Meet the Strange, Wonderful 70s Machine that Used AI to Make Music

The 70s were one heck of a groovy time. When they weren’t postulating theories about the very underlying essence of all physical reality being reduced to computational models, pioneering AI scientists were … creating weird music sequencers? Seriously? The Singularity will be brought to you by Giorgio Moroder, perhaps? Yes, as we saw earlier this week, AI legends Edward Fredkin and Marvin Minsky somehow managed to take their research in philosophy, digital physics, and cognitive science, and make a weird box that most definitely is capable of blinking lights and making sequences of bleeps. The Triadex Muse really seems like …

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Zillion is a Generative Step Sequencer from Future-Retro with Loads of Possibilities, Performance Tools

Machines give us something that would have amazed musicians from centuries past: they let us make melodies without playing them directly. Now, there are three ways of doing that. One, there are tools that take what you play and turn them into sequences. Two, there are interfaces for making melodies with touch, sliders and knobs. And then there’s a third category: boxes that can actually generate new melodies, all under your control. You control the parameters of the sequence, but the content is algorithmically produced. Future-Retro’s Zillion does just about anything you would ever dream of in that third category. …

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A Free and Open Source Compressor, Built in Pd and Perfect for Mobile

Whether you’re building an experimental effect or performance tool or writing the Next Big Thing in Mobile Apps, you might need some signal compression. Working in Pure Data (Pd), it’s easy to create patches that get unruly, especially once you add live audio input. For mobile developers, things get even worse: you have to make your app work anywhere, with a range of devices, acoustic environments, microphones — the list goes on. The folks at Two Big Ears, who are working on their own rather lovely Android synth, have come to the rescue of Pd hobbyists and mobile developers alike. …

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Take That, Pong: Table Tennis, Reimagined as Augmented Audiovisual Games

pingtime from videogram on Vimeo. The tables have turned. Forty years after Pong aped table tennis on Atari, we’re watching computers transforming the original game. The table tennis in Pingtime vibrates and warps with sound and projection in an “augmented” experience of the game. The project is immortalized by Bucharest’s Videogram – but we see lots of familiar folks and tools in the credits: Train to shift your focus in an augmented world with this media-challenged table tennis game. Pingtime takes a look into how realtime generated computer responses are affecting reaction time in fast gameplay situations. Sergiu Doroftei _concept, …

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Interaction in Thin Air: New Research from Microsoft, MIT Uses Magnets, Sound, Space

With multi-touch fully exploited and the basics of camera vision largely understood, interaction moves to the realm of free space, “augmenting” your world with gestures that find some physical connection. They surprise by working in some way that seems intuitive and natural, somewhere away from what seems to be the realm of the computer. And early in the month of May, we see a flurry of new research in just this area. Not one but two projects from Microsoft hold potential, and one from MIT Media Lab is just … absurdly cool. A summary: “Levitated Interaction Element,” out of the …

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multi-pipetrumpet

A Flute Made on a 3D Printer, and the Possibilities to Come

Digital models and acoustic instruments have traditionally been studies in contrast. And instrument making has by definition been a craft and an art. But what if making an acoustic instrument was a matter of hitting “print”? That’s the question asked by MIT Media Lab researcher Amit Zoran. Using the Objet Geometries Connex500 3D printer, one capable of on-the-fly use of multiple materials, he made a flute in 15 hours. The results are surprisingly good for a first attempt. The instrument is playable, but Amit plans additional iteration and improvement. (Be sure to watch through the video for some feedback on …

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Maker-Faire Music: VAMP and Glove-Controlled Vocals

Elly Jessop and VAMP at the Maker Faire from The Amazing Rolo on Vimeo. Yann Seznec aka The Amazing Rolo brings CDM his coverage of music tech at the Maker Faire in three episodes today. Continuing the tradition of computer-augmented vocal performance and interactive gloves, Elena “Elly” Jessop shows off her VAMP system at Maker Faire. Elly is a Masters student at the MIT Media Lab’s Opera of the Future research group, headed by Todd Machover. Interestingly, Elly’s background is in conventional theater, including stage and costume design and choreography. http://web.media.mit.edu/~ejessop/ VAMP stands for “Vocal Augmentation and Manipulation Prosthesis.” What’s …

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Sequencing with Smart Interactive Blocks: Siftables at TED

David Merrill, working with Jeevan Kalanithi and (for the audio engine) Josh Kopin, wowed audiences at the TED conference with his Siftables interactive blocks. These strike me as what the Audiocubes have tried, sometimes unsuccessfully, to be — physical objects that react to the proximity of other objects, allowing you to manipulate music and media by moving around tangible blocks. Siftables are gifted with multiple expressive controls (tilt helping them break the plane of the surface), and intelligent screens that make them more adaptable and provide more visual feedback. The music sequencer is very cool, though I think it’s actually …

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Rope and Sound: Tensegrity as Musical Instrument [Updated]

Rope and Sound is an installation that uses rope tension to control sound. Pull on a cord, and the change in tension triggers electronic thuds and mellow chimes. The trick is conductive fibers braided into the rope; as the tension changes, the conduction of the rope changes, as well. I got a chance to try out the installation at New York’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. The show is up through October 30 and well worth a visit if you’re passing through town. The installation is beautiful and the concept brilliant, but the sound aspect was somewhat disappointing. The sounds themselves …

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MIT Students Build USB Dance Floor in Dorm

As seen on Slashdot: a group of students at MIT have constructed a Disco Dance Floor, with over 1,500 LEDs and covering 128 square feet. Dance on it, and pressure sensors trigger some 4,000 colors. Jeez, I knew I shouldn't have gone to Sarah Lawrence; these MIT folks don't mess around. Not only are the colored patterns surprisingly sophisticated, but it interfaces with a Linux audio player to work with the grooves. So how do you build your own? Check the detailed construction details, though consider what they learned: don't ever do this: "Don't try to build a disco floor …

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