In news reverberating with synthesizer lovers and keyboardists everywhere, Keith Emerson died last night in his home in Santa Monica at age 71. Mr. Emerson’s impact on the world of keyboards and synthesizers is hard to overstate. And that impact may be wider now than ever before. If the musical idiom in which he worked was distinctive attached to its particular era, the role of the synthesizer he helped establish is one that now reaches around the world to artists across genres.
Can the metronome get a new lease on life as a smart wearable device? That’s the gambit of Soundbrenner, a Berlin-based startup that hopes to do for metronomes what the smartwatch and fitness wearables have for those categories.
Modstep is … an app that does a lot of sequencing things on iOS. Step sequencing and sequence recording with … a lot of stuff. And then those things all connect together, and there are templates for… Okay, it’s hard to explain. Those of us in the business have gotten used to the “it does a whole bunch of stuff” quality of DAWs. But now, new organisms are crawling out of the sea and walking on land, and they don’t have a genus and species yet. Fortunately, a new Modstep video does it absolutely perfectly, so let’s watch that.
There are a lot of hugely powerful things you can do with an environment like Reaktor. But that doesn’t necessarily suggest where to begin. The best way to get into a deep tool is often to solve a simple problem. At the Native Sessions installment on Reaktor 6, Nadine Raihani showed us a simple example of taking a user library offering and making some quick changes. The result: a Euclidean polyrhythm sequencer (Euclidean say what?) that you can play from a keyboard. That turns out to be scary useful: like holding down notes for instant improv techno.
It’s a marvelous time to be a musician. You can imagine a musical instrument, a compositional invention, and then realize that idea in short order. So I was glad to get the chance to emcee an evening of discussion with Reaktor experts, including the folks who built the tool, last month in the software’s hometown Berlin. That discussion ultimately was partly about Reaktor, but partly about the act of instrument building itself – meaning there were insights for anyone interested in working with electronics or software to dream up new musical tools.
“Gesture” is a term that gets tossed about regularly in modern interaction design. But to me, the word is most deeply associated with classical music – and the gestures that first brought me to music, the piano. In this video for TED@BCG, I got to talk about that and why I think it can inform design through today’s newest interfaces. In rapid-fire form, obviously more could be said about this.
Digital, analog – whatever. Let’s see what happens when Ableton’s latest digital hardware, the new Push, meets Eurorack, for a sort of convergence of the stuff electronic musicians are talking about right now. (Don’t worry; we aren’t going to a round-the-clock all-Ableton format – the Berlin developer is notoriously conservative about spreading out releases, so let’s give them this week as a special occasion. And, anyway, there are some tips here relevant to Eurorack users with or without any Ableton products. Plus, you might just like the music.) We stopped by the studio of Berlin-based musician Kaan Bulak. He’s an …
Music software can make you feel good. Music software can also make you feel almost guilty. And sometimes that makes you feel good. David Abravanel takes the updated Live 9.5 Instant Haus device (in Max Essentials) for a test drive, in combination with Simpler’s new slicer mode. Somehow, no one has done a video on this yet – maybe because they don’t want you to see how easy is to make breaks. With Instant Haus’ new pattern options for breakbeat-style sequencing, it’s crazy easy. That’s also a chance to show off the extra-gritty new modeled-analog filters. And if you’re thinking …
For many of us, there’s a special pleasure to seeing someone play live – and dancing to someone playing live. And by “live,” I don’t mean “a bunch of your tracks cued up as scenes in Ableton Live or on an Elektron.” I mean genuinely improvised. Electronic dance music naturally lends itself to on-the-spot creation. A rigid grid, easily-understood conventions around instrumentation and form, and the fact that styles like techno are built around machines all add up to natural experimentation.
In the age of five- and six-figure commercialism, empty and sugary big-stage shows, “DJ” has for some become the butt of a joke, a self-caricature. But DJs are essential to music lovers – now more than ever, with a deep catalog of records past and an astounding volume of new work produced daily, with the DJs shaping tastes and tone in clubs and beyond. Even if you never step into a club, these are the people shaping the way your audience hears. And so it’s refreshing to see the work of Mint Berlin, a booking agency augmented by parties and …