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The next prank call you get could come from this crazy synth

::vtol:: prankophone from ::vtol:: on Vimeo. If you pick up the phone and instead of a robocall or someone pocket dialing you, you get what sounds like a synthesizer that’s lost its mind, blame the Prankophone. Since we’re going to cover the latest from Ableton and Korg and so on in detail, we practically need a column for the quirky, prolific inventions of one vtol, aka Dmitry Morozov. Call it the Internet of Insane Things. (IoIT?)

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Free Patching Tool Pd (Pure Data) 0.46 Released: Native OSC, Jack

Pd: Ugly. Hugely useful. Free. The open-source, free graphical patching environment can do everything from simple MIDI tasks to building synths and effects to advanced multimedia. And because it’s free software, it’s also been adapted to run places other tools can’t – it’s been used in commercial iOS apps with millions of downloads (via libpd), and will run happily on a Raspberry Pi or even a hacked e-reader or ancient iPod. Contrary to popular belief, it’s also getting a healthy stream of updates. And while those usually don’t merit specific mention, 0.46 is very cool. (It’s the “vanilla” version, so …

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Launchpad + Raspberry Pi = Standalone Grid Piano Practice Machine, Boots in 10 Seconds

A standalone grid musical instrument? Done. And it can be a new way to venture into the worlds of harmony. Marc “Nostromo” Resibois is back with another clever Raspberry Pi hack. We saw him last fall, beating KORG to the punch with his own – digital – MS-20 mini, using the Pi. It’s still appealing, in that he has some other synth ideas the analog recreation can’t muster. This time, he’s made a standalone practice instrument for grid players, using a Novation Launchpad and the Raspberry Pi computer. Some shopping around for a Launchpad could mean you could put together …

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Roll Your Own Looper, Cheap: Raspberry Pi + Pd + KORG monotron Hands-on

If computers are compact and $25, we’re talking a very different world of music hardware. Armed with the popular Raspberry Pi, Servando Barreiro has made an incredibly-affordable, ultimately-customizable rig with free software and the open source community. Oh, and he’s made the KORG monotron polyphonic – after a fashion. See video at top for some beautiful chords. And that’s just the beginning. We’ll let Servando share how he’s working.

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Web-Connected Analog: Synths Render Sound From Your Browser, Remotely

On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog. But they just might know you’re an MS-20. Hector Urtubia – aka Mr. Book – has connected his synths to the Web and set them up for the world. Submit a music pattern, and send it off to the synths to be rendered to sound. It’s like Kinko’s, if they did analog synths instead of printers. Hector explains more: I created a web app (http://analogalacarte.com) which allows you to create a synth pattern, submit it and it will get rendered live in hardware on one of my synths at home. I …

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In Berlin, Mixing Learning with Hacking and Jamming, All With Free DIY Tools

CDM and yours truly team up with Berlin arts collective Mindpirates next week for a learning event we hope will be a little different than most. The idea behind the gathering is to combine learning in some new ways. The evenings begin with more traditional instruction, as I cover, step-by-step, how you’d assemble beat machines, instruments, effects, and video mixers using free software (Pure Data and Processing). But, we’ll go a little further, opening up sessions to hacking and jamming, finally using the event space at Mindpirates to try out ideas on the PA and projectors. By the last night, …

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Novation’s Launchpad S: Brighter, Faster, Driverless, Friendlier with Other Apps [Artist How-to]

Novation’s Launchpad may have begun its life focused mainly on controlling Ableton Live. But a new update, while not radically different from the original, is more flexible, working with more software and more operating systems – including the iPad. It’s also brighter and refreshes faster than the original. Updated – for a newer Launchpad, check out our hands-on guide to the Launchpad Pro. The Launchpad S is, generally speaking, still a Novation Launchpad. It has the same complement of controls, and unlike some recent hardware, it lacks features like velocity sensitivity and full-color RGB LEDs. This is still just a …

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BeetBox Lets You Play Root Vegetables; Latest Handmade Raspberry Pi Coolness

Bored by buttons and pads? Want something a bit more organice? BeetBox turns root vegetables into interactive percussion instruments, finally answering the question of “how can I work musical controllers into my five a day?” BeetBox is a simple instrument that allows users to play drum beats by touching actual beets. It is powered by a Raspberry Pi with a capacitive touch sensor and an audio amplifier in a handmade wooden enclosure. The project is the work of Scott Garner: Interactive > BeetBox Okay, maybe it’s not the most practical idea ever, but it is good fun. And that poplar …

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The Awesome New KORG Not From KORG: Raspberry-Pi Plus MS-20 Controller, Making Dreams Reality

There’s a drool-worthy new keyboard synth this week bearing the name KORG. The surprise: it comes one day after a widely-anticipated product announcement, and it comes from a single hacker, not KORG. One $25 embedded computer plus one controller equals one hackable, lovely instrument – with knobs and patch cords, no less. So, it’s hard not to compare this to the announcement yesterday. KORG makes some wonderful products, and it’s safe to say that a lot of electronic musicians view them as a company that uniquely “gets” it. From the monotron line to releasing analog filter circuit designs, the ongoing …

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Raspberry Pi, Your Next $25 Computer Synth? First Hacks Appearing

Apple may have started the conversation about the “post-PC” age. But part of what this means is that a “computer” doesn’t necessarily have to be something costing hundreds of dollars, in a conventional desktop or laptop form factor. It could look more like the Raspberry Pi, at US$25 and squeezed into a tin of mints. Suddenly, all those years of music software development are liberated from the big, pricey boxes on which we’ve run them all these years. The Raspberry Pi Synthesizer blog documents a project dedicated to this particular device, with a clever UI and yes, even polyphony. There’s …

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