Touch to Control: Usine Learns Music Parameters with the Magic of OSC

Touchable tablets may be all the rage at the CES trade show, showcase to consumer-friendly gadgetry. But quietly, developer Sensomusic has accomplished multi-touch control of an open-ended music system on standard-issue PCs and accessories. They’ve pointed the way to just what this mechanism could be. The latest video isn’t terribly easy to see, but it realizes something that has been the dream of fans of the music control protocol OSC (OpenSoundControl). “Learn” functionality lets you touch a control, then assign that control to something in your music software. But because these functions have relied on MIDI, they’ve generally been a …

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New Music for 10-Piece Stylophone Band in LA, and the Stylophone Revolution

What’s the sound of ten Stylophones buzzing? Truly awful — deliciously so. Answering the question on everyone’s mind, “how could we form a band using nothing but Stylophones, and what timbres would result?”, the Los Angeles-based troupe LA Stylophonic here plays original music for the stylus-controlled electronic instrument. Adding that many Stylophones together produces a sound that can best be described as … well, unique, certainly. Composer Paul Fraser does actually give them some musical meat into which the ensemble can sink their teeth, with a minimal music-inflected, rhythmic composition that lets that buzzy, edgy sound fly. I love it. …

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Bride of Lemur? Emulator Multi-Touch Display Hardware, Now with Wooden Endcaps

If you’re lamenting the demise of the dedicated Lemur display and multi-touch controller – since reincarnated as an iPad app – you might be intrigued by the Emulator. Like the Lemur, the Emulator uses a modular array of touch controls, with more than a casual nod at JazzMutant’s original. Here, though, the touch display is embedded in display hardware. (The vendor provides basically custom software and systems integration; unlike JazzMutant, they’re using off-the-shelf display and touch hardware, though that could actually be a good thing in the long run.) Most amusingly, you get wooden end caps on this. They’ve even …

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Music Geek Christmas: 10 Cool Things That Make NAMM Show Worth Getting Excited Over

You kneed KNAMM knobs. The Metasonix Wretch – photo (CC-BY-SA) Brandon Daniel. I sure hope we can look forward to Metasonix at NAMM – stuff that makes me love NAMM from someone who doesn’t. Trade shows aren’t what they used to be. For those of us who love music technology and the spirit of invention, it’s a good thing – why shouldn’t people be coming up with ideas year round? Why not spread them in places other than the gray, fluorescent glow of a big trade show floor open only to the industry? On the other hand, there’s something to …

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Spreadsheet as Music Tracker-Sequencer, with LibreOffice (nee OpenOffice)

Look at a music software interface – particularly a tracker-style interface – and you might easily see something resembling a spreadsheet. So, why not gaze into the cells of a spreadsheet and begin to imagine music? Karlsruhe-based electronic artist and programmer Patrick, cappel:nord, had just such a flight of fancy about office software. He explains:

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$679 Minitaur: A Moog Analog Monosynth for the Rest of Us, Soon (Photos, Video, Flame Bait!)

Look past the plug-ins and controllers and hosts that work with controllers and iPads sitting in docks and such. If you like dedicated, analog monosynth hardware, life is actually pretty darned good. Okay, so for those of you without deep pockets, you may not know some of the back story here. Moog’s limited-edition Taurus 3 was a brilliant update of the classic Taurus bass pedal, complete with luscious foot pedals. And with a street dipping down near US$1699, it’s honestly not a bad deal. The problem is, not everyone has that cash, or the ability to lug around a big, …

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Akai Tries for MPC Renaissance with Controllers, New Software

Looks like an MPC. Should sound like an MPC. But for the first time, something called “MPC” that relies on your computer. Good news or bad news? We’ll know soon enough. The MPC name and MPC legend are as big as ever. But the current products? Not so much. Let’s face it: Akai could use a bit of a renaissance. Users these days put just as much stock in the MPC as a concept, and the MPC hardware still attracts users, but other products are stealing Akai’s thunder (Ableton Live, Native Instruments Maschine), and the human faces beloved by users …

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Rediscovering 2011’s Music: Ganucheau’s 2011 CDM Mix, SoundCloud-able, from the California Coast

As the sun sets over CDM contributor Matt Ganucheau’s Bay Area home, we gaze back into 2011, with a mix of music you can enjoy through another year. Photo courtesy Mr. Ganucheau. You’re back from (for many) holidays, back online, back at work, facing or embracing a new year. What better time to energize your ears and soul with music from 2011? Finding a “best music of…” anything can be difficult or skewed. So, instead, I’ve invited two CDM contributors to share selections, music to which they’d like to introduce you, rather than to commit to what is or is …

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Bassnectar on Beat Structure, EDM, and Dubstep, Illustrated: Hearing Rhythm

How do you hear? What do you hear? Coming to agreement about something rooted in perception is by definition a doomed exercise. But that means the best thing to do is not so much to agree as to talk about the music – about what you hear – and not just the labels. Amidst glib online comments and the micro-fragmentation of genre, it’s hard to get anyone to give you a straight answer about just what’s going on in electronic dance music. That’s ironic – because, at its essence, it’s pretty straightforward. The situation has gotten worse: as “dubstep,” the …

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With Just One Contact Mic, Any Surface Magically Becomes a Gestural Instrument

Look around the room you’re in. Drum your fingers against some of the objects around you. Now imagine that you could turn those touches into any imaginable sound – and all you’d need to play them is a single contact mic. And we’re not talking just simplistic sounds – think expressive, responsive transformation of the world around you, all with just that one mic, thanks to clever gestural recognition. Bruno Zamborlin has made that idea a reality, with hold-onto-your-chair results. It’s not available yet for public consumption, but it’s coming. Bruno explains to CDM:

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