thesky

Call for participants: a Hacklab to change perspectives, in Belgium

In the past weeks, I’ve had the good fortune to talk to astronauts and aeronautical engineers, to artists in residence in space centers (with ESA) and aboard “vomet comet” airplane microgravity experiments (in Russia). A common theme has emerged. Just as images from space once transformed our perception, the next frontier is sound. From spatial sound to works responding to spaceflight, drones, and aeronautics, there’s a chance to change the way we hear and imagine. And so, after we start February at Berlin’s CTM Festival imagining future rituals, we’ll move later in the month to Leuven, Belgium to explore the heard place. You’re …

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hacklab2015_2

Building instruments, making future rituals in Berlin (open call)

Culture can be a different construction in our inter-connected age. We can draw on traditions from a distant past – or imagine a distant future. We can more easily connect with the people around us, or the people on the other corner of the world. So, as I host CDM’s fourth Hacklab with CTM Festival in Berlin, we’re pairing our participants with radical instrument builders to invent new musical rituals. Ewa Justka (born Poland, based in London) co-hosts and guest artists like Indonesian avant-garde Wukir Suryadi are along for another installment of this open, collaborative lab – and there’s still …

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anode_25

MeeBlip at five: better, and at a new lower price

Five years ago this month, CDM unveiled the MeeBlip project. It was a chance to put our love of synthesizers into a physical form we could share. And we had no idea where it would take us. Five years later, we’ve sold thousands of the musical instruments, all engineered by their creator James Grahame in Calgary, and all fully open source. In that time, we’ve also worked hard to make the MeeBlip constantly better, and easier for more people to get their hands on and use. Today, we celebrate five years, and what we think is our best MeeBlip yet. …

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pdcritter

Here’s how the Organelle can replace a computer with Pd

This is, very probably, the sign of things to come. With ARM boards becoming ever-more cheap, accessible, powerful, and efficient, the same technology that is transforming phones, laptops, tablets, and other categories can just as easily be the foundation of a musical instrument. And one “computer” in your life might not look like a conventional desktop or laptop. So, we were both unsurprised and delighted to see a box emerge over the weekend looking like a quirky Pocket Piano, but providing lots of stuff useful to people interested in taking the world of synths and effects from Pd out of …

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cgorganelle

Critter & Guitari’s new music box turns into anything, with Pd

What makes something a “computer”? In practical terms, the definition is getting steadily blurrier when it comes to music. With computation sipping power, generating less heat, and costing far less than before, that “computer” may find itself in places other than a big folding metal typewriter with a spendy display and a picture of a bitten fruit on the back. But the power of the computer – the ability to turn a magic box into the instrument or effect of your desiring – that stays. And that’s something that’s beginning to remake musical objects.

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Photo (CC-BY) Kevin Wong.

A free app makes a TI graphing calculator make music

“I’m the operator with my pocket calculator.” No — like, actually. HoustonTracker 2 runs on the TI-82/83/83+/84+ Texas Instruments graphing pocket calculators – the kind you probably had to buy for your high school math class. And it doesn’t just make the calculator into a sequencer. All the sounds come straight out of the calculator itself, thanks to some gorgeous-sounding 1-bit noises. (Who needs those 15 or so extra bits, anyway? This is beautiful.) What do I mean? Just watch:

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meeblip_albino

What it means that the MeeBlip synth is open source hardware

The MeeBlip synthesizer project is about to reach five years old. I feel this collaboration with engineer James Grahame has been one of the most important to me and to CDM. We haven’t talked so much about its open source side, though – and it’s time. In five years, we’ve sold thousands of synths – most of them ready-to-play. The MeeBlip isn’t a board and some bag of parts, and it isn’t a kit. You don’t need a soldering iron; after our very first batch, you don’t even need a screwdriver. The MeeBlip is an instrument you can use right …

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arduino-piggyback-synthesizer-e1441564347957-640x333

Here are two new ways of combining a synth with Arduino

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve gotten not just one, but two new synthesizers that piggy-back on the Arduino electronics platform. The result, then, is instruments that you can modify via Arduino code. You’ll need an Arduino for each of these to work, so figure on adding some bucks to the purchase price. (I also recommend only using a real Arduino or Genuino; the clones I’ve found are often unreliable, and it’s better to support the developers of the platform.)

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maxology_physical

Get physical modeling sonic powers, free, in Max starter kit

There is a powerful world of sound exploration in your hands. But sometimes the hardest part is just starting. So the quiet launch of a site called Maxology is very good news. It’s evidently a place to go for tutorials and projects and more. And right now, you can grab a bunch of free and open source objects for physical modeling, built for Max 7 and Max for Live. That opens a window into a world of realistic and impossible sounds, built on algorithms that mimic the way instruments work physically and acoustically.

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Ninja Jamm Android-07a-Play Matrix mixed clip and drill

Ninja Tune’s remix, creation app on Android after 300k iOS downloads

Before Ableton Live, before VJ apps, the AV act Coldcut were already making their own software for remixed audiovisual performance. Now, with the Ninja Tune label they founded, Matt Black is still championing the notion of performance that goes beyond pressing play. I’ve never seen anyone pick up Ninja Jamm and not immediately fall in love with it. It’s just a tremendous amount of fun working with the built-in effects and quick access to bits and pieces of music. The likes of Amon Tobin, Bonobo, and Roots Manuva are there, with a variety of genres. There’s also Loopmasters sound content, …

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