Church-Inspired Electronic Music, in Album and Interactive, Gothic App, from Forss [Listen]

Delicate and dense, melodies and sounds from church contexts, found sounds of bells and voices, are set against crisp, sharply-solid, forward-driving electronic beats. And then, there are the visuals: an archaic architecture of mystical symbols and three-dimensional, evolving forms interpret the music in visual form. Swedish-born artist and technologist Eric Wahlforss, in other words, has been busy. As the artist Forss, his album is an app, appropriately for someone who is the co-founder and CTO of SoundCloud. Eric showed me an early build over cheeseburgers. It’s reactive, perhaps, more than interactive, but there’s still a chance to use your hands …

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Hypo Chrysos live at Trendelenburg AV Festival, Gijon, Spain, December 2011.

From Your Body to Music: Interview with Biophysical Xth Sense Interface Creator

What you’re watching in the video above doesn’t involve cameras or motion sensors. It’s the kind of brain-to-machine, body-to-interaction interface most of us associate with science fiction. And while the technology has made the occasional appearance in unusual, niche commercial applications, it’s poised now to blow wide open for music – open as in free and open source. Erasing the boundary between contracting a muscle in the bio-physical realm and producing electronic sound in the virtual realm is what Xth Sense is all about. Capturing biological data is all the rage these days, seen primarily in commercial form in products …

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Thicket for iOS Thickens; Artists Describe the Growth of an Audiovisual Playground

By the 1990s, the notion that computer software could be a means of delivering interactive digital art more personally was enjoying a Renaissance. This was the age of the Voyager CD-ROM, which catered to new multimedia PCs and Macs with titles from the likes of Laurie Anderson and Morton Subotnick, the decade in which Brian Eno released Generative Music as software and Monolake – before Ableton – included a Max/MSP patch with an album. But the reach of these experiments was doomed to be relatively limited. Now, of course, things are different. First, we saw some widely-available audiovisual toys, coinciding …

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Pd, Everywhere: Free libpd Gets a New Site, New Book on Making Mobile Music Apps

Pure Data (Pd) is already a free, convenient tool for making synths, effects, and sequencers and other musical generators. But imagine stripping away all the things that tie it to a platform – UI, specific hardware support – so it will run just about anywhere, on anything, in any context. That’s what libpd, a free, embeddable, open source (BSD) tool for making interactive music, does. Coders can take their favorite language and their favorite platform, and just plug in the power of Pd. They don’t even have to know almost anything about Pd – they can let an intrepid Pd …

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FOUND Installation Plays Narration, Robotic Music with Vinyl, Unravels Truth

One perhaps unexpected impact of technology has been to change the way we think about ourselves and our experience. Recording equipment – from photography to phonograph – has given us a new sense that memory itself might be fixed, unchanging, an accurate record of an unmoving truth. Except, of course, neither the recorded object nor the thing it is recording ever quite seems to work out that way. (Ask your local theoretical physicist, or for a more localized, humanized, sociological view, any loved one.) UNRAVEL is an installation that uses just those sorts of technologies to construct a narrative, and …

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InvisiBall: Play Tennis with Sound, Blindfolded – or Blind

Trust your ears. It seems a simple instruction, in the teaser video for this project by Stockholm-based producer/composer HÃ¥kan Libdo. But for those of us used to having vision, focusing in on one sense – even the sense on which we rely for music and sound – can be an extraordinary experience. If digital interface design has done anything, it has forced new ways of looking at design across senses, and not just in a weary repetition of “we always do it this way.” Playing tennis in InvisiBall becomes a new experience. Sonic cues along direct the ball from side …

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Beatboxing, Crowd-funded Wearable Open Source Beatjazz: Onyx’s Transformation Continues

When we last saw Onyx Ashanti, he was speaking of a grand vision to remake himself into a music-performing Tron. Now, the elements of that vision are coming together, with a crowd-sourced funding campaign that ends today, Friday. Update: Apparently after seeing this story, IndieGogo extended the funding deadline for five days, with the new deadline Thursday, December 1. I knew Onyx back when he was playing more conventional wind controllers. Now, that fingering arrangement is freed from the virtual wind instrument, handheld and movable through space. Because of the plans to open source everything he’s making, you might yourself …

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Across Time and Space, Tracing the Evolution of Western Dance Music: Data Visualization

Even from the birds-eye view of larger genres, the interrelations and ongoing transformation of music is dynamic, complex, and inter-connected. That’s the view in The Evolution of Western Dance Music, a map of musical styles in five-year chunks across the 19th and 20th Centuries, through Africa, Europe, the Americas, and Asia. The project is the work of London/Seattle/New York Web agency Distilled, pulling genre births from Bass Culture, Last Night A DJ Saved My Life,The All Music Guide to Electronica, and Wikipedia. Having just edited a book entitled The Evolution of Electronic Dance Music, I find it extremely interesting to …

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Bach Cello Suite No. 1, Visualized in Sweeping Arcs, and the Math Beneath

Alexander Chen, he of Kinect hacks and subways turned to strings, is back with another string visualization. Built in the browser (an interactive version is available), this work makes a visual accompaniment to Bach’s First Prelude from the Cello Suites. If you read music notation fluently, you may find the score itself suffices, but even so, the math to make this work – and the dance of circles across strings – is compelling. Alex, whose day job is with Google’s Creative Lab, talks to us a bit about the mathematics and process. First, his description: baroque.me visualizes the first Prelude …

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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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