light_show_0

Watch the Clavilux, an ethereal light organ from 100 years ago

Long before trippy visualizers and computer animation, before liquid light shows or laser parties, Thomas Wilfred was building organs for visuals. He called the art they produced Lumia, and the instrument Clavilux – a keyboard for light. That first instrument was built all the way back in 1919. But unlike a lot of the spectacles of the era, this one is still hypnotic today, even after all the advances of cinema and computing. Drawing on a tradition that included displays of fire and fireworks, and the ability to place sound “at the command of a skilled player at a piano,” …

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battles

Watch Battles Reflect on Loops, Ableton in a Live Band Setting

On some deeper level, maybe it doesn’t matter how something repeats – whether it’s looped in a pedal, looped in software, or simply repeated by a human player, for instance. On another level, given just how much repetition matters to music, maybe that’s why we care so much about how it’s accomplished. Ableton this week released a visit to New York’s experimental rock trio Battles, in a film and interview under the header “The Art of Repetition.” There, we get to learn more about the process behind Battles’ dense, hypnotic sound. The film is a bit long, but there are …

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refaceback

Web MIDI and More Surprises You Didn’t Expect From Yamaha’s Reface

Yamaha’s Reface synth line are out now, with full details. You can dig through the site rather than have to do it here – but let’s look at what you might find surprising. It has Web MIDI, not just MIDI. Yamaha promises the line will connect to Google Chrome via Web MIDI. Now, theoretically, that’s possible in the latest Chrome builds with any MIDI keyboard, not just the Yamaha. But it suggests that Yamaha are atypically embracing bleeding edge tech (previously seen only at hackdays and such) and making it a standard feature. And there’s more: “Soundmondo is a free …

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reface_cs

Hands-on Video of the Yamaha Reface Series

Extensive videos emerge to give you a hands-on look at Yamaha’s new electric piano / synth / organ keyboard line. They put some of the company’s favorite instruments at your fingertips in an uncommonly compact package. Our take:

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reface_dx

Yamaha Leak Entire Line of Reface Synths; Here They Are

Yamaha’s new keyboards revealed – CP, CS, YC, DX. Small, apparently nice-sounding, and mass market. Who leaked them? Um, Yamaha.

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believe

New Yamaha Project Will Include “Totally Alien” New Technology, Says Interview

It seems synth guru Richard Devine couldn’t resist revealing something about upcoming Yamaha technology. In an interview earlier this month, he let slip that the instrument includes “alien” new tech: Usually when I work with a company – for instance I’m working with Yamaha on a project right now; I can’t say what it is, but it’s pretty crazy. This synthesizer has new technology that’s never been implemented before, so it’s totally alien to anything I’ve ever used. I’ve had to spend a few weeks just understanding the architecture of it. This tells us two things. One, whatever Richard is …

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reface

Is Yamaha Finally Joining the Retro Synth Party?

Well, you saw this one coming – if probably a lot earlier. With the dance music market growing and synth fever spreading, Japanese giant Yamaha seems to have some new keyboard up its sleeves. In a teaser video today, the first of a series, Yamaha promises something called “reface.” Updated: there’s more. New Yamaha Synths Will Include “Totally Alien” New Technology, Says Interview The video shows a blurry show of a Yamaha CS-80, the one synth mentioned by name in the artist videos. And there are keys involved (from the spread of the hands in the one artist video, they …

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elektron

Only One of These Czech Analog Synth Drum Machine Organs Exists

Before Elektron – you know, the Swedish drum machine company – there was Elektron. The Elektron-83 is the creation of Jožka Říhák, legendary in Moravia as a genius electronic instrument builder. His Syntezátor – 83 Unisono went into production, but the ELEKTRON – 83 is one of a kind. We got a live performance and demo/explanation of the creation at Brno’s Synth Fest hosted by Bastl Instruments and their new Noise Kitchen shop in the Czech Republic. And this thing is simply amazing.

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heisenberg

Cool Things Chrome Can Do Now, Thanks to Hardware MIDI

Plugging a keyboard or drum pads into your Web browser is now a thing. One month ago, we first saw hardware MIDI support in Chrome. That was a beta; this week, Google pushed it out to all Chrome users. So, what can you actually do with this stuff? Well, you can open a Web tab and play a synth on actual hardware, which is pretty nifty. Support is still a little dicey, but the available examples are growing fast. Here are some of the coolest, in addition to the MIDI example and demo code we saw last month. The examples …

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minibrutehack

Hack Arturia’s MiniBrute, MicroBrute for More Synth Goodness

Arturia’s quirky, compact, unmistakable-sounding MiniBrute – and the patchable MicroBrute – are among some of the nicer desktop instruments to hit recently. But you can make them do more with hacking. And that’s especially relevant as the original MiniBrute goes on sale. The MiniBrute is already a nice synth. Sure, it’s not as compact as the more recent MicroBrute and lacks that synth’s cute little modulation patching section, but you also get full-sized keys, and it’s still a lovely instrument. The trick is, you can hack it to add an SH-101-inspired step sequencer as found on the MicroBrute and the …

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