gamut

Discover peculiar retro futuristic machines from gamut inc

The path from past to future has become delightfully twisted in our modern age. Some of the best new technologies mix old techniques with new. They treat the computer and electronics not as a separate entity, but for its potential hybridization. And one great example of that is gamut inc, a project that explores instrumental-electronic interactions. Founders Marion Wörle and Maciej Sledziecki came to visit us at the MusicMakers Hacklab we’re hosting at CTM Festival in Berlin. And they brought the most extraordinary inventions along.

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midiharp

MIDI Makes an Augmented Harp Performance Like None You’ve Heard

The harp: it’s big. It’s temperamental. It’s pretty much associated with an established set of music. And when you hear “MIDI harp,” you’re typically in store for something kind of cheesy involving laser beams. Not this time, though: this is an actual harp, augmented with MIDI into a pretty wacky one-off one-person instrument. Time for Throwback Thursday, because I hadn’t seen this before even though it’s rather old. But, maybe unearthing it in this fashion will inspire Arnaud Roy to make something new (or share what he’s been up to lately). The project is the “HarpJamX” – a conventional acoustic …

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Acoustic Revelation: Inside the Una Corda, the 100kg, 21st Century Piano Built for Nils Frahm

Now this is a revolutionary etude. There’s no question the acoustic grand is an engineering wonder, a musical instrument with literal tons of string tension producing unparalleled sound. But it’s a 19th Century technological marvel. Innovations, apart from subtle variations, have been largely frozen since the likes of the Steinway & Sons Model D-274. The Model D is a beauty; the question is, what have builders been doing with the 155 years since it was introduced? Builder David Klavins is a master instrument maker re-imagining the piano for our century. And he isn’t afraid to go to extremes to do …

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Watch a Short Film on the Play Between Musicians and Instruments, Design and Technology

From Rush to the classical clarinet to rethinking the keyboard interface, a lovely new film by Michael Shane explores the relationship between music and technology, and the philosophy behind new musical inventions. Two New York-based characters figure prominently in that investigation. There’s Martin Yee, the drum tech, who talks about humans and drums. (Sadly, we don’t get into the question of acoustic technology – that’s something I hope to cover in upcoming reports, both in transforming and augmenting the drum kit, and re-designing the acoustic piano.) Then, there’s the ubiquitous keyboardist Jordan Rudess, whom I think puts on one of …

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jojo

The Human Drummer Battles Drum Machine, in Poetic Film with Jojo Mayer

Between Zero & One from ApK on Vimeo. What does it mean to be human in a world of drum machines? Not just whether drum machines have soul – how do you define your soul? Drummer Jojo Mayer doesn’t shy away from the deep issues around digitality in the brief film meditation that is Between Zero & One. He reflects on the states of being that the computer and machine represent, and then he does what any great drummer would do. He doesn’t get mad. He gets even. He refines drum technique to play what a drum machine can’t, framed …

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The Best-Sounding Brass Instrument Tech Makes No Sound At All: Yamaha’s Latest Silent Brass

One thing you mostly can’t do with brass instruments is play them listening through … headphones. And that’s a big deal when you’re practicing, of course. There just hasn’t been a good way to do it without bothering other people. Enter Yamaha. (Yes, it’s no big surprise that a country associated with tiny, closely-adjacent apartments and actually making walls out of paper would find advances in practice technology again and again.) Yamaha’s SILENT Brass system, devised for French Horn, trombone, flugelhorn, and trumpet, isn’t new. But the latest evolution may bring it to a wider audience. The idea is this: …

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Humans and Machines: Kompakt’s 20th Birthday Links Techno, Artists, Tech

Techno is no longer new, no longer radical, no longer industrial, no longer trendy, no longer shocking. But it just might be something else: lasting. Famed Köln label Kompakt, as sure a bellweather for techno as anything, turns twenty this year. And in celebrating its birthday, humans and machines meet again. Electronic dance music has long had a conversation with minimalist currents and ostinati in Classical music, with Indonesian gamelan ensembles, and yes, infamously, even with the oom-pah repetition of marching bands. In the video above, we see what happens when the label’s music makes those conversations explicit. And it’s …

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A Different Synthesis: Julianna Barwick, Colleen Fuse Folk Tradition with Electronics [Videos]

The essential quality of electronic music is, in some sense, collage: drawing from multi-track recording, it is defined by the ability to put things together in records or performances in new ways. The contents of that collage need not always be drum machine beats or synthesized alien sounds. And so, many artists draw from a different well. Mentioning Georgina Brett last week prompted more reader recommendations. Two artists – one from France, one from Louisiana – exemplify the fusion of minimalist and folk traditions with electronic practice. And these two, each with a different spin on aesthetics and composition, also …

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How an “Acoustic Synth” Wants to Change The Way You Think About Guitars [Videos]

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 …

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Google Glass Ensemble: Viola Composition Made in Glass Videos

Alexander Chen is turning into Google’s resident composer. In his latest experiment, he uses the controversial-but-buzzed-about Google Glass wearable tech as a video source for making music. Layering together a series of loops of his solo viola playing, he weaves a contemplative, modal composition. It’s a sort of overdubbed chamber ensemble in video. (The spare, parallel writing is to me reminiscent of a Copland string quartet.) There’s nothing here that couldn’t be done with a head-mounted camera, but perhaps that’s the lesson. In our camera sensor-filled lives, a big part of the design statement Glass makes is the vision of …

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