nilsstudio_Alexander Schneider_06

Hear Beautiful, Melancholy Christmas Mixes from Nils Frahm

Nils Frahm is a gem in music right now, a sensitive and reflective voice. And infused into everything he does is an unwavering sense of taste. If you’re feeling the weight of the endless rotation of overplayed saccarine-sweet Christmas tunes, Nils can cure what ails you. For the second year in a row, he’s released an achingly mellow mix of favorites he’s dusted off from his vinyl collection. Curl up under the crackling analog fuzz of those records and settle in. Each has obvious touchstones of piano inspiration; last year’s he described as “your mobile campfire.” We have this year’s …


Get Christmas Bells Free for Ableton Live and Other Tools

There is so much bell action in this free download, there are bells combined with other bells. There are church bells, and there are Yamaha DX7 bells, synthesized through FM. It’s maximized Christmas soundware. Once you fire this up, it’s like an Egg Nog with a mulled cider inside and then a duck inside that. And, incredibly, it’s the 114th Ableton pack release from Brian Funk, aka electronic musician (and certified Live trainer) AfroDJMac. That’s 114 free downloads – far more than we could ever hope to cover. Because these are Ableton Live sound packs, you can actually open up …


Home Alone Remixed Live on Ableton, Launchpad; Mega APC Mashup

Home Alone (Ableton Live Remix) from Keenan Gaynor on Vimeo. It’s the holidays, a time for family, and to ponder when controller mappings meet one-shot clip triggering, cable TV, weird child neglect, and brutal violence against slapstick criminals. Yes, of course – it’s the time-honored tradition of Ableton Live and Home Alone. There’s the 2010 original remix on Launchpad. But, unlike the Home Alone movie, the sequel’s even better. Last year, Keenan Gaynor quietly updated the remix on a Novation Launchpad Mini. And clearly he’s picked up some better techniques in Live. (Pro mode, anyway!) So, even though the original …


Watch Carol of the Bells Transformed with Sampling Technique

Shorter days means longer nights making music. And Christmas songs on repeat means it’s time for some creativity. So even though it’s a holiday, let’s head to school – in the best possible way. Toronto-based Andrew Triple A sends us a quick beat-making video. It’s nice to see someone not just lean heavily on a single sample, but use that riff as inspiration to play. Whether this is your musical taste or not, there’s something you can learn here. And I was intrigued to look more into the melody behind this tune I’ve heard over and over again. I finally …


For Apple, Music Making is For Everybody: New Holiday Ad

We face a challenge in the music technology community. Underlined by a century in which music creation was seen by some as the privilege of a few, in the studio world, and mass music was about records and radio, people might claim music making is niche. It’s seen by those onlookers as the domain of specialists, techies – a weird overlap of superstars and nerds. But some of us believe that musical expression as as essential as singing, and the tools matter just as much. You don’t see much music technology in Apple’s latest ad. I think it might be …


Post-Christmas Deals on Apps, Software, More – Even a Game with Procedural Music [Bargain Roundup]

As more sales – particularly software – move online, we’re finding that musicians can save a lot on their tools by waiting on sales. Black Friday / Thanksgiving / Cyber Monday saw steep discounts on some terrific stuff, and now there are loads of sales in the quiet period from Christmas to New Year’s. Half off Lemur (through 19 Jan). One particularly tempting deal – especially if you’ve got a winter project in mind – comes from our friends at Liine. Lemur, my favorite controller app on iOS, is now 50% off. And LiveControl 2 has just added essential support …


“All I Want is a Synthesizer for Christmas”: Adorable Stop Motion Animation

Hyperbubble – A Synthesizer for Christmas from Ambar Navarro on Vimeo. Put the synth back in … Christm… um, Christmasynth. Synthmas. It’s the reason for the season. And that’s the message of a delightful video from animator Ambar Navarro. (Apologies if you’ve seen this already – Ambar sent her work to us last week – but I think it’s well worth another watch and mention.) It embodies the ethos of synth love right now, the adored, all-in-one electronic instrument in all its charm. And this is just one introduction to a lovely body of work my Ambar, in the experimental …


Holiday Goodies: Sampled Sleigh, Jingle Bells, Free [Samples]

We open on a Christmas Eve dinner. The goose has been stripped to the bones, the third wine glass drained to its last drops. A typical-looking family leans back. Cut to a close-up on a scraggly-looking electronic music producer. He rolls his eyes at the next question. “Why don’t you play some of that music you make? Didn’t you used to play the viola?” “But, grandma, I make dark experimental techno and noise art.” “Dark what? Play Jingle Bells!” “Wait – I have just the solution. I remember, I just saw that free pack of samples on CDM. Let me …


DRON-E Creates Ambiences, Cinematic Sounds – Now Free for Reaktor [Sounds, Tutorial]

Composition and invention are two tasks that always blur – there’s some engineering to making music, and that extends to sound design. But let’s get real: when you come across someone like Antonio Blanca, you reach a whole other level. Blanca does exquisite work in Reaktor ensembles and carefully-crafted Lemur templates to match. And DRON-E is a masterpiece, a Reaktor ensemble capable of generating entire universes of ambient sound. Eerie drones will transport you to feeling like you’re crawling about a distant asteroid or entered a convent that has retreated to an alien mineshaft. (I wasn’t the only person who …

Nonstop from Iceland, the perfect soundtracks to your winter. Photo (CC-BY) James Cridland.

Cool Yule: Iceland’s Bedroom Community Spins Wintry, Eclectic Releases [Listen]

It’s easy to be bleak about new music releases, the vast quantities of new work spreading before you in their sameness like a blizzard – plenty of particles, but all a white wash. When feelings like that hit you – or the depressed mood that might strike during midwinter in the far reaches of the Northern Hemisphere – there’s a solution. You can warm yourself with good friends in intimate surroundings. And that’s what Iceland’s Bedroom Community collective and label are all about. This group has literally assembled a group of close friends for “intimate” musical connections. Getting in on …