From Christmas Tree Lights, A Lo-Fi Ableton Synth

It’s that time of the year, when the halls echo with the sound of … horrible electronic synthesized Christmas tunes, playing on endless loops from strings of lights and other cheap electronics! But wait – what if you could take those sounds and embrace their low-fidelity, chippy sounds to more inventive musical purposes? Turn to our friend AfroDJ, who has gradually built up several dozen Ableton Live racks. The latest samples Christmas tree lights for a festive, chiptastic holiday timbre. I just put up my Christmas tree and put on some lights that play Christmas songs. The songs are comprised …

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Grid Machine Slice: Custom Kontakt Sample Library, Gone Mad

I tend to tune out when it comes to sample libraries, but here’s one that takes the scripting capabilities of Native Instruments’ Kontakt sampler to extremes. The Grid Machine line developed by Lindon Parker (Channel Robot) and distributed by LoopMasters brings to Kontakt the sort of grid-based, sliced-up sample manipulation we’ve seen in the monome community and in custom tools in environments like Ableton Live and Renoise. Using KSP, the scripting environment in Kontakt, these produce entirely-custom instruments that cut, chop, stutter, reverse, mix, trigger, sub-loop, re-trigger, and modulate. You can change speed, mute, skip, reorder, and play patterns, and …

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Six Months of Free Ableton Racks, Six Favorites from the Creator

An Ableton rig with a dramatically-lit Novation Launchpad grid controller. Photo (CC-BY-SA) alexwire. Ableton Live fans hungry for sounds, what a good half-year it’s been. AfroDJMac alone has been busy putting together delicious-sounding, versatile racks of virtual Ableton-ready gear. After six months of contributing free downloads and videos – and discovering the use of this kind of generosity as a tool for exposure – he’s come up with some 26 such racks. You can grab them all, but I asked the artist to choose his six favorites out of the bunch: 1. Nintendo Rack- Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but these …

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NI Launches New Software Updates from Kontakt to Drums – and Puts Everything on a Hard Drive

Kontakt – is it the answer? Is it the reason that everything happens? Native Instruments today launches a new version of its flagship Kontakt sampler with new filters, effects and processing, improved sound quality, and sound design features. NI also refreshes Komplete – including, at last, a Komplete bundle that really does include kompletely everything. And we see new products covering drum samples and grooves and studio effects, too, as well as a major update to the sound design and processing capabilities of Guitar Rig. Sadly, that isn’t the Komplete Infinity package we saw lampooned last week, which promised “quite …

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Your iOS Device Gets MIDI with Thru and Power – and 1 GB of Samples – from IK

For connecting music hardware from the 80s, 90s, 2000s, and today, you can’t beat MIDI and the standard MIDI connector (5-pin DIN). This week, both IK Multimedia and Line 6 announced adapters that support Core MIDI. Previously possible on iPad via the Camera Connection Kit, the new adapters support the 30-pin dock connector for the iPad (no additional adapter needed), iPhone, and iPod touch. IK’s iRig MIDI has a number of features that set it apart from previously-available iOS adapters: It’s got MIDI Thru. MIDI Thru means you can route MIDI into your iOS device, so an external keyboard can …

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For Lovers of Aalto, Semi-Modular Soft Synth, a Place to Share Patches

Producer Sam Greene was so in love with Aalto, the semi-modular, Mac and Windows soft synth whose developer we profiled last month, that he made his own place to share patches for it. Patches are free to download and use in your music, and you can upload your own; the only restriction is that the site asks that no one re-sell the patches themselves. Find the results: patchdump.com You can thank the synth for making it easy. While discussion of sharing features often turns to sophisticated cloud and social features, here’s one solution: just make exchanging files dead-simple. As the …

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Renoise 2.7 Arrives; Q+A on Free Puremagnetik Sounds; Hacks to Come?

Renoise 2.7 is now available, following some eight weeks of testing by the community. The update, which the developers describe as “back to the beats” in reference to focusing in this release cycle on musical workflow, delivers plenty of features that make the modern tracker more modern. I wrote about them back in March, with some detailed Q&A from the developers – including tips on where to get started: Renoise 2.7 Adds Sample and Slice Savvy; Tips and Inside Info from the Developers The short version: better automation, sample slicing, and sample keyzones, plus improved DSP and audio routing and …

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Make Ableton Sing Like a Tuvan Synth, or Bleep like an NES

Zap! Photo (CC-BY-SA) candescence. Ableton has introduced various features to its flagship Live tool over the years, but one of the simplest ideas – combining instruments and effects into accessible Racks – is also one of its most useful. They make those sound controls immediate and functional, and they can be a great way of delivering sounds. Two cases in point: free downloads that incorporate synthesized vocals and retro Nintendo blips. AfroDJMac keeps his free Live goodies coming with noises constructed on a vintage Nintendo Entertainment System, the 8-bit timbres orchestrated by the sadly impossible-to-get MidiNES MIDI adapter. True to …

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SP-12, SP-1200 Sample Collection, Free Samples, and Some Tips for Vintage Digital Sampling

Call it future shock. Love of retro gear is more than nostalgia; sometimes it takes time to appreciate what technology means. And so, today, classic digital samplers and drum machines like the E-mu SP-1200 and SP-12 can inspire even greater passion than they did when new. Today, producers can feel love not only for retro analog, but retro digital. With plenty of 12-bit digital dirt, the original SP samplers sound gritty, warm, and unique. And one of my favorite samplists, Hugo of Gold Baby Productions, does a nice job of capturing that personality – enough for me to take note …

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Wintry Samples: Recording Snow, Free Snow and Ice Drum Samples, Gnomish Choirs

Photo: Frank Bry, courtesy his blog The Recordist. It’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere. For some of us, there’s little need to remind us of snow and ice. But if you fancy adding some frozen sounds to your music, we have both free samples and expert recording tips to help get your cold on. Frank Bry, a master sound designer, apparently has plenty of access to snow in his home of Idaho, but that hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for the white, fluffy stuff. He’s devoted an entire library to Ultimate Snow with some 300 locations. You can read an interview …

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