Stepping Through Music, Interactively: Drum Kits and Monomes Navigate Notes

Left to right, beginning to end, the same in a loop — there’s no reason music has to work this way once you’ve got a computer. But if you associate generative or algorithmic music with some sort of magical black box machine you switch on, an automaton spitting out notes while you sip tea and stroke your beard, think again. Here are two examples that use interactive structures as a way to make music more live, not less. One is the latest creation from the ingenious mind of monome creator Brian Crabtree (who, perhaps unexpectedly, seems to have redirected the …

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Reinventing the Wheel: Engineering arc2, Digital Instrument from monome Creator [Gallery, Interview]

Engineering a production instrument is a kind of study in compromise. For mass-produced musical instruments, it’s a fusion of practicality and economics, made affordable by a mass-market supply chain. What makes the monome creations special isn’t just that they look beautiful; the art isn’t aesthetic only. They are uncommonly uncompromising. They’re designed in such a way that tells a story about materials, one that weaves connections between suppliers – many of them local suppliers – and focuses the experience of the device on the interface. They have the kind of obsessive attention to detail associated with the finest acoustic musical …

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King Britt, performing in the garden. Photo:

The Bee and The Stamen: Complete Live Stream, King Britt Interview, As Nature Meets Electronic Music

For just a moment, take your mind somewhere a bit different. First, imagine the computer as part of nature, not something separate from nature. And then, put your head inside the mind of a bee. (You might not want to operate heavy machinery, just in case you start to imagine you’re seeing things through a compound eye.) That’s the journey we’re on with King Britt, the veteran producer from Philadelphia. He’s remixed everyone from Miles Davis to Tori Amos, but now, he remixes the world of the bee. And given how small we ultimately all are, perhaps that’s a worthy …

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Switched On Bees.

King Britt’s The Bee and the Stamen Premieres on CDM Next Week; Ask Questions, Watch Live Preview

KING BRITT 10:10 REHEARSAL x DATA GARDEN from King Britt on Vimeo. King Britt’s next album is one that explores a sonic future – and now it has its own future, too. At a time when music may seem disposable, this is a limited release that will literally blossom when discarded, with seed paper that you can plant. CDM is exclusively hosting the streaming debut of The Bee and the Stamen next week, which calls for a brief preview here to kick off discussion of the intersection of nature and electronic sound. (See the rehearsal vid, complete with monome, Maschine, …

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Phoebe in the studio. Photos for CDM courtesy the artist.

Listening, Behind the Scenes: Phoebe Kiddo, Traveling Through Earth and Space

The enchanting, carefully-handcrafted music of Phoebe Kiddo is yet another example of the wonders coming from under-the-radar digital artists in the production Renaissance now underway. We got to host Phoebe on our MusicMakers party last month in Berlin – full coverage of that show, with video, coming soon. Now, Phoebe tells CDM a bit about making music as a globe-trotting nomad, and how she works with monome live and in the studio. Phoebe’s music mixes taut beats and delicate, low-fidelity timbres with dense arrangements and spacey dubs. Her voice cuts dreamy melodic lines across introspective grooves that can then accelerate …

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Dueling Grids: A Duet for monome and MPC [Live Set of the Day]

Ocelot – Beyonica (Live) from Tim Shaw on Vimeo. Let’s again step back from the world of the industry to the realm of individual musicians and how they make tools make sounds. Tim Shaw’s music is a beautiful illustration of the ways in which brain and musical imagination can be connected to fingers and sound. In his new project Ocelot, Tim pairs with Jeramy Bradfield and makes a sweet, square-based duet. Tim’s grid of squares comes from the monome and Ableton Live; Jeramy turns to the Akai MPC and effects pedals. (I assume the guitar we see gets used elsewhere …

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Chain, Chain, Chain: Crazy Nodal Note Sequencing Departs from Everyday Step Sequencers [Kontakt]

Ready to step beyond normal step sequencers? Skip ahead in the tutorial videos here, and you’ll see what’s possible: elaborate grid patterns that don’t just play looped patterns ad infinitum. Now, as in milkshakes and ice cream cones, sometimes vanilla is just fine. For instance, this week, Nord released Nord Beat, a free step sequencer for iOS. And, apart from being free if you’ve got the iThing to run it, it’s a nice offering. You can chain together multiple loops of steps, and there’s a clever mode for switching to finger drumming. The system works: you get four tracks, velocity …

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Interface4FINAL

Pushing the Live Performance Envelope in LA: Mike Slott, Artists on Video; Party Friday

Music has always moved forward when people get together to play. Groups of artists in Los Angeles’ Interface LA collective – and other California groups, like LoveTech and controllerism.com – are challenging each other to keep expanding their technique in playing electronics live. I’m pleased with CDM and some of our friends to support a party Friday night in downtown LA celebrating playing live. Interface LA is a group centered on live electronic music performance and interactions. We’ll be bringing you video coverage after the event here, thanks to talented videographer Charlie Visnic. But we can kick things off now …

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Music in the Key of monome: From Samples, a Community Makes a Free Album

Keys open doors to creative music making in a community-led process. Photo (CC-BY) Cassie / Angelandspot. What an extraordinary thing an interface can be, a map to making music. A new community-generated album from users of the now-legendary monome grid instrument yields a variety of musical outcomes. The results are instrumental and lovely, breaking off on lots of different stylistic vectors, but glued together by the notion of key and pitch. Let’s let contributor Joshua Saddler explain this – and the holiday album – as well as share some of the music. If you celebrate Orthodox Christmas or more generally …

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Tetrafol, Sound Object by monome + machineproject + Fol Chen, in Videos, Sounds, and Interview

LA-based bang Fol Chen (Asthmatic Kitty records) wanted to go beyond the computer as the playback and manipulation device for their music. So they worked with collaborators to invent a solution. In a new video, sounds, and an interview, we can share some of how this came into being. Built with the monome creators (Brian Crabtree and Kelli Cain) and LA research and experimentation center Machine Project, the Tetrafol is a custom, pyramidal sound device. The object warps Fol Chen’s music using gestural manipulation of playback, but can also use your own samples. And with open-source circuit and firmware, the …

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