Percussa want you to make modular music with cubes, blank knobs

Modular synthesis is everywhere – but there aren’t a lot of new ideas apart from using patch cables to connect them, a concept that dates from the early 1960s and telephone switchboards. Percussa are an outlier – an odd one, to be sure. Their blank, RGB light-up cubes (“AudioCubes”) connect wirelessly, and control associated software. To their credit, while plenty of “tangible” interfaces made the rounds as experiments and research projects, they went as far as commercializing the product. And that’s no mean feat. Anyone with some basic engineering knowledge can snap something into a Eurorack case and be part …


Rent-to-own Serum means Kanye doesn’t have to pirate it

Somewhere – tonight, even – some unknown producer is going to make some brilliant new track using software. (Seriously, this is the world we live in.) And when they do, odds are they might well turn to a popular synth like breakout-hit Serum. The problem is this: someone getting started in producing is probably unwilling or unable to shell out US$189 for a single software instrument. So that individual is likely to pirate the software.


PPG Phonem, now on iPad, synthesizes sound like the voice

One of the things that makes the synthesizer beautiful is that, in some ways, it’s an extension of the voice. From the synthesizer’s early history, entangled with the Theremin and vocoder, to crossovers with vocal synthesis and artificial song, synthesis gives us another means to sing. So PPG Phonem is a lovely addition to that history. Creator Wolfgang Palm has made this a labor of love of late, and he’s on a roll with new synths for computer and iOS. The inventer of wavetable synthesis as we know it and founder/owner of PPG, he’s got the resumé, for sure. You …


Inside, Limbo game follow-up, music by SØS Gunver Ryberg

For lovers of shadows, dark dimensions spent wandering other states of being, and unrelenting rhythms, Danish composer/musician SØS Gunver Ryberg produces wonderlands. And that makes her music a perfect match for the game weavers of Playdead. Their follow-up to spine-chillingly creepy-good Limbo is this summer’s Inside. It does what’s so hard to do for this kind of title: it loses none of the elegance of the minimal original, while expanding in scope and maturity. And then there’s that score / sound design, made in collaboration with game maker Martin Stig Andersen.


Isadora 2.5, new chapter for creativity server, 3D shaders

In the landscape of live visual tools, Isadora is something special. Despite being known mostly in certain circles – its name itself is a nod to the world of dance (Isadora Duncan) – it’s uniquely adept in those worlds. When it comes to mixing live visuals and interactivity with modern dance and theater, for instance, Isadora (now on both Mac and Windows) is essential. Why Isadora I always had special admiration for Isadora, and its creator, Mark Coniglio. In fact, his was one of the first computer performance tools I ever saw – his original project, called Interactor. I was …


Form is an all-new hybrid sample synthesizer

Native Instruments has been a pioneer in making tools like Reaktor that employ unique synthesis techniques. But more recently, that power has found its way to self-contained instruments. Tucked into the release announcement of Komplete 11 comes some very big news for lovers of creative sound design and synthesis. It’s a new instrument called Form. It’s powered by Reaktor, but it’s been built from the ground up, according to NI. And it lets you drag and drop sounds to manipulate them into playable instruments.


Komplete 11 has all the latest NI goodies, and a new synth

It’s that time of year again – time for a new update to Komplete, the suite of software from Native Instruments. But Komplete 11 is a bit special, in that powerful Reaktor-powered additions meet some especially nice tools for producers.


Ableton Live 9.7 in beta, with slicing and beatmaking news

Ableton Live 9.7 is right now in public beta – just days after the latest 9.6 release went final. Most of the functionality announced so far is related to Push and beat making; 9.7 brings features that let you play, record, and slice more easily from Ableton’s hardware. But that shouldn’t mean you should despair if you’re not a Push user; as with each Push release so far, there are parallel improvements in the software itself.


Learn what’s new in Reason 9 in these videos

Reason has cooly, quietly evolved into the thing it said it wasn’t – namely, a DAW. (Okay, we won’t call it that – let’s just say it’s one tool that lets you do all your production for a wider audience.) And it’s done it in a way that retains its Reason character. And that’s given it a uniquely dedicated core audience. How dedicated? Well, dedicated enough that they shoot their own videos showing you what’s new. And actually, the best video series demonstrating what’s changed in Reason 9 didn’t come from Propellerhead at all. Instead, it comes from YouTube user …


Watch ten hours of Reason 9 presets, played on a road trip

Included sounds: if you care about them, you probably care about them a lot. Now, to some of us, sound design is an essential part of the pleasure of music making. Give us an INIT preset and let us muddle our way to making something work – even badly. But then there are people who don’t enjoy that, or simply don’t have the luxury. (You do not want to fall down a sound programming rabbit hole when you’ve got a TV score deadline looming on the clock.) And so the folks who make music software routinely focus on lots of …