Music with Your Face: Artist Kyle McDonald Talks Face-Tracking Music-making with FaceOSC

Music making with your face? It’s just the latest novel way of manipulating your computer with movement, thanks to a revived interest in camera-based interaction spurred by Microsoft’s Kinect and hackers making it work, and other computer vision libraries. One original work: FaceOSC, which uses custom tracking code and a standard computer webcam (no additional hardware required) and free code to send control information for applications like live music performance. Kyle McDonald may have already wowed you with his face-tracking wizardry, but it’s easy to want to know more. Sure, it’s cool, but, um, what is it for? How do …

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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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A Kinect-Based Instrument; Polyphonic Theremin, No April Fool’s Joke?

It’s hard to assemble an April Fool’s Joke involving technology these days, because actual inventions keep proving stranger than fiction. When Google created a prank involving gestures for controlling email, it was only a matter of time before someone whipped up a prototype that actually did the job. The Moog Music company, therefore, may be asking for trouble. Their highly-entertaining polyphonic Theremin is spot-on parody, down to the “Stairway to Heaven” solo. And part of the geekier joke for Theremin players is the knowledge that the technology behind this instrument makes what they’re describing safely impossible. But what’s impossible with …

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What Makes a Truly New Instrument? Human Gestures Power Winners of Guthman Competition

Interlude Consortium’s competition-winning MO makes everyday objects interfaces and does some surprisingly-sophisticated analysis of gestures. Nearly as long as we’ve had electronics, musical inventors have tried to imagine new electronic instruments. In the crowded world of new instrument design, the Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition has emerged as a key prize for the best work, with creations battling fiercely for attention. But in the oddball world of sound and music, how do you judge a winner? As a starting point, organizers this year asked the judges what they personally found important. With an expert panel including synth pioneer Tom Oberheim …

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Ironing Shirts? Making Music? Combine Them!

Made In Iron 2 from Matti Niinimäki on Vimeo. Matti Niinimäki of Finland has combined a common household chore with music control. He transforms an iron and ironing board into a wireless music controller, capable of generating wobble bass, slicing beats, sampling, and anything else he might devise. The ironing board itself is self-contained, sensing grayscale values on the surface. (That might mean you’d have to calibrate it to your shirt patterns if you really did use this to do your ironing, or at least put a marker between the iron and your shirts.) There’s also an accelerometer, and the …

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Augmented Reality CDs into DJ Tools; DJing with SoundCloud, Clock Faces, More

First Augmented Reality Music CD :: Latrama :: Love & Projects :: from musikame on Vimeo. Want the CD as object to come alive again? Here’s yet another approach: make it into an input for webcam-based augmented reality. The album “Love & Projects” by Latrama uses the packaging to trigger augmented reality “DJing” of the playlist. Put the CD in front of your webcam, head to a browser-based tool, and you get turntable controls for playing the album live, complete with scratching, pitch, delay, filter, and volume controls. There are more downloads available, as well. Of course, this raises the …

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Virtual Theremin Made with Kinect; Real Thereminists Will Make it Useful

Therenect – Kinect Theremin from Martin Kaltenbrunner on Vimeo. Who says technology has to move fast and die young? Leon Theremin may have been a full century ahead of his time, before computers, before transistors, before jet engines or atomic power or rockets. ReacTable creator Martin Kaltenbrunner has a virtual Theremin prototype built with Microsoft’s depth-sensing, 3D Kinect camera. And what he really needs is some players of the real Theremin to help develop it. Martin writes CDM:

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Kinect with MIDI, with Microsoft’s 3D Camera

Ben X Tan writes to let us know he’s working with hacks for Microsoft’s Kinect 3D camera system for Xbox to perform MIDI control. Result: depth-sensing, gestural musical manipulations! It’s just a prototype, but since today I cover the larger landscape of what’s happening with Kinect, it’s well worth teasing. From the description: Coded in C#.net using this: http://codelaboratories.com/nui Very hacky ugly, yucky, alpha prototype, source code available here: http://benxtan.com/temp/pmidickinect.zip Next project is making a version of pmidic that uses Kinect. Then, you can control Ableton Live or any other MIDI software or hardware with you limbs. Isn’t that amazing!!! …

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EMS Synthi, Recreated in Max, then Controlled with a Webcam

The headline says it all. Oh, sure, as if it isn’t enough to recreate the legendary EMS Synthi synth – one of the most creative vintage analog instruments ever devised – this artist takes it one step further, controlling parameters with a piece of colored paper tracked by a webcam. It’s an achievement of sheer patching genius, taken one step wackier. The patch is entitled Le Synthé V5; the creator is Pierre Couprie. And yes, you can download this for Windows and Mac – even Mac PowerPC. Cost: US$15/EUR10, which is, I must say, insanely cheap. Video in French with …

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Eye-Tracking Interfaces and More April Fools’ Creations We Could Have in Real Life

I enjoy a little April Foolery now and then – see Google.com at the moment. But I had a funny revelation about some of the April Fools’ jokes out there today: they could be real. Some even already are. For starters, consider the EyeDJ. The video is hilarious, a spot-on parody of the hype level in digital DJing at the moment. And they tune directly into the kind of breathless sense of innovation with no real purpose, with lines like “There is no need to cart around heavy turntables or expensive MIDI controllers – all you need is a computer …

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