A LEGO Step Sequencer, Made with a Camera and Code [Video; Open Source Code]

Beat Bricks – A LEGO Step Sequencer from superquadratic on Vimeo. There’s something about that feeling of snapping a LEGO brick in place, a tactile connection to childhood memory. So, while it’s perhaps neither necessary nor terribly practical, this rig that turns a LEGO board into a step sequencer is somehow irresistible. And, like any good hack, it’s a chance to learn and discover – one that, thanks to freely-available code, is shared. The ingredients: a camera, Ableton Live, and some code for analyzing the camera image and translating those events into MIDI messages Live can turn into sound. It’s …

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Make Music with Anything: junXion Universal Send-Receive for Mac [Video Tutorial Round-up]

“So,” you say, “I’ve got a … and I want to connect it to a … to make music. How do I do that?” One strong answer to that question, if you’ve got a Mac, is junXion. Developed by the landmark audio research laboratory STEIM – a hotspot in Amsterdam that for years has been imagining new ways of making music by connecting things to other things – it got a big update recently. It takes lots of the inputs you might imagine (joysticks, mice, touchscreens, MIDI, OpenSoundControl, audio, Arduino-powered hardware and all of its sensors, and video sensing) and …

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Kinect-Controlled, 4-Story Pipe Organ, a Phantom of the Organist

When we last caught up with the touch-less, gestural music-making of composer Chris Vik, the Australian musician was sharing his own Kinectar software and playing both dubstep and ambient scores for modern dance. Now, Vik is back playing a very substantial physical instrument: Melbourne’s four story-tall, MIDI-retrofitted Town Hall Organ. Here, the Max-powered software takes on some very big sound from some very big pipes. He writes: I’ve created my own software Kinectar, which allows the use of the Kinect to control MIDI devices, ie. playing notes through simple gestures and motion. The Melbourne Town Hall Organ got a referb …

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Evo, Keyboard with Added Dimension of Touch-Sensing Keys, Evolves

Endeavour’s Evo Series One, which we looked at in the fall, does something different with the conventional keyboard: it adds a touch-sensitive surface to the top of the keys, allowing you to run your fingers up and down the keys for added expression. I got a chance to try the Evo today, and I’m impressed. The first feeling is strange: the keys have an action more like an electric keyboard (Rhodes, etc.), and the keys are atypically tall. But as you begin to play, it makes sense: this isn’t a piano for playing Liszt; it’s a unique, hybrid interface. The …

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Touch to Control: Usine Learns Music Parameters with the Magic of OSC

Touchable tablets may be all the rage at the CES trade show, showcase to consumer-friendly gadgetry. But quietly, developer Sensomusic has accomplished multi-touch control of an open-ended music system on standard-issue PCs and accessories. They’ve pointed the way to just what this mechanism could be. The latest video isn’t terribly easy to see, but it realizes something that has been the dream of fans of the music control protocol OSC (OpenSoundControl). “Learn” functionality lets you touch a control, then assign that control to something in your music software. But because these functions have relied on MIDI, they’ve generally been a …

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Touchable Music: At Last, Lemur’s Interactive Touch Controls Make it to iPad (Videos)

A lot of people have waited a long time to see this happen. Lemur software running on the iPad, courtesy Liine. Click for bigger version. Before the iPad, before the iPhone, and indeed before the masses understood touch interfaces would be a big deal, there was the Lemur. Dazzling people with high-contrast, colorful controls, this boutique hardware, priced well over €2000 and running embedded Linux and custom resistive touch technology, brought the future a bit early to a handful of musicians. Star Trek was what you heard most frequently – sweeping your fingers over black glass was nothing if not …

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Spotted: Lemur Interface, Running on iPad

I don’t know why you look so surprised about this, really. Photo (CC-BY) insanephotoholic. “Lemur should just run on the iPad.” “There’s no point to have a Lemur when you can get an iPad for $500.” “When will the Lemur just run on the iPad?” Soon, apparently. Sources and an in-person sighting suggest to me you’ll see this in the very near future. The JazzMutant Lemur, the touch control hardware I reviewed over five years ago, gave musicians the first widely-available, for-sale taste of multi-touch control of music. It established a lot of basic paradigms that would appear on other …

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New Open Grid Gear: DJ Mixer Meets monome Grid in MIDI + OSC Controller

It had to happen — button triggering, as popularized by the monome, here meets a conventional two-channel DJ mixer. But the layout I must say is quite spare and lovely, the work of the Japanese-based PICnome project. Furthermore, it’s Open Source Hardware, covered as I have recommended by a ShareAlike Creative Commons license (with no commercial restrictions) and GPL v3. (The creator prefers the term “Free Hardware,” which I love theoretically but have avoided for fear of people demanding we mail them MeeBlips by sending us a self-addressed, stamped box.) With clean, subtle markings and a nicely-composed layout, it’s hardware …

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Grabbing Invisible Sounds with Magical Gloves: Open Gestures, But with Sound and Feel Feedback

You might imagine sound in space, or dream up gestures that traverse unexplored sonic territory. But actually building it is another matter. Kinect – following a long line of computer vision applications and spatial sensors – lets movement and gestures produce sound. The challenge of such instruments has long been that learning to play them is tough without tactile feedback. Thereminists learn their instrument through a the extremely-precise sensing of their instrument and sonic feedback. In AHNE (Audio-Haptic Navigation Environment), sonic feedback is essential, but so, too, is feel. Haptic vibration lets you know as you approach sounds — essential, …

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In Videos, Face Control and Prostheses Make the Craziest Sounds

You may have already seen FaceOSC, free software that eases the use of facial tracking from a computer camera for use as a controller, here with music software (top). Synthtopia picked up the story in July, featuring artist and engineer Kyle McDonald. But one FreeKa Tet has done his own implementation (second from top), and while the video is a bit grainy, he sounds wonderfully terrifying, as if his face is trying to slip out of The Matrix. Sometimes, I’m rendered entirely silent (no, really, it happens), and it’s best to let videos speak for themselves. So here, after the …

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