Photo: Randy Yau, via Barry Threw on Flickr.

In memory of Jean-Jacques Perrey

Soon after the loss of Don Buchla, another legend of synthesis has passed away. Jean-Jacques Perrey died last week. Perrey was a master of whimsy and invention. He’s of course best known for his collaboration with Gershon Kingsley, “Baroque Hoedown,” featured in Disney’s Electric Light Parade. But that’s emblematic of a broader contribution: he’s one of the leading pioneers of the 20th Century in introducing the sounds of electronic synthesis to a mass audience, with noises heard from Sesame Street to TV ads. Here’s the master composer playing his own best-known tune: It’s also notable that, like Bob Moog, Perrey …

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roltr808ad

Celebrate 808 day by building a beat live with Egyptian Lover

Happy 8th of August, everybody – that means it’s 808 day, of course. So, to celebrate, let’s flash back to a 2012 video of Egyptian Lover assembling a beat in his hotel room. The LA rapper/producer was a big part of the early hip hop and electro roots of 808 use. There’s something that still resonates in the beautiful simplicity of this Roland box. I’m struck when I hear it and watch in use that there’s something that seems futuristic – cold, even, but in a Stanley Kubrick 2001 sort of way. Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to …

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jazzyjeff

Jazzy Jeff, Shiftee Show Us Turntable as a Musical Instrument

Serato and Native Instruments may have a fierce rivalry when it comes to tools. But at the end of the day, the leading DJ vendors exist for one reason: they’re there to support musicians. And I do mean musicians. Watching new routines from Jazzy Jeff and Shiftee, you really see the turntable emerge as a virtuoso musical instrument. They’re released as promotions for Serato (Jeff) and Native Instruments (Shiftee). And the tools are important: they’re there to allow these players to make use of their skills, to do more than just select tracks like a jukebox. But this really is …

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html5drummachine

808 Site Found: Five Drum Machines Now Live In Your Browser

It’s finally happened. The 808 is now a tab in your browser. And it’s brought friends. Sure, they’re called “hip hop, house, electro, techno, and acoustic” but – you’re not fooling anyone. (Least of all because some of those genres use the other machines.) That’s an acoustic kit, plus the Roland TR-808 and TR-909, Elektron Machinedrum, and Roger Linn’s Linndrum. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen drum machines emulated in a browser. But coding for the rich Web, and browsers in general, have each gotten a lot better, so the experience has improved. And, crucially, this isn’t just a …

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808movie

On the Eve of New 808 Film, Techno’s Roots Matter More Than Ever [Videos]

If rock music had the Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster, hip hop and dance music have the TR-808. And if its sound seems sometimes overly familiar, even that is in some sense a hat-tip (pardon the pun) to its enduring ubiquity. Now, the Roland TR-808 gets its own full-length documentary, told primarily through the eyes of the people who repurposed its idiosyncratic sound to spin new musical genres and start a revolution. The film features extensive input from Arthur Baker, who acts as a centerpiece for the movie. Baker was the producer behind Afrika Bambaataa’s ‘Planet Rock,’ a record …

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noah

Sophisticated Rhythms: 2 Mixes, 2 Approaches, For Your Listening Pleasure

Mixes have become another essential reflex of this age of overabundance, a way of navigating in material form the rhythms that come our way. I turn this weekend to mixes by two close friends. Matt Earp, aka Kid Kameleon (top), has been a CDM contributor in the past; his background spans music and technology and a wide breadth and depth of knowledge in those areas. Noah Pred is simply one of the finest DJs and producers I know, the ever-tasteful mind behind the massively underrated but prescient label Thoughtless Music. Each mix is singular in purpose, full of the sort …

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richard

Crowd-funding Campaign Wants to Pay Back Amen Break Creator

It’s the best-known sample of all time. It might be the most-heard six seconds of sound in modern recording. But before it became the “Amen break,” the signature riff was part of The Winstons’ song “Amen, Brother.” And so, how much did the artists who actually produced the original sound earn from their “success”? Well, that’ll be … nothing, apart from the original revenues from the 1969 release. Nothing in royalties from its use … well, seemingly everywhere. (N.W.A.? Oasis? Futurama? Check.) Zip. Zero. The drummer, Gregory Coleman, died homeless in 2006. Richard L. Spencer, the vocalist and sax player …

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Akai artist Needlz set up this MPC+computer rig with Renaissance ... in a hotel room (to get out of the house). No, no standalone MPC hardware at the moment, but 1.8's software features might help you forget that.

MPC 1.8 Update Expands How You Play; Inside Look with the Developers

“MPC” these days is a name on a lot of Akai stuff, down to even various MIDI controllers that happen to have pads. But to die-hard MPC users, “MPC” means a way of working. So, workflow is vitally important. And MPC users who cut their teeth on Akai’s dedicated hardware have been waiting to see the software/controller combination really come into its own. Native Instruments’ rival Maschine got to the software game first, but now it’s a question of how the MPC can again set itself apart. That makes any software updates a big deal. You’d be forgiven for assuming …

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beats

Watch Carol of the Bells Transformed with Sampling Technique

Shorter days means longer nights making music. And Christmas songs on repeat means it’s time for some creativity. So even though it’s a holiday, let’s head to school – in the best possible way. Toronto-based Andrew Triple A sends us a quick beat-making video. It’s nice to see someone not just lean heavily on a single sample, but use that riff as inspiration to play. Whether this is your musical taste or not, there’s something you can learn here. And I was intrigued to look more into the melody behind this tune I’ve heard over and over again. I finally …

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