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Building a monosynth using WebMIDI API

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Browsers are only beginning to be able to play audio triggered by MIDI. This tutorial shows how that can be done today using the Chrome browser and Angular.js … javascript code included.

Not only does the Web MIDI API allows us to build synthesizers and audio effects, but we can even start building browser-based DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) similar in feature and performance to their current flash-based counterparts…. In this tutorial, I will guide you through the basics of the Web MIDI API, and we will build a simple monosynth that you will be able to play with your favorite MIDI device.

Raspberry Pi 2 now available

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4 32-bit ARMv7 Cortex-A7 cores … 3 to 6 times faster! And 1G of RAM.
That’s about all that needs to be said … except that, yep, still $35.

Oh yeah … one more thing: “Raspberry Pi 2 runs the full range of GNU/Linux distros including Canonical’s Snappy Ubuntu Core – the new spin of this popular Linux distro that has been deliberately shrunk by Canonical to work in SoC in IoT.”

Now what reason don’t you have to go forth and Csound???

Blogroll pruned

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I’ve just pruned the blogroll to eliminate the dead, those gone commercial, those who’s attention has wandered. Oh and added Palm Sounds, which is mostly about the mobile sound scene but useful nonetheless.

Axoloti, a digital audio platform for makers

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Recently seen at the CCC conference in Hamburg is Johannes Taelman’s OPEN Axoloti project (link to 30-minute CCC video.) (Synthtopia link)

It’s built around the Axoloti Core (DSP and microcontroller) hardware. The Core is configured using Axoloti Patcher, a modular audio environment written in Java and works on Windows, OSX and Linux. Similar to Pure Data and MAX, Patcher output runs on the standalone Core’s micro. The CORE also handles MIDI I/O.

Taelman’s IndieGogo campaign has already reached its goal two weeks early, so it’s on!

Axoloti website, (with links to already-completed projects), Github site, YTube playlist

The “electronic guitar” question

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The other day I was thinking about the difference between “electric” and “electronic” instruments (would Spock play analog?) and began wondering about what’s happened in guitar world. I ad-hoc decided that an “electronic guitar” would not use magnetic pickup magic, but would actually sense and analyze string motion and send that digital information to the (nominally 6) built-in oscillators.

Having decided that, I asked around and learned about the existence of a chintzy but fun Casio MIDI controller, model DG-20 made in the mid-80s. Then I turned to the web. I soon came across Troubador Tech’s MIDI guitar roster which led to his (?) Casio MIDI guitar page. It does not include the DG-20, which was a bit of a toy (manual here), but does point to the top-of-the-line 1987 model PG-380 (which cost $1500 1987 dollars). Five years after the first MIDI synth.

Casio PG-380 (1987)

The PG and (cheaper) MG-series derive the pitch information from a magnetic hex pickup next to the bridge. Both put out MIDI pitch, velocity and program change data…. More to the point, The PG- electronics include a built-in, monotimbral, playback-only synthesizer using VZ technology, with 64 preset sounds in internal ROM and take a RAM card.

Doesn’t quite fit my definition of “electronic guitar” but may come as close as anything has. (No? Comment!) I mean: is it really ‘guitar’ without the overtones of slide, bends, the pluck-attack?  Maybe Germans could succeed at digitizing string motion, since US geeks are preoccupied with OpenSSL (and Italian and English CPU boards) and Japan seems stuck in cleanup mode.

I’ll keep ruminating on the question and post the results here.
Does the SynthAxe count? There are only 100 in the world.


Grant Muller was asked to repair a 380, his description of the innards includes some pictures.

Wikipedia: Guitar synthesizer.

Quick notes 2014

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2014 Mar 12 Seems we need to go through this every few years. Xiph’s technical reasons why 24/192 music downloads make no sense.
Instead: “The most dramatic possible fidelity improvement for the cost comes from a good pair of headphones.” (Links to several good sources are included. If you want to get way into it, here’s a 27-page PDF by Dan Lavry.)

2014 Mar 3 FACT magazine details 14 synthesizers that shaped modern music. And addicts fans at MeFi have a few things to say about that list. Of course we all do, but caveat: having been important once doesn’t make a synth worth big $$$ any more.

2014 Feb 27 A couple of posts on Brad Fiedel’s original theme music for sci-fi film Terminator, released 30 years ago this October. Synths included Prophet and Oberheim models; they didn’t include MIDI – which led to some interesting timing problems!

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Quick notes 2013, September to November

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2013 Nov. 27 Vice magazine offers an article about ‘Algorave’ – it includes a 70-minute video. ‘Live coding’ is hitting some clubs … at least, the ones where “glasses, walking boots, and backpacks form the universal dress code.” ;-) Overtone is one example of the code being used; Extempore is another.

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