Last September I discussed Amazon’s Createspace which allowed you to print on-demand CDs and sell them at Amazon.com. There is another player in this space that recently caught my eye called Audiolife. It takes the Createspace model further by also giving you print on-demand merchandise and gives you a portable (embeddable) shop you can place anywhere around the net. You can also sell downloads and buy CDs and merch at a discounted price to sell at shows. The best part of Audiolife is that there are no up-front costs.
“The overarching goal of Audiolife’s trailblazing technology is to give artists an opportunity to generate streamlined revenue without incurring thousands of dollars in up-front costs. By designing and creating a front-end that is both user-friendly and relevant to the changing dynamics of consumer behavior, while providing resources to support a virtual storefront with back-end manufacturing and distribution capabilities, Audiolife has truly created a service that provides a 360º solution.” – audiolife.com
This week I noticed two seperate articles about Lightbulb Speakers. Both the Altec Lansing concept and the Soundbulb from designer Hoang Nguyen use electricity from a light socket and wireless technology. There’s no doubt this is cool tech and it makes me wonder where we can apply this new combined concept.
“Created by Altec Lansing, these light bulb speakers feature a wireless attachment that can be connected to a variety of audio devices, including Apple’s iPod. Users can also wirelessly stream music via Bluetooth to supported devices.” – techeblog.com
I want a studio monitor version created using sun lamps!
Well here you have a great example of how touch screens are going to transform musician’s tools. Tapestri allows you to sample a sound and when you touch the waveform it plays it from the location you touched it.
“Tapestri version 1.0 is a sound sample-based synthesizer that uses the iPhone / iPod Touch touch screen interface to crisply control the playback of recorded sample material. With this innovative tool, recorded sounds can be quickly transformed into rap or electronic beats, synthy “clouds” of sound textures, or syncopated, improvised drum beats. Sounds are recorded by pushing the red record button to start and stop the recording process. When a sound is recorded, its waveform displays on the screen, and wherever you touch on the wave, the playback will rapidly jump to that location, allowing you to loop and cut up the sounds instantly!” – huffsound.com
I bought Tapestri and I think it will be a fun way to throw in some quick sounds into my own songs. I like the idea of a few minutes away from the mouse and screen creating a weird unexpected tidbit. Is this the new Casio SK-1?
I remember going to my aunt and uncles house on Long Island, NY as a child. Besides playing with Matchbox cars on their carpeted steps I loved going into the basement and using the Organ. I have no idea what kind of Organ it was but thinking back it was surely all analog including the drums. I would freak out stomping on all the pedals and pushing the zillion buttons that all lit up when pressed. I remember playing a rotation of the The Imperial March (Star Wars), When the Saints Go Marching In and Happy Birthday.
One of the bits of NAMM news that caught my eye was the Lowrey A5000 Organ. Honestly I have no real clue about modern home Organs but just look at this thing! Tell me you wouldn’t want to go nuts pushing all these buttons.
“The cabinet of the Prestige is built from the finest materials with steam bent curves giving an elegant look to this new top of the range instrument. The layout has an natural curve allowing you to see the whole panel easily whilst playing. New button design means that the panel is very easy to read and is angled to make button operation easier. Combine this with a full colour touch LCD screen and you have what we believe is the easiest organ to use in the world.” – allensmusiccentre.co.uk
The car you see above is the Aptera 2e all electric three-wheeled vehicle. It get’s the equivalent of 200 mpg, will cost less than $45k and will be available this year. It goes from 0-60 in less than 10 seconds and is comfy cruising at over 80 mph. Google is a major investor in Aptera.
So it’s April 2010 and you live in southern California. You head to the Aptera dealership and pick up the keys to your new 2e. You put your seat-belt on and reach for the radio. What song do you pick for your first drive?
My choice is clearly The Title Music from a Clockwork Orange by Wendy Carlos:
If the German 80’s band Einstürzende Neubauten made a modern day electronic instrument “Doubles” would probably be it. The band whos name roughly translates to “New Buildings Falling Down” used chain saws, videos of car accidents and other power tools in their live act and recordings. The video above is from another part of the world (Taiwan) and another time (today) but the sounds it creates made me think of the Berliners.
“Doubles is a unique new instrument that really brings out the “performance” in performance art. It reacts to acceleration and centrifugal force to create sound… Beads on the surface are spun using what look like air hockey paddles. The relative speed of the beads influences the sound that is produced.” – Scott Merrill, crunchgear.com
For more info visit the Doubles website: click here
I’m a huge fan of any software that helps me get from inspiration to finally arrangement as fast as possible. Once I have my arrangement done the hard part is over and I can spend a week or two mixing and making minor changes to the lyrics. When writing lyrics I always have my browser at: http://thesaurus.reference.com/
I also have a copy of Masterwriter on my hard drive and I really love it. I don’t use it all the time but when I do it always helps me with at least two or three rhymes or ideas. I’ve been pining for them to overhaul the interface and this week Masterwriter 2.0 was released. My biggest gripe with 1.0 was the inability to resize the application’s window. This was an annoying issue because you really want to have Masterwriter sitting next to your DAW’s window on the same screen. Happily, 2.0 fixes the resize issue and adds some other nifty new features including “Word Families” and “Parts of Speech”.
“MasterWriter presents accessible information that’s powerful yet doesn’t interfere with the creative process. In fact, anyone who’s involved with writing words – authors, journalists and sub-editors, for example – would benefit from having such an easy-to-use set of searchable dictionaries to keep the creative juices flowing in times of need.” – Simon Jary, MacWorld UK
I could try an explain all the ins and outs about Masterwriter but their site is loaded with tutorial videos so just head over and take a look. Some people think it’s cheating to use software like this but I think if you sat several serious song-writers down and listened to their final songs all written with the help of Masterwriter each one’s music would ring 100% true to their own style. You don’t belive me? Trent Reznor, Clint Black, Babyface, Amy Grant, Rick Springfield are just a few of people who use this software.
My favorite music application for the iPhone is called synthPond. Above is a video of six compositions I created using synthPond. Using “effector nodes” and “reactor nodes” that can orbit around each other while changing pitch you can create some wonderful sequences. A big thanks to Zach Gage for creating such a terrific app! I can’t wait for future versions of synthPond.
I am thrilled with all the new enhancements in Ableton Live 8. Two other NAMM 2009 announcements having me scratching my head a bit though. Max for Live and Motu Volta are two new products that have a large buzz around them in the blogo-twittersphere. Max for Live is an extended version of Ableton that will allow you to create your own instruments and effects. It uses a flow diagram, object and element metaphor as it’s interface. Motu Volta is software that turns MOTU and RME audio interfaces into highly editable CV (control voltage) interface.
The question I keep asking myself is, “Will these new tools help me make better songs?”. Since I already own Ableton Live, a Motu interface and several vintage analog synths with CV there is no doubt my curiosity will lead me to my credit card.
What excites me about Max for Live more than programming my own devices will be the devices other people come up with. I own a Kenton Pro-2000 CV to MIDI interface but because digital audio recording is so easy these day I rarely use it. I just record my old synths as audio and manipulate them after the fact. As much as Volta intrigues me I fear it may put an unnecessary software layer between my hands and hardware knobs.
I know Max and Volta are completely different beasts but I think you get my point here right? I guess there is a time for right brain knob twisting and song writing and a time for left brain analytical sound design.