Turntable-Based, Kinetic Sound Sculptures and Instruments

Works For Turntable from Stephen Cornford on Vimeo. Digital sound, and electronic sound in general, can become abstract. In fact, sound itself can be abstract. So there’s something beautiful about rendering sound as something kinetic, mechanical, and physical. Watch the hypnotic works by Stephen Cornford, top; as the video progresses, the pieces deepen in subtlety. (Thanks to Richard Devine for spotting this one.) Cornford isn’t the only artist finding new sonic frontiers in the turntable. From a recent event in San Francisco sponsored by our friends at MAKE Magazine, artist Walter Kitundu talks about his own fascination with the turntable …

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Real for Reel: The Amazing Sherlock Holmes Experibass, and More Winter Cinema Sounds

Sometimes, the best sounds come not from synthesis, not even from electrified instruments, but from the purity of a mic and acoustic instrumentation. It remains electronic, or even digital sound, but its source is organic. And so, one of the best reasons to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie in theaters is the wonderful noises that bounce around Hans Zimmer’s score. Behind many great film scores are great soloists as much as great composers, and Sherlock Holmes is no exception. Zimmer worked with Diego Stocco, sound designer, sound artist, inventor, and composer in his own right. To realize the inner …

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Music from the Road: Tristan Perich, Lesley Flanigan on Speakers, 1-bit, Harspichord

Strings of tour dates and electronic music often mean crowd-friendly dance music, but there’s a growing, impassioned audience for more contemplative concert sounds, too. Composer-musicians Lesley Flanigan and Tristan Perich are pulling into the last stop on an extended tour of their work, here in New York Friday at Galapagos Art Space. For many, electronic music, in particular that made with computers, becomes about abstraction. For this duo, electronics become a chance to grow even closer to the tangible, acoustic sound – techniques they share in workshops as well as performances. And would you believe… antique harpsichord? Tristan Perich at …

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Musical Machines, Piano-Playing Typewriters, Plastic Cups, and Invisible’s Physical Music

Greensboro, NC-based art music band Invisible are indiscriminate about technology – in a good way. Plastic cups, keyboards, typewriters, machines controlled by robotics, if it’s in the trash or at a thrift store, it has a place in the band. Sequences are executed in physical, radial player instruments, without a controlling computer anywhere in site. As voicemail tapes get sampled and typewriters tap lines of absurdist lyrics as each typed letter plays a piano note, something magical happens. Perhaps it’s that, novelty aside, somehow these sound-making objects come together for a reason – the machines assemble in the way the …

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Video: Violin vs. Robot Guitar, With Mari Kimura and GuitarBot

Mari Kimura is an experimental string player extraordinaire, regularly venturing to the edge of what’s possible at the meeting of acoustic and electronic technology. GuitarBot is a “guitar”-playing robot (perhaps more reminiscent of a shamisen), an invention of Eric Singer, founder of the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots. The two meet above in a lovely video – not new, but well worth watching any old time, as reminded to us by Richard Swelling’s Etherbomb blog. Mari writes in comments on YouTube: HI, Mari here. For those wondering what’s happening: Behind the white box, there is a Mac and an …

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Plant-Reactive Robots Play Bamboo, Chinese Instruments at Royal Botanic Garden, Scotland

THREE PIECES sound installation from Ziggy Campbell on Vimeo. Digital music is extending more deeply into the physical world, thanks to sensors and robotics. The result: gorgeous acoustic sounds as part of the lexicon. When we last spotted Simon Kirby and the Found Electronics collective, they were taking the tangible interface out of electronic music and applying them to ambient sampled sounds out in the woods. Now, they’re talking to plants and channeling traditional Chinese instruments. Found Electronics: Three Pieces Project Page Simon writes with some of the details:

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Reconceived Acoustic Music on an Interactive Table: Etiquette in Edinburgh

Kids get hands-on with the music, touching materials found on-location at the installation site. Eat your heart out, Microsoft Surface! Musicians are taking up interactive tables as new ways of making their creations physically accessible, so listeners can reach out and touch the work. Etiquette is a new interactive installation at the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, featuring a light box on which musical elements can be manipulated by moving around blocks. It uses the same underlying library that was developed for the ReacTable synth, currently made famous by its use on Bjork’s tour. But what’s nice about the Etiquette is — …

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DIY Instruments, from Rubber Bands to Tupperware Electronics, on YouTube

Those zany, wonderful YouTubers. A YouTube post in April challenged YouTubers to show off home-built instruments: And there’s a terrific lineup of responses, like this performance on Tupperware musical instruments, by Adachi Tomomi: Video is a natural medium, after all, for showing off DIY instruments. Now, if only we could start doing this on a service with less craptacular video quality. Blip.tv or Revver or Vimeo, anyone? (I’d love to start a CDM group, but we’d need to pick a service first. So far, I’ve been really impressed by Blip, as used by the folks at Make.) … as seen …

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Reimagined DIY Thumb Pianos, Amplified, Electrified, and with Faux Fur

Sometimes an instrument you know can become something else altogether. Bob Collier has been constructing his own thumb pianos, adding amplification, effects, self-sampling features, and novel cases involving recycled camera bodies and faux fur. As Bob says, “Sometimes the crudest and roughest looking kalimbas can sound surprisingly good especially with the right context of fx and amplification.” I find kalimbas beautiful and delicate to begin with. Throw in some faux fur and Korg KAOSS Pad effects, and they take on a whole new life: Other designs add all-new functionality, like the Sampimer, a “self-sampling” thumb piano with integrated 20-second voice …

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Violinist Joshua Bell Plays the DC Subway

It’s not digital music, but it doesn’t matter. It begs the question, do you have time in your day for beauty? Does your audience? (And that beauty might be made with a violin or a laptop, but either way — the question is time and attention.) Also, hint to Joshua Bell: ditch DC and come play Union Square in Manhattan. Thanks, Brent, who pulls the most telling quote in the story: “But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a …

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