Music is transformed by context, by instrumentation and space and setting. With amplified music, thinking about content alone isn’t enough. Visualists now work with projection mapping and lighting constructions and lasers and the like. It seems electronic musicians as a scene may benefit from thinking more about speakers.
We saw recently 4DSOUND, an immersive architectural installation. But that requires carrying around columns. Here’s a multichannel system you can tote along with you, like an umbrella. The results look like a prop from a post-apocalyptic Terry Gilliam movie; it’s sound as object.
pseudo multichannel personal autonomous sound installation with 10 panning spots
- 10 speakers
- optical relays
- arduino uno
- micro sd wav player
Practical? Perhaps not. But it’s a reminder that there are many unexpected ways to get sound to a listener.
The project is the work of Moscow-based “media-artist, musician and engineer of strange-sounding mechanisms” Dmitry Morozov. He has posted plans and full Arduino source code if you’d like to try this yourself.
And you can find a network of artists around Moscow doing this stuff:
::vtol:: “anywhere” from ::vtol:: on Vimeo.
This is what a Monolake live set sounded like in 1999. And in the days before Ableton Live was a finished product, running patterns was a job for self-built software in Max.
Robert describes the music thusly:
This is a live recording, captured at Ego club in Düsseldorf, June 5 1999. The music has been created with a self written step sequencer, the PX-18, controlling a basic sample player and effects engine, all done in MaxMSP, running on a Powerbook G3. The step sequencer had some unique features, e.g. the ability to switch patterns independently in each track, which later became an important part of a certain music software.
I found the recording on a backup disk today. It has not been edited or mastered. During the first 20 minutes of the set, and before the ‘encore’ the Monolake CD ‘Gobi’ is playing in the background.
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Build too many stores too fast full of this, and you could wind up in debt. Guitar Center could face a new owner and restructuring. Photo (CC-BY) Judi Stevenson / Flickr: chascar.
While the biggest US name in pro audio made headlines last week with uncertain financial news, so, too, did the biggest US name in music retail.
Yes, we were so caught up watching Avid, makers of Pro Tools, Sibelius, and Media Composer, as they were dropped from NASDAQ and delayed earnings reports once again, we missed the latest on Guitar Center. The big box music giant may not be able to keep up with its debt. The Wall Street Journal [paywall] reports that the retailer’s largest creditor is in “advanced talks” with owner Bain Capital to take over the company. (That’s the same Bain Capital made famous by former Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, yes.)
One element in common: both companies saw aggressive growth plans curtailed at least partly by the economic crisis. Guitar Center ran into trouble shortly after acquisition by Bain in 2007, growing head-first into a slowing US retail economy. Eric Garland, a writer, consultant, and “future trend analyst,” has some harsh words for the music store on his blog on the “transformational economy”:
I said that the debt-laden big box model was not built for the long term. I stand by my assessment. The events are playing out to make my point for me … In the mean time, you should think about the future of local retail – the kind that doesn’t end up billions in debt. It may have quite a future.
That seems a fairly black-and-white view. The question is whether the chain’s debt problems owe to the big box model fundamentally, or to a growth plan unhinged from reality.
Here’s the situation. Guitar Center has amassed some US$1.6 billion in debt, “much of it stemming from Bain’s $2.1 billion leveraged buyout of the company in 2007,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The talks would convert that debt into ownership by the creditor.
Note the numbers there. A large portion of the debt in Guitar Center came from the original, highly-leveraged buyout. In other words, you may be able to draw more conclusions about Bain from what’s happened than you would about the music instruments industry or big box retail in general.
There could be serious implications for music manufacturers, anyway, particularly the titular guitar makers. The big box format means accumulating lots of inventory, and that inventory means revenue for makers. Guitar Center is such a market force that it could pass its own financial woes onto those makers, exacting leaner margins. Then again, it was presumably doing that already.
What worries me in terms of the industry is that smaller players have already been marginalized, and online sellers can’t offer the hands-on experience musical instruments in particular might demand.
Consultant and music producer Bobby Owsinski, writing in response to the above story on his own blog, makes some dire predictions: Continue reading »
Thumb piano + Pd.
Music technology: old meets new.
There is something phenomenal happening in music technology right now. We usually write about the developments in the tools themselves. But if you want to see new things happening, it’s often more about the spread of knowledge around those tools.
Watching it evolve is astounding. Focus only on the tools, and the landscape hasn’t changed much in recent years. But look at the people using them, and it’s a different story. More and more diverse audiences of artists are picking up the skills to use these inventions, and they bring a wider range of aesthetics and ideas to how they’re used.
I’m fortunate to get to play even a small part in that. And that means sometimes going from being a disembodied voice on the Web to getting in a room with people to teach, experiment, and trade ideas. There’s great education happening around commercial tools, but I especially like starting people with Pure Data and Processing because they are free, and there’s a level playing field. People can show up with any laptop (or even a netbook), any OS, and get to work. (And they can still apply the same skills to other tools – working in Pd and Max for Live, for instance – if they so choose.)
We tried a new format last year co-organized with Elisabeth Neid, at an event in collaboration with Berlin’s Mindpirates. (They’re the same folks who made this free Red Bull Music Academy film making the rounds now.) The goal: go from learning to experimental hacking to playing. And I was stunned by the results, as vocalists and VJs, instrumentalists and coders all came from radically different skill levels to jam together by the third day.
Next stop, Netherlands Thursday: If you’re near Amsterdam this week, registration is still open for a more compressed workshop hosted by Fiber Festival and 5 Days Off, as part of the programming for an event I’m inspired by entitled “Coding the Club”:
THE ENCODED GROOVE: FREE SOUNDMAKERS WITH PURE DATA Continue reading »
New sound experiences demand not only new content, but new terrain – architectural audio, spaces that can take on new meanings. And that’s why 4DSOUND in Amsterdam is such a compelling canvas.
4DSOUND is a unique installation, 256 square meters (2700+ square feet) of floor, divided into an equal grid. On that grid, columns house 48 omnidirectional speakers, as nine sub-speakers rumble beneath the floor. The result is a sonic bath, a three-dimensional audio environment. Ableton Live (with Max for Live) and Liine’s Lemur iPad app work with that system to finely position sound in the new space that’s created. Sensors can also track motion through the space (that’s the squiggly lines you see below). Dutch sonic engineers Paul Oomen, Salvador Breed, Poul Holleman, and Luc van Weelden created the system.
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Reactable, now turning age five, still remains something that can take people’s breath away. Making the relationship of musical components into actual building blocks, it demystifies music making and makes it more magical all at the same time. And since the table itself is big, not-portable, and pricey, there’s also the iOS- and Android-compatible tablet edition. (The Android app is one of the few that gives my vintage Galaxy Tab something useful to do.)
This weekend, you can grab Reactable Mobile yourself 50% off:
50% Off Fifth Anniversary
But this is also a perfect opportunity to watch a tantalizing video that matches the table with a physical synth – Teenage Engineering’s OP-1. It shows what a digitally-augmented studio of the future might look like.
I had the pleasure of playing with Reactable creator Martin Kaltenbrunner in New York a couple of years ago (with support from the Austrian government, even). It’s a perfect jamming instrument, even just in the mobile edition. And Martin and I spoke to Dubspot on that same trip: Continue reading »
Dirty, low-fidelity digital sound comes to your shiny, high-fidelity digital device.
Yes, WebSID is a beautifully-grungy emulation of the legendary SID synthesis in the Commodore 64. Because it runs in a Web browser, it’s also stupidly-simple to use. On computers, the keys are cleverly mapped to your keyboard, so you can jam by typing. On a phone or tablet with capable browser, you can use touch, meaning this is a bit like having an app.
It sounds remarkable, all using the Web Audio API, with a nice filter, envelope controls, and delay, plus lots of authentic sound features (including properly arpeggiating polyphonic chords). It’s good enough that I might just jam on the thing and record. If you do the same, send it our way.
I’m also curious which touch devices and browsers work well with this. Try it yourself:
Via Das Kraftfuttermischwerk [Deutsch - and, to think, I thought CDM's name was too long...]
The creator, Amsterdam-based Igor Zinken, has also produced a really nice experimental synth on Android. Not only is the synth itself nice, but it’s really built around being a sketchpad, with nice sequencing features, audio/SoundCloud export, and – in a feature I wish more apps had – MIDI export for sketching projects you finish on the desktop.