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Grids in key, with Novation’s new Launchpad Pro scales

A piano keyboard or fretboard is set up with a particular mapping of pitch in mind. But the major advantage of any undifferentiated grid is the ability to work with scales. You can have any tuning and modes you like. A new free update to Novation’s Launchpad Pro adds that functionality to their grid controller – and that transforms how you’d use it musically. Now, Novation’s grid controller is far from the first such hardware to add the ability to map the pads to scales. Native Instruments’ Maschine (4×4) and Ableton’s Push (8×8) each have scale modes for their grids. …

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Play with Steve Reich’s techniques in a free iPhone app

Steve Reich’s musical etudes are already a kind of self-contained lesson in rhythm. Inspired by drumming traditions, Reich distills in his music essential principles of rhythmic construction, introducing Western Classical musicians to cyclic forms. That makes them a natural for visual scoring – doubly so something interactive, which is what an iPhone can provide. And so one percussion ensemble has made an app that both reveals Reich’s techniques and opens up a toy you can use to make your own musical experiments. Plus – it’s free.

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Skram app sounds great, navigates rhythm and harmony

Skram is the latest iOS app that claims to bridge fans curious about making music and expert producers, giving you “all you need” to make music on an iPad. So – what’s unique about this one versus everything else that claims to do that? Well, first, there’s the team behind it: Liine are the folks behind the Lemur app and various other software, performance rig, and interactive installation projects. Second, while this initial release represents just a first step, there are already some amazing sounds coming out of the included instruments. And third, Skram builds on the work of other …

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Fugue machine is how Bach would have made a sequencer

I have two words for you: multiple playheads. Oh sure, you’ve got your piano rolls and your step sequencers and your arpeggiators. But can you roll like Johann Sebastian (or Arnold… as in Schoenberg)? Can you take a single melody, and make more complex patterns by echoing them, turning them upside down? That’s the idea behind Fugue Machine.

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Free Clapping Music App Teaches You Steve Reich – And Rhythm

Before there was Rock Band and Guitar Hero, there was Steve Reich’s 1972 Clapping Music. And like all etudes, it’s a game. Now an iPhone app makes it an actual game.

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Get Inspired with Excerpts of Ableton’s Making Music Book

Following our interview with author Dennis DeSantis, we can start your weekend with some sage advice from his book Making Music. While published by Ableton, this isn’t an Ableton book. It lies as the boundary of software and music, at the contact points of creativity in the tool. For a CDM exclusive excerpt, I wanted to highlight two chapters. One deals with the question of how to overcome default settings – this cries out as almost a public service announcement for people making 120 bpm 4/4 tunes because that’s what pops up when you start a new project in Live …

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Polyrhythmus is an Insanely-Great, Free Generator of Rhythms, Arpeggios

Polyrhythmus is the machine generator of notes and rhythms many of us have long dreamt of. It does Euclidean rhythms – symmetrical divisions of time that beautifully produce common polyrhythms (not just for nerds, but modeling a lot of popular rhythms – see the research of Godfried Toussaint). It’s also capable of making other rhythms. It can be polymetrical or polyrhythmic. It’s … also an arpeggiator. It also automates parameters and MIDI Control Change messages. It has loads of modes. It’s modular. It’s dynamic. It’s amazing. It’s a music making nerd’s dream, friendly to anyone who loves rhythms, notes, and …

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Rhythm, Recoded in Plug-ins, Ableton Live: A Conversation with WaveDNA

Music software is at its best when it goes beyond cookie-cutter regularity, and spawns something creative. And sometimes, the path there involves retooling how that music is made. That’s why I’m pleased to get to share this interview with WaveDNA. Liquid Rhythm is something unlike just about anything else in music software. It looks like a music theory class collided with a mandala. In colored patterns, arrayed in bars and wheels, you can produce all kinds of new rhythms, then integrate deeply with your host software. If you use Ableton Live, the integration goes further still. Whether you’re using Drum …

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Techno as Science: Nicolas Bougaïeff Explains Max for Live, Meta-Music, Steve Reich [Video, Theory]

Got a doctorate? Got a doctorate in techno? Got a techno track with a 12-tone row? Artist and researcher Nicolas Bougaïeff (also of developer Liine) shares his latest work with CDM. It’s about the track, yes, about the music video, about techno and dancefloors in some sense. But it’s also about process: Nicolas shares some of the way the machinery of his track was built, in its realization in software, in musical composition, and underlying research. And we also get a terrific music video that helps render some of this geometric theoretical thinking, courtesy Berlin-based motion graphics artist Vicetto. (See …

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Launchpad + Raspberry Pi = Standalone Grid Piano Practice Machine, Boots in 10 Seconds

A standalone grid musical instrument? Done. And it can be a new way to venture into the worlds of harmony. Marc “Nostromo” Resibois is back with another clever Raspberry Pi hack. We saw him last fall, beating KORG to the punch with his own – digital – MS-20 mini, using the Pi. It’s still appealing, in that he has some other synth ideas the analog recreation can’t muster. This time, he’s made a standalone practice instrument for grid players, using a Novation Launchpad and the Raspberry Pi computer. Some shopping around for a Launchpad could mean you could put together …

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