Rebirth lives again
September 1, 2005 8:23 PM   Subscribe

Modern music software, by and large, is fantastic. It lets musicians create sequences of staggering complexity at the drop of a hat, work simultaneously and easily with both MIDI and digital data, and instantly subject audio to the kind of torturous manipulation that would have taken hours, or even days, with a razorblade and tape.

But do you ever really covet software in the same way that you covet hardware? Do you regard your music program with the same affection as your Moog Rogue or Fender Strat? Can something which exists only in a computer's virtual environment inspire the same pride of ownership as, say, that small silver box called a TB303 Bassline? If it's called Rebirth, maybe it can...

And now it lives again... for free
posted by bigmusic (35 comments total)
of course the new version they're trying to sell isn't so free. I can't decide if I think this is spam or not.
posted by tiamat at 8:27 PM on September 1, 2005 [1 favorite]

New verison? what are you talking about?
posted by bigmusic at 8:29 PM on September 1, 2005

Open source it, damn it!
posted by abcde at 8:39 PM on September 1, 2005

Maybe we'll feel the same way about the computers on which the software runs as we do the instruments, but I can't imagine software ever engendering the same emotional attachment. Software does not change over in the way that an object does; it doesn't get scratched and dinged and dropped, it lacks the form onto which sentiment can be rubbed.
posted by Coherence Panda at 8:45 PM on September 1, 2005

New verison? what are you talking about?

"If you have yet to take the step up from ReBirth to Reason, now is very much the time to do so!"

That new, almost-spammy pitch that is at least most of the point of that website. Still, cool. They're still selling ReBirth at up to almost $200US all over the place. Kinda dig some of those old Roland patches.
posted by umberto at 8:49 PM on September 1, 2005

Yeah, you can love software in the way that you love, say, the 303 as a model, but you're not going to feel any attachment to your own installation (especially instruments or tube equipment where each one sounds a little different). I think the former sense is what they meant, anyway.
posted by abcde at 8:52 PM on September 1, 2005

There's a really good book on this broad subject -- Paul Theberge's Any Sound You Can Imagine.
posted by realcountrymusic at 9:17 PM on September 1, 2005

...although software love can be a kinky, quirky, specific love. Years ago, I got the Infocom Hitchhiker's Guide text adventure and played it on my creaking ancient Tandy 1000. It worked, but just barely --the screen was always cluttered with gibberish; the directions and cursor line were buried in an unlikely row of asterisks and tildes -- but I worked my way through that whole game, squinting all the while. Last year I found the game and gleefully installed it. The text was ordered, crisp, neat...I played through it for old time's sake but it wasn't the same. I loved the messed up old version from back in the day. I know it doesn't make sense, but neither does dropping your 'no tea.'
posted by umberto at 9:23 PM on September 1, 2005

My Korg Electribe EA-1 was probably the best toy I ever owned. I'm a fool for having sold it. A fool I say!
posted by stenseng at 9:32 PM on September 1, 2005

Rebirth? That's oldschool? Hell, I know someone who still uses Voyetra Plus Gold on a 286 for his primary MIDI tracker. But then he doesn't need Rebirth, 'cause he has Sequential Circuits analog synths and drum machines and other oldschool instruments.
posted by loquacious at 9:41 PM on September 1, 2005

Stensberg - you and me both! (my biggest regret was offloading my MS2000 :( )

I say YAY to free Rebirth. But SUCK to the fact that they never finished the OSX version - means I have to deal with the useless Rebirth Input Machine in Reason forever.

As someone who just finished selling off all of his hardware for cash, I can say that the software, as awsome and powerful as it may be (I primarily run with Reason and Live), nothing compares to the feel of hardware.
posted by zerokey at 9:42 PM on September 1, 2005

umberto -- I feel the same way whenever I think about the cassette tape collection I lovingly assembled and curated as a teenager. Technically, they can't compare to my 10,000+ song iTunes collection, but I loved them more, somehow.
posted by docgonzo at 9:43 PM on September 1, 2005

sorry..Stenseng. I can't read obviously.
posted by zerokey at 9:43 PM on September 1, 2005

Don't feel bad. It seems if you have a scandihoovian name, no matter how phonetically easy it is to pronounce, or even if you have it written in front of you, it becomes Stenberg, Stensenheimer, steinberg, etc.

I dunno why.

I stopped crying about it like, weeks ago. I swear.
posted by stenseng at 9:52 PM on September 1, 2005

I still have my Fender-Rhodes Chroma Polaris. An underrated analog synth if there ever was one.
posted by Eekacat at 10:02 PM on September 1, 2005

Ok, hate to be the one to point this out, but Reason is NOT a new version of Rebirth. It's a profoundly different program.

The fact that they're giving away their legacy software is cool, and is in no way diminished by the fact that they sell another product.
posted by geekhorde at 10:02 PM on September 1, 2005

I have no idea about music software, but my wife has fetishized several desktop publishing pieces of software to a strange extent. One is the sole reason she stil has a Mac runing OS9, since the company went out of business and it doesn't run correctly on OSX. It is something to do with doing manipulations to fonts.

I think I'm more likely to get kicked to the curb than that piece of software.

I myself never have. But I haven't fetishized a musical instrument either. So maybe it just isn't in me.
posted by obfusciatrist at 10:04 PM on September 1, 2005

I've fetishized a few instruments over the year, though not as much as some of my fellow guitarists. I can covet software, but since it's infinitely replicable for a rational price, my lust can always be satisfied. The guitars I covet often aren't for sale. There was this one 00-18 at a studio in Nashville as a house acoustic. I begged, I offered my D-28 and large amounts of money. Ha. But I had played that guitar and been melted by its tone and feel. I knew I could work with it great. I think that's what we covet with software -- a perfect workflow, a particular sound we spend a long time crafting, and then along comes version 6.1.3 or a new OS and it's like learning to play a new tuning. But there will never be people who collect music software but never use it the way non-musicians collect instruments. Though I admit I still have a copy of Farallon Soundedit (8-bit) for the Mac Plus on a floppy, and wouldn't throw it away.
posted by realcountrymusic at 10:48 PM on September 1, 2005

ican't believe the tinge of nostalgia i feel when i remember those days using the free trial version of rebirth........ah......those were innocent days.
posted by TechnoLustLuddite at 10:59 PM on September 1, 2005

Covet nothin', there's a qualitative difference between a screen interface and knob-twiddling. Of course nifty outboard interfaces are a cool idea, but they aren't cheap either, and are generally at least somewhat application specific. So if there's anything to covet, I'd say it's 1/2 skin on plastic, and 1/2 the essence of the machine. YMMV.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 11:28 PM on September 1, 2005

> can't believe the tinge of nostalgia i feel when i remember
> those days

I'm an old man now -- fifty this month, but I've always been a fan of R&B
based dance music, and the explosion in new, creative dance music back
in the late eighties and early nineties really rocked my world.

One of the reasons why it was so compelling was because I just couldn't
figure out what was going on. Was this stuff made with instruments?
Samples? Synthesizers? Were humans involved at all? And where were
all those snatches from old Salsoul disco tunes coming from?

As a non-musician who doesn't know any musicians (certainly none
who could work a sampler), I just couldn't figure it out. And then I ran
across the demo of Rebirth on a Mac CD, and all of a sudden,
I *was* Todd Terry and Marshall Jefferson.

These days, I run Reason, Cubase and Live, with an Akai 2000XL sampler
for my beats, mainly making hip hop and drum and bass.

My teenage/adult kids think it's an embarrassment having a parent
who produces dance music. None of them share my tastes in music,
so they are continuously complaining about being kept awake/disturbed
by the thud, thud, thud of an amen and a reese.

Fuck 'em. I've never had so much fun. And I owe it all to Recycle.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:56 PM on September 1, 2005

Actually, there are at least two good, cheap control surfaces available: the Behringer BCF2000 and the M-Audio UC-33e.
posted by abcde at 11:59 PM on September 1, 2005

Fuck 'em. I've never had so much fun. And I owe it all to Recycle.

=) I love how em transcends the age limits like that.
posted by bigmusic at 12:10 AM on September 2, 2005

PeterMcDermott, that's coolest frickin thing I've read in ages!

Hats off, and thank you for it!
posted by zerokey at 1:17 AM on September 2, 2005

This is amazing. I used Rebirth back in the day to make loops which I used in my Fast Tracker 2 modules. I remember you had to tweak the Rebirth samples just a little bit to make them totally in sync with FT2. I never figured out why, but it made it a total pain in the ass to use it.

I used it anyway, however, because Rebirth was able to produce some really great synth sounds.

Now I'm all about Reason, but this made me want to install Rebirth again. I don't think I'll be getting much sleep over the next couple of days, and neither will my neighbors...

Now open source the damn thing so somebody can make a working OS X version!
posted by sveskemus at 1:24 AM on September 2, 2005

I'm still runnin' CPU Bach on my 3DO FZ-10.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:25 AM on September 2, 2005

So... what would work on OSX? (10.2.8)? Free?
posted by klangklangston at 5:30 AM on September 2, 2005

PeterMcDermott - can I get a hell yeah?
posted by foot at 6:19 AM on September 2, 2005

I get a strange sense of nostalgia when I think of the day when we had to mod rebirths drum machine with new samples or skins, it meant hacking into the program and replacing them since that capability wasn't built in. Those were wonderful days.
Course I wouldn't go back, but they were exciting times.
posted by klik99 at 8:14 AM on September 2, 2005

posted by Pollomacho at 9:10 AM on September 2, 2005

I used ReBirth and now Reason, I love it. I used to have about 12 miles of cable running through my living room to and from various devices to a 24 track mixer (yep, I'm a bachelor). Now I have my Mac hooked up to my stereo. Much easier to trouble shoot and maintain. Also, I like that in Reason you can have multiple copies of the same machine, if i need 14 loop samplers I've got them in real time.
I will admit that, somewhere in my heart, I still lust after a Serge Modular, just for the sheer geek factor.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:43 PM on September 2, 2005

To clarify - it's free for registered Reason owners, who can get either the disk image or a refill for use with Reason. Yeah, I wish they would open-source it (imagine the hacks that would crop up for bumping a 303 on a PSP...)
posted by D at 2:28 PM on September 2, 2005

D - I just signed up for a second account on the site to check - you do not need to be a registered Reason owner. You just need to register at the site.

Besides, the license specifically states that the cd image can be freely redistributed non-commercialy.

Q: "Copy the Software for noncommercial use only", Can I still produce my music with Rebirth and then sell it?
A: Yes, absolutely. On the other hand you are not allowed to sell a copy of the software Rebirth itself.

So, free Rebirth happiness for all yay! (I just wanted to clarify :)
posted by zerokey at 3:26 PM on September 2, 2005

Aha! Very good then, thanks for clarifying. You have to be a registered Reason user to download the refill, but not the disk image.
posted by D at 11:30 AM on September 4, 2005

Just in case there's anybody still reading...

If you've managed to download the iso from the site but are having problems with it, here's what I did:

- renamed the .iso file as downloaded to .zip
- open and extract the rebirth_pc_installer.iso file
- rename this .iso file to .nrg (nero image file)
- mounted the nrg file using daemon tools

The actual installer for Rebirth is only 19mb. I still don't really know what else was on the CD...
posted by bruzie at 1:09 PM on September 5, 2005

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