opensourcehardware

Open Source Music Hardware: Got Gear? Fill Out Our Survey as We Look at the Landscape

If you do want to get religious about this, you may want to wear this around your neck: Open Source Hardware logo as jewelry! Photo (CC-BY-SA) MAKE’s Becky Stern. We’ve followed open source hardware – and generally hardware that is more open to user customization and modification – on this site since the beginning. As I prepare for a talk on the MeeBlip at Berlin’s Create Art & Technology Conference, though, I think it’s time to do a proper survey of the hardware that’s out there. The ability to modify music gear is something that’s important to a lot of …

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blipbox

New Open Grid Gear: A Hackable, Touchable, Light-up Array – BlipBox

Light-up grids of buttons are nearly commonplace, but the BlipBox is something different: its array of lights is also a sensor, making it both X/Y controller and light-up grid. And it’s designed to be completely open — firmware, hardware, schematics and documentation are all fully GPL-licensed and open source. For those of us who aren’t ninja coders, it’s also easy to customize, thanks to friendly software (pictured below) .k for making nifty interactive animations on its display and support for the artist-friendly Processing code environment. As the creators describe it, it’s three (three!) pieces of hardware in one: a creative …

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tkrworksmixer

New Open Grid Gear: DJ Mixer Meets monome Grid in MIDI + OSC Controller

It had to happen — button triggering, as popularized by the monome, here meets a conventional two-channel DJ mixer. But the layout I must say is quite spare and lovely, the work of the Japanese-based PICnome project. Furthermore, it’s Open Source Hardware, covered as I have recommended by a ShareAlike Creative Commons license (with no commercial restrictions) and GPL v3. (The creator prefers the term “Free Hardware,” which I love theoretically but have avoided for fear of people demanding we mail them MeeBlips by sending us a self-addressed, stamped box.) With clean, subtle markings and a nicely-composed layout, it’s hardware …

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pinwheel-0

MuseScore 1.1, Free and Open Source Notation, Rivals – and Plays with – Sibelius 7

An example score produced with MuseScore’s new lead sheet features. Music notation software has long been seen as a two-horse race, a Pepsi versus Coke stand-off between Finale and Sibelius. But not only are there other alternatives, too, here’s one tool that’s making free and open source notation viable. I’ve spoken previously about engraving tool Lilypond, but it’s not entirely graphical, even with GUI front ends. MuseScore will look more familiar to users of something like Sibelius, and just as the latter released a major upgrade, it also had a big 1.1 release with major new enhancements. MuseScore has a …

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milkyandroid

MilkyTracker, Free Tracker, now on Android; Get Your Keyboards

MilkyTracker, the free and open source GPL tracker tool, is now available on Android, thanks to some cross-platform goodness. (Developers: see SDL-lib, which brings a flexible multimedia library to Android and enables a host of multimedia and games, and the NDK, Google’s JNI-based toolset for C/C++ on the platform.) So, what does this mean? It means a tool already available on an absurd number of platforms (Mac, Windows, Linux, Windows Mobile, and even Amiga), and build-able on more, gets one additional platform. Whether it’s actually useful to have a traditional tracker on your mobile phone is another matter, and that …

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Eigenharp Covers Glass, and Software for Futuristic Instrument Goes Open and GPL

Speaking of futuristic instrumental design, the Eigenharp – an instrument that looks like the bassoon was redesigned by Vulcans – brings two big developments with its appearance this week in the Bay Area of California. First off, if you’ve doubted its utility in musical practice and you’re a fan of American minimalism, we’re treated to it covering the music of Philip Glass’ landmark Koyaanisqatsi. Geert Bevin, Eigenlabs’ Senior Software Developer, explains how he did it: I’m using SonicCouture’s Glass/Works Kontakt instrument in a four-part multi-timbral setup in Native Instruments Kontakt. Each key individually controls pitch, velocity and the resonance of …

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hydrogen

Making Music with Free and Open Source Software: Top Picks from Red Hat, Dave Phillips

There are plenty of reasons to consider free software tools as part of your toolchain for music making. They might fit your budget, give you needed flexibility, allow you to use a tool driven more by development needs than commercial ones, give you tools that would otherwise lack proprietary commercial niches, allow you to run (via Linux) on a wider variety of hardware or with greater low-latency performance, or allow you to contribute more directly to a project, from documentation to actual development. And increasingly, they don’t mandate some sort of philosophical choice, either – I routinely use free software …

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a3_midi_overview

Ardour 3, Free DAW, is Nearly Done – And, With MIDI, Could Become Your Main DAW

MIDI in Ardour – and now, Ardour suddenly becomes viable for a wide swath of users. If a free and open source DAW sounds like a tall order, it is. And so it’s little surprise that Ardour 3, the biggest upgrade to this solid music production workstation, has been a long time coming. What might surprise you: Ardour 3 is not only nearly here, but it could be substantial enough to become your primary music workstation. And that could be a good thing for the whole music production ecosystem on Mac and Linux. The big news is, as expected, Ardour …

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meeblipblip

Meet Meeblip, The Open Source, Hackable Digital Hardware Synth

Making music, making blips and bleeps, turning knobs, plugging in keyboards, and having the freedom to modify your gear – these are good things. And that’s why I’m so excited that today is the day the MeeBlip launches. It’s been several years in development, but now it’s finally here. It’s a hardware box that makes noises – virtual analog synth noises, chip-sounding noises, good noises, bad noises, noises you can make into music. It’s got physical knobs and switches on it, plus a MIDI DIN in port so you can connect that keytar you bought on eBay. It’s also a …

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Open Source Lead Sheet, Improv Tool, a Free Band-in-a-Box Alternative

Ask a machine to emulate human creativity, and at the very least, you’re guaranteed to learn something. Modeling creative rules and intuitive algorithms as generative code is itself an eminently human activity – think of it as interactive theory. And where the computer fails to sound like a human, you learn something, too. Improv-Visor is an artificially-intelligent jazz improviser tool, but it’s quite a lot more. It can be used to make lead sheets, to experiment with jazz harmonies and solos, and – by asking human students to fill in their own parts – a teaching tool. It continues some …

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