Samples, No Computer: $99 Akai MPX8 Combines Pads, SD Card, MIDI and USB Port

Sometimes, there are designs that seem almost impossibly like an answer to a specific need. Let us illustrate. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a box that you could play, independent of a computer, that just let you mess about with samples directly from an SD card? And wouldn’t it be nice if it had MIDI jacks on it, too, and not only USB, so that you didn’t need the computer handy? That’s the MPX8 from Akai Pro. It’s dead-simple, so you’ll do most of your sample manipulation away from the hardware. (There’s a free Mac and Windows sample editor …

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Abuse Sampling for Sound Design: Free Tutorial, Rack in Ableton Live

The response to the breaking Live 9.1 news this week was fast and furious; we were honestly surprised at the vast readership of the story. A lot of you must have multiple displays or virtual desktops you want to use (or, now, even a Push). But sometimes the best upgrade is the one you can install in your brain. Improve your technique, and an array of musical possibilities open up. Take this terrific tutorial from DJ Vespers as an example, which involves varying very small sample slices in Ableton’s Sampler to create unique pads. It works especially nicely with Sampler’s …

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New Gold Panda Full-Length: Hypnotic Craft, Deep Feelings, as Always

Gold Panda is back with another full-length masterpiece. Here, any gauzy soft-focus fuzz is stripped away. The music is still warm, focused on chopped-up samples, and delicious, meditative repetition. But it’s more focused than ever, with a dry directness that lets his musical craft come further to the fore. There is some narrative and program explained on Gold Panda’s “Half of Where You Live.” Some of that is hard to miss – exotic percussion, clanging away as though you’ve ventured out onto the streets in some far-off city, references in titles and vocals to place. And there’s a sober comment …

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Four Tet Walks Through His Unique Live Rig for Red Bull Music Academy [Video]

Playing with laptops can become performative in conventional ways, just by adding instruments – voice, guitar, live drums, ukelele, or whatever it is you play. But it becomes more mysterious in the hybrid performance media that emerge from “playing” the arrangement directly, manipulating the larger bits of a track in the form of stems and samples. That can be really boring – the “press play” approach – or it can begin to embody an artist’s musical imagination. They can improvise with the composition. You’ll want to make sure you don’t tune out early in this video with Four Tet, shot …

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Reason 7’s New Tools for Slicing, Stretching, Retiming Audio: Q&A, Tutorial Vid

Far beyond the simple sampling that first appeared in hardware, slicing, re-timing, and stretching audio keeps getting more sophisticated, manipulating recorded sound in musical ways. But a lot of the popularity of this technique traces back to Propellerhead and their ReCycle tool. By bringing together smart digital slicing with its REX file format for loops, ReCycle helped launch the looping craze in software. REX support has always been part of Reason, since the start. But the way sound works in Reason has gradually evolved, particularly as Swedish developers Propellerhead made Reason into less of a rack of synths and more …

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If I Could Save Sounds in a Bottle… Interactive Experiment Does Just That

Re:Sound Bottle -second mix- from Jun Fujiwara on Vimeo. Sampling might feel sometimes like bottling up sounds. But in a project from Japanese designer Jun Fujiwara, the experience is delightfully literal – much to the surprise of people who try it out. As seen in videos, Re:Sound Bottle records sound snippets when uncorked, then remixes them into rhythmic music. Have a look. It looks like great stuff. Dear Jun, if you’re out there and read CDM, we’d love to hear from you! Description and original video below:

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Discover Music, Get Free Samples and Live Packs, Get Your Ocarina On

Some CDM commenters accuse this site of being shills for Ableton, of giving disproportionate coverage to Ableton Live and Push. Others accuse us of being hipsters, endlessly talking about things like 8-bit video game consoles and Nintendo. And so, I’m pleased to come to you today with a 30,000 word, peer-reviewed white paper relating the latest developments in high-end studio consoles, using a highly disciplined double-blind test to evaluate the impacts of analog summing on the behavior of migratory birds. Or… no, actually, let’s feed the trolls. It’s hard to believe, but our friend Brian Funk aka AfroDjMac has been …

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Mobile Studio: iMaschine And Making Drum Kits in the Sun [Tips]

Where I live, at least, the darkest winter on record has given way to spring. The trees outside my flat have sprouted leaves in the past 48 hours. And so, the idea of making electronic music out in the sun suddenly has a lot of appeal. This spring and summer, we’ll be featuring some ways to make music en plein air – even with technology. There are now a number of drum machines for iOS, and Native Instruments’ iMaschine hasn’t seen much of an update since its release. But iMaschine is my choice here for several reasons: It’s built for …

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Propellerhead Reason 7: External MIDI, Integrated Slicing Get Serious, Overdue Love [Preview]

Happy 2013, everyone! Here’s CDM with the latest news. It seems there’s a new synth called the Korg MS-20! Or you can have a monosynth with filter saturation – that arrangement of three oscillator knobs looks cool. All of these things use a ground-breaking format called MIDI that allows digital instruments to talk to one another. And you can even get software for your computer that now supports MIDI output. So, you can use your computer to talk to your synth – that is, if you aren’t busy taking advantage of the computer’s ability to slice up audio. In case …

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Free Granulator II from Robert Henke for Max for Live; Another M4L Grain Instrument On Its Way

We’re spoiled by modern software as a canvas for experimental sound. Significantly, once constructed and encapsulated, these digital sound devices can fall away, allowing you to explore new noise frontiers through play, not only through calculated sound design. (That very question has come up in very different conversations with developers I’ve had in the last 24 hours or so, so I think it’s worth mentioning – whether it’s something you’ve created or downloaded, you can get to the point where you use your ears and intuition to find sounds.) Let’s talk about that in regards to Ableton Live and Max. …

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