Brilliant LEGO Mindstorms Drum Machine, NXT-606 – New Video

Peter Cocteau’s NXT-606, an 8-bit, sample-based drum machine built on LEGO’s Mindstorms prototyping platforming, has already been making the geek blog rounds. But let’s consider it here as more than just novelty. First, there’s a new video which better demonstrates the instrument, how it functions, and how it was developed. Second, there are design features of this project that I think are worth admiring beyond the sheer “because you can” achievement (which is, I’ll admit, formidable, as well). Brilliant, minimal design: Peter cleverly consolidates controls on two knobs, as seen in the new video, without requiring laborious menu navigation or …

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Chip-Style Guitar Pulse Width, Arduino CV Sequencer You Can Build

Guitarist Joey Mariano is making a unique hybrid sound, blending guitar chops with sonic techniques borrowed from 8-bit chip music. His latest adventure filters the sound of the guitar through pulse width filtering, the likes of which are used to modulate the sound of pulse/rectangle waves in chip music composition. The invention he’s devised to do this, though, is likely to appeal to anyone wanting to work with CV. Using the Arduino platform, it’s an elegant design for a control voltage sequencer, as seen on classic modulars like the Moog. And since he’s posted full specs and Arduino code, you …

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A LEGO Sequencer, Imaginary Electronic Antiques, and Other Yoshi Akai Creations

Artist and design Yoshi Akai (no relation, as far as I know) treats analog electronics as an art form, a sculpture, an instrument, and an exercise in interaction design, all wrapped in the velour of vintage hardware design. For everyone who misses the deco elegance of meticulously-engraved surfaces and tastefully-appointed enclosures of early-century electronics, Yoshi’s work will be a special treat. These aren’t just pretty boxes, though: they work as instruments. A prolific inventor with a background in textiles and design, Nagoya-born Yoshi Akai has spun out countless playful experiments in musical interaction, and all make fascinating sounds. There’s a …

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New Soft Synth for the … Apple II, and a Plea for Longevity and Economy

Pay attention, kids. This is a real computer. (Oh, yes, and if there weren’t already enough computing geek cred in this shot, check the Amiga developer poster on the wall.) Photo (CC-BY) Blake Patterson of ByteCellar.com. iPad, wha? How about new music creation software for the Apple II platform? 8-bit weapon has a new instrument – delivered on 5.25″ floppy, natch – for the Apple //e, IIc, and IIc+. This isn’t just a novelty, though; they’ve built it to be battle-ready for onstage use. That means it works without a user interface, so you can use it without having a …

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Happy Halloween: 8-bit, Creative Commons, Free Holiday Music Mix

An 8-bit Black Mage graces a very special Jack-o-Lantern. Photo (CC) Kevin Meehan / Coldways. If 16 bits spoil the mood of your All Hallow’s Eve, and you need some chips with your treats, the good peoples of the chip music community are hear to make sure the celebration of the visiting dead are properly accompanied by a free musical soundtrack. The download is free to grab, and fully Creative Commons-licensed for noncommercial, ShareAlike use. The lineup: The Guillotine Factory – Assembly Line NESMETAL – The Throes of Wickedness Heosphoros – A Traditional Childrens Waltz Chema64 – Mictlantecuhtli Norrin_Radd – …

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Happy Halloween: Exclusive Free Liz Revision Mix, Party in Chicago with Bitshifter

The veil between the living and dead is growing thin, and I… uh, have some free music for you. Sorry, it turns out I don’t have a clever lead for this story, and my segue makes no sense. So let’s get to it! Friend of the Site Liz McLean Knight aka Liz Revision aka Quantazelle of subVariant has put together a special, exclusive mix for CDM of 117-119 bpm musical goodness, excavated from the “_blippy” folder of sketches on her USB drive. Matt Moldover, who has been working on his CD-as-electronic-instrument album, lent his laptop. (Watch him assembling CDs in …

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Chipsounds Reviews, Videos, and More Places to Get Your Vintage Chip Fix

Want to make a splash among the aficionados of digital sound? Releasing a software instrument emulating a broad collection of vintage digital synthesis chips from game and computer systems seems to do the trick. See my look at that software, and just as importantly, the chips that inspired it. Within days of the release of Plogue’s Chipsounds, we have a couple of fair reviews of the new tool. Already got Chipsounds? Plogue’s David Viens has released screencasts showing you how to use it. Curious about other ways to explore vintage 8-bit sound? We’ve got that, too, in samples, hardware, and …

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For Love of Chips: Chipsounds Instrument and EP and the Gear That Inspired Them

Taste the rainbow of the Spectrum ZX home computer. Photo (CC) diebmx. Call it the 8-bit preservation society. Chipsounds is now available. It’s a new programmable soft synth, filled with custom oscillators and samples of famous and obscure vintage chips, accompanied by an EP of free chip tracks. Far from a threat to fans of hardware, I think this release is a major achievement for fans of digital sounds. Oh yeah, and if you’ve been feeling burnt out on chip music in general, firing up some of the sound of some of these more obscure chips could well change your …

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