Handmade Music: Cybernetics, Wireless Beats, and Ingenious Sonic Circuits

four tiny drum machines from ALH84001 on Vimeo. Cybernetics is poised to make a comeback. The theory is, everything from electronic circuits to plants and animals can be understood in terms of feedback loops, as organisms – mechanical or organic – respond to input from their surroundings. The father of modern cybernetics, MIT mathematician Norbert Weiner, was inspired by working on the guidance systems of missiles. His writing was picked up Louis and Bebe Barron, informing their organism-like sonic circuits, as used in the film Forbidden Planet. The word cybernetic itself comes from Plato. Plato was talking about human self-governance. …

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Crowdsourced Vocal Synthesis: 2000 People Singing “Daisy Bell”

Bicycle Built for Two Thousand from Aaron on Vimeo. The song “Daisy Bell” has a special place in computer history. Max Mathews, who had by the late 50s pioneered digital synthesis using IBM 704 mainframe, arranged the tune in 1961 for vocoder-derived vocal synthesis technology on technology developed by John Larry Kelly, Jr.. Kelly himself is better known for applying number theory to investing in the markets — an unfortunate achievement in the wake of a financial collapse brought down by misuse of mathematical theory. In 1962, Arthur C. Clarke happened to hear the 704 singing the Mathews/Kelly “Daisy Bell,” …

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Cybernetics and Spare Parts: A Robotic Opera and Workshop in Ontario, Online

Before you correct me, this is actually a Commodore B128. But it’s one of the oddities you’ll see at the Personal Computer Museum. What if all the technology you loved, everything that ran on electricity, came to life and played one epic musical performance? That’s about as best as I can sum up the “Emergence” event happening in Ontario and in an online stream. It’s a workshop. It’s a performance. It’s Commodore 64s and surplus parts. It’s cybernetic theory. There’s a robotic singer. It’s at a computer museum. Nerdtastic. Rod Adlers describes his own setup: “3 Commodore 64’s running Cynthcart …

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