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Groovebox, a music app rigorously designed to give you a place to start

There are two stories about this app, and which one you care about depends on who you are. If you’re still someone trying to get into music making, the important thing to know about Groovebox is, it’s never going to leave you stuck for inspiration with a blank, silent screen. The moment you add a drum or synth part, you also get a pattern going. There’s a groove there immediately, and it’s up to you to tailor it to suit your taste. If you’re a more advanced user, you might assume the story ends there. But this app does actually …

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steps

Steps is an iOS sequencer that works in your hand, sequences hardware

This will sound like ad copy, but it’s true: Steps is the handheld iOS sequencer that all your mobile gear has been waiting for. Our MeeBlip line makes MeeBlippy sounds, but it needs a MIDI input for notes – like a step sequencer. (I’m not just plugging our product here – I’ve even pondered writing my own app to fill the void.) The volca series and Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators have their own sequencers, but it’s useful to have a clock source for all of them – and you might outgrow their built-in sequencing functions. Add to that countless other …

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skinnerbox4up

Inside Skinnerbox’s live sets, including a song they play backwards

“xobrenniks era ew olleh.” Skinnerbox, the duo of Olaf Hilgenfeld and Iftah Gabbai, are now so comfortable in their roles of playing live that they’re playing backwards to spice things up. (It seems there was some effort involved here – like, learning a song backwards in order that they had composed it the way they desired when reversed. I just find it oddly enchanting watching things defy gravity and roll across cymbals.) Playing with other people can feel like a mind meld. There’s a special discipline to working things out alone, to be sure. But it’s when you play with …

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Watch how the Ninja Jamm app can turn a track into an instrument

Four years on, Ninja Jamm continues to steam ahead as an app. We covered this app at its creation; I had provided some voluntary guidance as it’s built on libpd. Over those years, it’s built up a base of users and content, added Android support atop iOS, and enabled support on both platforms for Ableton Link. But I myself find myself playing with it again, after contributing a free content pack via the Liquid Sky Berlin series. And I find this remains relevant and addictive. I think it’s always worth listening to the founders of Coldcut and Ninja Tune, in …

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bitwiglink

Someone at Bitwig is working with Ableton Link on GitHub

One postlude to the Bitwig announcement – yes, someone at Bitwig has forked Ableton Link support. Have a look: Thanks to one sharp-eyed Twitter reader for catching this one! https://github.com/bitwig/link The reason is interesting – ALSA clock support on Linux, which would make working with Link on that OS more practical. Now, Ableton has no obligation to support Bitwig as far as integrating Link into the shipping version of Bitwig Studio. Proprietary applications not wanting to release their own code as GPLv2 need a separate license. On the other hand, this Linux note suggests why it could be useful – …

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Now you can sync up live visuals with Ableton Link

Ableton Link has already proven itself as a way of syncing up Ableton Live, mobile apps (iOS), and various desktop apps (Reason, Traktor, Maschine, and more), in various combinations. Now, we’re seeing support for live visuals and VJing, too. Three major Mac apps have added native Ableton Link support for jamming in the last couple of weeks: CoGe, VDMX, and a new app called Mixvibes. Each of those is somewhat modular in fashion, too. Oh, and since the whole point of Ableton Link is adding synchronization over wireless networks or wired networking connections with any number of people jamming, you …

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Now you can sync Ableton Link to your Eurorack with this open gizmo

Ableton Link has become the de facto, configuration-free, seamless sync and jamming protocol for software – with or without Ableton Live itself. (Even VJ app CoGe just joined the party.) Now, it’s time for hardware to get in on the fun. Vincenzo Pacella has been in touch for a while as he hacks away at a solution to connect Ableton Link to analog hardware and Eurorack. Now, it’s ready for prime time, as an inexpensive, easy-to-build, open source project based on Raspberry Pi. Jamming with Ableton Link is as easy as this: And then, all your analog gear can groove …

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Why KORG Gadget on the Mac is a big deal

Remember when some pundits thought we were all going to dump our laptops and switch to tablets and iPads? So – not so much. But mobile platforms are having a big impact on music software – and KORG Gadget, now making the leap from iOS to Mac, may be most emblematic of that. Who is KORG Gadget for? Well, sort of for everyone. Beginning users can find it a nice way to play around – and might well try this before desktop software. More advanced users are likely to find it an appealing set of tools, but would want to …

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Reaktor adds Ableton Link, for software patches or hardware modular

Native Instruments’ Reaktor is the latest tool to add Ableton Link support – and as before, each time you add a new tool, Link gets way more useful. Ableton Link is already opening up jams in DIY software, including Max/MSP, Max for Live, and Pure Data. Reaktor joining the party means not only will DIY patchers reap the benefits, but anyone exploring Reaktor Blocks or fun toys they downloaded from the User Library or anything else can have fun, too. And this essentially brings Link into the virtual modular world. Reaktor Blocks is fun to use for just about anyone, …

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Maschine adds Ableton Link, for jams with DJ, production software

For some time, Maschine has topped the list of “things we wish had Ableton Link support.” Well, wish granted. And now that means easy jamming with DJ tools and production tools, on desktop or on iPad. Maschine now adds Ableton Link for seamlessly sync and live jamming over wires and wireless with a whole bunch of stuff. That includes Ableton Live, of course, but also Serato DJ, Max/MSP, Pure Data, and a whole mess of iOS apps. Instead of having to bother with MIDI sync, you just switch on Link and everything syncs – with any tool or any user …

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