Watch The Black Madonna DJ live from … inside a video game

Algorithmic selection, soulless streaming music, DJ players that tell you what to play next and then do it for you… let’s give you an alternative, and much more fun and futuristic future. Let’s watch The Black Madonna DJ from inside a video game.

This is some reality-bending action here. The Black Madonna, an actual human, played an actual DJ set in an actual club, as that entire club set was transformed into a virtual rendition. That in turn was then streamed as a promotion via Resident Advisor. Eat your heart out, Boiler Room. Just pointing cameras at people? So last decade.

From Panorama Bar to afterhours in the uncanny valley:

This is less to do with CDM, but… I enjoy watching the trailer about the virtual club, just because I seriously never get tired of watching Marea punching a cop. (Create Digital Suckerpunches?)

Um… apologies to members of law enforcement for that. Just a game.

So, back to why this is significant.

First, I think actually The Black Madonna doesn’t get nearly the credit she deserves for how she’s been able to make her personality translate across the cutthroat-competitive electronic music industry of the moment. There’s something to learn from her approach – to the fact that she’s relatable, as she plays and in her outspoken public persona.

And somehow, seeing The Black Madonna go all Andy Serkis here puts that into relief. (See video at bottom.) I mean, what better metaphor is there for life in the 21st century? You have to put on a weird, uncomfortable, hot suit, then translate all the depth of your humanness into a virtual realm that tends to strip you of dimensions, all in front of a crowd of strangers online you can’t see. You have to be uncannily empathic inside the uncanny valley. A lot of people see the apparent narcissism on social media and assume they’re witnessing a solution to the formula, when in fact it may be simply signs of desperation.

Marea isn’t the only DJ to play Grand Theft Auto’s series, but she’s the one who seems to actually manage to establish herself as a character in the game.

To put it bluntly: whatever you think of The Black Madonna, take this as a license to ignore the people who try to stop you from being who you are. It’s not going to get you success, but it is going to allow you to be human in a dehumanizing world.

And then there’s the game itself, now a platform for music. Rockstar Games have long been incurable music nerds – yeah, our people. That’s why you hear well curated music playlists all over the place, as well as elaborate interactive audio and music systems for industry-leading immersion. They’re nerds enough that they’ve even made some side trips like trying to make a beat production tool for the Sony PSP with Timbaland. (Full disclosure: I consulted on an educational program around that.)

This is unquestionably a commercial, mass market platform, but it’s nonetheless a pretty experimental concept.

Yes, yes – lots of flashbacks to the days of Second Life and its fledgling attempts to work as a music venue.

The convergence of virtual reality tech, motion capture, and virtual venues on one hand with music, the music industry, and unique electronic personalities on the other I think is significant – even if only as a sign of what could be possible.

I’m talking now to Rockstar to find out more about how they pulled this off. Tune in next time as we hopefully get some behind-the-scenes look at what this meant for the developers and artists.

While we wait on that, let’s nerd out with Andy Serkis about motion capture performance technique:

The post Watch The Black Madonna DJ live from … inside a video game appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

DJs + VJs Rejoice: Denon DJ Has Teamed Up With Resolume

In a new update, VJs will be able to see exactly what's going on in the media players and DJs will be able to automatically control and trigger actions in visuals software just by mixing on their media players. Watch the videos and keep reading to learn more. 

The post DJs + VJs Rejoice: Denon DJ Has Teamed Up With Resolume appeared first on DJ TechTools.

A simple, classic channel strip, Mr. Putnam’s mic collection, and more

Universal Audio have dropped another of their semi-annual releases of high-end digital sound toys. And this one is revealing of how studio production is becoming more accessible. Plus, you get to steal Bill Putnam’s mic collection. Well, virtually.

A handful of players in this space always stand out – the likes of Universal Audio, WAVES, Eventide, Softube, Soundtoys, and more recently Slate Digital are all competing to give you clever digital emulations of studio gear. These tools command premium prices, at least compared to the stuff bundled with your DAW, but they also deliver results that can match massively expensive studio access or used equipment. UA’s value proposition has always been tying its stuff to hardware. And on audio interfaces in particular, that has advantages, like real-time tracking (no latency!) and gain behaviors that act more like the real thing.

The thing is, while these things aren’t terribly cheap, they’re also not outside the budget of a lot of producers. So developers now find themselves appealing to both seasoned producers and engineers – even those with a fair number of hours on the original equipment, or maybe a Grammy or two in the closet – alongside musicians who have decided to pretend they know what the knobs do. (Trust me, I’ve been in that latter category – I feel you.)

This could go horribly wrong. You could get a giant knob that says “make more loud.” But oddly enough, if you maintain a commitment to sound and ease of use can make both groups happier. The absolute beginner still wants stuff that sounds like their favorite records. And the person who produced those favorite records is the least likely to have time to deal with unfriendly user interfaces. (We’re all getting older. Yeah, those producers even often use presets – of course, because they know what the presets actually do and how to adjust them to taste.)

So, all of that is to say, I have to notice the Century Tube Channel Strip looks a lot simpler than a lot of high-end channel strips.

Century Channel Strip – hardware-style controls and behavior, simple UI, classic sound, and works in real-time with UA’s audio interfaces.

One singular channel strip

It’s actually ridiculously simple. But funny enough, that simplicity comes from UA’s experience with modeling decades of vintage gear, which in the days of analog circuits and higher per-component prices (to say nothing of real knobs instead of computer screens), tended to economize.

So it just looks like one channel strip with a vintage-style tube microphone preamp, equalizationfor sound shaping, and dynamics control (a compressor/limiter). It’s skeuomorphic – sorry Jony Ives – but with the general effect that things are easier to see and relatable in a general sense to hardware you may have used before.

One plug-in just does the bulk of what you need, in one interface. This contrasts with Arturia’s (completely excellent, by the way) “Preamps You’ll Actually Use,” which have sprawling UIs – here, the model is still vintage gear, but the controls are far simpler.

UA wants to do more than say you can use this with their real-time tracking. They want to tell you why:

You’ll use real-time tracking so you’re more likely to get the sound you want on the first take, as you play/sing, and then keep that take without second-guessing it.

At EUR/USD 149, this looks like an instant hit for UA owners, and with the Apollo Arrow a lower-cost, more portable hardware entry, I think the combination could be grand.

Vintage mics, in the box

The other nice news in this update is the Bill Putnam microphone collection. That’s Bill Putnam, Sr., the legendary engineer without whose contributions modern recording is hard to imagine. And yes, apart from being the guy who founded UA, Mr. Putnam worked with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and Ray Charles.

So, here’s the cool part: now you can track through models of his actual mics, including the Telefunken Ela M 251E, AKG C12A, Neumann U47, RCA 44, and others, with all the controls over proximity and pattern, before or after the fact.

Again, UA have a case for making you spend more on their software and combined hardware, because the payoff is that you can get near-zero latencies and hear the effects as you work. Computers could pull that off, but until they do so reliably, you’ve got this.

The magic of this working is all the work of the Townsend Labs Sphere L22 microphone. Short, non-engineering explanation – that mic picks up everything, so that then software can model the unique frequency and spatial response of a particular mic.

Just get ready: the list price of the L22 is US$1,799. Hey, you want a bunch of classic mics, you’re going to have to pay for one good mic.

That UI means you can choose the behavior of the mics, virtually. Just don’t smoke, kids. Bill Putnam, Sr. (pictured at right) smoked, and he’s not alive any more.

https://www.uaudio.com/bill-putnam-mic-collection.html

And the rest

Also out in this release is a Suhr PT100 amplifier. That’s notable not only for the Suhr moniker, but also plug-in effects capabilities included – syncable lo-fi delay, noise gate, tight and smooth filters and power soak, plus a preamp. And yes, there’s a bypass switch – thank you. I’m… mostly eager to try this one on drums. I’ll get back to you on that! US$149.

https://www.uaudio.com/suhr-pt100-amplifier.html

Suhr amp emulation, also from Brainworx.

Plus, from Brainworx, there’s the rather nice all-in-one analog-style mastering chain bx_masterdesk, at $299. Also notable for Arrow users, the DSP usage on this will work on just one DSP chip. Brainworx makes some great stuff; there’s a ton of competition for mastering, but this still looks like a solid option.

https://www.uaudio.com/brainworx-bx-masterdesk.html

All of this is part of UAD Software 9.6 – download directly:
www.uaudio.com/uad/downloads

UAD Powered Plug-ins

Previously:

UAD for everybody: Arrow sound box is Thunderbolt, PC or Mac, $499

The post A simple, classic channel strip, Mr. Putnam’s mic collection, and more appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Repair or Replace

Just make sure all your friends and family are out of the car, or that you've made backup friends and family at home.

Bible thumper: watch a circuit bent bible, made on a dare

This week in blasphemy: LOOK MUM NO COMPUTER has another weird nerdy superhit, this time modding and glitching out an electronic bible. Jesus, take the soldering iron!

LOOK MUM NO COMPUTER is inventor-musician-composer Sam Battl of London, whose projects have included synths on bikes, flamethrower organs, and Theremin lightsabres, among other concoctions. And he has a knack for creating weird and wonderful inventions that then go viral.

But speaking of viral millennial sensations (okay, very different millennium), maybe you’ve heard of a bestselling book called … The Bible? All about a thought leader / influencer who … okay, I’ll stop.

Long story short: electronic bible. Soldering iron. Circuit bends. Apparently, a dare from deadmau5. And then, this:

And before I tempt getting struck by lightning while blogging, don’t worry, bible lovers – Sam says “Nothing against the bible here. I showed it to a couple of christian friends before and they seemed to like it.” There, that’s good enough for me.

Okay, sure, it sounds a little demonic, but you know, it’s still the actual Bible. If Christian rock sounded like this, I’d be up for it. (Bach, I like.)

As it happens, this project is interesting from an engineering perspective, too. Recent products are way harder to bend, thanks to fewer exposed bend points and chips hidden beneath black blobs and the like. There’s a reason circuit bending often starts with a trip to eBay or a flea market.

Sam promises more info on his site soon on just how he pulled this off. We’ll be watching.

For more on circuit bending, start with the man who started it all – Reed Ghazala, whose approach to bending is like an ecologist assisting machines in evolving. (He even gives them eyes and the like, for a window into their soul.) It’s radical, wonderful stuff – from an engineering perspective as well as a human and philosophical one. His site:

http://www.anti-theory.com/

And if you liked this project, you’ll love Sam’s Furby Organ, among others:

The post Bible thumper: watch a circuit bent bible, made on a dare appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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DU-NTSC is a modular visualizer, AV toy, and video generator

From hyper-nerdy label Detroit Underground comes a new tool that both visualizes signals and acts as a modular visual instrument – a new way of looking at what you’re doing in modular sound, and an object for visual creation.

Eurorack may be saturated with modules that do sound, but get ready for the next frontier: more visuals. Boutique label Detroit Underground has been a retro-futuristic hub for just those sorts of audiovisual fascinations. Label head Kero is an audiovisual artist himself, and has gravitated to music with visual elements – not to mention he’s put out a glitchy app and website and even started a series of album releases on VHS. (Yes, VHS. Full disclosure: I somehow wound up on this series; my VHS tape drops in September. I’m still shopping around flea markets for a deck before the tapes arrive.)

DU-NTSC is really two modules in one. It’s a visualizer/oscilloscope – so you can look at signal in your patches. And it’s a hackable, creative visual module, capable of outputting visuals and visual signals. (Not everyone is interested exclusively in their rack doing sound; some also want to stimulate sight.)

Plus since it’s analog, it’s time to dig up all your analog ins and outputs again. Edirol video mixer? Sega Genesis? CRT tubes? Half-broken projectors? Yes, yes, yes, yes!

Watch (with some Richard Devine sounds, of course):

The whole thing is based on Arduino nano, making it easy to hack your own patterns through some simple coding, for more of these wild black-and-white creations:

Highlights:

  • Input video – there’s a composite (analog, natch) video input
  • Input audio – it’s a one-channel oscilloscope with wide sample rate spectrum (228 Hz – 700KHz), just with unusually cool visualizations
  • Generate video patterns via multiple presets (or make your own with Arduino code!)
  • Control patterns with CV and gate control of visual parameters
  • Output video – video generator can be routed to composite, as can video signal and sync (with a hack) through Video Cinch feature

That patch-ability extends in all directions: you can use control voltage both to generate and control visuals, and gate keeps everything in time.

Here’s a video (via Kero / DU) of the module getting connected:

The project was built in collaboration with Razmasynth, a video modular maker based in France specializing in open source kits. And if you like this, you should definitely also check out their Telewizor.

Full specs:

  • One channel AV Display for Eurorack Modular, PAL, NTSC Video Generator and One Channel Oscilloscope
  • CV Input controls Video Generator (Jack Mono 3.5)
  • Universal CV from modular, bipolar (+5/-5V) and unipolar (+5V)
  • Gate Input: resets the current pattern and turns the screen black when a positive signal is applied (Jack Mono 3.5)
  • Chaos Button: inverts on-screen colors in all patterns; use this button to decrease the sample rate on an Oscilloscope sub-program in order to display signals from a LFO
  • Video In: supports PAL/NTSC; it can connect with DVD, VCD, TFT Camera, Super Nintendo, VHS Tape, etc. via Cinch input
  • Composite Video Out: exports the video generator signal via the Cinch output
  • DU-NTSC is based on the Arduino Nano platform, allowing you to easily hack and create your own video patterns.
  • Over 16 video patterns (demo available)
  • One Channel Oscilloscope; with a sample rate from 700KHz to 228Hz

Like Razmasynth’s Telewizor, DU-NTSC is based on Arduino Nano, so you can easily hack and create your own video pattern (making your own 120×96-pixel image) or upload code.

And that hardware:

  • Digital TFT Chimei LCD
  • Display size: 3.5″
  • Display Format: 4:3
  • System: PAL/NTSC
  • Pixel: 480(W)X272(H)
  • 10P Eurorack bus connector
  • 191ma power draw (+12/-12V)
  • Reverse polarity protection
  • Depth: 16hp
  • Skiff Friendly
  • Optional solder pads on the PCB back, for powering display with an external power supply 12V DC, without causing main power supply to drop down

More video action – this video from Kero gives you a sense of what it’s like to use:

And Richard Devine accidentally teased this over the weekend with this tripping-in-space video using the module:

Here’s more. Dig the pink lighting:

There are only twenty of these units, but I suspect this may be a sign of more to come in visual modules – both from Detroit Underground and in the scene generally. US$250 per module, available from Bandcamp (and including a free Richard Devine music download, of course):

https://detund.bandcamp.com/merch/du-ntsc

Previously:

This Eurorack module was coded wrong – and you’ll like it

Speaking in signal, across the divide between video and sound: SIGINT

The post DU-NTSC is a modular visualizer, AV toy, and video generator appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Tracktion 7: powerful, free audio production tool (Mac, Windows, Linux)

So you want to start recording, mixing, arranging, and your budget is … you don’t have one. Tracktion runs on every OS, and the latest update adds still more powerful features.

Free production tools are invaluable – not only are they a refuge for the cash-strapped, but they can be a useful common denominator when you want to exchange projects, or if you need to get up and running quickly on something other than your main machine. Tracktion isn’t the only option out there. Notably GarageBand is available to macOS and iOS users. The excellent Cakewalk (formerly called Cakewalk SONAR) is an optimal choice on Windows, now available free from BandLab. For cross-platform tools, there’s the completely free and open source Ardour, though it can be a bit hacky to install and use. And while it’s not free, Reaper has an unlimited demo, meaning you can use the full version for free and send the developer some money after you sell that first TV score.

Where Tracktion stands out: it’s a modern, friendly, single-window DAW that runs on any OS (Mac, Windows, Linux). And of all of these, it may be the friendliest option – with some power features not available from other options.

T7, released this week, sweetens the pot with some unique new additions – including a couple that might even sway you from the DAW you’ve already paid for.

The UI has been refreshed, with a new scheme called “Blue Steel.” (Okay, enough Zoolander references already. Or at least they missed the opportunity to say the new color scheme will help you “Relax.”)

Browsing is also easier, with a visual browser for plug-ins (the likes of which we’ve seen in Reason, but more rarely elsewhere), plus a multi-browser for auditioning and placing multiple audio files.

The real magic, though, is in the ability to get some power over automation and routing:

Modular racks let you create custom signal processing chains.

Clip Layer Effects let you stack on effects and plug-in processing on specific clips, not just on tracks. That makes for a different workflow – no more making a new track every time you want to change audio routing. Tracktion says they’re applying for a patent here.

Clip Layer Effects: no more duplicating tracks just because one section needs a different effects routing than another bit.

Automation patterns are modulation and envelopes that you can apply to any parameter repeatedly. And there’s optional tempo sync support for them. That sounds especially handy for keeping favorite gestures at the ready, and for remixes and dance music (or to go the opposite direction, hyperactive microediting). Speaking of which, you also get….

Automation patterns can now be stored an applied anywhere – including with tempo sync.

LFO Modifiers can be applied to any parameter in the channel strip or in any third-party plug-in. We’ve seen powerful modifiers in Bitwig Studio – and in Ableton Live, though limited to somewhat simple Max for Live add-ons – but here, combined with those Clip Layers and Automation Patterns, they make Tracktion into a powerful DAW for editing.

LFO Modifiers now work with plug-ins.

Okay, so since this is free, how do the developers make any money? They hope you’ll upgrade to Waveform, their next-generation DAW. It’s got all these features, but adds more extensive instrument support, a multi-sampler, Melodyne pitch correction, a fully modular mix environment, more detailed MIDI editing and pattern generation, and other additions.

Also significant: master mix DSP, chord track, track loops, track presets, quick render, Rack ‘stack’ editor,’ plug-in faceplates, plug-in macros, and free online support. And only Waveform has ready-to-play Raspberry Pi support.

That still means Tracktion is a good way to give this approach a try.

https://www.tracktion.com/products/t7-daw

The post Tracktion 7: powerful, free audio production tool (Mac, Windows, Linux) appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Spinning DJ Gear Is Back – Are Motorized Jogwheels What DJs Really Want?

Spinning DJ Gear Is Back

After last week’s surprise sudden annoucement of the Denon DJ SC5000 getting a motorized upgrade, one thing is clear: InMusic (parent company of Denon DJ and Rane) thinks that DJs want motorized platters on their gear. But is that what DJs really want? Will people buy spinning platters in 2018? We take a closer look at this emerging trend in today's article.

The post Spinning DJ Gear Is Back – Are Motorized Jogwheels What DJs Really Want? appeared first on DJ TechTools.

Word Puzzles

Eno's storied aria was once soloed by Judge Lance Ito on the alto oboe at Ohio's AirAsia Arena.