How Gestures and Ableton Live Can Make Anyone a Conductor of Mendelssohn [Behind the Scenes]

Digital music can go way beyond just playback. But if performers and DJs can remix and remake today’s music, why should music from past centuries be static? An interactive team collaborating on the newly reopened Museum im Mendelssohn-Haus wanted to bring those same powers to average listeners. Now, of course, there’s no substitute for a real orchestra. But renting orchestral musicians and a hall is an epic expense, and the first thing most of those players will do when an average person gets in front of them and tries to conduct is, well – get angry. (They may do that …

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Through a Musician’s Eyes: Google Glass as Musical Teaching Tool

Google Glass meets … French Horn? Wearable camera technology could offer a new window into centuries of Classical Music tradition. That could happen not only via Google Glass but other online and camera tech, too. Sarah Willis, French Horn player, is using Glass as a way to bring young people closer to the Classical experience. And Willis is allowing people to see the point of view of an experienced artist in a symphony, watching conductors, and (depending on instruments and playing technique) the instrument itself. Sarah spoke to Berlin’s NEXT Conference yesterday, a tech conference. I spoke there, as well, …

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In Living Rooms, Homes, Beautiful Music as a Ritual: Olafur Arnalds; Matthew Flook; Free

For centuries, music was something made in a living room, made at home. It was a brief fluke of the 20th Century that music came out of a heroic process in a hidden-away studio. But if the gold-plated, magical record is threatened, some artists are trying to bring the daily ritual of home music making back. Ólafur Arnalds and Matthew Flook are each making gorgeous, cinematic-ambient tracks, and each have made projects that involve doing so on a regular basis in their homes. Let’s listen. Arnalds has been making some of the finest scores anywhere, and now has earned the …

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Digital Notation, Like You Imagined It’d Work: Draw Into iPhone, iPad, Android

Through years of struggling with mice, keyboard shortcuts, and the like, stacks of hand-written notation alongside the computer, this was what I imagined – and probably you, too, if you work with handwritten scores. NotateMe promises to take hand-written notation from your fingertip or stylus and recognize music, from simple lead sheets to full orchestral scores. For those working with scores, it’s what you dreamt devices like the iPhone would do from the beginning. NotateMe is now in public beta, and we hope to talk to the creators, but wanted to get your feedback first about what you’d like to …

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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 Concerto for iPad and Orchestra, as a Composer Takes on Tablet as Instrument

For all the ubiquity of electronic instruments and computers in the past half century, it’s still comparatively rare for composers to add these sounds to the largely-unchanging makeup of an orchestra. Therefore, as composer Ned McGowan writes a concerto that claims to be the first for iPad, he’s forced to admit the addition of a computer remains somewhat novel. A composer himself, Frank Oteri has compiled a list of works for orchestra and technology. The scores typically call, however, for the integrated instrument of a “synthesizer”; computers are often relegated to making appearances on tape even in relatively recent works. …

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No-Input Pärt: ‘Fratres,’ Played on a Mixer, is Eerily Beautiful

Arvo Pärt’s music is always spare and gorgeous, inspired by Medieval counterpoint and voicings, and you’d expect it to be such on any instruments. But here, you get something truly unique: a transcription of the composer’s ‘Fratres,’ normally played on string quartet, on a mixer. The no-input performance uses exclusively tuned audio feedback to generate sound, creating an almost vocal quality to ringing timbres generates entirely in the mixer. Details: Camera : Jimmy Hayes Console : Christian Carrière Research residency, Summer 2011 OBORO, Montreal, Canada oboro.net/ Console : Allen&Heath GL2400-40 Thanks to Claus Frostell of Erikson Pro, who lent me …

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Bach Cello Suite No. 1, Visualized in Sweeping Arcs, and the Math Beneath

Alexander Chen, he of Kinect hacks and subways turned to strings, is back with another string visualization. Built in the browser (an interactive version is available), this work makes a visual accompaniment to Bach’s First Prelude from the Cello Suites. If you read music notation fluently, you may find the score itself suffices, but even so, the math to make this work – and the dance of circles across strings – is compelling. Alex, whose day job is with Google’s Creative Lab, talks to us a bit about the mathematics and process. First, his description: baroque.me visualizes the first Prelude …

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Eigenharp Pico Playing for Babies, in a Pico Music Box

From comments on the Eigenharp round-up, I think this is simply beautiful. I also think it will be the video to which I link people whenever comments get out of hand. (Heck, I may refer myself.) “Music to soothe the savage commenter?” Back to the music: First entry to the Eigenharp ALPHA competition. A small piece created on the TENORI-ON, from my new show Ti-To-Tis – Dance and Music for Babys. (babies from 0 to 3 years listen to live acoustic and electronic music, “dance” with two dancers and “play” with an actor/ puppetier, all around a magic clock; Ti-To-Tis …

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Monday Morning Distractions: Bach on Talkbox, Ravel on Theremin, Odd Keys

From Wendy Carlos to the Swingle Singers, artists have proven over and over again that great music is great music, regardless of instrumentation. (Music historians would be just as quick to point out that most Classical performances don’t really match the original instrumentation, anyway.) So, since it’s Monday and we’re due for a distraction, we have from reader Jack Stratton a delightful rendition of Bach on TalkBox. (BachBox?) Something’s in the air, as our friend Synthtopia also shares novel instrumentations. Here, it’s Ravel: Trois beaux oiseaux du paradis by Maurice Ravel – performed by thereminist, Randy George and the Gaudete …

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