Make:Television has done a really lovely piece on CCRMA, the research center at Stanford University that works on problems ranging from acoustics and sound to musical instrument design. CCRMA is really just one microcosm of the whole music tech making scene around the world – a lot of increasingly beyond the walls of academia. But what a microcosm it is: I don’t think it’s understatement to say this is just the kind of institution a lot of us dream of. Among the highlights from the MAKE video that I could pick up:
- Ge Wang, professor and creator of ChucK programming language and certain popular ocarina-themed iPhone apps, and Stanford Laptop Orchestra director
- Carr Wilkerson: Electronic “Rub Board”(?) with a nice accompanying Pd synth patch
- A very nice Max/MSP app that everyone seems to be using for signal analysis
- Edgar Berdahl: a one-handed drum that “hits back”
- Nicholas Bryan building the legendary hemispheric speaker (incidentally, no one seems to be able to tell me who invented that)
- A giant interactive musical playground, with a Wii-powered teeter-totter (with one somewhat silly patch, and then another very lovely bowed-sounding patch)
Thanks to patospurlock on Twitter for the tip. I know at least some of you CCRMA students read this site, so feel free to chime in and identify your colleagues.
The featured Feedback Piano project is a hybrid with a bit of acoustical design (a piano), electronics/recording (mics), and digital/computer design (the Max patch that completes the circle). The results are really striking, and while it’s a lot less portable than a convolution reverb, it’s certainly very different having an actual piano into which you can play your saxophone.
Make followed up with directions on the Feedback Piano (please use a truly broken piano, thanks!) and we’ve got some video, as well:
HOW TO – build a feedback piano [MAKE Magazine]
Alloy Electric has more Vimeo videos of the feedback piano and other projects. (Nice footage, as well! Actually, I think, a bit artier than what Make:TV shot!)
By the way, does anyone know why educational programs about Science always have to have some geeky-sounding guy shouting at you? (See the condensed history of all music tech at the end.)