Gantz Graf, the Max for Live Plug-in: Reactive-Visualizing Your Tracks

Hang about. I may have given away the punchline in the headline, and now there’s not much more to say. “Hey, is there a plug-in out there that I can just switch on and visualize music with?” I can’t count the number of times I get asked this. That could make the following a very popular download, indeed. Animator Alex Rutterford’s original Gantz Graf video, interestingly, was not reacting to audio. But generative technique has moved on since then, so aping the style of the visuals in a patch makes some sense. The results aren’t perfect, but they do demonstrate …


Free Granulator II from Robert Henke for Max for Live; Another M4L Grain Instrument On Its Way

We’re spoiled by modern software as a canvas for experimental sound. Significantly, once constructed and encapsulated, these digital sound devices can fall away, allowing you to explore new noise frontiers through play, not only through calculated sound design. (That very question has come up in very different conversations with developers I’ve had in the last 24 hours or so, so I think it’s worth mentioning – whether it’s something you’ve created or downloaded, you can get to the point where you use your ears and intuition to find sounds.) Let’s talk about that in regards to Ableton Live and Max. …


Stepping Through Music, Interactively: Drum Kits and Monomes Navigate Notes

Left to right, beginning to end, the same in a loop — there’s no reason music has to work this way once you’ve got a computer. But if you associate generative or algorithmic music with some sort of magical black box machine you switch on, an automaton spitting out notes while you sip tea and stroke your beard, think again. Here are two examples that use interactive structures as a way to make music more live, not less. One is the latest creation from the ingenious mind of monome creator Brian Crabtree (who, perhaps unexpectedly, seems to have redirected the …


Interfacing Music with Light, A Musical Instrument Makes Performance Mysterious, Surprising

24 light sensitive sensors ‘lightefface’ – arduino + max/msp from kaziem on Vimeo. One of my earliest memories is of the piano. We’ve become so accustomed to this contraption, that it’s easy to lose sight of the pleasure of touching the apparatus of the keys and hearing sound. So, perhaps the endless experimentation with sensors and interfaces – whether entirely practical or not – is a chance to rediscover the wonder of the connection of body to sound. For all we might talk about precision in expression or making clear the connection of gesture to noise for player or audience, …


Musical Physics, Baby! A 3D AV Sequencer Box, Physics Resources for Max

The Box from Mike Todd on Vimeo. Knobs and faders, we love you on hardware. But when it comes to the unlimited possibilities of the computer, we know how to get the party on: “Add some physics bodies.” (See below; that’s really a quote.) Mike Todd, whose work we’ve seen before on CDMotion, sends us a physics-based sequencer/synth built in Max/MSP and Jitter. It’s a quivering, humming three-dimensional world of sound, in which visuals and noise are entangled in a single design. (Ableton Live acts as a sound engine.) As Todd says, he’s “not sure which CDM site this would …


Giant Steps for Step Sequencing: Two Free Ableton Sequencers, with a Twist

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of physical control of a step sequencer for immediate, musical results. But you’d be forgiven for thinking there isn’t much more you can do with the concept. Think again. New step sequencers demonstrate how to get more with less, using clever tricks to maximize the musical variations you can get with just a few pads. They’re each free, and they’re each from Ableton Live, coming to us from our friends Sebastian Tomczak aka little-scale, the obscenely-prolific musical inventor in Australia, and Matt Black (UK, of Ninja Tune / Coldcut fame) working with Ableton guru …

In Berlin, musicians and creators gather to work collaboratively on new means of creation and performance. Imogen Heap and her team are among the participants, presenting an interactive workshop on wearable tech. Photo from TEDGlobal 2012 in Edinburgh, by James Duncan Davidson.

Hack Into MusicMakers’ Future in Berlin [CTM Open Call]

Happy New Year, from the future. It’s too late for sci-fi movies with a dateline of 2013. If you want something futuristic, you’ll just have to get to work. That’s what we’re doing in Berlin at CTM Festival later this month, with some of our favorite artists and engineers and designers and artist-engineer-designers. And we’d love to have you join us. We’ll have live music to enjoy. That includes high-tech original creations — Sonic Robots’ real-life 808 drum machine and band, and Tarik Barri and Lea Fabrikant with their three-dimensional audiovisual space trip. Tim Exile will treat us to his …


Hands-on Live 9, with Robert Lippok: Producer Talks Process in Videos

Ableton visits the home studio of Berlin-based producer Robert Lippok (Raster Noton, To Rococo Rot). I’m a great fan of Robert’s work; to me, it’s full of musical imagination, and I like his reflective-but-free approach to his music. I had the fortune of interviewing Robert about iOS over the summer in front of the CDR Berlin crowd. (CDR is an excellent, multi-city event that puts production technique under the spotlight.) I know one of the things Robert probably wanted to talk about was the new stuff in Live 9. Now, he can – and it’s interesting to hear what moves …

Jace Rupture, the man who makes plug-ins mystical. Definitely counts as Advanced Ableton. Photo: Xabi Tudela, courtesy DJ Rupture.

Advanced Ableton Only: A Master Class in Live Music Making, from NYC, DJ Rupture [Video]

Tekserve is known to many New Yorkers as the place they go when their Mac is in trouble and need of repair – a place so infamous, it made an episode of Sex in the City, with a waiting room as tense as that in any hospital. But it can also be a terrific hub for tech and knowledge. Amidst many gatherings of Ableton users, the meetup that takes place at Tekserve is heavily tilted to advanced knowledge. Fortunately, you can absorb that wisdom from anywhere in the world, not just on the island Manhattan. Our friend Ben Casey shares …


Make a New Sound: Scanned Synthesis on Wablet for iPad Features Utterly Mad Meshes

It’s a good sign when you need to invent a new verb to describe using a music tool. And so, get ready for some wabbling. Feel like there aren’t any new synthesis techniques? Scanned synthesis is a reasonable example. Fundamentally, it involves wavetable synthesis – producing new sounds by playing back recorded wavetable content – but navigates those sounds by “scanning” through pitch and timbre independently at slow speeds. By doing so, it simulates slow vibrations in the real world, and it leans heavily on the way human physical control and hearing work. The technique was developed by Bill Verplank …