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Watch techno made entirely with physical, mechanical objects

Techno has become folk art, popular music idiom. Yet it’s still often viewed through the machines that first made it. What if you could give it some sort of physical, mechanical form? That’s what Graham Dunning has done with Mechanical Techno. And in a new video (produced by Michael Forrest), he shows how it’s done.

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XOXXComposer

Watch a Mechanical Drum Machine That Uses Wheels and Magnets [Video]

Drum Machine – XOXX Composer from Axel Bluhme on Vimeo. Can you design a drum machine that does more than simply hide its workings inside an invisible box? XOXX Composer does just that. A project by Axel Bluhme, it turns the inner functions of sampling, looping, and sequencing, into tangible, kinetic, sculptural form. Wheels turn. Magnets trigger sounds. And in what looks like the love child of a 606 and a player piano, you get a mechanical take on patterned sound. Full description: A drum machine that is fun and easy to use This project started with a curiosity to …

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dunning_apiarysetup

Watch Mechanical Techno, Dance Music Made Organic, Physical by Graham Dunning

Even in hardware, the repetitive patterning of dance music remains invisible to the eye. Sure, you might get a blinking light here and there, but otherwise, the process is virtual, whether the sound process is analog or digital. Graham Dunning’s Mechanical Techno project is different. Every pattern is made physical and tangible, every machine rhythm mechanically constructed rather than abstract. As such, the UK-based experimental musician, composer, and sound artist makes sounds that evolve organically from the devices that make them. As contact mics brush against physical objects, those rhythms are often slightly imperfect, emerging from a kind of kinetic …

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Serious play. Photo courtesy the artist.

Hypnotic LEGO Automata: Technic Machines Make Music

Play House from Alex Allmont on Vimeo. “Play House” — get it? Playing with LEGOs seems to have an ongoing intuitive connection to musicians, to composition and musical play. So, of course, after we commented on the LEGO Maschine controller hack at MIDI Hack at Stockholm last weekend, several of you reminded us of this recent piece by Alex Allmont. (Now, in fairness, the Maschine hack was put together in well under 24 hours – sometimes work takes time. But I find it nice to see them together.) What’s especially beautiful about Play House is that musical mechanisms and robotic …

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submerged

Submerged Turntables, Art Phonographs Underwater, and Life After Records

Submerged Turntable from Brian Lilla on Vimeo. Once upon a time, Romantics dreamt of ruined architecture, rubble and stones on hillsides and whatnot. Today, we imagine ruined technology as our artifacts of culture lost. We don’t need a burning library of Alexandria. We can wait until our machines go out of warranty and go kaput. That subconscious seems to flow in the literally-murky pool of “Submerged Turntables,” an art installation by Evan Holm. But the results are oddly beautiful, making the physical quality of the record enduring. And here’s the upbeat bit: in those dark waters, the record still plays. …

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A Machine and Lit-up Balls Dance to Timo Maas’ Music: New Daito Manabe Work [Details]

Fresh, sparkling, and minimal, Timo Maas’ music might already suggest balletic pirouettes by a chorus of machines. But our friend Daito Manabe has executed yet another opus – this time, making the music video kinetic. In “Tantra,” Japan’s Daito turns to the delicate tumbles of lit-up balls against robotic panels. Keep watching, as eventually you’ll see it all in slow motion, perhaps the nicest moment of the piece. The suggestive play of robotic repetition with some organic outcome fits this sort of dance music perfectly, it seems. Daito has gradually built up a body of work like this, from appearing …

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Cut From a Different Cloth: Threads and Circuits at MusicMakers Hacklab CTM [Video, Gallery, Pt. 2]

So much is possible when we just open up the materials of musical invention to a range of people – and those materials can be cloth, circuits, acoustic, electronic, light, sound. I was reminded of that yet again last week, thanks to an amazing group of artists, developers, facilitators, and organizers. I’m still recovering – in a good way – from five days last week filled with people sewing and soldering, wearable interfaces and constructed projection-mapped kinetic sculptures and new digital instruments. Native Instruments and Ableton took us inside their development process – and provided hardware, pretzels, pastries, and Club-Mate. …

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whacamole

PocoPoco, Kinetic Music Control Gone Whac-a-Mole, and Our Tactile Future

PocoPoco is a delightful, fanciful device that takes music control into the realm of kinetic sculpture. Normally, the relationship of music controller is primarily about the operator making physical actions. With PocoPoco, the hardware itself moves. The essential musical structure is familiar: it’s the grid of light-up buttons, with strong similarity to the ongoing interaction design of Toshio Iwai in the 90s and (Tenori-On) past decade. Even aesthetically, there are similarities – perhaps not coincidentally as this team is also Japan-based. But adding in the element of solenoid-powered cylinders popping out of the grid adds a major element of surprise. …

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A Kinetic Sonic Organ Sculpture, Made with Cans

In the latest example of kinetic, sound-producing sculpture, an Arduino-controlled organ of moving cans makes eerie, beautiful descending noises. Jakub Ko┼║niewski, a member of the panGenerator collective, sends in details of that group’s work, sponsored in this case by the stuff in the cans: Kinetic audiovisual installation for burn displayed during burn Selector Festival 2011 Movement of the cans is controlled by 9 independent servos connected to the Arduino board while the sound is purely analogue – air pumped by 9 ordinary mattress pumps blows into the “whistles” at the top of plexiglass pipes. Tone is modulated by the current …

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As a Wooden Tangible Sequencer Plays Bach, Meditations on Encoding Music

You may have seen it already as it makes its viral rounds, but an advertising video for Japanese mobile giant NTT Docomo is a poetic model of how musical events are encoded, whether through means tangible or digital. A track of pitches makes a wooden ball into a mallet, traversing a track as it is driven by gravity. The keys of that track become a xylophone, the traversal of space sequencing notes in time, and you hear Bach Cantata 147, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” While there’s a clever take on a trill, the only disappointment is that we don’t …

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