ikutaro-kakehashi

Father of 808 and founder of Roland Ikutaro Kakehashi has died

Few people loom over electronic music instruments quite like Ikutaro Kakehashi. As founder of Japanese giant Roland, at Roland’s helm through decades of its most historic creations, and as an engineer, Kakehashi has had a hand in the evolution of electronic music instruments – and particularly the notion of the electronic drum machine – as we now know it. Word is spreading that the maestro, known affectionately to fans simply as “Mr. K,” has died today at the age of 87. It all started with organs. Kakehashi was an engineer first, repairing and later building organs. Like it did for …

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In Czech, instruments and music releases are all about extended family

It’s a wonderful thing to find kindred spirits. It doesn’t matter if they look like you, if you share a gender or an age, or if they come from down the street or around the globe. And that’s the experience a lot of people have had when coming in contact with Bastl Instruments and the underground music and instrument enclave of Brno, Czech. Bastl are known for their cute compact desktop synth hardware and quirky modular line. And small builders are themselves tight-knit, but there’s more to it than just what Bastl Instruments as a maker provides. There’s a sense …

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BT’s Phobos is a scifi synthesizer using something called polyconvolution

We’ve reached a new era in software instruments. For years, designers had produced instruments that either relied primarily on sampled sound, reproducing existing acoustic instruments, or worked mainly with synthesized sound and short wavetables, like a typical synth. What’s happening now is we’re getting a bumper crop of hybrid instruments – ones that use extensive multi-gig sample libraries and combine them with synthesis and processing to form sounds that hadn’t existed before. I’ve written at some length about the approach of LA-based Output on these lines – and relied on their instruments when under painfully short deadlines, in particular. Now, …

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The music software that’s everywhere is now in the browser too: SunVox Web

Oh, sure, some developers think it’s a big deal if their software runs on Mac and Windows. (Whoo!) SunVox has a different idea of cross-platform – a slightly more complete one. Alexander Zolotov is a mad genius. His SunVox has all the patchable sound design of a modular synth. But it also has all the obsessive-compulsive pattern editing of a tracker. So on any single platform, it’s already two tools in one. And it doesn’t run on just one single platform. It’s on Windows (pretty much any version). It’s on macOS – all the way back to 10.6. (Kudos, Alexander …

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dadamachines is an open toolkit for making robotic musical instruments

There was a time when using controllers to play music was still novel. Building them was a technically complicated task, limited to a handful of individuals – most of whom had to keep solving the same basic problem of how to get started over and over again. Now, we know, that’s no longer the case. There are controllers everywhere. You can buy a finished one off the shelf. If you want to customize and modify that, it’s easier than ever before. If you want to make your own, that’s easier than before, too. And the result is that musicians separate …

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Watch a half hour documentary on the sound of Star Wars Rogue One

For lovers of sound design – cinematic or otherwise – Star Wars is always good reason to nerd out. But Rogue One is something different, as the first film to be a standalone or spinoff. On the music side, it meant a new composer who wasn’t John Williams (Michael Giacchino). But perhaps the less known story is that sound, too, got a new direction. Filling the shoes of Ben Burtt is no easy task. There’s probably no Hollywood sound creator better known than Burtt. And as with any Star Wars film, you have the unique challenge of trying to do …

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Former Beatport CEO and now MetaPop founder, Matthew Adell. He wlll join Native Instruments in LA.

What does it mean that NI bought a startup that monetizes remixes?

Native Instruments announced an acquisition that suggests a new area of intended growth for the company. They’ve acquired MetaPop, a firm that clears and monetizes remixes – and with the company, they also get the former CEO of Beatport. To work out what that might mean, you need to first understand MetaPop. It’s safe to say remix culture isn’t what some predicted it would be. Instead of ushering in a bold new age where music is re-imagined by fans and artists find new opportunities to share ideas and earn money to support their art, we get — uh, takedown notices. …

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TouchDown Houston at Day For Night Festival; photo Roger Ho.

A bunch of tricks and tools for generative visual tool TouchDesigner

TouchDesigner, the visual development environment for interactive media, is a not-so-secret weapon for the artists creating some of the best eye candy today. And it’s likely to earn more attention now that it’s available for both macOS and Windows. (It was previously Windows-only.) But it’s not just the power of the tool itself that makes it stand out. It’s just as much a community behind it, sharing resources with one another. That says something, really. People working on interactive and event visuals often pull in some pretty hefty fees, and they justify those fees by making sure their tech tricks …

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Thomas Pesquet snapped this photo looking over his feet at our planet. Photo source ESA/NASA.

Now hear the audio from an ISS spacewalk – and sample and remix it

In our ongoing look at the sounds from space, here’s another angle: the same day as astronauts Thomas Pesquet (ESA) and Shane Kimbrough (NASA) were making an “Extravehicular activity” (EVA / “space walk”) outside the International Space Station, we have publicly available, openly licensed sound from that experience. This is more spoken word than ambient sound, of course. At the same time, you get a feeling for what the routine of this work is like. This is humans doing what still challenges robotic instruments – space maintenance. (Without humans, the in-flight repair of Hubble, for instance, would never have happened.) …

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When a record label gets into making cool, weird instruments

Streaming revenue may be hit or miss, but record labels can always make their own boutique sound hardware. Ghostly International have long pioneered new ideas in the category of “selling stuff that isn’t vinyl.” There was the Matthew Dear Totem, for instance – though that served zero practical function and didn’t make sound. Their store feels as much a trendy boutique for design fetishists as a record outlet. But I think it’s their musical instrument collaborations that are most interesting. Yeah, okay, you could say this is getting a bit hipster-y. But remember that it’s really musical instruments that have …

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