knuckles has led to an outpouring of remembrance for this dance music pioneer, a signal of just how deeply and broadly his work was felt. To give us greater insight, CDM turns in our obituary to Denise Dalphond, the enthnomusicologist who has devoted much of her work to researching the roots of electronic dance music in America. (Her PhD dissertation, “Detroit Players: Wax, Tracks, and Soul in Electronic Music,” is due soon.) She gives us her thoughts on Knuckles’ significance as well as lining up some of the best places to watch and hear …

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The Curious Digital Modular: Watch aleph bees in Action

aleph bees introduction from tehn on Vimeo. It’s like having a roomful of modulars inside a mysterious magic box. It’s like using Max/MSP with the control interface of an Etch-a-Sketch. It’s … okay, really hard to describe. But aleph bees is certainly unlike digital hardware we’ve seen before. Using just knobs and text, and silky-smooth sound features – everything runs fast and glitch-free, even hot-swapping hardware – aleph bees is a kind of experiment in computer minimalism. It’s as open-ended as a computer, but in ruggedly-simple hardware. It lets you program custom software with a few twists of your wrist …

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Brian Eno, portrait by Ralf Schmerberg.

Watch Artists Talk The Meaning of Life, Musically Speaking, In Free Feature Film [RBMA]

Forget for a moment that Red Bull Music Academy has for a decade and a half assembled some of the world’s greatest-known artists to dish out inspiration. Forget that that’s Brian Eno’s mug staring back at you with cool, blue eyes. Forget that music “careers” can span from finding ranking in Forbes to scraping together extra tips at a bar to own a synth, with a gulf in between that can make people question the value of their work. If you’re reading this, it means that you probably have made music your life. You build music and maybe you build …

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Getting Intuitive with Machines: Inside the Music of Lando and Machinedrum

Getting closer to your machines shouldn’t mean getting further from the feelings that drive your work. That sense of instinct is what keeps music moving forward. How do you make that connection? How to you link your musical roots to the track you’re banging out in the studio today, that first intuitive inspiration to the end product? It’s nice to have artists like Machinedrum and Lando for some insight – even if you’re working in a different genre – as they have a terrific handle on the craft of channeling emotion into finished tracks. Odds are better that you know …

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This Wearable Necklace Mic Could Change How You Hear – or Record

Listening accurately is all about direction. It’s the power that lets you carry on a conversation in a loud bar, and hear where sounds are coming from. But for anyone trying to record sounds – or anyone who has impaired hearing – those sounds can be lost. Directional microphones can solve that problem, but they have an additional one: size. Some of the more directional mics are simply huge. That’s where Wear becomes interesting. Emmy-winning engineer and AV specialist Eric Rosenthal teamed up with designer and sound artist Michelle Temple, and they’ve created a new solution. (Rosenthal is an ITP/NYU …

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Mexico Meets the World, in Superbly-Diverse Mixtapes from Static Discos [Free Downloads]

If you wondered where your musical inspiration would come from in the waning hours of 2013, or the early hours of 2014, we’ve got some ideas. In lieu of top-this-and-that lists, we have a motherload of musical listening and discussions for a series we’re calling Music into 2014. Eclectic and electronic, Mexico’s label Static Discos has become a nexus for artists from around the globe. Now, you can tap into that network as a listener, free. The new Dimension Series – a massive collection of free mixtapes from some extraordinary international artists – joins a year-end mix from the label …

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Moby Opens Up Project Files for Remixing in Ableton, Pro Tools [Exclusive Details, VIP Code]

What do you do when you’ve been one of the biggest impacts on electronic music, outlasting a succession of trends and fads, remaining one of the best-known names in sound? I mean, you can’t just start giving things away, right? Actually, if you’re Moby, that’s exactly what you do. He wants you to collaborate with him – and he’s made it really easy (even if you want to get something out of the result). It’s safe to say Moby is different from many of his peers. At the young age of 48, Moby has managed to be a presence in …

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littleBits Synth Kit, First Hands-on: What They Sound Like, Reviews, Videos

Imagine if you could take apart your favorite recent KORG analog creations, chop it up into little blocks, and then snap them together with magnetic ease? In other words, imagine if you could put together a KORG synth as easily as you did LEGO? It’s every bit as much fun as you’d imagine. I’ve been testing the littleBits Synth Kit for a few days now. I’ve got some sounds for you here so you can hear some of what’s possible. (They’re Creative Commons-licensed, if anyone wants to try to sample them in a track; I know I’ll be working on …

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littleBits and KORG: Snap Together A Synth with Magnets, $159; Module-by-Module Details, Q&A, Gallery

New York startup littleBits and founder Ayah Bdeir helped pioneer the modern definition of open source hardware. But they also put it into action, getting even young kids snapping together their own hardware ideas. The process is addictively simple: whereas platforms like Arduino require breadboards and wires, littleBits’ tiny circuits are already pre-made and snap together with magnets. It’s an idea that screams out for sound applications. And now – in a collaboration that leaked earlier this week – that’s happened. The surprise is, the collaborator is none other than KORG. The price: US$159 (direct, and at some retailers). Shipping: …

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