Freeware music tools for OS X

 I happened across Ken Restivo‘s blog the other day (lots of good "math funk" there in Ogg Vorbis format), and was interested to note that he’s doing almost everything – recording, synthesis, mixdown, the works – on LInux, using free software.

Having listened to the stuff he’s got there and liking it quite a [...]

Lying users and synth manuals

In "Every User Lies" at the excellent Coding Horror blog, Jeff Atwood refers in passing to the concept of the "active user" – the person who immediately runs the software without looking at the manual at all.

In my trying out of various softsynths (most notably the WayOutWare TimewARP 2600 and the GForce Oddity and impOSCar), I’ve found myself doing that – firing up Garageband, and opening the plugin in a track, then just fiddling with the presets. By this point I know quite well that doing this with an analog synth with a screenful of knobs and sliders is counterproductive, but I caught myself doing it anyway.

So I decided that if I was going to have any kind of a meaningful interaction with the plugins, I was going to have to work through the manuals and see what there was to learn, whether I decided to buy them or not – and to avoid wasting money on something that didn’t fit my headspace (and earspace). Continue reading Lying users and synth manuals

The ARP 2600 manual

blue-face Arp 2600Quite some time back, I found a scanned copy of the ARP 2600 User’s manual. I’ve always had a soft spot for the 2600, though I could never quite afford one; it’s always seemed like a great balance as far as analog synths go.In a recent fit of “my disk is too full”, I unzipped the file of scans and started reading. It’s really a very good introduction to the machine and how it works; I’ve actually started feeling like if I had one in front of me, that I’d be able to use it effectively. Continue reading The ARP 2600 manual

A quick guide to opensource synthesis

A quick overview¬†of Pure Data, ChucK, Supercollider, Csound, and several other synthesis languages/tools I haven’t heard of before. Looks like it would repay some link-mining. [Edited 01/08 ... I forgot the link!]

Different Skies 2007 Countdown

And of course I couldn’t resist the opportunity to write an OS X widget to track time remaining to the start of Different Skies.

The Hand That Feeds

OS X readers: if you haven’t already done so, pop on over to the Nine Inch Nails website and pick up the GarageBand version of The Hand That Feeds. It’s a fairly typical track; but for that reason it’s pretty interesting.

It’s a great guide to pop song construction. A relatively short track, but [...]

Long Now III

Here is a first-cut version of the OS X Long Now Chimes application. The user interface still leaves a lot to be desired, but it makes pretty noises and works. Have fun.

I’ll be working on designing a nice pop-up date setter for later, and better interaction/integration of the interface and the ChucK program.

Long Now II

I was able to get in a little more diddling with the application on the train yesterday; it can now successfully generate a peal for a date (still entered by hand right now, yuck) and play it. Command-. stops the playback as one would hope. It would be nice to get a spinner working [...]


Apple has added a new iApp, GarageBand, to iLife ’04. For $49, Mac OS X users can have a decent multi-track recorder and loop compositor. Looks great!

Long Now I

I’ve been working on an OS X application to play the Long Now Chimes. If you’ve visited the previous link, you’ve gotten to hear MIDI versions of the chimes.

The MIDI version’s quite cool, and gives nearly anyone a chance to hear the chimes, but I wanted really chimey chime sounds, and I wanted [...]