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How the Millennium Falcon Got Its Hyperdrive Malfunction Sound

Old pipes? A vintage airplane? Mechanical equipment? Ben Burtt, Hollywood’s master sound designer, is remarkable for his economy and resourcefulness. That’s evident in this charming video in which he demonstrates how he evoked breaking machinery to realize the sound of the Millenium Falcon… not going into hyperdrive. The cinematic challenge is significant. It’s a bit joke, a running gag, but it has to simultaneously build tension in the film. And like the rest of Star Wars, the future is evoked by the past. (It is, after all, a galaxy long ago – and to impact audiences, couldn’t in fact be …

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Obsessing About Sound and Process: Climb Into Stewart Walker’s Ivory Tour

There’s a Japanese Taishogoto and vintage Lexicon PCM reverb and loads of computer production. But even for us souls tempted by gear lust, it’s the soul of process that has us talking, and talking, and talking – and listening, on repeat – with Stewart Walker. Native Instruments employee by day, prolific producer by night, he was kind enough to give us an extensive window into his world for CDM. In the dizzying flurry of music racing past, Stewart Walker’s “Ivory Tower Broadcast” is one I keep coming back to me. It’s one that somehow I’ve gotten closer to on repeated …

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MeeBlip anode Adds Edgy Wavetables; Here’s How They Sound

We have reached a wonderful place. It’s a world where we no longer treat digital and analog as simplistically better or worse, but as techniques, as colors, a spectrum of tools for exploring sound. Or to put it another way, we now make wild noises however we want. And that’s very much how I feel about the direction we’ve gone with MeeBlip anode, combining digital waveforms with analog filtering, which is why I’m keen to share it here on CDM and not just via the MeeBlip site. The new 2.0 firmware comes with a selection of 16 wavetables, covering a …

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Learn to Use Komplete 10’s Real Gems – Those Great New Reaktor Instruments

Just because there’s a nice marketing angle doesn’t mean that it has to be the story for you. And that’s been true of NI’s big, splashy product launches. Sure, there’s the epic-looking Traktor Kontrol S8 hardware launched this week – but you tell us you might be just as pleased with a compact controller or an update to the iPad app. And Maschine Studio does wonderful things with its big screens – but the MK2 still has great pads, costs less, and fits in a backpack. And then there’s Komplete 10. Yes, NI is keen to talk about its light-up …

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Watch Music Made from Clicky Keyboards

Click. It’s incredible how much sound is part of our world, sometimes in ways so profound we actually somehow miss them. Tech site The Verge wanted to spice up a story on the anniversary of IBM’s Model M keyboard, a product for which sound was an integral part of the experience. (That’s so true, in fact, that people will pay a premium for products like Das Keyboard that emulate it.) The result will come as beautiful music to touch typists everywhere, an etude in spacebars performed on a dizzying array of gadgets of the past. Producer John Lagomarsino goes into …

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Photo (CC-BY) @ fr4dd. Music below.

In 20 Minutes, with 20 Cables, Learn to Get Started with Modular Synths [Video]

Modular aficionados are fond of describing the potential of their boxes full of wires as unlimited, endless. That might well raise the question – where do you actually start? Schneidersladen, the unofficial headquarters for European lovers of Euroracks hidden away above a grocery store, has an intro course. Don’t watch this expecting stunning sounds – this isn’t about showing off. Instead, get ready for a big basket of bread and butter, the starting points to learn how to actually begin working. From there, you can get as fancy as you like. But the pace is methodical and beginner-friendly. German, but …

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Hands on with Dave Smith Pro 2: “The Most Useful Synth I’ve Ever Played”

Synthesist Chris Stack has had his hands on a lot of gear – and a lot of it with the Moog Music moniker on it. But every chance he gets, he’s bugging me about how in love he is with the Dave Smith Pro 2, the richly-appointed, nicely-overpowered monosynth on steroids as we described it earlier this summer. And he’s having a lot of fun, transforming it into a hybrid digital/audio “hub” – a sound source, but also a central brain for exceptional soundscapes. And in Chris’ hands, I’m certainly convinced, as this beast sequences beautiful frontiers of noise and …

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Eat a Cucumber! A Musical Playground Gets Kids Hooked on Veggies, Music, and Electronics

Quick, we need kids to be able to express their feelings, they really ought to learn more about electronics, and – more veg. Definitely need to eat more vegetables. You know what we have to do. Let’s combine all that. Moscow-based collective/project Playtronica has gone wild with the Makey Makey “invention kit,” and built a whole range of projects around interfacing electronics to vegetables and other creative inputs. They have hands-on workstations for kids that look like your Farmers’ Market was taken over by Leon Theremin. Kids are making rhythms, recording sounds, making songs. And in a CDM-exclusive premiere, we …

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Eerie Resonance: Listen as a Synth Accompanies Singing Architecture

Dancing about architecture? How about singing about architecture – or architecture that sings? Burnley England’s Singing Ringing Tree is an abstract sculpture that resonates with the wind. Rising above the grassy hills of Burnley, England, it seems to live at some strange intersection between future and past – a sci-fi Stonehenge. And the project, the 2006 work of British architecture firm Tonkin Liu, makes lovely otherworldly sounds. John Keston, sound designer and the writer of audio invention recipe blog Audiocookbook, has been making a set of “duets,” coupling more conventional electronic synthesis with the wind-blown ambiences of the SRT construction. …

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Transform Sounds for Free, with Tools Made with MeeBlip anode by Diego Stocco

The technique is called convolution, and it uses the power of digital audio theory to combine sounds, as if one is heard “inside” another. And if you’ve heard of it before, you probably associate it with reverb – rightfully so, as you can produce highly detailed, realistic reverberation with the technique. But as celebrated film and TV composer Diego Stocco has shown us previously, you can use that same potential to create sounds that would be otherwise impossible. And it means you can fuse the sounds of a synthesizer with totally unrelated sounds to create something unlike you’ve ever heard …

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