Google Glass continues to see musical ideas. Alexander Chen, whom we saw composing violin ensembles with Google’s wearable tech, now turns his attentions to literal glass – wine glasses.
In “Glass through Glass,” we hear a beautiful, ethereal ensemble of wine glasses resonating in harmony. Yes, you could do this with other devices, but glass does make the recording experience seamless, as would any wearable camera.
Cornell conductor and professor Cynthia Turner, too, is beginning with Google Glass primarily as a point-of-view camera. But she intends to go further, reported The Verge earlier this fall. She’s streaming the conductor’s perspective as she conducts, and experimenting with digitally-projected programs. And that could be just the beginning: Continue reading »
Elektron’s Analog Keys goes on sale this week, and begins shipping next week. It’s Sweden’s latest dream-worthy analog instrument, a 4-voice analog synth with integrated sequencer. And it’s no entry-level toy, either: you’ll need US$1849 / 1749€ / £1449 to make it your own.
But — what is it, exactly?
Okay: confession. When music hardware maker Elektron invited us to a party with a big lineup in Berlin, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who hoped we might see an entirely new product. Maybe we’d even get a new Machinedrum. What we got, while nice, sure does seem a lot like Elektron’s Analog Four, only with a keyboard attached.
The Analog Keys does indeed share an architecture with the Analog Four. (“Architecture” maybe is understating it – fundamentally, it is the same synth under the hood.)
But let’s talk about the differences that aren’t immediately obvious. I’m assuming the giant picture of the keyboard and the “Keys” in the name means one difference you can’t miss. But Elektron’s Jon Mårtensson tells CDM the other things Analog Keys has that Analog Four doesn’t. Continue reading »
It’s real, and yet, it isn’t. It’s the sound of percussion, but it resonates in an otherworldly way. It’s the flaming, blood-red surface of a volcano, but it’s melting before us. Some of the most evocative digital works walk this line, transport us to a place our brains can accept, yet not entirely believe, universes just past the reaches of our imagination.
And so the collaboration between Egyptrixx (Toronto’s David Psutka) and A N F (Berlin visualist Andreas Nicolas Fischer) congeals around the notion of texture and surface. In generated geometries, globs of interplanetary resin, space insect innards about to evolve, sound and visual alike take on hyperreal computer perfection. They’re beautiful and terrifying, glistening molten immersion.
Oh, yeah, and hopefully you like the color red. (I recall a phase in my childhood where I became so obsessed with the hue that I hung red curtains in my room, so that the mid-day sun bathed the entire bedroom in fire-hot color. It looked like this – well, with far more terrestrial furniture, of course.)
The music video, AX//S:
Egyptrixx – Ax//s from A N F on Vimeo.
Continue reading »
Whether you’re building an experimental effect or performance tool or writing the Next Big Thing in Mobile Apps, you might need some signal compression.
Working in Pure Data (Pd), it’s easy to create patches that get unruly, especially once you add live audio input. For mobile developers, things get even worse: you have to make your app work anywhere, with a range of devices, acoustic environments, microphones — the list goes on.
The folks at Two Big Ears, who are working on their own rather lovely Android synth, have come to the rescue of Pd hobbyists and mobile developers alike. They’ve build a handy external for master compression in Pd. Their description:
tb_peakcomp~ is an open source external for Pd (and libpd: compiled, tested and used on our iOS and Android projects) that works well as a master stereo compressor. It features variable attack, release, ratio, make-up gain and knee smoothening. It is MIT Licensed — which means you can pretty much do whatever you want with it.
So, you can use it in your own Pd patches, or drop it in an iOS or Android app. Download it from their site: Continue reading »
umidi – The World’s First Custom & Visual DJ Controller from umidi on Vimeo.
DJs, laptop musicians, and VJs may never agree on what layout is optimal for controlling their apps. With UMIDI, they might not have to.
The Kickstarter-funded project has an ambitious goal: building whatever control you want, to order. Use a graphical Web interface to select a layout, and the producer will custom-machine a case out of aluminum, etching it with your own design, and adding the controls you want. The resulting hardware is USB class-compliant and works with any software, they say, and weighs under 3 pounds in a reasonably small form factor and less than an inch thickness.
For now, controls include knobs, endless encoders, faders, and an especially nice-looking aluminum push-button trigger. There’s also a textured-aluminum jog wheel for cueing and the like. Most intriguingly, though, if they reach their “stretch” funding goal, they say they’ll add drum pads. You then choose from these controls to add up to 36 on the 6×6 grid.
Custom lighting shines through cuts in the faceplate, Tron-style. With 288 LEDs, you can create both effects and visual feedback.
Continue reading »
Edge of Nostalgia from Michael McDermott on Vimeo.
Ambient, and — actually, literally ambient.
Mikronesia’s “Edge of Nostalgia” is a chilled-out 7-track record of gentle grooves and crystalline melodies, delivered as an app. That’s nice enough. But with the aid of your iPhone’s microphone, you and the environment around you become part of the soundscape. Ambient sounds are fed through great washes of reverb and chattering chains of delays. Recently updated for iOS 7, the result is an album that is different each time you listen.
As the creator notes, plenty of records include stock sounds of field recordings. Here, those sounds come from you. Instead of shutting out the world, your headphones become more connected with it.
It’s not a new idea. The free and open source library on which Edge of Nostalgia was based, libpd, was indeed created in collaboration with RjDj. RjDj’s team and a community of Pd users championed the idea of using Pure Data as a way of taking responsive sound off lone hackers’ computers and onto the growing explosion of smartphones worldwide.
But this notion may grow in popularity gradually in time, both for artistic and practical purposes. I routinely see pedestrians and cyclists wearing headphones, which of course numbs them to important sound information. Thinking of how to intrude on the music soundscape could become a safety measure.
Continue reading »
Hacklab 2013: People soldered, people sewed.
Hacklab 2013: Bio-music, by Manford Eaton. Wearable interface by Monika G. Dorniak (who was also behind the recent WCOMTC). And the multi-dimensional EPhysMus system, by Ove Holmqvist.
Inventing technological hacks in short time is one thing. At CTM Festival in Berlin, we want to push collaborative participants to go further. First, invent the technology for performance. Then, invent the performance – and be ready to perform publicly – and it do it all in just one week.
It’s time again to join a MusicMakers Hacklab.
Last year was the first week-long event hosted with CDM, and the first at CTM Festival. CTM makes a perfect venue, a brilliant and packed showcase for adventurous sound (and in parallel with another digital media fest, Transmediale, in the same city at the same time).
In that installment, we joined together with Imogen Heap and her Gloves Team. Dancers and instrumentalists joined coders and laptop musicians and visualists; people swapped needles and thread with soldering irons. The results were wearable and playable, spawning kinetic sculpture and light and sound and instrument. See what happened in this video:
musicmakers hacklab short from CDM on Vimeo.
This year, co-facilitated with sound artist Darsha Hewitt, we’ll not only set up collaborations but also present finished performances. At Berlin’s renowned HAU2 in the heart of the Kreuzberg neighborhood, Hacklabbers will get a chance to show finished work on the last day of CTM.
If you can get yourself to Berlin at the end of January, you can apply now to be involved for free. I’d love to see you there. Continue reading »