Alesis Keyboards: Want a joystick, 3D air controller, or synth with that?

Keyboards are getting to be a lot of fun, on the cheap. The latest mini-keyboards from Alesis feature X-Y joysticks, audio I/O, and the psuedo-photo-theremin Axys dome (wave your hands in the air above the dome!). That I knew — but I hadn't checked prices to realize how cheap these things are. Alesis appears to have the best 25-key deals. Alesis Photon 25 is a USB/MIDI controller with joystick and 12 knobs; street $130 Alesis Photon X25 has the theremin-style controller dome, 12 360-degree knobs, 10 buttons, full-size pitch and mod wheels (nice ones like the Ion's!), 24-bit balanced stereo …

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GuitarBot: Robotic Guitar Instrument

Weird Music Gadget Week Continues! Engadget and the New York Times are chatting about the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots' GuitarBot, so I thought I'd add my take. GuitarBot is perhaps best described in sound as an automated, electrified shamisen; it has a very Japanese sound and shudders and shakes fabulously as it plays. Half guitar, half robot, half psuedo-Japanese instrument — three halves, what's not to love? GuitarBot is MIDI-controlled, so composers who have written for it (like my friend Joshua Fried) have tended to create a MIDI sequence or Max patch to perform. How does something like …

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[UPDATED] Warped Speak & Spell Sounds: Now in PC, Mac Software Form!

Have fond memories of Speak & Spells? Wish you could completely warp them, then turn them into a musical instrument? Too circuitry-challenged to circuit bend your own, and already got too many weird gadgets in your mobile music bag? (I know you've been buying everything mentioned on this site, so I understand.) Now you can download a Mac, Windows, or Flash version of the Speak & Roil, and play with original Speak & Spell sounds — or their horribly violated warped versions — from the comfort of your iBook. What? You think software is for poseurs? Roil Noise has plenty …

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Pyrophone: Flaming Sound Organ Powered by Propane

Robotic guitars are cool, but you know what you really want: a propane-powered flame organ. Yes, as it turns out, enormous plumes of fire can produce pitched and unpitched sound. (Hint: it's loud.) This is a digital music site, mind you, so of course I've selected Eric Singer's Pyrophone, which can be MIDI controlled; Max/MSP is the app of choice and was adapted into a musical game of Simon, on a large, pyrotechnic scale. Sure, the instrument isn't exactly "street legal" and I believe the Madagascar Institute (motto: 'fear is never boring') got in a bit of trouble with the …

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Cult of Mac Book Launch Party; Andrew Andrew, iPod DJs

Last night at APT, a cosy upscale lounge in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, Wired.com threw a bash for Leander Kahney's new book The Cult of Mac, DJed by the mysterious ultra-geeks Andrew Andrew. "We're the laziest DJs in New York," said Andrew (or was it Andrew?) as he turned over the duo's two fully-loaded iPods and cross-fader to the partygoers: take a number, DJ for seven minutes. (Or longer, in the case of an editor of Sync Magazine who couldn't get anyone to tag in.) [ Read more for details and photos; click to enlarge photos ]

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Elsewhere on the Web: Win Battery 2 from Samplepoolz

Normally I wouldn't pass this sort of information on, but German site Samplepoolz is CDM's favorite site for news and reviews on samples — so why not subscribe to their newsletter for a chance to win Native Instruments' Battery 2.0 drum sampler for your Mac or PC? (Of course, now if you all do, I've made your odds worse, but . . . ah, well.) If you're into sampled content, this is the most comprehensive site I've seen.

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UPDATE! Samchillian, Live in NYC Tonight

Lucky timing on my part! A day after my write-up on him, Leon himself writes us to say he's playing a "rare" gig with the Samchillian keyboard, mentioned yesterday, and a Plugzilla computer effects box. Details: "Plugzilla Sponge" w/Leon Gruenbaum, Samchillian, keys and Yukari, processed flute 8:30-10:30 pm Wednesday, Dec 1, 2004 Theeee Coffee Chamber, 17 bleecker St near bowery Write me if you make it, NYC CDM readers, and maybe I'll meet you there!

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M-Audio Ozonic vs. Novation X-Station: Battle of the Keyboards

There are two new computer keyboards coming out in the next two months, each costing about $600. One I can't wait for. One makes me yawn. Guess which one. In this corner, from America: the FireWire M-Audio Ozonic, announced today. (full specs) Controller: 37 keys, 8 knobs, 9 faders, 14 buttons, pitch & mod wheel, X-Y joystick; software editor and presets; MIDI I/O Audio: 4 in, 4 out; 1 XLR mic in with phantom power, 1 unbalanced in, 2 balanced ins; 4 balanced outs; direct monitoring And in this corner, from the UK: the USB-powered Novation X-Station, 25-keys out now …

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QWERTY Keyboard Instrument: Samchillian Tip Tip Tip Cheeepeeeee

Samchillian, the oddly-named, circuit-bended (and spray painted) ergonomic QWERTY keyboard that New Yorker Leon Gruenbaum invented is more than a wierd name: it could be a chance for keyboardists to finally cure themselves of guitar envy, AND look nerdy while doing it! Since QWERTY keys are mapped to pitch change, not specific pitches (stay with me, here), simple key patterns can generate wild, screaming solos. One key press can equal 'one pitch higher' in a scale. Suddenly a scale is just a repetition of two keys. Scale too boring? Create a microtonal flurry of notes that sounds like Hendrix and …

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Touchscreen Music Controller Reveals Star Trek-like Future

Weren't those touchpad controllers great on Star Trek? Every control was projected from behind, so controls could change flexibly based on what you were doing, and everything could be manipulated by touch. Guess what? Star Trek-like control has arrived for music. Witness Lemur, a digital touchscreen controller for music and VJ applications. Customize your touchscreen surface using editing software for Windows, Linux, and Mac, then use the Lemur to control OSC-compliant apps like Max/MSP and the free Pd (Pure Data). But you'll never see this experimental French device in the US, right? Au contraire, says JazzMutant's Guillaume Largillier: "We're manufacturing …

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