Arthur C. Clarke is credited with saying that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, but when it comes to music, the older gear is more miraculous--and mysterious--to me. MP3 players are just special-purpose hard drives or memory sticks, Pandora and other online radio services are just twists on the streaming audio sites that first emerged in the early Web days, and every online tool for musicians simply takes an old task--recording, CD manufacturing, distribution--and moves it to the Web, gaining various efficiencies along the way. Even digital audio workstations like ProTools and Cubase are somewhat intuitive to a … Read more
The kind folks at Eos Wireless sent me one of their wireless multiroom audio systems to test out a couple weeks ago, and after setting it up tonight, all I can say is that it made me long for the power and solidity of the Sonos system that I got to try out last December.
CNET's Jeff Bakalar already hit all the high and low points in last month's review, and my experience was much the same. I started by plugging my iPhone into the base station. Some of the promotional material for the system says the Eos … Read more
I'm not sure if it's as cool as the Ruben's Tube video, but it's pretty close. According to the person who posted this miracle, YouTube handle bd594, the piano sounds are provided by an Atari 800 XL (which happens to be the first computer I ever saw at a friend's house rather than school), lead guitar is courtesy of a TI-99/4A, the bass is an 8-inch floppy, the gong a 3.5-inch hard drive, and the vocals are an HP Scanjet 3c. (I saw this first on BoingBoing.)
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I'll readily admit that I'm not in the target audience for the new SlotRadio MP3 player from SanDisk, which became available last week.
The $99 device comes with a microSD card containing 1,000 songs, selected by Billboard editors from top-charting radio hits of the last 40 years or so, arranged in seven playlists--rock, country, hip-hop, and four others.
You can't edit or rearrange the playlists, you can't move the songs to your computer or any other device, and the only way to get new songs is by buying new 1,000-song cards for $39.99 … Read more
Updated on March 28 at 12 p.m. PDT: The developers of Star Guitar explained to me that the latency between chord changes is intentional--it's meant to change on the first beat of the next measure. If you want to change it immediately, you can simply double-tap. Also, Star Guitar also records .WAV files--they're hidden at the bottom of the library list, below all the .pattern files that represent the built-in rhythms (you can edit them or create new ones on your computer). Finally, they asked me to link to the demo video on YouTube, so here it is.
I've been playing around with a new iPhone app, Star Guitar, for the last day or so, and it's a sophisticated piece of work that could help beginning guitar players learn how chords fit together into songs, as well as give more experienced songwriters a quick way to record their ideas when they don't have a guitar handy.
The designers had to be very clever to fit that many chords on a single screen--essentially, you start by picking one of the seven natural-tone letters (A through G), then adding various modifications (flat or sharp, seventh, major, and suspended fourth). You might have to consult the help screen to figure out exactly which combination of buttons will create a particular chord--for example, a G6 is created by hitting "G" and "major"--but for the most part, if you know your chords, it's fairly intuitive.
If you don't know your chords, it's a fantastic way to learn what all these cryptically named chords sound like. I've played for years, but still have to think for a few seconds before I could hum you the notes in a suspended fourth. With Star Guitar, I can just play it. … Read more
Guitar Hero: Metallica, which lets gamers play along with the band and its influences, comes out in the U.S. on March 29. Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett spoke to me this afternoon at the South by Southwest music festival about the game and other issues related to music and technology.
Q: With the Guitar Hero game, do you think you'll be reaching longtime fans, or is this mainly a way to reach younger fans who might know a song or two but don't really know Metallica? Hammett: We'll be reaching fans across the board, longtime fans, … Read more
AUSTIN, Texas--Thanks to everybody who came out to hear the Artist as Entrepreneur panel on Wednesday at South by Southwest. I had a great time doing it, and I enjoyed my (too short) interactions with the other panelists and with the audience after the show.
We were pressed for time at the end, so I wanted to share some random thoughts and reactions to some questions that I didn't have time to address.
It's been a long wait, but more than a year after Nokia announced its Comes With Music plan--free music downloads built into the price of the phone--the first Comes With Music phone is apparently coming to the U.S. in February.
According to The Nokia Blog, the Nokia 5800 Xpress Music (a.k.a. The Tube) will go on sale at U.S. retailers on Feb. 26 for a suggested price of $399. No carrier partners have been announced, so there's probably little chance of a carrier subsidy reducing the price at launch. CNET reviewed a preview version … Read more
I didn't imagine there was much room for innovation in USB-recording interfaces, but at the 2009 NAMM show--the annual convention for buyers and sellers of professional music gear (read: music gearhead paradise)--a couple of companies introduced some new takes on this very prosaic, but necessary, piece of gear.
For the uninitiated: A recording interface is the bridge between your musical output and your computer. You attach it to the computer, then plug your instrument (or multiple instruments, or output of a mixing board) into it, and voila. There are countless types of interfaces at all levels of price and complexity, but for home musicians who just want a quick way to get their musical ideas down on their hard drives, an inexpensive USB interface is the way to go. M-Audio is probably the best-known brand at this level, although Tascam and Edirol (part of Roland) are somewhat common as well.
Not a bad accomplishment for a smartphone with a completely new operating system, from a company written off as dead not long ago.
I wrote something like this about RIM's BlackBerry Storm and got some heat for it, but still...where's the music?
I don't mean that the Pre won't play music--of course it will. Palm even announced a deal with Amazon.com to let users buy music downloads without any intervention (cooperation? … Read more