Let your iPad Look Like Anything, Sequence Anything, with Lemur 5

Even before the world had seen the iPad, the promise of Lemur was a touchable interface that could become anything – a Star Trek-like world in which you could touch fluid controls directly to make live music and visuals. The reality, though, was more limited. Users were limited to a library of widgets. That included useful controls, like knobs, faders, and even more far-out physics-enabled X/Y pads, buct widgets, nonetheless. A major update to Lemur this week blows that wide open, in two ways. First, it overhauls how sequencing works, with both tighter timing and new objects, ideal for use …

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Renoise 3 Beta Quick Tour: Patterns, Instruments, Chains, Macros for More Musical Creativity

The phrase “alternative universe” always seems to fit Renoise. Imagine a world in which the tracker metaphor – a music arrangement notion mostly associated with software from years ago, especially on Amiga – became dominant. From there, you begin to explain that Renoise is an instrument that brings that retro idea into a modern context. Well, Renoise 3.0’s beta has arrived. And this time, it feels like someone ripped open a wormhole and showed us this alternate future in all its glory, no holds barred. Renoise 3 is a radical step forward for the popular tool, challenging notions of what …

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Ableton Goodies: Max for Live Devices for Spectral Effects, Video, Random Rhythms

Our inbox is full of fun stuff Ableton lovers can download, so we’re pronouncing it “Ableton Goodies” day. Enjoy! Open up a platform to making custom tools, and the user can become the upgrade. They can devise new ways of making music – small inventions to spark creativity. And that’s happened in the case of Max for Live, allowing Max patches to run easily inside Ableton Live. Ableton hardly needs to release their own patches, or take much action at all. The Max community has been robust for over two decades now. Sites like maxforlive.com have rich collections of instruments, …

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Vezer, Envelope and Time Tool, Adds Elegant Music, Audio, Sync Connections

MIDI Clock Sync Vezér to Ableton Live from luma beamerz on Vimeo. Vezér is not a tool for making visuals on its own, but instead uses powerful envelope tools to let you shape ideas in time. And being as it is focused on time, more connections to sync and audio were understandably a big feature request. Now, Vezér looks like an elegant bridge between music sources and visual apps, ideal for both live visual shows and tightly-orchestrated music videos. So even though the software is barely more than two months old, the developer says he has spent sleepless nights making …

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Erika: Musical Restraint, Space, Future, BBSes, Detroit [Interview]

From being a long-time mainstay of the Detroit scene to, at last, debuting a proper solo LP with Hexagon Cloud, the one word that can sum up Erika for me is, simply, “inspiring.” And if Hexagon Cloud’s perfectly-calibrated analog sounds and imaginative musical frequencies indulge our futuristic sonic fantasies, here we get the chance to talk to Erika a bit about what lies beyond musical parameters, too. That ranges from Detroit (past the fetishization of ruined buildings, please) to the liberation of early-90s BBSing to the appeal of outer space. You can listen to Erika’s work and revisit some reflections …

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A Brilliant 199€ Hardware Sequencer with Jog Wheel: MTRX-8 Preview [Photos, Video, Interview]

Sleek and black, sporting a high-resolution jog wheel, the MTRX-8 is a futuristic sequencer the likes of which you probably haven’t seen in hardware before. Even though it’s the product of a boutique DIY maker – France’s Fyrd Instruments, aka designer Julien Fayard – it’s eschews the usual homebrewed, retro aesthetics. And it’s not expensive, either; the launch price has been lowered to 199€ based on early demand. It’s a MIDI sequencer, it’s a drum sequencer, it’s a performance-geared machine with quick access to presets, and it’s covered with quick access controls rather than confusing menus. At last, it’s sequencer …

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Arpeggionome for iPhone Makes Amazing Patterns in Arrays of Pulsing Circles [App, Music]

Out today, Arpeggionome is the iPhone follow-up to an iPad grid instrument, making lovely, elegant cascades of notes from a screen full of circles. The work of San Francisco-based electrical engineer Alexander Randon, it’s especially nice to see not just the app itself, but the music the developer makes with his own tool. Watch the video, and you’ll get a feel for how he makes his creation musically expressive. Evidently inspired by both the Tenori-On and the community of monome apps, Arpeggionome has a number of features that set it apart from other tools. It’s tough to find iPhone apps …

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Breeding Beats: Pattern Mutation with Elektron Machinedrum + iPad

For all the variety in synths and control methods, patterns and sequencing often tend to be rather same-y. That’s why it’s wonderful to see things like this short video from Jakob Penca. In it, rhythms mutate and vary, all as clever gestures on an iPad manipulate the beat-making noises of an Elektron Machinedrum. The app is still under development, but it’s nice to see this early glimpse. Description: a quick improvisation demo of my upcoming iOS app for the Elektron Machinedrum. This shows how you can mutate a pattern with copy & paste operations directly on an iPad. This app …

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Pianist and Piano, Disconnected, in Composition for Kinect and Grand

The piano is a conventional grand, but with digital interface and camera, the composer is separated from it by air, playing without touching. It’s a Theremin interface for a keyboard instrument. Piano post-modern? Gestural post-digital? Whatever it is, in a work composer Benjamin Martinson composed for player piano, computer, and Kinect camera, the piano work holds up as musical content – compositional gesture, not just gimmicky digital hand-waving. Martinson himself looks oddly isolated and awkward, a man making rough mime gestures in unseen water, molasses, and wind. I can’t tell whether this is more about our expectations of human movement, …

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Stepping Through Music, Interactively: Drum Kits and Monomes Navigate Notes

Left to right, beginning to end, the same in a loop — there’s no reason music has to work this way once you’ve got a computer. But if you associate generative or algorithmic music with some sort of magical black box machine you switch on, an automaton spitting out notes while you sip tea and stroke your beard, think again. Here are two examples that use interactive structures as a way to make music more live, not less. One is the latest creation from the ingenious mind of monome creator Brian Crabtree (who, perhaps unexpectedly, seems to have redirected the …

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