Sunday, October 9, 2011

Basics of Composing in Live - 2 hour Seminar - by FroBot

Here is a 2 hour seminar on the basics of Ableton Live. From the VERY first time opening. Covers how to compose in ableton live. Shot in Winter 2011 at Wormwood under Cafe Absinthe in Osaka, Japan.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


This is how much DJ spam I get in a week!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

DJs' darkest hour: Indestructible eventually meant irrelevant for Technics turntable

The Technics SL-1200 turntable is to dance music what the Fender Stratocaster is to rock: the key to a musical and cultural explosion. There’s even a pair of the iconic decks on display at the Science Museum in London, where they’re hailed as an invention that shaped the world.

It’s weird to think that hip-hop, house and techno wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for some Japanese engineers on a quest to build a hi-fi for the audiophile market. But the uncluttered Technics SL-1200, with its high-torque electromagnetic motor, pitch adjust, precision tone arm and ability to take whatever abuse was thrown at it, was form and function in harmony. From its 1972 debut on, the SL-1200—particularly in its MK2 incarnation—became the bedrock of sound systems at the world’s best clubs. It served as a platform for people like Grandmaster Flash to discover how to scratch records, and folks like Larry Levan to beat-match them.

When CDJs established themselves in clubland in the mid-’90s, rumors began to circulate about the imminent demise of Technics turntables. It would end up taking a lot longer than that, but after 38 years and 3.5 million units sold, the day that vinyl DJs and turntablists always feared has finally come: the SL-1200 range is going the way of the dodo.

In a sad irony, the sheer durability of the decks has meant that they’ve outlived the companies that manufacture their otherwise redundant parts. Manufacturer Panasonic cited the increasing difficulty of sourcing analog components—the same ones it had been using since the beginning, in order not to compromise on quality—and a 90% drop in sales over the last decade as reasons for discontinuing its iconic product.

If the Technics SL-1200s and their accompanying 10kg record bags are the Sony Walkman and cassette box, then the laptop and its Traktor DJ software is the iPod. The latter is smaller, lighter, more convenient… but does it really sound better? And more importantly, has it got soul?

That’s a question which will soon have to be answered. Jeff Mills will be deftly mixing three decks at once for a few years yet, but the next generation of DJs won’t be starting out on turntables. In the hyper-competitive world of DMC scratch contests, the DJ Kentaro-style champion of the future will be cutting up a selection of digital WAV files on a virtual “scratch pad.”

Ultimately, Technics turntables were a victim of two things: the digital revolution and their own success. They’re so good that if you buy a pair, you’ll never need to replace them—and therein lies the problem.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The ‘sound sculptor’ that could win the Turner Prize

A famous sculptor is filling my living room with her priceless art. Only she’s not actually here. She’s on speakerphone from her home in Berlin, singing a dreamy 16th-century Scottish folk song in a fey, untrained voice. It’s the same voice, same song, that is commanding gallery space in the Tate Britain and become the toast of the international art world. Ah, the strange wonders of Skype and Susan Philipsz. 

The 44-year-old Scottish “sound sculptor” is currently the odds-on favourite to win the 2010 Turner Prize, to be announced next week.

She was also the show’s most controversial nominee, given that her work – which consists of songs sung plainly by the artist, recorded and looped and played in carefully selected locations, from underpasses in Ljubljana, Slovenia, to the rotunda of the Guggenheim Museum in New York – is completely intangible.

But don’t mistake her for a musician, or even a “sound artist” in the tradition of John Cage. Philipsz is more interested in perceptions of architecture and space – both internal and external – than in key changes or composition. Her work is less musical than it is performative and experiential.

In that sense, it is not dissimilar to the works of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, Canadian artists whose recent works include The Cabinet of Curiousness – which people can “play” by opening its drawers, releasing different sounds. Philipsz also calls to mind the ambient-noise projects of American artist Bill Fontana, who once outfitted Big Ben’s tower with microphones and sensors.
Philipsz’s work, however, is much simpler. “I’m obviously not a trained singer; and I don’t do anything to make my songs sound any better, as you normally would in a studio,” she says.

Sitting in a cavernous white space at the Tate this week, listening to the artist sing an old sailor’s lament, I was inexplicably moved. Experiencing her work is a bit like being on the street when someone drives by blaring a song you once loved – banal and yet magically familiar.

One of her earlier installations took place at a big-box outlet, Tesco, in Manchester. Philipsz sang songs live over the loudspeaker normally used to announce specials on frozen TV dinners. As shoppers shopped, she watched from a glassed-in upstairs office and, once in a while, pressed the intercom button and sang a rendition of Radiohead’s Airbag or the Rolling Stones’ As Tears Go By.

“Suddenly there would be this drop in the ambient noise – which is much louder than you think in a grocery store – and people would stop what they were doing and look around, bewildered,” she remembers. “Some would giggle and talk; others were silent and seemed quite moved.”

The Tate exhibit is a distillation of Philipsz’s work performed under a famous bridge in Glasgow (not far from her hometown of Dundee) and she is currently exhibiting at locations throughout London’s business district, including the Tower of London and the banks of the River Thames; and in a public garden in Lisbon. She has been commissioned to do an outdoor sound piece this winter for Colorado’s Aspen Museum of Art, which will feature one of her songs played on a mountain ridge over a valley (“They’re going to give me skiing lessons!”) and at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

It’s an impressive schedule for an artist who has spent most of her professional life believing her work would never find a wider market. “I spent my whole life thinking I’ll always be poor, I’ll never sell a thing, and suddenly everything changed,” she says.

So what explains the widespread appeal of this ephemeral new art form? The answer might just be hardwired into our brains. As McGill University professor Daniel J. Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music and the just-published The World in Six Songs, argues in his new book, “music is not simply a distraction or a pastime but a core element of our identity as a species, an activity that paved the way for far more complex behaviours.”

Perhaps in Philipsz’s ethereal a cappella melodies we recognize strains of our ancestors singing what Levitan defines as “knowledge songs” – the songs we use to teach our children, or outsiders, how our culture works. If you think this practice sounds outdated, just remember how you learned the alphabet.
Levitin also writes about how music changes the way we behave – witness the now-common police practice of playing classical music in seedy locales to drive away the riff-raff. Philipsz, who’s work has regularly been exhibited under bridges where the homeless sleep and junkies use, hopes her work makes these environments more – rather than less – welcoming for denizens of the street.

She remembers one of the most memorable moments of the exhibit under the bridge over the River Clyde in Glasgow. “An old man holding a bottle came up to me and said, ‘Can you hear those voices, or is it just me?’ ” A few feet away, one of his mates was crying.

The mind on music

(Original Link -,0,3647950.story)

On her last night at the hospital after undergoing a series of spine surgeries, Susan Mandel lay in bed listening to Pachelbel's Canon in D.

For days, Mandel's positive attitude had kept any anxiety at bay, so she was surprised when she noticed her face was wet, and then her pillow, which slowly soaked through. She sobbed silently, listening to the familiar violins, until the tears stopped coming. Then she felt peace.
"It wasn't a cry of anguish, it was a cry of relief," Mandel said, recalling the night more than 20 years ago. "It's very tender, evocative music, and I think it gave me permission to release the pent-up emotions."

Philosophers for millenniums have marveled at the power of music to speak to our souls, to inspire joy, melancholy, aggression or calm with visceral insight beyond the grasp of our rational minds. Thanks to advances in neuroscience, researchers are beginning to understand what it is about music that touches us so deeply, and how to harness that power to soothe, uplift, comfort and heal — to use music as medicine for emotional and physical health.

Mandel, a music therapist and research consultant at Lake Health Wellness Institute in Cleveland, this month released "Manage Your Stress and Pain Through Music," (Berklee Press Publications, $29.99), with co-author Suzanne Hanser, chairwoman of the music therapy department at Berklee College of Music in Boston. The book explains how to choose and use music to cope with challenges in your life.

Not what you'd guess

It can seem obvious which songs would bring you up and which might bring you down. And indeed, there are structural components to songs that are meant to communicate joy, such as a fast tempo in major mode, or sadness, such as a slower tempo in minor mode. But there's a difference between the emotion communicated through music and the emotion actually induced in the listener. Our memories, personal preferences and mood at the time can have a heavier influence than the intent of the musical structure in how music makes us feel.

"You could have a really positive emotional experience with a song that structurally communicates sadness," said Meagan Curtis, assistant professor of psychology at State University of New York at Purchase, who does research in music psychology.

What matters most in reaping the health benefits of music, from pain reduction to stress relief, is that you listen to music you enjoy, research shows. In a study on cardiac rehabilitation patients, Mandel found that the patients who liked a therapeutic music CD she put together experienced a reduction in blood pressure and reported feeling calmer, while patients who didn't like the music actually felt worse.

While there are structural components that convey soothing, such as consonant harmonies and a narrow pitch range, whatever music has the most positive associations to the individual will have the most positive emotional and physiological response. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms heart rate, lowers blood pressure and relaxes muscles.

"I have found people who love punk rock and find that it helps them to sleep," Hanser said. "It's likely that they have learned it truly speaks to them and expresses a part of who they are."

Music and pain

Music also has been found to help people tolerate pain longer and make the pain less painful.
Studies using a cold pressor task, which simulates chronic pain by submerging subjects' hands in a bucket of freezing cold water, found that people were able to leave their hands in the water longer when they were listening to music they enjoyed, Curtis said.

That could be because people take comfort in the familiar, or because it distracts them. Between recalling memories, tapping our fingers, conjuring up images and other tasks, our brain releases so many chemicals to process music that they interfere with our perception of pain.

How the brain processes

There's some evidence that we feel music viscerally because it goes straight to the amygdala, the part of the limbic system that manages our emotions, and the hippocampus, where long-term memories are stored, Hanser said.

Music that gives people chills or shivers up the spine has been found to activate the same reward areas of the brain stimulated by food, sex and certain types of recreational drugs, Curtis said. While different people get chills from different songs, often those shiver-producing songs have an unexpected tonal structure, like a chord that isn't part of the harmonic progression, she said.

Impact of lyrics

While structure is less important than personal experience in a song's ability to induce emotion, lyrics may be even less important than structure, Curtis said. We don't need to consciously attend to structure to process its emotion, but we do have to pay attention to lyrics, making the impact of structure stronger and less difficult to process.

People are usually very intuitive about what songs are useful to them and often choose music appropriate for the state they're in, Curtis said. That explains one of the great ironies of human behavior: that many people like to listen to sad music when they're sad.

We might like the affirmation, as we create a bond with the singer or composer because they, too, have felt what we feel, Curtis said. Another theory is that wallowing is a kind of emotional catharsis, helping us fully experience the sadness so that we go through the stages of grief more quickly.
And it can be a healthy thing. A central tenet of music therapy is to meet people where they are, called the ISO principal. So if people are very depressed and lonely, you would start them with music that matches their mood before introducing something more uplifting.

"You first affirm and allow the person to reflect, and then move on to more positive things and hopeful outlooks," Hanser said.

Some researchers hope to nail down the precise combination of pitch, tone, tempo, rhythm, timbre, melody and lyrics that makes a piece of music ideal for regulating people's moods or helping to reduce pain. A study under way at Glasgow Caledonian University aims to develop a "comprehensive mathematic model" that identifies how music communicates emotions, which eventually could help doctors prescribe music.

Hanser is skeptical that a sweeping formula exists, and if it does, "I hope we don't find it," she said. "I don't know anyone who is the mean, the normal. If we can recognize our own unique characteristics and what makes us each respond so differently, that I think is really fascinating and what humanity is all about."

Emotional impact
While a person's emotional reaction to a song is based largely on his or her history with the song, the song's structure also can communicate emotions, mostly through mode (major or minor chords) and tempo, said Meagan Curtis, assistant professor of psychology at State University of New York at Purchase.

A fast tempo (up to 120 beats per minute) tends to heighten physiological arousal, while slower tempos (down to 60 beats per minute) tend to reduce arousal. Major chords tend to evoke positive emotions, such as joy and contentment, and minor chords negative emotions, like fear, anger or sadness.
Curtis offered some examples:

•Major mode, fast tempo Example: "Shiny Happy People," by R.E.M. Emotion conveyed: happy.

•Major mode, slow tempo Example: "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay," by Otis Redding. Emotion conveyed: soothing, tenderness.

•Minor mode, fast tempo Example: "Smells Like Teen Spirit," by Nirvana. Emotion conveyed: angst, anger.

•Minor mode, slow tempo Example: "Eleanor Rigby," by the Beatles. Emotion conveyed: sadness.

Road Trip Through Florda....Anyone wanna party!?

Whats up everyone. I am making my first trip back to the states in 4 years...and even then was just Hawaii. Sushi & JPop has been getting under my skin. I am road tripping from Dec 14-Dec 21 from Orlando to Miami. Anyone who is from that area...and wants to get a session on or knows a good party place...please hit me up! Ill have a car, and ready to get my dancin shoes on!!! After that, its off to North Carolina, Pittsburgh...back to Osaka...then to the Philippines a couple days later.



Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ten Music Technologies to Be Thankful For Right Now

(Original Link -

Happy Thanksgiving to our American readers. I was thinking about technologies for which I’m particularly thankful, some non-obvious, some perhaps so obvious they might be easily be taken for granted. Each I hope represents some opportunities for others. At the risk of starting a Thanksgiving roast, in no particular order, here are the ones foremost in my mind in the waning days of 2010.

1. MIDI: MIDI gets kicked around a bit – it’s not a perfect protocol, commonly-used messages are low resolution, and the parts most people use really haven’t changed since the mid-80s. But don’t discount why we use it so much: it’s ubiquitous, cheap, and lightweight. Want something simple that works over WiFi and Bluetooth? Want to connect something from 1986 you found on eBay to your iPad and then use on a DIY synth with a $3 microcontroller? Want to connect an Xbox keytar without any hacking? MIDI may not be the right tool for every job, but as a lingua franca, it sure is darned useful.

2. Linux: Linux can still sometimes exhibit a punishing learning curve, and proprietary drivers for devices like video cards can cause issues. But in a world of wildly diverse hardware and painfully-quick obsolescence, Linux is a lifesaver. It can resurrect old machines, make netbooks usable, and the Linux kernel is fast becoming the solution for embedded gear from Android-powered devices to DIY projects. For music, that means an OS that can run on anything, and quickly wind up making noise with tools from Pd and Csound to Renoise and DJ app Mixxx. Suddenly, anything that runs on electricity and has a processor looks like fair game.

3. Music notation: Fun toys aside, what’s the real killer app in 2010? It might be the score. It’s still the fastest way to communicate a musical idea to someone else, or quickly play the Billy Joel tune your cousin wanted to sing along with. (Best karaoke machine in the world: your brain.) And this year, we saw improved ways to enter those scores, from ever-more-mature commercial packages to free tools like Lilypad. An iPad can be a fake book full of lead sheets; a browser can turn some quickly-typed notes into notation. All this using something that wouldn’t look entirely unfamiliar to someone who stepped through a wormhole from a few centuries ago.

4. Reaper: We face a challenge in music technology: we’ve actually got too many great options. So it’s a good thing that there’s at least one DAW that’s easy to recommend that you know people can afford, with pricing ranging from $40-150. Reaper runs on Mac, Windows, and (with WINE) Linux. It’s not bloated with features, has no DRM, is heavily extensible (with both custom plug-ins and scriptable MIDI). And if you’re trying to get a friend to try a DAW without (cough) pirating it, you can point them to Reaper’s free trial version. Add to that the fact that you can author Rock Band songs for the game platform – including full keyboard and guitar transcriptions in the near future with Rock Band 3 – and Reaper is a DAW worth keeping around.

5. Four-lettered Synth Makers That Remember the Past: Not one but two famous names from synths yesteryear, MOOG and KORG, have been on fire in 2010. Moog celebrated its Minimoog anniversary with an enormous XL edition. Practical? Not terribly. Something boys and girls could pin up to their walls? Yes. And Moog also had a bigger-than-ever Moogfest, proving its synths and effects weren’t just the domain of electronic music geeks, plus an affordable iPhone/iPod touch app that turns those handhelds into portable machines capable of recording anything and adding far-out effects. KORG, for their part, proves a big music tech name can remember their past, too, with the soul of their MS-20 appearing in iPad apps, wonderful, stocking stuffer-friendly hardware (Monotron), new bundles of software emulation (for those who prefer “real computers” to iPads), and, heck, even retro t-shirts. What these two companies have in common: understanding that their legacy matters to people, and finding ways to get that legacy in front of as large an audience as possible. Those are both ideas I hope catch on.,

6. Portable Recorders: Then: Marantz, Nagra, Tascam Portastudio. Today: go-anywhere field recorders from Tascam, Zoom, Roland, Korg, and many others. The ability to go out and actually record stuff remains one of the most essential needs in music tech. Today’s devices add nifty extras like pitch-independent tempo adjustment and built-in metronomes, making them as much a friend to musicians as they are sound designers. Odds are, if you’re reading this, some portable audio recorder is one of your most valuable possessions. Tascam DR-03 @ CDM

7. Pd: Pure Data, the open-source offspring of Max/MSP creator Miller Puckette and contributors around the world, is a free graphical patching tool that runs everywhere. You can use it on ancient iPods, or – via libpd – on bleeding-edge Android and iOS handhelds, in addition to (of course) desktop computers. It’s been incorporated in free and open source projects, and commercial and proprietary projects alike. Thanks to terrific free documentation and sample patches, you can also use it as a window into learning, with the aid of being able to see signal flow visually. (Even Max gurus can pick up tips for that environment with some of the online help.) The beauty of Pd – as with a number of tools – is that sometimes just making what you need is easier than making something someone else made do what you need., pd-everywhere @ noisepages

8. Bandcamp: The Web is littered with services catering to artists – not least being the chaotic mess that is the remains of MySpace. Bandcamp, in contrast, is simple, efficient, and functional, and for many of us has been a place to acquire music direct from artists as well as to publish it – no complicated jukebox/storefront middlemen needed. Some of my favorite listening this year came from Bandcamp.

9. Contact mics: A few dollars in parts and a soldering iron will make you a perfectly-functional device you can use to explore sound. Or, you can splurge on high-end devices. Either way, the surest antidote to endless choice in software synthesis or enormous sample banks is to go out and get a little closer to sonic vibrations. brokenpants DIY contact mic tutorial

10. The Internet: Distraction. Time suck. Scourge to privacy. A funny thing happened on the way to the Internet: you may have found a group of people who inspired you to make more, and share more, helped you solve problems and get back to music. On Twitter, on Facebook, on forums, on, yes, our fledgling Noisepages, everywhere I go, I find people who help me get tech working for me and remind me why I love music. So… thanks. Maybe there’s hope for us after all. (see… The Internet)
That’s my list. What are you thankful for? Let us know in comments.