automate

This Is What Happens When Vintage Robot Voices Make an Album

We hope that music will always have tribes of people keeping esoteric traditions alive – your Renaissance musical ensemble, your Slovenian folk instrumentalists. It just happens that electronic technologies have attracted their own followings, cultivating knowledge of Texas Instruments chips found in specific arcade games the way some people might maintain a balalaika. Chip singers have never gotten the kind of attention synthesizers have. But if Moog – and the synth itself – can look to Keith Emerson’s “Lucky Man,” fans of robotic sung vocals will always have Humanoid. The seminal acid track “Stakker Humanoid” was the work of artists …

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Perfect, Beautiful Music for Free From Erased Tapes [2014 in Review]

Erased Tapes was an endlessly inspiring label in 2014. With a singular, understated focus on quality and music orbiting the keyboard, the acoustic, and minimal post-classical introspection, they were a calming counterpart to the year’s steroid-pumped festival commercialism. And first and foremost, they were about records — not fancy design accessories, not “throw everything at a wall and see what sticks” experiments in distribution. (There’s a place for that, yes, but a record label about records was nonetheless refreshing.) And Nils Frahm was a consistent star amidst all of this, a favorite live performer cutting across genres, wrangling keys electronic …

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djqbert

This Record Sleeve Turns Into a Wireless Touch DJ Controller: DJ Qbert and Novalia

As the CD jewel box and compact cassette case and digital download have failed to inspire, the record sleeve has endured. Now, the LP album jacket isn’t just besting those formats in the physical realm. It’s proving it can outdo them in the age of digital and mobile, too. Digital controls can be printed directly onto the surface of the packaging, via simple conductive technology, then interface with machines over wireless connections. DJ Qbert went to fans early last year to crowd-fund the release of EXTRATERRESTRIA – to the tune of six-figures. The project was all-ecompassing: “preorder” funders would put …

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deft

No Excuses: Watch Deft Make a Track in FL Studio in Ten Minutes

“But I don’t have enough time.” So, get a camera crew from FACT to loom behind you and watch while you produce, all with a clever ten-minute clock ticking away for their series Against The Clock. Actually, no. Two problems. One, the pressure might make you completely freeze up. Two, yes, you might not have FACT around. But you could imagine a timer. Deft, the aptly-named Croydon, UK artist whose work ranges from cinematic and ambient straight through to footwork, here goes a bit modern drum and bass in a perfectly passable track that he assembles under the clock. Got …

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Angry Bees! Swarms and Flocks of Sound in a New iPad Synth

Now, your iPad can go from sweet-sounding pads to hordes of angry bees and back again, all by modeling physical behaviors of flocking. It’s called the Photophore, and it’s a “flock synthesis” instrument. You may have seen synths that produce lush sounds by combining oscillators – the eight-oscillator Swarmatron springs to mind. Well, this synth puts the “swarm” in “Swarmatron.” With up to one hundred oscillators per patch, it uses physical modeling to transform sound by simulating flocking behaviors. I’ve seen experiments that have done things like this with flocking algorithms and particle systems, but this must be the first …

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ROLI, Makers of Seaboard Instrument, Just Bought The Leading C++ Audio Framework

Here’s some important news that might impact you – even though you may never have heard of either the instrument maker or know anything about code libraries. Bear with us. But an experimental instrument builder and design shop just acquired the most popular framework used by audio developers, a set of free and open source gems. The film explaining the announcement: First, there’s ROLI. Now, to most of us in the music world, ROLI are the Dalston, London firm that make an alternative keyboard called the Seaboard – a sort of newer cousin to the Haken Continuum Fingerboard that uses …

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Life is short. We're going to die. Listen to good music. (CC-BY-SA) David Dennis.

For Allhallowtide, Here Are Hours of Brilliant Underground Music to Make You Feel Undead

Happy Hallowe’en, and the entry in the northern hemisphere into short days and long, dark nights – perfect for getting lost in music listening and music making. That means it’s time to start queueing sounds to pass the time, and as it happens the CDM inbox has a selection just arriving. These are mixes unafraid of shadows and adventurous sound, and — well, the best is to let you listen. Leave the cheesy horror Theremin to someone else, and let’s enjoy something that is truly and deliciously evil in music. Lower Order Ethics, aka Szilvia Lednitzky, can send chills up …

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Beyond Traditional Instruments, a Status Report from the SoundLab

There’s nothing more personal than creative expression. And so experimenting with how you make music is more than just novelty: it’s a way to understand the fundamentals of how we relate to machines. And thinking outside the normal avenues means the ability to reach new people, as SoundLab is doing with audiences with learning disabilities. Ashley Elsdon joins us to give us the latest of how the project is going. A little while ago, CDM kindly posted a piece on our SoundLab project, which aims to help people with learning disabilities make music and collaborate in music creation. That was …

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Bugs Make Music, Lured by Light, in Music and Art Project

That’s not a bug; it’s a feature. Wayward insects become the source of eerie, ambient music in a new work by British-born, Baix Penedes (Spain)-based artist Dickon Stone. Each insect lured by the glow of his light-up sculpture in turn triggers musical elements. Over the course of five years, he’s shaped that process into a strangely-lovely, otherworldly soundscape and formed a two-track EP, which you can preview here. (Five years, huh? Well, that’s proof that even with swarms of insects helping you shape the music, you can wind up obsessing over finishing. But the results are worth it!) Dickon sends …

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Finally, Connect a USB Hub and Audio in One Gadget, on Laptop or iPad

File this directly under “why has no one done this properly before?” One of the few remaining annoyances in computer music making is just getting connected. First, you need an audio interface to get proper sound and headphone cueing. Then, you’ve got all this great gear for control – but where to put it? Macs and even many new PCs have few USB ports (especially ultrathin notebooks like the MacBook Air). Yes, it’s about time someone combined a practical audio interface with a USB hub. Focusrite/Novation seem to be the right folks for the job. Focusrite’s audio interfaces are some …

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