Wednesday, February 8, 2017

NAMM 2017: Teenage Engineering & Roli with Lavine Linarez

Music By Anyone
Photo by Lavine Linarez
Attending NAMM can be overwhelming and disorienting to anyone that has never attended. Like many trade shows there are so many vendors trying to pull people in and showcase their products. The most compelling ideas manifested from the exhibitors wanting to engage people with no musical background such as Teenage Engineering and Roli. Both displayed stand alone single components that anyone could pick up and begin using right away. However, both approached the users experience in very different ways.

Photo by Lavine Linarez
Photo by Lavine Linarez

Teenage Engineering’s collaboration with Magnus Lidström of Sonic Charge, to create pocket operator PO-32 Tonic for synthetic beats that works with Microtonic software. Magnus says “The goal with PO-32 was to squeeze… perfectly optimized recreations of the oscillators, filters and envelopes from the original Microtonic.” Each pocket operator is about the size and look of a pocket calculator ranging in price of $49-59 and the most expensive at $139 (bundled with Microtonic). To help keep the price low on the nits, the developers have left the cases and screen protectors off the unit. What you receive is a small bare bones board with LCD screen and buttons. However, they do offer silicone cases for $29. What makes the small operator so compelling is one can simply pick any up and tap away on the buttons and create a beat or rhythm. The operators can be synchronized together through a line in and line out. Sounds can be created and downloaded directly to the unit from the Microtonic software. Even for the novice, it can feel easy to start on a simple beat and move from it to something more complex.
Photo by Lavine Linarez

Photo by Lavine Linarez

Roli was exciting because it focused on making modular boxes that any person, whether musically inclined or not, could use. Even when no computer is available, the Noise app can be downloaded for free to an iPhone or iPad. Roli seems to want to create a community of musicians as well. On Noise.fm, songs and ideas can be uploaded and shared with others. Roli also offers a chance to not only create music by offering a free app, but offers the purchase of developer kits for Blocks. At $179.95, the price on one block is low enough to take the chance on one unit but once the Live and Loop blocks are added ($79.95 each), the price can get high. However, Roli blocks can also be used as a midi controller for many programs such as Ableton Live. With all Roli has to offer, free software, musical community. Modeler and versatile units that are compact and portable, developer tools, the price begins to look so bad.

When it comes to pushing ones musical creativity, Teenage Engineering and Roli presented products that are easily accessible to a variety of people.

By Lavine Linarez

Photo by Lavine Linarez

Lavine Linarez was given her first camera at the age of 13 beginning her love of photo and art. She later graduated from CalArts with a Fine Art and Photography degree. Now a business owner, she specializes in event photography and special effects makeup. She is influenced by Joel-Peter Witkin, Anton Corijn, Skinny Puppy and all things weird. 

Instagram: @zanlinez

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