VBS Video: Curtis Roads on the Birth of Granular, Composing in Microsound

Sometimes, looking back at pioneers can be nostalgic. “Back in my day,” goes the story, “electronic composers were real electronic composers.” But then you hear from someone like Curtis Roads, and his mind-blowing ideas are coupled with a belief that we’re only now reaching the Golden Age of electronic sounds. Rory Ahearn writes to share the latest episode of the show Motherboard on VBS TV, which talks to composer Curtis Roads. Roads was ground-breaking in his early granular synthesis work in the 1970s as he continues to be today.

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Auto-Tune The News, And Channeling Steve Reich, Anyone?

The Internet, having satisfied itself yesterday with video that faked a Beyonce who couldn’t sing, now imagines news that can. And Steve Reich is proven ahead of his time — again. (Congrats on the Pullitzer – it took them just five decades to notice!) Yes, Antares’ Auto-Tune plug-in – now so ubiquitous in mainstream, non-audio-engineer knowledge that it’s become a generic description like “Kleenex” – can be applied to everything. (We, um, can only hope these industrious YouTubers are using legally-licensed copies – that is, until Antares releases a 99-cent iPhone app.) And so, hilariously, we imagine a world of …

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GDC: Music, Video Games, and Interactivity – Chat with Boing Boing Video

Matt Ganucheau and I got to sit down with Xeni Jardin of Boing Boing Video during the Game Developer Conference to discuss some of the potential for interactive music in games. Matt is a composer, sound designer, and educator, talking about how he’s encouraging his own students to think about adaptive music in new ways, combining Max/MSP and a Space Invaders clone built in the Unity Game Engine. (See our story from earlier this week.) I talk a little about my sense that new tools could expand the range of possibilities in game music. Right now, the two major game …

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GDC: Boiling Waterphones and Other Sonic Inspirations from Composer Troels Folmann

  Hot-boiled waterphone, coming up. Troels explains: “We boiled it at 4 different temperature levels and its a part of the massively multi-sampled waterphone (it’s over 2.900 samples).” Award-winning composer Troels Folmann has made a name as a video game composer on the likes of the Tomb Raider series, as well as espousing new ideas about adaptive music for games like his “micro-scoring” methodology. But speaking to a roomful of composers and sound designers at the recent Game Developer Conference, he turned to the topic of reinvention. Even having perfected signature sounds that keep him in demand on jobs like …

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Imogen Heap on Twitter: Real-Time, Real-World Creative Process

Photo: Lee Jordan. Speaking as a sometimes-music-journalist, I’ve always had the sneaking suspicion that we were all part of a vast conspiracy. Our job can become wrapping big-name artists into a polished, glamorous narrative. There are small nods to humanizing them, of course, but the message can quickly become: this person is special and different from you, this is the person you should want to be or want to consume, and as a result you’ll buy our magazine. I’ve never believed that myself, and I do believe a lot of great music writing is something very different, but there’s always …

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Velato: What if Musical Notes Had Their Own Programming Language?

Photo (CC) Quinn Dombrowski. Composing music is not unlike programming – and either, at their best, can be expressive. In the early days of IT (before “IT” was even a term), many computer programmers came from a musical background. (And even early in the computer age, there was more call for software than symphonies – and more pay.) But what if you could program music easily, using musical syntax in a programming language? That’s the question asked by languages like Velato. The commands actually aren’t as esoteric as you might expect; they include references to standard pitch and commands like …

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Interactive Audio Folks Converge at GDC: IASIG Meetup

Photo: Ben Hanbury, from a very cool BBC event. Sort of sums up game audio, this. For one area in which forward-thinking digital music types are doing innovative work in game and interactive audio, look no further than the Interactive Audio SIG. They’re doing really interesting stuff in looking at how tools can support future interactive music. And if you are going to GDC, this is another one you’ll want to catch. It’s worth noting that the “interactive” in their title really is just that: this is about all forms of interactive music, not just games per se. Given what …

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Audio, Music Gems from the Upcoming Game Developer Conference

Music for mashing buttons to. Photo (CC) Jon Jordan, Pocket Gamer. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times that, as far as the conference calendar for 2009 goes, some of the most interesting discussions about audio, composition, and technology are happening at a game developer conference. The terrific GameSetWatch “alt.video game” blog has a nice overview of the goodies at GDC in March for audio lovers: Previewing GDC 2009: Inside The Audio Track [GameSetWatch] But even that doesn’t cover all the goodness. Check out the full Audio Track schedule: Audio Track, GDC @cmpevents.com I imagine for someone looking to get …

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Intermorphic Mixtikl Arrives: Mobile and Desktop Generative, Creative Music Suite

Oh, yeah. It’s deep. To keep a cool head, perhaps put on "Music for Airports" on loop while you read through the tutorials. Musicians and composers have long dreamt of computers and mobiles playing music that changes on its own, rather than playing static, pre-determined scores. But to actually pull it off, you need a number of pieces. One solution for putting those pieces together is finally here, with desktop-to-mobile delivery and an interesting combination of a generative engine with synths and effects that can work in real time. We’ve been following the work of Intermorphic for some time: this …

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