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On Apple Watch, Sound Design Translates into Haptic Feel

You already know sound is something you feel, physically – you know this from the sensation in your head on headphones, from your gut as a PA produces big bass, from the bodily experience of thunderstorms or the siren on an ambulance. But we may soon live in a world where increasingly the role of sound design is wrapped up in interaction – where those sounds can produce physical sensations and haptic interactions. And whether or not the Apple Watch is used by musicians and DJs with new apps, it could add to possibilities for sound designers. Wired has a …

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The impressive, futuristic physical form of the 4DSOUND system. Photo: George Schroll.

Spatial Sound, in Play: Watch What Hackers Did in One Weekend with 4DSOUND

You can’t really hear the results of the Spatial Audio Hacklab sitting at your computer – by definition, you had to be there to take in the experience of sounds projected in space. But you’ll probably feel the enthusiasm and imagination of its participants. And that’s why it’s a pleasure to share the video documentation, produced for 4DSOUND by a team from FIBER – the Dutch audiovisual events and art platform – at Amsterdam Dance Event last month. In unleashing a diverse group of artist-experimenters on 4DSOUND’s unique speaker installation, we got a chance to create a sonic playground, a …

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How Gloves and Wearable Tech Could Change Music Performance: In Depth with Imogen Heap and Team

In fits and starts, musical interface inventors have tried for decades to make manipulating digital music more expressive. But that persistence comes out of a clear goal post. They want the machine’s seemingly-endlessly possibilities to fit the human like a glove. Imogen Heap is no stranger to pushing the boundaries of electronic musical performance, always making it seem as effortless as her songwriting and stage presence. For the Gloves Project, she assembled a super-team of wearable experts, interaction designers, and music researchers, several doctorates between them. This who’s-who have finally unveiled a project they’re ready to make public, and the …

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Grabbing Invisible Sounds with Magical Gloves: Open Gestures, But with Sound and Feel Feedback

You might imagine sound in space, or dream up gestures that traverse unexplored sonic territory. But actually building it is another matter. Kinect – following a long line of computer vision applications and spatial sensors – lets movement and gestures produce sound. The challenge of such instruments has long been that learning to play them is tough without tactile feedback. Thereminists learn their instrument through a the extremely-precise sensing of their instrument and sonic feedback. In AHNE (Audio-Haptic Navigation Environment), sonic feedback is essential, but so, too, is feel. Haptic vibration lets you know as you approach sounds — essential, …

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Bugs on the Game Grid: Synplode Makes Step Sequencing Tangible for an Interactive Dance Floor

Digital musician and artist Josh Silverman began the Synplode process with something familiar – a checkerboard. Play a game of checkers on its computer vision-equipped playing field and beats and loops triggered in Ableton Live generated a responsive soundtrack for the game. But as it’s evolved, Synplode has become a general-purpose musical grid. Whether with little robotic insects (the Hexbugs here) or full-sized human persons, the grid can turn any space into a dynamic, interactive dance floor. (I think I may actually prefer those cute little bugs to the people and dancers and whatnot. Robot rave, anyone?) I prodded Josh …

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Music Notation, What is it Good For? How About Humans?

Ding dong, the score is dead… or not, in fact. Photo (CC-BY) Steve Snodgrass. There’s a peculiar false controversy going on at the moment over music notation. First, the blog for online (Flash-based) browser notation editor Noteflight introduced a manifesto: Music Notation Today, Part 1: A Brief Manifesto The essay by president Joe Berkovitz is a good read, but it oddly makes the comparison between notation and recorded sound, which is a bit like saying a telephone is better than a DVD. One is interactive and intended for human conversation; one is not. So, go ahead and enjoy the copy …

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Drawing Sound: Crazy Touch Interface Sound Experiments with Usine, PC

The quickest route to expressing an idea remains the gesture of a hand. That gesture may be crudely interpreted through today’s touch displays, but the immediacy remains. Presumably because of some of the device’s limitations, a lot of the experiments with the iPad have involved controllers that operate independently from sound software, like a remote control. Those interfaces, while useful, largely simulate existing hardware controls in a more flexible form, rather than introduce new ideas. But it seems the long-term potential for touch devices is in designs that unite touch, graphic, and sound in a single piece of software, exploring …

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iPhones, Pencils: Hand-Drawn Music Interactions, Tokyo Subway Mobile Jam

Musicians have long made pictures to represent musical ideas, share those ideas, and allow others to participate. Before computers, we created scores. Now, we can create interfaces, too. Of course, just because you’re using a digital interface doesn’t mean the pencil as prototyping tool has to go anywhere. It’s the quickest way to sketch out an idea. And if your hand is steady, it just might become a lovely, personal interface. OtoBlock by Tsubasa Naruse is a hand-drawn music sequencer. The basic interface is nothing new, dropping blocks into sequence to make sounds, but the charm is the rough edges …

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Visual Music: Aaron Koblin and Meyers’ Visual Compositions, Eyebeam Call Due Today

This post, by definition, overlaps with the worlds of Create Digital Music and Create Digital Motion, so I’m cross-posting — absolutely not one you want to miss, both because of the event in New York, and because the landscape of works here engages issues about which readers here I know are passionate. Music and visuals are each themselves endless wells of potential; put them together, and “infinite possibility” probably isn’t an overstatement. This July, label Ghostly International is working with researchers at New York’s Eyebeam research center to do a free, one-week intensive on dynamically-generated visuals for sound. Before you …

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A Collection of Curious Sound Objects

FINE COLLECTION OF CURIOUS SOUND OBJECTS from Georg Reil on Vimeo. Commentary would spoil the video above, but to me it’s a reminder of the power of theater in all we do with technology and musical objects. The arrangement includes six exceptional exhibits from the world of sounds and acoustics. At first sight looking trivial, each object incorporates a very unique ability. The magical character of each object is accompanied with a little story, almost completely concealing the existence of technical components such as speakers or sensors. Only small connection ports as well as the uniform black finishing point to …

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