Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ancient History: The Polyrhythmophone


[ The First Drum Machine ]

Long before the 808/909 combo was cracking concrete from Goa to Mile Five, a man named Leon Theremin (famed for the musical gadget bearing his name, reputed to be the most difficult instrument to play) teamed up with music theorist Henry Cowell with the intention of inventing a way to create rhythmic patterns based on the harmonic overtone series. Cowell had invented musical compositions that, due to their harmonic complexity and percussive nature, were impossible to play on any keyed or stringed instrument. He began toying with strange time signatures and unplayably complex scales in 1915. The first Rhythmicon was completed in 1931, and could play any (or all) of sixteen preprogrammed rhythmic patterns, in accordance with Cowell's specifications. Pictured here, it can be seen to more closely resemble a subway turnstyle than any modern groovebox or drumsynth.

Three were built before both Theremin and Cowell moved on to other things. Record industry rumours place a semi-mythical working Rhythmicon in a variety of places and times, including in the hands of pop music producer Joe Meek during the sixties, with Pink Floyd in the seventies, Tangerine Dream in the 80's, and on various cult film soundtracks, such as Doctor Strangelove. Contrary to the myth that the only working model was destroyed in a laboratory fire in the fifties, all three still exist-- one in the Smithsonian, one at Stanford University, and one at the Theremin Center in Moscow, though only the Stanford model works anymore. Unfortunately, I could find no record of one ever being played live.

A software emulation of the Rhythmicon can be found here, though I have not had the time to try it out. More about this fascinating instrument can be found at mutelibtech.com. Also good for a visit is Leon Theremin's myspace page.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Taking the OASYS Plunge...


.:Synthwire: Taking the OASYS Plunge:.

Ok well this is not really a LivePA related post today, but I thought it was pretty darn cool. Carbon111 over at synthwire has picked a Korg Oasys to supplement his studio gear. There is some sweet unpacking goodness as well as some nice studio shots. Based on the picture above, it looks like ice blue is the color of choice for LED's for 2007.

The Oasys has already handily replaced these items: Nord Electro 73, Nord Lead 2X, Kurzweil PC2R, Yamaha TG33, Yamaha TG55, Alesis Fusion 8HD...The UI is just so very immediate. You touch a component of a particular sound and the screen goes to that page, you touch the parameter on that page and move a slider - voilla, instant editing! This is both the deepest synth and the easiest synth I've ever used. Multiple stackable synthesis engines, a myriad of 16 chainable effects per patch (including some weird-ass waveshapers) and very flexible modulation routing mean I'm going to still be learning the ins and outs of this beast for quite some time...

via .:Synthwire:.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Bassline Baseline - A Documentary Essay on the Roland TB-303


.:Bassline Baseline:.

The blog Bleepglitch has found an essay video by Nate Harrison (that same guy who did the essay of "Can I Get An Amen?") about the history and development of the Roland TB-303. As with the Amen documentary this one on the TB-303 follows suit with the owefully monotone speech of the essayist accompianied with the same indepth information. Thankfully this essay has more visuals to it about the TB-303 instead of just the spinning record featured in his previous video. You can find more information about these essays and more on Nate's website: .:nkhstudio.com:.

via Beepglitch.com

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Liveslice: Live Looping VST Plugin


.:Livelab Liveslice:.

Liveslice is a VST (and Buzz plugin) that does exactly what it says. It slices up loops quickly and allows you re-arrange them in multiple ways and trigger them back in realtime. While it is certainly true that programs like Ableton Live can do this as well, Liveslice will work in any host and offers you the ability to save and create banks of chopped up loops in realtime while the audio is running. If you a Buzz Tracker user Liveslice is a free download, but a VST version of Liveslice VST will cost you 50 Euros or about $64 US.

Automatic or manual slicing
ACIDized loop import and export
Multitrack sequencer with snap / quantize
Host sync
Audio recording - synced to the host - can be used as a realtime dicer / granulator
Hi quality resampling using spline interpolation
Low CPU usage
Integrated loop browser with preview
full MIDI control
up to 32 tracks, 64 loops, 256 slices
resizable gui, zoom in slicer
up to 8 outputs with individual slice routing
integrated loop browser with preview
loads all uncompressed .wav formats
supports any sample rate

Monday, February 19, 2007

Garages, Radios and The Altair 8800: How hackers invented music for personal microcomputers


+ + Listen. + +

Personal microcomputers had a rocky start. Before the golden era of user dominated personal computing, personal computers made wonderful bookends, and that was about it. Back in the year 1975, the shag haired, pocket-protector wearing hackers of Silicon Valley's Homebrew Computing Club found their exuberance for their new technology only slightly dampened by this fact; being technology fetishists back before having a fetish was cool, the potential held by home computers far outweighed their initial apparent uselessness. Take, for instance, the Altair 8800. It was the first personal microcomputer to hit mass production. It could be bought fully assembled, or for cheaper in a kit. It was, as these pictures show, basically just an lame little box with lights and switches, and that was it. No keyboard, no monitor, no mouse. No hard drive. Minesweeper and solitaire were not included with the OS, as there was no OS. While capable of running programs and carrying out complex mathematical calculations, it had one stunning basic problem: a total lack of input and output devices.

One night, as Homebrew Computing Club member and HAM radio enthusiast Steve Dompier hit the 'run' switch on the front of his Altair, something unexpected happened; his nearby shortwave radio gear emitted a sudden blast of irritating atonal garbage. Investigating the problem with the aid of a guitar, he tracked and mapped one note ( f-sharp) to a specific section of the Altair's memory; after that, he began to logically map out the rest of the tones on the harmonic scale to their respective memory locations in the Altair's RAM. It is worth noting that this was simultaneously the birth of music for the personal computer, the first documented successful program for a personal microcomputer, and the discovery of the first I/O device for the personal computer, all at the same time. After eight hours, Dompier had mapped the scale, created the very first note sequencer, and had begun programming in the first piece of sheet music he could find: 'Fool In The Hill' by The Beatles (linked above).

When he debuted this at the next meeting of the Homebrew club, it left the crowd absolutely speechless. Up until that point, not even the most dedicated home computing enthusiast had seen one of their coveted boxes do something, much less do anything so cool as playing music. It had been done before, but only massive machines that lived deep inside of laboratories. When the screeching, buzzing rendition of McCartney and Lennon's hit song finished crackling its way through the speaker on a small portable radio, absolute silence reigned. And then, the music unexpectedly began again, this time playing another composition-- a song called Daisy.

Daisy is a short composition by a man named Max Mathews, and we all owe him a lot. During his time as a researcher at Bell Laboratories, he invented sound synthesis, and in 1957 programmed an IBM 704, a computer that required an entire room of its own, to play his seventeen second composition. Oddly enough, it is this very song which HAL plays as he is dismantled at the end of 2001: A Space Oddyssey.

It's strange to look at a product like Ableton Live, Protools or Final Scratch with the Altair in mind. While the fusion of music and computing technology was a logical eventuality, it's still a shocking thing to behold such humble roots. Not only that, knowing stuff like this impresses punters, believe me. More about the Altair can be found at Digibarn.com, source of the sound file above. Special thanks to Bruce at Digibarn for his assistance in putting this article together.

Grindvik Live Laptop Jam 09/01/06


BIG EDIT: Whoops it looks like I made a huge mistake on this one and accidentally mislabeled this liveset. This liveset is in fact by artist Holotropik, and not Grindvik. My apologies to both of you. You can find Holotropik's work over at his website .:Holotropik.com:. or at his myspace page: .:www.myspace.com/holotropik:.

Holotropik Live Laptop Jam 09/01/06

The liveset this week is from electronic artist Grindvik. Grindvik hails all the way from Stockhom Sweden and has quite an extensive tour schedule going on at the moment. This liveset style is in the vien of more IDM style techno, but not quite as glitchy has our recent livePA offerings have been. If your looking for some more information about Grindvik checkout his myspace page at: .:www.myspace.com/grindvik:. and try to catch a show if he is coming to your area.

HarriL: Global Illumination


Electronic artist Harril has taken advantage of Youtube and posted recordings of many of his songs. Something I think more live artists should take advantage of. This particular recording was done using the Korg Electribe MX, Quasimidi Rave-o-Lution 309, Novation K-Station, and Roland SP-404. You can find more of his music and videos at his Youtube profile .:Here:.

Imageline Announce New DJ Software: DeckaDance


Imageline DeckaDance

Ok Floops users, I know you are about to cream your pants here. Imageline has announced a new DJ Application called DeckaDance, and it seems to have the flexibility that many DJ's have felt are lacking in software up until now. As seems standard with Imageline software DeckaDance can not only load VST's, but can also be loaded as a VST within a host. Very cool. Imageline even touts OSX support is coming in the future, something they have not done with their popular FLStudio software. Depending on how this is implemented it looks like it could be a real contender to challenge Ableton Live for performance software. Having the ability to load and be loaded as a VST instrument makes just about and DAW viable for live performance. I am curious to see if there is further integration with FLStudio as well. Looks like Imageline may have hit a homerun here.

Works as standalone or VSTi plugin inside hosts like FL Studio, Ableton Live
Hosts VSTi softsynths & FX
8-slot sampler that samples from the decks
8-slot VSTi host with midi database
Full timecoded Vinyl & CD support for all brands (This means you can use all of those vinyl scratch or whatever records/cd surfaces with it. Rumor has that it will automatically adapt sensitivity to the different brands so response is consistent.)

64-bit DSP, high quality processing.
6 inputs (3 x Stereo deck a input tracking, deck b input tracking, mic.
12 outputs (6 x Stereo): master mix, monitor, deck a, deck b, sampler, vsti.
Inputs and outputs pins fully ASIO configurable in the standalone version.
MP3, WAV and OGG audio tracks supported.
Seamless Loop / Cueing.
Unique Loop and Leap feature.
Unique Reverse and Leap feature.
Full low-latency vinyl tracking system supported for each deck.

Complete Details:
Supported timecoded Vinyl & CDs
Final Scratch
Serato Scratch Live
... (all other supported through vinyl control record speed "learning" mode)

8 Slot Sampler with loop, recording, beat sync, WAV, Ogg and pitchbend support
8 Slot VSTi Host: load up to 8 midi plugins.
8 Slot VSTi General MIDI file Player.
8-bit self-output-record / midi controllable microsampler.
Vst host midi-in thru. (ie: control hosted vst's from external keyboard/controller).
Flexible monitoring options: pre-fader listener level, phone split (L/R). Monitor rout switch/ vumeters for all elements.
Flexible crossfader options (linear or curved mode w/curve adjustment, reverse switch).
Seamless "beat jump" functions.
-36dB to +12dB low/mid/high eq range control. Band kill of -48dB.
Auto-Sync buttons.
Auto-Slave to main tempo/host tempo button
Auto Beat-Sync playback start.
Precisse pitch control.
Crossfader auto-transition control.
Crossfader with deck punch-in control.
3 Band EQ with 3 Band killer buttons.
Deck accurate pitchbend slow/fast control.
Deck downbeat shift control.
Tempo tracking switches (for tracks with variable tempo).

Fully editable "relooper" [reslice / rearrange loop in realtime].
Vumeters and master crossfader with embedded vumeters.
On-the-fly disk recorder.
Internal torque simulation with realistic mouse scratch/hold.
Pitch control and tempo variation feedback calculated from vinyl tracking relative speed, making bpm matching a breeze with turntable (for those who likes the real thing instead the slave mode).

EDIT: Fixed Spelling Mistakes

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

TapeOp Magazine


.:TapeOp Magazine:.

Tape-Op is a free (in the US) music recording magazine. Anyone out there who is remotely interested in recording should pick this magazine up. The articles in it are fantastic, and it has information about all sorts of fantastic boutique gear. Tape-Op magazine is a labor of love for all of its writiers who often devote their own free time for writing articles and providing great interviews for industry professionals. One of my personal interests in the magazine lies in the fact that it doesn't just focus on the latest and greatest software, but rather covers the range of recording platforms from the tape 4-track to Pro Tools.

There is a little something for everyone in this magazine. To get your free subscrption head on over to the Tape-Op website. Their webiste also has a fantastic forum to ask any sort of recording questions.

TubeDepot.com: Find New Tubes for Your Gear


Got some gear around the studio that is in need of some new tubes? Perhaps you have a Korg ESX-1 or EMX-1 that is looking to get some higher quality tubes in it, then head on over to .:TubeDepot.com:.

They have a hefty plethora of tube brands ranging from the common Electro-Harmonix to plenty that I have never heard of. If your looking for some tubes then give this place a checkout.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Contact us at the LivePA Blog


Well, I suppose it is about time we got around getting a proper email setup so our readers can contact us here at the LivePA blog. I took advantage of Gmail finally going open to everyone and setup an account for the LivePA staff. So if you have any questions you want to forward to us, have any tips to share, or just want to get a little promotion by forwarding your liveset link for the podcast, feel free to shoot us an email at staff (d0t) livepa (at) gmail (dot) com.

.........Or you can just click on the nifty link to the right.

Noisia Bassline Secret


I'm sure this is top secret, so don't go sharing it with all those icky junglists out there... or we'll never get rid of 'em!


For real, though, this little video illustrates a production that seems little-used in electronica: re-micing. Basically, taking a mic and recording the sound of your mix playing through an amp. You then take the newly recorded track and work it back into the original mix for artistic effect. The result normally employed by audio producers is a subtle thickening of the mix with "added dimension" and "character" and whatnot. It's when traditional studio geeks start talking about the "colour" of their vintage amps and mics. Noisia, however, uses it as a crude (but effective) way to work in a ghetto cutoff filter for evil cyber basslines. This trick can be particularly good if you have access to a nice condenser mic and/or vintage tube-driven guitar amps, but really just about anything can be interesting.

Of course, you have to know how this thing called "phase cancellation" works if using more than one mic, but that's a different article entirely.

Video found with the help of Mux .

Konpiùta - LivePA may 2006


.:Konpiùta - LivePA May 2006:.

This week's Liveset is from artist Konpiùta. It is from way back in May 2006, and is another taste of the modern minimalist IDM with a hint of more atmospherics then you probably normally hear in IDM. If your looking for more of his music be sure to checkout his website at .:Konpiuta.com:.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Solving the Software License Issue: Multiple Computers


I am posting this topic up for discussion since I think it will gather a huge range of answers. This discussion recently surfaced on the LivePA forums and I also posed the question on the Serious-Sounds.net forums to get people's reactions. Here is our hypothetical....

You just went out and purchased one box (copy/license) for Abelton Live. You own two computers at home, a desktop and a laptop for music production. It is perfectly legitimate for one to think that you might want to work on your music in both a studio and perhaps a live setup.

What do you think should be the restrictions regarding how you can install the software on your computers? Ableton Live comes with Windows and Mac installations. Does your opinion on installing change at all if lets say your desktop is a PC and your laptop is a Mac?

Here are some responses from people online.

xe-cute says:

Hypothetically my view is that you should be able to install it on any computer you use for your own use. Obviously this can not be easily enforced in reality hence the limitation to an install on one computer. It would be good if they could distinguish such a thing by either fixed I.P. address or Post/zip code. But then that rules out laptops and such things that travel. Personally if I bought anything I would expect to be able to use it where and when and upon whatever I wanted, whenever.

Faolon says:
I know what the "technical" answer is...but like you already said, as for a personal 'view' on it..it all stems down to how you define personal use. Technically...1 purchase gets you unlimited (unless OEM) on 1 machine, but personally...I think this is a fine line. If I was to buy Ableton to use for DJ'ing rather than production say...then chances are..the main machine I'm going to want it on is my laptop...so I can play out live, but I'm also going to want it on my PC....as thats where I download all my mp3's too from I-tunes/Napster or whatever. Question is....SHOULD I have to buy another copy for my PC? My personal point of view on this situation is..simply no. I would be using the application the same amount as I would if it were just installed on my laptop, but for my personal ease (lets say so that downloads cant corrupt my laptop) it's installed on both.... Now, my feeling is...if my laptop was at home, but my pc was in a seperate studio (ie. different mailing adress) then I would need to buy copies of the software for both machines.

Dave Webster
I guess in an ideal world purchasing a licence for it should be more like a membership card and you could use anyones copy of the program so long as you own a licence to the program. You would then be free to install it on whatever computers or laptops you own.

So do any readers out there have an opinion? I think I know where most answers will go, but lets hear 'em.

Kitchen Diaries: Recipie for a Breakbeat


Found this fun video via .:Boing-Boing:. where an artist (one commentor says it is James Zabiela) demonstrates how to make a breakbeat in a rather fun way.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Audio Cubes: Experimental Control Device


.:Percussa Audio Cubes:.

I have been hearing about these little Audio Cubes from people who have been at NAMM. Apparently these little cubes are some experimental control interface that can manipulate music based on how you position and move the cubes. Compared to to some of the other academic experimental interfaces around, the Audio Cubes are actually being developed for commercial use, and the website even has some videos of it doing some practical control of an Elektron Machinedrum and Ableton Live.

AudioCubes is a tangible interface for sound design and exploration, under development at PERCUSSA. The interface consists of an arbitrary number of plastic cubes. Each of the cubes is capable of sound processing.

The cubes can be connected to a computer and can be programmed to process sound signals. By positioning and moving the cubes relative to each other, sound processing can be changed and a variety of sounds can be quickly designed and explored.

Sneak-Thief: Building a DIY Hardware Sequencer


LivePA artist Sneak-Thief is quite the custom DIY hardware guru. He has built several custom machines including an ASM-2 modular synth and a Nord Micro Modular inside a Yamaha RS7000.

Well this time he is out to build a custom hardware midi sequencer based off of the Midibox specifications, but using a custom OS which will allow up to 256 measure patterns. Sneak plans to put up a building journal so I will post information to that when it is avaliable. Below is the info.

Basically, I need something lighter to replace my ageing RM1x. To recap, I currently use the RM1x to sequence Kontakt 2 which is loaded with 6gb of my home-made loops and samples. The pots control various effects and scripts in Kontakt.
I'm in the process of developing a very simple pattern sequencer that supports up to 256-measure long tracks. I'm going to use the Midibox as my platform and write everything in C (no I can't use the Midibox Sequencer because it's much easier to start from scratch)

Here are the specifications:
1. 2 independent sequencers, one of which can be slaved to the other.
2. Each sequencer will be able to load one "song" at a time. A song is chosen by the push-button rotary encoder.
3. 16 sections per song
4. 6 tracks per section that can be muted or unmuted with the track-mute buttons (more than 6 tracks could be implemented, but that's all I need)
5. 256 measures per track - this is where this really differs from the Midibox Seq
4. Components

Midibox modules:
2x Cores
2x AIN
2x DIN

The total cost is roughly 180 euro (~$235 US). You can save 20 euro by getting LCD's instead of PLED's - but PLED's look so fucking nice. I've already ordered everything and the hardware should be finished next month. Then comes the hard part I'll be posting build pics next month.


Boot Camp: Mashups for Beginners


.:Boot Camp: Mashups for Beginners:.

PaintingByNumbers.com has a nice little tutorial on how to do mashups. There are some nice images along with mp3 samples in this introduction to mashups, and while the article itself is done with Tracktion I think the concepts can be readily applied to any software for those live musicians looking to pull off a little Orbital ala. Bon Jovi and Halcyon +on +on.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Create Digital Music - Pimp my Ableton Controller: Custom Keyboards, Custom Paint Jobs


.:Create Digital Music - Pimp my Ableton Controller: Custom Keyboards, Custom Paint Jobs:.

The folks over at CreateDigitalMusic.com have a cool post up from Bill Van Loo showed who has customized is Apple QWERTY keyboard and midi controller for Ableton live. From the looks of it, it doesn't look like there is any custom hardware modding on this one, but it is amazing how much a little paint job can do for visually helping one organize their setup for performance.

You can find more info on this paint job over at .:Bill Van Loo's Flickr post:.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Audio Shaker: Experimental Sampler Shaker


.:Audio Shaker:.

Audio Shaker is a cool experimental hardware/software project that I found online. It is basically exactly what it looks like. You speak into the jar and it captures your sound and you shake it to manipulate the sound.

Video can be found on the site .:Here:.

The audio shaker explores our perceptual understanding of sound. Anything sung, spoken, clapped, whistled or played near it is trapped inside, where it takes on an imagined yet tangible physicality. Sounds caught in this void are transformed, given weight and permanence, reacting directly to the shaker's movements, subtle or violent. Shaken sounds have to settle down before becoming still and silent, behaving more like fluid than transient energy.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Laptop Battles: The Modern Scratch Off?


I have been meaning to blog about this for a while, but never really knew where to go with the topic, so I decided I might as well just have a little introductory post.

Laptop Battles have been a sort of hot topic in the West coast music scene for the past couple of years, and it is just now starting to make its way to my area out in Chicago. As laptops have become more and more prevalent in LivePA, more and more artists have hopped up on stage to perform. While laptops have gotten more people on stage, doing more with their music, the laptop itself is a rather boring object for the audience to look at. I found this fantastic post on NPR talking about laptop battles and this quote just popped out at me.

via NPR

"There'd be some guy sitting on stage in a pool of light with his computer, playing music. But for all the audience knew, he could have been checking his e-mail or surfing the Web. There was no energy."

The laptop battle format was created to spark life and energy into the laptop performer by introducing a battle format where competitors compete against each other in an all out performance blitz lasting anywhere from 2-10 minutes. The result of the entire experiment is an insanely animated and often times auditory wall of sound that ranges from genius to chalk board screech. The format was setup by Kris Markle aka. Kris Moon, and has now expanded across the country offering listeners a new form of LivePA that some of us purists or traditionalists might not appreciate.

In all though if you get the opportunity to see a laptop battle in your area, you should check it out, or better yet, tote your laptop along and lay down for two minutes and see what you really are made of.

For more information, and if there are battles in your area check out the links below:


Monday, February 05, 2007

Audio Synthesis via Vacuum Tubes


.:Audio Synthesis via Vacuum Tubes:.

Author Eric Bardour has written an article exploring the early days of synthesis and the importance of vacuum tubes in the early devices randing as far bas as the 1920's.

he history of electronic music in the 20th century has followed such a path. Large research institutions, such as Bell Telephone Laboratories or RCA's research division, have made contributions of one kind or another. Yet the modern equipment of music bears very little resemblance to their contributions. Most of what we call a 'synthesizer' today came about as a result of the work of a few lone inventors with very little financial backing, and then selling their products to avant-garde composers who were willing to take a chance in order to explore a new musical world. The rest of the world's musicians tend to exhibit great inertia in the face of change, until the change becomes too great to ignore.

Think of most of the major electronic keyboards and music devices before the early 1960s, when the Moog and Buchla synthesizers appeared. These 'presynths' tended to be exotic and unusual by prevailing standards. Yet they had little impact, even though most received great attention in their time.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

NYU's Department of Computer Science Interactive Research Projects


.:NYU Department of Computer Science:.

NYU has some interesting research projects happening in its computer science department that could have some fantastic implications with respect to livePA. Most of you may have seen the multi-touch interface that made the rounds several months ago, but there are some additional interesting projects that include an led based touch interface (as pictured), a motion tracking system, and more.

Maik Molewijk Live 12-21-06


.:Maik Molewijk Live 12-21-06:.

Here is a liveset from artist Maik Molewijk from 12-21-06. This is a classic IDM glitch beat style dance set. No other information is avaliable for this artist. If someone can find a website please post a comment in this thread on our forums.