Roland Drum and Bass Machines as Abstract Art, Suspended in Space

Art from archetypes — so much of what we make is built from the pieces of something that came before. It’s doubly true both in electronic dance music and the machines built to make it. From techno to drum machine technology, a great deal of the future depends on whether we can reimagine the past. The legacy of the Roland TR and TB series hangs heavy over those fields. Heck, they cast their shadow over even what I’m reading this week. I’ve unboxed a set of new Roland AIRAs for review that explode each component, modeling it all over again …

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Production, Beyond the Track: Mad Zach on Collaboration, Combining Tech and Technique [Interview]

“Producer”: in electronic music, this used to mean some person who makes tracks. Today, some special electronic musicians go way beyond that role. They’re combining skills partly because it means diversifying income, but also out of a real love for doing a variety of stuff. They’re holed up in the studio making music, sure – but they’re also finding collaborative ways of doing that, often online, and sharing skills and sounds as they develop them. It’s a more open, connected approach to electronic musical practice. And Mad Zach is a great example. He’s a producer and DJ, but he’s also …

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Learn How to Get Your Drum Machine’s Soul Back with Mad Zach, Ableton Live

It’s “the science of being imperfect” – and Mad Zach is one heck of a mad scientist at it. We all know Ableton Live productions, even sometimes from fairly skilled music makers, can get painfully stuck on the grid. If that’s the disease, Mad Zach has the cure. Armed with Ableton Live and together with releasing a very special, very useful sound pack, this insanely-prolific DJ, producer, writer, and educator has some advice for how to get the soul and groove back in your machines. CDM teamed up with our friends at Beatport Sounds to work with Zach on an …

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Roland AIRA MIDI Implementation: Now Official for TB-3, TR-8 – and TB-3 Sequences Nicely

This wouldn’t normally be news, but for whatever reason, the Roland AIRAs went flying off the shelves – missing any MIDI documentation. Ahem. We covered a number of these details before, including a Max for Live patch for the convenience of those of you integrating with Ableton. The good news: the hackers were right, and got more or less the entire implementation via trial and error. So, this is still a good resource: AIRA Secrets: Here’s How to Take Command of Roland’s TB-3 and TR-8 with MIDI The TR-8, then, holds no surprises. I’m just hopeful we see extra functionality …

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Watch An Hour-long, Chilled, Hard, Hardware Live Set from TM404

If you can’t get to a shoreline this week, I wholeheartedly endorse watching the waves crash behind none other than TM404, aka Andreas Tilliander. We had a sort of Roland meditation with him before, and I’m even more fond of this set. Sit back and enjoy an hour of sound. It’s worth reflecting on the resurgent hardware set, particularly with the Roland AIRA lineup some of the most talked-about, popular gear of 2014 (and volca beats still selling, and Rhythm Wolf in the wings).

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Roland Recalls TR-909 History in Aira Teaser; Reminds You Original Used Samples

Roland hasn’t been this buzzed about in a very long time. But in its carefully-calculated teaser campaign for Aira, the company is back in a big way. And we’re slowly getting to see the four Aira devices to be introduced this week. We know Aira will include a drum machine. We know there will be a TR-08. We know there was a video recalling the history of the TR-808. Now, Roland is talking TR-909 history. You can either take that to mean something about the TR-08, or that a TR-909 reboot will accompany the TR-08. Teaser campaign aside, fans of …

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A bare-bones UI belies a powerful engine - and a tool that could finally jump-start sound designers embracing an open format. Proprietary lock-in, no more.

Software Instruments, Freed From Sampler Formats: SFZ, Free Sounds, Free Sample Player

“Free As In Free Me From Proprietary Formats.” If you’re ready to explore sounds – as a novice sampler user or as an advanced sound developer – SFZ brings tidings of great joy. When they move from defining mere sounds or samples to describing whole instruments, sound designers need file formats. The problem has been that those formats tend to be particular to one sampler or another – just Kontakt, or just Logic’s EXS24, or just Gigastudio. Yes, there are converters, but because these samplers have different capabilities, converters cause problems. Being able to create instruments for these samplers is …

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ReBirth, Reborn, as Synths in your Hand: Q+A with Ernst Nathorst-Böös

The software synthesizer has come full circle. What was once possible only with a mid-range desktop computer is now easily accomplished with a sub-$200 device that rests in your hand and sips power. That transformation, once something people regarded in some vague time in the future, is now one that’s very present. I expect a lot of the hand-wringing about the future (some of it from me) comes from the uncertainty about just what it’ll mean. For some small glimpse, though, it’s nice to get to talk to Propellerhead CEO Ernst Nathorst-Böös. ReBirth is a tool that convinced a lot …

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ReBirth Arrives for iPhone, iPod touch; $6.99

ReBirth, the Roland groovebox emulation that helped launch the popularity of soft synths, is now on Apple’s mobile devices for US$6.99. (I woke up to a note from Propellerheads’ CEO Ernst left in my inbox overnight, so thanks, Ernst, for the tip!) This is not the native iPad version MusicRadar predicted after an interview with Ernst. For now, iPads scale up the iPhone interface. But a version with “native” resolution for the tablet seems a no-brainer down the road. Feature list: 2 x TB-303 Bassline synths TR-808 Drum Machine TR-909 Drum Machine Pattern Controlled Filter Distortion unit Compressor Mixer 5 …

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iPhone Gets New Groove Boxes: Is it Live Synthesis, or is it Canned?

The iPhone has become an almost absurdly-popular platform for music apps this year, even given more capable, more plentiful PCs. But to those who don’t yet “get” the appeal, talk to a mobile music addict: having the ability to be creatively musically in corners of time that would otherwise go unused, like a cramped bus ride, can be a beautiful thing. (Now, you start talking about taking away my PC/Mac experience, and I will start screaming in agony – but that’s a topic for a separate post.) The question is, what form should that app take? Today, I’ve got an …

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