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Your unconscious meat body plays this online drum machine

I am a damp rag of exposed flesh, my limbs ill-defined blobs drifting in some undetermined direction as I float through space – wet steak in a wormhole. But then there’s a parade of translucent boxes against this surrealist-nightmare distorted planet, and a triumphant series of chime rings out. A clear pattern is articulated from the murk, a rhythm emerging from the disarray. No, no – hold on, don’t stop reading, I’m fine. I am actually describing to the best of my ability the experience of using one #$(&*ing insane browser music toy created by our friend Sam Rolfes. It’s …

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Free Clapping Music App Teaches You Steve Reich – And Rhythm

Before there was Rock Band and Guitar Hero, there was Steve Reich’s 1972 Clapping Music. And like all etudes, it’s a game. Now an iPhone app makes it an actual game.

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Watch 16 Rubik’s Cubes Turn Into a Visual Music Sequencer

The future happens gradually — and then by the time you’re sequencing a Web browser using Rubik’s Cubes, you might barely notice. But Sweden’s most inventive producer is back yet again with his latest novelty, this time turning one of the world’s best-selling toys (hundreds of millions of units) into a usable sequencer. HÃ¥kan Lidbo (concept and sound design) teams up with Per-Olov Jernberg (programming & visual design) and Romeo Brahasteanu (game board). The clever conceit here is to swap black for one of the colors, thus creating a foreground and background. Make a 4×4 grid of these cubes of …

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This Hack Could Make Maschine Stand Alone; Here’s How It’s Going

shaduzLabs – maschinIO from Mickael Le Goff on Vimeo. Ever thought you’d play Space Invaders on your Maschine? You might. It’s rough days for people who like standalone drum machine gear. Native Instruments’ Maschine is great in combination with software, but it turns into a brick when disconnected from a computer. The mighty Akai has followed suit, replacing their vaunted MPC with more accessories for your computer or iPad. This stuff is the dream of marketers: you get all-in-one hardware/software solutions. But when you want to cut the cord from your computer or go beyond the stock functionality, it’s another …

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Nintendo Game & Watch Inspires Tiny, $59 Synths from Teenage Engineering [CDM Hands-on]

“Pocket” is a term often used loosely to mean anything small. Not so the Teenage Engineering PO-12 series of instruments. They’re each literally small enough that you could put them in your jeans comfortably and still cram in your phone. We’ve got units from TE (and collaborator Cheap Monday) here at CDM, so let’s talk about what our wacky Stockholm friends have done this time. Remember Nintendo’s Game & Watch series? These business card-sized pocket games used crude but charming LCD animations, characters making jerky, repetitive movements for basic games. The ultra-cheap toy titles preceded the NES, the ingenious work …

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How A Plug-in Recaptured the Robot Voices of Your Childhood

I’ve just gotten lost making my computer sing. And now I can’t stop. You see, a funny thing happened on the way to the future. As speech synthesis vastly improved, it also became vastly more boring. Intelligibility robbed synthesized words and singing of its alien quality, which was what made it sound futuristic in the first place. Chipspeech takes us back to speech synthesis as many of us remember it growing up. It’s weird-sounding, to be sure, to the point of sometimes being unable to understand the words. But it’s also loaded with character. And there’s a history here. To …

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Free AudioKit Lets iOS, Mac Developers Code Synths and Sound

AudioKit is a promising-looking new open source tool set for coding synthesizers, music, and sound on Apple platforms (though it could certainly be ported to other places if you have the time). The draw: you get not only a robust library but loads of examples and tests, too, for a variety of applications, in both Objective-C and Apple’s new Swift language. And it’s free. The contributors will look familiar – and the core engine comes from community contributions around that most enduring of synthesis tools, Csound. (For those worried about obsolescence and the pace of technology, Csound has its roots …

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Lo-Fi SES Looks Like a Game Controller, Plays Like a Chip Instrument

What if there were a hacky, hackable handheld game platform – just for making noises? That’s what the Arduino-powered, Lo-Fi SES is all about. It’s basically a little 8-bit music toy, with a control layout borrowed from Nintendo of the past, but expandable, hackable, and open. The sound is very grungy and digital, but it all appears easy to play. The cutest touch: you expand the board with “cartridges,” add-ons that connect to the top to add functionality. “One”Final Sound Adventure” adds more sounds. “USB: A Link to the Hack” lets you program the board from your computer, using Arduino …

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The impressive, futuristic physical form of the 4DSOUND system. Photo: George Schroll.

Spatial Sound, in Play: Watch What Hackers Did in One Weekend with 4DSOUND

You can’t really hear the results of the Spatial Audio Hacklab sitting at your computer – by definition, you had to be there to take in the experience of sounds projected in space. But you’ll probably feel the enthusiasm and imagination of its participants. And that’s why it’s a pleasure to share the video documentation, produced for 4DSOUND by a team from FIBER – the Dutch audiovisual events and art platform – at Amsterdam Dance Event last month. In unleashing a diverse group of artist-experimenters on 4DSOUND’s unique speaker installation, we got a chance to create a sonic playground, a …

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Turn a Rock Band Keytar Into a Mellotron, And More Standalone Instruments

Lurking in the bargain bins of game shops is a surprisingly well-built keyboard. The Rock Band “keytar” controller may have been made for games, but the keybed is solid, the thing is light, and it can run on batteries. So why not turn it into a standalone instrument? That’s what Jamie Robertson has done with his, and he shows you how. The magic here is something he calls the WAV Trigger. Without naming any names, while there are a lot of cool Arduino shields and the like out there, a lot of them are pretty functionally limited. They’re cool to …

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