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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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Before Computers, the Godfather of House Made Remixes with Razor Blades: Frankie Knuckles, RIP

The picture of old-school DJing is someone hauling around a crate of records. Frankie Knuckles, the house pioneer, was playing The Warehouse in Chicago and touring with reels of tapes. Remixing was something done with a razor blade. The saddening news has arrived that “godfather of house” Frankie Knuckles has died at the age of 59. His friend and collaborator David Morales shared the news via Twitter late Tuesday. (See Ben Rogerson’s report in MusicRadar, which comments a bit on the origins of Jamie Principle’s Your Love.) The man most associated with Chicago house music actually was born in the …

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Abbey Road at Home? Waves Emulates Double Tracking Made Famous by Beatles, $99 Sale

It all started in 1966 as a way to fake multiple takes – and it works pretty well for any vocals. And now, in one of the more ambitious emulation efforts undertaken recently, software engineers are hoping to recreate a sound you know quite well from artists like The Beatles. And oh, yeah, even if you don’t want to sound like Paul or John or George, this turns out to be a pretty easy way to double up vocal recordings. That is, if they’ve done a convincing emulation. Plug-in giant Waves Audio has partnered with Abbey Road Studios themselves, and …

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Roland Recalls TR-909 History in Aira Teaser; Reminds You Original Used Samples

Roland hasn’t been this buzzed about in a very long time. But in its carefully-calculated teaser campaign for Aira, the company is back in a big way. And we’re slowly getting to see the four Aira devices to be introduced this week. We know Aira will include a drum machine. We know there will be a TR-08. We know there was a video recalling the history of the TR-808. Now, Roland is talking TR-909 history. You can either take that to mean something about the TR-08, or that a TR-909 reboot will accompany the TR-08. Teaser campaign aside, fans of …

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The POD that changed everything. Photo (CC-BY) Lauri Rantala.

Yamaha will Acquire Line 6, Major Innovator in Guitar Tech

Even in a big year for acquisitions – with Gibson acquiring Cakewalk, for one – this news comes as a surprise to many of us. Yamaha, the 1887-founded Japanese conglomerate with a stake in everything from golf carts to wheelchairs to jetskis to pianos, is acquiring Line 6, the independent California-based guitar and sound product manufacturer. Yamaha is a huge force in products for music and sound, without question, with an unparalleled design, manufacturing, and distribution apparatus. And music is at their core – look closely at those motorcycles and jetskis, and there’s a reason you’ll see tuning forks. Yamaha …

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ANS – Amazing, Eerie Russian Optical Synth – Now on Every OS [Megaguide to ANS Old and New]

Few early instruments from the last century can still sound futuristic today. But the photoelectronic ANS synthesizer is an enormous vintage hardware device that can already stand toe to toe with today’s most bleeding-edge software. It’s a natural for an iOS conversion, and an incredible amount of fun to use in software form – but also makes this a good time to revisit just how forward-thinking the original was. Before electronics grew in wide use in musical instruments, sound designers took a cue from soundtracks for film. That is, before digital, before analog, there was optical. Sound artists, including a …

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Roedelius: Dreamy, Ambling Ambience from an Electronic Legend [Videos]

Born in a very different Berlin in 1934, Hans-Joachim Roedelius is an elder legend of electronic music and piano, having helped establish the voice of German krautrock and ambient music. (Think Cluster, Harmonia, Aquarello.) But today, he is as active in international tours as artists a fraction of his age, freely pouring out music. And his music itself is liberated, flowing … youthful. In a live performance captured recently at the arts space Mindpirates, he joins the excellent multi-instrumentalist and bass player Armin Metz. With great swells of sound amidst a nicely-meandering, jazz-like exploration of notes and mists, the two …

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Plans to Move Moog Archives to Cornell Ignite Controversy, Concern for Bob Moog Foundation

This story has been updated based on an FAQ and official response to CDM from the Cornell University Library, responding to some of the concerns. The not-for-profit Bob Moog Foundation has been working since the synth pioneer’s death to restore and make accessible his archives, undertaking preservation efforts, mounting exhibitions, and recently acquiring a space to house them. They were therefore surprised last week, they said, to learn these archives were instead being donated to Cornell University, Moog’s alma mater. The announcement has quickly inspired an outcry from the music technology community, with critics arguing the move would cripple years …

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Happy Independence Day: The Legacy of the Computer is Not the Mouse

Oregon-born engineer, inventor, and thinker Douglas Engelbart has died. He’ll be listed in many outlets as, mundanely, the inventor of the computer mouse. Certainly, the demo of that technology in 1968 had a profound impact. But what’s stunning is that even at that demo, the mouse wasn’t the most impressive thing Engelbart showed. At the same talk, he demonstrated videoconferencing and textual hyperlinks. And the real legacy of Engelbart was his computer humanism, an idea that spread virally to motivate the world of computing as personally powerful, communicative and expressive. What enabled Engelbart to look so far into the future, …

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How Music Can Predict the Human/Machine Future [re:publica Talk, Video]

This week, at Germany’s re:publica conference – an event linking offline and online worlds – I addressed the question of how musical inventions can help predict the way we use tools. I started all the way back tens of thousands of years ago with the first known (likely) musical instrument. From there, I looked at how the requirements of musical interfaces – in time and usability – can inform all kinds of design problems. And I also suggested that musicians don’t lag in innovation as much as people might expect. I thought about whether I wanted to post this as …

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