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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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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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The great sounds you’re making remind us why we make MeeBlip

Getting in the zone is a beautiful thing – that feeling when music seems to almost play itself, when it really feels new. Just like you do a lot of preparation and practice as a musician to get there, when you make instruments, you’re endlessly learning how to make help people find that zone. And that’s ultimately why I feel lucky to be involved in making instruments as well as making music – with CDM generally, and with our own toes in the water, MeeBlip. Now, as it happens, people are making amazing things with the MeeBlip (alongside the other …

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That $329 iPad looks like an affordable music app machine

Well, if you’ve been waiting to dive into the world of the iPad – or you’re stuck with a machine that’s too old and slow to run the latest software – Apple pretty much has your answer. At US$329 and with 32GB of storage, the new 9.7″ iPad is a nice sweet spot. The A9 processor is more than capable enough for most audio production tasks. It’s got a big-enough Retina display. And that storage will be enough for running synths and other apps. And the pricing is aggressive enough that you might as well go ahead and buy new. …

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Watch this to learn how to create hip-hop 808 bass lines easily

You either already know what this is about – or you don’t know that you already know what this is about. That is, you’ve heard bass lines made with 808s all over the place. That’s likely to continue, too – thanks to the dominance of PAs with heavy bass, and the corresponding use of bass in all kinds of tracks, this has become a big part of musical language. And it’s a versatile approach to making bass lines. Because of its construction, you could take this same technique and apply it to any kind of music. But yeah, it is …

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Now you can put a Buchla-style modular inside Reaktor, free

There’s nothing quite like a Buchla. The “West Coast” modular that inspired the likes of Morton Subotnick and Suzanne Ciani has an approach to signal and expression that is both uniquely experimental and uniquely musical. It’s its own animal. So it’s about time we see that philosophy applied to the open patching of Reaktor. The Cloudlab 200t isn’t a Buchla clone – its creators are quick to issue a disclaimer there, and say this is all just for fun. But fun it is, with a lovely approach to patch design. Trevor Gavilan produced the design, with contributions and components from …

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Photo credit: Aldo Paredes.

The Black Madonna, shesaid.so talk role models, co-conspirators

Kentucky-born artist The Black Madonna this month joined Romanian Andreea Magdalina, founder of all-female network shesaidso.so for GROOVE. The message is as simple as taking women seriously – and what can be done to change things when it doesn’t happen. It’s worth sharing that conversation – and please, listen to its entirety – for a couple of reasons. First, I think we’re obligated to keep sharing this conversation and ones like it so long as it keeps prompting negative and defensive reactions, primarily from men. (Comment threads on social media are not at the moment the most flattering representation of …

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