Watch KORG Gadget on Nintendo Switch prove music can be multiplayer fun, too

In many, many languages, the word for “playing” music is the same as “playing” a game. So it’s fitting KORG has invaded the Nintendo Switch console with music-making – and that you can share with friends.

The translation of KORG Gadget to Nintendo’s Switch handheld is mostly novelty and fun convenience – you’re probably still going to find the iPad version easier to use solo. But where the Switch stands out is some of its multiplayer, collaborative twists. Since on key feature of the Switch (though not Switch Lite) is TV output, you can jam on a large screen or projection image. It’s the old gaming split-screen mode, like in Mario Kart and (back in the day) Goldeneye. Combine that with the “this is just for fun” feeling you get from holding a game console, and you get something you probably wouldn’t get quite so easily with other platforms. This is literally something you might bust out at a party.

The team at online tool Splice decided to give the mode a workout, and produced a video and short blog piece sharing their experiences:

Now, of course, instruments, bands, choirs – all of these provide the same social experience. And none of those things is going away, either, judging by the ongoing market for sheet music, acoustic instruments, accessories, education, and conferences in those fields (really, look it up). So maybe it’s not about production replacing traditional music. Maybe it’s more that we have this new form of musical activity – electronic production – and so far, we haven’t had a good way to share it.

Ever tried to work with a friend in something like Ableton Live? You can easily jam together by adding extra synth gear or drum machines. But using the actual tool Live often means “fighting” over the controls, because both the mouse/keyboard interface and things like Ableton Push tend to assume a single user. (Push will even regularly override other controllers and inputs, but I digress – this isn’t just a Live problem, but a limitation with the computer/user metaphor generally.)

So it seems like a small thing, but even this crude setup shows how you might think about this differently.

More from KORG on Gadget as used for educational purposes, and demonstrating its multiplayer features. (By the way, I was consulted, via New York’s Dubspot, with Rockstar Games on how to make a handheld gaming platform work in music education. The idea has been floating around – but today’s Switch is far better as a choice than the then-current Sony PSP Rockstar was using – sorry, Sony.)

English subtitled, go further into that classroom. I will just assume that in Japan it’s normal for all music teachers to wear lab coats.

Oh, and – another thing. Gaming in general offers an alternative paradigm for how we think about widespread access to music creation, and difficulty level. Not to harp endlessly on Amazon this week, but part of why I was triggered by their keynote was how tired the “everyone can make music without any skill or effort” refrain was.

Gaming has had to tackle this perception, too. But consistently, actual gamers ask for experiences that last. That might be a so-called “casual” game that still sucks up time and ramps up difficulty, or it might be punishing “hard-core” games. But one thing gamers have generally resisted is games that play themselves – which is why the “AI makes music for you” model is so screwed up. (The exception perhaps proves the rule – some mobile games now leverage the data on your usage to essentially squeeze money out of you, leaving the user doing little. Most everyone hates this, and even Apple and Google have had to intervene by changing the underlying business model.)

So back to multiplayer music – Korg GADGET doesn’t take out any of the fundamental work of music production in any other tool. What’s fun about it is making mistakes, screwing up together with other people. And even though theoretically someday this could work online, you can also see in the video that there’s something invaluable about being in the same room together with friends.

I personally think as music production does reach further and further around the world, it’s less and less likely you’ll need to connect online just to find someone else. But of course online multiplayer is there, too, when you want it – still with the large-scale visual feedback of splitscreen. It’s also not hard to imagine that soon the Twitch video streaming phenomenon will grow bigger in music, with some early first indications of crossover already.

Just look for installed base. The iPad is the assumed go-to for this sort of idea, and has its own jam-friendly Ableton Link protocol for just this use case. But iOS has limitations of its own, and it’s clear there are some different ideas possible even where you wouldn’t expect it, on Nintendo Switch.

I think there’s a lesson here for being creative with computing platforms, or even offering devices with video out – people do still own TVs and projectors.

Alternatively, print out this story, stick it in a file folder with your taxes, and tell your accountant that yes, you do need to deduct the cost of a Nintendo Switch. You’ve got just a few shopping days left until the end of the year if you want that to get taken off your tax bill for 2018.

You’re welcome. (Oh, you might want to redact this last bit. Guten Morgen, Finanzamt!)

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Reaper 6 is here – and even more the everyday, budget DAW to beat

It’s got a $60 license for nearly everyone, you can evaluate it for free, and now Reaper – yet again – adds a ton of well-implemented power features. Reaper 6 is the newest edition of this exceptionally capable DAW.

New in this release:

Use effects plug-ins right from the tracks/mixer view. So, some DAWs already have something like a little EQ that you can see in the channel strip visually, or maybe a simple compressor. Reaper has gone further, with small versions of the UI for a bunch of popular plug-ins you can embed wherever you want. That means less jumping in and out of windows while you patch.

You get EQ, filtering, compressor, and more. (ReaEQ, ReaFIR, ReaXcomp, graphical JSFX, etc.)

Powerful routing/patching. The Routing Diagram feature gives you an overview of how audio signal is routed throughout the environment, which makes sends and effects and busing and sidechaining and so on visual. It’s like having a graphical patchbay for audio right inside the DAW. (Or it’s like the ghost of the Logic Pro Environment came back and this time, average people actually wanted to use it. )

Auto-stretch audio. Now, various DAWs have attempted this – you want sound to automatically stretch and conform as you adjust tempo or make complex tempo changes. That’s useful for film scoring, for creative purposes, and just because, well, you want things to work that way. Now Reaper’s developers say they’ve made it easy to do this with tempo-mapped and live-recorded materials (Auto-stretch Timebase). This is one we’ll have to test.

Make real envelopes for MIDI. You can draw continuous shapes for your MIDI control adjustments, complete with curve adjustment. That’s a bit like what you get in Ableton Live’s clip envelopes, as well as other DAWs. But it’s a welcome addition to Reaper, which increasingly starts to share the depth of other older DAWs, without the same UI complexity (cough).

It works with high-density displays on Mac and PC. That’s Retina on Mac and the awkwardly-named HiDPI on PC. But the basic idea is, you can natively scale the default theme to 100%, 150%, and 250% on new high-def displays without squinting. Speaking of which

There’s a new tweakable theme. The new theme is set up to be customizable with Tweaker script.

Big projects and displays work better. The developers say they’ve “vastly” optimized 200+ track-count projects. On the Mac, you also get faster screen drawing with support for Apple’s Metal API. (Yeah, everyone griped about that being Mac-only and proprietary, but it seems savvy developers are just writing for it and liking it. I’m honestly unsure what the exact performance implications are of doing the same thing on Windows, though on the other hand I’m happy with how Reaper performs everywhere.)

And more. ” Dynamic Split improvements; import and render media with embedded transient information; per-track positive or negative playback offset; faster and higher quality samplerate conversion; and many other fixes and improvements.”

Honestly, I’m already won over by some of these changes, and I had been shifting conventional DAW editing work to Reaper as it was. (That is, sure, Ableton Live and Bitwig Studio and Reason and whatever else are fun for production, but sometimes you want a single DAW for editing and mixdown that is none of those others.)

Where Reaper stands out is its extraordinary budget price and its no-nonsense, dead-simple UI – when you really don’t want the DAW to be too creative, because you want to get to work. It does that, but still has the depth of functionality and customization that means you feel you’re unlikely to outgrow it. That’s not a knock on other excellent DAW choices, but those developers should seriously consider Reaper as real competition. Ask some users out there, and you’ll hear this name a lot.

Now if they just finish that “experimental” native Linux build, they’ll really win some nerd hearts.

https://www.reaper.fm

Those of you who are deeper into the tool, do let us know if you’ve got some tips to share.

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Amazon’s AWS DeepComposer is peak not-not-knowing-what-AI-is-for

AI can be cool. AI can be strange. AI can be promising, or frightening. Here’s AI at totally uncool and not frightening at all – bundled with a crappy MIDI keyboard, for … some … reason.

Okay, so TL:DR – Amazon published some kinda me-too algorithms for music generation that were what we’ve seen for years from Google, Sony, Microsoft, and hundreds of data scientists, bundled a crap MIDI keyboard for $99, and it’s the future! AI! I mean, it definitely doesn’t just sound like a 90s General MIDI keyboard with some bad MIDI patterns.” “The machine has the power of literally all of music composition ever. Now anyone can make musiER:Jfds;kjsfj l; jks

Oops, sorry, I might have briefly started banging my head against my computer keyboard. I’m back.

This is worth talking about because machine learning does have potential – and this neither represents that potential nor accurately represents what machine learning even is.

Game changer.

If at this point you’re unsure what AI is, how you should feel about it, or even if you should care – don’t worry, you’re seriously not alone. “AI” is now largely shorthand for “machine learning.” And that, in turn, now most often refers to a very specific set of techniques currently in vogue that can analyze data and generate predictions by deriving patterns from that data, and not by using rules. That’s a big deal in music, because traditionally both computer models and even paper models of theory have used rules more than they have a probability. You can think of AI in music as related to a dice role – a very, very well-informed, data-driven, weighted dice role – and less like a theory manual or a robotic composer or whatever people have in mind.

Wait a minute – that doesn’t sound like AI at all. Ah, yes. About that.

So, what I’ve just described counts as AI to data scientists, even though it isn’t really related very much to AI in science fiction and popular understanding. The problem is, clarifying that distinction is hard, whereas exploiting that misunderstanding is lucrative. Misrepresenting it makes the tech sound more advanced than arguably it really is, which could be useful if you’re in the business of selling that tech. Ruh-roh.

With that in mind, what Amazon just did is either very dangerous or – weirdly, actually, very useful, because it’s such total, obvious bulls*** that it hopefully makes clear to even laypeople that what they claim they’re doing isn’t what they’re demonstrating. So we get post-curtain-reveal Oz – here, in the form of Amazon AI chief Dr. Matt Wood, pulling off a bad clone of Steve Jobs (even black-and-denim, of course).

Dr. Matt Wood does really have a doctorate in bioinformatics, says LinkedIn. He knows his stuff. That makes this even more maddening.

Let’s imagine his original research, which was predicting protein structures. You know what most of us wouldn’t do? Presumably, we wouldn’t stand in front of a packed auditorium and pretend to understand protein structures, if we aren’t a microbiologist. And we certainly wouldn’t go on to claim predicting protein structures meant we could create life, and also, we’re God now.

But that is essentially what this is, with music – and it is exceedingly weird, from the moment Amazon’s VP of AI is introduced by… I want to say a voiceover by a cowboy?

Summary of his talk: AI can navigate moon rovers and fix teeth. So therefore, it should replace composers – right? (I can do long division in my head. Ergo, next I will try time travel.) We need a product, so give us a hundred bucks, and we’ll give you a developer kit that has a MIDI keyboard and that’s the future of music. We’ll also claim this is an industry first, because we bundled a MIDI keyboard.

At 7 minutes, 57 seconds, Dr. Wood murders Beethoven’s ghost, followed by at 8:30 by sort of bad machine learning example augmented with GarageBand visuals and some floating particles that I guess are the neural net “thinking”?

Then you get Jonathan Coulton (why, JoCo, why?) attempting to sing over something that sounds like a stuck-MIDI-note Band-in-a-Box that just crashed.

Even by AI tech demo standards, it’s this:

Deeper question: I’m not totally certain what has earned us in music the expectation from the rest of society that, not only is what we do already not worth paying for, but everyone should be able to do it, without expending any effort. I don’t have this expectation of neuroscience or basketball, for instance.

But this isn’t even about that. This doesn’t even hold up to student AI examples from three years ago.

It’s “the world’s first” because they give you a MIDI keyboard. But great news – we can beat them. The AWS DeepComposer isn’t shipping yet, so you can actually be the world’s first right now – just grab a USB cable, a MIDI keyboard, connect to one of a half-dozen tools that do the same thing, and you’re done. I’ll give you an extra five minutes to map the MIDI keys.

Or just skip the AI, plug in a MIDI keyboard, and let your cat walk over it.

Translating the specs then:

  1. A s***ty MIDI keyboard with some buttons on it, and no “AI.”
  2. Some machine learning software, with pre-trained generative models for “rock, pop, jazz, and classical.” (aka, and saying this as a white person with a musicology background, “white, white, black-but-white people version, really old white.”)
  3. “Share your creations by publishing your tracks to SoundCloud in just a few clicks from the AWS DeepComposer console.”*

Technically *1 has been available in some form since the mid-80s and *3 is true of any music software connected to the Internet, but … *2, AI! (Please, please say I’m wrong and there’s custom silicon in there for training. Something. Anything to make this make any sense at all.)

I would love to hear I’m wrong and there’s some specialized machine learning silicon embedded in the keyboard but… uh, guessing that’s a no.

Watch the trainwreck now, soon to join the annals of “terrible ideas in tech” history with Microsoft Bob and Google Glass:

https://aws.amazon.com/deepcomposer/

By the way, don’t forget that AWS is being actively targeted right now by the music community with a boycott. Maybe they were hoping for a Springtime for Hitler-style turn-around, like if this is bad enough, we’d love them again? Dunno.

Anyway, if you do want to try this “AI” stuff out – and it can really be interesting – here is a far more comprehensive and musically interesting set of tools from rival Google:

https://magenta.tensorflow.org

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming of anything but this.

AI: I am the button.

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Free: get some groovy black-and-white pattern animations for VJ apps

Want to set the mood at your next jam? Learning VJ tools and experimenting with live visuals? Going deeper with shader coding? These free black-and-white animations will get you started.

Monochrome – ISF VJ plugins (OSX/Win)

ShaderToy, which I also wrote about yesterday, is a free community site for exchanging shader code. That GLSL code requires some wrapper around it to use in visual tools. Enter the cross-platform ISF (Interactive Shader Format), which makes portability a bit easier in VJ apps like VDMX and MadMapper.

This selection began its life as some of the nicer examples on Shadertoy, then got ported for easier use.

There’s even a converter so you can try the same thing:

https://magicmusicvisuals.com/utils/shadertoy_to_isf.php

There’s just one catch – the Shadertoy code isn’t cleared for commercial use. And Creative Commons’ definition of “commercial” is so broad, almost any use where you’re earning money probably qualifies. Still, that leaves unpaid (cough) VJ gigs as well as gatherings and jam sessions and experimentation.

Or better yet, once you’ve exercised these tools a bit, you can have a look at the actual code in ISF format or on Shadertoy in GLSL (the GPU standard), and help learn how to write your own original creations. You probably don’t want to show up at the paid gig with effects everyone else is using, anyway.

In the meantime – let’s party in black and white.

In case you missed it, the Shadertoy Cybertruck I wrote about yesterday got posted in minutes, thanks to David from Vidvox:

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A fresh electronic sound for the Netherlands, and urgent work to fight racism

In the Netherlands, electronic music isn’t just a sound, but a rallying cry. And you can answer that call from all around the world.

Racial discrimination can make people feel like outsiders in their own home, and can stand in the way of displaced people trying to make a new home. This time of year in the Netherlands and Belgium, that reality is as stark as ever, in a country that still celebrates Christmas with blackface and racial caricatures. (See reporting on Zwarte Piet from just last week, if you’re not already familiar with the phenomenon.)

Here’s where music comes in – it’s an expressive response, an organizing tool, a way of bringing people in to learning more and interacting on the issues, and can even support people working to create solutions on the ground. Music can have a role even without being explicitly containing a political text – the musical album around this effort is just a fantastic compilation.

And that seems to open the door not only to directly support our friends and colleagues in Amsterdam here, but also to see a model for music making a tangible difference. Okay, so before moving on, let’s get a soundtrack:

This story starts with that compilation – place: the netherlands is the latest in a series from New York’s Air Texture label, pairing musical compilations with local social causes. The Dutch edition is the work of Axmed Maxamed, self-described “queer diasporic Somali activist, organizer, and music nerd,” and DJ and radio host Jasmin Hoek (“Jasmín”), host of shows on Utrecht’s Stranded FM and Red Light Radio in Amsterdam.

The music already tells some story, but where this goes further is that the music is becoming a jumping-off point to activism. That means tackling twin issues – dealing with the worst aspects of Dutch immigration for its most vulnerable entrants, right as the country ramps up a tradition that mocks people for their skin color.

Axmed and Jasmin talk to CDM about what that means.

Axmed, Teddy, Jasmin – photo by Teddy Lyon, center, co-founder of Open Closet LGBT Netherlands.

CDM: Since this is a club music response – apart from the compilation and this activism, is there interaction now between the club scene and some inbound refugees? Is there a way that there could be more space in the club environment for that interaction?

Axmed/Jasmin: It’s important not to only welcome refugees, but go the extra mile to make sure they feel comfortable being in the space and to have people available at the club who they can approach if necessary. In addition to that, it’s important to make spaces available for refugees or people from other marginalized communities to host their own events. 

Zwarte Piet is a literal face of racism in the NL, and maybe one that’s tough for outsiders to come to terms with, too. What would you want people from the international community to know? What can we do to respond?

Axmed: The Netherlands and Belgium are inherently racist countries, and during this period – which goes on for about two months – it really comes to the surface. It is important to amplify the voices of people who are fighting this racist anti-black tradition called Sinterklaas. Ask your white Dutch and Belgian friends what they are doing to speak up against this racist tradition, especially those that have a platform, whether they be a DJ, label, venue, promoter, etc. Even in a city like Amsterdam, there are still a lot of stores decorated with racist imagery, so it is on white people living in the Netherlands who say that they care about change, to talk to shop owners. White people in the Netherlands and Belgium chose to make this into racist tradition in 1850, so it is now their responsibility to get rid of it. As a Black person, I do not want to be confronted with it anymore. 

Reforming how immigration works could build better and fairer societies; refugees occupy this especially difficult situation where they’re unable to work because of how the law is set up. Is there a way for us in creative industries to find some solutions there and work together? Definitely, reach out to initiatives such as Open Closet [ Open Closet LGBT Netherlands] that are for and by newcomers and set something up together with them, such as workshops, parties, dinners, and so on. Offer structural support and involvement within the work you’re doing, not something that’s just one-off. 

Ed.: This is obviously a deeper issue than we can cover here, as the situations vary country to country and have different organizations for responding, but – now with this out there, I hope we’ll hear from some of those specifics from our international audience.

Check DutchAfro’s music – she’s making amazing noises from deep in the Dutch underground. You heard her here first.

What’s next; what you can do

The easiest thing for readers of this site to do is to go buy the compilation, which supports active work on helping LGBTQIA+ refugees navigate a hostile immigration system – and gets you some great music, too:

https://musicandactivism.bandcamp.com/album/place-the-netherlands?

For the minority of readers in the Netherlands, there’s a launch party running daytime to nighttime on December 21. (Hey, maybe you lucked out and even have a transfer at Schiphol then.)

https://web.facebook.com/events/1885211238290392/

That event is itself a compelling model. Of course, local contributing artists play (Accuraat, Blusher, Cuboid Kiss, Dim Garden, DJ Bone, DutchAfro, Jarlentji, Loradeniz, Global Mind Surveillance, Pasiphae, Raj, Ranie Ribeiro, Rural Juror, and Zohar). But there’s also discourse, film, and food – a chance for interested music lovers to better understand the issues and get involved.

You can attend virtually and lend more support by buying a ticket:

https://thegreyspace.stager.nl/web/tickets/380668

For any criticism of club culture simply criticizing from the sidelines in a filter bubble/echo chamber, here are people getting out and doing something concrete, making a difference in the lives of refugees.

What these challenges can mean: essential reading

Axmed is a great example of how someone can be both a figure in the music scene and in activism, simultaneously. That energy he shares in bringing people together in nightlife he has channeled into rallying people behind making an impact on the larger community. A refugee of the Somali civil war at a young age, he says he’s now connecting with LGBTQIA+ refugees as he works in that community as they go through the asylum procedure.

As with so many people working on immigration worldwide, though, his stories about the system can be infuriating and heartbreaking. As he tells Glamcult:

In my work as an interpreter and translator, I have first-hand knowledge of how refugees in general are treated in the Netherlands, which is mostly from a starting point of not believing refugees. And in addition to that, LGBTQIA+ refugees have a specific burden of proof—together with having to prove that they are from their home country, they also have to prove their sexual and/or gender identity to the interviewer from the IND (Immigration Office). This process has been criticized as being too invasive and lacking important sensitivities needed to ask such personal and sometimes traumatizing questions. 

Yeah, you read that right – for anyone who has dealt with immigration, imagine having to prove who you are sexually or what your gender is. (Heck, it’s unpleasant enough doing that outside an immigration process.) More on this topic:

So much for Dutch tolerance: life as an LGBT asylum seeker in the Netherlands

By connecting with Open Closet, the music scene here supports volunteers dealing with that, but also a great deal more:

Open Closet not only ensures that incoming LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers are properly registered, but also provides help with food, support towards the procedures required, counseling and a family where everybody is welcome. They provide a place to come together and cover for traveling costs if needed. By organising meetings regularly, they create a sense of community and belonging for queer asylum seekers in the Netherlands. Open Closet also ensures that asylum seekers are properly informed of their rights and options.

Axmed Maxamed to Glamcult

This isn’t just another compilation to raise awareness – by connecting to an in-person event, Axmed and Jasmin are also bringing more people in to engage with the organization itself.

But clubland does network people. In the same Glamcult piece, there’s also a checklist for how clubs (and clubgoers) could better include refugees in our community. You should read the whole piece, but here’s a summary of what Axmed advises, for quick reference (to paste on your wall or whatever you like):

  1. Hire and empower the people affected to make decisions about dealing with unsafe spaces and exclusion.
  2. Have an awareness team people can go to directly.
  3. Make gathering spaces outside of clubs, too.

See the full story:

Music is an art built around listening. So we can use that power to listen to queer activists and – well, electronic music is all about amplification, so we can make that sound louder. For a place to start, Axmed keeps a running list of links of great reading:

linktr.ee/axmed

By the way, to look beyond the Netherlands – artists like Meklit are bringing together activism and music practice, both on immigration and even water issues (with some data sonification thrown in so – some of your CDM reader bingo cards just got filled). Meklit has also worked with the excellent Bay Area activist group Women’s Audio Mission.

And just in the past few days, artists have pulled music from Amazon to protest that company’s work with discriminatory US immigration practices.

Local efforts in your area? Questions? We would love to hear them.

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Elon Musk’s Cybertruck is already rendered in Shadertoy 3D code

The Tesla Cybertruck unveiled last week already looks like some low-polygon-count 3D model. So of course it’s already some (free) shader code.

For those of you not in the know on the visual side, Shadertoy is a marvelous repository of community-shared shader code. Shaders are snippets of program language built specifically for the graphics subsystem on your computer. Nowadays, that’s of interest not only to gamers and 3D artists, but live visual performance, too – tools like Isadora have built-in support for Shadertoy specifically. You can even run inside Ableton Live, via Max for Live.

This particular Shadertoy gives you the requisite disco lighting and that suddenly-iconic, weird geometric form of a truck. (Thank designer Franz von Holzhausen, apparently.)

Mute your sound before you have a look at this link, though; there’s a blasting cyber-tune that plays automatically.

https://www.shadertoy.com/view/wdGXzK

Previous refresher:

Now go make the music video of your dreams, obviously.

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Today only, get Waves’ Bezerk Distortion plug-in for free

Waves Audio are giving away a unique multi-functional distortion plug-in, normally $99. I’m even jumping on this – it’s a Black Friday deal even for those celebrating Buy Nothing Day.

Some of us never really can get too much distortion, and this one looks excellent. There are ten distortion shapes, feedback, pitch, dynamics, and built-in options for sidechain and Mid/Side modes. And then there’s a randomizer/chaos button, cleverly labeled “Go Bezerk!”

This is really a bunch of distortion modules crammed into one – Waves says they modeled everything from amps to stompboxes to vintage tubes and analog circuits, to create custom waveshapes for their favorite distortion curves. All of this is then built around those distortion curves – even that “Bezerk” button.

There are a ton of precise controls to explore here, including feedback with self-oscillation and other goodies (including pitch/speed controls). Think for instance custom EQ, a dedicated Dynamics section, and even a gate/expander. The M/S processing lets you apply different degrees of distortion to mid and side portions of your signal.

You just enter your email address and that nets you the download. I just did it myself. More details:

https://www.waves.com/lpn/black-friday-2019/free-plugin

Free today only (Black Friday, November 29).

Why are we celebrating Black Friday? Well, for Steel y Dan, obviously.

Feel free to send me the industrial techno / noise music you make with this plug-in. I guess I know what my plan is for the evening.

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Stock up on underground electronic music and techno for a Bandcamp Black Friday

Black Friday may conjure images of people stampeding at a Wal-Mart – but it’s also turned into a boon for independent labels on Bandcamp. Use these codes to boost your collection and support artists.

This started as part of this year’s Black Friday sale round-up, but it’s growing, so let’s keep a running tally.

So far we have a ton of great underground techno labels – left-field and different-but-danceable goodness. But I’d like to add some more experimental additions, if you’ve got them.

I can meanwhile endorse all these labels; they’re putting out terrific stuff.

Oslated
Seoul, South Korea
70% off: blackfriday

Total Black
Berlin, Germany
70% off: blackfriday

Semantica Records
Madrid, Spain
30% off: blackfriday2019 

Florian Meindl
Berlin, Germany
Full discography for 9EUR (instant discount)

Mord
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
15% off: blackfriday

MANHIGH Recordings [Henning Baer’s label]
Berlin, Germany
50% off: blackfriday19

OMEN Recordings
Los Angeles, California
50% off: OMENTHX50

Archivio 01
Italy
50% off: BLACKFRIDAY

Voitax
Berlin, Germany
35% off: voibf2019

Newrhythmic records
León, Spain
30% :blackfriday2019

Wunderblock Records
Moscow, Russia
50% off: blackfriday

Establishment
Berlin, Germany
70 off: wearblack

Opal Tapes
Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
20% off: OFF

The Lab Records
Bucharest, Romania
80% off: BLACKMONTH

Plus, not Black Friday sales, but worth mentioning:

Amsterdam’s wonderful Moving Furniture Records has a crowdfunding sale – which also happens to be a great way to get some lovely physical stuff. (That’s the one non-Bandcamp link here, but they’re also a Bandcamp label!)

place : the netherlands is an absolutely killer compilation, benefiting Open Closet LGBT Netherlands and their work on behalf of queer asylum seekers.

Ovum has released a 25-year anniversary compilation with 25 essential tracks. Pay whatever you like, and you benefit ” Philly Pops – an EITC-Certified Program that enhances music education for approximately 2,500 students in the School District of Philadelphia by embedding Philly POPS Teaching Artists in schools to coach and mentor students.”:

There’s also a two-part compilation for people who lost their vision during the recent riots in Chile – hope to follow up more on this soon:

https://chilenoestaenguerra.bandcamp.com/album/chile-no-est-en-guerra-v-1https://chilenoestaenguerra.bandcamp.com/album/chile-no-est-en-guerra-v-2

Thanks to Chris Kronfeld on the Bandcamp Techno Facebook group for a lot of these tips!

Feature image (CC-BY-SA) Andrew Smith.

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Here are the best Black Friday deals for electronic musicians

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Black Week – with so many to choose from, here are our favorite tech deals for music makers.

Got a deal?

Found a deal you want to share with other folks? Offering a deal yourself (as a developer, manufacturer, record label, whatever)? Tell us about it here:

CDM Turkey Tracker submissions

Our offers

Well, first from us – deals on the synth hardware and record label side projects of CDM!

MeeBlip geode synthesizers are $129 plus free shipping, anywhere. Through Monday.

MeeBlip thru5 kits are $9.99 (50% off!) – while supplies last. We expect to sell out before the deal ends end of day Monday.

Establishment Records on Bandcamp. All albums in our catalog are now 70% off through Monday evening. Plus look forward to new stuff from our spin-off record label in 2020 – some exciting plans in the works now. Enter code wearblack.

Software

Everything at Reason Studios is on sale for what they call “Rack Friday,” with discounts on Reason (now with AU support on Mac!) and lots of Rack Extensions – up to 90% off. https://www.reasonstudios.com/shop/deals/ – through December 2.

Ableton have 25% off Live 10, upgrades, and packs, meaning if you put off upgrading, now is the sign.

Arturia’s V Collection 7, full of basically every software recreation of classic electronic instruments you could imagine, is down to 299 $/EUR, along with other upcoming Arturia deals to watch. Also, even something like this sounds cooler in French. Behold: Obtiens la V Collection pour une prix exclusif Jusqu’au 5 décembre 2019. Ne rate pas cette occasion. Obtiens-la pour 299$/EUR. Ah, we sounds so crass in English, by comparison. Touché . https://www.arturia.com/black-friday-19

iZotope has discounts on software plus their Spire Studio hardware. Probably best of these is the $49 bundle of Elements Suite, DDLY, Mobius Filter, and Trash 2. Everything is on sale, though. Also great – the Music Production site (with Ozone 9 Advanced, Neutron 3 Advanced, etc.) for $399 and the bargain-basement-priced, awesome-sounding, light-on-CPU PhoenixVerb for $39. Through 12/6.

Output’s instruments have an extra 25% off – meaning the bundle of everything is now $/EUR 599.

puremagnetik’s unique collections of sounds and instruments are 50% through November 30, including some wonderful plugin instruments. Enter code BLACKFRIDAY19. Get a little granular after Thanksgiving dinner.

Eventide’s Anthology XI – the equivalent of a studio full of Eventide gear – is a full 75% off, for $499. That compares well to getting it via subscription, and it’s an outstanding deal. There’s also the excellent Elevate suite for 50% off. See the holiday sale page. Full disclosure: I live off the Anthology. The Eventide folder if it lived in the real world would have had its name worn off by now.

Time + Space have a rotating set of deals from a whole host of vendors. It may even be worth checking some of these deals versus the original developers.

On the same lines, pluginboutique.com have a bunch of deals on various vendors, and some of these discounts are exclusive, so comparison-shop if you’re stocking up. 50% off Softube or a stunning 80% off Soundtoys looks brilliant. On the Softube side, you can’t go wrong with the company’s amp simulations, for instance, and Modular add-ons are discounted, too. For Soundtoys, LittlePlate and EchoBoy Jr. are secret sauce for me, so I would absolutely endorse those two as they’re indispensible (or full EchoBoy for a little more).

Waves are letting you stock up with code BF50 at checkout, plus free plug-ins to choose when you spend more than $50.

Harrison’s new AVA plug-ins are 4-for-the-price-of-1, at $89 for the lot. See the AVA product page. These plug-ins I don’t know yet, but Harrison’s stuff typically sounds great.

Tracktion’s software is up to 65% off. That includes their DAWs, but also things like the MOK Waverazor and SpaceCraft instruments. Tons of inspiring stuff – code MIX2019 – through end of day December 4. https://www.tracktion.com

Cableguys do great stuff and they have their only sale of the year as this – “Until Cyber Monday, 2nd December 2019, the ShaperBox 2 Bundle of five powerful Cableguys effects – TimeShaper 2, VolumeShaper 6, FilterShaper Core 2, PanShaper 3, and WidthShaper 2 – is only €79 / $89. That’s a 50% saving compared to buying all five Shapers individually (€155 / $180).” https://www.cableguys.com/shaperbox.html

Kilohearts has deep discounts on their stuff through December 9 – https://kilohearts.com.

Metric Halo’s indispensible software, including SpectraFoo and the like, is on a sale up to 70%. https://www.mhsecure.com/mhdirect/home.php?cat=26 They’ve also got early access pricing on their hardware.

Mobile apps

cykle is a really cool step sequencer for iOS; it’s now 40%.

All of the superb Bram Bos iOS apps are on sale for $3.99 (or local equivalent), for some excellent synths, drum machines, MIDI tools, and more. See his developer page on the App Store.

The Atom piano roll (looper/sequencer, AUv3) is on sale for 50% off for iOS. It’s maybe your best bet for AUv3-compatible sequencing at the moment.

Some of our favorite synths/effects, Elastic Drums and Elastic FX, are 40% off until the end of the week. Check https://mominstruments.com.

Imaginando’s controller apps are the ones I’ve been using most lately on iOS, and they’re right now all 40% off. Through December 2.

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Hardware

Erica Synths’ have 20% some of our favorite modules – the Fusion Series. https://www.ericasynths.lv/shop/eurorack-modules/by-series/fusion-series/ Through Saturday.

Also over in Riga, there’s the wonderful, independently-operated Gamechanger Audio. Their exceptionally unique Plus and Plasma pedals are 20% off, which is about as good a way to spend money as I can imagine. Check out their shop – https://www.gamechangeraudio.com/shop – through December 2. It’s a pretty big deal to do this as an independent maker, too – they admit they’re working 14-hour shifts to get the gear out – so do reward them!

Arturia hardware is on sale, so head into your local store (or order from them). That’s up to 50% off MiniBrute (and its rackable 2S sibling) and the unique DrumBrute. DrumBrute for 349 $/EUR is pretty astonishing and maybe reason to overlook even those remakes everyone else might be grabbing.

ROLI is running an insane discount of up to 50% off a lot of their Seaboard and Blocks hardware plus plug-ins. https://roli.com/black-friday-deals

Sweetwater has $300 off that Solid State Logic SiX we’ve all been coveting. It’s still the most expensive compact mixer you can buy, but … well, it’s a little more tempting, and come on, it’s still a chance to own your own little SSL.

Sweetwater also has a bunch of Universal Audio bundles and deals on their site. But maybe best is –

Moog Mother for $100 off.

Perfect Circuit also has a bunch of hardware for up to 40% off. That includes Moog DFAM for $100 off.

Visualist tools

Learning TouchDesigner? Stanislav Glazov has his superb tutorials on sale. 30 % Discount for all TouchDesigner Courses till 3rd of December. Use promocode 3DOFF at https://lichtpfad.selz.com/

garageCube are again celebrating “Mad Week” with 20% off software and 10% off hardware. Head to https://www.garagecube.com/product/ through December 2. This includes upgrade discounts, so it’s worth checking even if you’re already a customer.

Music labels

Big Semantica Records fan, and they’re 30% off with code blackfriday2019 on Bandcamp.

Florian Meindl as I said is doing some of the finest quality techno production out there, and now you can get all his tracks for 9EUR (really). Just go to an album page like this one – https://florianmeindl.bandcamp.com/album/nonlinear-times-remixes-black-asteroid-jeroen-search – and you’ll see the option.

Total Black records in Berlin obviously needs a Black Friday discount; they’re 70% off. Use code blackfriday.

Beautiful Seoul-based Oslated Records is 70% off, with code blackfriday.

I know a lot of indie labels must be doing Bandcamp sales, so do get in touch.

That covers Bandcamp, but see also Beatport for some deals – code CYBERSALE nets you as much as 50%, and you can use it twice before it expires on December 3.

Feature photo (the shopping cart) (CC-BY-SA-ND) Wim Bollen.

The post Here are the best Black Friday deals for electronic musicians appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

“Yes I Did” is a witch-y anthem, and more genre-bending, feel-good Sky Deep creations

With a background ranging from soul to porn and roots spanning from LA and NYC to Berlin, Sky Deep delivers something unique and brilliantly affirming.

Sky Deep is a DJ/producer, but also – well, a lot of other things. She’s an award-winning indie/queer porn film producer. She curates a festival. She tours with the amazing Peaches and dances in that insanely high-energy stage show – which you can catch in some fleeting bit, somehow avoiding Facebook’s draconian censorship. She’s a vocalist, a guitarist, an MC, she makes music that is quirky and honest and fresh and not stuck in genre-perfectionism.

And she can hit an earworm head-on, in overlooked gems like her latest “Yes I Did,” which gets an accompanying happy-queer, witchy-good video. (This seems worth showing just so that it’s clear that Berlin is not populated only by emo people hanging out in car parks clad in black, as certain techno promo photos might have you believe – as though Germany were perpetually black-and-white, like the beginning of Wizard of Oz. I mean, some days feel like that, for sure, but not so much as to completely obliterate the spectrum of visual light. One hopes.)

If that hasn’t already grabbed you, check the Electrosexual remix on the EP release from June, which seems absolutely mix-friendly.

For more catch-y, positive, oddball pop, check “Swerve” and its fun video of roller skating:

What I enjoy as much as the song and video is the story of how she got out of a creative rut through synth gear and roller-skating:

Right before I made ‘Swerve’, I was in the middle of a creative block and in the process of changing my whole music production workflow. I was rebuilding whilst seeking inner inspiration. Luckily for me, I’ve got some really loving and generous friends in music.One in particular, let me borrow her SE-02 while she went on tour. I spent a couple of weeks learning the new machine and created kicks, snares, hi-hats and basslines for my sound library. Later, I borrowed another friend’s OB-6 to finish the rest of the track. I was inspired by good times and I remembered back in the day roller skating to the basslines of 90’s Californian hip-hop. That’s what inspired me to connect further with my dear family friend and roller skate enthusiast on the artwork, music video and Swerve T-shirts.

Those are two very excellent synths – the Sequential (Dave Smith/Tom Oberheim) OB-6 poly and the Roland Boutique / Studio Electronics analog SE-02.

More on that story in the premiere post from earlier this year:

But beyond that, it’s great that she used sense memory and something personal and emotional, and … you know, what’s better than roller skating for freeing up that physical feeling in music?

Here’s a great mix demonstrating just how eclectic her tastes can run:

It’s worth checking Sky’s other cultural inter-connections, too. She’s been part of a renewed interest in once-forgotten gay black composer Julius Eastman, including joining a performance ensemble reviving his work:

And even as laws and social media moires in our own home country the USA threaten to gag free expression, Sky is part of a sex-positive filmmaking movement here in Berlin. Even mighty VICE are taking notice:

Berlin’s Porn Scene Is Open, Experimental, and Endlessly Fun [VICE]

And in 2017 she was part of a well-worth-reading panel for Mixmag on combating discrimination and harassment in clubland:

INDUSTRY FIGURES TELL US HOW TO COMBAT SEXISM AND HARASSMENT IN DANCE MUSIC

Check her official site for more:

https://www.skydeepofficial.com/

Feature photo: Alexa Vachon.

The post “Yes I Did” is a witch-y anthem, and more genre-bending, feel-good Sky Deep creations appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.