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Get your notes right on Novation Circuit … what tutorials do you want?

Novation last week released a new set of tutorials for their Circuit. These cover scales, melodies, and chords. Those are interesting not just for those with limited skills on other instruments, but also, ironically, as a way to get away from your usual habits if you are used to something like a piano. The tutorials are great, but this raises a question. Which tutorials would you most want to see – what topics, and what hardware? There’s of course way more gear out there than you could ever reasonably cover. But while some material applies to everything (music theory, for …

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Can the MPC X win over some die-hard German MPC hardware users?

The MPC 2000. The 2000XL. The 500. These old Akai boxes inspired countless live sets – and many devoted fans still make them the centerpiece of their rigs. But Akai abandoned the standalone hardware market for years. Native Instruments came along with Maschine, making the hardware just a controller for software running on a computer. And the MPC lost its place as the machine synonymous with the drum machine/sampler device. Now, that looks set to change. Akai is back in the standalone hardware business with a new angle – get all the capabilities of a computer, running the same software, …

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Get hands on with the hot new Elektron Digitakt

What do you need your boxes to do? For a lot of people, that’s making grooves, producing nice-sounding drums, manipulating samples, and playing sequencing – and then mucking about with them and breaking everything. You might call that a “drum machine.” You might call it, in fact, a “laptop.” But the faster mucking around gets, the more fun you’re likely to have. On this scene, enter the Elektron Digitakt. Part of why I wanted to share Cuckoo’s friendly, accessible videos on the Elektron Octatrack yesterday was to help set the stage for the Digitakt. Does it do everything the Octatrack …

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Watch Octave One demonstrate their elaborate, hands-on live rig

We value the new and the young a lot in electronic music. But developing musicianship requires time, patience, and practice. So to see where electronic musicianship might be able to go, it helps to look to the people who have invested years. And that’s why it’s worth repeated visits to Lenny and Lawrence Burden, aka Octave One (also aka Random Noise Generation). Not only are they brothers who have grown up together, and can literally complete each other’s sentences, but they’ve been building the technique of how they play since their first 1989 release. Before we get to that live …

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Maschine 2.6.5 makes it easier to manage ideas, routings

Ableton has accustomed a lot of us to the idea of having a grid of bits of ideas we can trigger and layer (among other similar metaphors in drum machines and the like). So of course that same functionality would make sense elsewhere. Maschine Jam took Native Instruments’ groove workstation into a different direction by focusing on how you generate, transform, and arrange ideas. Now that focus on workflow is finding its way into the whole Maschine family, both in the form of refinements to Jam and new functionalities elsewhere. So, as NI quietly rolls out Maschine 2.6.5, all Maschine …

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Go gear crazy with the best synth gear unveiled at Superbooth

In just its second edition, Schneidersladen has turned the Superbooth into the world’s coolest synth gathering and most focused electronic music gear get-together. The Berlin-based event attracted a who’s who of international music gear makers, from modular to desktop, tiny to huge. So that led to the inevitable question: “what have you seen? What’s cool?” Sometimes you got to that topic before, like, “hello, how are you?” Well, while there was a litany of great new stuff, particularly (unsurprisingly) in the modular sphere, here are the prototypes and gear launches that I think represent the best of the best. We’ll …

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Suren's Circuit, in the studio.

This editor unlocks all the power of Circuit as synth and groovebox

Novation’s Circuit is a budget marvel. As a drum machine alone, it’s a steal – particularly with the ability to load your own samples. But also hidden inside are two synths based on the Novation Nova. There’s one piece of software that really lets you maximize all these capabilities: the Circuit Editor plug-in from Isotonik. It’s got two major advantages. One, it lets you get inside all the hidden powers of the synths and drum machine locked into the Circuit hardware, not only as an editor but with extras like randomization and morphing. The upshot of that: you can use …

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Novation’s Circuit tools now work without needing the Internet

Just in time for all of us to retreat into a bunker and cut ourselves off from the world — erm, uh, I mean just in case you don’t have an Internet connection in your studio, now Novation’s Web-based editor for Circuit works offline. We’ve waxed rhapsodic about the Circuit Components before – as it turns Novation’s simple, cute, cheap, lovely drum machine into a more customizable tool. You can load samples, save presets, and make backups quickly and easily. But there’s been one very annoying inconvenience: you need to run the tool in your browser, and you need to …

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Father of 808 and founder of Roland Ikutaro Kakehashi has died

Few people loom over electronic music instruments quite like Ikutaro Kakehashi. As founder of Japanese giant Roland, at Roland’s helm through decades of its most historic creations, and as an engineer, Kakehashi has had a hand in the evolution of electronic music instruments – and particularly the notion of the electronic drum machine – as we now know it. Word is spreading that the maestro, known affectionately to fans simply as “Mr. K,” has died today at the age of 87. It all started with organs. Kakehashi was an engineer first, repairing and later building organs. Like it did for …

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These circuit-bent instruments and sounds are simply gorgeous

Mention “circuit bending” and you may think of someone making unlistenable noise on a Speak & Spell they … broke. But in the grand tradition of Reed Ghazala, circuit bending can mean instruments that have exquisitely mutated from vintage devices, resplendent in new paint and making bizarre but wonderful new sounds. I guess you can think of it as the difference between a conservatory-trained woodwind quintet and … the sound of your first-grade music class playing those plastic recorders. Ivo Ivanov is squarely in the master builder category. We can drool over his visually beautiful creations, in this gallery here. …

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