Create Analog Music: All-Analog Kick Percussion Joins Compact Boutique Range

Kicker (Front View)

Image courtesy Abstract Data. Rockstar sparkle not included.

Operating small runs out of his basement, Justin Owen is on a mission to bring his idiosyncratic, all-analog sounds to musicians in affordable, portable form.

“Affordable” and “portable” often aren’t associated with analog, though even players as big as KORG have gotten in on the game recently, with KORG’s monotron. Now that musicians are spoiled for choice in “things making noise with numbers or electricity,” though, I think there’s added pressure. For lack of a better way to put it, you have to be interesting.

And Justin’s circuits are indeed interesting. The latest addition is entitled “Kicker,” a 100%-analog “low frequency percussion synth” that’s as specialized as it sounds. At GBP95, I don’t doubt that some of the few dozen of these that will ever be made will find their way into digital workflows. For my part, I’ve hidden my wallet in the other room and placed a block filter on eBay. (Don’t ask about the other evening when James Grahame of Retro Thing and I narrowly avoided investing in multi-port MIDI merge racks.) But I have got some details on this gear for you, and some thoughts from Justin about his approach.

First, the specs on Kicker, Justin’s latest creation.

100% Analog, hand-made and tested in-house
Dual sine-wave oscillators with independent Pitch control
Punch switch for aggressive, high-impact sounds
Attack switch & Envelope Decay control
Can be Triggered using line-level Audio or a CV Pulse
Kick drums, sub drops, bass hits and more
Capable of very low frequencies
Manual available for download as a PDF file
Chrome-plated case & pro hardware
Runs off a standard 12 Volt DC adapter (not included) at approx. 300-500mA with a Negative Tip.
Limited-edition run, on sale while stocks last

You can have a look at the full manual:
Kicker manual [PDF]

Here’s a sense of the sound range of the device – overdubbed, but completely dry:
Kicker Preview 02: Deep Drops, Hard Hits & Bass Percussion by abstractjuz

And here’s the sound of just one of the two kick oscillators:
Kicker Preview 01: Single Oscillator Kick Drum by abstractjuz

“Abstract Data is currently just me and it’s still early days. I run this entirely off my own back out of my basement,” says Justin. “My priority right now is the design and build of affordable, portable, analog instruments and effects that sound good and are good to play.”

I asked about whether he’d consider going open source with his designs, and Justin says he’s interested, though lacks the experience to make that a priority. (Open sourcing hardware is not trivial by any means; I’ll be covering some of those issues later today and through the fall.)

Here’s Justin on his approach to sound:

I have fairly specific views on how analog should sound and part of that is that it’s not always linear and easy to control. Sometimes it’s downright unpredictable. Sometimes that contradicts ‘good’ design rules – so getting it working alongside the digital domain is something that needs to be done right – rather than just poking a micro at it.

FYI – the core circuit is based on my own implementation of the Twin-T oscillator which has been around since at least the 70’s. It’s a *great* circuit with loads of funny little oddities to explore and for people who are into tinkering/modding/hacking I’d definitely recommend they look up some variations of it and get it on a breadboard.

Naturally, unpredictable and non-linear don’t exactly scream “MIDI control,” but that’s something that may be on the horizon, as well:

MIDI control of my instruments is a huge priority and that is coming. OSC is another thing I’ve had my eye on for a while now. Small steps and for now my priority is building ‘instruments’ – not computers.

For now, what you get instead is a unique box full of personality. I can imagine for people with computer-based rigs, having something like this to inject some unpredictable analog goodness can have a lot of appeal.

The Hex range of analog synths and effects are also quite nice to look at; here’s a glimpse of them all in action:

More info on Justin’s official site:
http://abstractdata.biz/

…and his eBay page:
http://myworld.ebay.co.uk/ad_tools

Create Analog Music: All-Analog Kick Percussion Joins Compact Boutique Range

Kicker (Front View)

Image courtesy Abstract Data. Rockstar sparkle not included.

Operating small runs out of his basement, Justin Owen is on a mission to bring his idiosyncratic, all-analog sounds to musicians in affordable, portable form.

“Affordable” and “portable” often aren’t associated with analog, though even players as big as KORG have gotten in on the game recently, with KORG’s monotron. Now that musicians are spoiled for choice in “things making noise with numbers or electricity,” though, I think there’s added pressure. For lack of a better way to put it, you have to be interesting.

And Justin’s circuits are indeed interesting. The latest addition is entitled “Kicker,” a 100%-analog “low frequency percussion synth” that’s as specialized as it sounds. At GBP95, I don’t doubt that some of the few dozen of these that will ever be made will find their way into digital workflows. For my part, I’ve hidden my wallet in the other room and placed a block filter on eBay. (Don’t ask about the other evening when James Grahame of Retro Thing and I narrowly avoided investing in multi-port MIDI merge racks.) But I have got some details on this gear for you, and some thoughts from Justin about his approach.

First, the specs on Kicker, Justin’s latest creation.

100% Analog, hand-made and tested in-house
Dual sine-wave oscillators with independent Pitch control
Punch switch for aggressive, high-impact sounds
Attack switch & Envelope Decay control
Can be Triggered using line-level Audio or a CV Pulse
Kick drums, sub drops, bass hits and more
Capable of very low frequencies
Manual available for download as a PDF file
Chrome-plated case & pro hardware
Runs off a standard 12 Volt DC adapter (not included) at approx. 300-500mA with a Negative Tip.
Limited-edition run, on sale while stocks last

You can have a look at the full manual:
Kicker manual [PDF]

Here’s a sense of the sound range of the device – overdubbed, but completely dry:
Kicker Preview 02: Deep Drops, Hard Hits & Bass Percussion by abstractjuz

And here’s the sound of just one of the two kick oscillators:
Kicker Preview 01: Single Oscillator Kick Drum by abstractjuz

“Abstract Data is currently just me and it’s still early days. I run this entirely off my own back out of my basement,” says Justin. “My priority right now is the design and build of affordable, portable, analog instruments and effects that sound good and are good to play.”

I asked about whether he’d consider going open source with his designs, and Justin says he’s interested, though lacks the experience to make that a priority. (Open sourcing hardware is not trivial by any means; I’ll be covering some of those issues later today and through the fall.)

Here’s Justin on his approach to sound:

I have fairly specific views on how analog should sound and part of that is that it’s not always linear and easy to control. Sometimes it’s downright unpredictable. Sometimes that contradicts ‘good’ design rules – so getting it working alongside the digital domain is something that needs to be done right – rather than just poking a micro at it.

FYI – the core circuit is based on my own implementation of the Twin-T oscillator which has been around since at least the 70′s. It’s a *great* circuit with loads of funny little oddities to explore and for people who are into tinkering/modding/hacking I’d definitely recommend they look up some variations of it and get it on a breadboard.

Naturally, unpredictable and non-linear don’t exactly scream “MIDI control,” but that’s something that may be on the horizon, as well:

MIDI control of my instruments is a huge priority and that is coming. OSC is another thing I’ve had my eye on for a while now. Small steps and for now my priority is building ‘instruments’ – not computers.

For now, what you get instead is a unique box full of personality. I can imagine for people with computer-based rigs, having something like this to inject some unpredictable analog goodness can have a lot of appeal.

The Hex range of analog synths and effects are also quite nice to look at; here’s a glimpse of them all in action:

More info on Justin’s official site:
http://abstractdata.biz/

…and his eBay page:
http://myworld.ebay.co.uk/ad_tools

The Double Slide Controller

Click here to view the embedded video.

Tomas Henriques plays his Double Slide Controller, First Prize winner at the 2010 Guthman Musical Instruments Competition, held at Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology.

The annual competition is supported by the philanthropy of alumnus Richard Guthman in honor of his musical wife, Margaret.

“This event underscores our role as a center of innovation in music,” said Frank Clark, Chair of Georgia Tech’s School of Music. “Thanks to the Guthmans, this competition will expose new paradigms of expression year after year.”

“It was very interesting to meet all the participants and see the wealth of new ideas for new instruments that aim at breaking new frontiers in the performance of electronic music,” said Henriques. “Georgia Tech, with the philanthropic aid of the Guthman family, is doing a great job to the development of the field of music technology.”

Turn Your iPhone Or iPod Touch Into A Keytar!

Strange Musical Instruments: One day, at a BBQ restaurant in Shinjuku, Tokyo, iPhone lovers were getting together to have a good time.

One of the guys was performing guitar with an iPhone application. Then he said,”I want a guitar amp for this” to someone from Bird Electron, a company known for its speaker design for iPod/iPhone.

And, out of this, the EVENNO Fingerist iPod keytar thing was invented.

Actually, there’s more to the story.

EVENNO notes that “In its new product planning meetings, alcohol serves as a lubricant to come up with extraordinary ideas.”We’ve mentioned the Fingerist previously – but now official specs and pricing are available.

The Fingerist is a new iPhone/iPod touch accessory that lets you play your applications as if you are actually playing musical instruments. This music adapter has a built-in speaker that operates on 3 AA batteries, which will should let you play up to 6 hours.

Fingerist can be used as an audio speaker when you simply want to play music louder. And, since it has a built-in line-out for a guitar amplifier, you just need to plug in the amplifier and adjust the volume to enjoy a live performance.

iPhone 3G/3GS and iPod touch (2nd/3rd?firmly fit to The Fingerist with the silicone case which is included in the package.

The Fingerist is priced at US $150.00.

Details at the EVENNO site.

Free Modular Computer Music Environment For Composition & Analysis

Free Music Software: AthenaCL is a free modular, object orientated, interactive command-line environment for music analysis and algorithmic composition. Scores are created in Csound as well as standard MIDI files.

Musical parts are deployed as textures, layered surface-defining objects containing linked parameter objects to control pitch, tempo, rhythm, amplitude, panning, and Csound synthesis and control parameters. The system includes an integrated library of Csound instruments

Parameter objects provide generators using stochastic, genetic, and various other algorithms. Textures can be combined, edited, cloned, and tuned with algorithmic temperament objects.

The analytic and algorithmic systems use path objects to organize and share pitch data.

Based on post-tonal music theory, paths provide simultaneous representations of ordered content groups in set-class, pitch-class, and pitch space. Paths can be modeled with the Straus voice leading system and analyzed with numerous set-class similarity measures. As a reference utility for music theory, pitch groups can be searched, analyzed, and compared with a wide variety of tools.

The software is open-source, cross-platform, and written in Python and XML.

It’s available as a free download from the Flexatone site.