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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):
http://korg.com/monotribe

And in Japanese:
http://www.korg.co.jp/Product/Dance/monotribe/version2.html#overlay

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:
http://www.amazingmachines.com.br/products_miditribe.html

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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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:
http://designthemedia.com/theprotoclidean

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:
http://www.ableton.com/library
http://www.ableton.com/library/tags/mfl/

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:
http://maxforlive.com/library/

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As musical old-timers repeatedly sing the sad song of the supposed demise of the full-length album, a funny thing has happened. Lovers of games have taken up a growing passion for game music, and in particular the indie score for indie games. Independent game publishing and independent music composition – from truly unsigned, unknown artists – go hand in hand. Indeed, the download and purchase charts on Bandcamp are often dominated by game scores. Fueled by word-of-mouth, these go viral in enthusiast communities largely ignored by either music or game reportage.

Far from the big-budget blockbuster war game, these scores – like the games for which they’re composed – are quirky and eccentric. They reject the usual expectations of what game music might be, sometimes tending to the cinematic, sometimes to the retro, sometimes unapologetically embracing magical, sentimental, childlike worlds.

And now, defying music’s typical business models as well as its genre expectations, you can get a whole big bundle of games for almost no money. Pay what you want, and get hours of music. Pay more than $10, and get loads more. You just have to do it before the deal ends (five days from this posting), at which point the bundle is gone forever. In a sign of just how much love listeners of these records feel, there’s a competition to get into the top 20, top 10, and top-paying spots, which with days left in the contest is already pushing well into the hundreds of dollars. But for that rate or just the few-dollar rate, these are the true fans. You’ve heard about them in theory in trendy music business blogs and conferences, in theory. But here, someone’s doing something about it, and it’s not a fluke or a one-time novelty: it’s a real formula.

http://www.gamemusicbundle.com/

Game music itself is, of course, a funny thing. Game play itself tends to repetition, meaning you hear this music a lot. So it says something really extraordinary about the affection for these scores that gamers want to hear the music again and again. This gets the musical content well beyond the level of annoying wallpaper into something that, even more than a film score you hear just once or a few times, you want to make part of your life. That endless play gets us back to what inspired ownership in the first place, to buying stacks of records rather than just waiting for them on the radio. And in that sense, perhaps what motivates owning music versus treating it like a utility or water faucet hasn’t changed in the digital age at all. Maybe it’s gotten even stronger.

We’ve already sung the praises of Sword and Sworcery on this site; it’s notably in the bundle. But I want to highlight in particular one other score, the inventive and dream-like Machinarium. Impeccably recorded, boldly original, the work of Prague-based Tomáš Dvořák, Machinarium mirrors the whimsical constructed machines of the games. There’s a careful attention to timbre, and music that moves from film-like moments to song to beautiful washes of ambience, glitch set against warm rushes of landscape. For his part, Dvořák is a clarinetist, and his musical senstitivity never ceases to translate into the score. It’s just good music, even if you never play the game, and easily worth the price of admission for the bundle if you never listened to anything else (though you would truly be missing out). It’s simply one of the best game music scores in recent years.

And another look at Jim Guthrie’s score to Sword & Sworcery:

Game Meets Album: Behind the Music and Design of the iPad Indie Blockbuster Swords & Sworcery[Create Digital Music]

Game Meets Album: Behind the Music and Design of the iPad Indie Blockbuster Swords & Sworcery [Create Digital Motion]

Also in this collection: Aquaria, To the Moon, Jamestown, and a mash-up, plus a whole bunch of bonus games when you spend a bit more that feel heavily influenced by Japanese game music and chip music.

And some of the best gems are in the repeat of the last bundle, which you can (and should) add on for US$5 more:
Minecraft: Volume Alpha, Super Meat Boy: Digital Soundtrack, PPPPPP (soundtrack to VVVVVV), Impostor Nostalgia, Cobalt, Ravenmark: Scourge of Estellion, A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda, Return All Robots!, Mighty Milky, Way / Mighty Flip Champs, Tree of Knowledge

I’ve sat at game conferences as composers working for so-called AAA titles lamented the limitations of the game music production pipeline. Quietly, indie game developers have shown that anything is possible, that the quality of a game score is limited only by a composer’s imagination.

More music to hear (and some behind-the-scenes footage), including a really promising Kickstarter-funded iPad music project from regular CDM reader Wiley Wiggins:

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Ready to make your Ableton Live pattern programming a bit more polyrhythmic with the power of math?

In Monday’s reflections and round-up of cycles and circles, I mentioned Euclidean evenness and Godfried Toussaint’s research. The basic idea is that a mathematical algorithm for spacing pulses has a lot in common with traditional preferences for polyrhythms spanning everything from rock hits to conga patterns and musical cultures around the world.

Reader Tony Wheeler has turned those patterns into MIDI clips so you can drop patterns into Ableton Live. Drum patterns and dance music are obvious applications, but this could be an idea starter for melodic patterns or music in a variety of idioms.

Each individual pattern will sound like an isolated cycle; it’s often when you put them together that they’re most compelling. Here’s an example; Tony added a regular bass drum just to make things more grounded (it actually calls attention to the asymmetry of the other patterns).

ScaledKit by wheelmaker

Tony has another terrific tool for Ableton Live that generates the AMS files used by Operator to tune oscillators to alternative pitches, as we covered previously:
Free Utility Makes Endless Oscillators for Ableton Live Simpler, Sampler
Direct link: AMS File Utility for Ableton Live

And for harmonic experimentation, see the Circle of Fifths Chord Resource:
Circle of Fifths Chord Resource in Ableton Live

This is all fairly academic stuff, but the funny thing about it is there’s nothing stopping you from making either a dance music hit or some experimental new kind of music that doesn’t sound like it came from Ableton.

Alternative tunings for Operator oscillators and Euclidean polyrhythms? There are many tools aside from Ableton that will work, too, but whatever your tool, this could be a great way to jump-start a musical idea. Airport layover, meet musical productivity.

Updated: Another great way to go is the Eckel VST plug-in, also donationware. It works on Mac (Universal) and Windows, and since you can dial up parameters, may be easier to use than the MIDI clips, depending on your workflow – especially since you can still choose pitch. (Or, hey, grab both!) Thanks to John Larsby for the reminder:
Shuriken.se: VST – Eckel

For Dr. Toussaint’s part, you can glance over his syllabus on Discrete Mathematics — and find a reference to Tony’s Ableton experiments.

Grab the download and read more on this topic (free, donations welcome):
Euclidean Rhythm MIDI File Resource in Ableton Live [Age of the Wheel]

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Owing to a tradition that goes back to the first samplers and hip-hop pioneers, sampling and digital performance have become a kind of instrumental technique. You might play well, you might play poorly, but even working with samples, you can actually play.

You can look at the simple design of the monome as the hardware embodiment of digital, a reflection of an array of pixels. You can see it as an extension of Roger Linn’s MPC and other drum machine concepts. It’s probably both those things. But since the monome itself makes no sound, it’s been software that has made that design musically relevant. While the original vision of the monome was as a blank canvas that could perform any function, ultimately a community of musicians focused their efforts on expanding a single patch, creator Brian Crabtree’s original mlr. Talk to these monome players, and they’ll very likely tell you about some little modification they made last night to use in a set they’re playing tonight, because they wanted some feature or another, or a little subpatcher they borrowed from a friend to solve a problem. Add up all those little hacks, and you get evolution.

Now, descendant mlrv has evolved into a live music-making environment of its own, and not just for the monome. Version 2.0, released this week, supports monome-like controllers such as the Novation Launchpad, Akai APC, and Livid Ohm/Block, but also conventional MPC-style grids like the Akai MPD.

The word the creators use to describe the playing technique: “hypersampling.”

mlrv is built in Max/MSP, so if you have a Mac or Windows and version 5 of the software (or Ableton’s Max for Live), you can edit the patch. Otherwise, you can download a free runtime and use the patch itself for free. Pay US$18, and you get your name on the startup screen and special email news and downloads. Pay US$80, and you get limited edition vinyl from artists galapagoose and ‘%’.

The project is the work of Trent Gill, Michael Felix, and parallelogram; check out developer galapagoose playing with it live in the video at top. (I will say, though, even as I am writing on a Website, you get more out of being in the same room with a live performance.) All the details:
http://parallelogram.cc/mlrv/

The software will be available February 1, with a release party that evening for the software and music. Also, while we’ll have details tomorrow, Handmade Music will host performances by galapagoose, %, and other monome artists (alongside chip music, MeeBlippery, and laptopism) on Saturday February 5. Both events happen in New York City at Culturefix.

On February 5 with CDM, you can come at 3pm and check out an open lab to get your hands on mlrv and talk to its developers. Then stay for the party Saturday night – US$20 buys you admission, supports the artists, and nets you a two hour open bar of beer and wine recently celebrated by the NY Times’ drink critic, Frank Bruni. Full details coming in a separate post, or in the meantime, RSVP on Facebook.

Tuesday night launch party details, NYC
http://bit.ly/hmfeb5 = Handmade Music party Saturday night, complete with hands-on during the day, more live performances at night!

Finally, here’s the obligatory, somewhat amusing, preview vid:

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Click here to read ScrollyFox Automates Firefox Scrolling for Hands-Free Reading

Firefox: If you spend time reading lengthy text on the web ScrollyFox is a handy tool to automatically scroll the page down for you. More »

Firefox - Browsers - Clients - WWW - Add-on

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Click here to read Unshake Makes Blurry Photos Passable

Sometimes, you just have to take a picture of what's in front of you but you're stuck with low light and a cellphone camera. Free utility Unshake makes those photos somewhat presentable by toning down the blur. More »


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By Daved Brosche, Naveed Javaid and Smashing Editorial Team

When it comes to freebie designs, beautiful icons sets are tops. Designers scour for these free treasures more than anything else. You can use icon sets in Web applications, website designs and on your desktop. If well designed, they make a great impression on others. Beautifully designed icons also prove the quality of a designer’s work, so many designers make theirs freely available online, thus giving their work more exposure.

In the overview below, we present 50 beautifully designed, free and professional high-quality icons for desktop and Web design. All of them can be freely used for private projects, and some are available for commercial use as well. Regardless, always read the licenses — they may change from time to time.

You can also scan through our other icon-related articles:

50 Beautiful, Free and High-Quality Icon Sets

Container Icon Pack
Container Icon Pack contains 40 high-quality (256 x 256 pixel) icons in PNG and ICO formats. This package includes box, cargo, trash icons and more. Created by Mehmet Gozetlik.

Baggy Icon Set
Contains five high-quality icons in three formats (ICO, ICNS and PNG) and six sizes, ranging from 16 to 512 pixels!

Round theme icons
A beautiful set of 106 various rounded icons.

Fortune 500 Badges
Over 200 badges of famous brands, PSDs included.

Red Moleskine
Red Moleskine is a beautiful icon set in PNG format and sizes of 16, 32, 64, 128, 256 and 512 pixels.

Old-School Icon Set
A set of six beautiful old-ish icons: typewriter, camera, radio, TV set, Gameboy, and telephone. In PNG and ICO.

Screenshot

Playground
Nine beautiful and original icons (in PNG and ICO), created by the talented Miriam Moshinsky.

Windows 7 Build
A set of various basic software and office icons.

Sample

Classic Timer Icon
A quality timer icon in transparent vector format, with different sizes.

Nes Icons Pack
A set of retro icons (TV, NES, Pad, Alimentation box, Zelda box, Zelda game, Desktop, 1up, Magic Toad) in ICO and PNG (512 × 512 pixels).

Jeans Feed Icons
A set of stylish feed icons as denim pockets.

Cemagraphics Icons
A set of various beautiful icons in PNG (32 × 32 and 512 × 512 pixels).

To-Do List Icon
Use these icons in your Web applications to make them more attractive.

Social Media Handycons
Handycons is a free hand-drawn set of 12 social-media icons. All icons are available in four sizes: 16, 24, 32 and 48 pixels.

Canon 400D + lens 17-85mm
Set of two icons: camera and lens. Comes in sizes of 512 and 16 pixels and iContainer, ICNS, PNG and ICO format.

Screenshot

Retrofukation
A stylish set of icons to complement almost any theme out there. Designed to be easily distinguishable, simple and intuitive. This icon pack contains over 100 icons. Designed by Jamie Green.

e-Commerce Icons
A huge set of icons that you can use for an online shop.

Function icons set
A beautiful and useful set of 128 icons, available in 48 × 48 pixels.

Elementary Icons
A set of smaller Web developer-style icons.

Sample

Human 02
Here is a nice multi-purpose icon set for your business website.

Sample

32px Mania Icon Set
Another series of smaller icons that can add flair to any website design.

Sample

Business Icons
A collection of random business-related icons with a Web 2.0 look.

Sample

Chums Icon Set
This is the ultimate collection of high-quality tech-related icons. You can find everything from iPods to digital cameras.

Sample

Tom Tom
Does your business deal with GPS and navigation systems? Then this is the icon set for you.

Sample

Black Neon Agua Icons
A unique icon set that is ideal for darker website designs.

Sample

Credit Cards Icons
15 beautiful credit card icons in AI and EPS format. And here are yet more credit card icons.

Antique Icons
A set of antique icons in PNG, ICNS and ICO formats, ranging from 16 × 16 to 256 × 256 pixels.

Hand-made food and beverage icon set
Seventeen hand-drawn icons, created by Victor Amanatidis.

Social Media Mini Iconpack
This icon set consists of 30 finely crafted social media icons in a size of 16 × 16 pixels. They are free to use non-commercially.

Manto Smiley Icon Set
Twenty original emoticons by Chinese designer Manto.

Emotions For WordPress Icons
Emoticons for WordPress.

Green and Blue Icon Set
Five icons, each in 128 × 128 pixels and PNG format. Included are icons to represent gallery, downloads, emoticons, calendar and folder.

Airport Express
This icon is for personal use only. Download includes iContainer, PNG and PSD formats.

Coquette Part 3 Icons
This free playful icon set contains curvy and colorful icons made with one goal: to get some affection and playfulness into your projects. The 50 high-quality icons come in sizes of 16, 32, 48, 64 and 128 pixels, and in 32-bit transparency PNG format.

Email Me Icons
These icons are free for personal use and available in 32, 48, 64 and 128 pixels.

Reality
A set of beautiful, realistic icons of different daily-use object. These are free for non-commercial use.

Music Icons
Beautiful icons of music instruments. Icons are absolutely free for any purpose.

Sleek XP: Basic Icons
A set of 50 stock icons in PNG and ICO formats.

Set of Social Icons
A set of beautiful social icons in PNG format and sizes of 16, 32 and 64 pixels.

GP Icons
A set of 23 PNG icons of different software products. Has a great grunge style.

Banking Stuff Icons
Banking-related icons for non-commercial use, in sizes of 32, 48, 64, 128 and 256 pixels.

Smashing Magazine’s Icons

Smashing Retro Icon Set
A set of 10 beautiful, high-quality “vintage” icons. The set contains 10 original icons: search, sign-up, calendar, news, RSS, comments, email, ads, home and address.

Flavours Icon Set
This set, aimed to help designers in their Web and user interface designs, contains 177 icons in a resolution of 48×48 pixels. The files are available in the PNG and PSD sources, so you can modify the files as you wish. Created by Oliver Twardowski.

Stationery Icons Set
A useful set of 22 vector icons (256 × 256 pixels). It contains book, brush, crayon, clip, color pencils, document, eraser, pad, palette, post-it note, scale and scissors, as well as the Fireworks source file.

On Stage Icons Set
The set contains 49 free vector icons, including PSD, which can be useful for both corporate and personal projects. You can use the set for free, without any restrictions whatsoever. The icons are available in PNG format in a resolution 128×128 pixels. Also included in the package are 100% pure shape-based layered PSDs.

Fresh Icons Set
This set contains 59 raster and vector icons. The set includes icons in PNG, ICNS and ICO formats. An EPS vector file is available as well.

Practica Icons Set
A free set of 11 useful high-quality icons, designed by DryIcons especially for Smashing Magazine and its readers. The icons are available in resolutions of 64, 128 and 256 pixels, in 32-bit transparency PNG format.

About the author

Naveed Javaid is a Web designer and runs the blog SmashingApps, which focuses on free resources and inspiration especially for designers and developers. If you want to connect with the author, you can follow him on Twitter.

(al)

© Daved Brosche for Smashing Magazine, 2009. |
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Windows only: Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the 747-dashboard of an interface that graces Bulk Rename Utility and you'll be rewarded with an enormously powerful tool. You can rename files, substitute some or all of the file name, apply numbers and lettering, swap extensions, append with time and date stamps, rename based on image EXIF data and audio ID3 data, and all that just scratches the surface. Concerned that somewhere in the labyrinth of check and text boxes you may have misstepped? The quick preview function is a fast and handy feature to help you sidestep any mishaps. After Bulk Rename Utility came reader recommended in the comments of Ken Rename, it has become a completely indispensable part of my file management work flow. Bulk Rename is freeware, Windows only.Thanks IOStreamCTO!

Bulk Rename Utility



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