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Here are two new ways of combining a synth with Arduino

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve gotten not just one, but two new synthesizers that piggy-back on the Arduino electronics platform. The result, then, is instruments that you can modify via Arduino code. You’ll need an Arduino for each of these to work, so figure on adding some bucks to the purchase price. (I also recommend only using a real Arduino or Genuino; the clones I’ve found are often unreliable, and it’s better to support the developers of the platform.)

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Add a Physical Knob to Your Max Patch with Arduino: Video Tutorials

Patching on a computer involves plugging something into something else virtually. In this video tutorial, you can extend that by adding a physical knob to control your custom creations, for Max/MSP (and Max for Live). It’s just a quick tip, but I know this gets asked a lot. (Greetings, students – happy spring semester to you!) And there’s something really fun about seeing a knob in the real world controlling something. Bonus points for using a toilet paper roll as a custom “housing.” It’s also nice seeing this accomplished in the all-new Max 7. And this is just the start, …

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LegoTechno: Sliding Lego Blocks Make Music with littleBits, Maschine, Arduino

Keep watching: this LEGO sequencer, playing a littleBits synth kit, does something amazing. Sliding tiles around actually changes the sequence, all reading the blocks, in a terrific real-world, physical user interface. (Well, it certainly pleased the crowds at the Music Hack Day at SONAR in Barcelona.) And yes, this means the team we saw earlier keeps working on this. Intrepid hackers can use the just-barely-hidden Lua back-end of Maschine to do their own custom scripting. More on that soon. In the meantime, let’s check out the details:

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A DIY Multitouch Music Controller, monome-Style, Built From Scratch [Instructables, Arduino]

Complete with color LED display and interactive sensing, this clever DIY project from Amanda Ghassaei is the real deal: a multitouch table used for music, constructed from scratch. And step-by-step instructions on Instructables mean that you can try the same idea yourself. The 8×8 matrix and the notion of independent light-up LEDs, along with some of the firmware, come from the monome project (and the open arduinome clone). But here, that idea is extended to seamless touch sensing, measured by infrared. Multitouch Music Controller from Amanda Ghassaei on Vimeo.

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Monster 16×12 Grid Step Sequencer Hardware, Built with Arduino

For some, there’s the step sequencer you dream of. Maybe it has a massive array of buttons for patterns, capable of spreading musical ideas across a lit grid. Maybe every last rhythm is visible, maybe it juggles layers and patterns with ease. Ryan B just went and built what he wanted. Under the moniker RNInstruments, he constructed a killer hardware step sequencer with a massive 16×12 grid. And this isn’t like a monome – or Push, or Launchpad, or the like – in that it is truly standalone MIDI hardware. You don’t need any computer, period. See the walkthrough above …

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Bleep Drum, $60 Hackable Drum Machine Based on Arduino, On Sale

Don’t call it “lo-fi.” Call it “rad-fi.” At least, that’s what Austin, Texas-based creator Dr. Bleep says about his latest, the Bleep Drum. We saw the Stone’s Throw Records / Dam-Funk commission Dam-Drum 2.0 last month, but it sold out almost as soon as we mentioned it. The Bleep Drum is a sibling to that drum machine. There are some adjustments to the design, but most significantly, this one isn’t a limited edition – you might actually be able to get one of your own. It’s simple, hackable (with pins onboard), Arduino-based, and grungy enough to be fun. And as …

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"Look, [darling significant other], it'll even be totally at home in our modern decor!" Photos courtesy the artist.

Flying Saucer UFO Controller, Ultrasonic MIDI Instrument; Coming as Kit [Arduino]

The desire to be a little different in a band might drive someone to choose a custom guitar, or maybe, you know, change their hair. For some, it drives them to build a giant flying saucer they can play like an instrument by waving their hands. No, MIDI controller, don’t destroy Earth. Klaatu barada nikto. That’s the case with Helsinki-born artist Tommi Koskinen, now doing this as part of an MA thesis in the Media Lab of Aalto University. Another strange gestural controller? Yes. But this flying saucer might just land a bit closer to home. This is just the …

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Mudit is an Inexpensive, Open Source Gestural Loop Performer [Pd + Arduino]

Knowledge on how to build dazzling new interfaces for music is spreading. And because musical performance depends on sharing knowledge and practice, that could have a transformative effect. Literally as I’m walking out the door to leave for a showcase of gestural performance in Berlin, I get a chance to look at this team from Argentina. They’re purposely giving away the plans for their open source live performance instrument, built in turn with open source hardware (Arduino) and software (free graphical development environment Pd).

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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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Interface an Arduino with Ableton: Light-Controlled Dubstep Wobble Bass

Over the years, we’ve seen all kinds of far-out interfaces for music. But where do you begin if you want to just get started? Interfacing a simple sensor with your music software is a decent place to begin. Nick Latocha, aka myredhotcar, uses Max/MSP to connect Ableton to the output of a photodetector (a resistive sensor that is sensitive to changes in light). Yes, in this example, the result isn’t so different from turning a knob, but that’s the point: starting with something basic like this is the best way to learn. The result: move your hand around, and change …

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