Teenage Engineering and Rick & Morty team up for a ridiculous beatmaker

Who doesn’t want a bunch of Rick and Morty samples all digitised and fuzzed up for making weird little beats, huh?

If you’re not aware of Teenage Engineering they’re some of the coolest creators of weird and wonderful music-making packages in a very portable form. Their OP-1 is still one of the coolest pieces of kit I’ve seen come out in recent years.

They’ve recruited Rick and Morty creator Justin Roiland to provide samples for their latest Pocket Operator, a series of stripped down all-in-one beatmakers. It uses an onboard 16-step sequencer with a collection of different sounds on top of the R&M samples to play with and mix.

You can manipulate samples by changing their pitch and speed and adding different effects to get a range of different sounds in your sequence. It seems like a whole lot of fun, though some of the digitised samples are more of a funny novelty than any actual use in creating with.

But that’s okay, you can use a built-in microphone (or plug in your own) to record your own samples over the top of the vocal cuts from the animated series. Because of this you can essentially re-write the entire sample bank and it basically becomes their standard PO-35 Speak but with cool animations.

You can find the PO-137 Rick and Morty for as cheap as £79 if you look around online or around $120 in the US. Here’s Andrew Huang having fun with it so you can see how it works and get a hankering for some candy at the same time.

Join 9 artists walking you through creating an awesome track from scratch in Ableton’s new free video series

Ableton’s new video series explores how nine very different creators create music from the very bottom with insightful tips and creative inspiration.

Made In Ableton Live is an awesome new video series on YouTube that you can watch right away. Full of unique tips, creative tricks, and inspiring work with virtual instruments, samples, and recording techniques from nine professional artists.

Each artist creates a track from scratch so you can see all the processes and techniques that they use to provide you with fuel to enhance your tracks or give you the motivation you need to start a new track with methods in mind.

We’ll post them all below for you to explore and hopefully take some creative inspiration from:

Bad Snacks

Bad Snacks uses live takes from her electric violin as a starting point for a warm and melodious house track. With methods like creative panning, MIDI effects and lo-fi processing, she brings warmth, vibrancy and character to her creations. 



https://badsnacks.bandcamp.com/track/kenmore-instrumental?from=embed

Eomac

Eomac creates a full-frequency sample pack using field recordings captured in the street on his phone, and produces a techno track with it. Watching his methodology in action is a valuable lesson in sound design, and a perfect demonstration of the idea that there is music everywhere.

Rachel K Collier 

Rachel K Collier guides us through intuitive audio routing and live improvisational looping to craft a distinctive, uplifting club track. She introduces the concept of cue mixing, demonstrates her workflow on Push and layers up vocals in this expressive performance. 

Abayomi 

Abayomi integrates analog hardware and in-the-box sequencing and synthesis to make a detailed, melodic techno track. He guides us through practical project templates, creates unique presets and employs sound design to achieve a style all his own. 

Keychee 

Keychee builds up a hard-stepping hit of hip hop-flavored funk using drum layering, automated envelopes, sidechain compression and master effects chains. The end result is a textured, dynamic track layered with rich synth hooks, all created in the box. 

Novaa

Novaa showcases inventive ways of processing her voice while remixing her own track for a brooding take on hyper-modern pop. Using effects like autotune and vocoder, she takes her singing in new and exciting directions while promoting the idea of embracing imperfections.

Underbelly

Underbelly structures his track composition around different energy levels. Organization is key as he shows us how he builds Instrument Racks and navigates his library, but equally important is the sound design involved in making a killer bassline. 

Anna Disclaim 

Anna Disclaim turns samples and her own voice into data using audio-to-MIDI techniques to craft a distinctive strain of pop-noir. As well as creating melodic elements using her voice, she also highlights the creative potential when re-sampling existing parts of a track using Simpler. 

Freddie Joachim 

Freddie Joachim chops up some Rhodes samples, slices drum breaks and lays down some live guitar. From turning shakers into hi-hats to creative quantizing and creating stereo width, his session is loaded with classy techniques to make a seriously smooth jam. 

Get up to half price on music software and hardware in Native Instruments’s huge sale

Native Instruments have a huge sale on with discounts on Komplete MIDI keyboards, Maschines, effects, and more.

Native Instruments have huge offers on their music kit, programs, digital effects, instruments – everything a music producer could want to look at!

Their distinguished KOMPLETE packs, full of instruments and effects for use in digital music production that has been lauded by many is on sale at half price. There are 4 versions available for however much or as little as you want from the brilliant pack.

There’s also offering 50% off a bunch of their single instruments and effects for updates and upgrades. So if you’ve been looking to get the latest version of KONTAKT or want to upgrade to MASSIVE X now is the time.

Their beloved DJ software, Traktor Pro 3 is available for just £22! Overall you can save up to £424.50 off on a bunch of their hardware instruments and controllers and software.

Head to the sales now and nab yourself some of the top quality music production kit around.

Drum Channel are giving away 1,000 memberships to lessons from Chad Smith, Mick Fleetwood, Stewart Copeland & many more

Learn drums with some of the biggest legends in drumming history with the chance at a free 30-day membership to Drum Channel.

If you’ve got a drum kit at home then there is potentially no better time to take your skills to the next level than with venues closed and more time at home than ever before.

Drum Channel are helping 1000 lucky people to improve and learn on the drums with 30 days free to their lessons, courses, and secrets from prolific and famous drummers around the world.

Lessons and guidance include legends like Chad Smith, Abe Laboriel JR., Stewart Copeland, Taylor Hawkins, Sheila E., Gregg Bissonette, Terry Bozzio, Mick Fleetwood, Charlie Watts, Thomas Pridgen, Thomas Lang and over 100 more.

As mentioned, this is a limited giveaway for 1000 people so head over and see if you can nab yourself this fantastic deal.

Check out the expressive instrument taking music to “the next dimension”

Imagine ROLI keyboards had a baby with an Ableton Push controller and they had a baby that looked like a board game – That’s Striso.

This bizarre and incredibly interesting new instrument has just come to our attention and we are enthralled. It is a next level expressive instrument with an intelligent layout and a completely personal feel to playing.

Lets take a look at what makes this new Kickstarter project tick. Firstly the most noticeable thing about it; it’s build. It is a square device with diagonal rows of black and white buttons, making up nearly 4 octaves of range with its 61 pressure sensitive buttons.

Now what makes it so cool; the fact that those 61 buttons are completely pressure and motion sensitive. They can tell how hard you’re pressing the button, sense motions your fingers are making on tip of, all whilst using this input to create “the next dimension” of sound.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/striso/striso-board

With its sophisticated sensitivity the Striso board can change its loudness, pitch and timbre all making for a variety of sounds. They have been designed to simply feel good with the haptic feedback guiding you on making the precise movements you want to get the sound you want.

But beyond the buttons, the entire board is motion sensitive adding a whole extra layer of control over your possible sounds. Tilting and rotating, or even shaking the instrument can put your sound under a range of effects. With MIDI control you can customise it so that you can have whatever result you want with every movement.

The layout at first looks quite random, a bunch of white buttons in between two crowds of black buttons at an angle. However, the Striso board has been built intelligently with music theory at its essence.

Using typical music patterns to place notes in places that match up musically to their surrounding notes, every button having the same pattern of connections surrounding it. They have built so that you can easily stay in key by following nearby buttons and learning how the patterns work.

Here is folk violinist, Baltazar Montanaro, saying how the layout works for him:

I love to use the Striso board to compose my music, it gives a very clear and logic idea of how to travel in harmonies and melodies, with a lot of space for intuition and feeling. As a violinist, the Striso board gives me a complete other map of how to build my music.

There’s a lot more to it than we’ve covered, but if you’re still interested at this point then you should check out their official Kickstarter to learn more about this fascinating little instrument.

For is little as €420 you can secure yourself a Striso board for when it’s planned to launch and ship in December.

Music tech creators around the world celebrate MIDI (at distance) for MIDI Month this May

This month is the third annual celebration of MIDI, the technology that has revolutionised digital music.

May, in case you didn’t know, is MIDI Month. A month dedicated to celebrating the amazing technology that aids and powers so much of our musical equipment and hardware.

2020 marks the third year of the celebrations which feature over 23,000 individuals and companies coming together over MIDI in it’s various forms. They collaborate on celebrating and bringing attention to the technology and products itself but also to the teams and people that work with it and have defined it’s legacy.

This year is a particularly special MIDI Month as 2020 is the first real year in which MIDI 2.0 comes to the public with Roland launching the first MIDI 2.0-ready keyboard. The upgrade comes nearly 40 years after MIDI’s initial conception and builds on the connections with quicker, better and more detailed control and information.

This year the organisers are hoping that MIDI Association members and MIDI users and lovers alike will come together in aid of a little fundraising for the Grammy MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund. They’re hoping to reach a total of $15,000 which MIDI Manufacturer Association sponsors will match donations making them 10x greater.

Sponsors are: Ableton, Art+Logic, Audio Modeling, Bome, IK Multimedia, Moog, Steinberg, Sweetwater, Roland, Melodics and Yamaha.

For every Saturday in May, The MIDI Association (TMA) will be having live webinars on what’s happening in the MIDI world. They will then send a newsletter out every Sunday that covers all the technology and artists involved. Membership to the TMA is free and access to any activities is also free.

Take part and find out more here.

SoundCloud are giving away music gear every day for the next week!

SoundCloud have launched a contest to give away quality equipment from Native Instruments, Fender, Pioneer DJ, ROLI, and many more.

A new gear giveaway contest from SoundCloud gives you the opportunity to win some incredible new gear to get you creating whilst we’re all at home. The competition is running until the 28th April with winners announced every day on the SoundCloud Twitter account.

Prizes include music equipment from Native Instruments, Fender, Pioneer DJ, ROLI, Serato, Roland, iZotope, PreSonus, and Dolby. Upgrade your music production space – all you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is to send a picture of your home studio setup on their daily Twitter threads.

Every day they’ll announce the winner’s at 3PM EST. To take part you just need to submit your home studio set up and be a legal US resident over the age of 13.

View the official rules here.

Arturia KeyStep Pro – an all-in-one sequencing solution

Arturia have just released their new KeyStep Pro MIDI controller. Get a three octave keyboard, four-track sequencer, 64-step drum sequencer and unparalleled connectivity for $449.

Since Arturia released their BeatStep Pro, artists and producers have been waiting for the Pro follow up to their KeyStep controller. With pro level controls and connectivity for all your external gear, the KeyStep Pro is the perfect companion for the studio and live performances.

The controller features 37 velocity sensitive keys, a four-track polyphonic sequencer, 16-part integrated drum sequencer, multi-mode arpeggiator, OLED displays and LED-illuminated controls.

KeyStep Pro Top

4 CV, Gate and Mod outputs, 8 dedicated drum Gate outputs, Clocks, MIDI in, 2 MIDI outs, a solo metronome output, sustain input and USB, ideal for controlling modular gear, vintage synths, software instruments and DAW while performing.

KeyStep Pro Back
Overview:
  • 37 note slim keys, velocity and aftertouch sensitive
  • LED above each key for efficient visual feedback
  • Four track step sequencer
  • 16 step buttons, up to 64 steps per sequence
  • Up to 16 notes of polyphony per step
  • Melodic sequencer
  • Real-Time recording, step recording, step editing
  • Pitch, velocity, gate length, time shift and probability for each note
  • Scale quantization with user scales
  • Polyphonic CV outputs
  • Drum sequencer
  • 24 part drum sequencer
  • Polyrhythm
  • Performance-oriented sequencer
  • Forward and two random playing modes
  • Pattern randomization
  • Quantized or unquantized recording
  • Looper
  • Arpeggiator
  • 7 arpeggiator modes, 5 octave range
  • Chord mode
  • Controller mode
  • Use the 5 encoders to send CCs
  • Automate the CCs
  • Crisp OLED display
  • 4x (CV, Gate, Mod) outputs + 8 drum gate outputs
  • 1 MIDI in, 2 MIDI out, USB, Clock synchronization
  • Metronome with included speaker and line output
  • Sustain pedal input

Get you hands on this controller for 399€/$449.

Amazon’s AI musical keyboard is now $99

Late last year Amazon dropped the jaws of a fair few people with a brand new MIDI keyboard which is powered by AI to create music with you.

The Deep Composer looks very much like many a 32-key MIDI keyboard that has come before. But it’s not. Using Amazon Web Services’ technology the keyboard is capable of expounding upon every input towards musical cohesion. In other words; it can write music.

You can use genres to lead it towards a certain path for it to follow when it’s defining the sound of what it’s developing. If you don’t want something as simple as rock, pop, jazz, or classical standards then you can get in there and tweak the AI for your own custom genre output.

From there you can play with it to create songs from a sequence, a chord, or even just a single note. Their AI technology is built to be able to create a full song with all the elements of core instruments like drums and piano using machine-learned patterns and music theory with MIDI music. You can also use it jam along with as the software creates a backing band for you to play with based on your inputs.

Now you can get your hands on this very unique piece of technology for yourself at just $99 a pop. Whilst the keyboard has gained mixed reviews in action it is still very impressive for what it is capable of beyond all of the usual MIDI keyboard functions.

Best 5 headphones under $50

If you’re after a new pair of headphones on a strict budget, your best choice varies based on what you need them for. We’ve picked some of the best headphones you can get for under $50.

We’ve decidedly stuck with wired headphones, as going under $50 for wireless can cause issues with battery life, connectivity, bluetooth range, build quality and sound quality. So if you’ll mostly be looking for headphones to pair with your 3.5mm jack-less phone, you may want to look elsewhere.

Over-Ear Headphones

Over-ear headphones need to be comfortable to wear for all day desktop use.

over ear
Panasonic RP-HT161 – $15

Soft padding ensure they’ll sit on your head for hours on end without causing any discomfort. While the long cable makes them perfect for a PC under the desk in the office or gaming.

  • Powerful sound
  • Comfortable
  • Long cable
On-Ear Headphones

On-ear headphones should be fantastic for day-to-day use and easy to travel with.

On Ear
Sony MDRZX110 – $15

The Sony’s are one of the best rated pair of headphones on Amazon and for good reason. They achieve everything on-ear headphones should at a bargain price.

  • Great sound
  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
In-Ear Headphones

Much like on-ear headphones, in-ears need to be great for day to day use while being even smaller to fit in a pocket or under a hat.

in ear
Panasonic RP-HJE120 – $10

The Panasonic earbuds produce an impressive sound for such a small set. Their changeable in-ear tips provide a great seal for all ear sizes and block out a decent amount of noise.

  • Sleek
  • Multiple colours
  • Three tip sizes
  • Good seal
Closed Back Studio Headphones

There are two types of headphones you’ll want to look into when building your home studio setup. Closed back and open back headphones. Closed back are perfect for recording. If your budget can stretch to $100 checkout out our ‘Top 10 tools for music producers’ for some truly professional grade headphones.

closed back
Tascam TH-02 – $20

These studio headphones provide a tight fit, leaking virtually no sound, while producing a flat frequency response, perfect for recording.

  • Balanced frequency response
  • No leaking
  • Great for recording
Open Back Studio Headphones
open back
Samson SR850 – $50

Choices are very thin on the ground when it comes to open back headphones when your budget is limited to $50. These semi-open back choice will be the best you can get for the price.

  • Super comfortable
  • Wide frequency response
  • Great for mixing

None of these choices are the best headphones you can get in each category, but if limited to $50 you get some surprising good cans.