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This is What High-End Audio Can Do Now: New Trio of Thunderbolt Boxes from MOTU

You’d be forgiven for missing it in the blur of press releases and trade show hand-outs – and, let’s face it, most musicians are too focused on music to pay much mind. But slowly, steadily, audio interfaces have been getting a lot better. Talk to the people who make them, and they can tell you what’s happened even in terms of individual components. Next, they’re about to get smarter and more networked. And so that means it is worth paying attention today as industry heavyweight MOTU unveils a trio of new audio interfaces, compatible with Thunderbolt 1 and 2 and …

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Fractals, Bots, Nodes, and Patternists: Onyx Ashanti’s Cyborg Music Meets the Ensemble [Guest Post]

Get ready: from one more-than-human musical cyborg, a robotic horde of beatjazz artists. Onyx Ashanti isn’t satisfied just augmenting his own body and musical expression with 3D-printed, sensor-laden prostheses. He’s extending that solo performance with bots that crawl around and gesture for feedback, then – inspired by the organic beauty of fractal geometry – is binding together performers with his system in a networked system of nodes. Just don’t call it a jam session. Call them patternists. If this sounds crazy, it is: crazy in just the way we like. But amidst this hyper-futuristic vision of performance, Onyx also writes …

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Augmented cyborg performance by Onxy Ashanti, built with free tools and with freely-shared hardware, in the hopes of accelerating the rest of the musical human race. Photo courtesy the artist.

Sharing Music’s Source Code: Event Pairs Performances with Code, Patches, Schematics

At the Metropolitan Opera in New York, high in the rafters, there’s a set of unusually-cheap seats called the Score Desk section. There, in addition to the seating, panels of wood are oversized enough to accommodate full-orchestral scores. While leaning over the railing to see the performance (the section is not for those with fear of heights), studying composers, conductors, and musicians can pour over the details of Debussy’s orchestrations or Verdi’s prosody. Now, the line between tool, instrument, and composition is blurred, whether we’re talking dance music or experimental sounds. So, in a new event we’re kicking off in …

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Plink: Play Music with Strangers, In Your Browser; and the Webby Music Goodness Continues

It starts as just another toy to play around with in a few minutes of distraction in your Web browser – as if the Web were short on distraction. But then, something amazing can happen. Like a musical Turing Test, you start to get a feeling for what’s happening on the other side. Someone’s stream of colored dots starts to jam with your stream of colored dots. You get a little rhythm, a little interplay going. And instead of being a barrier, the fact that you’re looking at simple animations and made-up names and playing a pretty little tune with …

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Sociable Music Gadgets: Networked Android + Arduino Sequencer in a “Hack of Concept”

Yesterday, we saw a bit of the idea of making mobile gadgets more sociable with each other. The idea is, through network/wireless and cabled connectivity, you extend possibilities for expression, control, and collaboration with yourself and others. It’s the same thing that makes a recording studio useful: tools work together to let people work together to create music. It’s absolutely not a new idea; the engineering question is just making it work well on new platforms. On iOS, we’re already seeing some of this: apart from MIDI connectivity, developer like KORG have even tried using wireless features intended largely for …

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Looking Beyond MIDI, What’s the Best Way to Represent Musical Notes Digitally?

Speaking in Hamburg to a terrific group of assembled locals from a variety of design backgrounds. And yes, this is the other part of my life behind me. I just seem to generally skip the years 1700-1985. Go figure. The history of music and the history of music notation are closely intertwined. Now, digital languages for communicating musical ideas between devices, users, and software, and storing and reproducing those ideas, take on the role notation alone once did. Notation has always been more than just a way of telling musicians what to do. (Any composer will quickly tell you as …

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Ohm Teases Collaborative Music Host; How Should Collaboration Work?

Surprise! Plug-in developer Ohm Force, known for their plug-ins (like effects Ohm Boys and Frohmage), today tease an upcoming collaborative host. It looks like the sort of thing Apple could have done, but hasn’t. There’s a GarageBand-style MIDI and audio editing pane, plus semi-modular routing of plug-ins on a pretty, graphical surface that resembles the “cheese grater” perforated aluminum of a Mac tower, and pop-up window palettes that resemble those we’ve seen on the “flattened UI” of the iPad. The real feature here, though, is collaborative editing in the “cloud”: sessions are uploaded to a server, which in turn keeps …

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iPad Gets Networked-MIDI Touch Controller: midipad for iPad, iPhone

Lovely layouts, but it raises the question: will we increasingly see software that simply looks like this, so that the touch controller and soundmaking software are one and the same? The iPad could have its first killer controller app, if you like the looks of midipad. While just a series of screenshots at this point (also promised for iPhone, but not yet available), midipad promises some intriguing features: it’s pretty, it features lovely control layouts and widgets, and it makes use of MIDI networking to make setup and configuration a cinch (especially on the Mac). It uses network-MIDI: connect and …

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Touch: Bridge iPhone and Max/MSP Control

What happens when an interface is no longer locked to the screen? What about making control simply work from your hand, on a different screen, with awareness of the world around it? Simple as the early implementations may be, that’s really the vision behind mobile control applications for music and visuals. c74 is a lovely iPhone-based app that uses a Max/MSP patch to generate interfaces from a patch that run on your handheld. It isn’t just a control surface, though; access to native APIs on the phone also provide other features. GPS for specific location. (How you use that is …

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Multi-Player Drumming: Handheld Open-Source Music for Nintendo DS

It’s drumming, the multi-player game. The Drummer is an open-source application for the Nintendo DS handheld, developed by Andrea Bianchi and Woon Seung Yeo and presented alongside a paper earlier this year at the NIME Conference (The International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression). As with any Nintendo homebrew software, you’ll need a special DS cartridge capable of loading software from flash memory – though if this app were developed more, it could make a terrific DSi app. The idea is this: while making a handheld game system into an instrument, why not take advantage of its networking features? …

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