Kakehashi Ikutaro was the founder of Roland as well as the inventor of the modern drum machine (and therefore modern button based step sequencing) and a mind boggling array of affordable musical instruments and effects devices that helped bring music closer to the worldwide masses. Oh ya, and he helped create MIDI. Kakehashi wanted to make music producing available to amateurs as well as professionals. Bringing music to everyone. It is hard to think of a more noble endeavor behind what would become a giant international company and it is hard to think of a builder or musician who has had as much of an impact as Kakehashi has had on modern music and modern music production.
To The Toolmakers
The tools that we use to create things are their own unique creations. Remarkably, they are pieces of art that one can use to make more art with. We want to give thanks and acknowledgement to the builders, coders and creatives who make the things that we use to make more things. Below is a selection of some of the builders we love and tools we use on a daily basis. It should also always be mentioned that you simply do not need much, or any, gear/software to make music but it sure can be fun to geek out with some innovative tools.
EarthQuaker Devices are the outboard processors of choice at the PB HQ. They comprise a huge variety of highly playable effects made by the coolest team of peoples we know of starting with the founders Jamie and Julie and radiating out through the company. The effects range from bread and butter distortion/fuzz/overdrive to wild, spacey modulations. Made in Akron, Ohio with a lifetime warranty. EQD Rules and PatternBased would not exist in its form without them.
Open source and free, VCV Rack is one of the most significant developments in electronic music making in years. Essentially a virtual eurorack system with way more power, recall and flexibility. VCV Rack is a tool that we find we are using more and more with each passing day. Andrew Belt, the creator of VCV, gave a unique musical gift to the world. Dozens of devs jumped on board to create a huge array of modules (well over 1000 as of July 2019). Now it is up to the users to make interesting things with it. We are looking forward to building a dedicated Linux box for this tool later in 2019.
The first time we played with Pianoteq was the last time we used sample based libraries when needing Piano-like sounds from within the box. Modartt’s advanced implementation of physical modelling has no equal and things like sympathetic resonance are accounted for in the modelling which makes it feel quite organic for software. While nothing can replace the feel and experience of sitting down at an actual mechanical piano, Pianoteq has become an absolutely invaluable tool that we used on almost every piece of music that we produce.
Roli’s Seaboard unlocks new expressiveness in the modern studio. Its brilliant design allows one to take advantage of the traditional layout of the musical keyboard while adding new ways to play it. It is also a huge step forward for writing delicate music as the key-presses are silent unlike most keyboard controllers. It feels great to play and the squish of the keys feels perfect for even some traditional instruments like samples of upright bass. It is a highly portable device that can take a beating during travel. Roli makes other expressive instruments as well as a framework for coding audio applications called Juce.
Auras is an Incredible Kontakt instrument that takes advantage of Midi Polyphonic Expression (MPE). Auras is an ultra playable, hand crafted textural engine from some brilliant Bristol artists. Because you are playing the sounds in multiple dimensions and they are so well done, each ‘preset’ is a fully realized instrument but it is also easy to dig in and build new playable textures with the individual layers and controls they provide.
Iota 2 is a unique granular looper that is great for generating textures from samples. You can create unlimited loops of varying size within a sample of audio and have those loops play in unique ways allowing you an easy way to create non repeating textures. Dillon Bastan, creator of Iota, is a sound artist and developer based in Los Angeles and more of his work is at his website.