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As some of you have no doubt gathered I’m not exactly ‘down with the kids’, but as I said in my post last year, I still have a soft spot for dance music. It is incredible how technology has progressed. In the ‘old’ days the DJ would have a pair of Technics turntables and a mixing desk and would swap from one record to another mixing them together. A few DJs would also make their own tunes by sampling other tracks and adding their own bits. Think Fatboy slim. These would be edited together and cut onto a record to be played in the clubs, or they would create new combinations live by swapping from record to record quickly.

Nowadays it is oh so different. I’m not sure how I ended up finding them but I came across videos on youtube of a piece of technology called a Launchpad. This is essentially a box with an 8 x 8 grid of buttons on it. Each of these buttons can be preloaded with one (or even simultaneously many) different sampled sounds or effects. The sounds can be anything from a single note of an instrument, a sound clip, whole tunes, any type percussion effects or even speech, these can be set to repeat constantly in a loop or just play was and when they are pressed. This means that once preloaded  DJs can use the launchpad in their live sets to create any number of tunes on the fly. Below is an example of someone using one to mix and play bits from 39 different songs.

Now if dance music isn’t your thing then you might not have made it all the way through the 3 1/2 minutes of that last video, but the next one might be a bit more to your taste.

When we think of a musical keyboard we think of the typical layout of white and black keys laid out as in a piano keyboard, but it wasn’t always like that. Numerous competing layouts were produced. The 64 buttons on a Launchpad are not far off the number of keys on a piano (typically 88 on a grand), so there are some clever people out there who have programmed a different piano note into each button of a Launchpad and are using them to create piano music. I love the below tune, I have the sheet music, but it’s hard enough for me to play it on a normal keyboard, let alone on an 8 x 8 grid. I applaud the skills of Zambuseta…..

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