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The world of PMCs – Linnstrument

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Wired introduces the world of PMCs (polyphonic multi-dimensional controllers) as ‘revolutionary’ MIDI machines that

can sense finger movement in three dimensions simultaneously—in addition to controlling volume, a musician can also change a note’s pitch and timbre in real time.

The article details the Linnstrument; others cited include the Roli Seaboard, the Haken Continuum, the Eigenharp and Madrona Soundplane.

Fifty years from now, the 1970s to 2015 will be regarded as a strange period in history when people played musical sounds with secretarial input devices: on-off buttons, switches, sliders, and knobs. Controlling numbers by pressing keys. That’s a horrible interface. – Roger Linn

Over at Youtube you can check out what Roger had to say at NAMM 2015, and this well-played Linnstrument using a classic guitar patch.

four tet advice

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In 2010 he’s up to 11 albums (7 as Four Tet).
Back in 2003, Kieran Hebden – “a producer who puts the intelligence into Intelligent Dance Music” – gave SOS Magazine a great, long interview. At the time he ‘only’ had 3 albums out; no doubt his gear’s better now … but there’s much to be learned from his low-cost (and internationally successful) approach.

Kieran Hebden is the living proof that you don’t need esoteric equipment to make quality music. The music room in his north London flat contains just one piece of specialist recording gear, and that’s a DAT recorder. His tracks are put together using only an unremarkable hi-fi and a Windows PC with a Creative Labs Soundblaster Live soundcard….

“To get the sound I want and do what I want to do, it’s all about using the computer as the instrument, and the most interesting stuff I’ve done has been all about that kind of idea. Loads of people think there’s lots of live playing on my music, but there’s nothing at all. It’s all from the computer. I think one of the nice things about that is that you listen closely and it conjures up the image of a musician, but you realise that everything’s humanly impossible….”

Whatever he does next, though, ideas will always be more important to him than gear. “My whole thing is that I don’t use a lot of equipment, I just keep it really simple. Good music’s about ideas, really, and I don’t want to get trapped in the whole thing of constantly worrying about my new software, and learning how to use it all the time. I feel I’ve mastered the equipment I’ve got, and I’m at the point now where I don’t have to think about the equipment any more. I can concentrate on making the music.”

em future talk

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EM magazine is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The June 2010 issue includes a long interview/discussion with several famous EM hardware pioneers about the future of the technology.

I went through the whole thing (fascinating get-together), here are my notes/quotes:

• why people want analog gear

– some want a concise musical instrument with a certain set of controls that doesn’t change and will be the same in 10 years, and doesn’t change with operating systems
– analog is less predictable
– the software synth you buy today will not work at some point in the future because it won’t get ported forever.
– software compiled in long-lived languages is easier to port and will continue to support compositions.
– off-the-shelf software … obsolete by the time you figure out where all the menus are.

• a commercially viable instrument recognizable by millions as an instrument?

– a lot of what we associate with quality is in the control of the sound
– the difficult part is getting the right controller that works well
– [Microsoft’s] NatalEigenharpHaken ContinuumSLABS
– no controller good enough to recognize multitouch with independent finger pressure. – Touchco (Linn, extinct)
– software instruments with pressure sensitivity will = far more natural-sounding instruments.
– no builder commitment like a guitar-maker. these instruments are one-shot deals.
– those accepted and used and developed are most closely linked to thought.

• making things more responsive

– Ethernet Audio Video Bridging [AVB] (IEEE 802)
– post-MIDI: Open Sound Controlis now the standard.

Check the article if you’ve time; there are decades of top-notch experience talking.

Related: coming up now: MIT’s color glove controller. Check the latency of this puppy (and the latexy).