Aruis Blaze has invented and built a modular synthesiser which he calls the Impossible Box. Best of all it is now for sale for the sum of $1,000,000 US. Maybe that's where the name comes from - it might be impossible to sell at that price.
Plogue have a free sample player downloadable from here. The AU plugin version won't work in Logic for me, but the Standalone version is ok. You can import samples (including .wav) and MIDI files, play from a MIDI keyboard, and record a performance to audio.
Korg have just released a new synth - the KingKorg. It uses physical modelling, and has a CV /gate output to control pre-MIDI synths such as the MS20.
What do you get if you mate a Mellotron with a Hurdy
Gurdy? Why, a Wheelharp, of course. This new instrument is now available from Antiquity Music for around $10,000 US.
Rick Wakeman will be in NZ in October for three 'intimate evenings' (Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch).
Apart from his solo projects (six Wives of Henry the 8th, Journey to the Centre of the Earth) and his time in Yes, he has appeared on the albums of Al Stewart, Elton John, Lou Reed, John Williams, Cat Stevens (including the classic piano on Morning Has Broken), Marc Bolan, Marsha Hunt, Mary Hopkin, Black Sabbath, and David Bowie.
Sadly, I'll miss it as I will be in Australia then.
In these days of on-line help files, the art of manual reading seems to be getting lost. Here a a few pointers:
Operating Manuals (opmans) can offer:
So, what makes a good manual? I'll begin answering that by pointing out some bad examples:
To be fair, it is not that easy to write a really good opman. If you don't believe me try writing some simple instructions for, say, changing a car wheel. Your first attempt will almost certainly have the user come back and query some part of it. After a revision or two it will probably be ok. It is even more difficult when a manufacturer writes a manual for a piece of equipment. Many items we buy these days are complex and several different departments are involved in the design and build (eg software engineers, hardware engineers, production team, marketing dept.). They will all have their in-house documentation but just hobbling together bits of information from the various teams will not make a very good opman. Luckily, the pioneering age for the opman is now over (at least in the West), and decent manufacturers realise that an extra team is needed for generating all the manuals. However, more and more equipment is being manufactured in the startup industrialised nations of Asia. They are still at the stage of thinking of the manual as an afterthought, or perhaps an inconvenience. This will change (probably when they realise that, just like slick packaging, quality documentation can add value to the product).
A good manual, therefore, has:
ok, maybe that last one is superfluous now that every company has a website.
Here is how I used to read manuals:
This was all well and good back when manuals were no longer than 30 pages. This is still the case for some hardware but software is a different story. With the manuals spanning several volumes and totalling thousands of pages, it no longer makes sense to do no.1 so after reading the install docs I will cut to the chase and start on no. 2. The downsides of this are that not having read the whole manual I can easily miss out on some of the features the software provides, and it is not nearly so easy to find information when I get stuck. But there you go, that's progress for you.
In any case, don't throw the manual out with the packaging. If you want to be a Power-user of your gear, start reading the manuals.
A Pianomate has come up for sale on TradeMe. I had one of these from the music shop to try when they came out in the early 70s. It was designed to "augment the natural sound of the piano", and in fact it couldn't do much else as you can hardly play a piano and have it silent too! A good description of it is here and as well as photos there are two audio examples. As soon as I heard them I remembered why I took the thing back to the store!
Also mentioned on this page is the Stylophone as it was also marketed by Dubreq. We had one of these and it is really no more than a toy. Interestingly David Bowie wrote Space Oddity on this little wonder, and the glissando heard at the start of the bridge of the song is the Stylophone's big moment. And it just keeps getting weirder - none other than Rolf Harris was the person responsible for making the Stylophone popular. There is a BBC doco that features it here.
audiosite now has five Forums: Music, Audio Engineering, Electronics, Sound, and Anything Else. They can be accessed under the Contact menu.
Someone has made novel use of the Facebook timeline to make a chronology of electronic music. Both recording devices and musical instruments of the past 150 years are featured.
Due to the fact that the Arturia Minimoog V softsynth is at the end of its lifespan, Arturia decided to make it a free download for one day only. What must have seemed like a great way to promote the company has backfired a bit though. For starters, their server got very overloaded so many couldn't get on (I did after several hours of trying). That is as frustrating as waiting on hold for hours when you call an 0800 number. But for those that managed to get in, the promised email with the download url has not happened more than a day later. To be fair, Arturia did say it can take up to 48 hrs. The trouble is that todays youth have zero patience, regardless of whether it is free or not (probably because they are so used to downloading illegal software immediately). The upshot of all this is that Arturias Facebook page is now full of disappointed and angry people, who are now unlikely to ever buy Arturia product.
update: I eventually got the email, and the download. Patience is a virtue.