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Useful Music Tools for Your Android Phone, and a New Sketchpad Joins Groovebox

Despite being a musical technology enthusiast, I really do think of my Android phone first and foremost as a communications device. I imagine I’m not alone, just as I’d guess that people who want a mobile music maker may look first at the iPhone. But that raises the question, are there tools you’d install on an Android phone purely because they’re genuinely useful? What tools would you use in your music, or even refuse to be without? There are actually a surprising number of tools out there on Android for music-making, though quality can be quite variable. So here, I’ll …

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Rock Band 3, Behind the Scenes: When A Music Game Gets More Real

Play testing Rock Band’s challenging new play modes. You know, challenging — kind of like music. Alli Thresher, community moderator, and Jessa Brezinski, intern. What Harmonix has achieved with Rock Band, and their original Guitar Hero, is remarkable. At their core, these games are descended from arcade rhythm games, reducing music to simple coordination of a few buttons. Yet numerous studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that, in an age in which recording has made musical experience passive for many, the fantasy of holding a plastic instrument is enough to convince people to explore music making again. Rock Band’s collaborative gameplay …

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iPhone Beats and Bass, Free This Week, More Fun with Mic Input on iOS

Ah, Mondays. If you’re looking for a way to brighten your work week and you’ve got an iPod touch or iPhone you can drop into your pocket, iOS music and audio developer Pulse Code tells us they’ve made four of its apps free for this week only, through August 8. That includes BtBx [iTunes], a simple and fun drum machine, DB-303, a simulation of the Roland TB-303 bass line synth and a particular favorite of pocket iPhone musicians, as well as a couple of fun toys – a robot tone synth and sound effects maker called Android FX and a …

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Create Analog Music: All-Analog Kick Percussion Joins Compact Boutique Range

Image courtesy Abstract Data. Rockstar sparkle not included. Operating small runs out of his basement, Justin Owen is on a mission to bring his idiosyncratic, all-analog sounds to musicians in affordable, portable form. “Affordable” and “portable” often aren’t associated with analog, though even players as big as KORG have gotten in on the game recently, with KORG’s monotron. Now that musicians are spoiled for choice in “things making noise with numbers or electricity,” though, I think there’s added pressure. For lack of a better way to put it, you have to be interesting. And Justin’s circuits are indeed interesting. The …

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Trifonic’s Music, Beat Slicing Technique, Free Bass Patch

Trifonic: Editing Beats – Part 1 from Next Step Audio on Vimeo. No more secrets: that could well sum up the zeitgeist of music making in 2010. So it is that Trifonic, aka virtuoso beatmeister brothers Brian and Laurence Trifon of San Francisco, share their technique for chopping up and glitching out audio. Their new blog, Next Step Audio, is entirely dedicated to sharing their production techniques: http://nextstepaudio.com/ [site slightly erratic response-wise for me at press time] The video tutorial on beat editing, published by Next Step Audio, starts out generically enough: grab the ubiquitous “Amen break” as a sample, …

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Real for Reel: The Amazing Sherlock Holmes Experibass, and More Winter Cinema Sounds

Sometimes, the best sounds come not from synthesis, not even from electrified instruments, but from the purity of a mic and acoustic instrumentation. It remains electronic, or even digital sound, but its source is organic. And so, one of the best reasons to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie in theaters is the wonderful noises that bounce around Hans Zimmer’s score. Behind many great film scores are great soloists as much as great composers, and Sherlock Holmes is no exception. Zimmer worked with Diego Stocco, sound designer, sound artist, inventor, and composer in his own right. To realize the inner …

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Apogee GiO: Foot Control, Audio for GarageBand, Logic, MainStage

The market is clear: guitarists (and other instrumentalists) want to plug in a piece of hardware, fire up their Mac, and start playing with GarageBand right away. The announcement of Apple’s new Logic Studio 9 last week coincided with the release of new hardware from Apogee, the audio vendor that has gone Mac-only and Apple-centric. Today during a meeting with Apple, I got my first in-person look at the GiO (pronounced “Geo,” like the compact car, not G.I.O. as would rhyme with G.I. Joe). A number of impressions that I didn’t get from the press announcement:

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Moog’s Lovely MuRF Resonant Filter, Now with MIDI, Double Bands

Moog’s Moogerfoogers, the boutique all-analog hardware effects units, are brilliant piece of sound gear. They’re accessible, terrific sounding, and exquisitely-designed in terms of interface and control. Even as a software person, I just have a lot of respect for the design of these boxes. I’m sure Moog Music hopes you collect these things (oh, if I had that budget), but if you had to take just one Moogerfooger, the just-announced MF-105M might be your strongest candidate. First, it combines the two previous Moogerfooger MuRFs – that’s the Bob Moog-designed Multiple Resonance Filter Array. The MuRF (rhymes with “Smurf”) is basically …

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Ableton Live Sound Design with Field Recordings: 3 Video Tutorials, 3 Downloads

Working with sound is, for many of us, the experience that attracted us to working with computers. Field recordings can be the best way to get close to sound – you’re attached to sounds you’ve found in the real world, you’ve experienced and collected, even if you transform them into something very different in production. Nick Maxwell of the excellent Nick’s Tutorials Ableton Live production site shares some free explorations with us, complete with downloads you can reverse-engineer the instruments and play with the topics the video cover. You can also use these in your own work, royalty-free. I really …

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