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MICKEYPHON is a terrifying giant robot head that’s also a musical instrument

Inside the computer, music software very often looks like it always did – faux mixers and multitracks and piano rolls. But in the hands of designers, musical objects are appearing as something very different. And those iconic mouse ears seem to be … following you.

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animoog

Making a light sculpture a musical instrument, played with Animoog on iPad

Light organs have been in use for generations. But this is the first generation that has grown up in a world of image and sound in which expression across electronic media might seem simply second nature. And oddly, as screens have become more ubiquitous, so, too, has thinking beyond them. What we see here, then, isn’t a projection. It isn’t a display. It’s a big bundle of lightbulbs, making rhythmic poetry in off and on once connected to a jumble of wires. Play the Moog app Animoog on an iPad, and that mountain of electronic junk winks back at you …

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augmenteddrumming

Watch Agumenta Transform Drumming As You Play

Call it augmented drumming: algorithmic software listens to you play and creates wild IDM-style percussion around you.

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Watch 16 Rubik’s Cubes Turn Into a Visual Music Sequencer

The future happens gradually — and then by the time you’re sequencing a Web browser using Rubik’s Cubes, you might barely notice. But Sweden’s most inventive producer is back yet again with his latest novelty, this time turning one of the world’s best-selling toys (hundreds of millions of units) into a usable sequencer. Håkan Lidbo (concept and sound design) teams up with Per-Olov Jernberg (programming & visual design) and Romeo Brahasteanu (game board). The clever conceit here is to swap black for one of the colors, thus creating a foreground and background. Make a 4×4 grid of these cubes of …

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midiharp

MIDI Makes an Augmented Harp Performance Like None You’ve Heard

The harp: it’s big. It’s temperamental. It’s pretty much associated with an established set of music. And when you hear “MIDI harp,” you’re typically in store for something kind of cheesy involving laser beams. Not this time, though: this is an actual harp, augmented with MIDI into a pretty wacky one-off one-person instrument. Time for Throwback Thursday, because I hadn’t seen this before even though it’s rather old. But, maybe unearthing it in this fashion will inspire Arnaud Roy to make something new (or share what he’s been up to lately). The project is the “HarpJamX” – a conventional acoustic …

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playthebuilding_big

An Entire Building in Stockholm Just Became a Game Board

Not satisfied with producing hundreds of records and working with a litany of famous names, sound artist / composer / musician Håkan Lidbo several times a year embarks on some novel experiment in sound and interactivity. In the latest, he’s worked with smart lightbulbs from Philips to transform an entire building in Stockholm into your very own personal game board. They’re calling it the world’s biggest Master Mind game, and who are we to argue? The idea is, windows become pixels, and you play online to try to guess the color code of your opponent, in a game of wits.

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How Gestures and Ableton Live Can Make Anyone a Conductor of Mendelssohn [Behind the Scenes]

Digital music can go way beyond just playback. But if performers and DJs can remix and remake today’s music, why should music from past centuries be static? An interactive team collaborating on the newly reopened Museum im Mendelssohn-Haus wanted to bring those same powers to average listeners. Now, of course, there’s no substitute for a real orchestra. But renting orchestral musicians and a hall is an epic expense, and the first thing most of those players will do when an average person gets in front of them and tries to conduct is, well – get angry. (They may do that …

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Think Stormtroopers more than Diane Keaton when you hear her name. And don't expect her to give up any rebel secrets, really. Photo of the artist, courtesy the artist.

You Should Listen to Fuzzy Cut-up Goodness, Heavy Techno from Annie Hall [Detroit Underground]

Annie Hall – Random Paraphilia EP PROMO from annie hall on Vimeo. Spanish-born, Windsor-based producer/DJ Annie Hall is always something special, a gift to techno and experimental music. Pushing her digital sound to the edge, she can sharpen her sound to glitch, fuzz, but always with a sense of warmth and intimacy. It’s cut tightly, but manages to tread techno-electro paths in its asymmetrical grooves. There’s never an absence of forward motion: like one of those crazy new robotic insects, all the complex kinetic action somehow makes it sprint. And then, as she does this summer, she can head straight …

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djrig

A Solar-Powered, Outdoor DJ Booth and Interactive Dance Floor for Public Playgrounds

Swingsets? Basketball courts? Dutch interactive design firm Yalp imagines populating futuristic public playgrounds with DJ decks and dance floors, for today’s teens. First, there’s the Fono DJ booth. It’s an outdoor public DJ booth, steel-cased with 14 light-up touch panels. Add a couple of phones, and kids can stream their own music, using the touch panels to control the settings. (In case you’re afraid your neighborhood is about to turn into a teen Ibiza, the makers emphasize that they let the installer choose maximum volume levels and times when the system shuts down.) Then, in case you want to dance …

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Plaid’s Tether is an Interactive Web Song You Can Remix – Music, or Code

Now that your Web browser can do what music creation software can do, presenting a song can be more than just giving people a play button. And allowing people to “remix” your music might mean sounds and software alike. First, there was Jono Brandel’s terrific Patatap with Lullatone. Press keys on your keyboard, and a warm, Lullatone-inspired sample machine delights with brightly-colored abstract objects and sounds, a sort of custom browser beat box. Patatap went viral, perhaps because it brought musical wonder to the carousel of distracting tabs on the Web. Now, Jono Brandel (of the Google Creative Lab, with …

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