ninja-jamm-android

Watch how the Ninja Jamm app can turn a track into an instrument

Four years on, Ninja Jamm continues to steam ahead as an app. We covered this app at its creation; I had provided some voluntary guidance as it’s built on libpd. Over those years, it’s built up a base of users and content, added Android support atop iOS, and enabled support on both platforms for Ableton Link. But I myself find myself playing with it again, after contributing a free content pack via the Liquid Sky Berlin series. And I find this remains relevant and addictive. I think it’s always worth listening to the founders of Coldcut and Ninja Tune, in …

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Now, DJing with a giant touchscreen using djay, Surface Studio, Surface Dial

So, Algoriddim’s djay has been quietly morphing from “nifty entry-level Mac DJ tool” into “holy, crap, this is actually kind of better than the other DJ software.” And now, a ground-up rewrite for Windows 10 points to where music software might go on that platform – namely, touch and other novel input. I’ll review the state of djay Pro soon. I think its clean interface and its open support for hardware (including Pioneer’s) are reason serious DJs should give it a second look. And in particular, it comes at a time when some leading competitors focus more on supporting their …

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customize

Turn that MacBook Pro Touch Bar into a MIDI controller, free

Let someone else debate whether the Touch Bar is a useful innovation or not. If you’ve got a new MacBook Pro, why not put it to good use? And, in fact, if you think of the Touch Bar as akin to precisely what it replaces – a set of shortcuts above the keyboard – it’s actually pretty useful. When you need something quickly under your fingertips, it’s there. So it’s no substitute for dedicated controllers, but it could be invaluable for fast access to certain features. Now, oddly, the cleverest use I’ve seen yet for music isn’t in a music …

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STEREO FIELD is a beautiful touchplate instrument and controller

This might just be a real spiritual successor to the Cracklebox. (That’s the classic – and very nicely unpredictable – creation of Michel Waisvisz, one associated with the research program at STEIM and many of the ideas about expression and nonlinear sound ever since.) STEREO FIELD is a sound box / controller centered around touch plates, marked with concentric overlapping circles that represent the interconnection of two analog stereo circuits. It’s a sound generator: you can make some (raw sounding) analog, atonal sounds by patching its circuitry to an output. It’s also a sound processor: use incoming signal to combine …

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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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klik

Here’s how Bastl’s new $49 KLIK is syncing stuff up

Some tools are simple enough that they only really make sense in context. So we’ve gotten word that not only are Bastl Instruments introducing a new sync tool – they’ve also done some clever collaboration to show how it helps you play in time. Klin is a tiny $49 sync box. It’s really simple — you take line level audio from a sound card, and Klik turns that into clock signals for your (CV-powered) hardware synths. So, when it’s time to sync stuff up, just enter a rhythm track in your DAW of choice, then output that to the Klik. …

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Modular wireless music BLOCKS for iOS are ROLI’s next big idea

UK music startup ROLI are on one heck of a roll. And they’re slowly becoming a laboratory for trying out genuinely new ideas for music making – finally breaking the mold of an industry that often relishes nostalgia. Now, ROLI’s got the engineering, acquiring plug-in maker FXpansion and cross-platform development architecture JUCE. They’ve got the flagship hardware, in the form of their Seaboard and Seaboard RISE expressive controllers – futuristic gadgets that look like the piano someone would play on Star Trek: The Next Generation more than what you’d find in your local Guitar Center. And they’ve got connectivity to …

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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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keyboard

Apple’s computer vision looks backward, as others look forward

It was really hard for me to watch Apple’s “Hello Again” event today. Understanding history is important – to a point. But Apple’s obsessive navel gazing in the Mac event today speaks volumes. This is a company with no real vision for what its most creative users actually do with their most advanced machines. So, instead, they look into the past. And the Mac keynote was full of references to the past. The early 90s PowerBook 100 got a better pitch for its industrial design than the new MacBook Pro. And that’s with good reason: the PowerBook 100 was an …

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joue

Joué is a modular touch sensitive controller that changes into anything

Like pressure-sensitive control – but don’t want to commit to one layout? Joué is a fascinating new controller concept that has touch sensitivity but lets you change layouts on the fly – with tactile control. The concept: add physical, modular overlays to the top to change the function of the controller. At its heart, the Joué is a USB-connected controller – much like the ROLI Seaboard, roughly speaking. It transmits data over MIDI. The difference is the physical overlays. Combined with configurable settings in a software editor, they let you add piano-style keys, drum pads, guitar-like frets, or other 3D …

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