The following is not a headline from The Onion or wundergroundmusic.com: “MSU student uses ‘Groovebox’ to create live, electronic music” It’s surprising this hasn’t already gone viral, because it goes on from there.
The mighty NAMM show, a mind-bogglingly crowded gathering of basically anyone with anything to do with the sale of musical instruments, brought with it its usual slew of new music tech. Now, you could wade through all the videos from that show, until your brain is numbed by trying to make out rushed, rehearsed product spiels. And you’ll find that some are … well, less important than others. We’ve instead separated the wheat from the chaff to bring you our favorite videos of our favorite new stuff. Grab the popcorn.
Surprise! In addition to the hit minilogue, KORG are unveiling a volca series that does FM synthesis. And KORG are even making a friendly nod to their Japanese rival with a DX7 color scheme. I got to play with the new volca FM, and – well, there’s a lot of cool things I can already share about it.
By now, you’ve heard about KORG’s $499 minilogue analog polysynth, and the next question is: how does it sound? I’ve been playing around with it, and I can at least say this: it isn’t boring. I’m wary of sound samples. Most synths are capable of producing some sorts of good sounds, unless there’s literally something wrong with the way they’re engineered. And likewise, the experience of using an instrument goes beyond what an out-of-context sound can describe. But with that in mind, I’ll share some somewhat random excursions here. My guess is that (cough) more respectable synthesists will post the …
It seems the era of the affordable analog monosynth just gave way to the affordable analog polysynth. Leaked last week, KORG’s minilogue is a US$499.99 4-voice polysynth. Before you dive into our sprawling review, here’s everything you need to know in a nutshell. Keep in mind – we’ve had this synth since last week, so we’re not just copying specs here.
It’s not enough just to gripe about something not being good enough, to tally a criticism of a product in the “cons” side of a review. Intrepid musician-hackers are going and just changing it themselves. Karg, the Heidelberg-based musician (with an ‘a’), is a fan of Korg, the manufacturer (with an ‘o’). And presumably when he bought the Kaossilator Pro+ and its touch pad access to tones. But he ran into frustration when he couldn’t quite get his finger on precise pitches and rhythms. So, he hacked the hardware to add the functionality he wanted.
It’s sweet harmony as Korg and Nintendo come together at last. A musician from lower Saxony named eVADE/duality micro has produced a cable to sync up Game Boys running popular homebrew software with Korg drum machines and synths.
Okay, OK Go fans – now there’s synth hardware as quirky and charming as the band’s Internet-viral synth-pop. We got our hands on a very limited edition KORG volca sample made especially for OK Go. This is the battery-powered sample unit with grungy digital sound playback and loads of knobs for manipulating sound, plus the usual touch strip step sequencer for making patterns. It’s fun to play, a unique collectors’ item even if you just want an extra sample playback instrument around. And the built-in samples can be terrific, as you can hear in our playlist.
For many of us, there’s a special pleasure to seeing someone play live – and dancing to someone playing live. And by “live,” I don’t mean “a bunch of your tracks cued up as scenes in Ableton Live or on an Elektron.” I mean genuinely improvised. Electronic dance music naturally lends itself to on-the-spot creation. A rigid grid, easily-understood conventions around instrumentation and form, and the fact that styles like techno are built around machines all add up to natural experimentation.
Are you in a warranty-voiding mood? Have you got a soldering iron? The KORG volca bass is already a nice enough little synth. But mix in a modification that adds frequency modulation to the filter, and you get some delicious, acid good times. Skip ahead to the end of the video above to hear what we mean.