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Let’s enhance!

So, it seems a bit like Elektron might be working on a 4-voice analog synth. That is, especially since that’s what’s in the image found on the teaser site.

Wonder what we can learn from the other corners of the image.

I think the most interesting question here is whether Elektron does something clever with the sequencing portion – that is, obviously, another analog 4-voice synth isn’t news, but if it fits the Monomachine mold, it might be.

Thank you to Jakob Penca for tipping us off via Twitter, and to the Elektron Users forum. Sorry, I’m late to this party, as – speaking of choosing between hardware and (Ableton) software, we were deep in the Live 9 launch information in mid-October. Been a surprisingly big month for tech. Synthtopia notes CV I/O are visible in the earlier images, too, so in fact control voltage connectivity is a sure thing, continuing CV’s remarkable comeback.

Uh… but CDM is the first, I believe, to post the Enhance! video. Dear Elektron: want to go on a Lapland ski holiday together so we don’t have to meet at NAMM? (Boring!) We can invite Teenage Engineering and Sonic Charge.

Update: Sources tell DE:BUG that the image is correct, and that the product should arrive later this year. (Don’t know if that will be an announcement or actually shipping.) Article in German.

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A woman visiting from Japan was shot and injured when a police officer’s gun accidentally discharged, sending a bullet through the floor and into the living room where she was sleeping. Police were searching an apartment at 3003 Clarendon Rd. in Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighborhood on March 29 when the shot was fired. Here, police escorted the victim. (See related article.) (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)

Fire officials rescued a woman who fell through the floor of her Revolutionary War-era Staten Island home and into a well buried underneath on March 23. (Rod Morata for The Wall Street Journal)

Firefighters faced a three-alarm blaze on March 28 on the upper floors of a 21-story apartment building at 89 Columbia St. on the Lower East Side. A Fire Department spokesman told the Associated Press that no one was seriously injured. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal )

Potato latkes with sour cream and three caviars at Kutsher’s TriBeCa, 186 Franklin St. between Greenwich and Hudson streets (See related article.) (Byron Smith for The Wall Street Journal)

A firetruck collided with a car at the intersection of Fulton Street and Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn on March 27, injuring three firefighters and three civilians. (Andrew Hinderaker for The Wall Street Journal)

Sasha Fire Gypsy performed at the Coney Island Gala at Webster Hall on March 24. (See related article.) (Astrid Stawiarz for The Wall Street Journal)

Ben Brown performed the ‘Rhythm & Bliss’ massage on Kim Wylie at bliss 49. Mr. Brown created the treatment, which involves a massage that goes to the beat of a selected playlist. (See related article.) (Andrew Hinderaker for The Wall Street Journal)

The Wren Old Fashioned, served on the rocks with Old Overholt, Punt e Mes vermouth, cherry liqueur and orange bitters at The Wren, 344 Bowery at Great Jones Street. (See related article.) (Agaton Strom for The Wall Street Journal )

Six people were injured after a car hit a van carrying senior citizens on Colonial Road near 78th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, on March 27. (Rod Morata for The Wall Street Journal)

Allegra Chapman played ‘Winter Music’ by John Cage on a Yamaha Disklavier piano, accompanied remotely by Luna Inaba in Japan and Hojoon Kim in California, at the Juilliard School in Manhattan, on March 26. (Kevin Hagen for The Wall Street Journal)

The Bistro burger, an 8-ounce burger with American cheese and bacon, at Corner Bistro, 47-18 Vernon Blvd. in Long Island City. (See related article.) (Lauren Lancaster for The Wall Street Journal )

Dickie Landry played a solo saxophone concert in and around the John Chamberlain sculptures at the Guggenheim Museum on March. 26. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)

Sushi chefs Daehyun Kin, left, and Kyoungjin Choi prepared fish before the lunch crowd arrived at Zutto, at 77 Hudson St. (See related article.) (Byron Smith for The Wall Street Journal)

Students from the St. Nicholas William Spyropoulos Greek American Day School in Flushing carried Greek flags during the annual Greek Independence Day parade along 5th Avenue in Manhattan on March 25. (See related article.) (Kevin Hagen for The Wall Street Journal)

Kent Tritle directed the choir of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine at a rehearsal on March 22. (See related article.) (Andrew Hinderaker for The Wall Street Journal)

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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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More than 500 teams are currently speeding across the deserts of Argentina, Chile, and Peru, racing more than 8,300 km (5,150 mi) in the 33rd annual Dakar Rally. Competitors pit themselves against the elements, driving specialized off-road cars, trucks, motorcycles, and quadbikes through challenging terrain for two weeks. One rider, Argentine Jorge Martinez Boero, has already died this year in a crash. The 2012 Dakar Rally began in Mar del Plata, Argentina, on January 1, and racers reached the finish line in Lima, Peru, on Sunday, January 15. [41 photos]

Stefan Svitko rides his KTM during the 10th stage of the Dakar Rally 2012, from Iquique to Arica, Chile, on January 11, 2012. (Reuters/Jerome Prevot)

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Something has happened to the mystique of the musical artist, as the superstars have faded. It seems people are increasingly interested with understanding process, in understanding what’s inside the magical black boxes of sound.

Jess Gitner hosted Derwin Panda, aka Gold Panda, at National Public Radio’s studios for Morning Edition. She talked to the artist about the basics of how he constructs music from samples. It’s actually quite nice to me to see a story that’s elementary enough that it could be understood by non-specialists — it’s all to easy to forget that for the vast majority of even the music-loving public, a lot of what people do is a complete mystery.

It’s also worth watching Gold Panda in a live version of “You” for KCRW (a US public radio affiliate in Los Angeles). He uses the tried-and-tested Ableton laptop-plus-MPC combination. We spoke to Gold Panda at length about his process back in October, just before his debut album really blew up (entirely and unequivocally having nothing whatsoever to do with CDM):
Gold Panda Interview: Inspiration from Samples, Loved Ones, and Distracting Dogs

Listen to the whole NPR piece:

Gold Panda: Breaking Down Found Sound [The Record with Ann Powers / NPR]

In other news, Rick Moody, himself a novelist and musician, does a wonderful, intimate interview with Moby for The Rumpus. (Thanks, Paul Artz!) It’s ironic that Moody is conducting the interview, as he has been crafting an extended manifesto about why not to use drum machines (though he claims it’s only “rhetorical.”)

SWINGING MODERN SOUNDS #29: The Museum of Broken Things [The Rumpus]

There are some insightful moments; I like this quote:

Not to get too odd and esoteric, but there’s the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi. Do you know what wabi-sabi is? The more entropic something is, the more endearing it is. A bucket that’s forty years old that’s been used by a lady to clean the floors of a house she’s been working in is way more interesting than a brand new bucket from Walmart. A broken down, crummy Wall-E is way more interesting than a brand new robot. And that’s part of my love of these guys, they’re all about entropy. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. They’re all dusty, they have pencil scribbles on them, none of them is cool, and the ones that sort of pretend to be cool are the least cool.

I’m not entirely sure Moby’s history of the drum machine is completely accurate – for one, I’d question whether it’s true that no one makes or is interested in drum machines any more. But it’s worth it for the massive gear lust geek-out.

In fact, if you read just one line of this rambling article I’m writing, read this one:
What would we need to do to resurrect the PAiA 7701 Drummer Boy or some similar design?

Where’s my blink tag when I need it?

Also, if you read only two lines, what’s Moby’s account name, so we know the next time he snipes us on eBay?

As for this business of drum machines:

I can’t stand drummers, and sometimes, other people, generally. I grew up loving the flavor of grape bubble gum, which is clearly an entirely-synthetic flavor barely resembling the taste of sugar, let alone a fruit. So I must be cut out for 80s drum machine collecting. But I’m just saying that rhetorically.

Also, internal combustion engines? So much more awesome than the horse. So much more.

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K1 Clip – Demo by thingstocome

Here’s some music I recorded for a German female producer. It’s in her court to add vocals for this and send it back to me. You’re hearing two slightly detuned Yamaha CS5 lines. Both are going through D16 Devator’s. You also hear white noise from the CS5 modulated through Ableton’s Auto-Pan. Assorted booms are my own recordings and swing is up.

Alles klar?

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