VCV Rack free modular synthesizer updated to v0.5.0

VCV Rack 0.5.0VCV has released version 0.5.0 of its VCV Rack, the open-source virtual modular synthesizer for Windows, Mac and Linux. The update includes various improvements such as zoom scaling, a new module browser, improved support for audio drivers, and additions to the Audible Instruments and Fundamental series of modules. VCV Rack is the engine powering VCV […]

Sonus Modular updated to v0.5.0 with new modules, GUI update & more

Sonus Modular 0.5.0Sonus Dept. has released version 0.5.0 of Sonus Modular, which features new modules, a renewed GUI and bug fixes for the pack of modular for the VCV Rack. Sonus Modular is a collection of 19 modules for VCV Rack, and features various kinds of devices, such as oscillators, LFOs, loopers, a sampler, distortions, utilities, waveshapers […]

Zeppelin Intros Altura, A Theremin-Style MIDI Controller

Zeppelin Design Labs has introduced the Altura – a theremin-style MIDI controller that’s available pre-built or as as DIY project. … Read More Zeppelin Intros Altura, A Theremin-Style MIDI Controller

$30 programmable, open Arduino ArduTouch synth is here

It’s $30. It can teach you how to code – or it can just be a fun, open synth. The ArduTouch by Mitch Altman is now shipping.

I wrote about ArduTouch earlier, with loads more on the instrument’s creator:
ArduTouch is an all-in-one Arduino synthesizer learning kit for $30

It’s a simple digital instrument based on the open source Arduino prototyping and coding platform, meaning it connects to an environment widely used by artists, hobbyists, and educators. Now Mitch shares that the product is available and shipping – and because this is an open source project, there’s a dump of new code, too.

And, I just uploaded the latest version of the ArduTouch Arduino sketches, including more way cool synthesizers, and a new Arduino library including more example synths (that also act as tutorials on how to create your own synthesizers).

Arduino-based synth projects have been here and there in some form back to the early days of Arduino. And of course Arduino as a platform is often a starting point into hardware development, even for students who have never written a line of code in their lives.

What’s cool about this is, you get a reliable platform on which to upload that code, and a touch interface and speaker so you can hear results. Plus, one of Mitch’s special superpowers has long been his ability to get others involved and to teach in an accessible way – so working through his code examples is a great experience.

This being Arduino, you can program over USB.

There are some really nice, musical ideas in there – like this is something that will make sense to musicians, not just to people who like mucking about with hardware. And since the code is out there, it could inspire other such projects, even on other platforms.

Proof that it makes noises – though, of course, you’re welcome to try and make noises you like!

I’m hoping to have one for my mini-winter-holiday break (uh, whichever winter holiday I manage to wrap that around… let’s hope not St. Patrick’s Day, but sooner!)

Have at it:

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Two new ways to integrate MeeBlip triode synths with Ableton Live, free

Software control means preset recall and easy automation, on top of all that tactile control. Here’s the latest combination of our MeeBlip and Max for Live.

I don’t know exactly what astrological event causes people to decide to want to create controller layouts in Max for Live for the MeeBlip triode. But whatever it is, two friends wrote me last night from two different hemispheres to say they’d decided that they needed to create a tool for using their MeeBlip monosynths. And, with no contact with one another, they both released their work within a few hours.

Here’s what that means for you.

MeeBlip triode is our affordable, red-colored hardware synth with a friendly, edgy voice and analog filter. And we’re down to the end of this run, but … there are a few left. Plus, nice timing (they really didn’t know this) – we’ve just started our Black Friday sale early, with all the free cables you need and free North American shipping.

Ableton Live, so long as you’ve got Live Suite (that is, Max for Live included), lets you include devices that control hardware synths. Since everything you see on the front panel of triode can be controlled by MIDI – plus a few things that aren’t even there – using these add-ons lets you automate and store and recall presets.

Why would you want to do that, given you’ve already got this box with knobs and switches? Well, you might want to store and recall presets with a particular Live project, so your ‘blip is sounding the same way when you load it up and get back to work, or to save a sound you really like. And you might want to use Live’s automation controls to sculpt your sound as part of a pattern, by drawing it in or using Push hardware.

And from there, you can add additional features, like randomization.

Both of these devices are free, so you can grab both and see which you like best. From South American virtuoso hypergeek Gustavo Bravetti, comes a cute, color-coordinated design. It looks nicest, and also includes full resend, a helper for drawing envelopes, and more:

Triode CTRL 1.0

Don’t miss Gustavo’s amazing performances and so on via his Facebook artist page.

And in this corner:

Kent Williams aka Chaircrusher has made something that isn’t quite as pretty. But two nice things about it: one, you get a randomization feature. Two, as it’s based on previous, similar work, it might be a way to learn how to make these for yourself. Since the MeeBlip is nice and simple, it makes a great template.

Meeblip Triode Control 0.01

Kent’s also an awesome musician, so check out:

What? You don’t have a triode?

We can help.

Let’s start Black Friday early. Let’s start your holiday shopping season early – by making sure you (or a lucky person who’s getting a triode gift) gets all the cables the triode needs.

So now, triode includes our audio & MIDI cable bundle ($24.95 value) until November 30, or while supplies last. Free shipping in the USA. As always, our power adapter is included. And this on top of our new everyday US$119.95 price.

Have at it:

Get a MeeBlip triode synth


Here’s how MeeBlip can get you started with hardware synths

Some of our favorite MeeBlip triode synth jams

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Let’s talk about open tools at Ableton Loop and beyond

From libraries to circuits to hacks to instructions, a lot of you are sharing the stuff you make. We’re using Ableton Loop to bring some of you together.

Ableton’s Loop festival/conference/summit is now more than just a get-together for Ableton users. It’s become a kind of international music happening. And so lots of interesting folks are gathering here in Berlin later this week.

That’s just a tiny, tiny fraction of the people reading this, though. Now, if only we could get more of you here, sort of virtually.

With that in mind, I’m going to do an open call for any kind of project you’d like to share. I’ll survey these and keep tabs on them here in CDM. And for those of us who are gathering in Berlin Sunday, we can share in person and get back to all of you through the power of the Internet.

By “open,” I mean anything that has some kind of permissive license for copying and modification, or that’s totally free. It could be a project for making contact mics or documenting how to make field recordings, too – not just software and hardware. And it doesn’t have to be Ableton-related, either – I do expect a good mix of people already at this event.

Of course, with open source tools, this is really important. Just making something open source doesn’t necessarily get people to collaborate on it. So if you want to invite users, testers, collaborators, and other feedback, you need to make connections.

Here’s the notion, as described on the Loop site:

A get-together to exchange, discover, and collaborate on open and handmade hardware and software.

Sometimes, realising the sounds in your imagination means making or modding your own tools and instruments.This meetup is a chance for us to share these inventions, born of necessity, with each other. CDM editor Peter Kirn talks about how to use open licensing to allow collaboration and learning, and takes a look at some of the more interesting creations in today’s global music community. Then, he’ll hand the floor over to you. Pack your own handmade gear, custom code, patches or hacks if you’ve got them, and be ready to play with others.

Open Tools Meetup [Ableton Loop; Sunday, 11-13:00 Maker Zone]

And if you want to submit your project for that get-together (or later coverage on CDM), fire away here! I’m curious what you’re working on.

After all, CDM is what it is – and arguably Ableton Live, too – because of people getting started with creative controllers, hacks, and new ways of making and playing music. It’s time to check in on the state of that landscape, and the stuff you’re most passionate about.

(and yeah, if you sent something lately and I ignored it, please don’t be shy about nagging me now! Only so many hours in the day…)

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Audacity audio software updated to v2.2.0 incl. new interface themes

Audacity 2.2.0 lightThe Audacity open source cross-platform audio software for multi-track recording and editing has been updated to version 2.2.0. The update includes new interface themes, MIDI playback, and many other improvements and bug fixes. Changes in Audacity 2.2.0 Four supplied user interface themes, and customizability of themes for advanced users (thanks to James Crook and the […]

Leave this free software running, and it’ll come up with rhythms for you

Have you ever wanted to enslave your own Aphex Twin, then have him make endless rhythms for you, but worried about care and feeding of a Richard D. James?

Do you want to soak up the glory of the life of an IDM musician (the touring in helicopters, the seven-figure royalties), but want to avoid the actual work of making the music?

Well, then this Csound-based tool is for you. Leave it running, and it’ll generate a whole folder full of rhythms and various bpm. Dump those into Ableton Live, pick out the ones you like, and … ah, okay, now you will have to do some work turning this into music. (Effects …. maybe. Arrangement … well, or just loop one endlessly and pop off for lunch. Or make them into something new, original, and very much your own. Kind of up to you, really, though soon we should have some machine learning that decides for you what you probably would like to choose.)

It’s all the fault – erm, work – of one Micah Frank, who actually makes his living as a sound designer. (Meaning, of course – Micah what are you doing?!) Switch it on, and wait for hundreds of sounds to come your way.

Right now, it’s pretty simple – and it takes all night because it’s real-time, not offline. (On the other hand, you could output sound and have lovely, very weird and erratic, sonic wallpaper.) But Micah plans lots of additional features here, plus a whole compositional environment.

So there you have it. Skip the all nighter. Catch up on sleep.

You saw it here first.

Nice to see this sketch from when this was conceived.

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Jason Grier releases free Demonstration Disc sound library

Jason GrierAbleton has announced the Demonstration Disc sound library, a collection of free sounds and Ableton Live devices from Jason Grier’s latest album Demonstration Disc. Demonstration Disc is a new album by Jason Grier. It’s also a collection of over 1800 samples and generative Ableton Live music tools which Grier spent the past four years carving, […]

Jazzari lets you sketch musical ideas in your browser, with JavaScript

Open up a browser tab, use code sketch musical loops and grooves (using trigonometry, even), and play / export – all in this free tool.

Jazzari has been making the rounds among passionate music tech nerds, as a lovely free code toy. There are a bunch of easy-to-modify tutorial examples, so you don’t necessarily have to know any JavaScript or code. But there’s no graphical control at all – that visualization and the cute cartoon characters are just to give you feedback on what the code does.

So — why?

Developer Jack Schaedler is quick to caution that this is neither intended for teaching code nor teaching music, that better tools exist for each. (Sonic Pi is a particularly accessible entry for learning how to express musical ideas as code, used even by kids!)

Then again, you don’t have to believe him. That same spirit that made him decide to do this for fun seems to be infectious. And this might be an entry into making this stuff.

For coders, it’s yet another chance to discover some code and libraries and perhaps bits and pieces and inspiration for your own next project. For everyone else, well, it’s a terrific distraction.

And you can export MIDI, so this could start a new musical project.

By the way, someone want to join me in building this actual inspiration for Jazzari? It could be killer by next summer, at least.

The name is a riff on the 12th century scholar and inventor Ismail al-Jazari. al-Jazari is thought to have invented one of the first programmable musical machines, a “musical automaton, which was a boat with four automatic musicians that floated on a lake to entertain guests at royal drinking parties.”

Bonus, for my Arabic, Kurdish, and Persian friends in electronic music – no one knows which of those accurately can claim this guy. We clearly need to get something going.

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