Handmade Music NY 8/29: Meet the Musical Inventors, Pong to Dodecahedrons

Handmade Music is a community get-together, Science Fair, noise-making happening, and party for people making things that make music. We return to NYC on Sunday, August 29 at 7p. Our new Manhattan home is Culturefix, a new electronics boutique, gallery, and tapas bar on the Lower East Side. This month, we welcome a classically-trained guitar duo using their instruments to play games, an original string-modeling instrument, a sonic dodecahedron sculpture (really), artists using game chips, and more. Last-minute creations are always welcome. If you’re in New York, we definitely hope to see you Sunday night. And wherever you are, it’s …

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Android Music: Jasuto, Modular, Serious Music App, Now Does ‘Droid

Handheld music making gets its share of criticism and nose-upturning from “serious” digital musicians. Indeed, some of the apps hold up to a few minutes of casual use but fail to form that long-term relationship that makes us love musical tools and toys. Limitations can be good, but many of these tools aren’t open to from-scratch sound design. And when you get back to your desk, you’re often stuck with clumsy workflows like exporting to raw audio files – and that’s if you’re lucky; some applications even lack tools that basic. Jasuto is different. Its graphical, modular interface is open-ended …

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Android Music: Electrum Drum Machine-Sampler, Reloop Sequencer

Google’s Android platform has gotten only a fraction of the attention for music making that iPhone OS and iPad have, but that doesn’t mean the OS doesn’t have some advantages of its own. Thanks to being an open OS, it’s also easier to install custom OSes, and repurpose older devices and build cheap embedded computers on a platform like BeagleBoard. The remaining challenge: convince Google that beefing up real-time audio hardware access is important. So, with Google’s own I/O conference this week and me in Berlin next week during DroidCon, now seems like the perfect time to talk about handheld …

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NitroTracker, DS Music Tool, Now Open Source

One of the most beloved tools in Nintendo DS homebrew has become free software, under the GPL v3. Talk about restrictive platforms – the DS requires special hardware just to get this app to run. But even with a couple of people involved in development, that could mean better, more frequent updates. I also wonder if we might see this largely-native code ported or adapted to another platform. (It’d work especially well with hardware that’s got a stylus.) The code release is not for everyone, as indicated by the phrases that mark the site: Do you write VBlank handlers instead …

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TouchDJ Arrives for iPhone

You’re now approved to DJ with your iPhone. Or at least the app is. I’m not sure if I can take credit for getting Apple’s attention, but Apple has approved the TouchDJ application from Amidio. That’s big news, partly because developer Amidio has consistently been at the forefront of musical development on the platform, including their Noise.io synth and wild hexagonal JR Hexatone Pro. This also is a big blog to the theory that Apple is intentionally blocking DJ apps — and a big boon to the theory that the App Store is just plain clogged, even if it may …

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Multi-Player Drumming: Handheld Open-Source Music for Nintendo DS

It’s drumming, the multi-player game. The Drummer is an open-source application for the Nintendo DS handheld, developed by Andrea Bianchi and Woon Seung Yeo and presented alongside a paper earlier this year at the NIME Conference (The International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression). As with any Nintendo homebrew software, you’ll need a special DS cartridge capable of loading software from flash memory – though if this app were developed more, it could make a terrific DSi app. The idea is this: while making a handheld game system into an instrument, why not take advantage of its networking features? …

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iPhone Day: Star6 Demonstrates Elegance of Mobile UI, Live Mobile Music with Style

The novelty of the iPhone or [your favorite device here] may fade. But part of what matters in mobile design is thinking about how to create interfaces and uses that can scale to the size of your palm. That can mean embracing radical simplicity, and reducing an interactive, digital musical object down to its essential noise-making functions. In acoustic instrument design, that means economizing sound production in a form. In the digital world, it means finding the interactive role you’d want to bring with you onstage, in the length roughly equivalent your fingertips to your wrist. I’m a few weeks …

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Inside Beaterator, Rockstar Games’ New PSP Beat Maker, with Gory Technical Bits

What’s that? A full-blown synth interface on the PSP – in a title from the makers of GTA, with Timbaland’s named plastered all over it? Yep. That’s exactly what it is. As you may know, the creators of games like Grand Theft Auto have collaborated with Timbaland to bring a mobile music studio to Sony’s PSP (and later, the iPhone), based on an ambitious free Flash experiment on their Website. Now, it’s my impassioned belief that you shouldn’t need lots of canned loops or celebrity endorsements to make music fun, so normally I might actually run the opposite direction of …

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Korg DS-10 Plus Coming, with Beefed-Up Features for Nintendo DSi

Fans of the Nintendo DS may have been immune to the siren song of Nintendo’s tweaked DSi model. Unfortunately, I have a feeling a bunch of you are about to upgrade your handheld game system. Why? Because the folks at AQ Interactive are doing an upgraded version of the DS-10 software synth for the game platform, now on the DSi. Palm Sounds gets the scoop. New in this version: Twice the analog synths (4 of them, instead of 2) Twice the drum machines (8 instead of 4) Twice the tracks (12 instead of 6) Expanded song mode: programmable track mute, …

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HTC Touch Pro as a Portable Beat Sequencer, with Windows Mobile, AudioBox

It’s easy enough to dismiss mobile music devices as toys, and I’d add, there’s really nothing wrong with toys. But the test – a personal one – is whether or not you can develop your musical ideas with them. Some of the deepest, most consistently satisfying tools for mobile devices are the ones that shrink down real production capabilities to a handheld size. Look closely at these apps, and you’ll see software that could easily have passed for “advanced” sequencers on computers fifteen years ago. (Indeed, I think arguably we’ve lost some usability with the complexity we’ve added since.) While …

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