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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Wintry Samples: Recording Snow, Free Snow and Ice Drum Samples, Gnomish Choirs

Photo: Frank Bry, courtesy his blog The Recordist. It’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere. For some of us, there’s little need to remind us of snow and ice. But if you fancy adding some frozen sounds to your music, we have both free samples and expert recording tips to help get your cold on. Frank Bry, a master sound designer, apparently has plenty of access to snow in his home of Idaho, but that hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for the white, fluffy stuff. He’s devoted an entire library to Ultimate Snow with some 300 locations. You can read an interview …

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Ready-to-Play, Tuned Beer Bottles, and Other Design Experiments with Sound

From label to physical shape to the boxes they come in, these beer bottles have been reimagined for musical aims. Cheers! All images courtesy the artist, Matt Braun. What if blowing tunes on beer bottles was raised to the level of musical science? Through even the mundane medium of packaging, design can transform the everyday. DJ and designer Matt Braun of Philadelphia, collaborating with Chris Mufalli, use labels to tune the level of beer remaining in the bottle for musical results. Pitches are printed on the labels, allowing you to exactly match the liquid inside to a pitch you want, …

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Jazari: Utterly Brilliant Robotic Percussion

No comment on this one just yet; I’ll have to pick my jaw up off the floor. Amidst a sea of new robotic percussion, this Wii-remote-controlled, Max/MSP-based mini-ensemble of wooden African percussion is musical, expressive, and downright stunning. I love the mechanical (literally and musically) grooves, and with a single human controlling it live, it’s true to the one-man-band history of these sorts of instruments. “One human, three machines, rhythm,” says the video description. I hope to do some research and share more soon, but I can’t resist sharing the results now. Thanks to Patrick Flanagan for the tip on …

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NAMM Picks: Roland’s Octapad Updates a Classic Percussion Controller

A lot of the music tech industry involves incremental improvements and fairly routine hardware. Amidst the crowd, certain devices are special. They might not even appear so to a general audience, but they have a special place in someone’s music making. For whatever reason, some Roland percussion controllers fit in that category. As electronic musicians ponder how to make live performance work, the handful with adept percussion skills can pick up one of these boxes and play hard. So, while it was overlooked by most folks, I think one of the stars of the new gear announced this week at …

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Preview: Pat Metheny’s Orchestrion, Robotic Ensemble from Upcoming Album

Legendary artist Pat Metheny has gone to robotics for his next album, and you can finally see a first glimpse at what the results look like. The Orchestrion is a project by the musical robotic specialists LEMUR (League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots). That’s all I’ll say for now, but I definitely will be working to cover this story in more detail.

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Round-Up: Robotic Drummers, Robotic Percussion

So, your human drummer can’t bang out the elaborate breakcore beats you’ve composed, huh? Build your own robotic replacement, putting the magic of positronics into rhythm. That’s what the folks of Texas Central Positronics and the David Crowder Band have done with Steve_3po, the robotic drummer. It brings new meaning to “drum machine,” blending acoustic sound with programmed rhythms. The secret to controlling this machine with MIDI is none other than one of our favorite kits, Highly Liquid’s MIDI Decoder. For more on that side of things, see the recent story by Mike Una here on CDM: DIY MIDI In, …

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Handmade Music 2/19: Grooving Electric Junkyard Gamelan, Call for Works

Nothing digital here, but for any fans of sound exploration, there’s still plenty to inspire, regardless of the level of tech you’re using. It’s time again for Handmade Music, the party – musical performance – science fair geek-out for musicians and the musi-curious. We’ve got an amazing lineup this month if you happen to be in the New York area. We’ll have some usual raucus racket noise-making time, but also a full live performance from a DIY gamelan ensemble. (I’ll see if I can set up a live stream, too.) And if you have a hardware or software project you’d …

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