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Musical Instrument Digital Interface

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Thavius Beck live in Los Angeles playing the legendary Low End Theory party, in 2009.

Whadayaknow, Ableton users?

Whether you’re an existing user or considering it for the first time, this month online school Dubspot is giving away 30 video lessons on using the software, free, through the end of June only. So, I turned to my friend Thavius Beck (Plug Research Records), LA-based producer and rapper, and master instructor, to make something exclusively for CDM to add a little more free knowledge. If you are playing with Ableton for the first time, you can unlock the 30-day free trial and give it a shot.

I’m just glad to read Thavius’ tips. You’ll feel a little more like an expert afterward, I guarantee – or, alternatively, count how many of these you did already know. (Yes, some of us have been using Live since its first release.)

30 Tips for Ableton Live

Thavius Beck

1. Holding SHIFT while adjusting a Transpose parameter with your UP/DOWN arrow keys will Transpose by an octave instead of 1 semitone

2. “Z” will transpose your computer keyboard DOWN one octave. “X” will transpose it UP one octave

3. “C” decreases the velocity of midi notes entered with the computer keyboard or mouse by 20. “V” increases the velocity by 20

4. You can disable the grid in the Arrangement View and in the Sample Editor by Right-Clicking in the grid area, and selecting OFF under Fixed Grid in the contextual menu

5. Individual drum cells in Impulse can be routed to other audio tracks to be mixed separately or given individual effects. Enable the I-O (inputs and outputs) button on the Session View, and in the Audio From tab select your Impulse instrument. In the tab below that, you’ll see all the sounds in your Impulse. Choose one, then either arm the track or set the Monitor status to IN.

6. The Ableton Device Spectrum not only shows you the frequencies being generated by your music in real time, it also will show you the specific note that a frequency corresponds to. Hold your mouse anywhere over the graphical display in Spectrum and a box in the lower right corner will show you the exact frequency, decibel level, and corresponding note based on where your mouse is.

7. If you have Live Suite, when using Slice to New Midi track try slicing to a single Sampler instead of the Built-In preset. When your slices are in the Sampler, you can change the pitch, attack, decay, voices, etc. of all the slices at once without using Macro knobs.

8. Right-clicking on the crossfader allows you to choose different crossfader curves.

9. If your audio interface has multiple outputs that are enabled (go to Live’s Audio Preferences and select Output Config), you can enable a separate CUE output so you can monitor on your headphones without affecting what is coming out of the Master. Make sure your I-O button is enabled, and on the master channel you will see Cue Out and Master Out. If the Cue Out is different from the Master out, your tracks solo buttons will become cue buttons, allowing you to cue up tracks in the headphones while the party people continue to party…

10. AutoFilter and Gate also have sidechain sections that allow an incoming signal to trigger/exaggerate/alter the effect.

11. Right-clicking on the metronome allows you to set a count-in. Helpful if you need to record something right at the beginning of bar 1.

12. If you need to record multiple tracks at once, go to Live’s Preferences, select the Record/Warp/Launch tab, and under the Record section disable the Arm button next to where it says Exclusive (you can also do the same thing to the Solo button if you want to solo multiple tracks). Ed.: I feel a little differently than Thavius on this one. I like that when you arm one track, you de-arm another. Generally, if I do want to arm multiple tracks, I’d rather hold down the “shift” key when selecting arm – the same for Solo. So consider that an alternative tip 12! -PK)

13. If you haven’t already, stay in that same page of Live’s preferences and turn off Auto-Warp Long Samples. This will prevent Live from putting a million incorrect warp markers on your audio when drag a longer audio file into it and enable Warp.

14. Complex warp mode may sound better than Beats for warping full songs and playing them below their original tempo, but be careful… Complex and Complex Pro are the only two warping algorithms that alter the quality of your audio even when it’s playing at the original tempo. They can also introduce some odd phasing issues when playing song with deep sub bass… Complex Pro is good for acapellas, but I suggest using either mode with a bit of caution before playing a gig…

15. If you change the Global Clip Quantization to NONE, you can scrub through your audio in the Sample Editor by hovering your mouse right below the loop bracket (so it becomes a speaker icon), click and hold, then drag the speaker icon through your audio clip.

16. You can create your own Slice to Midi preset by opening up a blank Drum Rack or Sampler, adjusting the parameters to your liking (you could even add effects to the blank Drum Rack if you like), save your new preset by hitting the disk icon in the upper right corner of the effect (or rack), and then dragging that preset into the following folder in your Live Library: Library/Defaults/Slicing. Next time you Slice to a New Midi track, try out your new preset…

17. Another way to manually “slice” a sample is to drop an Audio Clip into several different empty cells in the Drum Rack, and change the start point on each on so they each play a different part of the sample. The same thing can be done with the Sampler.

18. You can remove the Stop button from a blank clip slot by Right-clicking inside of it and selecting “Remove Stop Button” (or use the shortcut Command/Ctrl-E)

19. You can set the launch tempo of a Scene by Right-clicking inside the scene (next to the scene number) and selecting Edit Launch Tempo, then type in the tempo. You can also just rename the scene and type in the tempo followed by BPM.

20. You can also set the launch time signature of a Scene by Right-clicking inside the scene and selecting Edit Launch Time Signature, and then type in the time signature. You can also just rename the scene and type in the time signature (e.g. 7/8).

21. If you press DELETE while any parameter is selected, it will be returned to its default setting.

22. Double-clicking on any of Live’s Browser shortcut buttons will collapse any unfolded folders.

23. You can write your own notes in the Info View of clips by Right-clicking on any audio or midi clip and selecting Edit Info Text

24. You can drag any Groove Pool template into a midi clip slot to see the velocity and timing of the groove.

25. You can change the Launch Quantization of individual clips by enabling the Show Launch Button (the L button under the Clip View) and changing the Quantization from Global to something else.

26. If you want to MIDI or KEY map buttons to let you select or scroll through your Scenes, select with MIDI or KEY map, and you’ll notice buttons that appear above the Master fader and below the Stop Clips button. The first button will play the selected scene, the next two are arrows that can be mapped to buttons to select the next or previous scene, and the final box can be mapped to a rotary knob to scroll through your scenes.

27. You can automate tempo changes in the Arrangement View on the Master channel. On the Master channel in the Arrangement View, select Mixer in the Device chooser box (top chooser box), and then in the Automation control chooser (bottom choose box) you’ll be able to select Song Tempo.

28. If you select a parameter, it will be selected in the Automation chooser box on that track automatically. This is very helpful if you want to automate a parameter but aren’t sure exactly where to find it in the automation chooser box.

29. You can drag and drop a quicktime movie into the arrangement view so you can write music to picture.

30. If you set Locate Points in the arrangement view, you can MIDI or KEY map buttons to the Previous and Next Locator buttons (the left and right arrows above the first track in the arrangement view).

BONUS – Enable Info View to find out about any parameter that your mouse is hovering over. Very helpful if you don’t know all of the areas I refer to in the previous tips. Enjoy!

For more of this kind of knowledge, check out Dubspot’s full 30-lesson course with Thavius free – while you can.

“Did You Know?” Video Series

Very much along the lines of these 30 tips, earlier this year, Thavius also did a series of videos for Dubspot entitled “Did you know?” They focus on topics you perhaps should know about Ableton Live, but that some users – beginning and advanced alike – might have missed. Here’s that complete series.


Once More, From the Top: Learn Ableton Live in Videos, from the Very Beginning


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If you’re dreaming of creating your own controller from scratch, there are certain basic elements you’ll need – and a strong case for reusing, not reinventing, the wheel. There are a range of products out there that cater to you DIYers; Livid’s Builder line is certainly one of the most comprehensive. It’s a line of hardware accessories that help you piece together MIDI controllers with all the requisite knobs and buttons and sensors you might like, and its brain just got an upgrade.

The soul of any controller is the electronics and microcontroller that read all of those inputs and let them talk to a computer. And it’s that “brain” that Livid recently upgraded, with their Builder Brain v2. Messages from controls go in, messages to devices like lights go out, all via a connection to your computer that’s USB powered, class-compliant MIDI. (That means you won’t need any drivers – not on Mac, not on Windows, and not on Linux. You could even plug this into one of those Raspberry Pi devices, if you’re lucky enough to have one!) They also operate standalone with a 5V power supply.

The Brain v2 is for some seriously large and complex controllers, with support for up to 64 analog inputs, 128 Buttons, and 192 LEDs. (Fortunately, a companion board called the Omni, and connections via ribbon cables, mean that you won’t create complete spaghetti trying to do that.) In fact, it’s so powerful I’d recommend considering something simpler for less-ambitious projects, but if you’re planning a big controller, it’s tough to beat Livid’s offerings.

New in v2:

  • A Bus Board for easier control connections
  • LED support up from 48 to 192, extra circuitry for ultra-brights.
  • Encoders now work with LED encoder ring support, so you can make a big circle of ultra-bright lights to go around your encoder.
  • RGB LED support.
  • 5V standalone power is new.

Add those features to cool extras from the original, like accelerometer and velocity-sensitive surface support and programmable MIDI settings.

CDM asks Livid’ Jay Smith to tell us what this is all about.

CDM: Who is this for?

Jay: That’s kind of a loaded question! It’s really for anyone wanting to create a class-complaint MIDI device of their own. An artist, a maker of commercial products, a musician, a visualist? With Brain version 1 we’ve seen a MIDI controlled electric mandolin, Moldover’s Mojo, and The Choppertone to name a few. We’ve also powered some other pretty sophisticated commercial devices for other companies with it, so it’s not just a DIY solution.

With v2 we’ve really expanded the functionality by adding almost any kind of control you’d want to hook up to it, and made the process of doing that much easier. If you are talking about standard MIDI controller type controls, our Omni board support thousands of configurations with just one circuit board. This isn’t just for building “controllers” in terms of software controllers either. We’ve added external power so you can use it to control analog gear and other MIDI controlled devices.

Apart from those examples, what can you build with Builder and the Brain?

Anything that has a button, LEDs, potentiometer, encoder, FSRs, accelerometers, sensors, and more. Single LEDs, RGB LEDs, and “groups” of LEDs of 6,12, or 24 can be created and controlled with one MIDI note or CC or locally controlled with an encoder or pot. As a result, inventive, designs with interesting lighting feedback are possible. VU meters driven by CCs, or a clever array of LEDS that make glyphs or patterns can be arranged with your controls to provide novel, custom feedback that would never make it on Guitar Center’s shelves, but mean something special to you. The omni board provides enough physical limitation that you can think about a “chunk” of a controller and isolates parts of your project into digestible parts, and allows you to sensibly expand and modify your control surface with only 1 brain.

Why would you choose this over another platform?

Frankly there is no other platform for controller building that is this packed with features, well documented and supported, and easy to use. Since the release of Brain v1 three years ago we’ve spent a lot of time listening to our user’s requests, thinking about the features we’d like for our own use, and developing them into a platform for others to use. We didn’t spend much time looking at what else was out there, we looked for what wasn’t and tried to fill in those gaps. When it comes to building your own device, whether for creating music, controlling lights, or something else completely, there are really only other “solutions”, not platforms, which is what we intended to create.

Who is this not for?

If you are looking for an all-in-one solution for your dream controller but don’t want to do any of the labor, this is definitely not for you. We’ve really set out to create the most comprehensive platform that has the smallest learning curve. There are some other great solutions out there, but some of them either have a big learning curve or require programming to achieve results. If you have a smaller project and don’t care about MIDI, the ability to edit, expand, and have a long terms solution, there are certainly cheaper solutions out there. We tried to make the process more streamlined, feature packed, and have taken a lot of the guesswork out of it with Brain v2. With the addition of the Bus Board we’ve added things like resistors, transistors, and chips that make the building process much easier.

Quick start video:

Find out more:


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monotribe, in limited silver and gold. Photo by Marsha Vdovin for CDM.

It’s a beautiful thing when music hardware improves with age. And lately, that’s been what’s happening to Korg’s monotribe and monotron. Over the past few months, we’ve seen a major update from Korg for the monotribe that makes its sequencing functions easier and more useful. To save you the trouble of navigating the Korg Japan site – a difficulty for those of us who don’t speak Japanese – here on CDM, we’ve got a number of downloads for saving monotron patches, and the Japan-exclusive overlay for the monotribe update. And, courtesy enterprising hackers in Brazil unassociated with Korg, a monotribe MIDI update gives the hardware the feature it sorely lacks.

And how many videos do we have of all of this? Too many videos.

Grab some downloads, and see what’s new:

The monotron update: Over the new year, Korg updated their monotribe drum machine/synth, with expanded steps up to (at last) 16, volume automation, easier sequencing, drum rolls, gate time hold, and sample and hold, along with sync. Oddly, you update the monotribe by playing it an audio file. (Better hope it doesn’t contain a Cylon virus.)

More on the System Version 2 update (in English):

And in Japanese:

And some words of wisdom in mangled English translation, courtesy Google Translate:

Monotribe stuck to the analog sound, even how to update the analog stick to technique. Past, as had been loaded by the cassette tape to PC data, has adopted a voice in how to update using monotribe.

(Real translation: because there aren’t any ports on the monotribe, the hack is playing it an audio file.)

And on the availability of the overlays, see if you can make sense of this:

Get in the music stores nationwide !
Reversal from heavy image of monotribe so far, has started distribution of the national musical instrument dealers in sequential overlay of vivid yellow color, such as the intensity of the synth sounds tell. Because there is limited number of people you want to soon.

(Real translation: if you don’t live in Japan, or simply missed out, print out this PDF.)

Get your circuit diagrams, patch storage sheets, and overlays. [monotron/monotribe] Thanks to reader Mutis Mayfield, we’ve got a whole bundle of PDFs for monotribe and monotron owners to enjoy. You can get your own overlays – otherwise available only apparently in dealers in Japan – provided you can work out how to print them so they look nice. And you get some terrific other additions, including the latest circuit schematics (in case you’ve missed their intentional appearance on the Interwebs), and even patch sheets. (Prior to the MeeBlip’s recent addition of patch storage, we referred to these cheekily as Hipster Patch Storage. You need a marker.)

Via Scribd, we’ve got all those downloads for you, so enjoy.

KORG monotron and monotribe goodies [cdmblogs @Scribd]

Updated: Seems Scribd couldn’t handle the complexity of those schematics. (What, no one taught their plug-in Electrical Engineering?) So here they are, switfly downloading from our servers:

monotron DELAY schematic [PDF]

monotron DUO schematic [PDF]

(Please link to this page on CDM and not to these files directly, unless you hate us.)

These PDFs are marked for public distribution, courtesy Korg. Speaking of which, it’s really nice to see Korg releasing that overlay under a Creative Commons license. (I suppose that means you could translate it and release the translated version, too, if you’re an especially big, multi-lingual monotribe fan!)

Adding MIDI to the monotribe

From Brazil, Amazing Machines have done a clever MIDI input and output mod for the monotribe. Now, some of us (cough, cough) think this should have been on the hardware in the first place, but the mod really is quite clever, so lovers of the monotribe get something that they should really love.

Even though it’s a mod, you just plug the thing in – no soldering required. And while you may have seen this mod before, the Brazilians have been busy working on improving it. New features, introduced late in February and shipping now:

  • MIDI output: MIDI clock, arpeggiator from the synth section, trigger info from the rhythm section, and even the ability to use the ribbon controller as note, volume controller, and gate time.
  • CC output.
  • Using sync I/O on the monotribe, converts MIDI clock to sync pulse or the other way around.
  • Improved DIN connectors.

All of this is now pre-assembled at US$64. You can even get US$10 off if you ordered the previous version.

Owners’ manual, more info:

Videos: monotribe v2

Korg Japan shows off those new features:

Videos: monotribe + MIDITRIBE

A look at what’s new in the revised hardware:

And from our friend Nick at Sonic State, a video review of the unit:


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Building on the original Midi Fighter, a 4×4 array of arcade push-buttons, the Midi Fighter 3D adds interactive, light-up color feedback and gyroscope-powered motion sensing. The work of electronic music site DJ Tech Tools, it’s an impressive-looking piece of work. But if you’re not interested in the “3D” sensing, don’t overlook the clever color feedback and bank shifting, which could prove as much of a draw.

The Midi Fighter 3D, announced today, will ship in April at US$249. There are now orders yet, but there is a preorder list.

DJ Tech Tools is pushing the 3D orientation functionality. In a good way, it mirrors a bit of the branding and design we see from Nintendo (well, at least that “3D” moniker). If you don’t mind moving your controller around as you play, it looks like it can do some impressive things. Dan White of DJTT explains how it works to CDM:

The 3D uses a gyroscope and a compass to track the position of the controller in space. The gyroscope tracks relative position (meaning angling the controller towards any of its sides), and the compass tracks rotation along the same plane that the controller is on (think turning the controller like a steering wheel).

While the sensing may not appeal to everybody, the big advantage here is integrating continuous control of parameters (which buttons obviously lack), in a way that’s integrated into the design and gestural.

A wrist-strap will be available, and designed in such a way that you can access all the controls, including even those on the side.

At $249, though, fans of the original could easily justify the purchase based solely on the new light-up, assignable color indicators on the buttons. Apart from looking cool, they promise to make elaborate control setups possible, with the aid of bank controls and lots of customization in the software. You get four banks of controls via the top, but there are also six nicely-integrated triggers on the side which can be used for whatever you like. That could give you more banks, effect kill switches, or some other function you haven’t thought of yet. The fimware can send up to 68 unique Control Change messages and 70 button messages, so presumably DJTT is betting – as they have with their other product line – on lots of preset ideas for different performance rigs and styles.

All of this communication happens via MIDI, so using it with your favorite software is a cinch.


  • Included configuration software
  • Customizable RGB arcade buttons: 4 x 4 button array, with individually-addressable light-up RGB feedback on each button
  • Four banks, six side buttons
  • 3D motion tracking of five movements

It’s hard not to notice the cable in the images. DJ Tech Tools tells us that’s their own DJTT USB cable, which will be bundled with the hardware and also available separately. They say it’s a “high-quality” USB cable – I’m guessing the main test is whether it can stand up to moving the hardware around, since it isn’t wireless. Having right-angle USB cables is hugely useful in tight corners, though; Hosa was showing off something like that at NAMM and I’m happy to replace my USB collection with them.

Also worth noting: DJTT says they’re applying for a patent on the five-way motion control tracking method they’ve developed. (I find the patent process to be pricey and arcane, personally, but I’ll be interested to see how it goes for them!)

$249 seems to me a really good deal for this gear, but if you liked the brute-force simplicity of the original controller – and its greater customization options – the Classic remains available, starting at US$119.99.

More details:
Introducing the Midi Fighter 3D [DJ Tech Tools]

Images courtesy DJ Tech Tools. And yes, we’ve got high-res images, so click for big, gear-pr0n-ny closer looks.

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As Max for Live has matured, this tool for extending the functionality of Ableton Live has played host to a growing wave of brilliant custom tools – enough so that it can be hard to keep track. This month saw a few that deserve special mention. In particular, two tools help make MIDI mapping and automation recording easier in Live, and point the way for what the host itself could implement in a future update. (Live 9, we’re looking at you.) And in a very different vein, from Max for Live regular Protofuse, we see an intriguing alternative approach to sequencing.

Clip Automation does something simple: it patches a limitation in Live itself, by allowing you to record mapped automation controls directly in the Session View clips. (As the developer puts it, it grabs your “knob-twisting craziness in Session View.”) The work of Tête De Son (Jul), it’s an elegant enough solution that I hope the Abletons take note.

Clip Automation

Mapulator goes even further, re-conceiving how mapping in general works in Ableton – that is, how Live processes a change in an input (like a knob) with a change in a parameter (like a filter cutoff). Live does allow you to set minimum and maximum mappings, and reverse direction of those mappings. But the interpolation between the two is linear. Mapulator allows you to ramp in curves or even up and down again.

There’s more: you can also control multiple parameters, each at different rates. And that can be a gateway into custom devices, all implemented in control mappings. BentoSan writes:

For example, if you wanted to create a delay effect that morphs into a phaser, then cuts out and finally morphs into a reverb with an awesome freeze effect, you would be able to do this with just a single knob…

Again, this seems to me not just a clever Max for Live hack, but an illustration of how Ableton itself might work all the time, in that it’s a usable and general solution to a need many users have. Sometimes the itch Max for Live patchers scratch is an itch other people have, too.

Lots of additional detail and the full download on the excellent DJ TechTools:
Mapulator: An Advanced MIDI Mapping Tool for Ableton

Protoclidean We’ve seen Euclidean rhythms many times before, but this takes the notion of these evenly-spaced rhythmic devices to a novel sequencer. Developed by Julien Bayle, aka artist Protofuse, the Max for Live device is also a nice use of JavaScript in Max patching. See it in action in the video above. There are custom display options for added visual feedback, and whereas we’ve seen Euclidean notions in use commonly with percussion, the notion here is melodic gestures. Additional features:

  • Eight channels
  • Independent pitch, velocity, and offset controls
  • Scale mapping
  • For percussion, map to General MIDI drum maps (Eep – darn you, English, we’re using the word “map” a lot!)
  • Randomization
  • MIDI thru, transport sync, more…

More information:

Also, if you’re looking for more goodness to feed your Live rig, Ableton has added a new section to their own site called Library. You can find specific Max for Live content in that area, as well:

This is in addition to the community-hosted, community-run, not-officially-Ableton Max for Live library, which is the broadest resource online for Max for Live downloads:


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FRACT is a curious combination of music studio and puzzle game, merging elements of games like Myst with the sorts of synths and pattern editors you’d expect somewhere like Ableton Live. You have to make sounds and melodies to solve puzzles; by the end of the game, say the creators, you’re even producing original music. The work of a small student team out of Montreal, FRACT looks like it has all the makings of an underground indie hit – at least for music nerds.

As the creators describe it:

FRACT is a first person adventure game for Windows & Mac much in the vein of the Myst titles, but with an electro twist. Gameplay boils down to three core activities: Explore, Rebuild, Create. The player is let loose into an abstract world built on sound and structures inspired by electronic music. It’s left to the player to explore the environment to find clues to resurrect and revive the long-forgotten machinery of this musical world, in order to unlock its inner workings. Drawing inspiration from Myst, Rez and Tron, the game is also influenced by graphic design, data visualization, electronic music and analog culture.

The hub of the game is a virtual studio, collecting patterns and timbres. It’s right now in prototype phase, but it already looks visually stunning, an alien, digital world in which more-conventional step-sequencer views seem to emerge from futuristic landscapes. And you can spot Pd in the background (the free and open source patching tool, Pure Data), so libpd seems a must. That enables synths with sounds like phase modulation and classic virtual analog sounds, all modulating and generating sounds in-game.

The developers have also published plenty of sound samples so you can experience the musical side of this. Via SoundCloud:

While never released, one place some similar ideas has shown up is a prototype game inspired by Deadmau5. As in this title, two-dimensional editing screens and synth parameters are mapped to a first-person, three-dimensional environment. However, FRACT appears to take this concept much further, expanding upon the world, building more instruments, and actually turning those interactions into gameplay elements. The video of the Deadmau5 project – apparently done in-house for fun and not endorsed by the mouse-headed artist:

That title was the work of a game house called Floaty Hybrid; music blog Synthtopia got the scoop on this in August:
Mau5Bot Sequencer Lets You Make Music In A 3D World [Synthtopia]

We’ll be watching this one develop, certainly; good luck to the team!


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You know the type. The drummer who, even robbed of drum sticks, is tapping on the walls, the car door, the desk… and maybe you are that person. When rhythms and musical gestures are bouncing around your head, the whole world just feels like something you want to play. It seems as natural as breathing.

So, given your computer can make anything an input, why shouldn’t it let you play like that?

A new controller and software combo seeks to make that possible. The work of one enterprising musician and creator, Stephan Vankov, it includes an affordable accessory with a piezo microphone and companion software to map it your taps to MIDI messages, for use with your favorite software musical instruments. Plug in the mic sensor, and you can tap your desk or slap your laptop or play any other surface.

We’ve seen this idea in various iterations before – most recently, at the party we co-sponsored in Los Angeles last month, we witnessed an entire ensemble using the motion sensors in their laptops. (That tool is available as an open source download, if you fancy hitting your computer.) Until now, though, these piezo controller rigs been a DIY affair. Stephan’s solution includes what appears to be nicely-made hardware — so you can dump it in your carry-on without worry. And the software includes a wide array of settings to map more easily to percussion and melodic instruments. (The software is now available for Mac, but with Windows and Max for Live versions on the way.) I hope to get one to test soon.

Intro pricing begins at US$59.

Stephan writes:

I wanted to let you know about a product I’ve been developing – the Pulse Surface Controller. The idea behind Pulse Surface Controller is to liberate computer-based musicians from conventional input devices of predetermined form factor and layout, and allow the user to turn a surface of various size, orientation and material into an expressive, flexible, reconfigurable MIDI controller.

The system includes a wired piezo microphone that can be attached to a surface via the integrated suction cup (or the included velcro strips) and connected to any computer audio input, as well as a standalone software application that converts acoustical impulses from the microphone into velocity-sensitive MIDI data. With the Pulse Surface Controller System, controlling percussive instruments has a more visceral, immediate quality, and via a powerful Melodic Generator that can generate notes in various scales the user can easily extend into the melodic domain to tap into an inspiring world of happy accidents.

I am very excited to share this project with fellow musicians and hope that you find this idea to be worth sharing with the CDM community!

More description:

The idea behind Pulse Controller was born out of the belief that as computer-based musicians and performers we should not feel relegated to a grid of small 1×1″ pads or a keyboard to create our rhythms and provide pulse to our music. Controllers once intended to give us the immediacy of playing an instrument often end up feeling more disconnected and distracting. With the Pulse Surface Controller System, controlling percussive instruments has a more visceral, immediate quality, and via a powerful MIDI generator that generates notes in predefined musical scales the user can easily extend into the melodic domain to tap into an inspiring world of happy accidents. Power to the fingers!

System Features:

+ Piezo microphone and powerful software interface
+ Attaches to any surface via integrated suction cup
(velcro strips also provided)
+ Connects to external audio device or built-in audio inputs
(1/4″ and 1/8″)
+ Velocity-sensitive and highly responsive
+ Low-latency performance
+ Compatible with all software that accepts MIDI Note messages (Cubase, Ableton Live, Pro Tools, VST plug-ins, etc)
+ Generate fixed note or random notes in a selected scale,
with control of octave, octave width, root pitch and 21 Scales
+ Fixed note length and note choke modes
+ Store and recall presets
+ Keyboard shortcuts for quick access to presets and important controls
+ Mac OS 10.5, 10.6, 10.7 compatible (Windows / Ableton Live users, please contact us about M4L version)

Side note: interestingly enough, I got to know Stephan in person at a NAMM afterparty we threw in LA, at which Stephan was playing a Karate Kid AV mashup with friends Shane Hazleton and Momo The Monster. So, nice to see what Stephan has been working on!


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First time accepted submitter paysonwelch writes "I am a developer and entrepreneur and I am considering developing a very graphically rich and custom interface for my latest application which does charting and analysis of large data sets. The application would feature lots of gauges, knobs and levers. As I was thinking about this I said to myself, why not hook up physical knobs and levers to my computer to control my application instead of designing them in 2D bitmaps? This could potentially save screen space and provide tactile feedback, and a new way of interacting digitally with one's application and data. So my question is whether or not anyone out there has advice for building a custom solution, perhaps starting with a mixing board, or if there are any pre-fab kits / controllers for achieving this?"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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JFugue is an open-source Java API for programming music without the complexities of MIDI.

JFugue makes programming music this easy:

Player player = new Player();"C D E F G A B");
     See more examples | Learn how to get started

In addition, JFugue provides many more features:
Read more about features | See the Complete Guide

  • Music Strings let you specify notes, chords, instruments, tracks. More...
  • Music can be played at runtime, or saved to and opened from MIDI files
  • Music can be sent to and received from external devices: keyboards, mixers, etc.
  • A "Pattern" of music can be transformed and manipulated in interesting ways
  • Support for microtonal music, intuitive rhythm tracks, anticipating musical events
  • Other music parsers and renderers can be easily integrated into the JFugue architecture

JFugue is ideal for applications in which music is generated at run-time, such as:

Using JFugue is also a great way to inspire future programmers, and to experiment with music theory and composition.

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