Brazilian Rhythms Meet Wireless, Wearable Drums in an Artist-Engineer Collaboration

Music made by machines need not turn its back on traditional musical skill – least of all when you literally strap the machines on the back of a master musician. In a fusion of Brazilian tradition and modern wireless, wearable sensor technology, Kyle McDonald shares with us a project that makes drums into an interactive suit. Kyle has plenty to say, including all the details on how to do this in case it inspires a project of your own, so I’ll let him take it away: The project is a wireless drum suit that I built with Lucas Werthein for …

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multi-Monochord

Rock Robots: PAM Can Seriously Shred, Open Source MARIE Could Do Even More

The first law of musical robotics: rock hard. We’ve seen plenty of robotic musical experiments, but finding a robot that can seriously shred is another matter altogether. Meet the robotic string instrument, Poly-tangent, Automatic (multi-) Monochord – let’s just call her PAM. Built by Expressive Machines Musical Instruments, a group of University of Virginia PhD students and composers, PAM is capable of creating raucous musical performances like the one above, by composer and EMMI member Steven Kemper. Musical robotics is cool, but it also hasn’t evolved much technologically in fifty years. It’s gotten cheaper and more accessible, but the fundamental …

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meeblipblip

Meet Meeblip, The Open Source, Hackable Digital Hardware Synth

Making music, making blips and bleeps, turning knobs, plugging in keyboards, and having the freedom to modify your gear – these are good things. And that’s why I’m so excited that today is the day the MeeBlip launches. It’s been several years in development, but now it’s finally here. It’s a hardware box that makes noises – virtual analog synth noises, chip-sounding noises, good noises, bad noises, noises you can make into music. It’s got physical knobs and switches on it, plus a MIDI DIN in port so you can connect that keytar you bought on eBay. It’s also a …

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An Absurdly Huge Moog Knob, and OSC Meets CV in Open Source Hardware

Moognify II from Combo Square on Vimeo. Here’s an antidote to the trend toward virtual knobs, touchscreens, and mobility: a big-ass, tangible knob bigger than your head. That may be a slightly impractical idea, but behind it is something absolutely practical: a simple, open source OpenSoundControl to Control Voltage interface. Unlike MIDI’s standard Control Change messages, OSC is capable of expressing quantities in a way that may be easily translated to the accuracy of CV. And once you’re in the realm of analog voltage, you can do all the things voltage does – including, as the creators do in their …

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Summit Touts Open Source Hardware, Q+A with Co-Creators; Music Hardware?

Summit co-chairs Ayah Bdeir (left) and Alicia Gibb (right) are hoping to galvanize a community around open source hardware, from NASA to Arduino. And that could have an impact on music and audio – if creators of gear for musicians get onboard, that is. Open source software has proven itself in technological, economic, and cultural terms – it’s simply a matter of reality. This site runs atop free software nginx, WordPress, MySQL, and (Red Hat Enterprise) Linux; in music, we have Csound, SuperCollider, Pd, Ardour, JACK, Processing, and so on. Csound has even appeared on karaoke machines. These tools run …

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monome Me: Community Tour, Tunes to Hear

Pauk (Pau Cabruja) using a Monome 256 attached to a guitar strap, photo by Lara Jaruchik. Courtesy monome Community Tour The monome is coming to your town. Unlike tours organized by commercial product vendors, a grassroots effort by monome users pledges to share the music made with the monome and give back to a larger community. It’s hard to explain the monome. It’s part tool, part lifestyle. And its openness comes in large part from the community of artists who use it, and embrace the controller’s sustainable production and unique design. In fact, it’s hard to explain just what a …

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mk: All New monome Kit Improves on Original; Q+A with Creator Brian Crabtree

It may not look like it yet, but do some simple assembly, add included buttons and your own LEDs, put this into a housing, and you’ll have the cult hit monome grid controller for your music making pleasure. Open hardware means the ability to create exactly what you want. But it doesn’t have to intimidate the newcomer – not so long as you’re up for a project and a little creativity. The monome grid controller, long a sensation with digital musicians, finally sees a major update in its kit version. The “kit” isn’t built from scratch; instead, it includes the …

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Velosynth: Bicycle-Mounted Synth is Open Source, Hackable, Potentially Useful

velosynth release#001 from velosynth on Vimeo. Bicycle transport is cheap, environmentally sound, and quiet – a little too quiet. Since bikes don’t make noise, it can be difficult to hear them coming. And since a bicyclist should be focused on the road, any visual feedback to the bicyclist is potentially distracting. What’s the solution? How about a box that easily straps to a bike and makes sounds? Sounds can provide feedback to pedestrians, fellow cyclists, and other people sharing the road. They can also make distraction-free sonification of data the cyclist might want, as opposed to requiring that a rider …

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x0xb0x, Open Source Hardware and TB-303 Clone, Has a Renewed Future; Q+A

Photo (CC-BY-SA) Brandon Daniel. Open source hardware may not sound like something that would produce a huge musical hit – unless you’ve met the x0xb0x. A clone of Roland’s legendary TB-303 bassline generator, the open version offered not only greater afford-ability than the now-rare antique, but expanded possibilities for hacking the hardware into a musical device you could love as your own, all with the backing of an impassioned community. The gadget was designed by Limor Fried and an unidentified “crazy German engineer” who has kept his identity private. (I wish I had my own secret crazy German engineer. Darnit. …

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Shruti-1: DIY Digital Synth with Vintage Filter, as Dev Turns from Palm to Hardware

For all the hype around mobile music creation, here’s a story with an ending in the opposite direction. Independent developer Olivier Gillet is the reason a lot of people see handheld gadgets as potential music making devices; he’s the creator of the brilliant Bhajis Loops for Palm. But, as if to prove that hardware can be a digital platform, too, his latest creation, while it will fit in your palm, isn’t for a device like the overcrowded iPhone. And as we take up the issue of platforms for sonic tech, Olivier’s timing is perfect. Amidst gloom and doom predictions of …

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