"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 …

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Mudit is an Inexpensive, Open Source Gestural Loop Performer [Pd + Arduino]

Knowledge on how to build dazzling new interfaces for music is spreading. And because musical performance depends on sharing knowledge and practice, that could have a transformative effect. Literally as I’m walking out the door to leave for a showcase of gestural performance in Berlin, I get a chance to look at this team from Argentina. They’re purposely giving away the plans for their open source live performance instrument, built in turn with open source hardware (Arduino) and software (free graphical development environment Pd).

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80s Roland engineers never imagined ... this. Welcome to the age of the Real. Photo: Jürgen Lösel.

A Robotic, Physical 808 Machine Advances Weird Science of Music, Tech Alike

So, you’re really hot stuff now that you’ve got a vintage Roland TR-808, huh? Ready to have your pride taken down a few notches? If you haven’t seen it, have a look at this. The MR-808 is a “real-world” replica of the Roland sounds. And when people throw around buzzwords like “post-digital” to try to describe the spirit of the age in which we live, this is what they’re trying to get at. In some sense, this creation is a tribute to the 808’s minimalism and essential design. And this is still a creation of the digital realm. The robots …

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Radio in an Online Age, Made Tangible: Skube Are Smart, Last.fm + Spotify Speakers

Computers give you sophisticated ways of connecting to online music. But do you ever miss that physical object of the radio? Or wish that a speaker could be just as smart when, with a sigh of relief, you’ve pressed the laptop lid shut? Skube is a design experiment from Copenhagen focused on making portable devices more connected and communal sharing easier. They’re speakers that you might consider members of the Internet of Things, using Arduino and Xbee wireless networking to make the device mobile while piping sounds from Spotify and Last.fm. Here’s some demo footage of the speakers in action: …

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A Cage music walk - or, perhaps, a model for a pro-Cage protest march today - CC-BY Steve Bowbrick

John Cage at 100: A Celebration in Words, Listening, and Prepared Piano iPhones

“I Have Nothing to Say and I Am Saying It,” a John Cage title, might well be the creed of the blogger – doubly so this music technology writer. So, here we go again. The notion of John Cage at 100 is humbling in itself. The idea that Cage is a century old cements the awareness that the radical modern consciousness has a history, that the revolution has arrived and settled in for the winter, repeating itself in cycles of life and death like an endless tape loop. But to say it as concisely as possible, Cage’s legacy in electronic …

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Synth of the Weekend: Fatduino is Sequenced Homebrew Goodness [Fat Man + Arduino]

There are wonderful oddities of synth creation breeds out there in the wild — strange, one-of-a-kind birds with three wings and forked duck-bills and other oddities. They might not all be practical for more than their creator, but like evolutionary anomalies, some adaptation or design feature might well make it into other productions – all the more reason that open schematics and permissive licenses could benefit the larger ecosystem, the rich, muddy wetland marsh of sounds. Friend and neighbor Marc Resibois points me this week to the Fatduino. It’s pertinent to our discussion of marriages between DIY synths and the …

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Interface an Arduino with Ableton: Light-Controlled Dubstep Wobble Bass

Over the years, we’ve seen all kinds of far-out interfaces for music. But where do you begin if you want to just get started? Interfacing a simple sensor with your music software is a decent place to begin. Nick Latocha, aka myredhotcar, uses Max/MSP to connect Ableton to the output of a photodetector (a resistive sensor that is sensitive to changes in light). Yes, in this example, the result isn’t so different from turning a knob, but that’s the point: starting with something basic like this is the best way to learn. The result: move your hand around, and change …

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SJS-ONE: Open, Arduino-Based Synth, with Crazy Cases and Web Troubleshooting

SJS-ONE is an 8-bit synth that you add to an Arduino board, making it ideal for hardware and firmware tinkerers and lovers of unique monosynths. But we’ll give it bonus points for two other reasons. First, it has some really bizarre cases available as add-ons, which look a bit like punk birdhouses. (Birdhouse squats? Hot rodded bird tenant buildings?) Second, in a really clever move, they help you troubleshoot hardware issues with a Flash animation. It could make it clear even to a complete beginner how to use a multimeter (a measuring device that checks electrical connections). The Arduino design …

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junXion_v4

Make Music with Anything: junXion Universal Send-Receive for Mac [Video Tutorial Round-up]

“So,” you say, “I’ve got a … and I want to connect it to a … to make music. How do I do that?” One strong answer to that question, if you’ve got a Mac, is junXion. Developed by the landmark audio research laboratory STEIM – a hotspot in Amsterdam that for years has been imagining new ways of making music by connecting things to other things – it got a big update recently. It takes lots of the inputs you might imagine (joysticks, mice, touchscreens, MIDI, OpenSoundControl, audio, Arduino-powered hardware and all of its sensors, and video sensing) and …

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noisyjelly

Noisy Jelly: Gelatin Achieves Powers of Sound (And Make Your Own)

What if your musical instrument were gelatinous? Edible? “Noisy Jelly” is the latest project to imagine that scenario. Thanks to the capacitive quality of gelatin (known to us Americans by the brand name JELL-O and to some simply as “jelly”), you can mix up a set of colored instruments that jiggle when you touch them. Powered by the open hardware platform Arduino to read sensors and Max/MSP to produce sound, it’s the work of a couple of Paris-based students, Raphaël and Marianne Cauvard. Check out the terrific video featuring wide-eyed children, and specs below. What makes this more delightful is …

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