Event listings you can play: Beatguide’s guide to electronic music events combines event metadata with listening.
If it’s music events, what your calendar really needs is a play button.
A funny thing happened on the way to the online music world. Roughly a century after the music recording revolution, we’re all newly concerned with getting into venues with other human beings.
The problem is – and there’s no nice way to say this – the tools out there just aren’t very good. Facebook’s popularity is unquestionable, to be sure, but it still doesn’t cater to music needs with its event listings. And beyond that, there’s a scattered landscape of different tools, none of which seems to answer basic needs.
Beatguide is just getting started this week, but it seems to have hit upon a nice combination. Focused on electronic music events, the formula is simple. Start with a city (Beatguide launches with Berlin), then see events by date, cost, and genre.
Then, you get the difference: you can listen to any of the events. After all, what ultimately determines if you want to go to a music event is what the music sounds like. (That should be painfully obvious, but that makes it all the more frustrating how many sites have gotten it wrong.) Continue reading »
This week, at Germany’s re:publica conference – an event linking offline and online worlds – I addressed the question of how musical inventions can help predict the way we use tools. I started all the way back tens of thousands of years ago with the first known (likely) musical instrument. From there, I looked at how the requirements of musical interfaces – in time and usability – can inform all kinds of design problems.
And I also suggested that musicians don’t lag in innovation as much as people might expect.
I thought about whether I wanted to post this as a video, as it’d be more structured if I wrote it as an article. But it occurs that some people might like to hear me talk off the cuff, “ums” and all, and those who did could provide some feedback. I really never give the same talk twice; I’m constantly revising my thoughts and part of the reason is being challenged by feedback. (Yes, as blogging may seem a solo monologue, in my experience it’s more like a feedback loop, not an echo chamber. Otherwise, I wouldn’t keep doing it.)
Finishing research for a talk at Genève’s Mapping Festival, I came across this gem from comments on Create Digital Motion. It’s the innovative Lumigraph, an interactive light experiment by visionary film and animation pioneer Oskar Fischinger. The sci-fi film looked ahead to what the music of 2071 might be like, in 1964′s The Time Travelers. To their credit, goofy love lounge aside, the reuse of Fischinger’s abstract light project isn’t far off from music in 2013. (And, hey, whatever puts you in the mood.)
Fischinger, for his part, almost certainly wasn’t thrilled with the use of his creation in this manner. But, then, part of the reason it makes sense today is because Fischinger’s abstract animations have had such a profound impact on computer animation, that now it’s second nature to combine visuals with music in the way the made-up Lumichord does. The groovy music comes from Richard LaSalle, whose prolific scoring career included the likes of the Wonder Woman TV show.
Consider: you could actually play this performance, and dress the way these folks are, at your local av festival. Time traveling, indeed.
But if you want to see this the way Fischinger did intend, the terrific Center for Visual Music is working to preserve his work and others, and could use our support. They have a 1969 performance by Elfriede Fischinger that better represents how the instrument was intended.
And Oskar Fischinger was happy to let you “play” the light as instrument:
Oskar called his invention a “new Color-Play instrument…The instrument is played by HAND and produces the most fantastic color display – but controlled direct through the Player.”
Newer, faster, thinner … better? One technology follows another in dizzying cycles. But how is it that something that was once an amazing engineering marvel ceases to be so? If it really works as a musical instrument, how could it be less of a musical instrument than it was before?
Palm Sounds’ Ashley Elsdon was talking about music making in the palm of your hand before anyone had ever seen an iPhone. So I had to smile when I saw him connecting an old Palm to our MeeBlip synth. It wasn’t just a novelty – the synth was ticking along with this vintage technology in a way that looked generally cool, drool-worthy – somehow, new.
So I asked Ashley to do a special story for CDM to explore what you can do with vintage pocket music making – to revisit what was possible through modern eyes, and see what you can still use today. What we get is both history lesson, for those who stick with their newest product, and a practical guide to making use of devices you can now often find nearly free. (Hint: you can even emulate Palm on new devices, too.)
It’s not just a story for the sake of it. These gadgets are the product of a massive expenditure of energy, packed with toxic chemicals. This could be what saves them from the landfill – and what creates new music instead of new waste. But there is still a reason you bought that new iPhone. So let’s let Ashley explain just how useful this retro gadgetry may be. -PK Continue reading »
Community service announcement! If you play or care about the guitar, skip past this story to the one immediately thereafter, using scrolling! (suggested by readership feedback)
A new Live 9 with bug fixes, improvements, and a Disco skin ideal for use in low-light situations. No, not like that other time when we said it was and then it was promptly pulled. This time, for real – as in, I just downloaded it.
What you can’t see is what matters: badly-needed reliability fixes should address performance and stability complaints we were hearing from Live 9 users. There’s no way to picture that, so you’ll have to have a look at the changelog and see if it looks like this is an issue you were having – and do give it a try.
Visibly, of course, the most noticeable change is the new Disco user interface skin. That features a black background with brownish-orange and light-gray highlights, plus icy-blue waveforms. It’s not such an ideal skin for studio use, I think; it seems best for stage use. Turning the brightness down on my laptop, the high contrast becomes perfectly visible. This skin’s colors have earned some comparisons to upstart rival Bitwig Studio. But Bitwig still isn’t shipping, and the comparison might just as easily fit apps like Renoise. (Or Winamp. Or any number of things.) Anyway, dark skins are generally welcome and nothing new.
Creator Paul Vo shows off his instrument. From a distance, it looks like a conventional guitar. But it does things a guitar definitely can’t do. Image courtesy Chris Stack.
It’s been a long time since we had a new hit like the electric guitar. Amidst the wonderful explosion of innovations in electronic instruments – digital and analog – the sound possibilities of acoustic and electro-acoustic instruments seem to have gone largely dormant.
This is the guitar that hopes to change that. In fact, its creators don’t even call it a guitar, preferring instead “Acoustic Synthesizer.” Asheville, North Carolina’s Paul Vo, he of the Moog Guitar and Moog Lap Steel, wants to give guitarists unprecedented control over the timbres they play, both experimental and traditional, vastly expanding the range of what a guitar can produce.
And with just days remaining in the crowd-funding for the project, it’s the perfect time to look at this instrument. The Vo-96, dubbed with a name that sounds more like a Russian rocket designation than a guitar, really does open new chances to shape the sound of the vibrating string. But it’s much easier to watch and see what that means than talk about it. So, the project backers have aided CDM with a massive set of documentation in video for you to ogle.
We could use a few words. Chris Stack of ExperimentalSynth.com, co-organizer of the crowd-funding campaign, sends us a description that gets to the meat of what the Vo-96 can do with sound: Continue reading »
8 knobs. No, 64 knobs! No, giant knobs, hundreds of buttons, dozens of faders…
Okay. One button, one knob. Put (one of your) opposable thumbs to good use and just do something simple. And, with something this small and inexpensive, never go anywhere without a real knob again. (Friends don’t let friends operate fake simulations of knobs using mice. Augh. Painful. (Which way is a “circle,” again?)
That was the creed of none other than Brendan Ratliff, aka Echolevel, aka chip music “superhero” Syphus, a composer/musician/hacker who works scoring games and film/TV soundtracks and general musical mayhem. He wanted something simple that just didn’t exist. So he built it himself, all using an Arduino-like dev board (by way of the ultra-small Teensy USB hardware).
It works without drivers, so any OS will function, and so will the iPad via Camera Connection Kit. In fact, that makes this a great project if you’re learning how to make this sort of hardware – and it’ll keep you from biting off more than you can chew on your first go.
Of course, there are lots of build details and instructions should you want to attempt your own. And open USB MIDI implementations are just making so many things better. (I wonder if we’ll ever get around to doing something with that?) Continue reading »