Spacedog Sleigh Ride: Robotic Bell Rig Chimes in the Holidays with Prokofiev

We’re in the middle of a snowstorm of holidays (most definitely plural), and, for many of you, possibly also a snowstorm of snow. So, gather by the fire with your robotic DIY carillon and bask in the warm glow of gorgeous, chimey Prokofiev. What? Haven’t got a DIY bell-playing construction of your own? It’s not snowing? Gather by the YouTube and bask in its warm glow instead. Robotic Prokofiev will be all you need. Creator Sarah Angliss of Spacedog sends us the video above. Video details and technical specs: Fireside music, performed for your enjoyment in one take after a …

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Pioneering Composer Paul Lansky Quits Electronic Music

Paul Lansky, a titanic name in classical computer music, Princeton professor, and real-time algorithmic pioneer, has gone acoustic. He’s also known in more popular circles for having been musically quoted on Radiohead’s Kid A. The New York Times reports: After 35 years immersed in the world of computer music, the composer Paul Lansky talks with wonder about the enormous capacities of primitive objects carved from trees or stamped from metal sheets: violins, cellos, trumpets, pianos. "To create the sound of a violin – wow!" he said in a recent interview. "I can’t do that on a computer." Paul Lansky: An …

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Ligeti’s Artikulation: What Might Future Digital Notation Look Like? (Plus Twitter Finds)

Ligeti – Artikulation by tonicadominante What does music look like? With new sounds and new technologies, the question is more apt than ever. Tom of Music thing points, via his Twitter feed, to this interesting post regarding Ligeti’s Artikulation: Visualizing Artikulation [Bad Assembly] Music notation takes on a different meaning in the age of computers. After all, the essential divide in notation – between sound representation and realization – is blurred in the digital domain, in which we move between visual and sonic information seamlessly and a sound can be reproduced exactly. But, perhaps in that fluid context and without …

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Expanding the Violin: Diana Young’s Sensor-packed Hyperbow

The original design of the violin is a classic, but that hasn’t stopped people from trying to improve upon it with modern tech. While it looks mostly like an ordinary bow, the Hyperbow is designed to electronically measure gestures and calculate force, speed, and bow-bridge distance, thanks to accelerometers, gyroscopes, and force sensors. The bow, designed by MIT Media Lab Ph.D. candidate Diana Young, began as a way to measure different bowing techniques. But combined with MIT’s Hyperviolin, the all-electronic/non-acoustic violin also developed by the MIT Media Lab, the bow can unleash new means of making music with violins. If …

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16th Century Music Tech: 11-yo Sirena Huang on Design Marvel of Violin

We hear lots of discussion of how to make better digital instruments. But to fully understand instrument design, it’s often best to look at instruments from around the world that have evolved over centuries. (Hey, these synthesizers and such, by comparison, are mere infants.) Here’s a fantastically virtuostic performance from 11 year-old Sirena Huang, via June Cohen on the TEDtalks blog. Following the music, she discusses in frank terms why the instrument is such a timeless design. She’s got a smart audience for such thoughts: the performance comes from the Technology, Entertainment, Design conference, a legendary gathering of “thinkers and …

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Beethoven’s Violin Played in New Recording

Let’s talk truly retro instruments for a moment: a violin owned and played by Beethoven himself is featured in a new recording by violinist Daniel Sepec. (The pianoforte is vintage, too; an 1824 model played by Andreas Staier.) Beethoven’s violin used for first time in recording [CBC Arts, Canada] Beethoven, Sonaten für Klavier und Violine op. 23 und op. 30 Nr. 2 [CD page, Beethoven-Haus, Bonn] At the turn of the 19th century, Prince Lichnowski made Beethoven a handsome gift: a set of four string quartet instruments, which the 30-year old composer marked with a seal and large carved ‘B’. …

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Orchestration Course Goes “Open Source”: Free Online Course, Driven by Community

Whether you’re composing for real orchestrations, scoring films or games, teaching, or just learning more about how the orchestra works, there’s never a time when you stop learning about orchestration. That’s why a new free, online version of a classic Russian orchestration guide, complete with new interactive examples, is good news. Sample designers Garritan Library, the folks behind the popular orchestral library Garritan Personal Orchestra (GPO), have begun releasing portions of their free guide to orchestration (see my previous story). The full text and examples are straight out of the classic Rimsky-Korsakov orchestration text, the landmark guide to orchestration that …

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A New Way of Learning Orchestration: Online, Free, Interactive

Talk about digital technology and music, and people are often skeptical: doesn’t technology get in the way of making music? But technology and music have always been interwined, and even for advanced composers, better understanding the technology of how acoustic instruments work is fundamental to realizing musical ideas. Unfortunately, orchestration books, despite their best intentions, can be disastrous for composers trying to understand instruments. Books by definition can’t include musical examples, and the texts themselves are often divorced from real practical information. Now the good news: the Web could offer an antidote.

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More Free Beethoven Orchestras (Limited Time)

It’s nice to see the Web abuzz about digital music downloads of one of the great geniuses of all time, instead of, you know, just another that mash-up. In that spirit, I point you to BBC’s Radio 3 for hours of great weekend listening: Beethoven Symphonies 6-9, BBC Radio Orchestra They’re quite decent recordings, though if you really love them you’ll probably want the uncompressed CD BBC will release. Gianandrea Noseda really ripped through Beethoven 5, and now some of Ludwig van’s mature masterpieces are in store. But act now, because starting Monday July 4, the downloads will start to …

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