Do you use Cycling ’74 Max/MSP/Jitter?

Cycling ’74 is a San Fransisco software company that makes a semi visual development environment for music, video and controller applications. An all new highly anticipated version five was released last week. I’ve never used the software directly but in the past some of the applications people created with it have peaked my interest. For example the Hypno VTheramin.

Now that there is a new version, updated tutorials and lots of videos I think its a good time to jump in and see why artists like Aphex Twin, Radiohead, Daft Punk, Autechre and Jamie Lidel all use it. Also remember that Ableton has announce a strategic relationship with Cycling ’74 which is another good reason to understand the product.

In use for over twenty years by performers, composers, artists, scientists, teachers, and students, Max is the way to make your computer do things that reflect your individual ideas and dreams. Version 5 is a dramatic transformation of Max that begins a new chapter in the program’s history. –

People are using this software to create synthesizers, samplers, control Monomes and lighting rigs. Some people compare it to Native Instrument’s Reaktor but I think Max goes further? Jitter is the video and matrix processing component which I believe there is no counter in Reaktor. Correct me if I am wrong as I am learning.

Here are some more links worth checking out. I will be re-reading these pages until I jump into the actually software and start designing my own toys:

Visit the Cycling ’74 website: click here
The Cycling ’74 page on YouTube: click here
Create Digital Music – Max 5 Preview: click here

So do you use Max/MSP/Jitter? Please let me know in the comments what your doing with it.

Wire to the Ear takes you on a visit to Jomox.

Wire to the Ear takes you to Jomox. from wiretotheear on Vimeo.

Last week I decided to buy a Jomox Mbase 01. It’s a 100% analog kick drum module. It gives you kicks that range from a small click to complete bass insanity. It can convincing do any 909 or 808 kick drums plus many more variations. Honestly it’s the best kick drum I ever heard. I will be doing another post with samples and a full review. Take it from someone who performs live every weekend: having a killer perfect kick drum is vital!

My first go to place for all things analog boutique is Schnieder’s Buero and since I already have a Vermona DRM1 MKIII on order with them I thought I would just add the Mbase onto the order. Unfortunately they said they were out of MBase’s and didn’t know when new ones were coming in. Next I walked over to Sound & Drumland and they told me it would be about a month. A month? Come on man! I have money there must be a way right?

So I did what any American born capitalist would do and emailed the manufacturer direct. Just a few minutes later Jürgen Michaelis the owner and producer of all the Jomox products emailed me back saying he had one left and I could pick it up from him. I knew if I was going to Jomox I had to bring my camera.

I got on my bicycle (it’s the best way to get around Berlin) and made my way to Neukolin to Jomox headquarters. What I did not expect was Jürgen being so open and friendly. He could see I was seriously interested in what was going on and he put aside a good hour of his day to show me his workshop and toys. I’m very pleased to be able to show you the video above.

Do you see that Mbase 01 he signed? That one is mine!

Here are a few bullet points I picked up from my conversation with Jurgen Michaelis:

  • He once worked at Sound & Drumland.
  • He repaired Roland TR-909s at a place called Xtended which still exists.
  • Because he did repairs for the Roland drum machine he had access to the papers and could design his own machines (the Xbase line) when Roland decided not to compete in the Analog space.
  • Roland has never shown any ill will to the Jomox line.
  • He personally took a trip to Taiwan to find a manufacturing plant for Jomox products.
  • He hand tests every Jomox product still.
  • The metal work comes from within Germany.
  • He doesn’t listen to much electronic music (I did give him my album though!).
  • He is thinking about moving to America someday.
  • He did tell me what he is working on next but I can’t tell you (sorry!).

Besides the video I took a few still photos. Check them out: click here

Totally Wired a synthesizer shop documentary!

I’ve mentioned the Berlin synthesizer shop Schneider’s Buero a few times on this blog. In fact I posted a photo set from the amazing store: click here. It’s run by Andreas Schneider who could not be a nicer or more enthusiastic synth head. The store is just down the street from me and just last week I ordered a Vermona DRM1 MKIII from them. So I am delighted to discover there is a documentary in the works about the shop! It looks like its going to be really great with interviews with people like Daniel Miller (Mute Records), Ken Macbeth and Anthony Rother.

‘Totally Wired’ explores one man’s electric evangelism, and the interface he has built to connect analogue instrument inventors with their end-users. The film features an informed selection of inventors and artists alike, including Dieter Doepfer, Junior Boys, Ken MacBeth, Anthony Rother, Jessica Rylan, Daniel Miller, Wowa Cwejmann, Per Salzwedel, Ricardo Villalobos, Magda, Marc Houle and many more. –

Keep an eye out on their official blog for more news:

Use the Stretch Notes command in Ableton Live.

Here’s a cool Midi feature you may have missed in Ableton Live. It’s called “Stretch Notes” and I’ve been using it lately. Double click a Midi Clip to show it’s contents in the Clip View (the bottom right panel of the Ableton Live interface). Select all or multiple notes and then either Right Click or Apple Click to open the Contextual Menu and choose “Stretch Notes”. Now two handles pop up which you can drag left or right. As you move the handles the notes shrink or lengthen. Cool and easy no?

When multiple notes are selected in the Note Editor, the Stretch Notes command becomes available from the context menu. Note Stretch markers will then appear in the Note Editor, allowing notes to be scaled proportionally in time. The markers are a pair of downward-pointing indicators that snap to the beginning of the first and last notes in the selection. – Ableton Live User Manual

Here’s an example how I used it in a song. In my song “You Are Disturbing” there is a melody that plays over and over as the chorus. At one point in the song after I say the lyrics “What are the things you like sexually” the same melody plays using TC Powercore’s Roland SH-101 emulator Powercore01 but at double speed. I did this using the Stretch Notes feature:

There is an interesting video by Andreas Wetterberg called “Phase music with Ableton Live” where he uses the Stretch Notes feature to create an entire song. Check it out: click here

I hope this tip inspired you. Oh yeah… try it on some drum loops!

A silent rave happened in NYC last week? WTF!

Being an expat living in Berlin I remind myself of NYC by reading a photo blog aptly titled “New York Daily Photo“. When I read today’s post I knew I has to mention it here. Apparently last Friday night in Union Square there was a silent rave! First off, you know someone is old and out of touch when they use the word rave but that’s what everyone is calling it so I will play along.

Friday’s silent rave was organized by Jonnie Wesson, an 18 year old exchange student from Britain, attending the Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn. Silent raves are popular in London and Europe – large scale silent discos with thousands of participants have taken place in the U.K. “The basic premise is that a hundred or a thousand or a few thousand people all turn up in a public place, turn on their own headphones and dance” says Wesson. “It’s always fantastic and weird to see thousands of people dancing silently. It’s always in a public space, but it’s not meant to cause disruption, but only because it’s the last place you’d expect that sort of thing.” The rave at Union Square was organized by Wesson through a Facebook site. It was scheduled to start at 6:17 PM. “It’s a random time that fits in with the ethos of the flash mob.” –

I have to say this is majorly spastic. In my last post I said to go to a circuit bending festival is worth is even if your girlfriend laughs at you. If you go to a silent rave you deserve to be laughed at! Then again, the weather is nice and it’s more fun than the television.

By the way I have my own daily photo blog from Berlin. Everyday I put a photo up so come and take a look:

The photo you see above is from: A. Seraphin
More photos from the Silent Rave on The Village Voice’s website: click here

The Bent Festival starts this week in New York City.

The Bent Festival is a traveling roadshow where people display and perform with their Circuit Bent instruments. We all know what circuit bending is right? If you live in a city hosting one of the shows I recommend going. It’s one of those things your girlfriend will laugh at you for but it will make you a better person. Enjoy some truly interesting home brew creations ranging from the starter mod “Speak N Spell hack” to a Furbee gone berserk.

The Bent Festival is an annual art and music festival celebrating DIY electronics, hardware hacking, and circuit bending. Each year we invite artists from across the country and around the globe to perform music with their home-made or circuit bent instruments, teach workshops to adults and children alike, create beautiful art installations and to generally come together, face to face, and showcase the state of the art in DIY electronics and circuit bending culture. –

As I mentioned in this post I went a few years ago and really enjoyed myself. Each year the festival grows and is now associated with Make Magazine which is one of my favorite reads. I saw the following video on the mighty Matrixsynth blog today:

New York – April 24-26
LA – April 17-19
Minneapolis – May 1-3

Tunecore makes a price change. Im still using it.

Last week I uploaded my record label’s new release Ionic Vision – Club Isolation to TuneCore. I use them to get my releases onto iTunes, Amazon and eMusic. You pay a maintenance and service fee charge of $19.98 per album. This is reoccurring yearly charge for every album you have “live” for sale. You also pay a one time charge of .99 for each store you want to have the release on. For example .99 for Amazon worldwide, .99 for eMusic and for iTunes each world store is separate so .99 for iTunes USA, .99 for iTunes Germany, etc… I don’t bother selling my music on some stores they offer like Rhapsody or Napster.

One thing you may notice if you used Tunecore in the past is the maintenance and service fee charge has doubled from what it used to be. I emailed Tunecore about the price change and they told me yes it did go up but only effects newly added releases. So for example, your older albums on iTunes won’t start incurring a double charge. My albums make a decent amount of money per month so its not a major issue for me. However, for the new single on my label with just 4 songs on it I now have to question if it’s worth doing. Beatport, Neuton, Juno Download and of course my own online store (using Easybe) don’t charge me anything to put a release up. I do want these releases on iTunes and Amazon but only if I will surely will not loose money. I’m a glass is half full guy so this release went up using Tunecore.

I still think Tunecore is a good service. They have a great website. Uploading and organizing your releases works smoothly and is a nice looking process. They always answer my emails right away. Storage is getting cheaper so I’m not sure why thier fee doubled. Let’s hope for more competition in this space as really at this point Tunecore is the only good option for independent labels to get onto iTunes. I do feel it’s important to keep the concept of “point of sale” in mind which states the more places you sell your stuff the more money you should make.

Make a promo video for your new music release.

Yesterday a box arrived from Neuton who distributes my record label, Things to Come Records. It was the new release from Ionic Vision called “Club Isolation”. Ionic Vision are a well known EBM (Electronic Body Music) band from Belgium. They contacted me about releasing remixes for two songs off their new album “Sweet Isolation”. When they told me they already had mixes from David Carretta and Millimetric I knew I had to do it.

So back to the box and the point of this post. I always love opening a box of new records and I knew Andy de Decker from Ionic Vision wouldn’t be getting his records for a few days so I decided to videotape myself opening the box to show him. Then I remembered all the Macbook Pro box opening videos there are on YouTube and the light went off in my head. So you see the creation above. Don’t forget to blast the music behind your show and put links to places you can buy the release!

Belgian EBM band Ionic Vision releases 12 inch single on Things to Come Records with remixes by David Carretta, The Horrorist, Millimetric and Stamba! This is Electronic Body Music! The Carretta & Millimetric remixes of Sleep & Die Macht are set to be giant hits in Darkwave clubs and Industrial Goth events. The Horrorist remix will scare the living daylights out of you. Stamba from Bordeaux shows off his studio skills in a slick production. As with all TTC releases: MUST HAVE! –

There are more things you can do than a simple unboxing as far as video promos go. Find one of the first stores selling the new baby and do a video walk in and show the record on the shelf. Get two nice looking ladies to play frisbie with the new 12 inch single (in slow motion of course). The skies the limit. I wonder how to make a video promo of a Digital Download unboxing?

Vimeo, Viddler or are all video hosting sites which look much better than YouTube. The video above which is hosted on Vimeo alows me to customize the color of the text overlay. But which ever site you choose to host your promo also add the video to YouTube because of the shear volume of viewers on that site. Don’t forget to add tags to your video so your promo shows up when someone searches “ebm” or “Things to Come Records” for example.

Be warned that like blog posts people can comment on your video. Some people will think the idea of a record box opening completely stupid. However, fans want to know the behind the scenes stuff and record collectors are a special bunch who will drool as they watch the shiny new vinyl appear!

More info about Ionic Vision “Club Isolation”: click here

Techspansion releases AudialHub for Mac. Yay!

Here’s a scenario I run into all the time. I have a new release ready for my record label. I need to make 30 second previews of each song. I make the shorter clips in Ableton Live. Live doesn’t not export as MP3. I drag the rendered previews into iTunes, convert then drag the MP3s out. Lastly, I need to select all the previews in iTunes, click delete, send to trash and then empty the trash. Thats really stupid so I was thrilled to see one of my favorite companies release an audio converter for Mac.

I know there are some other audio converters but Techspansion makes one of the hottest Mac Apps called Visual Hub. Visual Hub is a video converter that is the de facto standard. Its ultra fast and works on any video type. I also like that Visual Hub uses Sparkle and so does AudialHub. What’s the Sparkle? When a new version of an application is ready from a developer you get a notification the next time you launch the app and with one click it updates itself. This is an important feature for programs that do conversions because the developer can update and add new files types often. So heres some details for AudialHub:

  • Conversion from dozens of audio types to popular formats like AAC, MP3, WMA, AIFF, WAV, Apple Lossless, 3G (cell phones), Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, and even Audio and MP3 CDs!
  • Audio tracks inside video files can also be converted!
  • Common tags (Artist, Album, etc) are automatically passed when applicable.
  • Up to 16 hours of audio can be converted to a single MP3 CD.
  • Easy-to-use Trim capabilities to narrow down short segments of audio.
  • Quick Preview capability to check out compression quality and Trim settings before a full conversion.
  • Dynamic file queue, allowing mid-conversion changes or additions, Pause/Resume, and an “always ready” Assembly Line Mode!
  • Run multiple simultaneous conversions in separate queues with separate settings.
  • Growl notifications, Dock progress indicator, and AppleScripting automation support!
  • Normalization, audio track selection, multiple decoder options, and direct access to add custom low-level command-line settings!
  • Detailed Users Guide and Help Center.

There is another bit of excellent news here in that AudialHub uses the Lame encoder for MP3s. Certain digital download stores like Trackitdown (big for dance music in the UK) only accept MP3’s encoded using Lame. Itunes does not use the Lame encoder. In fact, audio previews will play back at the wrong speed if you do not use Lame.

AudialHub is $19. If you already own VisualHub you get it for $15