Watch a Haken Continuum Rival String Instruments for Expression

Enough of cheesy MIDI keyboards faking instruments. Yes, it looks embarrassing. Here’s something entirely different. On the subject of the Haken Continuum, a single, touch-sensitive, continuous-pitch instrumental controller, we can see in a video just how expressive it can be. The Continuum Fingerboard consists of a large, soft playing surface. Press in with your fingers, and three-dimensional sensing responds in pitch and timbre. The range is even greater than an 88-key keyboard in the full-sized model; an optional stand holds it steady (and would look at home on the deck of a Klingon warbird). The instrument, full of carefully-crafted custom …

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microGranny 2.0 is a New Handmade Granular Sampler from the Czech Republic

“Bastl” is Czech slang that’s roughly equivalent to the maker culture or DIY. And now, from the makers of the glitchy, odd, and wonderful world of Standuino, comes a new granular sampler, a follow-up to a terrific earlier kit. The Bastl crew are showing off the microGranny 2.0 among lots of other new gear here at Musikmesse. They’ve added some functionality to the instrument (copy/paste, more presets), and put it in a very attractive housing. But as before, you get a hackable, happily lo-fi sample mangler. Load up your sounds on SD card, then manipulate them with hands-on controls or …

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dbntapes

DbN Keeps 2014 Weird: Experimental Music, Made from Found Tapes

DbN – The Found Tapes Project 2014 from DA BOOK on Vimeo. If Auld Lang Syne and predictable “best of” lists are getting you down, here’s likely the weirdest-sounding New Years’ greeting you’ll get, to kick off 2014. Düsseldorf by Night (DbN) improvises strange, creepy-beautiful soundscapes from cassettes. It turns the flea market into a sample library. It looks like the terrific iPad app Samplr gets some heavy usage in this, as well. That’s a good choice – touchable waveforms keep everything happening live, with intuitive gestures, as would jamming on an instrument. Bonus: if you see DbN’s Found Tapes …

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Holiday Goodies: Sampled Sleigh, Jingle Bells, Free [Samples]

We open on a Christmas Eve dinner. The goose has been stripped to the bones, the third wine glass drained to its last drops. A typical-looking family leans back. Cut to a close-up on a scraggly-looking electronic music producer. He rolls his eyes at the next question. “Why don’t you play some of that music you make? Didn’t you used to play the viola?” “But, grandma, I make dark experimental techno and noise art.” “Dark what? Play Jingle Bells!” “Wait – I have just the solution. I remember, I just saw that free pack of samples on CDM. Let me …

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Abuse Sampling for Sound Design: Free Tutorial, Rack in Ableton Live

The response to the breaking Live 9.1 news this week was fast and furious; we were honestly surprised at the vast readership of the story. A lot of you must have multiple displays or virtual desktops you want to use (or, now, even a Push). But sometimes the best upgrade is the one you can install in your brain. Improve your technique, and an array of musical possibilities open up. Take this terrific tutorial from DJ Vespers as an example, which involves varying very small sample slices in Ableton’s Sampler to create unique pads. It works especially nicely with Sampler’s …

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Free Granulator II from Robert Henke for Max for Live; Another M4L Grain Instrument On Its Way

We’re spoiled by modern software as a canvas for experimental sound. Significantly, once constructed and encapsulated, these digital sound devices can fall away, allowing you to explore new noise frontiers through play, not only through calculated sound design. (That very question has come up in very different conversations with developers I’ve had in the last 24 hours or so, so I think it’s worth mentioning – whether it’s something you’ve created or downloaded, you can get to the point where you use your ears and intuition to find sounds.) Let’s talk about that in regards to Ableton Live and Max. …

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Grains In Your Pocket: microGranny is Compact, Homemade Granular Sampler Hardware

microGranny – pocket-sized handmade granular sampler from standuino on Vimeo. The Czech team of Standuino have been cooking up lots of wonderfully-geeky sonic electronics lately, but the latest might be my favorite. microGranny reads samples from a microSD card (hello, field recorder), and crunches them into granular bits. It’s the musical equivalent of one of those inexpensive compact blenders/juicers. If electronic music had late-night informercials, I’d be telling you what you could do with sound – with this. And just in case you think all this open source hardware stuff is just for the cool kids to use buzzwords, here’s …

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Borderlands Granular Available Now, US$3.99, Visualizing Sonic Exploration

Borderlands Tutorial (iPad version) from Christopher Carlson on Vimeo. What makes the tablet software experience unique on the iPad is the sense of immersive software – touching the screen interface directly, and letting everything else fall away. There’s a cost – you don’t get the flexibility of desktop software or the tangible quality of hardware. But sometimes, that experience becomes something unique. Users have been eagerly waiting since earlier this year for the release of Borderlands Granular because it suggests something really special. It has the feeling of a tool that is at its best in this medium: visual, touchable, …

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Dreamy Graphical Granular Greatness: Borderlands is Coming to iPad Soon

Borderlands Granular from Christopher Carlson on Vimeo. If the tablet has a strength, it’s in re-imagining software as something truly immersive – no knobs, no switches, just a futuristic wash of visuals and sound, like touching noise with your fingertip. Borderlands (soon to have a slightly different name) hints at that promise. We took a look inside the idea behind the app and the thought process that led to its design in April: Borderlands, Amazing-Looking Granular Sampler [iPad, Desktop, Free Source], and Beautiful Sound But now the video teaser above is probably enough to really whet your appetite. And there’s …

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borderlandssketch

Borderlands, Amazing-Looking Granular Sampler [iPad, Desktop, Free Source], and Beautiful Sound

How do you visualize the invisible? How do expose a process with multiple parameters in a way that’s straightforward and musically intuitive? Can messing about with granular sound feel like touching that sound – something untouchable? Music’s ephemeral, unseeable quality, and the ways we approach sound in computer music in similarly abstract ways, are part of the pleasure of making noise. But working out how to then design around that can be equally satisfying. That’s why it’s wonderful to see work like the upcoming Borderlands for iPad and desktop. It solves a problem familiar to computer users – designing an …

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