Huggable Plush Synths and Soft Circuits, and Handmade Music NYC Thurs!

Electronics and synths are hard and you can’t hug them; plush animals and toys and blankets and pillows are soft and huggable. And we won’t even get started on the slightly-absurd gender associations of soft textiles and hard, toxic electronics. Or at least, so goes the traditional assumption. But increasingly, designers are becoming interested in soft design. So in a last-minute addition to Handmade Music NYC, Richie Brown has added plush instruments – a ring modulator and two synths, which in turn can be patched together. They’re instruments you can hug. (Next step: make the connections soft, too, I think.) …

READ MORE →

Designing Sound: Essential Blog Reading for Sound Designers, Plus Pixar’s Up

“UP” Sound for Film Profile from Michael Coleman on Vimeo. Miguel Isaza has created a must-read new blog for anyone interested in sound design, and much to our delight has put it on noisepages. He’s being incredibly prolific with posts, covering creative projects to get your ideas flowing, terrific overviews of leading people in the field with links to interviews and resources for learning about their work, and tons of links for learning your craft technologically and artistically. http://designingsound.createdigitalmusic.com/ Naturally, Pixar figures prominently, with some of the best sound design on the silver screen in recent years. I’m looking forward …

READ MORE →

Exclusive: Free Ableton Live Slicing Pack by Covert Operators

Slice of Winter from Bjorn Vayner on Vimeo. Hate soundware and generic downloaded samples? You’ll love this. The “Slice of Winter” sound pack created by Covert Operators for CDM doesn’t have a single sound in it – not one; you bring your own. Instead, install this pack and you get a whole mess of slicing presents for use with Ableton Live’s Slice to New MIDI Track feature. Grab an audio clip (or record your own), hit Slice to New MIDI Track, apply a preset, and you get a new Drum Rack instance with slices mapped to pads, effects, and live …

READ MORE →

Free Patches for Cakewalk’s Rapture Synth, Plus FL Studio, Reason, More

If you’re hungry for some patch content, the download-rich PatchArena has you covered, with a massive library of free, user-created content: PatchArena Downloads There are particularly large sections for the all-in-one studios EnergyXT, FL Studio, and a number of others. (Correction: Intua BeatMaker for iPhone/iPod Touch is promised, as well, though I got my categories confused — no files there now, so we’ll check in if some get posted! But it could be a great place to upload BeatMaker presets; see the thread on PatchArena’s forum.) Francesco Silvestri writes CDM to let us know about his latest addition, a huge …

READ MORE →

Hello, Maker Faire Attendees

Hello, coming to you live from San Mateo and the Maker Faire hosted by Make Magazine. If you stopped by the CDM booth today, I hope you stick around a while. This site, for musicians, DJs, composers, and soundmakers, covers the audible side. Create Digital Motion covers VJing and live and interactive visuals (for an audience we like to call visualists). We cover store-bought hardware and software as well as DIY, and love having everyone from beginners to advanced readers around. Here are some links to more information on some of what I was showing: Sensors and MIDI: Working with …

READ MORE →

A New Way of Learning Orchestration: Online, Free, Interactive

Talk about digital technology and music, and people are often skeptical: doesn’t technology get in the way of making music? But technology and music have always been interwined, and even for advanced composers, better understanding the technology of how acoustic instruments work is fundamental to realizing musical ideas. Unfortunately, orchestration books, despite their best intentions, can be disastrous for composers trying to understand instruments. Books by definition can’t include musical examples, and the texts themselves are often divorced from real practical information. Now the good news: the Web could offer an antidote.

READ MORE →

Free Online Lessons in Drums, Guitar, Keyboard, Theory

When the Web isn’t sucking away your time with utter silliness, it could be helping you brush up your musical chops. Here’s a roundup of useful resources, all of them completely free, for a variety of skill levels, whether you’re trying to learn to play with half-diminished chords or build yourself a DIY drum trigger for controlling software. And I’d love to assemble more of these if you’ve got some tips.

READ MORE →

Digital Wind Controller Discussion Group and FAQ

“MIDI is just for keyboardists.” Hearing generalizations like that must send shivers down the spines of the 1400+ members of the Yahoo Wind Controllers Group. They have enough to talk about to generate around 500 messages a month, chatting exclusively about MIDI and other digital wind instruments. If that kind of traffic sounds overwhelming, and you’re still asking questions like “why would you want to do this, anyway?”, check out the related Wind Controller FAQ. In answer to the “why” question, here’s one good reason from the FAQ: “A wind controller can be used for alternative sounds that a musician …

READ MORE →

Cycling ’74 Relaunches Site, Forum; Max/MSP Knowledge Thrives

Looking for new wisdom and expertise on tools like the insanely deep Max/MSP/Jitter? (If you’re using Max, signs point to yes.) Cycling ’74 relaunched their site a couple of weeks ago, incorporating a variety of features that make this an indispensible resource for users of Max and other products. Since late last month, the new site has gotten rolling fast. Collective intelligence, meet Max.

READ MORE →

Max/MSP Resource Roundup: Computer Music Special [Updated]

Welcome, Computer Music readers — feel free to drop me a line. Here’s a roundup of Max/MSP resources, as a companion to the feature story on Max I wrote for Computer Music Magazine. Max is a deep, deep program, but to get you started, I’ve lined up: Unusual controllers for performance (tablets to game controllers) Cool Max projects (flaming sound organs to musical punching bags) Essential Max tools (my favorite add-ons and upgrades) It’s everything you need to start making weird, futuristic music and art. Well, not quite everything, but enough to blow my mind, anyway. I’m planning more online …

READ MORE →