Patterning on iPad is a circular, sample-savvy drum machine

We’re in a the golden age of the drum machine, whether it’s dedicated hardware or a computer or a mobile gadget. Of course, that means it’s getting tougher to stand out. Patterning is one of the most promising software entries yet. I’m already a huge fan of Elastic Drums for its rich approach to timbre – this could be my other fast favorite. Patterning side-steps the two problems with most drum machines – boring, regular patterns, and boring, predictable sounds. Patterning’s user interface is centered around a circle, as cycles of time repeat in futuristic rotating colored geometries. We’ve seen …


The next Web standard could be music notation

The role of the music score is an important one, as a lingua franca – it puts musical information in a format a lot of people can read. And it does that by adhering to standards. Now with computers, phones, and tablets all over the planet, can music notation adapt? A new group is working on bringing digital notation as a standard to the Web. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – yes, the folks who bring you other Web standards – formed what they’re describing as a “community group” to work on notation. That doesn’t mean your next Chrome …


Watch Battles Reflect on Loops, Ableton in a Live Band Setting

On some deeper level, maybe it doesn’t matter how something repeats – whether it’s looped in a pedal, looped in software, or simply repeated by a human player, for instance. On another level, given just how much repetition matters to music, maybe that’s why we care so much about how it’s accomplished. Ableton this week released a visit to New York’s experimental rock trio Battles, in a film and interview under the header “The Art of Repetition.” There, we get to learn more about the process behind Battles’ dense, hypnotic sound. The film is a bit long, but there are …


Sail a Sea of Sound, in Beautiful World of Max Cooper and Tom Hodge

Producer Max Cooper, alongside his collaborator Tom Hodge, this week shares an intimate reflection on what motivates him in sound and science. In the video for Sonos Studio, the Belfast-born musician describes loving when sound “wraps you up in this warm … sea.” But there’s a system that reveals itself, even as the scientific method can unfold the mysteries around us. So if this music sounds personal and secret, perhaps it has a direct analog to Cooper’s past life as a scientist, the “introspective side of science,” as he puts it. That is, ” whether it’s a piece of music …


Free Clapping Music App Teaches You Steve Reich – And Rhythm

Before there was Rock Band and Guitar Hero, there was Steve Reich’s 1972 Clapping Music. And like all etudes, it’s a game. Now an iPhone app makes it an actual game.


Watch James Horner Play Piano, Talk Overnight ‘Aliens’ Climax

On a very personal note, I’m saddened this week to learn of the news of the death of the great film composer James Horner. See him talk about his approach to scoring Field of Dreams at top for some of his approach. Best of all, you get to see him at the piano. When I was a kid, Horner was one of the people who inspired me to investigate composition. I was entranced with the sweeping romanticism of the Star Trek II score that was his big break – an aching, yearning, but dreamy vision of the future, filled with …


From the Heart of Belgrade’s Underground, Inside a New Festival Experience

Summertime. You certainly can’t complain about your options in electronic music festivals. But in some of the best festivals, there’s also a sameness – talented lineups, repeated from weekend to weekend. That predictability is part of the draw, part of the commercial viability of many of these events and of the artist industry they support. But where do you go if you want something different to happen? If you want a mix of music that’s different, an environment that’s different, if you want all the things that wouldn’t work elsewhere? One place to go is the countryside of Serbia, from …


A New Book from Ableton Wants to Help You Make Music

Imagine if the Eno/Schmidt Oblique Strategies, a music theory book, and an Ableton quick-start manual all got caught in a transporter accident with a bunch of different music producers.* That seems to be what you get with Making Music: A Book of Creative Strategies. In one sense, the aim is to be none of these things. It’s not a manual. It’s not a template for music making. It doesn’t, apparently, rely much on musical theory in the traditional sense. But, then, if you know the man behind it – Dennis DeSantis, a classical percussion virtuoso and composer turned documentation czar …


Robin Thicke Judgment: The Day Copyright Law Died, Again [Opinion]

You may not like the song “Blurred Lines” much. But if you find that tune grating, you may find the inability of US copyright law to differentiate degrees of copying even more painful. Here’s the latest strangeness. When we last joined the American courts finding extreme interpretations of copyright, an appeals court decided to blow away the de minimis doctrine for sampling. That’s “de minimis” (Latin), as in “size matters not” (um… Yoda). The idea was, there was no need to measure the significance or size of a sample in the N.W.A. song “100 Miles and Runnin’.” The court helpfully …


Kyma 7 Wants You To Discover, And See, New Sounds

Kyma 7 in Four Minutes from Symbolic Sound on Vimeo. Somewhere apart from the general purpose computer, the standalone electronic instrument, the racks of modulars, there is Kyma. For nearly a quarter century, this boutique digital instrument has opened up sonic realms to a scattered illuminati of artists. And this week, it hit a new milestone, with functionality and resources intended to make sound exploration still broader and more accessible. Three years in development, Kyma 7 is here. The buzz around modular often comes back to the same refrain: modular is cool because it’s open ended. That rat’s nest of …