A fully-functioning QuNexus prototype. It may look like the pads on the QuNeo, but Keith McMillen tells us new sensor tech should be more friendly to keyboard technique. And the fact that this is real hardware is important - Kickstarter has recently revised its rules. A look at the new hardware - and actually delivering on Kickstarter - as CDM talks to Keith McMillen.

QuNexus is Touch-Sensitive, Tilt Mini-Keyboard with CV, MIDI, OSC, as McMillen Returns to Kickstarter [Q+A]

Can a compact controller not only shrink the conventional music keyboard, but transform it, too? The layout on the just-announced QuNexus is something familiar to keyboard players. But the QuNexus assumes some new ways of playing, with keys that sense pressure and an instrument that you can tilt. Following in the footsteps (fingertaps?) of Keith McMillen’s QuNeo, the QuNexus is built around a custom-engineered set of pressure-detecting, touch-sensitive pads. But whereas previous hardware used USB for MIDI and high-resolution OSC (OpenSoundControl), the QuNexus adds Control Voltage for modular and vintage lovers, too. The QuNexus returns to Kickstarter for crowd-funding production, …

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Music from Patch Cords, in the Studio with Jimmy Edgar and KOMA Elektronik [Create Analog Music]

Modular music may be associated with densely-layered, sometimes-indecipherable ambiences, but Jimmy Edgar weaves funk and synthesized electro-dance into songs fed by his Detroit roots. (Jimmy’s now on Hotflush, formerly Warp Records, !K7, Poker Flat) In a studio tour with boutique analog maker KOMA Elektronik, he shows off their FT-201 sequenced filter and gestural control on the recently-introduced Kommander X/Y CV controller. I hope Jimmy’s natural musicianship also comes across; having watched him make some quick connections in the studio, this really is a rack he plays like an instrument, not just a fascinating spaceship control panel for sound design. (Not …

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I Dream of Wires Documentary: Carl Craig, Canada, and Modular’s Beauty and Agony [Video]

Like the modulars themselves, an upcoming documentary on these analog synth beasts has been lurking behind closed doors. But that won’t be the case for long. “I Dream of Wires,” the crowd-funded documentary that probes artists’ fascination with making music by connecting patch cords, will see a public showcase at Montreal’s MUTEK Festival. This and an upcoming film release, atop a big get-together in New York, could make this a proper summer of modular. In anticipation of their showcase, MUTEK has released two significant excerpts from the film. One talks to Carl Craig, Detroit techno legend, top. Craig describes how …

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Modular Lovers to Gather in NYC, Celebrate Legacy of Buchla, CV

A look at a Buchla, up close, from Messe in March. Some of the most innovative modules – and certainly some of the strangest parameter and module labels – have come from this designer. And for lovers of all things Control Voltage, a coming event in New York seems a don’t-miss. You could almost call it Buchlafest. Led by Manhattan electronic music hub Harvestworks, fans of modular synthesis, composition and performance with patch cords, and Don Buchla’s modular synths are set to gather in New York this summer. In the video below, they introduce not only their event plans but …

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Inside Koma Electronik, Boutique Maker: Studio Tour, Profile [Gallery, Audio]

Big or small, talk to many music gear makers, and you’ll find they’re in the business largely for love. But it’s still amazing just how many gear makers choose to go it alone. They build equipment in their flats and garages, hand-packing their creations and shipping it to a world of fellow musicians. Koma Electronik is just one of those in the worldwide scene of boutique hardware makers. We’re especially fond of their interfaces and the company of musicians they keep. So, following up on the video that showed what it’s like getting a demo in a van from Koma, …

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Spotted: Analog Goodies, Doepfer Prototypes at the ALEX4 Messe Booth [Gallery]

You’d expect that holding the world’s largest trade show in Germany would mean some serious analog and gear love – and you’d be right. Andreas Schneider of SchneidersBuero/SchneidersLaden, the famed Berlin gear hub, was this year gathering some of the finest analog gear at a booth for ALEX4, a European distributor for some of these names. Now, in the meeting room there was of course real business to do, but that shouldn’t stop drool from pooling on some of the equipment. Among the highlights: Doepfer Musikelektronik, the company that perhaps more than any other ignited the current modular fever, was …

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Scanimate: One-of-a-Kind, Analog Animation Machine in Videos, Driven by Moog CV

Nearly as unique and irreplaceable as the men and women who designed them, the analog machines behind early animation produced in idiosyncratic circuitry pre-digital visuals. The fingerprints of those designs are all over familiar animation from decades past. And one of the most extraordinary of those machines must certainly be the Scanimate. Built by the Computer Image Corporation of Denver, Colorado starting in the late 60s, only eight models were made, of which just one survives. That one remaining unit is in Asheville, North Carolina, near the home of Moog Music and our friend Chris Stack at Experimental Synth. So, …

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Alesis Vortex - 5

Keyboard Surprise: Keytar, Control Voltage, Touch Faders in New Models by Akai/Alesis

Imagine Also Sprach Zarathustra playing here, a la 2001. And note what this keytar has – a real pitch wheel, right on the neck. One is a keytar. One is a master controller with touch faders and real MIDI and — control voltage, for working with analog gear. Seriously. The keyboard controller market may have faded into a dull, gray blur of nearly-identical models, but under the Alesis and Akai monikers, there’s some fresh-looking variety. Love it or hate it, these are not the same keyboards you’ll get from anybody else at the moment. I got to meet with Alesis/Akai/Numark …

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Modular Mega-Roundup: Some of the Greatest New Stuff in Analog+Digital Eurorack for Musicians

In action, a Eurorack module by superb builder MakeNoise, with whom we caught up in March in a get-together in Austin, Texas. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Andreas Wetterberg. Modular music making is a throwback to the early days of electronic music, in which a spaghetti of patch cords is the price of open-ended sound creation. Fairly or unfairly, it has often been viewed as the domain of the eccentric wealthy musician. You needed cash, endless patience, and lots of space – well, unless you happened to be lucky enough to pick up a vintage modular as people were getting rid of them. …

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Good Listening: Chris Randall’s ‘Particulate’ Pulses with Obsessively-Constructed Sound, Apple II Nostalgia

Chris Randall’s Apple IIc display shows off the elementary beauty of alphaSyntauri. Photo (CC-BY-NC) Chris Randall, via Flickr. Global availability of music may not have silenced the usual gripes about musical quality and diversity, even if they should. But the Web is providing a place for people to share music with other music-making enthusiasts, sharing the craft of constructing it with the relish of chefs talking over drinks at the end of a long day. Anyway, that’s my excuse for mentioning fellow blogger, music software developer and musician Chris Randall, again. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the meticulously-concocted sounds of his …

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