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Spinning Optical Drum Buddy and the Wild DIY Punk World of Quintron and Miss Pussycat

Deep in the Ninth Word of New Orleans lies the workbench and studio of one Mr. Quintron, the inventor-organist who has applied his DIY mad-scientist sonic production to a unique flavor of insistent punk. Mr. Quintron was this week in my home neighborhood in Berlin, accompanied by his wife Miss Pussycat – maraca player (maracaist?), vocalist, and puppeteer behind Flossie and the Unicorns. There was a puppet show. It was about cake – demon cake. There was the debut of a new inflatable puppet. Shirts came off. Sounds were made. It was hot. It was loud. Just as these puppets …

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Pinball Pianola: Pinball Game Meets a Piano in a Wild Constructed Instrument

Pinball Pianola from Lucas Abela on Vimeo. The mechanical and kinetic collide – literally – with the sonic, in a devilishly-inventive hybrid instrument that cross-breeds a pinball table with a piano. Australian artist Lucas Abela is joining us next month as part of CTM Festival: The Golden Age. In the meantime, he shares this work. I’ve devised a Frankenstein experiment, combining the greatest musical invention of all time, the Piano; with the coolest amusement machines ever conceived; Pinball, to create an interactive sound installation like no other; ‘Pinball Pianola’, a musical device constructed by replacing the keyboard, hammers and front …

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At MusicMakers, Experiencing Music Through Design, As Community of Doers Collaborates [Listen, Watch]

Making connections with people – creators and audience alike – sometimes means going beyond the virtual, and actually getting people together in the same room. For MusicMakers, Create Digital Music teamed up with curators and artists in Berlin to make some of those connections across disciplines, to get closer to the processes of design and music creation. Making and listening in the age of overabundance could feel diluted. But as makers keep making, and really listening, they can find their music comes to mean more, not less. With support from Moog Music, on the 14th of September we launched our …

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Credit Cards, Turned Into Musical Instruments, Sound Pretty Freaking Amazing [Video]

What sort of musical instruments can you make out of plastic credit cards? You might imagine results are limited. But with some clever use of mics, and brilliantly-simple application of time-tested ideas ranging from single-string monochords to music boxes, the results are eminently, wondrously sonorous. And the project benefits greatly from having some compositional intent behind it; the music is focused and makes those credit cards expressive. The project was a promotion for local Austrian banks, but they’re just as effective as promotions for making your own, unique instruments. Vienna-based composer Dr. Richard Eigner describes the project and the team …

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Crazy Musical Machines: Musical Inventions at STEIM + Handmade Music [Video]

What are they building in there? Create Digital Music teamed up last fall with Amsterdam’s STEIM, a hub for musical research and invention, to invite makers of musical inventions to show their unique creations. Above, some excerpts of some of what we showed, capping off with a massive improv chorus of everyone making a racket at once, directed by yours truly. It was just one episode in the spectacular Patterns + Pleasure Festival, a really great cross-section of musical innovation, and I’m glad to be able to share it now. Our video coverage of the event was produced with support …

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Richard Lainhart, Prolific Composer and Artist, Dies at 58; Links to His Work

Richard plays Handmade Music in 2007; full video at bottom. I’m saddened to learn of the death of Richard Lainhart, the New York-based composer and artist who has been inseparable from the experimental electronic scene for many years. I knew Richard to be a gentle and imaginative soul, an inventive technologist, someone capable of dreaming up endless soundscapes and auditory worlds. He was also a great contributor to the CDM community, including playing one of the early installments of Handmade Music at Etsy Labs in Brooklyn. (Photo above; full video at bottom.) I think it’s fitting to illustrate Richard with …

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Handmade ‘Smomid’ Touch Guitar, in BOMB Video, Extends Expression and Samples Monks

What do you do if you can’t find an instrument that you can play the way you want? In the digital domain, you can just invent one. So, when Brooklyn-based artist Nick Demopoulos wanted a controller that’d allow him to articulate digital instruments more like a guitar and less like a keyboard, he built his own expressive touch controller. It uses arrays of touch-sensing strips on a guitar body. A future version, he says, will incorporate 6 “strings” (touch strips). New York-based literary/culture quarterly BOMB Magazine shot a video in which Nick walks through his creation. Nick has also played …

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A Handmade Children’s Book, a 7″ Vinyl Record, and Tangible, Handmade Music

In the midst of all this talk of intangible digital intellectual property and arcane licensing and Internet policy, there’s something comforting about thinking of music and art as something you make with your hands and give to someone. It was a discussion of that – even in the context of technology – that first led me to the discussion of “Handmade Music.” (Tip of the hat to my friend, Etsy’s Matt Stinchcomb, with whom this discussion has crossed the Atlantic from Brooklyn to Berlin.) Via Cool Hunting, here’s an old-fashioned way of making a music object. The music is on …

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Preview: NYC’s In/Out Festival, in Videos, Embraces Eclectic Lineup and Music DIY

You can complain about music events and festivals as they are, dream about what you’d imagine an event could be – or you can go and make it happen. And since the latter category fits friends-of-the-site Chris Gilroy and Lara Grant, it’s well worth an endorsement for this weekend’s In/Out Festival. (For their part, both Chris and Lara have been regulars at our Handmade Music NYC series; Chris as an electronic audiovisualist, and Lara as a textile-and-sound-melding felted signal processing guru.) If you’re in New York, hope you can make it or even help cover it for CDM. If you’re …

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Now with MIDI: Critter + Guitari Pocket Piano

The Pocket Piano remains one of my favorite boutique creations – a devilishly simple, irresistibly fun musical instrument. And now, in addition to other subtle tweaks it has received, it gets MIDI – see video above. We got to spend time with the Pocket Piano at CDM’s Handmade Music Lounge at Solid Sound Festival, presented by Moog Music; video from that coming soon, to remind us of the warmth of summer as we slip into fall. What does MIDI mean for the Pocket Piano? Send MIDI (controller): key presses as note messages Receive MIDI (sound module) all 88 notes of …

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