Have you got Prince Albert in a can? Now, you've got Pete Tong in a phone. Photo (>CC-BY-ND) Messy Cupcakes Photography.

Music Recommendations, Man or Machine? In Pete Tong App, a Bit of Both

It probably doesn’t occupy the daily thoughts of normal people, this question of how music recommendations will work in the future. But go to trendy “future of music” conferences and panels and the like, and you’ll hear from countless prognosticators consumed by the dilemma. Many of the solutions amount to clever algorithms, machine solutions to working out what you’re hearing and what you might like. It’s no surprise in this era of data mining and search engines and endless connected choice, but it might make you wonder if there’s a place for the humans. Enter Pete Tong – the legendary …

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Nintendo DS, Transformed Into an Awesome, Programmable Chip Music Instrument

This can be a guitar. Or a DX7. You can grab the code for one app – or, if you know BASIC, write your own. Photo (CC-BY) MIKI Yoshihito. For years, lovers of chip music and handheld instruments have hacked Nintendo gaming systems to turn them into music instruments. In fact, long before anyone in the mainstream tech world imagined something like the iPhone would be seen onstage, these intrepid Nintendo lovers transformed Game Boys into serious soundmakers. But, the key word has alwasy been “hacked.” Nintendo closely guards access to its machines for big-league game developers, and, motivated in …

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Little White Box: A Look at the Ambitious Kinektron Music-Making Cube

How much music making can you pack into a space-age, sealed white box? Developers Kinektron proposed one solution last month. To examine their design direction so far, we turn to Create Digital Music’s summer intern in industrial design, Arvid Jense. Arvid is completing unique dual studies in Media Music (at the ArtEZ Conservatorium, Enschede) and BSc Industrial Design Engineering (at the University of Twente), both in the Netherlands. He’s working with us to research instrument design and musical interaction, and doing a set of studies and design experiments related to our own MeeBlip open source synthesizer. (More on Arvid and …

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Synth of the Weekend: Fatduino is Sequenced Homebrew Goodness [Fat Man + Arduino]

There are wonderful oddities of synth creation breeds out there in the wild — strange, one-of-a-kind birds with three wings and forked duck-bills and other oddities. They might not all be practical for more than their creator, but like evolutionary anomalies, some adaptation or design feature might well make it into other productions – all the more reason that open schematics and permissive licenses could benefit the larger ecosystem, the rich, muddy wetland marsh of sounds. Friend and neighbor Marc Resibois points me this week to the Fatduino. It’s pertinent to our discussion of marriages between DIY synths and the …

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Dave Smith Mopho x4: All Analog, 4-Voice Synth For Just Over a Grand

Dave Smith may have just created the analog keyboard to beat. The Mopho x4 is a new, bigger sibling to the Mopho keyboard – itself a nice, cute, yellow analog monosynth. The x4 takes that synth, quadruples the voices so that you get polyphony, and adds more-playable controls and functionality. You get a nice complement of hands-on controls, but you also don’t break the bank: US$1299 is the list. Dave Smith himself shows off the creation in a video — he, the father of MIDI and some of the best-loved synths over the years (from Sequential to his own DSI). …

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Video: Multi-Touch Soundplane Meets KYMA in Resonating Digital Instrument

Resonations from bar|none on Vimeo. Digital instruments have the extraordinary potential to sound like anything – really, absolutely anything. Delivering on that potential, though, is another matter, a complex dance between physical input and sonic output. The Soundplane from Madrona is unique in that it provides highly-precise touch input across not one but three dimensions – pressure-based input across the X and Y axes, with multiple touch points. (See also: Haken Continuum.) Back to the dancing bit – you have to then use that input musically. Here, we see one possible application, using the insanely-powerful KYMA sound design environment. Description …

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MIDIpal is an Open Box for Doing Stuff with Notes and Sequences and Things [Gallery, Interview]

Musically, compositionally, we think in notes and rhythms and patterns. MIDI may be a simple way of describing those elements, but it can be surprisingly expressive. And so, just as we have all sorts of boxes for adding effects to sound, there’s clear appeal to boxes that do stuff with musical patterns and information – a bit like a MIDI stompbox. We saw one example last week in the form of the MCP. Here’s another appealing “magical MIDI box” – and it’s also open source hardware. Created by Olivier Gillet, maker of the open source Shruthi-1 synth, it’s an affordable …

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