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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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”), …

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Padshop

Steinberg Padshop, Coming Soon, Granular Synthesis for the Rest of Us? Handy Intro Video Explains

Let’s get straight to it: granular synthesis, and the various processes based on the principle, is one of the coolest things about making music with computers. With the ability to take sounds and stretch, mangle, and reshape them into new textures, it’s one of the fundamental techniques allowing sound software and lots of terrific timbral techniques to work. Of course, explaining it to lay people is a bit of a trick. So that’s why, even before we get into talking about Steinberg’s upcoming Padshop synth, it’s worth watching the first few minutes. Sound designer Matthias Klag explains that coolness really …

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omnisphere_granular_zoom

Omnisphere Review for Keyboard: Amidst Gigs of Sounds, Real Creative Sound Design, Too; Videos

I took a look at Omnisphere 1.5, the synth so big it’ll make your head hurt, for Keyboard in a story out now (and readable now). As I begin the story: Seeing its six DVDs of sound content, you might be tempted to duct-tape a key down and let Omnisphere finish your film scoring gig. While the director would probably love the results, you’d be missing out on the real fun. In other words, what I discovered in that review was that Omnisphere, particularly with additions in the new 1.5 update, is a powerful creative sound design tool, not just …

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Crafting New Twisted Tools: A Chat with Reaktor Patchers Making New Sonic Instruments

Ed. Twisted Tools are a special breed of music software makers, concocting wild-sounding instruments, sequencers, and effects, all with a distinctively-colorful and graphical approach to interface design. And they do all of this in Reaktor, Native Instruments’ deep toolbox for visual development of soundmakers, a patching cousin to tools like Max/MSP, Pd, and Plogue Bidule. Various patchers take a DIY approach to building musical tools in such environments, but Twisted Tools have successfully turned those creations into a business. That’s part of what makes this interview well worth a read, whether you’re an end user or a developer. Writer Markus …

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hadron

From Granular to Free Hadron Particle Synth; Plug-in, Max for Live, and Csound (Plus, Music!)

If you aren’t quite ready to delve into the mysteries of granular synthesis and code, a colorful interface guides you through playing in Ableton Live. Granular synthesis… you’ve heard it before. Famously articulated by experimental composer Xenakis, the process of slicing up sound into tiny bits and reassembling it has produced everything from lovely (or terrifying) synthesized sonorities to the underlying time stretching algorithms in popular music software. But with all the tools competing for your granular synthesis time (one seems to pop up every few seconds on the prolific Facebook page of sound designer Richard Devine), the Hadron Particle …

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A DIY iPad Audio Dock, with Instructions, from Father of Circuit Bending Reed Ghazala

What are those alien, otherworldly sounds coming out of the iPad? That’s not GarageBand. It’s what happens when Reed Ghazala, the father of circuit bending some decades ago, meets the iPad. Not that it’s his first encounter with products from Apple – he’s been approaching that company’s hardware as he does everything else, prying unexpected life with modifications and experimentation. But just as “circuit bending” need not be seen as “breaking,” here, too, Ghazala’s modifications make the device more humane, more musical, and – for all the shouting about how the design is perfect – far, far more usable. A …

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monome128branches

On arcs and monomes, a Loyal Community Makes Music Together

Grids and roots – a close look at the monome 128. Photo (CC-BY) bm.iphone. They’re not great in number – only a handful of producers have monome hardware, scattered across the globe. And their obsession is unique, the boutique grid (and now encoder) creations of Brian Crabtree and partner Kelli Cain. But in the latest signs of how committed this community of artists is to using these hardware interfaces for DIY software and to doing it with one another, the monome community has been busy. They have a new compilation, the first experiments (via monome maestro stretta) with the new …

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loupe

Reaktor Sampler Pack Gives you Granular Power Over Sound; Tips for Maschine, Ableton

Producer/composer and Reaktor super-guru Peter Dines is back with a new concoction for Native Instruments’ graphical development environment for sound. Entitled the Reaktor Sample Pack, it’s a collection of three granular sampling instruments. Updated with new download links (no more divshare!) Frame is a looping sampler with smooth/crossfading, envelope controls, and built-in saturation, plus graphical loop point selection. Free | download Loupe is a “polyphonic looping slicer,” which is to say you can slice up a sample and assign it to different MIDI keys. Press a note, then graphically set loop playback parameters from reverse to envelope to filter. US$15 …

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Touchscreen or Tangible? Use Both: A Practical, Affordable, Playable PC Rig with Usine

Touchscreens? Good, old-fashioned faders, knobs, and pads? Why not just use what suits the job – especially when you can choose both on the cheap? Nay-Seven shares some of his latest work with Usine, the brilliant, modular and touch-centric tool for Windows. It’s a futuristic rig that’s also down-to-earth. Touchscreen monitors can be had for around US$300 street, and the Akai LPD8 and Korg nanoKONTROL controllers each figure under a hundred bucks. Usine, the software, is a bargain for its depth at EUR120, and free and educational versions are available. Cost aside, though, this also puts sound making directly under …

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