Isle of Tune: City Simulation as Music Sequencing, Soon to Leap from Browser to Mobile

A music score is, in essence, a way of making space into time: traversing notation from left to right and top to bottom, you move through a series of events. So, why not make that spatial map an actual map, as in the familiar, isometric interactive cityscape popularized by Will Wright’s classic game Sim City? Isle of Tune does just that: lay out trees, houses, and city streets, and you sequence musical patterns as virtual islands. It’s available right now on the Web, powered by Flash – Chrome users can even get a one-click install via the Chrome Web Store. …

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MO

What Makes a Truly New Instrument? Human Gestures Power Winners of Guthman Competition

Interlude Consortium’s competition-winning MO makes everyday objects interfaces and does some surprisingly-sophisticated analysis of gestures. Nearly as long as we’ve had electronics, musical inventors have tried to imagine new electronic instruments. In the crowded world of new instrument design, the Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition has emerged as a key prize for the best work, with creations battling fiercely for attention. But in the oddball world of sound and music, how do you judge a winner? As a starting point, organizers this year asked the judges what they personally found important. With an expert panel including synth pioneer Tom Oberheim …

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Virtual Theremin Made with Kinect; Real Thereminists Will Make it Useful

Therenect – Kinect Theremin from Martin Kaltenbrunner on Vimeo. Who says technology has to move fast and die young? Leon Theremin may have been a full century ahead of his time, before computers, before transistors, before jet engines or atomic power or rockets. ReacTable creator Martin Kaltenbrunner has a virtual Theremin prototype built with Microsoft’s depth-sensing, 3D Kinect camera. And what he really needs is some players of the real Theremin to help develop it. Martin writes CDM:

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Looking Beyond MIDI, What’s the Best Way to Represent Musical Notes Digitally?

Speaking in Hamburg to a terrific group of assembled locals from a variety of design backgrounds. And yes, this is the other part of my life behind me. I just seem to generally skip the years 1700-1985. Go figure. The history of music and the history of music notation are closely intertwined. Now, digital languages for communicating musical ideas between devices, users, and software, and storing and reproducing those ideas, take on the role notation alone once did. Notation has always been more than just a way of telling musicians what to do. (Any composer will quickly tell you as …

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Touch: Argos Builds Interfaces for Windows, Mac, and Soon iPhone, iPad, Beyond

Argos Interface Builder, v0.20 from Dimitri Diakopoulos on Vimeo. You know the game: you decide you want exactly 8 knobs and 10 faders. But your hardware interface has 8 knobs and 8 faders. And then you realize you could use 4 more knobs. The appeal of touch interfaces is clear: you get controls that grow and change. So now, a generation of mobile apps is working on giving you that flexibility on touch devices. The iPhone is just the start: now the iPad, with greater real estate, will go head to head with 5″, 8″, and laptop-sized screens running Android, …

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Touch: Bridge iPhone and Max/MSP Control

What happens when an interface is no longer locked to the screen? What about making control simply work from your hand, on a different screen, with awareness of the world around it? Simple as the early implementations may be, that’s really the vision behind mobile control applications for music and visuals. c74 is a lovely iPhone-based app that uses a Max/MSP patch to generate interfaces from a patch that run on your handheld. It isn’t just a control surface, though; access to native APIs on the phone also provide other features. GPS for specific location. (How you use that is …

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Free RFID Reader Connects Real World Objects to Music, Teaches OSC in Pd

RFID tags may have negative privacy associations when they’re used without someone’s knowledge. But embed these simple identifiers intentionally, and they can be a cheap, flexible way of tagging the world around you. Add OSC support with a free tool, and you can make anything into a basic music controller. That’s what Martin Kaltenbrunner – best known for his work on the ground-breaking ReacTable music table – has done with his own free software. It’s simple enough that you can easily make use of it, or take it as an opportunity to brush up on OSC and Pd. This sort …

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d-touch, Free Tangible Interfaces, and a Walnut Drum Machine

Software doesn’t have to mean virtualizing everything and letting go of physical objects. On the contrary, it can create all sots of imaginative, new ways of mapping musical ideas to the physical world. And that’s how we wind up with a walnut drum sequencer. There’s something about virtual drum machines and snacks. We’ve seen bubblegum and Skittles, beer bottle caps, soda bottles, and now walnuts. Don’t stop now: someone has to do Cheetos, even if it means dealing with orange stuff all over your fingers. That said, it’s not walnuts that make d-touch an important project. Built by Enrico Costanza …

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Gooooooal! A Soccer Ball Music Controller, and Tangible Interface Tips for Music

Free software, a webcam, and some stickers printed on an inkjet can turn any object into a real-world controller. That’s what Paul Rose of Institut Fatima and his team did with a soccer ball (translation for the civilized world: football). The software is powered by the same framework used for the reacTable, but in this case there’s no table and no projector: just a ball. Institut FATIMA uses a Fussball as (des-)controller for triggering drumsamples. The camera detects the symbols on the ball, kicks numbers into the sequencer, the sequencer matches goals. The goal is always music. Software used is …

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TUIO Multitouch for iPhone: Browser App Hack Replaces Rejected App

MSAFluid for processing (Controlled by iPhone) from Memo Akten on Vimeo. TUIO is a simple but powerful emerging protocol for multitouch control for live music and visuals, as used on the powerful live tangible synth reacTable. Apparently no one told Apple, however. While the App Store rubber-stamps useless toys like fake cigarette lighter flames, they bizarrely rejected a powerful application by a leading digital artist that would enable standardized TUIO control – for free. (More back story below; see an example in action above.) As a blogger, my reaction is usually to whine and pontificate, for better or worse. The …

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