Control Music with Cubes Using Your Fingers: AeroMIDI 3D for Leap Motion

Cue the Tetris theme, and start playing music by navigating a field of cubes. So, you’ve seen X/Y touchpads before, many times, in hardware like the KAOSS Pad (or Lemur, or your computer trackpad). But AeroMIDI 3D does something rather different: instead of just a single X/Y area, you get an array of programmable 3D cubes floating in space, all triggered with waves of your fingers using the forthcoming Leap Motion connect. Use one finger, multiple fingers, different parameters, whatever you like, and notes and control messages are sent via MIDI to your favorite software. You get three dimensions of …

READ MORE →

Dance and Music: Convert Kinect to MIDI, Free Beta on Mac and Windows

When we first saw movements and dance converted to music in February, it must have sparked some interest. Developer Jesper Nordin tells us popular demand has prompted him to release a free (as in beer) version of his Gestrument Kinect controller. With a beta download and a Windows or Mac machine, you can translate Microsoft’s depth-sensing camera to MIDI events you can use with instruments. Previously (including mention of the iPad version of this idea, if you don’t fancy prancing about in front of a camera): Gestrument, Shaping Music with Kinect, Touch, and Acoustic Ensembles [Videos] Now, you can grab …

READ MORE →

Melodies in Triangles: Christopher Willits on Playing Grids of Push [Tutorial Video]

You can think about melodies and harmonies in geometric shapes. In fact, instrumentalists playing piano keys or guitar frets have already been doing that for some time. What’s happening with grid controllers like Push – among other alternatives – is that it’s now easy to rearrange melodic setups to see and play these relationships in new ways. Musician Christopher Willits has started a series of videos called CREATE (hmmm… like that name somehow), through the creative community platform Overlap. Willits tells CDM, “I really love this instrument. I’m excited to work with it more and become really comfortable. Like any …

READ MORE →

From Gestures to MIDI: Geco Promises Music Applications for Leap Motion

Here we go again. Touchless hand gestures have been part of electronic musical performance ever since the Theremin first hummed to life almost 100 years ago. And those gestures embody the same challenges and promise. We have the ability as humans to think spatially, in three dimensions, and to have a tight sense of control via our muscles of gestures in space. We use gestures to communicate and to manipulate our world. Those same expectations can be disappointed in electronic systems, however, as they lack tangible physical feedback and may misinterpret our intentions. It’s easier to play with these ideas …

READ MORE →
Orphion is an instrument, merging ideas from percussion and strings into something you can play on the iPad. And now you can create your own layouts and tunings. Images courtesy the developer.

Freehand Playable Circles, in Any Tuning, on iPad: New Orphion Editor

Design is the art of compromise. And so, as the touch tablet asks you to sacrifice some things – velocity sensitivity, physical separation, tactile feedback – it gives back the ability to produce freeform interfaces. The iPad’s downside is that it is a piece of undifferentiated glass; its upside is that that glass can transform into anything you like. That makes it a bit puzzling when it is reduced to a set of fake knobs and faders, which has the advantages of neither physical hardware nor the iPad’s open-ended possibilities. When it was first produced, I praised Orphion as an …

READ MORE →

As a Musician Loses Her Sight, A Rush for Music Apps for the Blind [Hack + Listen]

Take a good, long look at your computer screen. Now imagine you can’t see it. That’s the reality Mandy Matz is facing. At age 36, she’s losing her vision to glaucoma. The musician and multimedia artist makes some beautiful, ethereal music, having cut her teeth on Buzz. Listen to the haunting “Alpha Waves,” her first song. EP by Theory Anesthetic And now, because sight is so deeply connected to the way in which music developers map your brain to software, losing her vision could mean losing her ability to work with digital tools. It shouldn’t be this way. As Paul …

READ MORE →

Push, In-Depth Test: What’s it Like Playing The New Hardware from Ableton?

When Ableton Live was first released over ten years ago, it was labeled a “sequencing instrument.” The radical idea was that you could “play” your production tool, which had (and has) big implications in studios, at home, and onstage. “Playing” with a mouse and keyboard is unsatisfying for most, so even that relatively primitive first version had MIDI controller mapping. In the intervening decade-plus timespan, musicians have found a variety of ways to connect their hands and bodies to the software model of music contained in their laptops. They’ve constructed massive custom hardware (DJ Sasha’s Maven and Robert Henke’s Monodeck …

READ MORE →

What Does it Mean to Be an Electronic Instrument?

The electronic music analog to visual media’s question “is it art?” is clear. “Is it really a musical instrument?” Ableton will this week officially launch its Push hardware with Live 9; we’ll have an online exclusive review alongside that release. I know that the company is fond of calling it an “instrument.” For a profile by the German-language magazine De:Bug, Ableton CEO Gerhard Behles even posed with a double bass, the Push set up alongside. The message was clear: Ableton wants you to think of Push as an instrument. We’ll revisit that question regarding Push, but this isn’t only important …

READ MORE →
beetboxparts

BeetBox Lets You Play Root Vegetables; Latest Handmade Raspberry Pi Coolness

Bored by buttons and pads? Want something a bit more organice? BeetBox turns root vegetables into interactive percussion instruments, finally answering the question of “how can I work musical controllers into my five a day?” BeetBox is a simple instrument that allows users to play drum beats by touching actual beets. It is powered by a Raspberry Pi with a capacitive touch sensor and an audio amplifier in a handmade wooden enclosure. The project is the work of Scott Garner: Interactive > BeetBox Okay, maybe it’s not the most practical idea ever, but it is good fun. And that poplar …

READ MORE →
"Look, [darling significant other], it'll even be totally at home in our modern decor!" Photos courtesy the artist.

Flying Saucer UFO Controller, Ultrasonic MIDI Instrument; Coming as Kit [Arduino]

The desire to be a little different in a band might drive someone to choose a custom guitar, or maybe, you know, change their hair. For some, it drives them to build a giant flying saucer they can play like an instrument by waving their hands. No, MIDI controller, don’t destroy Earth. Klaatu barada nikto. That’s the case with Helsinki-born artist Tommi Koskinen, now doing this as part of an MA thesis in the Media Lab of Aalto University. Another strange gestural controller? Yes. But this flying saucer might just land a bit closer to home. This is just the …

READ MORE →