mbpside

With Mobility Rising, MacBooks Looming, Don’t Assume Optical Discs for Distribution

Endangered species? Maybe. Worth double-checking you can do online distribution, if you haven’t already? Definitely. Photo (CC-BY) Adam Jackson. Memo to music software developers, artists and labels distributing music, and anyone else who uses optical drives: stop assuming they’ll always be there, because they won’t. Talking points: Netbooks and tablets already lack optical drives. With more mobile devices, they’re unlikely to be alone. Next up: laptops. Many laptops over the years have put optical drives in removable drive bays or shipped as external options to shed weight and bulk. HP Envy models recently came with external drives. And now, it’s …

READ MORE →

Artist Jo Hamilton, Working with the Gestural AirPiano Digital Controller

Watching the bleeding edge of new musical instruments often means having to see new designs in tech demos, in proof-of-concept experiments as artists first try their hands on a new object. If you can use some imagination and see potential, that’s fine, but it’s a bit unfair to the instrument – you don’t get to see it really exploited musically. Here’s a case that’s different: Jo Hamilton, an acclaimed up-and-coming artist from the UK, is really integrating the new AirPiano into her performance. Nor is she waiting for production: she’s got the only prototype outside of Berlin. We saw the …

READ MORE →

Gijs’ Servo Sequencer, Opto-Mechanical Music, Events in Breda + Eindhoven

The Servo Sequencer with its hypnotic-looking optical disc. Photo courtesy Gijs Gieskes. Artists Gijs Gieskes’ sequencers are almost like physical, mechanical software, an expression of musical structure in object form. As such, even as they make strange sounds, they become musical sculpture. His latest Servo Sequencer combines optical and mechanical process, as frequency circles spin on a turntable and tone arms float above them. The Servo Sequencer is built for exhibition use – meaning, yes, he’s brave enough to let you play with this contraption. Sequence the arms using buttons, then adjust the volume mix and placement of each arm …

READ MORE →

Beep-It: Portable, Open, DIY Optical Theremin

Beep-it from Michael Una on Vimeo. Cast your shadow, shine a light, make a square wave synth make noise. Michael Una is at it again. This time, he’s created something called the Beep-It. It’s a wonderfully elegant design for a light-controller soundmaker, an optical Theremin. He describes it to CDM thusly: This minimalist electronic musical instrument eschews esoteric interface in favor of intuitive, expressive control.  One button turns the device on or off, which can produce a continuous tone or a rhythmic sequence.  One sensor varies pitch of the output waveform in response to ambient light.  The resulting system encourages …

READ MORE →

ISO Releases Standard for Care and Feeding of Your CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray Discs

The ubiquitous shiny disc. Photo: “Fanch The System.” There’s a massive misconception of digital formats, that somehow if something’s digital it’ll last forever in a pristine state. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth: because digital formats are so intolerant of any error, they’re actually more susceptible to physical harm than analog formats. (If you don’t believe me, compare a vinyl LP with some scratches on it to a CD with a single scratch.) Now, the question is, how dedicated are you to proper care and feeding of your discs? Enough to care whether you’re handling your CDs …

READ MORE →

ThingamaKIT: Thingamagoop Sound/Noisemaker Goes DIY

We’re celebrating 48 hours of DIY stuff here as we get ready for Handmade Music tomorrow night in Brooklyn! Thingamagoops are the friendly, optical emitter antennaed electronic creatures. Whether your cat / significant other / fan base would describe them as a sweet-sounding instrument, they do make a lot of noise and look cute in the process. Optical sensors onboard mean you can reposition the lights for some fun. They were fun to begin with. But in kit form, you’ve got even more good times as you assemble them / find an odd case to put them in. The kits …

READ MORE →

The First Audio Recording: 1860, Optical

Sorry, Edison. It seems the famed “Mary Had a Little Lamb” recording by Thomas Edison — thought to be the first-ever audio recording — was actually late to the party. A recording on April 9, 1860 by a typesetter and inventor (Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville) was apparently first, according to a discovery by audio historians digging through an archive. Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif. have reconstructed that recording. It sounds — well, barely like a recording at all, but you can vaguely make out singing in the background. (Not quite hi-fi.) Au Clair de la …

READ MORE →