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Alien and unicorn music and a free picture-to-MIDI tool to download now

The Internet: it’s still doing crazy things with MIDI. Just in the last few days, we’ve seen MIDI musical inventions go freshly viral. And keep reading even if you’ve seen some of that, as we’ve got a little bonus for you to get in on the fun. It started with producer Aleksander Vinter, aka Savant – whose work extends to popular game scores. He created patterns like this one that double both as recognizable picture (a bird, reminiscent of vintage text art), and as compelling musical figuration. Behold: See / hear more: https://www.facebook.com/pg/SavantOfficial/about/?ref=page_internal https://www.youtube.com/user/winterpiss/featured That led YouTube star Alexander Huang …

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Image Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

European Space Agency just gave away a bunch of space media for use

Quick — think about the planet you live on. What does Earth look like from above? Probably, some very clear imagery just popped into your head – iconic Apollo-era photography, or perhaps the more contemporary view of the planet from the orbit of the International Space Station. But our generations – ours, our parents’ and grandparents’ generations – are unique in human history. We’ve been given these images by the radical breakthrough of our species leaving Earth, via our own human spaceflight and myriad machine exploration missions. Earth imagery may well have even saved our species. The Atomic Age gave …

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Get a powerful step sequencer as a Windows VST, free

Quick! You need a step sequencer! Sometimes you want a full-featured sequencing tool and your host doesn’t have one (or it doesn’t do what you want). HY-SEQ16 is a terrific, versatile option. I could talk about the whole feature set but: randomize. Probability controls. There you have it. Okay, also, preset management, separate randomization per parameter (ooh), sequence direction – basically everything you need. If you really fall in love with this one, US$28 buys you 3×16 steps and an LFO. This looks great to me, not least for controlling external hardware. Heck, I thought I didn’t need it, and …

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Grab 150 vintage and rare drum machines for free

You know the person – collecting weird old music gear, from highly valuable to the near-worthless used prices, as an obsessive hoarder. You open their closet and immediately want to grab a mic and start sampling. Well, that’s the feeling of this totally free library of drum machine sounds. You get a 200MB library, with 150 drum machines. They’re eminently playable, too, with General MIDI mappings so you don’t have to hunt around for the sounds. They’re also grouped (kick, snare, hat, cymbal, tom). And there’s a lot of work here – custom graphics for each kit and custom controls …

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Adult Swim has a free noise album you don’t want to miss

It’s that time of the year again: weeks of hearing Christmas songs on repeat plus the untimely death of George Michael, and your ears are probably oozing peppermint goo while you cry yourself to sleep. This calls for some seriously aggressive noise album. You know – like a palette cleanser. Well, here’s one, and it’s free – from Adult Swim. “Noise” album? Cartoon Network? Okay, the combination sounds unlikely. But if you were expecting some lame hipster compilation that sounds like “noise music” just means someone fell asleep on their guitar pedalboard, think again. It’s actually damned good. And it’s …

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Minitaur, (CC-BY) Audiotecna Música.

Get a pile of free one-shots of vintage instruments for Ableton Live

Get a gift that keeps on giving: a massive trove of one-shot samples of classic instruments that begs you to make your own sounds. That’s the latest freebie packaged for Ableton Live (though you could also snag the samples for other tools, too). And, wow, here are some beloved instruments: Prophet 12, Prophet 08, Minitaur, SubPhatty, SH101, MS20m, Bass Station II, Custom SEM/Doepfer modular, VL-Tone (drums), Mattel Synsonics (drums) I’ve made no secret of being a fan of Francis Preve’s sound design prowess, honed in years of work for companies like Roland and Ableton. His latest FM pack was a …

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NI just gave away a bunch of morphing toy sounds from your childhood

Mighty morphin’ nostalgia rangers. That Fisher-Price “Pull-a-Tune” xylophone. The plastic turntable Fisher-Price musicbox. L.G.B. and Lionel locomotives. A tin robot. Even if these don’t bring up memories of your own childhood playtime or your family’s playthings or (uh, depending on age) a visit to the local toy museum, they’re full of charming, magical sounds. And in a free sample library from our Berlin neighbors at Native Instruments, you can mess around with them in a morphing 3D interface. It’s just what you need to produce some ghastly, gothic, creepy horror soundtrack to scare the living f– Oh, wait. Sorry. Holiday …

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Skinnerbox’s free M4L Device is the MIDI curve Ableton forgot

Ableton Loop in its second year was a vastly expanded event, with more people, more interactions, and a greater sense of community. And it was more hands-on. The workshop with Skinnerbox, the duo that makes such robust use of Live, well, live, was overflowing. But now there’s a gift for everybody, not just those lucky enough to pack into the Berlin session. It’s simple, but that makes it handy to learn from. And it’s quite useful. (I like stuff like that for learning patching for the first time. Sometimes you need a screwdriver, not a CNC machine.) Curve does what …

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Suren's Circuit, in the studio.

Get a bunch of drum and wavetable sounds for Novation Circuit

What does that tasty ice, cold vanilla ice cream need? Chocolate sauce and peanuts. What does the Novation Circuit need? This sample pack.

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PiDeck makes a USB stick into a free DJ player, with turntables

There’s something counterintuitive about it, right? Plug a USB stick into a giant digital player alongside turntables. Or plug the turntables into a computer. What if the USB stick … was the actual player? In the age of rapid miniaturization, why hasn’t this happened yet? Well, thanks to an open source project, it has happened (very nearly, anyway). It’s called PiDeck. And it radically reduces the amount of gear you need. You’ll still need an audio interface with phono input to connect the turntable, plus the (very small, very cheap) Raspberry Pi. But that’s just about it. Connect your handheld …

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