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What if you could touch and feel a score?

What if scores could be touched and felt instead of only read? We’ve just come from a deep, far-ranging discussion with artist Enrique Tomás, a researcher at the Interface Culture Lab in Linz. It’s part of Enrique’s residency with CTM Festival and ENCAC – European network for contemporary av creation, who also support some of our work. And it’s presented as part of another of our MusicMakers hacklabs at CTM Festival. It’s worth sharing some thoughts already. One of his more compelling illustrations of this was his PhD project, tangible scores: Credits: Enrique Tomás – PhD at Interface Culture Lab …

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Get a powerful step sequencer as a Windows VST, free

Quick! You need a step sequencer! Sometimes you want a full-featured sequencing tool and your host doesn’t have one (or it doesn’t do what you want). HY-SEQ16 is a terrific, versatile option. I could talk about the whole feature set but: randomize. Probability controls. There you have it. Okay, also, preset management, separate randomization per parameter (ooh), sequence direction – basically everything you need. If you really fall in love with this one, US$28 buys you 3×16 steps and an LFO. This looks great to me, not least for controlling external hardware. Heck, I thought I didn’t need it, and …

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68 pots cover this controller so you can go knob crazy

More is more? Now, you can show up at your next gig armed with a box full of pots – 68 of them. Faderfox is a controller maker who works in extremes: either extremely tiny controllers, or massive cases full of faders and knobs. The PC44 is very much in the latter category. The PC44’s sibling is and predecessor is an unassuming 4×6 grid of pots called the PC4. The PC44, though, is maximalist by comparison. You get an 8×8 matrix of potentiometers with rubber knobs. And there’s a single push-button encoder with detents (labeled “value,” at the top). Four …

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Image: Licht Pfad.

TouchDesigner 099 does everything with live visuals – now on Mac, too

It makes things look prettier, with something called “physically based rendering.” It has crazy compositing and capture powers. It’s networked with Web support, talks to DMX gear, and intelligently handles all your MIDI gadgets and capture cards and everything else. It handles VR with HTC Vive. And that’s just a few examples of what is new or improved in version 099. TouchDesigner is a name you’ll see coming up regularly mentioned in projects. It’s an all-encompassing visual development environment, using a patching (or “dataflow”) metaphor, like Pd, Max/MSP/Jitter, vvvv, and others. That interface is one of the best looking zoomable …

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The $499 Softube Console 1 now looks like a great buy for producers

Softube’s Console 1 was an intriguing offering when it came out, but I suspect some people balked at the price – and simply didn’t know what it was or what it was for. Now, at five hundred bucks, the audience should be bigger. And Softube are working on making the “what is this anyway?” story clearer. So, what is it? Let’s back up. First, imagine a big mixing desk – like a big Solid State console. Now imagine what that console would look like a computer accessory. Obviously, you’d want it to be a whole heck of a lot smaller, …

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One of the best premium audio interfaces now claims to be better

How much time do producers spend just handling one or two inputs and stereo output (plus monitoring)? My guess is — a lot. Once you’re out of the studio, that amount goes up. But generally speaking, premium interfaces have tended to assume you need more I/O – even though a lot of electronic production now occurs in the box. So part of the reason the Universal Audio Apollo Twin has been important is that it changes the value equation. It doesn’t do a whole lot of I/O – this is really about recording one thing at a time, listening, and …

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Photo: Natisha Shpaner.

Videos for Mary Ocher’s moving avant-pop reflect on a violent world

Music can still have something to say. Not just a hackneyed protest song or music that wears politics like dress-up, but – something to tell you. When it hits you, you can sometimes feel a bit weak in the knees. That was the impact for me of Mary Ocher’s new album, two tracks of which get video treatments. The songs themselves have a message, but then their meaning becomes even more stark in the music videos – reason to share them here. I’m slightly self-conscious that the way I knew about this album was initially in being asked through a …

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System 80 is a control-for-control 808 clone in Eurorack

Wait… I don’t think I’ve ever basically said everything I needed to say in a story right in the headline before, but… yeah. This is a control-for-control 808 clone in Eurorack. And for anyone disappointed that Roland didn’t do a TR-08 Boutique Series at NAMM, here’s one that is probably exactly as analog fans would want it. You get the layout of the original 808, if a bit miniaturized and squashed, but control-for-control an image of the original. You get independent outs for each part. You get CV I/O for connecting to other modules. It’s Eurorack. It’s 60HP. It looks …

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Volnovod is a robot sculpture that uses wire to make sound visually

Muscovite sound artist slash mad scientist vtol (aka Dmitry Morozov) has been at it yet again. This time, inspiration struck when his iPod earbuds tangled. (Good thing he hadn’t upgraded to wireless!) And the result was a new visual interface for music, embodied as kinetic sculpture. Volnovod, sounding for all the world like a long lost Soviet lunar probe (or, um, sounding like “waveguide” if you happen to speak Russian), is an installation / controller / instrument built on the idea. And it comes from the artist just as he’s fresh off a rich Berlin exhibition full of ingenious inventions. …

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Roland does subscription plug-ins and cloud rendering

Perhaps the most unexpected product news this month is Roland’s unveiling of RolandCloud. It’s a subscription service from the hardware maker, the biggest component of which is providing access to a range of software plug-ins. Roland, while one of biggest names ever in hardware and synthesizers, is still a relative newcomer to software. But their PLUG-OUT line has steadily built up to library of a few instruments. That includes modeled remakes of classic synths (SH-101, PROMARS, SH-2, SYSTEM-100) and one new synth (SYSTEM-1). Those instruments – and two just-announced new ones – are the first additions to the subscription service. …

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