aleph, from monome: Programmable Sound Computer That Does Anything

monome, the iconic grid controller that launched them all, has always been a device tethered to a computer. Without a USB connection to your machine, it is an attractive but functionless box. The latest monome project, the result of a collaboration between Brian Crabtree and musician Ezra Buchla (yes, there’s a relation) is different. It is a computer, with all the functions that entails, but in a box designed for sound. It has: A brain: Two of them, in fact – a DSP chip (BF533 blackfin, 533 mHz with 64 MB SDRAM) and an AVR32 for control. Audio connections: 4 …

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Wacky, Wooden Shnth Makes Eerie Sounds, Colors Outside the Lines [Documentary]

Shnth is a digital synth in a wooden box with a surprisingly open-ended programming language. It’s like a lo-fi sonic computer, touched with your fingers via a handmade interface, and with sonic capabilities that can be re-programmed over USB. And there’s a coloring book to go with it, too, with pictures of Max Mathews and microsound for you to sketch in. The drawings there, like the sounds that come out of its outputs, full of rough, digital edges and unexpected swoops and swirls of timbre, seem to encourage coloring outside the lines. Peter Blasser of Baltimore is the synth’s creator …

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Roll Your Own Looper, Cheap: Raspberry Pi + Pd + KORG monotron Hands-on

If computers are compact and $25, we’re talking a very different world of music hardware. Armed with the popular Raspberry Pi, Servando Barreiro has made an incredibly-affordable, ultimately-customizable rig with free software and the open source community. Oh, and he’s made the KORG monotron polyphonic – after a fashion. See video at top for some beautiful chords. And that’s just the beginning. We’ll let Servando share how he’s working.

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A Stompbox That Can Become Whatever You Like, in Crowd-funded OWL

There are stompboxes. They are — for lack of a better word — foot worthy. You can step on them, in a way that is less possible with a computer. (Well, sure, somewhere amidst an endless spinning color pinwheel you may have wanted to step on your MacBook Air, but then thought better of it – financial investment and whatnot.) Then, there are computers. They can do everything. That stompbox is one particular distortion effect. And it is always just that one distortion. But what if you could have both? As embedded technology continues its march toward greater user friendliness, …

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beetboxparts

BeetBox Lets You Play Root Vegetables; Latest Handmade Raspberry Pi Coolness

Bored by buttons and pads? Want something a bit more organice? BeetBox turns root vegetables into interactive percussion instruments, finally answering the question of “how can I work musical controllers into my five a day?” BeetBox is a simple instrument that allows users to play drum beats by touching actual beets. It is powered by a Raspberry Pi with a capacitive touch sensor and an audio amplifier in a handmade wooden enclosure. The project is the work of Scott Garner: Interactive > BeetBox Okay, maybe it’s not the most practical idea ever, but it is good fun. And that poplar …

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sneaquencer_diy

Sneak-Thief’s Sneaquencer is a DIY Monster, Dream Hardware for Performance [Open Source Music]

You can dream of something, you can complain about it on forums, or you can do it. Sneak-Thief, aka Michel Morin, is a doer. And what’s great about him is that he doesn’t just produce geeky, obsessive hardware – he has the musical chops to match. He can wrangle his own hardware, coding in C, but he can also make people dance. Designing hardware isn’t just an exercise in doing something because he can – it’s part of his musical expression, the line between his ideas and reality. Talking to Michel about what he’s done, he really focuses on his …

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ms20pi

The Awesome New KORG Not From KORG: Raspberry-Pi Plus MS-20 Controller, Making Dreams Reality

There’s a drool-worthy new keyboard synth this week bearing the name KORG. The surprise: it comes one day after a widely-anticipated product announcement, and it comes from a single hacker, not KORG. One $25 embedded computer plus one controller equals one hackable, lovely instrument – with knobs and patch cords, no less. So, it’s hard not to compare this to the announcement yesterday. KORG makes some wonderful products, and it’s safe to say that a lot of electronic musicians view them as a company that uniquely “gets” it. From the monotron line to releasing analog filter circuit designs, the ongoing …

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Raspberry Pi, Your Next $25 Computer Synth? First Hacks Appearing

Apple may have started the conversation about the “post-PC” age. But part of what this means is that a “computer” doesn’t necessarily have to be something costing hundreds of dollars, in a conventional desktop or laptop form factor. It could look more like the Raspberry Pi, at US$25 and squeezed into a tin of mints. Suddenly, all those years of music software development are liberated from the big, pricey boxes on which we’ve run them all these years. The Raspberry Pi Synthesizer blog documents a project dedicated to this particular device, with a clever UI and yes, even polyphony. There’s …

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beagleboard

Music, to Go: The Mobile Music Computer Revolution, BeagleBoard Workshop and Software

Something like this could be the guts of your next digital musical instrument – and it might even mean leaving your laptop at home for the next gig. Photo (CC-BY) Koen Kooi. Mobile computing has already had an enormous impact on music making. A modern phone or tablet (and yes, most often, these come from Apple) is capable of out-performing a lot of dedicated hardware and easily runs the synths and workstations that required state-of-the-art desktops just a decade or so ago. But what if this same computing power – low-energy, low-cost chips – could be in other music gear, …

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OTO Biscuit Update: Lovely Boutique 8-bit + Analog Effect Gets New Features

I covered the OTO Machines Biscuit early this year, in particular noting the design process of creating new hardware. Hardware today is back with a vengeance, but with the flexibility of software: the gear is contained in a single object and interface, but can be upgraded just as computer code on a desktop can. Sure enough, OTO are back this week with a series of updates, which are easier to watch and hear than to talk about. See the video above for four new effects and various other improvements, available as a free firmware update and delivered (oh, the retro …

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