DJing, Decks, and a Grid of Samples: NI’s New Take on Traktor

What should DJing software look like, anyway? It’s just a teaser, but for once, the idea is simple, straightforward, and clear. Native Instruments have taken their DJ software, Traktor, and combined it with a grid of pads for sample triggering and loops. The upcoming hardware/software combination we expect later this spring. At the risk of stating the obvious, what’s significant about adding loop triggering to any DJ set is that you can more easily move beyond playing and mixing tracks. Even without drum machines, this kind of manipulation is part of the grand tradition of DJing, made all the more …

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teasers

Leak the Future: Traktor Controller, Loads of Synths, Livid, Akai, Casio, Nord, and Teaser Tracking

The only good teasers are Malteasers. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Ranma Tim. Guess who’s gotten really bad at keeping a lid on upcoming product announcements? The manufacturers. We’re suddenly utterly awash with teasers. Yes, it seems from intentional leaks to advance campaigns, we’re now destined to see every significant new piece of music gear before we see it, cast in shadows and partial photos and more. Apparently, the folks doing publicity think that this will cause people on the Internet to talk about them. They’re … right, in fact. And with the biggest American trade show for music gear landing next week, …

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mpcrenaissance

Akai Tries for MPC Renaissance with Controllers, New Software

Looks like an MPC. Should sound like an MPC. But for the first time, something called “MPC” that relies on your computer. Good news or bad news? We’ll know soon enough. The MPC name and MPC legend are as big as ever. But the current products? Not so much. Let’s face it: Akai could use a bit of a renaissance. Users these days put just as much stock in the MPC as a concept, and the MPC hardware still attracts users, but other products are stealing Akai’s thunder (Ableton Live, Native Instruments Maschine), and the human faces beloved by users …

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Gold Panda on Sampling; Moby on Drum Machines

Something has happened to the mystique of the musical artist, as the superstars have faded. It seems people are increasingly interested with understanding process, in understanding what’s inside the magical black boxes of sound. Jess Gitner hosted Derwin Panda, aka Gold Panda, at National Public Radio’s studios for Morning Edition. She talked to the artist about the basics of how he constructs music from samples. It’s actually quite nice to me to see a story that’s elementary enough that it could be understood by non-specialists — it’s all to easy to forget that for the vast majority of even the …

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Useful Music Tools for Your Android Phone, and a New Sketchpad Joins Groovebox

Despite being a musical technology enthusiast, I really do think of my Android phone first and foremost as a communications device. I imagine I’m not alone, just as I’d guess that people who want a mobile music maker may look first at the iPhone. But that raises the question, are there tools you’d install on an Android phone purely because they’re genuinely useful? What tools would you use in your music, or even refuse to be without? There are actually a surprising number of tools out there on Android for music-making, though quality can be quite variable. So here, I’ll …

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Hypersampling, Whatever Your Grid: Free mlrv2 Instrument, to monome and Beyond

Owing to a tradition that goes back to the first samplers and hip-hop pioneers, sampling and digital performance have become a kind of instrumental technique. You might play well, you might play poorly, but even working with samples, you can actually play. You can look at the simple design of the monome as the hardware embodiment of digital, a reflection of an array of pixels. You can see it as an extension of Roger Linn’s MPC and other drum machine concepts. It’s probably both those things. But since the monome itself makes no sound, it’s been software that has made …

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The Father of Drum Machines and the Father of MIDI Talk About Design and the Tempest

In songwriting, there was Rodgers and Hart, Gilbert and Sullivan. In music gear design, it’s hard not to assign a similar degree of expectation to the pairing of Dave Smith and Roger Linn. Between them, these two designers have been a major part of what music technology is today. Dave Smith pioneered MIDI (even giving it its acronym), the first microprocessor-based instrument (the Prophet-5), the first programmable polyphonic synth, and other innovations at Sequential Circuits. Add to that landmarks in physical modeling research (at Yamaha) and the first PC soft synth. Roger Linn built the first programmable sampled-sound drum machine …

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Listening: Paul Croker’s Sampled Vinyl MPC Collage, PublicSpacesLab

Photo (CC-BY) Hryck. / Todd. Barcelona-based, Los Angeles-edited PublicSpacesLab is an example of what a netlabel can be. Instead of just another dumping ground for sounds, it feels like a well-curated cafe, pairing regular but thoughtful releases with reflections on music making. Everything is Creative Commons-licensed, free music, from a variety of artists spanning geographies and genres. If you’re in the mood for reading, recent thought pieces from the editor cover a range of topics: Expansion, the lesser known dynamics tool (Amen, brother) The demise of an indie radio station in LA (with some harsh words for the town – …

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Maschine 1.5 Arrives, Works Better, Adds Grain Stretch and Classic Sounds

Maschine’s hardware controller, which assigns dedicated physical control to the software’s functions. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Dmitriy G./droptune. “Feature creep” is a tricky thing. We all say we want tools that focus more on what we want rather than just add features. But some functionality is there for a reason. When Maschine came out, Native Instruments’ take on drum machine workflows showed a lot of promise. The biggest draw: Native build a dedicated hardware controller just for the application, making working with the software tool more tangible, but with the flexibility of software. Maschine could integrate with your existing software effects and …

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Fast Fingers: Video, Mappings Shows You Pad Drumming on MPC, Ableton, Beyond

How to do mpc pad finger drumming from Brandon Murphy on Vimeo. Composer, musician, and drummer Brandon Murphy has put together a how-to video on playing and programming beats with a 4×4 grid. One reason to pay attention: he’s a real drummer, and had been just as skeptical about the value of all this as you probably are: I’ve been using an MPC longer than I’ve owned a computer and something that never appealed to me was “finger drumming”. It evoked thoughts of s***ty 80’s outdoor music festival wankery, dudes with offensive looking devices strapped around their necks and lots …

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