white whale Makes your monome Into an Amazing Modular Step Sequencer

It seems everyone is getting in on modular gear these days, thanks to the Eurorack format. But many of these modules are variations on a theme – new models of old classic modules, existing synthesis components and filters that have just been reborn as a module. monome white whale, shipping this month, is something different. Connect a monome grid controller to a modular, and suddenly that array of light-up buttons becomes a probabilistic sequencer. It’s live performance oriented in a way too few modules are. The results are surprising and lovely. The solution isn’t cheap – you need a monome …

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Now, Everything in the Real World Can Be Modular – Candles to Plants to Lava Lamps to Motors

You know that saying about everything looking like a nail when all you’ve got is a hammer? Well, someone got a little carried away dreaming of wires, and it seems they’ve now a module that can begin to see all kinds of objects and substances as control voltage. We’ve seen a new collections of modules and tools. And it turns everything in the world into a modular synthesizer input and output. We already knew the strange and wonderful Czech team of Bastl Instruments (of Standuino fame) were up to some weird science. It just got a whole lot weirder. Sure, …

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Connect Your Brain to Synthesizers, with Desktop and Modular Creations for Brainwaves

Oh, sure, you can convert MIDI and clock and DIN and control voltage. But how about brainwaves? How about jacking your noggin straight into your synths and controlling synthesizers only with your mind? It’s not quite like The Matrix, yet, if that’s what you’re imagining. But some crafty Italian inventors/experimental musicians have already whipped up a working prototype of hardware that interfaces brainwave-sensing headsets to synthesisers via analog signal and MIDI. And tomorrow, the 26th of July, they’re putting their heads where their money is, premiering the whole system in a live performance. The boxes are designed to work with …

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There’s an Unofficial Eurorack Version of MeeBlip anode

You can’t buy it – it’s a one-of-a-kind model – but someone was enough in love with the sound of MeeBlip anode that they built their own modular version.

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LegoTechno: Sliding Lego Blocks Make Music with littleBits, Maschine, Arduino

Keep watching: this LEGO sequencer, playing a littleBits synth kit, does something amazing. Sliding tiles around actually changes the sequence, all reading the blocks, in a terrific real-world, physical user interface. (Well, it certainly pleased the crowds at the Music Hack Day at SONAR in Barcelona.) And yes, this means the team we saw earlier keeps working on this. Intrepid hackers can use the just-barely-hidden Lua back-end of Maschine to do their own custom scripting. More on that soon. In the meantime, let’s check out the details:

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littleBits Synth Kit Will Add USB Audio, CV, and MIDI; See Snap-Together Modular Live in NYC

littleBits has already won over some synth enthusiasts with snap-together modules you can combine via magnets, and a collaboration with KORG. But until now, the open source gizmos have been largely a world unto themselves. You could route audio in and out, but that’s it; any expansion was dependent on buying more littleBits modules. Over the course of this year, that will change. Already, there’s a US$36 Arduino module, opening up custom-coded functionality and computer connectivity. And by the end of the year, littleBits will add three modules that make the Synth Kit into more of a synth (or controller, …

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Free Bass Sounds from Modulars: Ableton Live Sampler Instruments, Free Loops

Do you dream of wires but require some sounds … now? São Paulo-based sound house Spektro Audio has shared a lovely Live pack full of multi-sampled bass instruments, free. They set to work on a very tasty-sounding Eurorack modular, then put together ten Sampler-based instruments in Instrument Racks, complete with options for filtering, distortion, and the like. Using their CV Toolkit, they triggered that same modular setup from their Live set. No specifics on what’s in their rack, but you’ll spot some nice modules from some of our favorite builders: Mutable Instruments (is that Braids?), Tip Top Audio, and MakeNoise. …

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Moog Werkstatt-ø1 as Solder-Free Kit for $329 – But Expect a Fight to Get One

It seems popular demand worked. Moog’s peculiar, brilliant Werkstatt synth was a huge kit as a workshop-only build for premium Moogfest attendees in April in North Carolina. And not only that, the design swept the Internet. It seems your pleas were heard, as the instructional project is turning into a product. Just expect it to be in “extremely” limited quantities, says Moog, at a handful of their boutique-minded US dealers. Because it’s solder-free, even including those through-hole parts, the “kit” aspect is largely putting it together. But it’s still a clever, rich-sounding, versatile single-oscillator analog synth with some semi-modular routing …

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Watch a Haken Continuum Rival String Instruments for Expression

Enough of cheesy MIDI keyboards faking instruments. Yes, it looks embarrassing. Here’s something entirely different. On the subject of the Haken Continuum, a single, touch-sensitive, continuous-pitch instrumental controller, we can see in a video just how expressive it can be. The Continuum Fingerboard consists of a large, soft playing surface. Press in with your fingers, and three-dimensional sensing responds in pitch and timbre. The range is even greater than an 88-key keyboard in the full-sized model; an optional stand holds it steady (and would look at home on the deck of a Klingon warbird). The instrument, full of carefully-crafted custom …

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The $100 BeatStep Sequencer and Controller: Everything You Want to Know [Review, Resources]

Even if Arturia’s BeatStep did nothing other than act as a dumb controller, it might get your attention. The compact control surface / sequencer hardware runs about $100 street. As a controller, it has both 16 pads and 16 endless encoders (with notches, so you can feel where you are), plus transport triggers and a larger encoder. With driverless USB operation, some of you will already be happy and can proceed. But the BeatStep is more ambitious than that. It has sophisticated software customization via a companion program, and a built-in step sequencer. It operates standalone, with MIDI gadgets or …

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