PiDeck makes a USB stick into a free DJ player, with turntables

There’s something counterintuitive about it, right? Plug a USB stick into a giant digital player alongside turntables. Or plug the turntables into a computer. What if the USB stick … was the actual player? In the age of rapid miniaturization, why hasn’t this happened yet? Well, thanks to an open source project, it has happened (very nearly, anyway). It’s called PiDeck. And it radically reduces the amount of gear you need. You’ll still need an audio interface with phono input to connect the turntable, plus the (very small, very cheap) Raspberry Pi. But that’s just about it. Connect your handheld …


The making of a fanciful album imagining a post-apocalyptic future

What would your future clone think of you now, looking back across an apocalyptic reshaping of humanity? That’s the question posed by the 2005 novel The Possibility of an Island, and it resonates in Franz Kirmann’s new album Elysian Park. This might sound bleak, but it isn’t. Kirmann’s new record paints a science fiction sound portrait in dense textures and hyperreal washes of color. There are stuttering and spectacular rhythms making bold shuffles across the music. It’s headphone stuff for sonic dreaming, relentlessly futuristic and endlessly engaging. It’s a world you’ll want to enter and reenter, an addictive time warp. …


This app turns iPhone 3D touch into an expressive instrument

You can get the feeling of “pushing into” an iPhone as of the iPhone 6S. It’s an expressive, intimate gesture, which is generally used for … wait, really, shortcut menus? That’s pretty boring. Ever since I saw the feature, I wanted to see it used for music applications. And one obvious fit is an emerging standard for sending expressive pressure-based control over MIDI. The futuristic, sleek black ROLI Seaboard does it. The lovely, wooden Madrona Labs Soundplane does it. Roger Linn’s innovative grid-covered Linnstrument does it. It’s all a (draft) specification for control called MPE – Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression. (Early …


Grab a free secret sauce channel strip for Ableton DJ and live sets

The beautiful thing about software is that it’s flexible. You can reconfigure an entire live rig on the fly. But it’s still necessary to channel that flexibility into consistency, especially playing live. Reuse the stuff you need most so it’s always there. And train your hands and muscle memory so you can play fluidly. Savages – the Chicago/Dallas duo of Ted “TJ” Pallas and Alexandra Hartman – have shared their go-to channel strip full of all their favorite tools. And while they were at it, they recreated a unique EQ. EQ differently PLAYdifferently’s Model 1 mixer takes a different approach …


The mash-up of an 808 and the US elections no one asked for

I’d wager at this point 100% of you would rather think about drum machines than the American elections. But somewhere, vintage voting machines – they of the hole punch and hanging chads – await retirement. Here, they get a second lease on life. Instead of gloomily voting for Trump or accidentally for Pat Buchanan, they can produce sliced-up audiovisual jams. (Hey, if you’re going to have to watch debate clips ad infinitum, why not turn it into something you can dance to?) Maybe beat box voting machines would be the answer to get Millennials to the polls. So, basically what …


Traktor 2.11 is here, and a bunch of stuff now works together

Computer DJing: it should solve problems, not create them. Because you can also mix vinyl or use phonographs to Rekordbox-formatted USB sticks, computer DJing also absolutely, positively has to open up creative possibilities. It has to justify its existence. And because we play music – like, it’s supposed to be something fun we do with other people – computer DJ tools ought to play with one another. So, Traktor 2.11 delivers a lot of little things. But these details both make playing solo potentially more creative, and playing with others and plugging into gear in a booth a whole lot …


We’ve started a record label – here’s the first release

I’m lucky to be part of a community of people who both make things and share things, who learn by doing but also learn by teaching. CDM is of course about creating music as it is about creating tools for music. So, this year I’m extending what we do to sharing music. We live in an age of growing populations of music producers and expanding access to more music than ever before. Running something like a record label thus becomes even more insane — if also more essential. So just as I understand how a DAW or DJ app works …


Watch Kate Simko mix Classical and club music with her ensemble

A friend of mine joked recently that someone having “classically trained” in their bio probably mean they’d had three months of piano lessons once. I’m sure that’s true for some people, but the fact is, there’s a growing population that mixes experience in electronic music and the club. And Kate Simko is one of the people pushing that boundary – just as she exemplifies some of the best technique in production generally.


Here’s what you’ll get out of Ableton Live 9.7, available today

Ableton Live 9.7 – the final stable download – is available today. (A public beta was released over the summer.) It’s got a host of improvements for the latest Push hardware, but there are advantages for everyone.

The view from Tresor.

Come on an entrancing ambient techno journey with Milena Kriegs

Somewhere in the shadowy forest between ambient and techno sounds, you’ll find the inventive world of Warsaw’s Milena Kriegs. It’s the sort of music you can get lost in, but it manages to be teeming with life rather than bleakly gloomy. And I think there’s a strong analog between Milena’s live PA sets and her recorded music – somehow, she’s working out a sense of free flow in each, a feeling that you can float along with the music.


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