This is the Stompolin, and I made it at a Physical Interaction Design workshop at CCRMA (http://ccrma.stanford.edu) this summer.
How it works:
There’s a small electret microphone attached to my foot, and two bend sensors on my arm: one in my elbow, and one on my finger. The signals from each of these are routed through an Arduino microcontroller into a Max/MSP patch.
The microphone output is routed through a percussion follower, and impulses (like stomps) trigger the instrument’s tone generation. The sound of the instrument is created by a a plucked string model and some ADSR’d harmonized sine waves. If the impulse picked up by the mic is heavy in high frequencies, the sound is captured and “granulated” around a bit at a random interval.
The bend sensor on my finger controls the pitch of the tones, and the elbow controls the cutoff frequency of a low-pass filter. When the pitch is being actively modulated by finger movement, the tone slides smoothly across frequencies, but when the finger is moved more slowly or stopped, the pitch is quantized to tones of a major scale.
Access Music, the company behind the award winning Virus TI series of hardware synthesizers presents OS4 for the entire Virus TI series on the NAMM Show 2010 in Anaheim, California. The new update adds exiting and innovative new sound design…
Peavey Electronics and Muse Research and Development proudly introduce the new, portable, flexible MuseBox™ Musical Instrument and Effects Box. The MuseBox uses virtual instruments and effects technology in a brand-new way, so players of all…
Akai Professional, the name synonymous with music production, announces the APC20 Ableton Performance Controller. Akai Pro will introduce the APC20 at the 2010 Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA, booth 6400, January 14–17.
KORG has a way of coming up with hardware that’s fun to use. The KORG KAOSSILATOR, a simple, cheap AA battery-powered box packed with sound-making functionality, had already won some hearts over. Touch its X/Y pad, and the KAOSSILATOR responds with built-in synth programs and arpeggiators, all mapped cleverly to the touchpad to stay in the key range you desire.
The KAOSSILATOR Pro really appears to be a hybrid of the KAOSSILATOR and KORG’s KP3 effects/sampler box. In fact, it’s really closer in appearance and function to the KP3. Like the KP3, the “Pro” has phrase sampling capabilities and effects, so you can route in an audio source or mic, and store banks of sampled phrases on SD card. It simply combines that with the playable instruments of the KAOSSILATOR.
The upshot of all of this, of course, is that you get a box you can play like an instrument, use as an effects box, use as a sampler, or a combination of all three. And while that sacrifices some of the simplicity of the KAOSSILATOR, that could be a potent combination. For effects, you get gate arpeggiators for rhythmic effects and vocoders that work with your mic. I’ll need to get a rundown from KORG on the exact specs — it looks like the KP3 is still a beefier sampler and effects box than the KAOSSILATOR Pro. But even if that’s the case, it could be more than worth the tradeoff for getting the instrument in there, too. I know plenty of users, casual and advanced, addicted to the KAOSSILATOR; the ability to plug in a mic and use a vocoder is likely to win more.
KORG, you just won a spot on our NAMM booth itinerary. And yeah, this could be a fun box to have around or even plug into a laptop.
Sure, it seems like the easy way out – take two things people love, squish them together, and people will love the result. That can’t work, can it?
Updated: remember how I said this isn’t a KP3? Readers in comments have begun digging into some of those limitations. The “Pro” KAOSSILATOR loses some of the fun of the non-Pro model: it’s bigger, clunkier,and it isn’t battery-powered. That’d be fine, if the payoff were greater editability. But the Pro KAOSSILATOR is more fixed in its functions, even a little limited compared to the KP3. That may not dampen your enthusiasm entirely: this is still a box that does phrase sampling, some effects, and the KAOSSILATOR’s touch-playable synths. But you can see why some folks want a “KP4″ – a combination of these two devices with more functionality, not less, than the two alone. I’ll talk to KORG, probably after NAMM, to get the exact run-down on the difference between the three models, as we’re all just reading spec sheets at this point. But you can consider that a collective snap-reaction in the meantime.
Ableton Live-specific controllers just got another addition. You probably could have guessed this would come out, following the APC40 and Novation’s grid-only Launchpad last year, but the Akai APC20 is the new, smaller sibling to Akai’s APC40. The APC20 does basically everything the APC40 does on the latter’s left-hand side — it’s a grid of buttons, a set of mixers for your tracks, buttons for activating tracks (and solo/cue/record), and shortcuts for moving around and triggering the transport. Using the buttons, you can trigger clips or notes, with additional buttons for scenes and stopping clips around the outside of the 8×5 array.
The “Note Mode” is new, officially, but I believe hackers may have gotten the APC40 to do that. Hopefully it’ll be rolled out to the APC40 in an update.
What the APC20 doesn’t do is everything on the right-hand side of the APC40: you lose out on additional shortcuts, the crossfader, and most importantly, the controls for pan, sends, and Device Rack macros, though the controls seem to suggest you get some control back via control pages, as on Novation’s Launchpad. That makes the APC20 less appealing as a standalone to me. It gives you mixer faders missing from the Launchpad (which relies on buttons for the job), but it loses the ability to control devices and effects. And unlike the Launchpad, it seems the APC20 still requires external power rather than bus power.
Instead, it seems that Akai hopes you’ll buy the APC20 as a companion to your APC40, for, uh, 60 worth of APC. (I think we have a new unit of measure.) With what Akai calls “Combination mode,” you can add the 40 and 20 together for control of 80 buttons and 16 tracks. In Akai’s press release, it also seems that Akai thinks customers might add an APC20 to an existing rig with other gear — though that puts it in competition with the Novation Launchpad for the same job.
You can also buy six APC20s and use those together, and if you buy that many APCs, I recommend two things: one, seek professional help, and two, definitely send us photos.
This does still trigger the concerns I’ve been trying to raise since I reviewed the APC40 last year. Why should something as simple as chaining multiple devices together for control be a feature specific to a certain product? Haven’t we been chaining devices together as a standard feature all the way back to the invention of MIDI, now over a quarter century ago? (For the record, you can combine multiple control surfaces in Ableton Live. But the moment one set of controllers does that and another doesn’t, based on support in the software itself, that ceases to be a standard feature of Ableton.)
That said, for APC fans looking for some more control, the APC20 should appeal. But if I had to recommend a first APC, I’d still strongly recommend the APC40. Having a controller with built-in controls for everything Live does – clip triggers, mixing, cross-fading, effects, and device control, with all the shortcuts – really is a nice luxury.
NAMM, the trade group that includes music manufacturers and vendors, holds its flagship conference every January in Anaheim, California. It’s the biggest music trade show in the world, and even the biggest trade show of the year in Anaheim, home to Disneyland. But, of course, we’re about more than just pre-packaged industry news. So, we’ll do things a little differently this year.
As always, we won’t cover every last bit of news, just the stuff we really find important. And in a twist, we’re also looking to volunteer participants to help us cover the community around music technology, not just the big industry-driven stuff.
Where and when to get your tech news
At 10:00 or 11:00 am tomorrow, January 14, Pacific Time (GMT-8), embargoes begin lifting on most NAMM news.
You can follow CDM’s coverage in two places: here on CDM, of course, but also at:
On CDM, we’ll have our own editorial look at the show. For the latest, round-the-clock news, videos, and clips, dispatches from our contributors, as well as unedited press clippings, watch namm.noisepages.com. We’ll take the best bits of the noisepages site and round them up on CDM.
We’ll be covering official and unofficial news this week. So, yes, we expect to cover big names like Roland. We’ll also be picking up on tech in hotel rooms, open-source oddities at the party Friday, and hardware that can’t afford NAMM booths – you know, just like we always do. Every day is a news day around here.
Friday night in Los Angeles, I’ll be part of the big, unofficial Wham Bam Thank You NAMM party. We’ll have video, sound, and feature coverage both of the artists and of the discussion we hope to kick off about the future of music tech. So watch for bits of that over the coming days.
What to expect
The OP-1 is way, way on the top of my hardware list for the year.
Our most anticipated news:
Ableton and Serato have already teased ableton-serato.com. So, obviously, if you were to tune into CDM at 11am California time tomorrow, I’m sure there won’t be any news whatsoever. Got that? Do not, by any means, expect any news Thursday around 11am.
I’ve been looking forward to talking to Teenage Engineering about their gorgeous-looking, Casio-inspired, FM radio and FM synthesis-equipped OP-1 synthesizer for months now; NAMM had always been the timeframe. Whatever isn’t ready, I should be able to catch when I’m in Stockholm in February. I’m imagining their studio looks something like the Wonka Chocolate Factory. If you’re there, you can find them on the floor.
I expect lots more controller hardware from lots more makers, and, whether it’s at NAMM or Messe or (for many manufacturers) completely independent of any trade show, I think 2010 will see more integrated hardware-software products.
No LinnDrum. There won’t be a LinnDrum announcement this year. That’s actually not a rumor. I think it’s best to diffuse any potential disappointment early. Dave Smith Instruments, though, have promised an announcement, so we’ll see what Dave’s been up to and I hope to catch up with Roger (Linn) later this year.
I could make more predictions, except I already know a lot about what’s coming out, so the predicting is somewhat less fun. Let’s see, let’s see, something I don’t know — I predict that the panelists I assembled on Friday will propose something so ludicrous and absurd for futuristic music tech that we’ll all be forced to make it.
And protests of major guitar manufacturers. On a more sobering note, the Korean workers who make major US brands like Fender, Ibanez, and Gibson are assembling a protest of the whole show, as reported by MusicRadar. Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello is even involved. It’s guitars, which strictly speaking isn’t NAMM news – but nearly everything we make (even the inner circuits of a US-assembled monome) is built with Asian labor. If anyone can get the scoop on this protest, I’m happy to hear it.
Big 2010 NAMM news that’s… not at the NAMM show
A lot of the big news in 2010 may happen outside NAMM:
Big makers skipping trade shows: Native Instruments, for instance, is skipping pricey trade shows to talk directly to would-be customers on the Web. So if there’s an announcement from NI – among ranks of manufacturers I expect will gradually grow – it’ll be elsewhere. I hear this Web thing is going to be huge.
Renoise 2.5, 2.6: The underground tracker is adding some unique features. The 2.5 upgrades, like its unique matrix view, look cool enough, but it’s the 2.6 version, with full-blown scripting and OSC support, that gets even more interesting. We should know more about each as the year goes on. (There’s no NAMM announcement, but you can catch Renoise at the Indamixx booth on the show floor.)
Ruin & Wesen’s magic box: The techno geniuses of Ruin & Wesen have been hard at work on their MiniCommand, plus the open Miduino library – built on Arduino – that powers it. This deserves a lot more attention for things like algorithmic musical programming, but the short version: expect magical music-programming capabilities that bridge hardware and software.
OpenSoundControl/OSC: Yeah, I know: OSC has been waiting for its big breakout year for some time. But don’t forget, OSC already has new traction, from becoming a standard in live visual/VJ apps almost overnight to inclusion on new hardware. There’s some big news as far as better hardware and software implementation in the pipeline. Oh, and because it’s open, we’ll get to just talk about this, and actually make it happen. OSC won’t be at NAMM because that’s not where it belongs: it’s a way of implementing Internet standards as much as it is a way of creating music-specific protocols, and a lot of its future lies directly in your hands.
Open hardware: It won’t be on the NAMM floor, but there is a convergence of monome users, alternative developers, and even (at the party Friday night) open-hardware Arduinomes. DIY tech is something we’ll be watching in Anaheim and all year long.
…and the suitcase brigade: Technically, NAMM doesn’t allow “suitcase” behavior – that is, people showing stuff who don’t have a booth. But I have at least one product demo booked offsite at a hotel room I think you’ll like. (Whoa, that sounds way more illicit than it is.)
How to Send Us News Tips
Are you a manufacturer with a product? An attendee with photos, video, sound, or words on anything cool — even that late-night jam back in the hotel room with friends? We’d love to have you get it to us. Directions on the namm.noisepages blog: