Fine Reading: Music Thing

This week's time-annihilating Web discovery has to be Music Thing, a super-twisted Gizmodo-style site for music that I fully expect to scoop CDM on instrumental oddities. What's not to like about a site that has talks about roll-up MIDI keyboards and mobile phone sequencers, celebrates Fairlight week, and has links to DIY projects like digital DJ systems, MIDI controllers, and strange wooden synths? Tom endorses my site as "600% more professional" than his, which means he's been fooled by Bobo the drunken copy-editing monkey, but I'll forgive him that slip of judgment.

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Novation 49-key, 61-key Ship Dates

For my money, the Novation ReMote and X-Station are dream keyboards for digital music: fantastic synth-action keys, lots of knobs and faders, a touchpad and X-Y joystick for adjusting parameters, and optional built-in synthesis and audio I/O. But I've been waiting for 49-key and 61-key versions, and in the midst of an acquisition by London neighbor Focusrite, there's been little word. I spoke with Novation today and the news is all good: 49-key instruments are expected in mid-December, followed by the 61-key model at the beginning of January. I got a chance to play these instruments at AES; not only …

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Rephrase Phrase Slicer Instrument

Still looking for that killer app to cut up audio so you can play slices like an instrument? Leapfrog's Rephrase looks like a good candidate. Drop in any monophonic audio, and Rephrase automatically assigns MIDI notes so you can play away. There's other similar software out there, but what looks cool about Rephrase is a simple interface, straightforward audio slicing, and live control over pitch, time, formants, and robust MIDI support including drag-and-drop and export. Stay tuned to CDM and we'll bring you more, or check out the demo. OS: Windows, Mac Compatibility: VSTi Availability: Windows available now, Mac early …

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Francis Preve on MacJams.com

Fellow Keyboard contributor Francis Preve talks GarageBand in a MacJams interview. Francis has a great take on professionals using GarageBand; he himself is a virtuoso with Apple Loops, and the Apple mania has spread as far as Ed from Barenaked Ladies. You can open up the GB instruments and your GB files in Logic Express 7 and Logic Pro 7, incidentally; it works like a charm. (Thanks for the link, Fran — though I'm still working on how to respond to the glamour shot by the pool. Maybe I can remix on the C subway train, a la M-Audio's ad …

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Dream Controller for Ableton Live, Traktor

Ableton Live, while brilliant for live performance and improvisation, bogs down when you're trying to control all your parameters with a mouse and QWERTY keyboard. Solutions like M-Audio's Evolution UC-33e are a big help, but many of us have dreamed of a controller designed specifically for Live. This could be it: the German-made FaderFox micromodul LV1 and LX1 are compact MIDI controllers optimized for Live. There's also the DJ1, designed for NI DJ Studio.(continued; click read more)

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[Updated] MSN to Feature Garageband Music

No, Microsoft isn't giving away free songs made in Apple GarageBand — that's the other Garageband, as in Garageband.com, a site with peer-reviewed music from unsigned artists. CNet reports that MSN will distribute Garageband.com music. UPDATED: MP3.com redux: All of the free songs acquired when Garageband.com absorbed the defunct site MP3.com will go on MSN Music unless a muscian has opted out Free or fee, everybody: Garageband artists will be able to submit songs to Garageband.com to be downloaded free or purchased on MSN. All current and future artists will be available for free or fee on MSN music, unless …

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Freeware Cyanide Effect 2.0

Legendary plugin developer Bram of Smartelectronix has unveiled Cyanide 2.0, a major update to his audio-shaping / sound-poisoning effect. Improved filters and anti-aliasing make for better sound, there's real visual feedback for the shaper, OS X support has arrived, and much of the effect is MIDI-controllable (hurrah). While you're there, check out some of his other plugins; SupaPhaser is one of my personal favorites. Compatibility: Mac (OS 9 VST / OS X VST, AU), PC (VST) Price/Availability: Free (donationware), available now

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Theremin Guitar

First a phonograph maker, now this — a theremin synth/guitar thingy called the ElectroKraft Axe*Synth — this week will set weird sound gadget lovers' hearts a-twitter. The Axe*Synth has to be seen to be appreciated (don't miss the video on the site!): imagine if aliens created an air guitar, and you'll start to get the picture.Two oscillators and a ring modulator drive the synth, while you 'pluck' a photo-sensitive theremin. A touch-sensitive bar stands in as the fretboard. No MIDI: direct analog control only. Keyboardists will probably want to wait for the company's upcoming Sonar*Synth which has the same features …

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MOTU Traveler Interface

MOTU heard us: their 828 FireWire interface has been the long-time favorite external interface, but it's more luggable than portable. Today, MOTU has formally announced the Traveler and unveiled specs and availability. The interface is smaller and lighter than MOTU's 20×20 828mkII, at a svelte 3.8 lbs  / 14.75"x9"x1.7" (compared to the 6-lb 19"x7"x1.75" 828mkII). While smaller, it improves on I/O: 192kHz capability, both AES/EBU and S/PDIF 96Khz digital capability, and four mic/instrument/guitar ins with digitally controlled mic gain. The whole interface is entirely bus-powered. The Traveler does have a DC in if you have a 4-pin PC FireWire connection …

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Audio Hijack 2.2 Adds More Automation

Rogue Amoeba's must-have audio tool Audio Hijack lets you record audio from any Mac app; today's 2.2 release adds lots of new features for automatically handling recorded audio. You can now automatically add recorded audio to your iPod, or set a 'stop recording after' option for easy scheduling. The release also features better RealPlayer media handling, among other tweaks. Compatibility: Mac Pricing/Availability: $16 new (free upgrade), available now UPDATED: Check out this in-depth tutorial on Audio Hijack to get started with the program!

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