Make:TV Meets Stanford Musical Inventors, Feedback Piano

Maker Profile – Computer Making Music on Make: television from make magazine on Vimeo. Make:Television has done a really lovely piece on CCRMA, the research center at Stanford University that works on problems ranging from acoustics and sound to musical instrument design. CCRMA is really just one microcosm of the whole music tech making scene around the world – a lot of increasingly beyond the walls of academia. But what a microcosm it is: I don’t think it’s understatement to say this is just the kind of institution a lot of us dream of. Among the highlights from the MAKE …

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Weekend Inspiration: NIN + Monome + Lemur, Trackers

In case you haven’t seen it, Nine Inch Nails has taken to the multi-touch Lemur control surface and More Buttons Than Thou top-end Monome. There’s a short video of an experiment combining the two with a real (MIDI-enabled) Yamaha piano. It’s just under a minute, but already evocative — I’m not entirely sure why Alessandro is manning the touchpad on his laptop given all this hardware around, but the cascading patterns on the Monome suggest both LED art and a digital take on a player piano. More videos on the official NIN YouTube page, which has recently launched a visuals …

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BabyGrandMaster: DJ/VJ Studio Packed into a Piano

Imagine every single piece of gear you have on your wish list. Then imagine a baby grand piano, lacquered in white. Then imagine — you know, for the sake of practicality — you want to use the piano as a projection surface. And sound system. And then imagine you just mash all those ideas into one gear-packed baby grand piano, and you’ve got the beautifully freakish BabyGrandMaster: Baby Grand Master It’s not just a gimmicky DJ piano. It’s a “video instrument”, blending visuals and audio. The last time we saw something somewhat like this was the keyboard with PC Miko, …

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She Comes in Colors: Peter Max’s Custom Baldwin Piano

One last minute addition to CDM’s wildly unrealistic and holiday gift guide that’s late enough to qualify as the post-holiday guide (that’s its unofficial name): Legendary Artist Peter Max Paints Baldwin Piano for Gibson Foundation Granted, not a digital instrument, but I still love acoustic pianos. Add a Moog PianoBar or a full-featured MIDI retrofit, and this is basically my dream instrument (and I’ve always been partial to Baldwins). And Peter Max remains a terrific visual visionary. You can help realize someone’s holiday wishes by giving to a charitable organization like the Gibson Foundation. They do some really good work, …

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Mactel Watch: Logic Pro 7.2.2 Optimized for Quad-Core Mac Pro; Ivory Pianos Now Intel-Native

Logic for Quads. Today’s treat from Software Update: Logic Pro 7.2.2 is a must-download if you’re lucky enough to have a new Mac Pro desktop. The update is optimized to take advantage of the Mac Pro’s quad-core architecture. Exactly what does that mean? I can’t say, because I’m perfectly happy blazing away on a dual-2.7GHz G5 (and had equally good experience when I had a MacBook Pro in for testing). But as we’ve observed before on CDM, multi-core optimization is the trend to watch. 10-foot Grands on 13-inch MacBooks. In other Mactel news, there’s a steady flow of Intel-native plug-ins …

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Reason Drum Kits Refill Reviewed; New Acoustic Piano Refill Previewed

I got a chance to work with the inexpensive (US$99) but high-quality library of acoustic drum kits for Reason, Reason Drum Kits, in a brief review for Keyboard Magazine. You can read the full review online. What most impressed me was how cleverly the samples were integrated with Reason: Via what Propellerhead calls â€Å“hyper-sampling,â€Â? you can assemble endless realistic combinations of sounds. Everything’s here: multiple dynamic levels, mics, playing techniques, and other variations of each sample. Thanks to Reason’s ReFill format and features like the Combinator, the variety is inspiring, not overwhelming. Multi-output drum kits automatically connect to Reason’s mixer …

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Powerful Piano Tuning on Windows Mobile: Pocket RCT

Tuning pianos involves some heavy science and art. In other words, Reyburn Pocket RCT has absolutely no relation to that simple guitar tuner you’ve got in your gig bag. It’s a US$900 powerhouse of visual tuning: Reyburn Cyber Tuner / Pocket RCT, for PocketPC (Windows Mobile) This is probably old news if you’re a piano tuner (either this or the Mac/Windows laptop version), but I saw it this weekend while I was staying at my parents’ house and a tuner came over to adjust our Baldwin grand. The tuner was more than happy to show it to me. You can’t …

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$99 Lounge Lizard Session: Must-Have Electric Keyboard Plug

There’s just not enough time (or money) for all the great plug-ins around. But one of my favorite instrumental plug-ins, one I can’t imagine living without, is the superb Lounge Lizard electric piano from Applied Acoustics. It’s physically modeled, not sampled, and as a result feels more organic than some of its competitors. EP-3 offered some welcome improvements, including a more fleshed-out effects section, more pickups and models, built-in audio recording, and micro-tuning; some users thought it wasn’t a significant upgrade when they first saw it, but upon closer inspection I think you’ll find it a must-upgrade. I expect a …

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Composer’s Studio Goes Digital: Tech Toys and Inspiration

Now that the rest of our studio has gone digital, the approach to producing score for acoustic instruments has changed, too. Here’s a look at some of my favorite toys and tools for keeping music flowing. You’d have to be a true Luddite to argue that word processors are bad for writing. Blogs, perhaps, sometimes inspire poor writing (ahem), but it’s more difficult to blame technology. The original argument that word processors would end the process of drafting and revision is absurd to anyone who’s spent long hours slaving over text in Microsoft Word. Our attitudes have changed as we’ve …

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Stage Piano Lite: M-Audio’s Lighter 88-key Keyboard Shipping

Stage piano. That usually means one thing: back-breaking pain. If you want 88 keys but don’t want a keyboard that weighs 50 or 65 pounds, your choices are generally limited. This week, you have one more choice: M-Audio’s new ProKeys 88sx keyboard. It’s semi-weighted, since full hammer action would add weight, but it still feels quite nice to play based on a quick try at NAMM. (It feels a lot better, notably, than the cheaper feel of the previous 88ES — this is meant for more serious players.) And it’s got features usually only found on more expensive (and heavier) …

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