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Get smarter in Ableton Live with a treasure trove of tutorials and tools

If you’re using Ableton Live, you simply need to know about Sonic Bloom. It’s like a spa-slash-university for your Live-using self: you’ll come out refreshed, smarter, and even a bit better looking. Creator Madeleine Bloom has been busy. The site, at the age of three this month, now has five hundred tips, tutorials, and informational articles on Ableton Live. (And, occasionally, you’ll pick up an Oblique Strategy, or two – like fill every beat.) There are some ninety freebies, too – from Live Packs to skins and colors to keep your Live set looking spiffy. For instance, just this week, …

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Watch the Clavilux, an ethereal light organ from 100 years ago

Long before trippy visualizers and computer animation, before liquid light shows or laser parties, Thomas Wilfred was building organs for visuals. He called the art they produced Lumia, and the instrument Clavilux – a keyboard for light. That first instrument was built all the way back in 1919. But unlike a lot of the spectacles of the era, this one is still hypnotic today, even after all the advances of cinema and computing. Drawing on a tradition that included displays of fire and fireworks, and the ability to place sound “at the command of a skilled player at a piano,” …

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refaceback

Web MIDI and More Surprises You Didn’t Expect From Yamaha’s Reface

Yamaha’s Reface synth line are out now, with full details. You can dig through the site rather than have to do it here – but let’s look at what you might find surprising. It has Web MIDI, not just MIDI. Yamaha promises the line will connect to Google Chrome via Web MIDI. Now, theoretically, that’s possible in the latest Chrome builds with any MIDI keyboard, not just the Yamaha. But it suggests that Yamaha are atypically embracing bleeding edge tech (previously seen only at hackdays and such) and making it a standard feature. And there’s more: “Soundmondo is a free …

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elektron

Only One of These Czech Analog Synth Drum Machine Organs Exists

Before Elektron – you know, the Swedish drum machine company – there was Elektron. The Elektron-83 is the creation of Jožka Říhák, legendary in Moravia as a genius electronic instrument builder. His Syntezátor – 83 Unisono went into production, but the ELEKTRON – 83 is one of a kind. We got a live performance and demo/explanation of the creation at Brno’s Synth Fest hosted by Bastl Instruments and their new Noise Kitchen shop in the Czech Republic. And this thing is simply amazing.

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Nord’s Electro 5 Revises A Favorite Stage Piano

Year after year, a lot of what the music instruments industry does is iterative – evolutionary, not revolutionary. But for the day-in, day-out operation of a lot of gigging musicians, some of the less-thrilling announcements are the ones that simply make life better. That means, for example, Clavia’s announcement of a new Nord Electro 5 keyboard matters. The number of stage musicians who rely on the signature red keyboards from Sweden is simply stunning. Nord aren’t cheap, but their attention to detail has earned them a lot of impassioned enthusiasts. I actually had the pleasure of visiting Clavia when I …

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Fork this Chant: GitHub Goes Gregorian, with Open Source Notation

Before there was computer code, there was music notation. And before there was forking code or remixing music, there were centuries of variations to the musical code, stored in notation. So it’s fitting that musicians would begin to use GitHub – built originally as a repository for programmers – to store notation. And that means that in addition to music software and the like, you can find the WWII-era Nova Organi Harmonia organ accompaniments today on GitHub. Adam Wood, Director of Music with St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Hurst, Texas, made the addition, with help from a team including Jeff …

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A Kinetic Sonic Organ Sculpture, Made with Cans

In the latest example of kinetic, sound-producing sculpture, an Arduino-controlled organ of moving cans makes eerie, beautiful descending noises. Jakub Koźniewski, a member of the panGenerator collective, sends in details of that group’s work, sponsored in this case by the stuff in the cans: Kinetic audiovisual installation for burn displayed during burn Selector Festival 2011 Movement of the cans is controlled by 9 independent servos connected to the Arduino board while the sound is purely analogue – air pumped by 9 ordinary mattress pumps blows into the “whistles” at the top of plexiglass pipes. Tone is modulated by the current …

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Gorgeous Full-Sized Hammond B3 Controller for Native Instruments B4

Here’s someone who really, really loves Native Instruments’ B4 (II) software rendition of the Hammond B3 organ. The work of Markus Berger, this dead-ringer for a real B3 is actually a carefully crafted replica with elaborate MIDI control inside. The body is built by hand from cherry wood. Electronics were prototyped with the open source Arduino platform and implemented with electronics from Doepfer, then finished with manuals (that’s “keys” for you non-organists) from Fatar (as seen in Nord’s organs). Authentic-style drawbars finish the project. Correction: I got my wires crossed and originally claimed this had Fatar drawbars, but it’s Fatar …

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Metropolitan Museum of Art Puts Hundreds of Inspiring Historic Instruments Online

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed never to make anything as cool as 17th Century keyboard makers. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art announces (via its Twitter feed, no less) that it has gotten its Musical Instruments collection online. Over 800 inspiring objects of all kinds are available with photos, maker information, and historical notes, making this an extraordinary tool both for serious research and discovering wonderful designs. The best place to start is the Musical Instruments department page, which includes links to highlights, how to find the gallery in the Museum (believe me, you may need …

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MIDI-Enabled Pipe Organ Rocks Edinburgh

One of the wonderful things about control data is that there’s no saying you only have to interface with software and digital worlds: you can connect directly to the real world, too. Digitally-sequenced music can use acoustically-generated sound. 20th Century technology, meet 19th Century technology. CDM reader Gareth Edwards writes to let us know about his current project: Just wanted to let you know about a wee toy we’ve just finished building here in Edinburgh. We are a group that is part of the dorkbot movement (http://dorkbot.org/) and have just finished hacking a robotic MIDI retrofit onto a 1890s Gray …

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