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The Arcane Arts of Experimental Instrument Design: 3DMIN [Videos, Gallery]

From the dawn of civilization, musicians could always be counted on as the ones inventing the truly weird technologies to make noise. Here – bang on this. Blow into this. It’ll make some sound; it’ll be noisy; it’ll get everyone’s attention. And so, the art of such designs continues. New instrument design explorations have gone hand in hand with electronic music research from the moment electronics (and, eventually, digital technology) were capable of real-time performance. But if 3DMIN follows in the footsteps of those programs, it also seeks to intertwine questions about other fields and disciplines. And tonight in Berlin, …

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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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Cubase iC Air, erm... artists' rendering. Just about got that mix right. (Hold on - red ball. This track is not going to be premeditated.)

Cubase Goes Futuristic: Motion Hand Gestures Control Music in Free Add-on [Details]

When it comes to big, flagship audio tools, you don’t get a whole lot of sci-fi in your software. That makes Steinberg’s announcements this week more of a change of pace. They aren’t the first to talk about virtual studio sessions, or even gesturally-controlled music. But seeing this as an add-on to Cubase, not just an experimental hack, counts as news. And Cubase users can add on those futuristic capabilities in the form of two new tools. You can fly through Cubase sessions with gestural controls using depth cameras (on Windows) or LEAP Motion (on Windows and Mac). And you …

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Control Music with Cubes Using Your Fingers: AeroMIDI 3D for Leap Motion

Cue the Tetris theme, and start playing music by navigating a field of cubes. So, you’ve seen X/Y touchpads before, many times, in hardware like the KAOSS Pad (or Lemur, or your computer trackpad). But AeroMIDI 3D does something rather different: instead of just a single X/Y area, you get an array of programmable 3D cubes floating in space, all triggered with waves of your fingers using the forthcoming Leap Motion connect. Use one finger, multiple fingers, different parameters, whatever you like, and notes and control messages are sent via MIDI to your favorite software. You get three dimensions of …

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From Gestures to MIDI: Geco Promises Music Applications for Leap Motion

Here we go again. Touchless hand gestures have been part of electronic musical performance ever since the Theremin first hummed to life almost 100 years ago. And those gestures embody the same challenges and promise. We have the ability as humans to think spatially, in three dimensions, and to have a tight sense of control via our muscles of gestures in space. We use gestures to communicate and to manipulate our world. Those same expectations can be disappointed in electronic systems, however, as they lack tangible physical feedback and may misinterpret our intentions. It’s easier to play with these ideas …

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Move Over, Kinect: Early Gestural Musical Demos for Leap Motion Look Terrific

Microsoft’s Kinect has proven a compelling proof of concept for gestural control of music. But it could be just the beginning of mass-market gestural sensing technologies. The Leap Motion, like Kinect, promises to be affordable gear. Unlike the Kinect, the hardware is even more unobtrusive, and gestural control is more precise and responsive. Given the latency limitations of Kinect, that’s a huge deal for music. And better expression could inspire new musical ideas. We’ve spoken many times before about the limitations of touchless control – Theremins are spectacular but not the easiest instruments to play, and waving your hands in …

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Bio-interfacing Meets Music: Journal, Berlin Opening, and Get Started with Open Hardware Right Now

To understand the relationship between computer and musician, you have to first understand the relationship between computer and human. For many years, that interaction has primarily involved some gesture – the click of a mouse, the swipe of a finger – and an accompanying interface abstraction. But now, from phones to desktops, computers are not only data acquisition gadgets for photos and text and various hand gestures. They’re increasingly looking inward at their human masters, connecting to the biological feedback systems our bodies themselves use. And music is a perfect window into that world. It’s a big moment for bio-interfacing …

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Curating Sound: Exploring Performance and Embodiment, in Live Excerpts and Analysis from BodyControlled

Continuing our insight into this view into electronic music performance and art through the lens of BodyControlled in Berlin, we’re joined by guest writer Kristin Trethewey. Kristin, a Canadian-born video artist and curator, takes another look at LEAP and BodyControlled, on the eve of its second installment. She gets straight at the question of what “BodyControlled” means, and what it can mean for sonic performance and creation. And I wanted to make sure to subtract myself from this write-up, seeing as I was playing – but see the excellent timelapse of the evening, above. -Ed. LEAP is one of these …

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Watch Artists Talk About Making Sound From Matter; Thursday Event and Stream in Transmediale Prelude

Alex Nowitz for BodyControlled #2 from CDM on Vimeo. Electronic media artist Mario de Vega (Mexico City/Berlin) says his work plays with the creation of “unstable systems.” As part of the official Vorspiel, or lead-up, to Berlin’s massive Transmediale festival, here we get to visit two artists working with the materiality of live performance, drawing from the festival theme of “in/compatible.” The sonic environments they create seem poised on the brink of sonic chaos, a dance at the edge of entropy. CDM will again be editorial co-presenter of BodyControlled; you can see the show for free (donation suggested) in Berlin …

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A New Partnership, a New Series on Digital Sound and Art in Berlin; First Look at the Artists

Exploring the connection of the mechanical to sound, UK-based artists Stephen Cornford and Paul Whitty make reclaimed tape machines into instruments. All images courtesy LEAP. In performance and art, sound and music constantly pull against the formless abstraction of the computer, to find physical expression and realization. In physical control, in tangible production, and in exploration of space, artists explore techniques new and old to refine the still-youthful medium of electronic and digital sound. That adventure is at the heart of a new series at a gallery space in the heart of Berlin, LEAP – the Lab for Electronic Arts …

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