it-lives

Debut of MeeBlip micro Synth, Workshop, Handmade Music: Toronto on Friday

In Toronto this Friday, we’ll be connecting with InterAccess Gallery in a celebration of DIY, adventurous music making, and blipping synthesizers. It’ll also be the first public debut of the new MeeBlip micro, a pocket-sized version of our MeeBlip open source hardware synth. Part of why I’m excited to be hacking away with the fine folks of Toronto is that we’ll be able to document that new design and what you might make with it for everybody else. The MeeBlip micro and revised MeeBlip se will be coming very soon to everyone. What’s the MeeBlip micro? It’s the brains of …

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Workshop in LA: Make Your Own Musical Tools, Free, with Processing and Pd

Music visualization in Processing by yours truly. If you’re in the LA area, I’m teaching a reasonably beginner-friendly workshop in making musical tools with visual interfaces, using entirely free software (Processing and Pd, on Mac, Windows, Linux, and if you like, Android). It’s this coming Thursday night, September 8 – the perfect way to get back to school! (For me, too…) I’ll also be sharing some resources as I put them together for that workshop, so wherever you are, keep an eye on CDM soon. The workshop is US$60, but you’ll leave with the skills you need to make your …

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Musical Ideas into Musical Invention: Handmade Music at Amsterdam’s STEIM, Video, Open Call

Idyllic Amsterdam’s Amstel River, steps away from STEIM, makes nice inspiration. (Cross-processed film photo, which looks more like it feels being there.) In late September, CDM travels to Amsterdam and the legendary STEIM, a hub for research and experimentation in electro-acoustic music. The Patterns + Pleasure Festival will explore live electronic music practice and more, from controllerist laptop musicians like Edison and Moldover to the likes of sculpture-trained artist Nina Boes working with drawing and video instruments. The afternoon of September 28, we’ll have an open celebration of DIY electronic music culture with a special installment of Handmade Music. If …

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Scratch This: A DIY Project Repurposes DJ Controllers as Scratch Inputs; Recycling DJ Gear

Scratching, meet recycling. Rather than allow MIDI DJ controllers to consign themselves to landfills, a new open source project promises to retrofit these gadgets with scratch capabilities. Scratch Decoder is a collaborative, open source effort to add or extend obsolete controllers, CDJs, and turntables with digital vinyl control – before they get tossed. Inspired by a 2009 thesis by Swiss student Ramon Mathis, advised by the folks who first developed the Ms. Pinky vinyl control system for Max/MSP, and rooted in years of work, the system is now publicly documented. The ingredients: An Arduino hardware board The encoder sensor and …

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Music with Your Face: Artist Kyle McDonald Talks Face-Tracking Music-making with FaceOSC

Music making with your face? It’s just the latest novel way of manipulating your computer with movement, thanks to a revived interest in camera-based interaction spurred by Microsoft’s Kinect and hackers making it work, and other computer vision libraries. One original work: FaceOSC, which uses custom tracking code and a standard computer webcam (no additional hardware required) and free code to send control information for applications like live music performance. Kyle McDonald may have already wowed you with his face-tracking wizardry, but it’s easy to want to know more. Sure, it’s cool, but, um, what is it for? How do …

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Designing Music, in an Art:21 Interview with Electronic Instrument Creator Todd Bailey

He’s built an open-source, retro-tinged 8-bit sampler, “Where’s the Party At?” (I’m been building the second generation now, so expect a review by early August.) He’s had electronic instrument designs on shelves at the retail chain Target and on the walls of the Whitney Art Museum in New York. He just completed a set of luxury chandeliers, when he wasn’t making waves in the circuit bending scene. Todd Bailey is the kind of Renaissance artist at the center of the new DIY scene. There was a time when engineers and artists were separate groups, and big laboratories worked how to …

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In An Explosion of Keys, a DIY Isomorphic Instrument

Alternative key layouts have popped up in commercial hardware and now iPad apps and such, but there’s nothing like trying to build something to grasp how it works. An intrepid group of makers who call themselves Louisville Soundbuilders are working now to clone the C-Thru Music AXiS-64. The goal: their own, original instrument that uses the isomorphic array of keys the AXiS does, which by organizing notes by harmonic interval makes complex melodies and harmonies much simpler than on traditional fretted instruments and keyboards. You can see results in the video. (It doesn’t make sound until the very end. This …

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Androidcontrollerism: Hardware Options on Android, in Detail; Android Player Piano

Adding hardware to tablets, as it has with decades of computing technology, can open up new worlds for software and music. It can animate a conventional piano, or provide new physical interfaces for touching music. But let’s not wait for it to happen; let’s get hacking. Following on today’s line of thinking about hardware-augmented touch, I’d like to look a bit at the recently-transformed landscape on Android. iOS users can connect to external hardware via the Core MIDI protocol or, via official channels, through the Apple Dock Connector. That’s not a perfect situation, however. Hardware developers have to be approved …

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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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Hack by Day, Afrotronic Future Funk By Night: Handmade Music NYC Sat 4/2, Listening and More Free Now

If you’re in the NYC area, we hope you’ll mark your calendar; if not, we have some free listening for you to explore below. Hacking and inventing, creative musicians are making and modifying the tools of their performance to express the music they imagine, with stunning variety of results. And so it is that once a month (erm, more or less), we get together in Manhattan to celebrate music makers at a little thing we call Handmade Music. This month, experimental sound systems and Afrotronic future funk with new electronic instruments inspired by west African tradition join the lineup. 1-6 …

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