Music Tech News Roundup: Korg ARP Odyssey, James Murphy’s Turnstile Symphony, Volca Beats MOD +

In this week’s music tech news roundup: Korg announces a new ARP Odyssey, James Murphy develops a Turnstile Symphony for New York, play a Theremin in your web browser, hack your Volca Beats, and more! 

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Korg to Develop a New ARP Odyssey


Korg Arp Odyssey

Korg are continuing to dominate the analog synth market with a big announcement this month: the company will be re-releasing the classic ARP Odyssey synthesizer for release later in 2014. From the press release:

KORG INC. is proud to announce that a faithful recreation of the legendary 1970s analog synthesiser, the ARP Odyssey, is being developed by Korg for release later in 2014. The ARP Odyssey was released in 1972 by ARP Instruments, Inc. and quickly became famous for its unique rich sound and innovative performance controls. It was a staple for many recording and performing musicians worldwide and was used on countless hit records over many years.The Odyssey was one of the highlights of the ARP company and became a long selling product. With slight updates and improvements it was sold through to 1981.

For an in-depth look at why you should care about the ARP Odyssey, check out this Sound on Sound piece from 1997 by Gordon Reid.

 Volca Beats Snare Mod

YouTube user Darren Glen has introduced one of the first modifications that we’ve seen for the Korg Volca Beats. This MOD changes the sound of the snare drum on the Beats, which many users seem to prefer. Glen explains,”the mod makes for a much cleaner and useable snare than the distorted rubbish that the KVB is shipped with, and the addition of the triangle sound mod to the hats gives some nice variation to the unit as well.”  The above video features an audio demonstration followed by a tutorial on how to make the modification yourself.

James Murphy’s Subway Symphony

James Murphy's Subway Symphony

LCD Soundsystem frontman and NYC sound guru James Murphy is on a mission to improve the sonic landscape of New York City with his new Subway Symphony project. The project aims to tune the turnstiles at subway stations so that they play musical notes when people walk through them. This would be a change from the current cacophony that can be heard underground in many NY transit stations.

“They make this unpleasant beep and are all slightly out of tune from one another,” Murphy explained to the Wall Street Journal this week. “Every time you swipe your MetroCard, the turnstile emits a flat, unpleasant “beep”.  Each turnstile emits its own beep, all of which are slightly out of tune with one another, creating a dissonant rubbing-styrofoam-on-glass squeak in stations all around New York City.  It’s kind of horrible,” continues Murphy.

Murphy’s solution is to tune each of the turnstiles so that they play musical sequences, as he explains on the Subway Symphony website:

“What i propose to do is to create a series of 3 to 5 note sequences, all unique, one for each station in the subway system.  These sequences will be part of an intersecting larger piece of music, which would run from station to station, and cross one another as, say, the 4, 5, 6 line (one musical piece) intersects with the L, N, R, Q and W (another musical piece) at Union Square.  At each turnstile in Union Square, as you tap your new tap and ride card, a pleasant bell tone will sound, in one of a set of possible notes, all related to that station’s note sequence.  The effect would be that at the busiest times, like rush hour, what was once cacophony would now be music.”

Xeno Chord Explorer – Free Max For Live Plug In

Max For Live Xeno Chord Explorer

Thanks to Synthtopia, we found developer Rick Burnett’s Xeno – Chord Explorer this week. It’s a free Max for Live chord plug in that looks like a lot of fun for creating new and interesting harmonies.

“I’ve spent a great deal of time looking through all the available chord plugins in VST, AU and M4L formats and just never really found what I was looking for,” explains Burnett on his site. “Most chord exploration programs either have non-generative fixed chord patterns per key (Cthulu) or chord generation that is based on the full 12 note scale and deals in semitones (Nordmann Chord Generator or Ableton Live MIDI chord plugin).  There is nothing wrong if that’s how you like to work, and you can use a note quantizer after the chord generator.  That said, I wanted a chord generator that generated all chords in key with varying chord sizes very easily.  I  do not come from a keyboard/piano background and I don’t like getting lost in theory while I write music.  This is the perfect tool to really get into exploring chords in all sorts of ways.  Even further, pairing it with Ableton Live’s arpeggiator and you REALLY have a lot of flexibility in what you can do.”

Download Xeno – Chord Explorer Here

OP1 / Analog Four Cookbook iBook

Author Neil Ritchie has released two iBooks this week in “cookbook” form – one for Teenage Engineering’s OP1 and one for Elektron’s Analog Four synthesizer. Each book is $4.99 and available through iTunes. The A4 book in particular looks like it’s getting nice reviews from users.

Theremin in a Web Browser

Theremin in a web browser

Peter Kirn of CDM recently tipped us to the Web Audio Theremin by Luke Phillips of Femur Design.

“The web audio theremin is a touch friendly & responsive audio synthesizer built in javascript using the Web Audio API with HTML5 canvas. As the user interacts with the screen synthesized sounds are generated in the style of a moog theremin and the canvas displays a visual representation of the audio.” - Luke Phillips of Femur Design

“Theremin” is a loose term here. In terms of continuous pitch control and amplitude control, each on a separate axis, it counts. Of course, it lacks the gestural input mechanism that sort of is the whole point of a Theremin. Then again, if you’re good with your mouse/trackpad, you might be able to fake it. – Peter Kirn