Send MIDI messages faster than ever, right from the command line

Quick! Send a MIDI control change message! Or some obscure parameter! Well, sometimes typing something is the easiest way to do things. And that’s why Geert Bevin’s new, free and open source tool SendMIDI is invaluable. Sorry to nerd out completely here, but I suspect this is going to be way more relevant to my daily life than anything coming out of NAMM this week. In this case, whether you know much about how to use a command line or not, there’s almost certainly no faster way of performing basic MIDI tasks. Anyone working with hardware is certain to want …


New tools for free sound powerhouse Pd make it worth a new look

Pure Data, the free and open source cousin of Max, can still learn some new tricks. And that’s important – because there’s nothing that does quite what it does, with a free, visual desktop interface, permissive license, and embeddable and mobile versions integrated with other software, free and commercial alike. A community of some of its most dedicated developers and artists met late last year in the NYC area. What transpired offers a glimpse of how this twenty-year-old program might enter a new chapter – and some nice tools you can use right now. To walk us through, attendee Max …


Free jazz – how to use Ableton Link sync with Pure Data patches

Effortless wireless sync everywhere has arrived with free software, too, thanks to Ableton’s new open source SDK. And it’s incredibly easy – enough so that anyone with even rudimentary patching skills will probably want to try this out. Pure Data, the free and open source cousin of Max/MSP, looks ugly but does great stuff. And it’s worth checking out even if you use Max, because Pd is lightweight and runs on any platform – including Linux, Raspberry Pi, iOS, Android, and inside other software (like game engines). Now that it supports Link, you can make patches that run anywhere and …


Micro-ritmos turns bacteria and machine learning into spatialized sound

In the patterns generated by bacterial cells, Micro-ritmos discovers a new music and light. From the Mexican team of Paloma López, Leslie García, and Emmanuel Anguiano (aka Interspecifics), we get yet another marvel of open source musical interface with biological matter. Micro-ritmos from LessNullVoid on Vimeo. The raw cellular matter itself is Geobacter, an anaerobic bacteria found in sediment. And in a spectacular and unintentional irony, this particular family of bacteria was first discovered in the riverbed of the Potomac in Washington, D.C. You heard that right: if you decided to literally drain the swamp in the nation’s capital, this …


There’s a new way to make your iPhone run any Pd patch, free

You’ve got an instrument or effect running in Pure Data, for free, on your computer. (If you don’t know how to do that, more in a moment.) Leave the computer at home. Play that sound creation on your iPhone (or iPad). The implementation of Pd on iOS and Android started its life with RjDj. But PdParty (and PdDroidParty before it) have gone steadily further. Now you can almost treat the graphical patching environment Pd on the computer as your development environment – patch away on your computer, then duplicate that patch complete with UI on your phone. It also means …


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 …


Kastle is a 65€ micro modular that’s the size of three AA batteries

It runs on three AA batteries. It’s not really much bigger than those three AA batteries. And yet somehow, it’s a modular. You can use it like a synth, or even plug it into other gear. It’s the Kastle, from Bastl Instruments, those wizards from Brno, Czech. And at 65€ (79€ fully assembled), it’s going to sell like hotcakes. (Makes me hungry for hotcakes, even.)


Jamming standard: Ableton is opening Link to everyone, starting today

Ableton Link is coming to desktops, and going completely open source. And that means the best tool for wireless sync and jamming is about to get a lot more popular. On iOS and for Ableton Live users, Ableton Link is already a revelation. It allows any number of different apps to sync up with one another without fuss. That includes two more machines running Ableton Live, of course. But it could also be two apps on an iPad, or an iPhone and an iPad, or an iPad and a copy of Ableton Live. It completely changes live jamming: instead of …


BlokDust is an amazing graphical sound tool in your browser

Just when you think you’ve tired of browser toys, of novel graphical modular sound thing-a-ma-jigs, then — this comes along. It’s called Blokdust. It’s beautiful. And … it’s surprisingly deep. Not only might you get sucked into playing with it, but thanks to some simply but powerful blocks and custom sample loading, you might even make a track with it. And for nerds, this is all fully free and open source and hipster-JavaScript-coder compliant if you want to toy with the stuff under the hood.

Fully loaded, the environment resembles portions of FL Studio or Ableton Live. You get a conventional mixer display, and easy access to your tools.

A totally free DAW and live environment, built in SuperCollider: LNX_Studio

Imagine you had a DAW with lots of live tools and synths and effects – a bit like FL Studio or Ableton Live – and it was completely free. (Free as in beer, free as in freedom.) That’s already fairly cool. Now imagine that everything in that environment – every synth, every effect, every pattern maker – was built in SuperCollider, the powerful free coding language for electronic music. And imagine you could add your own stuff, just by coding, and it ran natively. That moves from fairly cool to insanely cool. And it’s what you get with LNX_Studio, a …