Photo: Tonje Thilesen.

This free B-side from Machinedrum is the perfect thing for the solstice

Ready to raise your energy level and channel your higher self on the longest day of the year? (Or the shortest day of the year, if you’re in the southern hemisphere?) Machinedrum (the artist, not the Elektron box) has quietly released the track that has the perfect vibe for that – even if you didn’t spot the track name. And it’s now a free download. It’s short, but otherwise sounds as much hit single as b-side, warm, friendly, and uncomplicated – genius. You might put it on repeat as instant anti-depressant. Enjoy! THE HIGHER SELF OF A PERSON IS SEEN …

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fidget

Andrew knows how to YouTube, makes fidget spinner music

It happens. You get older. Slower. You wake up one day, and you’re definitely not a YouTube star with your own Patreon account and free sound pack downloads to go with it. You didn’t even figure out that there was a big trend involving something called fidget toys, “spinners” and “cubes” that kids use to … fidget … with. And already that trend is big enough that someone is making music with them. This story might be about me. It might be about you. But it’s okay – because Andrew Huang is there. His followers are telling him about the …

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brian_eno_yamaha_dx7_patches_crop

Get original DX7 patches made by Brian Eno in 1987

You can’t get much more 80s synth power than this: Eno. DX7. Keyboard Magazine. Yes, it seems there’s a magical synth site called Encyclotronic, full of patches and hardware specs and other goodies. And it seems that site has noted that back in 1987, Keyboard Magazine managed to extract some of his favorite patches for the Yamaha DX7 and shared them with readers. Sadly, Keyboard lacks any kind of exhaustive archive. (Believe me, having edited a book from their archives, I know – thar be dragons.) And because this was a paper publication, Mr. Eno didn’t share everything. So somewhere, …

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ifeellove

Ableton built a free browser playground to teach how music works

I think there’s a common myth that music production tools somehow take away from the need to understand music theory. I’d say exactly the opposite: they’re more demanding. Every musician is now in the position of composer. You have an opportunity to arrange new sounds in new ways without any clear frame from the past. You’re now part of a community of listeners who have more access to traditions across geography and essentially from the dawn of time. In other words, there’s almost no choice too obvious. So I also believe that every musician and producer ought to have access …

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ardutouch

ArduTouch is an all-in-one Arduino synthesizer learning kit for $30

This looks like a near-perfect platform for learning synthesis with Arduino – and it’s just US$30 (with an even-lower $25 target price). It’s called ArduTouch, a new Arduino-compatible music synth kit. It’s fully open source – everything you need to put this together is available on GitHub. And it’s the work of Mitch Altman, something of a celebrity in DIY/maker circles. Mitch is the clever inventor of the TV B-Gone – an IR blaster that lets you terminate TV power in places like airport lounges – plus brainwave-tickling gear like the Neurodreamer and Trip Glasses. (See his Cornfield Electronics manufacturer.) …

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customize

Turn that MacBook Pro Touch Bar into a MIDI controller, free

Let someone else debate whether the Touch Bar is a useful innovation or not. If you’ve got a new MacBook Pro, why not put it to good use? And, in fact, if you think of the Touch Bar as akin to precisely what it replaces – a set of shortcuts above the keyboard – it’s actually pretty useful. When you need something quickly under your fingertips, it’s there. So it’s no substitute for dedicated controllers, but it could be invaluable for fast access to certain features. Now, oddly, the cleverest use I’ve seen yet for music isn’t in a music …

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automatonism

This software is like getting a modular inside your computer, for free

Modular synthesizers present some beautiful possibilities for sound design and composition. For constructing certain kinds of sounds, and certain automated rhythmic and melodic structures, they’re beautiful – and endure for a reason. Now, that description could fit both software and hardware modulars. And of course, hardware has some inarguable, irreplaceable advantages. But the same things that make it great to work with can also be limiting. You can’t dynamically change patches without some plugging and replugging, you’re limited by what modules you’ve got bolted into a rack, and … oh yeah, apart from size and weight, these things cost money. …

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saxforlive

The best music tech April Fools – and some of them are real

April Fools may have become a wasteland of bad jokes and actually-misleading news items, but our ever-inventive music tech community has come up with some stuff that’s rather clever. And then some of that, in turn, is actually real. Here are our favorites from this year: Ableton Sax for Live easily wins April Fools 2017 – on the quality of its demo video alone. (Those are some well-known Ableton figures delivering these stellar performances, too.) But the best part of Sax for Live is, it is actually a real, free download. And the instrument, designed by Ableton’s ace sound designer …

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bordercheckpoint

Explore a huge, free archive of the history of Japanese animation

We live in a marvelous age, not just because it gives us access to what’s new, but access to what’s old, too. And artists feel free to draw from the past for their visual and musical imagination. Media archaeology and invention go hand in hand. And if you want to appreciate just how much is possible, there’s something about watching an animated movie from 1917 – one that looks like it could be at home on Adult Swim in 2017. The National Film Center of The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo has put up an enormous, free archive in …

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Now you can put a Buchla-style modular inside Reaktor, free

There’s nothing quite like a Buchla. The “West Coast” modular that inspired the likes of Morton Subotnick and Suzanne Ciani has an approach to signal and expression that is both uniquely experimental and uniquely musical. It’s its own animal. So it’s about time we see that philosophy applied to the open patching of Reaktor. The Cloudlab 200t isn’t a Buchla clone – its creators are quick to issue a disclaimer there, and say this is all just for fun. But fun it is, with a lovely approach to patch design. Trevor Gavilan produced the design, with contributions and components from …

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