Music and Performance, Made On The Spot: Hacklab, Open Call in Berlin

Inventing technological hacks in short time is one thing. At CTM Festival in Berlin, we want to push collaborative participants to go further. First, invent the technology for performance. Then, invent the performance – and be ready to perform publicly – and it do it all in just one week. It’s time again to join a MusicMakers Hacklab. Last year was the first week-long event hosted with CDM, and the first at CTM Festival. CTM makes a perfect venue, a brilliant and packed showcase for adventurous sound (and in parallel with another digital media fest, Transmediale, in the same city …

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Happy Independence Day: The Legacy of the Computer is Not the Mouse

Oregon-born engineer, inventor, and thinker Douglas Engelbart has died. He’ll be listed in many outlets as, mundanely, the inventor of the computer mouse. Certainly, the demo of that technology in 1968 had a profound impact. But what’s stunning is that even at that demo, the mouse wasn’t the most impressive thing Engelbart showed. At the same talk, he demonstrated videoconferencing and textual hyperlinks. And the real legacy of Engelbart was his computer humanism, an idea that spread virally to motivate the world of computing as personally powerful, communicative and expressive. What enabled Engelbart to look so far into the future, …

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How Music Can Predict the Human/Machine Future [re:publica Talk, Video]

This week, at Germany’s re:publica conference – an event linking offline and online worlds – I addressed the question of how musical inventions can help predict the way we use tools. I started all the way back tens of thousands of years ago with the first known (likely) musical instrument. From there, I looked at how the requirements of musical interfaces – in time and usability – can inform all kinds of design problems. And I also suggested that musicians don’t lag in innovation as much as people might expect. I thought about whether I wanted to post this as …

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If I Could Save Sounds in a Bottle… Interactive Experiment Does Just That

Re:Sound Bottle -second mix- from Jun Fujiwara on Vimeo. Sampling might feel sometimes like bottling up sounds. But in a project from Japanese designer Jun Fujiwara, the experience is delightfully literal – much to the surprise of people who try it out. As seen in videos, Re:Sound Bottle records sound snippets when uncorked, then remixes them into rhythmic music. Have a look. It looks like great stuff. Dear Jun, if you’re out there and read CDM, we’d love to hear from you! Description and original video below:

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As a Musician Loses Her Sight, A Rush for Music Apps for the Blind [Hack + Listen]

Take a good, long look at your computer screen. Now imagine you can’t see it. That’s the reality Mandy Matz is facing. At age 36, she’s losing her vision to glaucoma. The musician and multimedia artist makes some beautiful, ethereal music, having cut her teeth on Buzz. Listen to the haunting “Alpha Waves,” her first song. EP by Theory Anesthetic And now, because sight is so deeply connected to the way in which music developers map your brain to software, losing her vision could mean losing her ability to work with digital tools. It shouldn’t be this way. As Paul …

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What Does it Mean to Be an Electronic Instrument?

The electronic music analog to visual media’s question “is it art?” is clear. “Is it really a musical instrument?” Ableton will this week officially launch its Push hardware with Live 9; we’ll have an online exclusive review alongside that release. I know that the company is fond of calling it an “instrument.” For a profile by the German-language magazine De:Bug, Ableton CEO Gerhard Behles even posed with a double bass, the Push set up alongside. The message was clear: Ableton wants you to think of Push as an instrument. We’ll revisit that question regarding Push, but this isn’t only important …

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Gestrument, Shaping Music with Kinect, Touch, and Acoustic Ensembles [Videos]

Swiping through clouds of timbre and melody, using Gestrument is an experience of a different musical animal. Jesper Nordin and Kymatica / Jonatan Liljedahl created the iPad version, available now for ten bucks. But it’s worth looking at that side by side with Gestrument for Kinect, as the same metaphors can translate across input methods. Both employ a kind of meta-composition – instrument as conductor of musical structures, more than an object for exclusively solo expression. What’s especially nice is hearing these digital, synthesized environments meld with acoustic instruments. The solution may not convince everyone yet, but there’s clearly potential …

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Look, Ma, Hands: iOS Theremin App Draws from Tannerin, Martenot, Trautonium

So, you want to go beyond conventional, piano-style keys and guitar frets. Even if the ultimate goal is hardware, the touch interface of iOS is a lovely blank canvas on which to experiment. In the latest app, the work of UK-based graphic designer Paul Betowski, the Theremin proves a jumping-off point to other instruments, like the 1928 Ondes-Martenot, 1929 Trautonium, and the instrument used on The Beach Boys’ legendary “Good Vibrations”: the Tannerin or Electro-Theremin. The new app is called the E Theremin – an Electro Theremin – but it owes more to the “Good Vibrations” instrument than the wave-your-hands-in-the-air …

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Make a New Sound: Scanned Synthesis on Wablet for iPad Features Utterly Mad Meshes

It’s a good sign when you need to invent a new verb to describe using a music tool. And so, get ready for some wabbling. Feel like there aren’t any new synthesis techniques? Scanned synthesis is a reasonable example. Fundamentally, it involves wavetable synthesis – producing new sounds by playing back recorded wavetable content – but navigates those sounds by “scanning” through pitch and timbre independently at slow speeds. By doing so, it simulates slow vibrations in the real world, and it leans heavily on the way human physical control and hearing work. The technique was developed by Bill Verplank …

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Concept: Rubik’s Cube as Interactive Electronic Music Tool Interface [Video]

MusixCube from Stefan Horak on Vimeo. It’s just a concept, but it’s an excellent one: the classic Rubik’s Cube here is transformed into a tangible music interface. Grid squares light up as icons, colored feedback animates sounds, and twisting the blocks around provides access to interface options and even parameter control. Someone. Make this happen. From Kiel, Germany (north of Hamburg) and artist/student Hauke Scholz. Hauke, let’s do this for real. A tool for producing electronic music, based on the interaction of the Rubik’s Cube, B.A. Thesis project at Muthesius Academy Of Fine Arts And Design by Hauke Scholz Video …

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