Ableton Operator Review Roundup

Ableton Live 5 doesn’t ship with any new instruments; it’s limited to slightly-upgraded versions of its bare-bones sampler and drum machine, Simpler and Impulse. Both of those are great fun to use, but people longing for a deeper, playable instrument with an Ableton interface would want to consider Operator, Ableton’s a la carte synth. So […]

More Free Operator Sounds: Covert Operators 3

Seems I slept through this, but the good folks on the Ableton forum have come up with still more great patches for Ableton’s Operator synth. The good news: it sounds like these patches will work with Live 5. The better news: Live 5’s device chaining capabilities will bring cooler, wetter effects, silencing critics of Operator […]

Coverage Resumes Monday; Live 5 Coverage Soon

I’m now packing up the remainders of CDM HQ here on Duke Ellington Boulevard and carting them downtown to Manhattan’s Financial District. That’s just down the street the new North American headquarters of Ableton, I might add . . . and I expect to see a beta of Live 5 some time soon. Also, watch […]

DIY Ribbon Controller

Let’s hear it for the ribbon controller. If you’ve never seen one, ribbon controllers are touch-sensitive strips that let you control pitch continuously (i.e., not fixed to the pitches of a keyboard). The original Martenot instrument of the 1920s had an early ribbon controller, but rocker Keith Emerson probably gets the most credit for popularizing […]

How to Use a Moog Modular

Ah, patch cords. Routing is made real when you have to physically plug one sound module into another to do anything, telephone operator-style, as on vintage modular systems from Moog and Buchla. I was never a virtuoso with cords, kept running out of the things, forgetting what was plugged into what, and could never even […]

Gear Porn: Mac-Centered Studios on osxaudio

We’ve been watching studios for the past months (do a quick search for ‘studios’ on CDM and you’ll see what I mean), from dream DJ rigs to pro post as built by Peter Jackson. But I’m still impressed by the growing thread on the forum, complete with pics and specs. My favorite is the […]

Gear Porn: “Spinal Rape” Makes Gear Music Video Star

Eric Barbour (editor of Vacuum Tube Valley and owner of vacuum-tube music maker metasonix), has sent us a music video that looks like “Home Studio: The Movie.” It’s called “Spinal Rape.” (Nice name — let me try to picture that.) Heavy metal? Home computer audio studio? Why, who would ever think the two would be […]

Steam Driven: Computers and Steam Engines Performing Music

What happens when engineers and laptop musicians collaborate, brought together by love for a 16-ton steam engine? Something like Steam Driven, a site-specific music performance at the Brighton Fringe Festival last month. Laptop Jams, the laptop performance collective we’ve covered previously on CDM (see story on European laptop performing), got together with the British Engineerium, […]

MPC and Drum Machine Pioneer Roger Linn on Podcast

Behold the instrument-designing prowess of Roger Linn. You can check out his resume at the museum page of his site, but to make a long story short, it ranges from ground-breaking sampled drum machines to the legendary MPC sampler series from Akai. Without Roger, hip-hop as we know it would probably never have happened. Fortunately, […]

Steam Driven: Details of Coal-Powered Laptop Music

Here’s more on Steam Driven, the interactive performance that mixed music and steam-powered machines, from composer Stuart Smith. Stuart writes: The show went well and also sold-out. A nice piece of theater as every visitor had to manually stoke the fire with a chunk of coal, thus waiting for enough “steam” pressure to begin the […]