20 oscillators in 20 minutes is action sports, comic gold

It’s an edge-of-your-seat race against the 555. Our friend Darsha Hewitt went up in front of one of the world’s nerdiest crowds: the Chaos Computer Club’s Chaos Communication Congress gathering in Germany. Whereas some people guzzle bubbly and lean in for kisses and watch balls drop at the turn of a new year, the legendary geekfest involves a marathon of hard-core hacking and discussion, political and provocative. And Darsha didn’t make it easy for herself. She set out to build twenty analog oscillator circuits in just twenty minutes. Maybe that’s not so hard if no one’s watching, but try doing it under watchful eyes, …


This hack lets you add the MIDI control KORG forgot

It’s not enough just to gripe about something not being good enough, to tally a criticism of a product in the “cons” side of a review. Intrepid musician-hackers are going and just changing it themselves. Karg, the Heidelberg-based musician (with an ‘a’), is a fan of Korg, the manufacturer (with an ‘o’). And presumably when he bought the Kaossilator Pro+ and its touch pad access to tones. But he ran into frustration when he couldn’t quite get his finger on precise pitches and rhythms. So, he hacked the hardware to add the functionality he wanted.


Call for participants: a Hacklab to change perspectives, in Belgium

In the past weeks, I’ve had the good fortune to talk to astronauts and aeronautical engineers, to artists in residence in space centers (with ESA) and aboard “vomet comet” airplane microgravity experiments (in Russia). A common theme has emerged. Just as images from space once transformed our perception, the next frontier is sound. From spatial sound to works responding to spaceflight, drones, and aeronautics, there’s a chance to change the way we hear and imagine. And so, after we start February at Berlin’s CTM Festival imagining future rituals, we’ll move later in the month to Leuven, Belgium to explore the heard place. You’re …


Building instruments, making future rituals in Berlin (open call)

Culture can be a different construction in our inter-connected age. We can draw on traditions from a distant past – or imagine a distant future. We can more easily connect with the people around us, or the people on the other corner of the world. So, as I host CDM’s fourth Hacklab with CTM Festival in Berlin, we’re pairing our participants with radical instrument builders to invent new musical rituals. Ewa Justka (born Poland, based in London) co-hosts and guest artists like Indonesian avant-garde Wukir Suryadi are along for another installment of this open, collaborative lab – and there’s still …


Push 2 hardware now works in Bitwig – including on Linux

There may be an Ableton logo splashed on it and integration designed specifically for Live. But one of the nice things about Ableton’s Push and Push 2 hardware are that, at their core, they’re open. Everything sends and receives standard MIDI messages. As we’ve seen, even the display is hackable. And that is admirable not only from an engineering standpoint, but because it means the hardware you invest in has a life beyond just specific drivers and software updates. Now, that extends even to rival software Bitwig Studio – which means you can even use a Push 2 on Linux.


In just a few minutes, mod a Euclidean Sequencer in Reaktor

There are a lot of hugely powerful things you can do with an environment like Reaktor. But that doesn’t necessarily suggest where to begin. The best way to get into a deep tool is often to solve a simple problem. At the Native Sessions installment on Reaktor 6, Nadine Raihani showed us a simple example of taking a user library offering and making some quick changes. The result: a Euclidean polyrhythm sequencer (Euclidean say what?) that you can play from a keyboard. That turns out to be scary useful: like holding down notes for instant improv techno.


Learn about Reaktor from experts in this two hour video

It’s a marvelous time to be a musician. You can imagine a musical instrument, a compositional invention, and then realize that idea in short order. So I was glad to get the chance to emcee an evening of discussion with Reaktor experts, including the folks who built the tool, last month in the software’s hometown Berlin. That discussion ultimately was partly about Reaktor, but partly about the act of instrument building itself – meaning there were insights for anyone interested in working with electronics or software to dream up new musical tools.


DIY synth legend Ray Wilson needs help in cancer fight

He’s one of the most prolific people in DIY synths – but now he faces crippling healthcare bills. Help Ray Wilson’s family help their Dad fight back.


You can now access the Push 2 display from Max

Ableton’s Push 2 has a big, beautiful, color display. But what goes on that display is limited to what Ableton has built in – or, rather, it was, until now. London-based producer/hacker sigabort has already built a Max object that lets you access the display directly as a high-res, color texture. Max boffins, this means you can even use Jitter objects directly. And for those who have no idea what the previous sentence just meant, think of it this way: Max patches will now be able to create their own full-color visual outputs, for practical or entertainment purposes. (Max for …


Collidoscope is a giant table-top granular instrument

Once, weird instruments only made the rounds at exclusive academic conferences. Now, they go viral on Facebook. Such is the case with Collidoscope, the creation of a UK-based mixing and mastering service (out of London label Sunlightsquare Records) and Queen Mary researchers – Ben Bengler and Fiore Martin. It’s a massive tangible table-top interface to a granular instrument.