automatonism

This software is like getting a modular inside your computer, for free

Modular synthesizers present some beautiful possibilities for sound design and composition. For constructing certain kinds of sounds, and certain automated rhythmic and melodic structures, they’re beautiful – and endure for a reason. Now, that description could fit both software and hardware modulars. And of course, hardware has some inarguable, irreplaceable advantages. But the same things that make it great to work with can also be limiting. You can’t dynamically change patches without some plugging and replugging, you’re limited by what modules you’ve got bolted into a rack, and … oh yeah, apart from size and weight, these things cost money. …

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sunvox

The music software that’s everywhere is now in the browser too: SunVox Web

Oh, sure, some developers think it’s a big deal if their software runs on Mac and Windows. (Whoo!) SunVox has a different idea of cross-platform – a slightly more complete one. Alexander Zolotov is a mad genius. His SunVox has all the patchable sound design of a modular synth. But it also has all the obsessive-compulsive pattern editing of a tracker. So on any single platform, it’s already two tools in one. And it doesn’t run on just one single platform. It’s on Windows (pretty much any version). It’s on macOS – all the way back to 10.6. (Kudos, Alexander …

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TouchDown Houston at Day For Night Festival; photo Roger Ho.

A bunch of tricks and tools for generative visual tool TouchDesigner

TouchDesigner, the visual development environment for interactive media, is a not-so-secret weapon for the artists creating some of the best eye candy today. And it’s likely to earn more attention now that it’s available for both macOS and Windows. (It was previously Windows-only.) But it’s not just the power of the tool itself that makes it stand out. It’s just as much a community behind it, sharing resources with one another. That says something, really. People working on interactive and event visuals often pull in some pretty hefty fees, and they justify those fees by making sure their tech tricks …

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Now you can put a Buchla-style modular inside Reaktor, free

There’s nothing quite like a Buchla. The “West Coast” modular that inspired the likes of Morton Subotnick and Suzanne Ciani has an approach to signal and expression that is both uniquely experimental and uniquely musical. It’s its own animal. So it’s about time we see that philosophy applied to the open patching of Reaktor. The Cloudlab 200t isn’t a Buchla clone – its creators are quick to issue a disclaimer there, and say this is all just for fun. But fun it is, with a lovely approach to patch design. Trevor Gavilan produced the design, with contributions and components from …

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Carla, an existing plug-in host for Linux. These apps could be getting a lot more plugs soon.

Steinberg brings VST to Linux, and does other good things

The days of Linux being a barren plug-in desert may at last be over. And if you’re a developer, there are some other nice things happening to VST development on all platforms. Steinberg has quietly rolled out the 3.6.7 version of their plug-in SDK for Windows, Mac, iOS, and now Linux. Actually, your plug-ins may be using their SDK even if you’re unaware – because many plug-ins that appear as “AU” use a wrapper from VST to Apple’s Audio Unit. (One is included in the SDK.) For end users, the important things to know are, you may be getting more …

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The UAD just got OTO 8-bit effects, Moog filters, and booty-shaking bass

Universal Audio has been a name in recreations of classic studio gear for some time. But now, here’s something that will appeal directly to producers. Included in a slew of updates today, you get crunchy, wild 8-bit effects (emulating the now-discontinued boutique OTO BISCUIT hardware), Moog multimode filters paired with powerful modulation and filters, and a subharmonic synth from the disco age you can use to add booty-shaking low end to tracks. In other words, it’s like Christmas for producers with UAD, with a whole bunch of delicious stuff you might want. This isn’t a review, yet – will follow …

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seaquence_3-up

Seaquence lets you make music as animated ocean creatures

Are the cold, mechanical buttons of step sequencers stressing you out? Do you enjoy the soothing sensation of staring into an aquarium? Then Seaquence for the iPhone and iPad might be the music production tool for you. You can treat Seaquence as a kind of musical game, toying around with fanciful animated creatures dancing around your screen. You can look at it as a standalone instrument, with a now reasonably powerful synth engine. Or you can actually treat this as a powerful studio tool, and use it to sequence other apps and hardware – meaning this could be a way …

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sloobanner

Sloo is the maddest, most swarming soft synth you’ve ever heard

When was the last time you just got lost in a synthesizer? Like, when you forgot everything else you were doing and just turned knobs and forgot what hour it was? Well, if it’s been a while, you might want to try Sloo. If you want, you don’t actually need to read any more. Just know that Sloo is a thing for Reaktor from Tim Exile, and it involves a gazillion oscillators, and it will make totally mental noises. It feels like someone has just heated up a giant, hot, steaming Jacuzzi of oscillators and you’ve jumped in and dunked …

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modulator_zoo_6c

Bitwig Studio 2 is here, and it’s full of modulators and gadgets

Go go gadget DAW. That’s the feeling of Bitwig Studio 2, which is packed with new devices, a new approach to modulation, and hardware integration. Just a few of these on their own might not really be news, but Bitwig has a lot of them. Put them together, and you’ve got a whole lot of potential machinery to inspire your next musical idea, in the box, with hardware, or with some combination. And much as I love playing live and improvising with my hands, it’s also nice to have some clever machinery that gets you out of your usual habits …

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Modstep iPad sequencer is now packed with drum kits, MIDI templates

There are apps, and then there are apps with a studio soul. Modstep feels like it uniquely qualifies as the latter. If you’ve just got your iPad, it’s built with lots of interoperability with other apps in mind. And then combine it with hardware, and out of the box, it makes all that outboard gear more useful. What does it do, and what it’s about? I could try to explain, but really six-year-old Maja does a much better job. (That’s how she won the Modstep video production contest.) She loves her 909 and her 303 and enjoys this more than …

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