Jon Eades, Abbey Road Red - pic Terry Tyldesley
Abbey Road Red launch
Abbey Road Red takes its name from Abbey Road Studios’ legendary R&D department ‘Redd’, and as Europe’s only music tech incubator scheme focusing on homegrown talent, it aims to build on the Studios’ pioneering legacy.
Jon Eades, Head of Technology and Innovation at Abbey Road, said the Red team has already been scouting for new projects, and would be working closely with partners.
“There is some amazing stuff being done in academic research and we will be pursuing partnerships with universities such as Queen Mary. What became apparent in startups is that incubator schemes are not tailored for music tech, and to someone outside music it is complex and niche.”
So Abbey Road Red has been created to provide support and a testing ground for fledgling music technology companies, entrepreneurs, researchers and developers, to help them navigate the world of music creation, distribution and marketing.
Titan Reality Pulse*
Applying to Abbey Road Red
Abbey Road Red will run a six month programme taking three startups at a time and you can apply directly via a form on the website. The deadline for the March intake is 18th December, and all kinds of projects will be considered, with Abbey Road Studios MD Isabel Garvey saying that Abbey Road Red will look at music-related technology beyond just the production side.
Top names at the Studios will be involved in the incubator, including Isabel Garvey, Mirek Stiles - Head of Audio Products, and David Allen - Head of Brand & Marketing. There will also be support from Universal Music Group, including from Julia Hawkins - Digital Strategy Manager and COO David Sharpe. Artists who have recorded at Abbey Road include Adele, Kanye West, Radiohead, Oasis, and Lady Gaga, and many award-winning films have been recorded, mixed, and mastered there.
Arny B Arnold, Helen Benarrosh, Titan Reality founders - pic Terry Tyldesley
The Pulse* - from Titan Reality
Jon Eades announced the first Red project - Titan Reality with their breathtaking 3D sensor virtual reality music controller called Pulse*. Four years in the making, it had been kept under wraps until this moment. The audience was treated to a preview of the stunning multi-tasking machine that allows you to play thousands of virtual instruments and control any type of instrument and sound from one device.
The Pulse* can be operated by swiping, using your fingers like on a keyboard, or by hitting. You can play synths, do turntable-style scratching, control lights and sounds in 3D, play drums, and more. Pulse* recognises objects as well as hand gestures and the sensor is fast, sensitive and intelligent so you can interact with it at full speed, as you would with real instruments. It can sense and analyse movements on its surface and in the air above it.
It works with Explore*, a new digital platform that brings the simplicity of cloud distribution to music makers. Users can browse, listen, choose, and download any item instantly, and set up their ideal music rig in a few clicks. There are over 100 instruments being added each month.
Titan Reality Pulse* - pic Terry Tyldesley
The Pulse* controller we saw looked amazing, beautifully designed, sleek and curvaceous with a friendly feel that is bound to make it an object of desire.
Co-founder Arny B Arnold said Titan designed it with reference to Léon Theremin and also Pink Floyd’s Azimuth Co-ordinator. The Azimuth was revolutionary - the first panning control for a quadraphonic sound system, so you could mix in surround sound, and was built by an engineer at Abbey Road Studios.
“You can control the light Azimuth, front, back, left and right. The level of detail in the drum pads means you can even use brushes, and you can switch to turntables”.
Helen Benarrosh, co-founder, has a background in space engineering and told us that sophisticated electronics play a key role in the Pulse* which uses space technology for the scanning and tracking.
Giovanni Guidi, Matthew Herbert, Leafcutter John - pic Terry Tyldesley
Matthew Herbert, Leafcutter John and Giovanni Guidi
DJ, Producer and Composer Matthew Herbert had put together a very special trio for a performance at the launch. He regularly records at Abbey Road, and is now director of the new Radiophonic Workshop at the BBC. Introducing his set with Leafcutter John and pianist Giovanni Guidi, he talked about technology in music.
“I’ve spent a lot of time here and it’s been a real education. The big question is ‘now what’? If you look at music in the last ten years, all the innovations are in technology, the actual music is quite conservative. It comes down to tools and how we use them.
For me it comes down to the microphone. I’ve made music out of things like pigs being born and killed. Tonight is a simple improvisation with things recorded through one microphone. I’m honoured to be sharing a stage with Leafcutter John who has brought his Light Interface - the sound of a piano played with a torch”.
It was a great improvisation with the piano and electronic sounds beautifully weaving in and out of each other, and Leafcutter John playing his interface with torches and light toys.
Abbey Road Red tech fair
Abbey Road tech fair - mi.mu gloves
The Red launch also included a tech fair with a wide range of innovations.
mi.mu gloves were a big hit - people could try them on and control chords and drums with gestures such as pointing, and making a fist. Designed for the performance and composition of music, Developer and musician Adam Stark told us the gloves use motion tracking, and the mi.mu mapping software learns your gestures. A quick bit of glove training and we were off on a great musical gestural journey.
Mi.mu’s founding director is musician Imogen Heap, and it is a non-profit startup with a team of musicians, artists, scientists and technologists developing the cutting-edge wearable technology.
mi.mu gloves - pic Terry Tyldesley
The aim is to give artists creative freedom, but the team says that there are also applications outside music, and engineers and scientists have also expressed an interest in the technology, which has been demonstrated at conferences including TED Global and Wired 2012.
Visualise - pic Terry Tyldesley
Visualise are a Virtual Reality production studio, and Head of Sound Henrik Oppermann was giving people the full ‘Kasabian in 360’ gig experience on a Samsung VR headset. Visualise had filmed a Kasabian show at the Brixton Academy using 360 degree video cameras and binaural audio microphones, including a waterproof one. You could experience the show from on stage, at the very front row of the audience and in the middle of the raucous crowd. It was breath-taking and took you incredibly close to guitarist and songwriter Serge Pizzorno.
Mogees - pic Terry Tyldesley
Clever and compact Mogees had people tapping away to make music on a table. The Mogee sensor turns vibrations into sounds, and is designed to transform anything into a musical instrument. You stick it to an object, train the Mogees app to recognise different types of hits, scratching or strikes on the object, then choose sounds by associating your gestures to individual sounds or MIDI notes.
The sound engines include synths and drums and you can also sync Mogees with your existing tracks or use them as a MIDI controller.
Jukedeck - pic Terry Tyldesley
Jukedeck were showing their new software that generates unique music for your video project. Patrick Stobbs the COO asked us to choose a genre, mood, and length and Jukedeck speedily came up with something tailor made. The music you get is royalty free and can be used on platforms such as YouTube, in games or exhibitions.
Jukedeck has created 20,000 tracks already and been used by the likes of the Natural History Museum in London.
Kode9 - pic Terry Tyldesley
Electronic artist Kode9 finished the event with a brilliant DJ set. Kode9 - Steve Goodman - is one of the founding members of the dubstep scene, owner of Hyperdub record label whose artists include Burial, Jessy Lanza and King Midas Sound, and is also a Lecturer in Music Culture.
- For more on music tech at Abbey Road, see our blog on the recent innovation night featuring Tim Exile, new mixing software and more. New music tech also features in our reports from Music Tech Fest Scandi Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3, plus Tom Fox’s blog on Music Tech Fest in Slovenia.