If a Computer Were a Chanting Monk: Crazy Live Sounds from Kyma + Gametrak

If a computer could throat-sing, meditating on numbers, it might sound something like this. Electro-acoustic composer Jeffrey Stolet is Professor of Music and Director of the Intermedia Music Technology at the University of Oregon, but “sonic shamanism” might apply as well. Mysterious sounds emerge from his laptop as he tugs and pulls on a controller, as if extracting sounds from within. (The hardware in question is a Gametrak game controller – a toy game device that has become an affordable 3D music input. Apparently some 300,000 units were sold by 2006, but the controller never caught on as a mainstream …

READ MORE →

Modulation-o-rama: Rack Extension Tutorial with FXpansion Etch Might Make Knees Wobbly

Over the summer, a slew of new Rack Extensions has opened Reason’s modular, patchable rack to a variety of developers. I have to admit, I’ve been astounded by the quantity and variety, given this is just one host – it seems there was pent-up demand for Reason modules, and that Propellerhead made things developer-friendly. FXpansion do wonderful work, have some of the best synth modeling tools on the market, and I say really entirely too little about them. Now, the guts from their DCAM suite are available in a Rack Extension called Etch, a modeled filter with loads of modulation. …

READ MORE →
Switches and things you may or may not recognize... but, you know, don't worry, not only are there hundreds of presets, but randomly switching presets is a lot of fun.

Sonic Charge Permut8: All Your Lo-Fi Digital Mangling Effects in One Place

Permut8 is the kind of thing that inspires the dreams of people who love digitally-manipulated sound. From legendary Swedish developer Magnus Lindström (Malström in Reason, MicroTonic), it’s a digital delay gone very, very mad. Think delays, flangers, bit crushing, beat repeating, and “circuit-bent” digital insanity. The core of the idea is a 12-bit digital delay with variable sample rate, all controlled by a programmable processor. That lets you do things you … shouldn’t. Various digital operators let you mangle and manipulate sounds, for effects that can be sonorous and beautiful or clangy or hideously-distorted, subtle or extreme, or any combination. …

READ MORE →
xcomp

Circuit-Modeled Dynamics, Plus One Free Plug-in, From FXpansion

Quietly, FXpansion have been making some well-loved, circuit-modeling instruments in the DCAM series. They may not be a household name, but just ask around artists – producers I know consistently bring up the DCAM name and just talk about it sounding damned good. Now, DCAM turns to processing and not just synths. DCAM Dynamics is a suite of plug-ins, each based on models of analog circuitry. There’s a good range of stuff here, covering the gamut from fine-tune adjustments to more creative applications, and I’m eager to try them. Best of all, the freebie here isn’t just a cut-down throwaway, …

READ MORE →

Learn Max for Live By Building an Arpeggiator: Video Tutorials by The Ableton Cookbook, More

Some of you are probably already sitting on top of a Max for Live license for your copy of Ableton Live. It’s there, just waiting to do … something. Maybe you’ve loaded one of the many extraordinary patches out there – good move. But as for building your own patches, you may easily have become overwhelmed by choice. Max is a blank slate, and a blank slate that can do everything can make it hard to start with anything. It’s easy to overlook simple first steps. Max was originally built just to do simple math on messages, before it even …

READ MORE →
bang

Patch Your Own Music Creations, Free: Pd-extended Arrives, Far More Usable

Pure Data is a wonder: a free and open source environment for creating your own musical and multimedia creations with graphical programming, from Miller Puckette, the original creator of Max. You can produce everything from interactive sequencers and drum machines to synths to video performance tools by connecting patch cables visually, and you can run on virtually any platform, from BeagleBoards and Rasberry Pi to Mac, Windows, and Linux desktop. Via libpd, you can target other development languages and environments, embed engines in games, or work with Android and iOS. What hasn’t been so wonderful, of course, is Pd’s graphical …

READ MORE →
cs_touch_1

csGrain Gets Granular Goodness on iPad 2/3; Vanguard of Multi-Platform Csound Renaissance

Technology may be about the next Big New Thing, but as with music making in general, making music with tech is for many of us a lifetime vocation. So, it’s welcome news to find that time-tested tools, maturing over decades rather than months, are enjoying greater use than ever before. We saw Pure Data (Pd) attracting new interest as the embeddable libpd version allows use in a range of development environments and mobile platforms. Now, it’s about to be Csound’s turn. Of course, before we get to that, if you’ve got an iPad 2 or “3” (aka “the new iPad”), …

READ MORE →
You've got to love the ultra-compact track collapse feature - ideal for 11" MacBook Airs or Linux netbooks.

Renoise 2.8 Gets More Usable, 64-bit; Trackers 4ever

Who says every music production tool has to be either a traditional DAW or Ableton Live? Not Renoise, for one. I’m running out of things to call it. Modernized tracker? Tracker on steroids? Music production tool from an alternate history in which conventional DAWs were ignored and everybody just kept on using trackers? How about this: a gem that a tiny development team somehow keeps making more awesome with regular updates with misleading names like “point 8.” So, what does “2.8” give you? A couple of OS compatibility fixes and one new delay effect? Wrong. New in this release is …

READ MORE →
josh-ott-and-thicket

Thicket for iOS Thickens; Artists Describe the Growth of an Audiovisual Playground

By the 1990s, the notion that computer software could be a means of delivering interactive digital art more personally was enjoying a Renaissance. This was the age of the Voyager CD-ROM, which catered to new multimedia PCs and Macs with titles from the likes of Laurie Anderson and Morton Subotnick, the decade in which Brian Eno released Generative Music as software and Monolake – before Ableton – included a Max/MSP patch with an album. But the reach of these experiments was doomed to be relatively limited. Now, of course, things are different. First, we saw some widely-available audiovisual toys, coinciding …

READ MORE →
2_apollo_mbp

Apollo: UA Adds Low-Latency Effects in Audio Interface, Proves FireWire, Thunderbolt are Cool

Universal Audio has long had a successful business selling hardware DSP effects, many of them carefully-modeling classic analog gear. These products use dedicated DSP hardware for number-crunching, requiring that you connect an extra box to your computer. UA has certainly had their loyalists, and for fans of the products, the dedicated gear is simply a convenient way to get all of these sound-processing goodies. But it’s fair to ask the question, as many producers have who read this site, what’s the advantage? Why not simply use native processing on your computer? Apollo, UA’s new hardware, answers that question more emphatically. …

READ MORE →