Posts by Peter Kirn:

Cool Things Chrome Can Do Now, Thanks to Hardware MIDI

heisenberg

Plugging a keyboard or drum pads into your Web browser is now a thing.

One month ago, we first saw hardware MIDI support in Chrome. That was a beta; this week, Google pushed it out to all Chrome users.

So, what can you actually do with this stuff? Well, you can open a Web tab and play a synth on actual hardware, which is pretty nifty.

Support is still a little dicey, but the available examples are growing fast. Here are some of the coolest, in addition to the MIDI example and demo code we saw last month.

The examples are certainly promising, but you may want to temper expectations. Users of browser-based solutions built on Flash will find some of this old news. Audiotool, for one, has already had a really sophisticated (semi-modular, even) production tool running for some years. (It’s relevant here that Audiotool is coming to the HTML5/MIDI support, but it isn’t here yet.) And while open standards are supposed to mean more compatibility, in practice, they are presently meaning far less. Even though Safari and Chrome are pretty close to one another in rendering pages, I couldn’t get any of these examples working properly in any browser other than Chrome. And while I could get pretty low-latency functionality, none of this is anywhere near as solid in terms of sound performance as any standalone music software.

So, that leaves two challenges. One, the implementation is going to have to improve if non-developers are going to start to use this. And two, if this stuff is going to see the light of day beyond music hackathons, it’ll need some applications. That said, I could imagine educational applications, demos of apps, collaborative possibilities, and more – and those expand if the tech improves. And, of course, this also gets really interesting on inexpensive Chromebooks – which it seems are selling in some numbers these days.

But that’s the future. Here are some of the things you can do right now:

audiotool

Audiotool is coming to HTML5, and Heisenberg is here now. Heisenberg is I think the coolest option yet – more than just a tech demo, you can plug in a MIDI keyboard and it’s a really fun, free browser synth. Given the amount of pleasure we’ve gotten out of the odd Web time-waster, this is serious business.

But that’s just the appetizer. The team behind Audiotool are working on porting it to HTML5. That should be an excellent test of just how mature this technology is. Audiotool is great and – Flash or not – it’s worth having a play with if you are the kind of person who gets some inspiration from new software toys. (And if you’re reading this far, I suspect you are.)

http://www.audiotool.com/product/device/heisenberg/

http://www.audiotool.com/app [Flash for now, including screenshot above]

js106

Revisit Roland. Steven Goldberg’s 106.js reimagines the classic Roland Juno-106 in JavaScript. And it’s just added MIDI support. Plus you can check the code out, free.

http://resistorsings.com/106/

GitHub

yamahaclone

Play a 60s Yamaha combo organ. The oddest of this bunch is also my favorite sonically, just because it’s so quirky. The Foo YC20 is an emulation of Yamaha’s 1969 organ, the YC-20 combo – “features and flaws” all included. And now it feels more like an organ, since you can connect a MIDI keyboard.

Users should like it: if you’re not fond of running it in your browser, you can also run it as a VST plug-in for Mac or Windows or standalone or as an LV2 plug-in on Linux.

Developers will like it, too: apart from some surprisingly authentic open source recreations, it’s all coded in the Faust programming language, a functional language for DSP.

http://foo-yc20.codeforcode.com

hyaio

Run a full modular DAW. No need to wait on Audiotool: app.hya.io is already a full-featured semi-modular DAW built in HTML5 with MIDI support (and audio input). It’s got a full assortment of instruments and effects, too – and some interesting ones, so it complements Audiotool.

http://app.hya.io/

websynths

Run a bunch of microtonal synths. Mitch Wells’ Web Synths is a deep microtonal instrument, capable of some unique sound designs, and perhaps the richest actual synth of this bunch. Patch sharing shows one powerful feature of putting browsers on the Web – the ability to share with others.

http://www.websynths.com/

vult

Live-code your own synth. Maybe this is the application that makes the most sense. While it’s tough for the other proof-of-concept toys to compete with your desktop instruments, it’s kind of tough to beat the ability to live-code with Web tech in a browser.

And by “code,” you hardly have to be a hard-core coder. The coding is radically simplified here, spitting out JavaScript from basic commands – fun for even the most entry-level hacker to play around with.

Vult by Leonardo Laguna Ruiz was built at MIDIHACK, the hackathon I was part of here in Berlin this month.

http://modlfo.github.io/vult/demo.html

synthy

Play a synth – with colored lights and more. Synthy.io is a three-oscillator synth with some interesting extras. There’s a tracker-sequencer built in, and you can play a “live” mode with color output.

The nerdy stuff behind the scenes demonstrates some potential for other projects. Apart from the new MIDI mode, the server mode offers up other possibilities. (socket.io, Node.js, live server, NeDB database holding patterns, if you’re curious.)

What does that mean in practice? Developer Filip Hnízdo writes in comments:

“One of the features I’m most proud of is the live websocket server so any pattern that gets pushed to it is played live to a page where anyone can hear what anyone else has created in realtime. Especially fun with MIDI routed into soft synths or hardware. If enough people pushed patterns in you could just leave it on in your bedroom and constantly hear new music as it arrives. The patterns are all encoded as URLS too so easy to share.”

Having just read a history of the first networked, first first-person shooter in the 70s, it’s worth saying: this stuff can lead to unexpected places. And Filip is looking for collaborators.

http://synthy.io/

Got more for us? Let us know in comments.

And if you have any tips on audio performance or how this is developing (since I complained about that), or likely applications (since I mused about that), we’d love to hear that, too.

The post Cool Things Chrome Can Do Now, Thanks to Hardware MIDI appeared first on Create Digital Music.

1GB Free Music Mixed by Function Will Take Your Brain to Berghain

function

Techno right now has a problem. It’s kind of a nice problem to have. There’s some music that’s just terrifically well-produced in the spotlight, so much so that it’s tough to say no to it. It’s a bit like having the number to a Chinese takeout place and knowing every time they deliver it’s going to be delicious. Yeah, tonight you should really cook a nice, heal– oh, come on, though, sesame chicken.

What I mean is nicely summed up by the latest mix from Function. This is about as perfect a snapshot you’ll find of a particular mode in techno. It isn’t, in any real sense, really experimental or progressive. It’s the classical chamber music of the dance floor, drawing a line between a scene in the 90s to one that flourishes today, after years of careful gardening.

Don’t be overly put off by the fact that this is Berghain techno or that the photo of Function makes it look like he’s feeling a bit down as he wanders a car park late at night. (Caption: “$(#&*. Someone just keyed my rental car.”) The mix is something many of you (not all of you, but many of you) I think will thoroughly enjoy hearing.

And for his part, Function is upfront about what his intentions are. Part of what he can do is take you into his musical world. Since you can’t take photos inside Berghain (and a picture doesn’t really capture music, anyway), this is a way in from wherever you are using your mind. But notice the connection to 90s Manhattan, too:

“The mix is about Berghain, an approximation of the way I play there and the relationship I have with the club. That relationship is similar to the one I had with my first home, Limelight, in New York City from the early 90s onwards.”

That sense of careful historicism isn’t incidental. And I suspect that’s why Ostgut is quietly putting out this mix (as an uncompressed WAV file, no less). This is their marketing. This sound and the people who really believe in it are what draw people, what create this center. (I was joking about the Chinese takeout, maybe because it’s just before lunch. A better metaphor is actually foodies following a chef, people who do care about what they’re consuming. No MSG, for sure.)

Function’s selections and mixing here, though, are first-rate – perhaps aware that unlike a lot of mixes and podcasts, the Ostgut ones will get careful listens, dissections. And the quality here might be deceptively easy to copy. You could easily mix together something with these artists and some related people, but that might miss the point. The relationships between artists here and the way they’re assembled is significant. So, there’s some caution that people drawn to the success and appeal of the Ostgut crew don’t just ape the list of artists, but the actual missing.

Or, maybe, that they go a different direction entirely. With this sense of historical stability and the audience now built around it, there ought to be new opportunities for experimentation around the fringe. With some knowledge of the way this music works, the next few years could be about people who warp and extend the meaning of techno around this, and who draw necessary connections with experimental and ambient music (among other things).

In the meantime, though, let’s have a nice night out with that “classical” form, because it’s a terrific mix – and the recent output of many of these artists as producers and DJs has in my experience been exceptional. For all the criticisms that the form is dry or cold, here there’s a consistent thread of groove – understated, maybe, but maintained by a DJ who doesn’t let the dance floor slip off for a beer. Cassegrain & Tin Man, Carl Craig, Silent Servant, Rrose, DVS1, and Function I’ve all heard recently and they’ve been terrific. And I hope these folks experiment, too, with some of that success – Cassegrain & Tin Man play delicious live sets. I heard Ed Davenport last night play what he claimed was his first live set ever on a bunch of hardware (Waldorf Streichfett, Roland TR-8 front and center), and it was terrific. History, classical techno, and some risks, and I think anyone complaining is probably just off their gourd.

Now, here’s your free lunch – well, really, your free dinner. Get some takeout, and you’ve got a cheap date for yourself.

Tracklist…

Tracklist
1 Tadeo Reqiuem [00:00]
2 Post Scriptum Constant Acceleration Drive [01:33]
3 Rødhåd Kinder der Ringwelt [05:01]
4 Christian Wünsch Auger Electrons [08:24]
5 DVS1 Electric [12:26]
6 Mark Broom Satellite [14:24]
7 Rrose Signs [18:45]
8 Teste The Wipe [21:37]
9 CJ Bolland Horsepower [26:38]
10 Cleric Concrete [31:39]
11 Blue Hour Common Ground [33:24]
12 Peter Van Hoesen Objects From The Past (Neel Remix) [36:00]
13 Psykofuk Psykofuk [37:55]
14 Steve Bicknell Transcendence #3 [41:54]
15 Post Scriptum Human Timescales [42:31]
16 Steve Bicknell Odyssey #1 [46:42]
17 Steve Bicknell Odyssey #2 [46:46]
18 Planetary Assault Systems Arc [47:15]
19 Allen Kepler [48:59]
20 Cassegrain & Tin Man Oxide [51:07]
21 Inland Sca Fell [53:25]
22 Truncate 86 [56:20]
23 L.B. Dub Corp Roller feat. Function (Len Faki Interpretation) [59:17]
24 Function Golden Dawn feat. Stefanie Parnow (Live Version) [1:02:36]
25 Carl Craig Twilight [1:05:40]
26 L.B. Dub Corp So Much [1:07:50]
27 Blue Hour Parallels [1:13:31]
28 Abdulla Rashim A Shell Of Speed [1:15:35]
29 Silent Servant Noise Treatment I [1:18:08]
30 Sandwell District Untitled A [1:21:54]

Mixed and compiled by Function

Berghain 07: Function

The post 1GB Free Music Mixed by Function Will Take Your Brain to Berghain appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Here’s How RX4 Can Save Your Bacon By Fixing Sound – Even on Hit TV

izotope-rx4-denoise

It’s sometimes tough to write about audio tools precisely because they tend to bundle together a lot of features. So let’s step back and consider why they tend to do all of those things.

With audio repair, it’s a pretty easy explanation. From your perspective, your sound is $#*$#ed up. You want to get it un-$#*(&ed up.

Of course, in reality, there are tons of variables. The context can change: You might be repairing sound from a recording of instruments. You might be fixing dialog. You might know what you’re doing – even on big-budget TV and film, recordings can wind up with sound problems. Or, let’s be honest, you might kind of have no clue what you’re doing and wound up with $(&*ed up sound because you yourself $#(*&ed it up. (Uh… yeah, been there.)

The underlying problems can be varied, too – even in a single recording. Different takes didn’t match. There’s hum. There’s noise. There are unwanted sounds.

So, all of this is to say, over the years I’ve seen a number of general purpose repair toolkits, along with specialized toolkits. Right now, the one iZotope makes is special in that it bundles all the things you might ever need to fix audio into a single toolset that can work for more or less anyone. It doesn’t entirely eliminate the utility of more specific tools here and there – some of which may already be in some form in your DAW. But the tools are unusually advanced, unusually complete, and I think at the moment there simply isn’t anything else that does as much. If this is a First Aid Kit for sound, it’s kind of also a fully-staffed Emergency Room and Operating Room. Not like a field hospital. Like Mount Sinai.

I’m going to be talking a bit about iZotope this month partly because I’ve noticed that this year, they’ve shifted focus a bit from just reeling off features to talking about what they were doing in the first place. So I had a chat with them about RX and Ozone, in particular, two of their flagships, and it led to this.

RX4 is particularly useful in TV and film production because of the likelihood those users need to fix stuff – more on that in a moment. But it is worth considering in a production environment if you ever record anything for any reason.

Among other tutorials, iZotope have produced two videos that nicely illustrate what I mean by that.

First, this tutorial is great, because rather than the typical software demo sound, it’s — well, it’s awful. Buzz and cough and bangs — I’m sure this sounds familiar. To be honest, this is the point where iZotope RX becomes necessary, because otherwise you’re probably better off just going back and re-recording. What you can see is that the toolset of RX can be a musical one.

Even more in the musical direction, another interesting video from February released by iZotope deals with how to combine multiple takes that don’t match sonically. Here, the approach is potentially as creative as it is remedial; you get the opportunity to merge takes that otherwise wouldn’t fit.

I spoke to iZotope a bit about how they find users working with their tools, and they were willing to share exclusively with CDM a brief interview they did with Christian Beneventura, a re-recording mixer and engineer. That’s a fairly specific job – though also a reminder of the range of industrial gigs available to people with a solid sound/music background. (Use those ears, in other words.) Mr. Beneventura has an amazing resume, as you’ll see on IMDB, including The Vampire Diaries, Choke, Glee, and now Daredevil and The Following. (In fact, if you haven’t at some point heard his dialogue editing, you probably haven’t switched on your TV or Netflix lately, it appears.)

And he’s worked out how to deal with sounds in New York.

This is not some sort of advertisement for the product; to me, it’s interesting to hear this stuff and see how it works on production. Interview courtesy iZotope and Sean Greenhalgh:

christian

Why do you think you’ve been successful at your chosen craft while others have burned out or faded away?

I believe I’ve been successful because I’m constantly trying to get better at it everyday. Even though I have been doing this for quite some time, it’s important not to get complacent. I’m always trying to research and try new plug ins or try different techniques to get faster and more efficient. It’s important to keep learning and evolving because the technology does so.

Daredevil seems to be a very dynamic sounding show. Was this a conscious decision?

It was a conscious decision. From the very beginning, we knew that sound was going to play a huge part of this show. The character of Matt Murdock is blind and trying to convey how his other senses help him “see” especially sonically, is very critical to the show. I think every part of Daredevil’s soundscape was deliberate. Creating the backgrounds of Hell’s Kitchen, deciding what exactly Matt Murdock hears in the flurry of city chatter, having the rate of the heartbeats that Matt hears hit at exactly the right points. Every part of the editing and mixing process was very meticulous and we are very proud of how everything turned out.

Why do you use RX?

I use RX because it’s a life saver. There are many scenes that I have cut that would not have been possible unless I had RX Spectral Repair. RX has really changed the way I edit because I have integrated using the plug in within my editing routine. When I first began using it, I thought it was the future. “How can you not edit with this?” I said to myself and colleagues. RX is so reliable and I know what it’s going to do for me. Brake squeals or back up beeps, no problem. Lavalier mic cutting off or boom mic bump, got it covered. I use every single plug-in in RX because it’s reliable and I know it will get the job done.

What are some of the challenges of working on audio recorded in NYC?

Dealing with audio that’s been recorded in New York can be tough because of the pure fact the city is inherently noisy. Extraneous city sounds that you can hear when dialogue is being spoken is always a pain to take out. The traffic, brake squeals, people talking and shouting, music bumping from cars, New York will find a way to make a scene difficult to edit. RX spectral repair has always helped me in this bind. I could easily see brake squeals to take out over dialogue as well as people who talking who aren’t supposed to. I did work on a scene where it took place at Washington Square Park and there was a street performer drumming and singing over the dialogue and they didn’t want to ADR the actor. Sounds impossible to do but Spectral Repair and some fancy editing helped me achieve that.

Of course, to me, this is doubly interesting precisely because I’m not experienced at this stuff, nor many of the people I know. Sound we record for a video production is necessarily going to have problems because it’s not my area. And since I can’t afford someone like Christian, we have to DIY if I want to fix it. Ditto instrumental recordings. To me, the software doesn’t replace those skill sets – on the contrary, when you do have to learn this stuff yourself, you appreciate why those folks are so valuable. And, if you are willing to invest the time, you might even find a professional path you would otherwise not expect; there is huge need for people who are skilled to solve these problems.

I haven’t found anything coming close to what iZotope’s tools can do, but I would love to ask our readers – particularly any of those working in these industries – what you use. RX? Other tools? A combination? Let us know.

See also the excellent Designing Sound which covers these topics more regularly:
http://designingsound.org

While it won’t turn you into a TV sound editor overnight, if you want to take your first baby steps toward fixing the problems above, iZotope has some videos for that, too:

And for more on RX4 itself, our friends at Sonic State did a great video tour of what’s in this tool:

The post Here’s How RX4 Can Save Your Bacon By Fixing Sound – Even on Hit TV appeared first on Create Digital Music.

2manybuttons is a Perfect Parody of Live Laptop Controllerism

You’ve seen plenty of EDM and DJ parodies, snarky Facebook images poking fun at people who can’t use turntables, what have you.

But let me just level with you: this video could basically be a parody of CDM … of me. I…

Well, I can’t really say much more. Just watch. (Another way you can tell this is made by producers, for producers, rather than, say, by someone at Saturday Night Live who doesn’t know how this works – check the gear choices.) Also, I think I need to go to MediaMarkt to buy a new keyboard, as I may have just spit my coffee all over this one.

What you’re seeing is the work of Norwegian sketch comedy show Kollektivet. 2manybuttons sounds like a Max for Live patch, even. Pitch perfect.

Thank you to reader Stig Fostervold for posting this to our Facebook page.

More – if you speak Norwegian, anyway:
http://www.tv2.no/kollektivet

The post 2manybuttons is a Perfect Parody of Live Laptop Controllerism appeared first on Create Digital Music.

This Movie About EDM DJing Is Apparently Not A Joke

Wait, what did we just watch, exactly?

So, there’s some sort of EDM movie involving Zac Efron. And then 128 bpm the… what?!

Laptops?

eBay?

2006 club hits by Justice … as the title / hit tune … hashtag?

Obvious DJ gear but also … as Aroon Karvna notes “WTF detail: there’s a Buchla Music Easel at 1:25.” Holy boutique modular, Batman, you’re right!

I want to comment. But I feel I’m walking into a big trap. Could it be worth it to someone to actually troll all DJs everywhere with a trailer? Is there a real movie, or is this all a viral campaign to sell something else? Like maybe a new turntable or something; I don’t know. Why do I have a feeling marketing departments at DJ manufacturers paid good money to make sure their gear wasn’t seen in this film?

For now, I’m embarrassed on behalf of mixers, laptops, LA, the United States of America, music, and projectors in movie theaters.

Though I do agree that you should totally do some field recording for more interesting sounds.

When this hits video, though, watch it drunk with your DJ friends. And then – you’re welcome.

Tell you what, share this on social media and I’ll reward you with, well, really anything else in the hopes that we all regrow whatever brain cells we just murdered.

And thank you, The Debrief, who are as baffled as we are:
YOU WON’T WATCH ZAC EFRON’S NEW EDM FILM, BUT LOL OVER ITS TRAILER, PLEASE.

I swear I’m going to start rickrolling any comment trolls on CDM directly to a torrent of this film from now on. I’ll do it! Don’t think I won’t! That’ll teach ya.

Public service record:

I like to start at 125 bpm, too. But 960 bpm – that’s the magic number.

Side note: wow, CDM is still older than that 2006 Justice hit. Crazy.

The post This Movie About EDM DJing Is Apparently Not A Joke appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Teenage Engineering Wants You to Make Your Own Pocket Case

pocketengineering

First, they made dirt-cheap synths and drum machines. Then, they made housings that turn them into handheld calculators. Now, they want … you to rethink the case entirely.

Say what? So, the bad news is, Teenage Engineering’s cool calculator-style cases for their amazing-sounding, crazy-cheap synths and drum machine are backordered. And that is too bad. Because, damnit, even I can’t get one. And they’re really cool – I had a look at the cases at Musikmesse, and they recall nothing if not a Braun-style dress-up suit for these wonderful (and useful) sonic toys.

But this being Teenage Engineering, they’ve found a cooler-than-usual solution to being backordered. (Remember, this is the firm that made accessories 3D-printable when they had trouble making and shipping them overseas to everyone who wanted them.)

They’re letting you get in on the act. And with these creations already in the hands of a design-savvy crowd, I don’t doubt for a second that’ll inspire some ingenuity.

To make your job easier, they’re releasing precise measurements and CAD files. .PDF, .DXF, .SLDW, .STL, .STEP, all there. (Hint: if you have to ask, it’s probably not a format you need.)

Send designs, ideas, or videos, and you get an exclusive t-shirt. (As in: “Teenage Engineering couldn’t ship their cases, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt — okay, actually, kind of awesome exclusive t-shirt.”)

Deadline: 3 weeks.

Go win one for Team CDM.

https://www.teenageengineering.com

Hey, one of you already had one idea:
Teenage Engineering Drum Machine, Hacked with Big Buttons

What? Still want to drool over the official cases (and want to wait to get them)? Or at least use them as inspiration? Here you go:

IMG_3136

IMG_3138

pocketcase

Oh, how I love these things. Seriously, if anyone else made a product with a bare board and then offered up a t-shirt for someone to work out how to house it, that normally wouldn’t be cool. And yet…

Previously:
A Cheesy Pocket Techno Jam with Tiny Cheap Gear

How TE’s $59 Drum Machine Sounds – And How The Pocket Operators Work

Nintendo Game & Watch Inspires Tiny, $59 Synths from Teenage Engineering [CDM Hands-on]

The post Teenage Engineering Wants You to Make Your Own Pocket Case appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Listen to Holly Herndon’s ‘Platform’ and the Emotional Content of the Laptop

holly

I’m remiss in not posting this last week when it debuted, and I suspect many CDM readers have heard already, but if not – drop everything, and have a listen to ‘Platform,’ the new LP from composer/producer Holly Herndon.

There’s a lot to discuss here. “Platform,” as the name implies, is intended as a first step toward other interactions. There’s the process and technique behind the music itself. A fearless champion of the laptop’s instrumental and compositional potential, Holly has made the album itself and the discourse around it into a means of demonstrating and discussing the kinds of processes that can realize the possibilities of the computer. There’s a conceptual conversation to have, investigations into the worlds of technology, utopia, and electronic surveillance – more than just music, the album is a project about our digital lives. And then there’s even plenty to say about Holly’s own career trajectory. More than anyone I know, she has been able to successfully bridge the academic electronic musical realm, the world of festival and club stages, and the popular media view of electronic music. (And yes, I count three largely separated cultural islands there. I’ve now and then personally drowned in the seas that separate them, so this is no small feat.)

But because those are all wonderfully deep rabbit holes into which to climb, I think it’s best to start with the music. Hearing them for me had an odd sense of familiarity. I’d heard some of these track in some form in a couple of live shows, but to me, that sensation with music is a flag that I should pay close attention to what I’m hearing. Pop or “hooks” or not, there’s something that happens when a composition works, a way it finds its way into your brain. It sounds like you’ve heard it before the first time you’ve heard it, and stays with you and makes you want to hear it again. Because this record is in the mainstream press, you’ll see some writers stumble around odd descriptions like “techno.” But it seems to me timeless, genre-less. Part of its genetic code is modern: this dense forest of repeated samples and slices, a self-awareness and comfort with the means of production. Another part feels like a modern answer to much earlier work of Eno, Laurie Anderson, retold by a generation that grew up with those sounds. But from that soup comes tracks that feel like songs, feel fully formed, get into your head.

In between, there are also great moments of theater and wit, so I’ll be curious to see where the “platform” leads.

But more than that, blending her voice digitally through the whole spectrum, Holly makes her music really sing. To be a platform for technique and higher concepts, I think that’s essential: the machine has to have a voice, and more than ever, you have the feeling Holly has found her voice.

I’m writing I know largely to producers (hello, CDM nation). And I know many of you, like Holly, have brains crammed with technical knowledge; many of you have tried to mediate between cultures like dance floors and academic music labs. My sense on “Platform” is of an artist who found a way to speak and sing with that voice, literally and broadly. I don’t think your voice will necessarily sound like Holly’s. But I hope this is the sign of more music to come.

For that larger audience, Holly has something to say – about collaboration and the implications for the wider tribe of people making music with computers. Posted to her Facebook page yesterday, on the occasion of the release:

Ever since I released my first album a couple of years ago, I have been humbled to see just how far my alien songs can travel. Thanks to a tireless community, it has been an incredible few years for experimental music. Abstract sounds are being embraced far beyond their traditional niche, and it made me wonder, what can be done with this new opportunity? Holding hands with a wider audience, can we channel abstraction towards greater action?
For this reason, Platform demanded to be a collaborative project, and I feel so grateful to have worked with some of my favorite artists to pull this together. Metahaven, Mat Dryhurst and Matt Werth have been a pivotal inspiration from the beginning, and Colin Self, Amnesia Scanner, Claire Tolan, Spencer Longo, Amanda DeBoer, Akihiko Taniguchi, Cuahtemoc Peranda, Stef Caers and Mark Pistel have all played crucial roles in this release. Thank you!
Many great minds have inspired pieces on this record. The ideas and spirit of Suhail Malik, Benedict Singleton, Jacob Applebaum, Keller Easterling, Guy Standing, Reza Negarestani, Amber Case, Benjamin Bratton, Hannes Grassegger, Jacob Applebaum, Laura Poitras, Nick Srnicek, Brian Rogers, Amber Halford, Nathan Jurgenson and Barry Threw regularly appeared in our discussions and continue to influence our aspirations for Platform going forward. Thank you!
We have received generous support from many several organizations for which I am really grateful – Lighthouse, CCRMA, Wallris. Thank you!
This album is just the beginning of a greater project, and I’m ecstatic to have partnered with 4AD and RVNG Intl on this journey. We need new fantasies, new archetypes, new strategies and new ways to love. All of the power we need to make something special happen may well be found in the rooms we dance in.
Optimistically, Holly xx.

I hope we get into these other conversations and hop on this ‘platform’ with the artist in coming weeks. In the meantime, some reading to get you started, and hopefully inspire some other conversations to have.

More reading, as we work on that:

“I’M INTERESTED IN INTRODUCING ALIEN SOUNDS.” [Kaput magazine]

Holly Herndon: the queen of tech-topia [The Guardian]

Shape Shifter: Underground star. Experimental musician. Stanford Ph.D. candidate. [The California Sunday Magazine]

Musician Holly Herndon taps into politics, the NSA and your Facebook photos [Wired UK]

Holly Herndon’s Trying to Find New Ways to Play the World’s Oldest Instrument

Serial Experiments for a Better Future: Holly Herndon’s ‘Platform’ [Rhizone]

One issue we’ll have to discuss is this quote, from the Guardian story:

“A lot of people complain about it being less engaging, less natural, less emotional, but my laptop mediates so much of my life: my Skype, my bank account, my emails, my relationships,” she says. “It’s actually a hyper-emotional instrument; it has more emotional content than a violin could ever dream of.”

Robert Henke last month at NODE Festival used a panel I was moderating to argue that the laptop needed to go away, as I understood it primarily because he wanted to make music away from the machine that brought all these rivers of information and communication. (Sincere apologies to Robert; I think I practically shouted at him when he told me that’s what he wanted to talk about, as I was afraid it’d derail the entire panel in a whirlpool of unsolvable and oft-repeated design critiques of the machine and I decided, selfishly, I mostly wanted to talk about something else.) But Holly reframes the whole question in an interesting way – if a challenging one, since it makes us consider the machine as an object, as an instrument, and as the emotional-social context for the music itself.

Remember when I talked about rabbit holes? Yes, see you in Wonderland in our next installment.

Out now on digital, CD, vinyl.

http://www.hollyherndon.com

The post Listen to Holly Herndon’s ‘Platform’ and the Emotional Content of the Laptop appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Hack Arturia’s MiniBrute, MicroBrute for More Synth Goodness

minibrutehack

Arturia’s quirky, compact, unmistakable-sounding MiniBrute – and the patchable MiniBrute – are among some of the nicer desktop instruments to hit recently. But you can make them do more with hacking. And that’s especially relevant as the original MiniBrute goes on sale.

The MiniBrute is already a nice synth. Sure, it’s not as compact as the more recent MicroBrute and lacks that synth’s cute little modulation patching section, but you also get full-sized keys, and it’s still a lovely instrument. The trick is, you can hack it to add an SH-101-inspired step sequencer as found on the MicroBrute and the SE edition of the MicroBrute. Couple that with an offer than through the end of June prices the limited supply of MiniBrutes at just €399 / US$299 / £299 – that’s the sort of “oh, okay, maybe I will get one after all” price.

You can add a step sequencer with a free SysEx hack:
Converting a vanilla MiniBrute to a MiniBrute SE and vice versa…

Yves Usson’s Hack a brute site has a lot more, too, in both English and French. There are schematics and blueprints for the MicroBrute, and hacks for both the MicroBrute and MiniBrute. (There’s just one for the Micro, but it’s cool: “Add a CV input for controlling the VCA.”) There are even instructions for adding wooden endcaps to the MicroBrute, if you’re into that sort of thing:

MB-finished-left

Here’s what happens when the MicroBrute meets up with the soon-to-ship Arturia BeatStep Pro:

More on the hack site:
Hack a Brute

Thanks to Source Distribution in the UK for the heads-up.

The post Hack Arturia’s MiniBrute, MicroBrute for More Synth Goodness appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Maschine and Komplete Kontrol Updates Make Them Way More Useful

NI_Komplete_Kontrol_S-Series_Keyboards_Perspective_03

The changes are subtle. And if you’re looking for some kind of splashy way of integrating Maschine with Traktor or transforming how you play plug-ins, this isn’t it. But some point updates to two flagship Native Instruments production tools are worth applauding. They make these tools not only more useful, but give them more longevity.

Maschine sounds better. Maschine and Komplete Kontrol play better together. And whereas hardware/software integration sometimes seems designed solely to lock you in to certain products, Komplete Kontrol now not only works with your host and other gear, but works even when it’s unplugged from your computer – as it should.

Both are free updates, and both also now include for free Komplete Select. For Maschine users, that’s a nice add-in — and actually, this is kind of what I run mainly on my cramped SSD on the go. You get a nice upright piano, the terrific Monark Minimoog-inspired emulation (which has an amazing filter model), Massive (no intro needed there), an electric piano, the beautiful Reaktor Prism synth, and more synths, keys, drawbar organs, West African rhythms (why not?) and a really good bus compressor.

Maschine Studio's knobs and display now do more.

More Drum Synth sounds. The Drum Synth was one of the best parts of Maschine 2, moving the machine beyond samples to real tunable, playable synthesis. There’s now a Cymbal module with “Crash” and “Ride” modes – yeah, you needed that. And “Hi-hat” accordingly gets a “Hybrid” mode. The Snare and Tom get new modes, too (dubbed “Breaker” and “High,” respectively).

Better-sounding reverbs, more effects, guitar cabs. If you liked the old Reverb effect, it’s still there, renamed “Legacy.” But there’s a new reverb to try out, with hall and room modes. There are new effects, too – a new distortion mode, more transparent limiter, and from Guitar Rig a new selection of cabinets and mics.

Easier to play, better integrated with Komplete Kontrol. The Arpeggiator has a hold function (on keyboards and pads). And for us keyboardists, there’s really a reason to use a keyboard with Maschine and not just the pads. Aside from the ability to work in both directions with Komplete instruments and metadata, and save settings from each, you can now use the keyboard’s touch strip modes (including the wacky bounce-y ones, fun for modulation). You can see octaves and key switches.

There are a bunch of other tiny details and enhancements that have clearly kept the engineers busy, but I’ll let you dig through the readme if you want to get to that level of detail.

NI_Komplete_Kontrol_S-Series_Keyboards_Perspective_Macro

In keyboardland, Komplete Kontrol 1.1 delivers a bunch of features we knew were coming but that finally move this from a “sit on the shelf” toy to “oh, okay, now I remember why I thought this was a good product idea in the first place” tool.

Yes, you can get MIDI notes from the Scale and Arp features out to your host.

Yes, you can also output those Scale and Arp to external hardware via the MIDI Out port. (And you were wondering why it was there.)

You can use the Light Guide to show a scale without remapping notes, if you want a visual aid to learning scales but don’t necessarily want the piano keys to stop acting like piano keys. (This works in Maschine with the keyboard, too.)

And finally, you can access touch strip settings from the hardware. Previously you had to dig into a menu and … yeah, let’s just say it was enough work to make the feature kind of useless. Now, the touch strips are fun and useful, and you can easily choose whatever you want the touch strip to do from either the Komplete Kontrol software or Maschine.

You can also tempo sync modulation on the touch strip. This is the sort of thing that previously required Lemur. Very cool.

And best of all, Komplete Kontrol works as a standalone MIDI controller when you’re not connected to a computer. You can create control pages with the Controller Editor and use that hardware

Oh, Hell, yeah. So, that moves my rating of this keyboard from “admire from afar” to “buy.” Because let’s be clear about this. It’s a practical thing. Most of us now own some kind of synths, especially since some are dirt cheap. And it’s a philosophical thing. If you drop your laptop on the floor, or just don’t want the temptation of booting up your machine and looking at some depressing email or Facebook instead of actually making music, the pretty, pricey music hardware you own should not – I repeat, not – turn into a useless brick. End of rant. It’s fixed.

Good stuff, and as I plan to take this gear on the road I’m really pleased. So, hey there, Komplete Kontrol S25, time to see if you fit easily into my suitcase.

Of course, Native Instruments has some competition nipping at its heels – particularly in the form of Akai’s own controller keyboard, the Advance. Now, interestingly, though, several of the issues I raised back in January have been addressed by NI. In fact, the things that most bothered me – the inability to use Komplete Kontrol in standalone mode or to work with plug-ins and hardware with the built-in arp and chords and scales – were just fixed with this very update. But that still leaves an interesting horse race, and I hope we’ll have a full review of the Akai soon.

What are you using? What do you want to know? Let us know.

Full details on that Maschine update found on the forums.

The post Maschine and Komplete Kontrol Updates Make Them Way More Useful appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Maschine and Komplete Kontrol Updates Make Them Way More Useful

NI_Komplete_Kontrol_S-Series_Keyboards_Perspective_03

The changes are subtle. And if you’re looking for some kind of splashy way of integrating Maschine with Traktor or transforming how you play plug-ins, this isn’t it. But some point updates to two flagship Native Instruments production tools are worth applauding. They make these tools not only more useful, but give them more longevity.

Maschine sounds better. Maschine and Komplete Kontrol play better together. And whereas hardware/software integration sometimes seems designed solely to lock you in to certain products, Komplete Kontrol now not only works with your host and other gear, but works even when it’s unplugged from your computer – as it should.

Both are free updates, and both also now include for free Komplete Select. For Maschine users, that’s a nice add-in — and actually, this is kind of what I run mainly on my cramped SSD on the go. You get a nice upright piano, the terrific Monark Minimoog-inspired emulation (which has an amazing filter model), Massive (no intro needed there), an electric piano, the beautiful Reaktor Prism synth, and more synths, keys, drawbar organs, West African rhythms (why not?) and a really good bus compressor.

Maschine Studio's knobs and display now do more.

More Drum Synth sounds. The Drum Synth was one of the best parts of Maschine 2, moving the machine beyond samples to real tunable, playable synthesis. There’s now a Cymbal module with “Crash” and “Ride” modes – yeah, you needed that. And “Hi-hat” accordingly gets a “Hybrid” mode. The Snare and Tom get new modes, too (dubbed “Breaker” and “High,” respectively).

Better-sounding reverbs, more effects, guitar cabs. If you liked the old Reverb effect, it’s still there, renamed “Legacy.” But there’s a new reverb to try out, with hall and room modes. There are new effects, too – a new distortion mode, more transparent limiter, and from Guitar Rig a new selection of cabinets and mics.

Easier to play, better integrated with Komplete Kontrol. The Arpeggiator has a hold function (on keyboards and pads). And for us keyboardists, there’s really a reason to use a keyboard with Maschine and not just the pads. Aside from the ability to work in both directions with Komplete instruments and metadata, and save settings from each, you can now use the keyboard’s touch strip modes (including the wacky bounce-y ones, fun for modulation). You can see octaves and key switches.

There are a bunch of other tiny details and enhancements that have clearly kept the engineers busy, but I’ll let you dig through the readme if you want to get to that level of detail.

NI_Komplete_Kontrol_S-Series_Keyboards_Perspective_Macro

In keyboardland, Komplete Kontrol 1.1 delivers a bunch of features we knew were coming but that finally move this from a “sit on the shelf” toy to “oh, okay, now I remember why I thought this was a good product idea in the first place” tool.

Yes, you can get MIDI notes from the Scale and Arp features out to your host.

Yes, you can also output those Scale and Arp to external hardware via the MIDI Out port. (And you were wondering why it was there.)

You can use the Light Guide to show a scale without remapping notes, if you want a visual aid to learning scales but don’t necessarily want the piano keys to stop acting like piano keys. (This works in Maschine with the keyboard, too.)

And finally, you can access touch strip settings from the hardware. Previously you had to dig into a menu and … yeah, let’s just say it was enough work to make the feature kind of useless. Now, the touch strips are fun and useful, and you can easily choose whatever you want the touch strip to do from either the Komplete Kontrol software or Maschine.

You can also tempo sync modulation on the touch strip. This is the sort of thing that previously required Lemur. Very cool.

And best of all, Komplete Kontrol works as a standalone MIDI controller when you’re not connected to a computer. You can create control pages with the Controller Editor and use that hardware

Oh, Hell, yeah. So, that moves my rating of this keyboard from “admire from afar” to “buy.” Because let’s be clear about this. It’s a practical thing. Most of us now own some kind of synths, especially since some are dirt cheap. And it’s a philosophical thing. If you drop your laptop on the floor, or just don’t want the temptation of booting up your machine and looking at some depressing email or Facebook instead of actually making music, the pretty, pricey music hardware you own should not – I repeat, not – turn into a useless brick. End of rant. It’s fixed.

Good stuff, and as I plan to take this gear on the road I’m really pleased. So, hey there, Komplete Kontrol S25, time to see if you fit easily into my suitcase.

Of course, Native Instruments has some competition nipping at its heels – particularly in the form of Akai’s own controller keyboard, the Advance. Now, interestingly, though, several of the issues I raised back in January have been addressed by NI. In fact, the things that most bothered me – the inability to use Komplete Kontrol in standalone mode or to work with plug-ins and hardware with the built-in arp and chords and scales – were just fixed with this very update. But that still leaves an interesting horse race, and I hope we’ll have a full review of the Akai soon.

What are you using? What do you want to know? Let us know.

Full details on that Maschine update found on the forums.

The post Maschine and Komplete Kontrol Updates Make Them Way More Useful appeared first on Create Digital Music.