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Ableton built a free browser playground to teach how music works

I think there’s a common myth that music production tools somehow take away from the need to understand music theory. I’d say exactly the opposite: they’re more demanding. Every musician is now in the position of composer. You have an opportunity to arrange new sounds in new ways without any clear frame from the past. You’re now part of a community of listeners who have more access to traditions across geography and essentially from the dawn of time. In other words, there’s almost no choice too obvious. So I also believe that every musician and producer ought to have access …

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Novation’s Circuit tools now work without needing the Internet

Just in time for all of us to retreat into a bunker and cut ourselves off from the world — erm, uh, I mean just in case you don’t have an Internet connection in your studio, now Novation’s Web-based editor for Circuit works offline. We’ve waxed rhapsodic about the Circuit Components before – as it turns Novation’s simple, cute, cheap, lovely drum machine into a more customizable tool. You can load samples, save presets, and make backups quickly and easily. But there’s been one very annoying inconvenience: you need to run the tool in your browser, and you need to …

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sunvox

The music software that’s everywhere is now in the browser too: SunVox Web

Oh, sure, some developers think it’s a big deal if their software runs on Mac and Windows. (Whoo!) SunVox has a different idea of cross-platform – a slightly more complete one. Alexander Zolotov is a mad genius. His SunVox has all the patchable sound design of a modular synth. But it also has all the obsessive-compulsive pattern editing of a tracker. So on any single platform, it’s already two tools in one. And it doesn’t run on just one single platform. It’s on Windows (pretty much any version). It’s on macOS – all the way back to 10.6. (Kudos, Alexander …

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DU-VHS = what TV would be if it were glitchy, nerdy, and underground

Our friends at the hypergeeky, futuristic Detroit Underground have built an app. And it’s full of videos, layered in a VHS-style retro video interface. DU-VHS is available now for iOS (iPad and iPhone both), and as a Web app accessible through any browser, all for free. Step inside, and you’re treated to an explosion of electronic sound and image – burbling, bleeping hyperactive musical textures, and degraded retro-videocorder lo-fi renditions of videos. There are music videos, loads of live performances, and even interviews and synthesizer odds and ends. It’s the work of designer Jean Christophe Naour. If you’re wondering why …

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Explore harmonies in your browser with this free arpeggiator

Ever wondered what it would be like if the spirit of Philip Glass inhabited one of your web browser tabs? Well, now he can. Sort of. “Musical Chord Progression Arpeggiator” is a browser-based, JavaScript-powered harmonic exploration tool. Punch in a chord progression, then a root key and Church mode and go to town. The audio plays back in your browser with some fixed bpm choices. The real gem here is the array of arpeggiator shapes, which are copious and endlessly amusing. Music! Theory! Nerds! Go! But it’s also fun that, this being in the browser, you can click the ‘view’ …

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Google explores how machine learning could navigate the history of art

You might have some art history under your belt. Now experimental artists are giving the machines a chance to do the same. It’s called Google Arts & Culture Experiments, and it takes a new angle on machine learning. The concept: let those algorithms find new ways of venturing through the history of art and human culture. This isn’t just about the machines, either. Continuing the Chrome Experiments series, the search giant is enlisting artists and creative coders to try an inventive take on what this might mean. After all, while the machine learning may be for the AI, it’s the …

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BlokDust is an amazing graphical sound tool in your browser

Just when you think you’ve tired of browser toys, of novel graphical modular sound thing-a-ma-jigs, then — this comes along. It’s called Blokdust. It’s beautiful. And … it’s surprisingly deep. Not only might you get sucked into playing with it, but thanks to some simply but powerful blocks and custom sample loading, you might even make a track with it. And for nerds, this is all fully free and open source and hipster-JavaScript-coder compliant if you want to toy with the stuff under the hood.

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Funklet teaches you your favorite grooves in your browser

You can learn a lot from a drummer. The best grooves of all time are meticulously constructed – and understanding them means understanding a lot about rhythm and form. So these are objects worth study. What your Web browser can do is make that study easier – even if you’ve never touched a drum kit. That comes at the right time, too. Thanks to the power of the computer and electronic music hardware, we’ve all of us become composers or expanded our compositional horizons. We may not imagine that we’re composing drum parts when we mess about with drum machines …

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serum

Rent-to-own Serum means Kanye doesn’t have to pirate it

Somewhere – tonight, even – some unknown producer is going to make some brilliant new track using software. (Seriously, this is the world we live in.) And when they do, odds are they might well turn to a popular synth like breakout-hit Serum. The problem is this: someone getting started in producing is probably unwilling or unable to shell out US$189 for a single software instrument. So that individual is likely to pirate the software.

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Your unconscious meat body plays this online drum machine

I am a damp rag of exposed flesh, my limbs ill-defined blobs drifting in some undetermined direction as I float through space – wet steak in a wormhole. But then there’s a parade of translucent boxes against this surrealist-nightmare distorted planet, and a triumphant series of chime rings out. A clear pattern is articulated from the murk, a rhythm emerging from the disarray. No, no – hold on, don’t stop reading, I’m fine. I am actually describing to the best of my ability the experience of using one #$(&*ing insane browser music toy created by our friend Sam Rolfes. It’s …

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