max7collage

DIY Tool Max 7 Arrives; Here Are The Best New Features

Being “software about nothing” isn’t easy. Max has for years been a favored choice of musicians and artists wanting to make their own tools for their work. But it’s been on a journey over more recent years to make that environment ever more accessible to a wider audience of people. The aim: for beginners and advanced users alike, work faster, producing tools that work better. Okay, those are easy goals to set – a bit like all of us declaring we’re going to “get in better shape” in a few weeks from now on New Year’s Eve. But Max 7 …

READ MORE →
theremini

Making the Theremin Digital: How the Moog Theremini Works, What MIDI Brings

Let’s get one thing straight: Theremins aren’t digital. (Apologies for the headline for a moment, but stay with us.) Theremins are based on perhaps the most important analog process there is in sound, heterodyning. And Leon Theremin can’t claim credit for this, nor Bob Moog or USA or Russia or Germany – it’s initially Canada, in the form of one Reginald Fessenden. (Go, Canadian engineering! Later on, Edwin Howard Armstrong develops the superheterodyne circuit that most resembles the Theremin, so that’s actually one gold medal each to USA, Russia, Canada.) It’s a fancy word, but the concept is dead-simple: you …

READ MORE →
pythagorasinterface

Pythagoras, Upcoming iPad App, Recasts Frets to Make them More Harmonic

To celebrate what in the US we call 3.14 or PI day, today I’m offering stories that deal with mathematics and circles. First up, an app named for the great philosopher who is credited – even if perhaps ahistorically so – with finding that ratio and ratios in harmonies. Technology has long introduced innovations that make playing easier for specialists and non-specialists alike. Just ask anyone who plays an instrument like the guitar – frets, and the simplified notation that went with it, go back centuries as a means of allowing more people to make music. Developer Rob Fielding wants …

READ MORE →

Tascam’s New $99 Portable Stereo Recorder, with Pitch Control

There was a time when Tascam was associated with cheap, solid mobile gear for recording, like the Portastudio. The handheld DR-03 could be a landmark for a more digital age. It’s just US$99 for a microSD recorder with built-in stereo mic in a package Tascam describes as “smaller than an energy bar.” It’s designed to be operated handheld without a lot of noise (we’ll have to test that), and – in what I think may be the killer feature – it includes looping and Variable Speed Audition, so you can use it easily as a practice, music transcription, or interview …

READ MORE →

Notes and Neurons: Bobby McFerrin Shows Everybody Gets Pentatonic

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo. At the World Science Festival in June here in New York, specialists – including musical specialist Bobby McFerrin – gathered to ask what in music we humans hear universally, versus what is culturally specific. Is our response to music hard-wired or culturally determined? Is the reaction to rhythm and melody universal or influenced by environment? Join host John Schaefer, Jamshed Barucha, scientist Daniel Levitin, Professor Lawrence Parsons and musical artist Bobby McFerrin for live performances and cross cultural demonstrations to illustrate …

READ MORE →

Melodyne Automagic Pitch-Changing Direct Note Access is Here, in Beta

The wait is over – and rumors that Melodyne’s bleeding-edge technologies to allow direct access to notes in polyphonic audio had failed to come to fruition turn out to be false. (I was skeptical about those rumors in April.) Melodyne DNA did take longer than expected to ship, but then, that isn’t exactly news in the software business. And now you can try this “note access” concept for yourself and see what you think (well, provided you’re an existing customer). Coupled with time-based manipulation of audio in the form of updated tools in Ableton Live 8, Cakewalk SONAR 8.5, Propellerhead …

READ MORE →