Top 10 gifts for musicians holiday 2007.


Ableton Live 7. This is my favorite piece of software. Live’s innovative Session View mode gives musicians the freedom to try multiple musical ideas before entering the arrangement process. This fact gives Ableton Live a huge edge over it’s competitors. Each year Ableton has upgraded Live adding in features of legacy sequencers and also eclipsing them with new stuff. Some of the big items in the “7” upgrade include an Enhanced Audio Engine, new Compressor, Sidechaining, Time Signature changes, Rex file support, and an Innovative drum rack. link

Ableton Live 7

Moog Little Phatty. It’s all about the sound! Buy someone you love a Moog and they will be looking at it 20 years from now fondly thinking of you. All Moog’s are classics and the Little Phatty is pure Moog. Beautifully engineered nothing sounds as raw, bassy and loud. It sounds like a teenager behind the wheel of a Lambourgini. Manufactured in the good ole USA. link

Moog Little Phatty

Cognitone Harmony Navigator. The fantastic and large world of chords and scales can be illusive for those with no formal music instruction. During the music making process many musicians search for the right notes for the perfect chorus or bridge. Harmony Navigator is many colorful graphic playgrounds of chord sets. You jump around them in real time, clicking your mouse playing chords. The chords are grouped by colors and distance. As you do your clicks your creative juices explode. Each time I load the program a new song idea pops in my head. link

Harmony Navigator

Yamaha Tenori-On. This is a beautiful new electronic musical instrument designed by media artist Toshio Iwai. You hold it with two hands and are represented with a grid of 256 white LEDs. It has a unique sequencer which allows for traditional step style movements but also pings and gravity motions. The LEDs bounce and fly across the grid. You can add layers sounds. You end up with a gorgeous light show viewable from the front and backside of the instrument. If the musician you love had a Light Bright when he was a child he’s going to freak when he see this. Inspirational and new the Tenori-On. link


Apple Macbook Pro. The early 2000’s saw the music studio make it’s final journey from a room full of hardware into a single computer running virtual software. It is now possible to run practically as many effects and synthesizers as you need to make a nice song all ITB (inside the box). Another paradigm shift is that laptops are now so fast there is no longer a real need for a tower computer. A musician can have a full studio where ever he goes. He’s live computer can also be is studio computer. Everyone knows Apple Computer is on a major roll. The Macbook Pro is the pinnacle of Apple’s success. The Operating System Leopard is magnificent and the LED screen is brilliant. There are so many niceties about the Macbook Pro you really enjoy every minute working on it. One of these machine’s can not only contain your recording studio it can also run your record label and social life. link

Macbook Pro

Native Instruments Massive. Native Instruments is a software company from Berlin, Germany. There are one of the early pioneers in creating and marketing software synthesizers as real alternatives to hardware. This year they proved they still have what it takes by leapfrogging their competition with an all new virtual synthesizer that sounds gleaming fresh. It’s capable of great basses, leads and pads but what sets Massive apart is its great sounding effect type sounds that you expect to hear in the most modern glitch minimal music. Sharp clear rezo shocks and snaps spit out from its internal sequencer. Mulitiple LFOs and fantastic internal routing mechanisms let you sculpt insane sounds. Another way out there and greatly appreciated feature is its ability to create its own feedback from within the plug-in. This calls up some wild screeches and sweeps. The interface is very 2007 with on screen LED rings and white LFO shapes that animate and you move and place them along the step sequencer. If you like electronic music you have to grab this thing. link

Native Instruments Masssive

Sound on Sound Magazine. With all the blogs, forums and news sites covering the music technology world why would you still need a magazine sent to your house? For the most part you don’t and over the years I have not renewed most of my subscriptions. But one magazine stays and always will. Sound on Sound from the UK. Why? Because it’s packed with articles. It takes me the full month to get through it all. The reviews are the most balanced I’ve read (the don’t love everything!). Each month they cover the gamut of music production, styles from Rock to Electro, sound sets, how classic tracks were made, interviews, acoustic treatment, basically everything. Towards the back of each issue they have separate articles on each DAW and computer platform. With a subscription you also get access to their online archive of past articles, a great reference source. After all these years I still learn something from each issue and thats highly valuable to me. link

Sound on Sound Magazine

M-Audio Xponent. I’m not a DJ but I like to make mixes for my friends. In the past I’ve used Native Instrument’s Traktor software and a mouse. Often I thought to myself, “I wish there were a cool controller that controlled every aspect on the screen.”. Well that day is here. Designed by an actually design firm called Nectar; Xponent is a nice looking piece of consumer electronics. It has dual touch sensitive scratch wheels, an XY touch pad and buttons and knobs for every on screen controller. The unit lights up like the Christmas tree it should be under with an array of multicolor lights that pulse to the tempo. The Torq software is fantastic and it also looks as pretty as the hardware. The final icing on the cake is Xponent is also an audio interface. link

M-Audio Xponent

Piano Lessons. I am often asked what piece of gear should a person buy to improve his or her music. Micpre? Acoustic treatment? More plug-ins? Nope. Piano lessons! Higher fidelity sound doesn’t make a great song. A melody conveying emotion makes a song worth singing. Tight kick drums don’t make a great song. A well worked arrangement makes a song worth playing over and over. You can spend all the money in the world on fantastic equipment but without the heart and sole of music it’s worthless. Even if your making the most minimal techno music there is a strong need to understand and to be able to call upon melody. Even wild sound effects contain pitch information. Understanding and being able to see those colors will bring great things to your palette.

Piano Lessons

D16 Nepheton. It’s rare I commercially endorse a product. But when I first heard D16’s Roland TR-808 software emulator I was blown away. Say the following sentence out loud: I love drum machines! Indeed! And so do I! Who the hell doesn’t? The Roland TR-808 is the king of all drum machines. The sound and sequencer are simply awesome. To have one so perfectly modeled in software is well a gift from the gods. The Polish software house D16 captured the sequencer’s nuance. Don’t just use this plug-in as a sound module. Take the time to get into everything the sequencer can do. link

D16 Nepheton

What do you want for Xmas?
photo credit: headcase and rachel_r

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Oliver Chesler

"Hello my name is Oliver and I'm going to tell you a story." I have been recording music since 1989 under the name The Horrorist. I have released over 60 singles and 4 full length albums. To hear my music please go to:

3 thoughts on “Top 10 gifts for musicians holiday 2007.”

  1. Im being modest here, I mean sure I’d love Santa to drop me off a 4gb quadcore macbookpro, loaded w/ Live7, and I got my dick hard for a poly evolver keys due to its chunky knob 16 step sequencer which a Radias can do me just as well for that, but it aint gonna happen so I’m gonna ask wifey for sample libraries I’f I’m lucky I’ll get a Kaossilator. PPl are flaming the Kaossilator all over the web, fuck em, it looks fun as hell and you can use it on the toilet without plugging it in. I got a KARMA laying around also, the KARMA function is not an easy learning curve so the instructional dvd’s will help, gotta hit wifey up. Happy Holidays!

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