A bare-bones UI belies a powerful engine - and a tool that could finally jump-start sound designers embracing an open format. Proprietary lock-in, no more.

Software Instruments, Freed From Sampler Formats: SFZ, Free Sounds, Free Sample Player

“Free As In Free Me From Proprietary Formats.” If you’re ready to explore sounds – as a novice sampler user or as an advanced sound developer – SFZ brings tidings of great joy. When they move from defining mere sounds or samples to describing whole instruments, sound designers need file formats. The problem has been that those formats tend to be particular to one sampler or another – just Kontakt, or just Logic’s EXS24, or just Gigastudio. Yes, there are converters, but because these samplers have different capabilities, converters cause problems. Being able to create instruments for these samplers is …

READ MORE →

Armageddon-Themed Pack for Ableton Live, EP, Featuring Korg Poly800 MKII

I can see exactly how this goes. Me. A Korg Poly800. One MIDI cable. A quiet moment in the studio. A completely ridiculous mis-interpretation of Mayan history that some have decided is the end of the world. Let me just light some candles to set the mood. “Hey there, Korg. So… this could be our last night on Earth. I know this is my friend’s studio. But — who knows if the sun is going to come up tomorrow. Let me just find out where you’re connected in the patch bay.” Actually, let me just stop there before I get …

READ MORE →

Or, Download a Free Ableton Live Pack Made By a Cat

In speaking about iPad apps this week, I mentioned the possibility of music made by cats. And, of course, today we look at the possibility of going inside Machinedrum’s musical technique. So, it’s only appropriate to offer you the opportunity to produce music with a sonic toolbox … developed by a cat. (Apologies, Mr. Stewart and Mr. Eno.) AfroDJMac writes: I was reading your post on Brian Eno and the blurb about cats making music, and I have something kind of relevant. I just put out Free Ableton Rack #65, which features my cat playing a rubberband, recorded with a …

READ MORE →

Chain, Chain, Chain: Crazy Nodal Note Sequencing Departs from Everyday Step Sequencers [Kontakt]

Ready to step beyond normal step sequencers? Skip ahead in the tutorial videos here, and you’ll see what’s possible: elaborate grid patterns that don’t just play looped patterns ad infinitum. Now, as in milkshakes and ice cream cones, sometimes vanilla is just fine. For instance, this week, Nord released Nord Beat, a free step sequencer for iOS. And, apart from being free if you’ve got the iThing to run it, it’s a nice offering. You can chain together multiple loops of steps, and there’s a clever mode for switching to finger drumming. The system works: you get four tracks, velocity …

READ MORE →
TDZ_1

Rock Zebra2 Like Hans Zimmer: Dark Zebra Pairs Soft Instrument, Dark Knight Sounds [Video, Screens]

A shadow was unquestionably cast across the film by tragic events last week in Colorado. But while it became an unexpected stage for terrible events, The Dark Knight Rises itself is also a cultural object from artists we care about, and as musicians and sound designers, we value every chance to express ourselves. Composer Hans Zimmer and synth sound designer Howard Scarr are today releasing some of their work in a unique piece of software. It’s simultaneously a work of engineering – one of the most sophisticated software instruments available, Zebra2, and sound designs for that tool – and a …

READ MORE →
clapbox

Vintage Clap Trap Synth, Now a Unitasker iOS App; I Love the 80s

Here’s an iOS app antidote to those desktop plug-ins that do everything, to elaborate virtual synths with eighteen separate modulation envelopes. It’s an app that just … makes clap sounds. And it brings your iPhone or iPad boldly into the 1980s. The handclap sound you hear in so much electronic music, particularly that originating from the 1980s, is none other than the Simmons Clap Trap. And soundware boutique / developer Puremagnetik, the folks who have built a reputation sampling classic instruments for the likes of Ableton, has emulated that tool on iOS. It’s certainly … specific. But that could make …

READ MORE →
crowd

A Choir Made from a Chrowd: Hundreds Contribute to Charity Choir Sample Instrument

We hear a lot about the “wisdom of crowds.” Now, here’s the voice of the crowd. Photo (CC-BY) James Cridland. Every choir is, in a sense, crowd-sourced. In this case, a set of choir samples were composed from “choir members” from around the globe who never met each other. In Soniccouture’s new Chrowdchoir instrument, over a thousand people contributed individual sounds, which were then put together to produce the ensemble instrument. As the developers describe it: The ‘Crowd-choir’ was an idea for a crowd-sourced sampled instrument, partly inspired by the 10cc track ‘I’m not in love’, which famously featured a …

READ MORE →

Cloud in a DAW: Free Plug-in Lets You Browse, Drag-and-Drop to and from SoundCloud

From iPads to desktop, apps have been adding SoundCloud integration. But this plug-in goes one better: you can navigate SoundCloud from an in-DAW browser, then drag and drop sounds to hosts like Ableton Live. (You can upload, too, also via drag-and-drop.) The plug-in is free for native hosts on Mac and Windows. One major criticism: without the ability to see SoundCloud’s licensing terms, you can’t be sure if the samples you’re grabbing are something someone wants you to use. Unless I’m missing something, it’d be great to have Creative Commons search support – indeed, it’d help people who do want …

READ MORE →
beat4eva

Beats for Eva: Production Goodies Help One Woman Fight Cancer

Facing a health crisis, whether your own or a loved one’s, can be a serious challenge. It can make music making seem a remote activity. But here’s a case in which music production talent, the power to put together loops and tools, can help fight for someone’s health. What’s unique about this is that just using these tools in your own music – or contributing your own loops and tools – can get you involved, too. CDM reader Stefan Weise, a musician from Dallas, Texas, writes: My friend Jason and I run a label together called “Evoked Recordings” and he …

READ MORE →
abletonwork

Upgrade Yourself, Free: A Year of Ableton Live Packs, New Two-Minute Tips, Kicks Morphing to Leads

Hit your own upgrade button with Ableton Live: costs nothing, keeps on giving. Photo (CC-BY) Andrea Mitrani. Get a whole new Live, for free. Smart users can make it happen. Sure, just a mere mention of Ableton can bring out angry hordes of Live users waiting for whatever they imagine they want out of Live 9. We can’t comment on Ableton’s internal development process. So, why not instead make Ableton new for yourself – no need to pay for anything, all with free downloads, free tips, and more musical power? (Hint: I do expect an upgrade from Ableton – I, …

READ MORE →