Computational creativity and the future of AI

MIDI

The spectrogram display shows low frequency at the bottom and high at the top, time is lef...

If you've ever dabbled in the creation of crazy sound effects for home movies, other-worldly audio to complement the battle sequences in a new alien gaming app or strange new loops for digital dance music, you quickly start to appreciate just what a complicated process sound design can be. What with noise generation, pulse and velocity modulation, parallel and series filters, and various other filters, oscillators and envelopes to contend with, the process can hardly be described as fun. A new sample-based synthesizer suite from iZotope seeks to change all that. Both a powerful tool for design pros and an enjoyable and easy way for newbies to dive in and experiment, Iris allows users to manipulate, tweak and layer sounds using the kind of visual editing tools you might find in graphic design packages and discover otherwise hidden sonic treasures.  Read More

Fender has launched its first ever multi-effects unit - the Mustang Floor

We've been treated to a number of Fender stomp boxes over the years - like the classic Fender Blender and BOSS collaborations like the '65 Deluxe Reverb - but the iconic manufacturer has never gathered all its tone tweaking know-how into one big bundle ... until now. The new Mustang Floor brings together dozens of effects, amp modeling and computer interaction into one rather attractive multi-effects unit.  Read More

Alesis has unveiled the world's first USB/MIDI keytar - the Vortex - with a built-in accel...

Noted rock vocalist and bass player Glenn Hughes (Trapeze, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and more recently Black Country Communion) has often been quoted as saying that, for him, much of the 1980s was just a blur. It's probably just as well, or he might have had a hard time dealing with the emergence of the keytar - a strap-on keyboard that has a little neck with a number of parameter-changing buttons on it. Okay, I admit it, I'm not a great fan of the Jan Hammers and Jean-Michel Jarres of this world, but those who want to emulate these digital music innovators without digging deep for a Korg, Roland or Moog original can now rejoice with the release of the world's first USB/MIDI keytar - the Vortex from Alesis.  Read More

Peavey Electronics and Parker Guitars have teamed up with Antares to launch the first elec...

The sound and feel of modern music was changed forever in the late 1990s when Antares launched its Auto-Tune pitch correction technology. As well as putting some life back into flat performances, the system was also used to great effect by the likes of Cher and T-Pain to give a unique twist to vocal tracks. The company announced its intention to bring the technology to the electric guitar in May 2011, sending shivers down the spines of purists everywhere. Now Peavey and Parker have launched the first guitars to incorporate Auto-Tune for Guitar and we've had the chance to take a closer look at the former's AT-200 in action at Winter NAMM in Anaheim. The verdict: pretty impressive.  Read More

The guitar-shaped Tabstrummer programmable MIDI controller allows users to create and regi...

Electronics enthusiast Miroslaw Sowa and programmer Vsevolod Zagainov - both from Montreal, Canada - are currently busy putting the final touches on a new button-based, guitar-shaped sound machine called the Tabstrummer. In the same way that tablature notation has allowed players like me (who are unable to read score) to learn new songs, this new MIDI instrument allows folks who'd like to play a guitar, but for whatever reason can't, the opportunity to easily create some chord-strumming music. The instrument allows chord shapes to be assigned to clicky buttons on the short neck, which can then be recalled and played as a song by simultaneously strumming or picking the virtual strings.  Read More

Emulator DVS system

While traditional mixing desks can bury DJs behind bulky equipment in a dimly lit corner of the club, this transparent, 46-inch multi-touch system from software development company Smithson Martin puts the person spinning the discs - or in this case the touch display - front and center.  Read More

Alesis has released what is described as the missing link between the iPad, its associated...

I have to admit to feeling a flutter of excitement when Digitech announced its programmable iPad pedalboard. Now it's the turn of vocalists, musicians of all kinds, producers and writers to access the wealth of digital music apps available for the iPad with the release of the iO Dock, from professional audio and studio equipment manufacturer Alesis.  Read More

Israeli electronics tinkerer Maayan Migdal has made a working air drum kit using a pair of...

The ultimate air duo of keyboards and guitar has now taken a step closer to becoming a full band with the creation of the Air Drums by Israeli electronics tinkerer Maayan Migdal. His system is comprised of a couple of modified hand rakes, a pair of sandals, the ever-useful Arduino Uno and some custom circuitry which feeds through to a laptop via a standard MIDI interface.  Read More

The IK iRig MIDI and Line 6 MIDI Mobilizer - separated at birth?

The iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad are now established favorites for the mobile muso with new synths and sequencers seemingly coming out every week. Until iOS 4 however there was no standardized method for getting MIDI control signals in and out of the units for interfacing with ‘proper’ equipment. Some enterprising developers created methods using the Apple Camera Kit USB connector whilst Line 6 created its own proprietary method and the MIDI Mobilizer dongle to go with it. In the iOS 4 software release Apple ported the CoreMIDI programming interface framework from MacOS and developers finally had a standard method with which they were familiar. Though iOS4 was released a year ago, compatible MIDI interfaces are now only beginning to get to market.  Read More

The Laser Pitch Detection Pickup system accurately detects the pitch of a string - even be...

If you've tried to digitally capture a guitar performance or turn your six-string into a powerful MIDI synth using an interface or special pickup, you'll no doubt be familiar with signal lag and pitch accuracy issues. As you pluck a string, there is a very short delay before it reaches its final frequency - it might only be a few milliseconds but it can be enough to cause latency angst. Germany's M3i Technologies has developed an optical system for accurately detecting the pitch of a string - even before a player has plucked it. The Laser Pitch Detection (LPD) Pickup system runs a beam under each string, from the bridge to the end of the fingerboard, and monitors its return to photosensitive receptors in the unit. When a player's finger touches a string, the beam is shortened and the system quickly measures and calculates the exact pitch.  Read More

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