Electronic music has always had a funny relationship with musicianship. It isn’t playing a traditional instrument; instead, it lies somewhere between instrumentalism and composition, between playing and conducting. Sometimes, that scale is tipped away from virtuosity of any kind.
But lately, I’ve had an increasing number of conversations with people who make the tools with which we make music about what this all means. I’ll be able to share one of those conversations in a bit, but I’m curious to hear what readers think.
Jeff Mills comes to mind. He doesn’t just DJ with three decks, he also uses a TR-909 in his live sets.
Radium Audio Labs is a blog with some interesting sound design articles on things like frozen contact mics, recording guns, coil pickup and printer recordings, and more.
Explorative adventures in sound – Part of Radium Audio, a leading music and sound design company based in London. We work with agencies, cg & animation houses, digital agencies, game developers, brands and manufacturers.
Synthtopia rounds up some first impressions, like this one from ipaddj:
Anyone who has used the Korg Legacy plug-in will know what they are in for and the fact that you can grab patch cables and route them using the touchscreen is almost mind-melting. Like a childhood fantasy come true.
The huge sound of the MS-20 is totally there and I couldn’t stop making Daft Punk patches for the first few hours using the beast.
Tom at Waveformless celebrates his birthday (happy birthday, Tom!) with another free sample pack:
Today is my birthday, and in the spirit of "it's better to give than to receive", here are some free synthesized drum sounds from the Access Virus. I made these quite some time ago, so they were recorded at 16-bit through an E-mu E6400. As a result, some of them have a little noise in them, but around these parts, we like to call that "character". The source of the sounds is a mix of factory patches and third party patches.
Mark at Modulate This! explains how to the OSC modulate pulse width on u-he's splendid ACE synth.
After watching my YouTube video “u-he ACE Tutorial: Patch Cables 101”, I had a viewer ask “How can i modulate the pulse width of? the osciliator?”, so I thought I’d do a quick answer here in text form. Click the image above to see a larger version of the synth. Annotation numbers in diagram match steps below.
A self-styled "sound sculptor" is looking for a home for an unusual musical instrument that he has spent almost four years making. Henry Dagg created the pin barrel harp, nicknamed a sharpsichord, at his workshop in Faversham, Kent. Pegs put into one of 11,520 holes on a metal roll push levers which pluck strings to create the music. It was commissioned for a garden in London but Mr Dagg now feels it is too precious to be left outside.
Recently I picked up a used Roland TR-626 from ebay. I finally got around to sampling beeps and buzzes that this guy makes. Here is a sound library of all the sounds this drum machine makes. Each sounds has 15 different pitch levels that I label -7 to +7, 0 being the original sample. All the samples were recorded into Pro Tools at 44.1/16 bit. Also I circuit bend the hell out of this thing, so expect future posts with pictures and samples of it glitched out.
Acoustic cellos and violins, pianos, ensembles. 54 loops at all. 80-120 bmp, all keys in filename. Good for hiphop and similar styles. Basically it was commercial pack, but I change my mind and release it for free. :) wav format, 24 bit, 44100 hz, stereo, 154 mb
Hnery Olonga shares another effect for Acustica Audio’s Nebula:
Mega distortion is a distortion type effect that adds power and warmth to any instrument or mix. I made it using a unique signal chain. There is a slight levelling that happens as well allowing details buried deeper in the mix to come to the front. This effect is also useful in beefing up thin recordings. Try it on lame drums or a weak piano.
Sampled at 96 khz using Prismsound Orpheus convertors this is a no nonsense – no compromise effect. Ten distortion kernels means that this is a CPU hog so if you don’t have a fast machine – God bless you.
The Multichord musical instrument is an acoustic stringed instrument with a single string, constructed from wood, a hard drive, 20-lb monofilament, and assorted electronic components. It was the culmination of a project to build an acoustic instrument capable of playing multiple notes without fretting or manual, time-consuming retuning. The Multichord achieves this by attaching a hard drive read/write head assembly between the resonant string and a tensioning spring to adjust the tension of the instrument's string. Careful adjustment was made to the tension of both the string and the spring with the hard drive head in a neutral, unpowered position to ensure a bipolar application of voltage within the safety ratings of the hard drive's coil could cause the string to cover a full musical octave. In the end, the Multichord was tuned to a C-major scale (no flats or sharps) running from A at 220Hz through (but not including) A at 440Hz.
There are those who will throw away their old record covers but there are those that will use them to create some mind blowing artistic stuff.
One of them is definitely Christian Marclay, a New York visual artist, DJ and composer who used record covers of Michael Jackson , Doors, Donna Summer, David Bowie and many others for this piece of art. The relationship of sound, vision, music, art and performance is the focus of his work.
It's hard to believe another weekend is upon us, but it is, so here are some more free samples to get your weekend off to a good start. This time, it's a set of 21 24-bit synthetic percussion sounds I made on my Sequential Pro One
Say you’re an up-and-coming crew with a turntable and some mics. You’ve got a gig this Friday at the middle school gym (the janitor has been bribed appropriately) and the boys on the corner have been passing out your flyers to all the lovely ladies. Everything’s set, except you heard that Kool Herc is coming to battle. Herc and his mighty sound system schooled you last go-round, so you know you need something fresh to rock the bodies proper. Your DIY solution? The 55-gallon drum sound system.
The Control Centre has posted a sample pack features 38 piano samples in 44k 16 bit mono format.
This samplepack contains 3 pianos I recorded to tape in 1998. A Baby Grand, a Fender Rhodes and an old upright a friend of mine had in her back kitchen. I recorded the pianos using a Tascam 244 Cassette Portastudio and a Shure SM58 microphone. The Fender Rhodes was recorded to tape directly from it's line output. The recordings were then sampled using a Yamaha A3000 sampler.
I recently exported the samples from the A3000 sampler to my laptop computer via floppy disk, and then imported them into Ableton Live's Sampler. To save each piano into your Live Library, load the project, then save each sampler as a preset inside Sampler's preset browser. Live will copy the samples to your library automatically.
If you don't have Live 8 and Sampler, you can still use the samples to recreate these pianos in your choice of software.
The "Octapult" is a kinetic sculpture designed and built on commission by Bradley N. Litwin of Philadelphia, PA. With 8 synchronized catapults, 160 plastic balls per minute are launched, caught, and recirculated. Made mostly of wood, the work is ~36 inches in diameter. On permanent display in the lobby of Lower Merion Elementary School, Merion Station, PA. Also a performing jazz musician, more of Litwin's work may be seen and heard at www.bradlitwin.com.
XEROWorld is the next phase in the evolution of online arts & entertainment — a totally new and unique web destination that seamlessly integrates social networking, interactive events, magazine style-news, and online malls.
Kyle Evans modified a didgeridoo to experiment in the combination of the organic sound qualities of a didgeridoo with the advanced signal processing capabilities of modern computer programming and sound synthesis. He writes:
This custom built didgeridoo features externally mounted modules that allow the performer to process and manipulate the sound of the instrument in real time. All control data is transmitted wirelessly via blue tooth and is controlling several audio processes created in a custom-built software environment.
Synchronization is, by definition, a tough thing to do. But musical engineering is replete with challenges; it’s no longer acceptable to simply say “live with it” and walk away. It seems we need both better shared knowledge about what sync is how to make it work, and better engineering solutions on the software and protocols side to support the way users want to work. And yes, we need a new sync standard that goes beyond what’s presently available in MIDI alone
Tunited is a groundbreaking new independent music website which will assist new and independent artists and labels gain increased exposure, challenging the flagging music business’ growing reluctance to invest in this exciting area.
The top 100 artists will upload their music catalogue onto the website prior to launch; it will then be made available to the press and music industry for showcasing before the site goes live.
To become a profile artist, please click on the button below to enter your details and upload your track before midnight on 11.12.09. Your music will be judged by Tunited's panel of experts including Midge Ure OBE.
Josh made a LED sign which displays voicemails from his Google Voice account.
I made the LED sign following instructions from this tutorial on Nerdkits.com. The hardware is some LED’s, a nerdkit, a piece of cardboard and a bit of wire that I got from some Cat 5 cable laying around. I cut out the cardboard and printed a grid to help me lay out the LED’s. I think mine were 1 cm apart. The soldering took forever and it was the first real time I did any soldering so it looks kinda crappy. Oh well. It works. The sign itself is powered by a 9 volt battery and receives data from my laptop through the serial port via a USB adapter. All that stuff was included in the Nerdkit when I bought it. The microcontroller is running code from the tutorial I mentioned earlier. One of these days I’m going to make an enclosure for this thing.
Inspired by Bleep Labs' Thingamakit and Thingamagoop synthesizer noise maker creations, I set about making a plush version for my two-year-old daughter. My goal was to create something that was safer and easier to use for her, while remaining just as fun and quirky as the original Thingama' synths.
When you want to use Pro Tools software you need Pro Tools hardware, right? Well, it seems Mackie’s new Onyx-i mixer series is going to break with tradition.
Peter Kirn has some details:
Without the cooperation of Avid, Mackie says they have managed to get their Onyx-i mixer line working with Pro Tools, and they’ll even “certify” compatibility. At the end of July, a number of audio sites (including Mix and Sonic State, but not CDM) received a package with one of Mackie’s new mixers, a video, and a copy of Pro Tools M-Powered. The message: a “secret” driver provided compatibility between Mackie’s mixer-audio interface package and Pro Tools.
From Instructables: Music is absolutely essential for creativity – it inspires new ideas, helps us to create and build, and provides a soundtrack for life.
That's why we've teamed up with Zalytron, Create Digital Music, and Bleep Labs to bring you the Art of Sound Contest. Show us something amazing and music-related, and win an awesome set of hand-built custom speakers or a musical instrument kit!
The contest is open to any project that creates something beautiful with or around sound. Entry Deadline: 26-jul-2009.
# BITWIG, next generation music creation software for composers, producers and DJs around the world.
Within the virtual environment of a computer anything is possible, yet on a fundamental level, the way music is created today with computers is still very similar to how hardware studios were used. With an entirely new approach, we want to take the next step in the evolution of the computer music studio and create the music software we always wanted to use ourselves.
Bitwig is based in Berlin and founded by Claes Johanson, Pablo Sara, Nicholas Allen and Volker Schumacher. Our experience in the computer music software industry includes Ableton, where we were all part of the development team behind the successful music software Live, and Vember Audio, creator of the critically acclaimed software synthesizer Surge.
As part of the Home Recording 101 class at Revolution Audio, this past Thursday we did a shootout of 6 vocal mics. The mics selected were some of the top sellers at the store and ranged in price from the M-Audio Nova at $119 to the AT4060 at $1905.
M-Audio Sputnik, one of the mics featured in this shootout
Sound files of the recordings are available for download from AudioGeekZine.
The Record micro tutorials is a series of short and focused tutorial videos that will highlight one aspect of Record in each installment. We will add to this continously during Record's beta test period.
Tutorials currently available
Part 1 – Basics The first micro tutorial explains the basic layout of Record, how to move between them and how to go about making your first recording.
Part 2 – Reason & Record integration The second micro tutorial shows how Reason and Record work together as one when installed on the same computer.
# Gotharman’s Deformer a granular effects processor, a polyphonic filterbank synthesizer, a MIDI note randomizer.
It's an analogue style 2-track MIDI sequencer. It's the first machine in the world (I think), that can do REALTIME TIMESTRETCH ON A LIVE INPUT AUDIO SIGNAL. Add to this a granulator that cut's the input audio signal up in fragments, and lets you move these fragments around with the 16 step pots to rearrange beats and others in realtime. Use the two fully programmable filterbanks to tweak the sound further. Or create complete synth-patches by combining the internal polyphonic oscillator section with one or both of the filterbanks. Create two note and controller sequences and run them thru the note randomizer to create enddless non-mechanical variations. Store your arrangement in one of the 512 program locations for instant recall. That's the Deformer!
The Drum Kit – Kit lets you turn your Arduino into a drum kit. Imagine the fun you could have building a drum kit and then “rocking the house”.
The kit contains the electronic parts required to make a drum kit. This includes the circuit board, resistors, diodes and pins. You supply the Arduino and the material to make the actual drum pads. Below you will find the easy instruction on how to make traditional looking drum pads, but you could also stick the piezos (the part the sense the hits on the drum) to many different surfaces. Imagine, playing your desk, lamp and telephone!
# LITE2SOUND – This is a sensitive lightwave reciever that lets you explore the hidden sounds of modulated light. LITE2SOUND is a simple kit with 24 parts that solder to the board. It has a ¼” line output jack and runs on a coin cell battery.