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Exclusive: Ableton acquires Max maker Cycling ’74; what you need to know

Ableton is announcing today they have fully acquired Cycling ’74, the California-based company best known for producing Max and Max for Live. It’s perhaps an auspicious moment for Cycling ’74 as the company reaches its 20th anniversary – and 20 years of availability of the MSP tools for synthesis and sound processing. But if acquisitions would normally make you nervous, the close existing relationship of the two companies, and the plans as they’re describing them, should put those concerns to ease. Gerhard Behles and David Zicarelli, founders and CEOs of Ableton and Cycling ’74, respectively, tell CDM that the deal …

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Founders David Zicarelli (left) and Gerhard Behles (right).

A conversation with David Zicarelli and Gerhard Behles

Today’s Ableton have announced they’re acquiring Cycling ’74. There’s no two better people to talk to about what that means than the founders and CEOs of the two companies, Ableton’s Gerhard Behles and David Zicarelli of Cycling ’74. That’s big news. But it’s also a long time coming, based on a relationship that has evolved over three decades. And the history of these two companies is deeply intertwined – not just because of Max for Live. Without Max, it’s almost certain there would be no Ableton. Behles says Max was the first music software to really inspire him. Max was …

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Watch this crew go transhuman in the absorption chamber

“Well, it’s not really anything new” (or some variant) is a phrase heard at music and media shows perhaps as often as “I’m going for a smoke” or “where’s the toilet?” But this raises a question. Forget for a second what an audience thinks is new – sound or look or technology or whatever. What would get you to do something different? What would get you out of your comfort zone? What would get you to push yourself – even just a few steps? That’s been the idea behind all the collaborative labs I’ve gotten to organize, but for last …

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Volnovod is a robot sculpture that uses wire to make sound visually

Muscovite sound artist slash mad scientist vtol (aka Dmitry Morozov) has been at it yet again. This time, inspiration struck when his iPod earbuds tangled. (Good thing he hadn’t upgraded to wireless!) And the result was a new visual interface for music, embodied as kinetic sculpture. Volnovod, sounding for all the world like a long lost Soviet lunar probe (or, um, sounding like “waveguide” if you happen to speak Russian), is an installation / controller / instrument built on the idea. And it comes from the artist just as he’s fresh off a rich Berlin exhibition full of ingenious inventions. …

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Jamming standard: Ableton is opening Link to everyone, starting today

Ableton Link is coming to desktops, and going completely open source. And that means the best tool for wireless sync and jamming is about to get a lot more popular. On iOS and for Ableton Live users, Ableton Link is already a revelation. It allows any number of different apps to sync up with one another without fuss. That includes two more machines running Ableton Live, of course. But it could also be two apps on an iPad, or an iPhone and an iPad, or an iPad and a copy of Ableton Live. It completely changes live jamming: instead of …

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Bengal could be the Ableton synth you’ve been waiting for

Years ago, when Ableton’s Operator FM synth designed by Robert Henke made its debut, it was a revelation. Its clear panel design and flexible architecture made FM synthesis more accessible to countless Ableton Live users. But now Operator, while still a great go-to instrument, certainly deserves some competition. And that makes Bengal special. The production of Max for Cats (and Christian Kleine, another key designer of Ableton instruments), Bengal also innovates in the area of clear design and architecture. And with a semi-modular design, it goes further than Operator in opening up avenues for creative sound design.

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A report from the futuristic Continuum Fingerboard’s first Con

The 19th Century was the century of the piano. The 20th Century, for all its innovation, still saw the piano keyboard as the dominant interface for all those new sounds. But the 21st Century finally looks to offer some choice. And so it’s high time for the Continuum Fingerboard to get its day. The instrument allows you to find pitch as you can on a piano keyboard, but with expressive continuous control both in pressure and position – letting you bend pitch and shape sound more fluidly. Now having inspired instruments like the ROLI Seaboard (and with ROLI raking in …

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Watch this free monster patch for Elektron machines, in action

This one’s too good to wait. Gustavo Bravetti, the Uruguay-born producer and DJ, is already something of a maximalist. He’s the sort of person who can rock alternative controllers live on a mainstage in front of massive festival crowds – the powerful counter-example to the notion that such high-pressure gigs have to be press-play. And now, he’s been hard at work on a powerful tool for expanding the possibilities of performance on Elektron’s hardware, all using Push for control. I could ramble on, but the best way to follow this is to watch the extensive tutorial video he’s just posted:

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See the 1995 Monolake step sequencer that inspired Ableton

Remember 1995? Computers onstage were still a comparatively risky proposition – often relegated to MIDI, more prone than today to instabilities, and absent today’s DJ and live performance apps. Monolake, which is now just Robert Henke, was both Robert Henke and Gerhard Behles. (Gerhard is now plenty busy being CEO of Ableton.) And then there was Monolake’s PX18 sequencer, a step sequencer – cum – timeline with loads of interesting tracker-style and mathematical-musical features.

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You can now access the Push 2 display from Max

Ableton’s Push 2 has a big, beautiful, color display. But what goes on that display is limited to what Ableton has built in – or, rather, it was, until now. London-based producer/hacker sigabort has already built a Max object that lets you access the display directly as a high-res, color texture. Max boffins, this means you can even use Jitter objects directly. And for those who have no idea what the previous sentence just meant, think of it this way: Max patches will now be able to create their own full-color visual outputs, for practical or entertainment purposes. (Max for …

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