Novation last week released a new set of tutorials for their Circuit. These cover scales, melodies, and chords. Those are interesting not just for those with limited skills on other instruments, but also, ironically, as a way to get away from your usual habits if you are used to something like a piano.

The tutorials are great, but this raises a question. Which tutorials would you most want to see – what topics, and what hardware?

There’s of course way more gear out there than you could ever reasonably cover. But while some material applies to everything (music theory, for instance, or the principles of mixing), some technique really is specific to particular hardware.

Reader stats on the articles we’ve had on Circuit tell me that you agree with us – this is a sort of “people’s drum machine,” thanks to its simplicity, low cost, and a steady stream of updates. (For the latter, firmware updates I imagine will soon hit the limits of the hardware, though users should continue to make interesting sounds and so on.)

Now, Novation are lagging a bit – documentation is only just complete on the Novation Circuit Mono Station, which is by some measures more complex than the original Circuit. (At least that’s true considering what’s available on the hardware itself, before you get into Circuit’s editor.)

We could do some research / survey on this, of course, but prior to that I’m curious to open this up to discussion.

Oh, and let us know how you’re working with the Circuit, as I know a lot of you are making fairly heavy use of it.

Back to the human side of this, it’s worth revisiting this film CDM co-produced with Novation. Shawn, I want to hear what you’re up to these days with the Circuit (and everything else).

I love Shawn’s idea of “a lot of Jedis.” That’s why it’s actually exciting that more people are developing chops – and a reason to do good tutorials and share knowledge. A golden age of Jedis would be great for music. No one would ever say, “I wish there weren’t so many Jedis – it’d be better if there were fewer.”

  • I use the circuit all the time as a songpad on trips :

    or jamming with other gear at home:

    I’ve had the launchpad for a year or so but, I picked up a few new things in the tutorial videos.

    I’ve wanted to do some really in depth tutorials on some old gear I’ve had for a while. Hidden features, using it with other gear, editors for modern computers, repair tips and parts sources. Mostly over the kind of stuff you have to dig through forums to find. The interest would probably be niche since it’s based on what gear I have (Rhodes, spinet hammond organs, ensoniq mirage, old yamaha and korg rackmount synths, old analog mixers, interfaces you get the idea). Any body have any interest in something like that?

  • Mihail Mihaylov

    I found it shines best on its own even with its limitations. Sound is a bit bright though so I record it through a cassette deck. I feel that Circuit is one of the few instruments that is a “genre” by itself – like the electribes (old & new) or Op-1. Here’s a jam

  • please please please please

    The circuit desperately needs a firmware update to give some humanity to its rigidly quantized rhythms. Nothing but locked 16ths forever gets really old after a while….

  • Love my Circuit. Goes with me wheretever I take a messenger bag*. The New Firmware update with Microsteps is great. BTW I’m a fan of Tutorials Especially the kinds like above. (Exploring music theory specific to your instrument). For example There are (Scant few) TR-8 Composition Tuts that, while I know the Machine Real Well, learning how to do tricks in other Time signature really opens up the Sonic Arsenal.
    * I don’t have it now. My self and other Miami Electronica artists are starting using my Circuit collaboratively. Now there a fair bit of trust here, but my Circuit is “On tour” I loan it to friends who keep it for month, pass it around at jam sessions put as many or as few “Songs” or sounds as they like then they give it back to me. I’ll dump the tracks back up to the Drop Box and every body can see what everybody did and Just mess around or whatever. It’s neat way to remix ideas and bounce stuff around.

  • Agreed on the description of the Circuit as the “people’s drum machine”. Coming late to this kind of electronic music scene, it really feels like the stories you hear about the 808 or some other classic device. Including its limitations.
    Haven’t bought one but been very interested. It probably wouldn’t fit my approach and my ears are already pretty busy. But it’s obvious that something is going on, around it.

    “Which tutorials would you most want to see – what topics, and what hardware?”
    Ha! Good question, especially coming on a site which isn’t filled with annoying attempts at grabbing our attention to purchase expensive training which would allegedly make us feel like our musicking skills could really reach a higher level.

    Judging from some of my searches on Lynda (which is free to Ottawa residents, thanks to the library), some of it would be about synth choice, in a way which actually decreases our Gear Acquisition Syndrome. To my mind, nobody else would do as good of a job.
    Some of the Novation hardware would also be part of it. Has searched specifically for that, thinking about the Circuit. So it’s nice that the manufacturer itself is getting in this game (a bit like Ableton did with their music training minisite).
    Tutorials on the quirkier indie synths would be useful. Say, the meeblip. But also some of the Bastl stuff. The Patchení Nikol tutorial on physical modelling was truly inspiring. But it’s harder to imagine how to approach the Kastle, say.
    You probably don’t want to get me started on everything related to the Raspberry Pi. There are tutorials and well-documented builds out there but we still need more, especially when they have to do with building, tweaking, and playing custom synthesizers. The upcoming release of Sonic Pi with full support for MIDI and OSC I/O will make a big difference. But the need for training in all things RasPi is so strong that people have had me do workshops.

    Tutorials on common techniques like “finger drumming”, step sequencing, and looping would greatly help. And they all fit the Circuit quite well. (Percussionist Ken Shorley did a good job explaining polyrhythms on the Circuit, but there’s a whole lot more to these techniques which require training.)

    Given my recent purchase of an Eigenharp Pico, the tutorials which will be most useful to me in the foreseeable future are either directly related to that instrument (including stuff from Geert Bevin) or have to do with the expressive side of sound design. Have yet to really get into designing my own sounds, but it’s very obvious to me at this point that the ’harp enables me to do so.

    Otherwise, most of my needs for tutorials would have to do with software. Got somewhere with things like Sonic Pi, Pure Data, SuperCollider, Processing, ChucK, and TouchDesigner (in decreasing order). But learning JUCE feels like a very logical step at this point. And proper tutorials would change everything, in this case. Especially since there’s an actual void. With things like, say, Ableton Live and Apple MainStage, there’s some useful Lynda material (same level as Adobe Illustrator, Blender, or HTML5). With the other music-related programming languages, there are several opportunities to train yourself (and Sonic Pi’s tutorial is so useful that it served me in technopedagogical presentations). But JUCE is exactly the kind of thing which would enable amazing possibilities if it were taught properly through tutorials yet remains “obscure” enough not to get this attention.

    So… If you’re genuinely gauging interest in music-related tutorials, my main suggestions would actually be JUCE, step sequencing, and sound design. Probably in that order.

  • swm

    I have praised Novation a lot for the suppport of the circuit, but to me this update is a huge disappointment, after asking the users what they want on the Circuit facebook owners page. This creates some expectations. It turned out (some of ) the mentioned features were only implemented in the new Circuit Mono.

    It is nice we can addition the sounds bette now, but further none of the, very well known, long asked features were given in this 1.5. Instead this ‘update’ is almost actually only a midi settings addition, that could be seen as a bug fix, together with a very unneccesary Gate thing (6 extra length options added to the allready existing 16??) and what? :the message that the Circuit Can Be Used With The New Circuit Mono.

    Again Very disappointing after the public inquiry.

    Pretty sure this Message will disappear, as will any Slightly critical sound on the heavy moderated official circuit owners facebook page. Even truthfull facts, (in answers to questions asked) are disappearing when they seem to not be good for sales.

    And yes, the whole documentation of how the circuit works is a mess now.

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