Take a Solar-Powered Tuner Wherever You Go, Says Tascam … But Environmental?

Sure, we spend a lot of time looking at far-out gear and high technology, but you have to tip your hat to practicality. Tascam’s TC-1S is a compact, portable tuner that you can take anywhere. Solar and USB power mean you never have to worry about powering it, either. Features: 12-tone equal-tempered chromatic tuner. Input via 1/4″ jack or mic Note/sharp-flat/bargraph pitch indication readout on the LCD. Display via “bar,” “fine,” “strobe animation,” or “needle.” Protective silicone case included 51 grams. Shipping this month, street price “under US$40.” It’s a cute little design, and with the economic squeeze continuing, I …

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Ableton Users, Grab Gigs of Custom Instruments for Free

Inside an Ableton instrument sample. Photo (CC-BY) Cliff Beckwith. Live’s Instruments can be a terrific way to explore Ableton Live – rather than simply giving you black-box preset sounds, these include custom racks that can be customized, disassembled, and warped to your own applications. I’m a fan of the work of some of the folks doing the programming, too, like the talented Puremagnetik folks; rather than just generic productions, you get a lot of the sort of oddball stuff that we love. Live users may already know this via Ableton’s mailing list, but in case it got into your “marketing …

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Diego Stocco’s Bassoforte, an Incredible Instrument Made from a Dismantled Piano

Diego Stocco – Bassoforte from Diego Stocco on Vimeo. Odds are you don’t have a dismantled piano you keep in the garden, awaiting conversion to a fantastic, imaginative electro-acoustic instrument. But that’s unlikely to make you covet the instrument above any less. Diego Stocco is a composer, instrumentalist, sound designer, and mad inventor. Among many recent accomplishments, he’s responsible, in collaboration with Hans Zimmer, for some of the imaginative sounds that populated Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes.” In many ways, he’s a reminder that the expressive potential of digital music isn’t limited to the virtual. He couples raw acoustic materials from …

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Roger Linn Imagines a New, Multi-touch Instrument, And — HELP!

We’ve lived so long with a musical world dominated by the piano keyboard that it can be hard to look beyond it. But for some time, musicians have desired a set of common requirements for what might replace it: The ability to hit specific pitches in a convenient layout, perhaps one more convenient than the piano, but also… The ability to express pitch between pitches (as most other instruments provide) Continuous pressure for expression, not only when a note is struck, but as it is played (again, as on most other instruments) I’ve been talking to Roger Linn for a …

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Free Instrument + Sounds from NI in the Holiday Selection 2009

The days (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least) have grown shorter, so it’s time to put in some extra hours working on music production. Native Instruments have released a big selection of synthesis sounds, sampled instruments, and multiple effects in a free, Kore Player-based instrument, in case you haven’t already heard the news via NI’s site. While they’re presets, there are enough macro controls and variations that, combined with your own effects, you can certainly make these your own. And if nothing else, you can drown out the sound of overplayed holiday picks – just make yourself a soundscape, put …

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Cyber Monday, Ongoing: Delicious Synths, Effects for $5-20 from audioMIDI

The EMS VCS3 has inspired a virtual synth. You can try to get someone to give you a hardware EMS for $20 – or you can take advantage of this deal. Photo: Rosa Menkman. Online retailer audioMIDI has begun a new sale I really love called the “No Brainer” series. They offer some carefully-selected instruments and effects for prices like $5, $15, or $20. These aren’t clearance bin deals, either; they’re some of the best plug-ins on the market, in either full versions or slightly stripped-down (but fully-functional) editions. audioMIDI has exclusively released details of the deals they’ll offer Monday …

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Tenori-On Orange $699 for “Home Use” – Minus Battery, Lights on Back

The Tenori-On, the grid-based musical instrument with whimsical sequenced lights created by Toshio Iwai, has been gradually becoming more affordable. The original model, complete with its rounded metal case, has already been cut to US$999 here in North America. Now, Yamaha announces that it is making an “Orange” version which also slices costs. A plastic case stands in for the metal one, the lights are orange instead of white, and lights appear only on one side. Yamaha says this is for “home use” — that is, you don’t need the device lighting up on the other side if no one’s …

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Chipsounds Reviews, Videos, and More Places to Get Your Vintage Chip Fix

Want to make a splash among the aficionados of digital sound? Releasing a software instrument emulating a broad collection of vintage digital synthesis chips from game and computer systems seems to do the trick. See my look at that software, and just as importantly, the chips that inspired it. Within days of the release of Plogue’s Chipsounds, we have a couple of fair reviews of the new tool. Already got Chipsounds? Plogue’s David Viens has released screencasts showing you how to use it. Curious about other ways to explore vintage 8-bit sound? We’ve got that, too, in samples, hardware, and …

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Eigenharp Details: MIDI, High-Res Protocol, and Open Source Plans for the Space Bassoon

The Pico model may lack the impressive array of keys on the flagship Alpha, but when it ships next month it’ll cost well under a grand. And even the Pico promises high-resolution touch, velocity-sensitive keys that you can “bend” as well as press, and high-resolution breath input. The “space bassoon” Eigenharp seems to have landed from another planet. Today, I’ve got good news: it’s bringing alien gifts with it. By next year, both the software and the high-performance protocol the instrument uses will be open source. Taken together with other advancements in the open source community and with protocols like …

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The Finger: Reaktor+Kore Sampling Madness from Tim Exile, But More Than That

It’s a strange and wonderful sampling instrument and live rig, capable of mangling and remixing live, synced to tempo. It’s proof that live computer performance doesn’t have to be in only one tool, or use one technique. It’s a ready-to-play, affordable instrument you can pick up and use. It’s a Reaktor patch gurus can pick apart and learn from, along with other resources from one of Reaktor’s masters. It’s a new blog and an opportunity to talk about live performance. It’s an EP release. It’s actually all of these things – a tool, but more than a tool. The Finger, …

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