The Monster: DIY Project Looks, And Sounds, Like Alien Spacecraft Control Panel

Leave it to the DIYer. Alex Pleninger’s name isn’t just marketing. This is one monster of a synth creation, looking and sounding like it was ripped, circuits still humming, from a wrecked UFO. Retro trackball, keyboard? Check. In-built computer display? Check. Makes … a mind-boggling array of sounds? Oh, yes. It’s retro-future goodness, powered by the legendary SID, Robert “Bob” Yannes’ synth-on-a-chip that powered the Commodore 64. (In fact, get Bob and Wolfgang together, and you have a fair amount of digital synthesis history – with Ensoniq and PPG represented. See today’s other story.) Thanks to Marc Resibois for the …

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M-Audio, AIR Join Akai, Alesis, Numark at inMusic: Q&A With New Owners, and a Timeline

M-Audio honored its Midiman roots with an anniversary edition of their (quite useful) MIDI interface line. Photo courtesy Avid. So, you own M-Audio and/or AIR stuff. You want to know what this means as Avid sells those makers to a new owner, right? M-Audio and AIR (formerly Wizoo) this week end their time as subsidiaries of Avid, and take on a new life at a parent entity now called inMusic. (That company has been known to us for some time as the home of brands like Akai, Alesis, and Numark, among others.) There’s a business story here, of course – …

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Hypo Chrysos live at Trendelenburg AV Festival, Gijon, Spain, December 2011.

From Your Body to Music: Interview with Biophysical Xth Sense Interface Creator

What you’re watching in the video above doesn’t involve cameras or motion sensors. It’s the kind of brain-to-machine, body-to-interaction interface most of us associate with science fiction. And while the technology has made the occasional appearance in unusual, niche commercial applications, it’s poised now to blow wide open for music – open as in free and open source. Erasing the boundary between contracting a muscle in the bio-physical realm and producing electronic sound in the virtual realm is what Xth Sense is all about. Capturing biological data is all the rage these days, seen primarily in commercial form in products …

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derrickmay

Future Shock: The Emergence of Detroit Techno, Told by Wax Poetics

Derrick May in the Michigan Theatre parking garage, 1988. Photos by Bart Everly. Reproduced courtesy Wax Poetics. In the words of Yogi Berra, the future ain’t what it used to be. Drawing from futurist philosophy and the machine aesthetic of bands like Kraftwerk, the moment at which techno comes into the world is a seminal birth in the creation of the age in which we live. Its creative energy is focused a the nexus of technology and music, set against the impoverished landscape of Detroit as America’s industrial urban centers implode. And while we’ve lost the people who could tell …

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A Flute Made on a 3D Printer, and the Possibilities to Come

Digital models and acoustic instruments have traditionally been studies in contrast. And instrument making has by definition been a craft and an art. But what if making an acoustic instrument was a matter of hitting “print”? That’s the question asked by MIT Media Lab researcher Amit Zoran. Using the Objet Geometries Connex500 3D printer, one capable of on-the-fly use of multiple materials, he made a flute in 15 hours. The results are surprisingly good for a first attempt. The instrument is playable, but Amit plans additional iteration and improvement. (Be sure to watch through the video for some feedback on …

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Looking Beyond MIDI, What’s the Best Way to Represent Musical Notes Digitally?

Speaking in Hamburg to a terrific group of assembled locals from a variety of design backgrounds. And yes, this is the other part of my life behind me. I just seem to generally skip the years 1700-1985. Go figure. The history of music and the history of music notation are closely intertwined. Now, digital languages for communicating musical ideas between devices, users, and software, and storing and reproducing those ideas, take on the role notation alone once did. Notation has always been more than just a way of telling musicians what to do. (Any composer will quickly tell you as …

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Tell Us Your Musical Technological Dreams, Get A Chance to See Them Realized

Ready for some blue-sky, 35,000-foot-altitude thinking? Photo (CC-BY-ND Andres Rueda. Want a flying car? Dream of the flying car. Build the flying car. A competition I’m hosting with Digitópia, the musical-technological community of Porto, Portugal, extends to readers worldwide a challenge to dream up the digital musical instrument/interface/creation you want. Got something practical you wish could be built? Got something impractical and bizarre? Either way, articulate it in the best way you can — images, words, videos, mock-ups, stop motion animation, beat poetry, whatever you think is best — and send it in. We’ll share the most interesting entries, and …

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Touch: Meet the Multitouch Guitar – Plus An Open Source, iPhone Solution, Too

As multitouch becomes more widely available, there’s an opportunity to re-imagine all sorts of interfaces. And yes, that includes the guitar. I’m way behind on mentioning it, but thanks to all the readers who spotted the fascinating Misa digital guitar. Strings and frets are each replaced with digital touch controls, and the soundboard touchscreen is set up to control notes, velocity, pitch, and filters. In fact, it makes the guitar more like a keyboard, and less like a guitar. But as with all digital instruments, abstracting the gesture from the actual sound means that you can arbitrarily redefine what the …

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