Mad Zach How I Play Interview + Hour-Long Live Set

mad-zach-live-how-i-playMad Zach just wrapped up a brief US tour and was kind enough to record a quick How I Play interview from behind the booth at his gig in Oakland, explaining how he uses his Midi Fighter Spectras, Twister, and Moogerfooger to perform a dynamic set. Watch the quick interview inside as well as a complete video of his hour-long set later that night.

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Roland AIRA SYSTEM-1 Synth Video Mega-Roundup; SH-101 Due July


It’s the fourth and final piece in the AIRA puzzle: Roland’s AIRA SYSTEM-1 has finally appeared in finished form in the last few weeks, and is starting to arrive in dealer and user hands around the world.

Like the other AIRA models, the SYSTEM-1 is build around component modeling, new digital models of analog components. But whereas the TR-8 and TB-3 model the 808/909 and 303, respectively, the SYSTEM-1 initially ships with an all new synthesizer assembled from the sounds of its Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) models. For a Roland classic of yesteryear, we’ll be waiting until the end of July for the SH-101 PLUG-OUT to ship.

CDM will have more on PLUG-OUT, ACB, and that SH-101 model soon – as I think the SH-101 is really the key to whether you’d have this synth.

In the meantime, though, the SYSTEM-1 is an ultra-slim, compact synthesizer with lots of hands on controls (though no velocity sensitivity). In fact, that contrasts with the TB-3, which, while it sports a really lovely touch-enabled sequencer, limits control over synthesis to broad-strokes.

The SYSTEM-1 enters some fiercely competitive waters for inexpensive synth hardware. But it also fits nicely with the rest of the AIRA line, and it’s earning no less attention, even if it doesn’t have the “look, I’m a new 808″ draw of the TR-8. So, we’re pleased to offer a range of videos from around the world for your AIRA-gawking pleasure.

As usual, topping the bill are the intrepid lads of SonicState, out front with their hands-on review.

Markus Fuller hilariously takes the thing apart, to reveal the innards. No big surprises, but — yeah, FPGAs. (Very cool way of making hardware these days, and speeds up the development process.) He also does something really risky and unwise, and talks about the merits of digital versus analog. (ducks!)

Jim has a bit of a jam with one. As you’ll hear, it doesn’t really sound like an SH-101 out of the box – it’s a new synth. The good news is, quick access to preset slots for your own patches. And in keeping with the hardware workflow, he has a go of recording via the RC-300 BOSS LoopStation.

Of all the artist tracks, Nina Kraviz absolutely kills it, with a flight of acid-inflected techno. And she sings and breathes into the mic for extra bonus points.

More like what happens when I touch something is this wonderfully-weirdo jam by Matt Edwards, Mathew Jonson, and Vakula. The whole AIRA range really fits together nicely and lends itself to this kind of live jamming – hurrah, hurrah for hardware, when it comes to going live:

Nacho Marco has a go of his own track, re-instrumented for the synth. Hypnotic.

When unboxing causes you to trip out, psychedelic kaleidoscope style:

(What, that doesn’t happen to you?)

More my speed is this video, which is trance-tastic, especially with those lights. (Yeah, right now SYSTEM-1 is sounding very, very 90s to me.)

My favorite reviews really come in Japanese. I … can’t understand a word. But, you probably know exactly what’s going on. Comprehensive (and you hear a lot more of the raw sound of the thing):

One knob at a time seems to be the default way to review this stuff.

Lastly, while I hear AIRA also went to, um, Indiana, for retailer Sweetwater’s annual get-together, it was probably more fun to catch up with it at Detroit’s Movement Festival:

Finally, for the record:

You’re all pronouncing it wrong, fellow Westerners. (Except in Japan, where you have it exactly right.) My understanding is, it’s “Aye-Ra”, as in “aye aye, Captain,” not “error,” which is not a terrific name for a synth. Actually – scratch that. Error is a wonderful name for a synth, but it might need to be … glitchier.

It’s AYE – I – RA. Because it’s from Japan, and not England, and so that “AIR” isn’t pronounced “air.”

SYSTEM-1, meanwhile, sounds so much more awesome when mixed with Japanese. Nintendo DS + AIRA jam. Let’s make it happen.

Back in the world of English speakers, though:

Stay tuned for when SYSTEM-1 and the full AIRA quartet – plus that SH-101 – land here in Berlin.



The post Roland AIRA SYSTEM-1 Synth Video Mega-Roundup; SH-101 Due July appeared first on Create Digital Music.

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Review & Video: Mixur Template For Traktor

In this article we’re going to review Mixur, which is a Lemur template custom built to take control of Traktor Pro 2. Developed by Desertfox studios, it’s a great introduction into the world of Lemur objects and interfaces, as we shall see... The post Review & Video: Mixur Template For Traktor appeared first on Digital DJ Tips.


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How to Create the Theme of Van Halen's Jump

In this tutorial I'll show you how to create the main theme of the popular synth-rock song Jump by Van Halen. We'll program the lead and bass in MIDI and mix some drum loops as well using Ableton plugins.

Create the Project in Ableton Live

Create a new project in Ableton Live with the following settings:

  • tempo: 129 BPM
  • time signature: 4/4
  • scale: C major

I coloured the lead channel green, the bass brown, and the drums blue.

I found a score at, played the chords on my MIDI keyboard, recorded the notes and then quantised and edited them. The first chord is G major (G+B+D) and the last one is Csus2 (C+D+G). It's important to get the length of the chords right, because it creates a nice sense of movement.

1. Lead/Chords (Synth)

This sound is a combination of saw (16 harmonics) and square (32 harmonics) waves made with Operator. It uses two oscillators in the last algorithm mode, and has some spread on it. 

The Ping Pong Delay and Reverb makes it bigger and smoother. I also added a touch of top end EQ boost to give some air, and lo cut to add headroom when crossing with the lower frequencies. The Limiter is only there for safety reasons (catching the peaks above zero).


  • Operator: last algorithm, op A is saw16 with -2.2dB, op B is square32 with -7.3dB, spread 33%, tone 47%, main volume -16dB
  • Ping Pong Delay: default settings with 20% feedback and 20% dry/wet
  • Reverb: size 43.12, decay 3 sec, 40% dry/wet
  • EQ Eight: 120Hz lo cut, 5kHz 3dB high shelf boost with Q 0.71
  • Limiter: default settings

2. Bass (Synth)

This is a basic synth bassline, which is a sustained note instead of the eighth notes played on the bass guitar. The foundation is a square wave with a strong low pass filter. 

With the EQ I removed part of the subs and the high end, and also I cut the middle of the bass to give some space for the lead. This bass sound is sidechain compressed to the breaks loop.


  • Analog: osc1 square 0dB, filter1 LP12 3.1kHz reso 19%, amp1 0dB (attack 5ms, decay 626ms, sustain 1, release 45ms), main volume -2dB
  • Compressor: ratio 1.7:1, threshold -18.8dB, attack 1.27ms, release auto
  • EQ Eight: 50Hz lo cut, 350Hz -3dB broad bell cut, 2kHz high cut
  • Limiter: default settings

Note that for more originality, we can make a bassline with eighth notes instead of the sustained sounding instrument. This may need some fine tuning on the amp ADSR as well.

3. Breaks (Sample)

I loaded a drum loop into the timeline and I removed the lowest subs of its spectrum. That means a 54Hz lo cut with the EQ.


4. Tops (Sample)

I used another drum loop for top end, which is much lower in volume (-13dB), then I made it almost mono with Utility (10% width). With the Simple Delay I made it wider in time mode (1ms on the left and 12ms on the right with 100% dry/wet). The Utility is there to design the sound differently than it was in the beginning.


Master Channel

I used this chain on the master channel. Spectrum is there to see what is happening with the frequencies. EQ Eight for removing low frequency content on the sides (in mid/side mode). Limiter is set at +2 dB to increase the average volume. Here are the exact settings:

  • Spectrum: default settings
  • EQ Eight: 200Hz cut from the sides in mid/side mode
  • Limiter: gain +2dB


So that was our session of recreating Jump

  • The main part was the lead/chords treated with some delay and reverb. 
  • Then there was the bass and drums. 

For a more detailed sound and increased depth, you can try chorus and unison. I found that the Ableton Chorus isn't good for this kind of sound, so another brand and model would be better.

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Routine Breakdown: Rheyne Hour-Long Live Looping Jam With Ableton

rheyne-hour-jam-100Rheyne, known on YouTube for his jam sessions with iPad production apps, hardware synths, and MIDI controllers, has put out his 100th live jam. In celebration, it's a full hour-long performance, featuring all kinds of gear in his setup. Watch the full video below, and check out our quick interview with Rheyne about this jam, his gear, and the process behind his performances below.

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KORG Adds More Synths to Nintendo 3DS – Now With 3D Oscilloscope [Screens, Videos]


KORG and partner Detune, last seen bringing the M01 to Nintendo handhelds (as well as iMS-20 to iPad), are at it again.

This time, Nintendo 3DS will get a package called the DSN-12. Technically, it’s not just one synth: it’s twelve monosynths, plus effects, plus sequencers.

And you can view it all on an oscilloscope – in three dimensions.

This could be boring, but it isn’t. The results sound gritty, funky, and groovy, and the pattern chaining should appeal to people who like handhelds for their all-in-one musical inspiration. Details are a bit sketchy, but here’s what we’re told:

  • Twelve monophonic synthesizers
  • Add up to three effects
  • Effects modules: delay, chorus, flanger, compressor, kick, and reverb
  • 64-step sequences
  • Chain sequence patterns into 99 scenes
  • 3D oscilloscope display, with both Wave and Lissajous modes (check the hypnotic twisting arcs below)
  • eShop download: North America, South America, Europe.
  • Compatible with 2DS/3DS/3DS XL. (Obviously, 2DS lacks 3D functionality.)
  • Availability: September.

The UI already shows some familiar features from the past KORG DS outings – but, nicely enough, combines the best of each of them. There’s MS-20-style patching for sound creation, pads and keys for live playback, grids for sequencing, mixing options and effects controls.

The press release emphasizes real-time song creation, with “DJ-like” performance controls – so apparently you can load up sequences and perform with them. There’s also file exchange over local communication (no word yet on whether you get SMF export, etc.).

Sounds interesting. We’ll be watching.










The post KORG Adds More Synths to Nintendo 3DS – Now With 3D Oscilloscope [Screens, Videos] appeared first on Create Digital Music.

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The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Google Music Contract?

Google isn’t just being a little bad in their contract negotiations with indie labels. In a leak to Digital Music News, it proves to be the worst contract I or anyone I’ve talked to has ever seen, for anything music-related. It puts the “boiler” in boilerplate.

F*&K It: Here’s the Entire YouTube Contract for Indies…

If this leaked contract is what Google still stands by, and current analysis in the music press is correct, the deal is deeply unsettling. It blurs the lines between free and premium services by placing them all under a single contract. YouTube and its Spotify rival would be under one deal. It sets rates independently for smaller labels based on a single, not-very-good fee. And then it protects Google from any action that would stop unauthorized or pirated uploads to their services.

I can sum it up roughly this way, unless I’ve seriously misread the terms and their intentions:

Sign this contract. It covers everything Google does – free (like YouTube) or otherwise. It lets us specify license terms and royalty rates, not you, and not any organisation that represents you. It gives us rights to all your music, and all your music videos, and everything else. It gives us rights to pirated music and videos other people upload, too. And you promise never to sue us.

(and another thing.) Sign it, or we’ll ban you from YouTube for your own content.

The key sections to watch out for: not only is there a “do not sue” covenant that prevents labels from protecting their own content, but it merges free services (apparently including YouTube) with the upcoming premium ones. At the very end, you’ll also find the royalty rates that had frustrated indies, which are reportedly lower than those they had gotten from other sources and lower than what majors had been offered. (The numbers are now out there for discussion.)

But the real surprise here is the lawsuit immunity provision. It’s easy to understand why Google would want it; it’s just that if they succeed in forcing labels to sign, it’s a fairly ugly development. It was already shocking enough that Google would hold hostage music uploaded by artists and labels to YouTube just to get preferential terms for the company on its premium service. It’s even more shocking that it would protect non-authorised, pirated content in the same contract, blurring premium and free services.

Or, as The Register more succinctly put it:

…the move will preserve Google’s illegal supply chain by cracking down on its legal supply chain.

Google’s proposed indie music-killing contract terms

Unless Google can explain otherwise, that is, the current understanding is that Google is threatening legal content that follows its terms of service, as part of a contract that would protect illegal content that violates it.

That’s a low not even the likes of Napster or Megaupload or Pirate Bay ever reached.

Google might not have to block labels and artists from YouTube. If this remains their negotiating contract with indies, those musical entities would be well advised to abandon Google’s services of their own accord.

And if this is all wrong, and this isn’t what Google is offering – or if it is, and they have a change of heart – the company needs to quickly get out in front of the music community and public with better terms.

The post The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Google Music Contract? appeared first on Create Digital Music.

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