otomata

Otomata, A Generative Online Sequencer; Apps versus Web, Plus SuperCollider Goodies

Behold the power of the Web: composition ideas become a tool, a tool becomes a means for even casual users sharing musical sketches, and a browser toy can be a window into a Turkish sound artist breeding musical DNA like some people breed strains of flowers. Otomata is a simple generative online grid-based sequencer, owing to a number of step sequencers and Toshio Iwai’s Tenori-on, with some beautiful circular visualizations of the resulting sounds. I’m late in posting it, but in a way, that’s a good thing – in the time that this sequencer has spread around the Web, it’s …

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peopleonsynplode

Bugs on the Game Grid: Synplode Makes Step Sequencing Tangible for an Interactive Dance Floor

Digital musician and artist Josh Silverman began the Synplode process with something familiar – a checkerboard. Play a game of checkers on its computer vision-equipped playing field and beats and loops triggered in Ableton Live generated a responsive soundtrack for the game. But as it’s evolved, Synplode has become a general-purpose musical grid. Whether with little robotic insects (the Hexbugs here) or full-sized human persons, the grid can turn any space into a dynamic, interactive dance floor. (I think I may actually prefer those cute little bugs to the people and dancers and whatnot. Robot rave, anyone?) I prodded Josh …

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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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Circles and Euclidean Rhythms: Off the Grid, a Few Music Makers That Go Round and Round

Loopseque on the iPad. Courtesy the developer. We continue our 3.14 celebration with a round-up of circular logic. There’s no reason apart from the printed score to assume music has to be divided into grids laid on rectangles. Even the “piano roll” as a concept began as just that – a roll. Cycles the world around, from a mechanical clock to Indonesian gamelan, can be thought of in circles. Imagine an alternate universe in which Raymond Scott’s circle machine – a great, mechanical disc capable of sequencing sounds – became the dominant paradigm. We might have circles everywhere, in place …

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Fingertip Music: Reactable Mobile in a Tutorial Video

Weekend fun, part 1: as Reactable makes the leap from custom, tangible interface to go-anywhere iPhone/iPad app, here’s a look at what the fingertip-controlled music creation experience is like. The first of a series of tutorials, the video above walks you through some basic music production. It should lay to rest any question about whether this kind of interface can work in musical performance or live arrangement. I still think some artists will want to bang on something rather than just gently finger-paint their way through music, but as arrangement tool, it’s intriguing – and this video makes clearer what …

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Create Analog Music: Modular, Cartesian Step Sequencing with Rene

Clock Trippin, Poly Rhythm RENÉ from Richard Devine on Vimeo. Analog both in the electrical sense and in the way it combines continuous, non-discrete steps, the RenĂ© is a step sequencer with a difference. The hardware uses a two-dimensional array of knobs to produce non-linear, complex rhythmic patterns from some four clock and two CV inputs. I think the proof is in watching it above, in a video this week by Richard Devine, employing a fully modular, analog working method – no computers in sight. Because, really, people who use computers and drum machines are total posers. You’ll never find …

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Turn Ordinary Cell Phones into Beautiful Noisemakers

In your pocket, or perhaps orphaned in your closet, is a sophisticated piece of electronics going to waste. So, whether you’re suffering from iPhone envy or simply want to put toxic used electronics to useful musical applications, the cell phone noisemaking project at GetLoFi could help make a happier, noisier world. The ingredients:

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A Game of Checkers Becomes a Step Sequencer, Ableton Live Controller

Checkerboard Step Sequencer V2 from Josh Silverman on Vimeo. Shall we play a game? Have your checkers chops ready, because Josh Silverman’s Checkerboard Step Sequencer, a tangible interface for music, will test both your game mettle and your grooves. Built with the open source coding tool OpenFrameworks and Ableton Live as sound source, the checkerboard fuses computer vision technology and … well, some beats. This video should make obvious the relationship between the position of the checkers pieces and the noises they represent and trigger. It’s still a work in progress, but for now I won’t subject you to the …

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Pretty, Nodal, Non-Linear Music, on iPad + iPhone and Big Dodecahedrons

Brian Eno should be proud. Generative sequencing – making lovely, shimmering music mapped to pleasant-sounding modes – is totally in this season. At top, exhibit A: Aura Flux, a new iOS ambient music generator. Priced at US$1.99, it nonetheless packs some 48 different instruments, ambient sounds, four keys, save/load capability, and multitasking support. Sequences are arrayed into editable nodes: touch and explore, or tweak specific settings like pulse speed and decay, trigger rates, and pitch to get the results you want. Generative music has a key advantage for mobile devices, too: it doesn’t take up as much space. In the …

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In Photos: Discovering Sound Making, Electronics at Culturefix NYC

Photos above: Jennifer Meagher, with additional photography by myself. Handmade Music found a new home on New York’s Lower East Side, at Culturefix, an electronics boutique cum gallery, bar, and tapas. The philosophy of this event has long been to simply open the doors, letting a community of people come together, make some noise, and have fun and learn. So we’re indebted to the people who made it happen – and I think there were some lessons to hopefully reproduce. And yes, part of why I share this is I hope we can work over time to provide more resources, …

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