xpand2

You can get this great do-everything instrument plug-in for $1

Sometimes, what you need is just a sound. And the best thing for your creativity is to get to that sound quickly – not to start thinking about which plug-in you’re meant to use. With that in mind, you can get AIR’s terrific XPand!2 almost for free. (Pricing around a dollar, depending on region.) First made for Pro Tools, but now available for any Mac or Windows host, XPand!2 kind of does everything. I remember that first joy in the early 90s of dialing through lots of sounds – wow, I can have brass, or strings, or synths, or some …

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skinnerboxcurve

Skinnerbox’s free M4L Device is the MIDI curve Ableton forgot

Ableton Loop in its second year was a vastly expanded event, with more people, more interactions, and a greater sense of community. And it was more hands-on. The workshop with Skinnerbox, the duo that makes such robust use of Live, well, live, was overflowing. But now there’s a gift for everybody, not just those lucky enough to pack into the Berlin session. It’s simple, but that makes it handy to learn from. And it’s quite useful. (I like stuff like that for learning patching for the first time. Sometimes you need a screwdriver, not a CNC machine.) Curve does what …

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Dot Melody is a nicely weird iOS note sequencer, and now it syncs

Here’s a pitch you don’t expect from an iOS developer: Dot Melody is “kind of weird and limited.” Oh yeah, and how about those glowing hands-on reviews from the first people to try it? Well, reactions “ranged from confused to outwardly hostile.” But wait – we’re in the music making business. Weird and confusing is kind of our bread and butter. Musicians are the group of people willing to invent things like the French Horn (it’s impossible to play, but on the upside – it’ll sound mostly terrible). Or the bagpipes. (Possibly useful if you’re going into battle and want …

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FL's new look, as of version 12, won't burn your retinas.

FL Studio keeps rocking – now with mobile integration

FL Studio, the program once known as Fruity Loops, is one of those indestructible gems of music software. It’s the thing people may sheepishly admit to using – only to proceed to gush about their love for it. And it just keeps chugging along with updates. It’s a reason to love music software: while some creative tech turns into a monoculture (cough, Adobe), music remains obsessively eclectic. This update’s surprises? How about a US$49 add-on emulation of the 303? Oh, and, Willy Wonka style, that enters you to win an original 303 or a modded TT-303 hardware clone? Or what …

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pdparty

There’s a new way to make your iPhone run any Pd patch, free

You’ve got an instrument or effect running in Pure Data, for free, on your computer. (If you don’t know how to do that, more in a moment.) Leave the computer at home. Play that sound creation on your iPhone (or iPad). The implementation of Pd on iOS and Android started its life with RjDj. But PdParty (and PdDroidParty before it) have gone steadily further. Now you can almost treat the graphical patching environment Pd on the computer as your development environment – patch away on your computer, then duplicate that patch complete with UI on your phone. It also means …

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arp_odyssei_image2_rgb

Korg turned their Arp Odyssey into an iPhone, iPad app

Let’s be clear: Korg’s ARP Odyssey remake is a thing of beauty. But it’s now also available as an app … one with awkward spelling that’s nonetheless rather awesome looking. Meet ARP ODYSSEi. (Hey, that “i” has been on the beginning of words for eons now. Maybe it wants to flip to the other side.) ODYSSEi is a modeled version of the ARP Odyssey. And it’s a bit like an “Odyssey+”. It’s got the three filter types and drive from the new 2015 Odyssey reboot (the hardware). But iOS brings other features: Voice assign mode – with chord playback Arpeggiator …

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notationsurfacestudio

How expressive input, immersive 3D might make PCs cooler than Macs

“Pro.” “Creative.” They’re words that are repeated so often in computing it’s easy for some people to forget what they mean. By definition, though, if a “professional” is getting paid for their work, investing in more power to get their work done has a return on investment. And being “creative” on a machine means pushing it to the limits of expression. This may be the post-PC era after all, but that ought to mean we get computers that focus ever more on those use cases. Remember Jobs’ infamous quote about trucks? Embedded in his thinking was an answer to what …

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blocsexport

Start music on iOS, finish it on Ableton Live., with new Blocs Wave

For many of us, finishing something is still a task best left to a laptop. The precision and familiarity of a desktop interface, the favorite suite of plug-ins, a big monitor in the studio, and tools like Ableton Live all add up to something that mobile just can’t beat. But that’s finishing. Starting and sketching are tasks that are ideal for mobile – for those moments when inspiration strikes. Everyone knows this, but the workflow between platforms is often limited to bouncing out audio stems and the like. It’s primitive enough that you might simply not try at all. So …

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screenshot_603

Grab a free secret sauce channel strip for Ableton DJ and live sets

The beautiful thing about software is that it’s flexible. You can reconfigure an entire live rig on the fly. But it’s still necessary to channel that flexibility into consistency, especially playing live. Reuse the stuff you need most so it’s always there. And train your hands and muscle memory so you can play fluidly. Savages – the Chicago/Dallas duo of Ted “TJ” Pallas and Alexandra Hartman – have shared their go-to channel strip full of all their favorite tools. And while they were at it, they recreated a unique EQ. EQ differently PLAYdifferently’s Model 1 mixer takes a different approach …

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Traktor 2.11 is here, and a bunch of stuff now works together

Computer DJing: it should solve problems, not create them. Because you can also mix vinyl or use phonographs to Rekordbox-formatted USB sticks, computer DJing also absolutely, positively has to open up creative possibilities. It has to justify its existence. And because we play music – like, it’s supposed to be something fun we do with other people – computer DJ tools ought to play with one another. So, Traktor 2.11 delivers a lot of little things. But these details both make playing solo potentially more creative, and playing with others and plugging into gear in a booth a whole lot …

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