$99 Lounge Lizard Session: Must-Have Electric Keyboard Plug

There’s just not enough time (or money) for all the great plug-ins around. But one of my favorite instrumental plug-ins, one I can’t imagine living without, is the superb Lounge Lizard electric piano from Applied Acoustics. It’s physically modeled, not sampled, and as a result feels more organic than some of its competitors. EP-3 offered some welcome improvements, including a more fleshed-out effects section, more pickups and models, built-in audio recording, and micro-tuning; some users thought it wasn’t a significant upgrade when they first saw it, but upon closer inspection I think you’ll find it a must-upgrade. I expect a …

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Composer’s Studio Goes Digital: Tech Toys and Inspiration

Now that the rest of our studio has gone digital, the approach to producing score for acoustic instruments has changed, too. Here’s a look at some of my favorite toys and tools for keeping music flowing. You’d have to be a true Luddite to argue that word processors are bad for writing. Blogs, perhaps, sometimes inspire poor writing (ahem), but it’s more difficult to blame technology. The original argument that word processors would end the process of drafting and revision is absurd to anyone who’s spent long hours slaving over text in Microsoft Word. Our attitudes have changed as we’ve …

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Stage Piano Lite: M-Audio’s Lighter 88-key Keyboard Shipping

Stage piano. That usually means one thing: back-breaking pain. If you want 88 keys but don’t want a keyboard that weighs 50 or 65 pounds, your choices are generally limited. This week, you have one more choice: M-Audio’s new ProKeys 88sx keyboard. It’s semi-weighted, since full hammer action would add weight, but it still feels quite nice to play based on a quick try at NAMM. (It feels a lot better, notably, than the cheaper feel of the previous 88ES — this is meant for more serious players.) And it’s got features usually only found on more expensive (and heavier) …

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Lounge Lizard EP-3 Modeled Electric Piano Coming Soon

Updates to favorite keyboard soft synths — always a good thing. In addition to looking forward to Native Instruments’ sequel to their B4 organ synth, another modeled-instrument fave is getting a big upgrade soon: Lounge Lizard EP-3 The current Lounge Lizard is already a joy to play: Applied Acoustics nails the feel and sound of the classic Wurlitzer and Rhodes keyboards. EP-3 upgrades the already-generous preset selection, adds improved and expanded models of different pickups, forks, and dampers, (in addition to those already in EP-2), and adds support for Scala microtuning files. (For those of you wanting to play your …

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Start `Em Young Pt. II: Keyboard Player Prodigy

I asked for more wee tykes “creating digital music,” and here’s the first: Excellent choice of synths, too: the Novation ReMote hooked up to what looks like Apple Logic Pro. No more information here, though this is on the Website of net label / artist community Experimedia. Keep practicing, Kayla, and you’ll be on the cover of Keyboard in no time. Oh, and I think there’s a song here: “Mothers, don’t let your kids grow up to be DJs.” Stick to the keyboards, kids.

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Moog PianoBar + Other Digital Acoustic Pianos

Here’s a truly “retro” device from the folks at Moog — the PianoBar is a device that retrofits your acoustic piano as a MIDI instrument, without the nasty installation process that usually entails. The device is actually the brainchild of synth legend Don Buchla, not Bob Moog as you might assume. The design is relatively simple: a Scanner Bar fits over the top of the keys of your Bösendorfer (or Young Chang, if you’re less fortunate), and optically reads the motion of your fingers on the keys. Not only can it tell which notes you’re playing, but how hard you’re …

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Historic Keys Sampled: Clavichords, Virginals, More for Logic, Kontakt, Giga, Halion

Let’s talk about vintage keys. No, not Minimoogs and Roland Junos. I mean really vintage keys: 17th and 18th Century clavichords. Assuming you don’t work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, why not turn to our friends at Post Musical Instruments (PMI) for some sample libraries: PMI Clavichords (New from PMI; US$55) PMI Historic Keyboards (Existing library; $125, minus $36 this month if you buy the clavichords) Your formats are covered here: 24-bit samples for GigaStudio 3, Kontakt, EXS24 (aka Logic Pro) and Halion3. And the keyboards sound great: a small clavichord after an anonymous German instrument dating from c. …

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The Computer-Piano: Post’s Post Piano

While on the subject of Post Musical Instruments and Post Pianos, here’s a glimpse of Post’s custom Post Piano, a piano-computer hybrid. Now pretty much anyone can prop a Tablet PC on their keyboard controller and go to town with samples, and Michel Post admits to CDM that “the PostPiano was never a commercial success, we have 5 left and use them in house, since we’re totally focussed on sample libraries nowdays.” As a concept, though, you can’t argue with it: with 200 MB of samples per key and built-in software for notation and sequencing, the digital piano has a …

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The Giant Piano: “Big” Movie Piano Revisited

Music thing gets the scoop on a particularly interesting eBay find. Remember the giant piano keyboard from the 1988 Tom Hanks movie Big? Now that the movie has been made into a musical, it’s given blokes in the UK an excuse to build their own giant keyboard. Despite the Music thing mention, the eBay auction still lacks a bid. Come on, GBP 2,000? That’s a bargain. Think per inch of this keyboard — this ain’t your upright Yamaha, here. So what happened to the original giant keyboard from FAO Shwarz (the Manhattan toy story at which Big was shot on-location)? …

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Steinberg Update: Studio Case II; HALion String Edition; The Grand 2

Okay, I’m behind on Steinberg. But the summer lineup from them is just making me yawn, I’m afraid: Steinberg Studio Case II: Status: just announced. US$299, Windows/Mac September, watered-down versions of everything Steinberg makes. For entry level users, this could be a decent deal: Reason, by comparison, costs $450 and has a lousy sequencer and no audio recording. Ableton Live costs around $400 and doesn’t have as many instruments. But there’s nothing here to write home about: stripped-down versions of everything? Spend the extra couple of hundred bucks and get what you really need. HALion String Edition: Status: just started …

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