Futuristic Music Design: Competitors, Judges, Teaser Videos and Photos

If you want new ideas about design and interaction, ask a musician. Before the Wii remote, the iPhone, Microsoft’s Surface, and Minority Report, musicians were trying oddball ideas for music performance. That hasn’t slowed down, either, from the futuristic and space-y to down-and-dirty acoustic techniques. We’ve got quite a gamut coming up for our madcap, sound and noise-packed hour of competition happening this Saturday at NASA’s Ames Research center during Yuri’s Night, and we’d love to share them with everyone online. For starters, here’s the rundown of the projects with links to project sites and artists, and all the judges: …

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CES: Intel Embraces Mobile Linux Audio Production

Quick: you’ve got to sell UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC’s) to a mass market! How to do it? Well, Intel decided to show off pro audio and music production on the Linux-based Transmission, from Trinity Audio, as we saw earlier this week. I’m not entirely sure what got Intel thinking our geeky way, but I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts. And in all seriousness, Linux really an ideal OS choice here, because of its ability to be customized to the application. The other flipside: low-power is the future. Computers now suck up 15% of the electricity in the US …

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Knobs, Tubes, and Soundmakers from Collin

Tubes rock, and not just the vacuum tube kind: from Collin Mel’s photostream. Collin Mel brought some wonderful soundmaking projects to Handmade Music last week. Face-to-face community is a beautiful thing (if loud, crowded, and prone to elevator failure — I like to think the Etsy elevator was slashdotted). But it’s also nice to keep up with Web documentation of projects. Collin’s got a great blog with updates on his latest, and some lovely Flickr photos. Included: boxes with lots of knobs that make sounds, and giant, clear, tube-shaped enclosures. And extra points for hacking together an amp and calling …

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Flickr Screen Grabs: Infinite Video Theremin, Odd, Free Musical Interfaces

Tommy responds to our call for screen grabs of software with this fascinating Jitter patch: He writes: used lloopp and jitter runtime to make this instrument that uses a firewire camera as a source for effecting sound generators. i like this shot because of the video feedback. What’s lloopp? Glad you asked. It’s a live improvisation / looping / performance tool built in Max/MSP and totally open source. That makes it ideally-suited to use if you’ve found other live performance tools to be overly restrictive on their own. lloopp Speaking of free, unusual interfaces, Tommy also sends along this elegant …

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Soft Flickr Finds: Obscenely Complex Bass Effects on a Single Channel

As the last couple of decades have led to making music in software, some of the materiality of physical instruments is lost. No matter how much you love your hardware synths, odds are you spent at least a little time looking into the void of a computer screen. And to the public, much of that is obscured by the back of a display. Instruments face outward; computers face inward. Enter online photo sharing. Screen grabs can make software rigs visible. For example, someone’s been busy putting together a monster bass channel strip in Ableton Live: Contained: the synth source is …

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Handmade Gems from the CDM Flickr Group: Sound Destruction and C64

While on the subject of wonderful handmade musical instruments, Max (and Audrey) aka farnea have been posting some fantastic creations to Flickr over the past few months. They recently cropped up on the Create Digital Music Flickr Pool. The Sound Destruction Unit: DIY modular synth made putting together a lot of things I’ve built in the last times. There is a Weird Sound Generator, a Crackle Box, a random pattern generator, some filters (cutoff, square to sine), a gate controller, a Vactrol based controller, optical sensors and body contacts, mixing and power stuff. Orange Commodore 64 Synth: A lovely, custom-painted …

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Maker Faire 2007 in Photos

Maker Faire this weekend had plenty to offer fans of DIY musical gear, from Theremin karaoke performances to wild, home-built instruments from independent DIYers and academics. I spent most of the weekend tied to my booth, making music by scanning barcodes, manipulating a simple infrared sensor and touch sensor, and running live interactive visuals in Jitter. (The last turned out to be a huge hit with babies and their parents. Seriously.) But I did get out a bit; my impressions are documented on Flickr: Maker Faire 2007 Flickr Photoset If you were there and have some images of your own, …

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Reimagined DIY Thumb Pianos, Amplified, Electrified, and with Faux Fur

Sometimes an instrument you know can become something else altogether. Bob Collier has been constructing his own thumb pianos, adding amplification, effects, self-sampling features, and novel cases involving recycled camera bodies and faux fur. As Bob says, “Sometimes the crudest and roughest looking kalimbas can sound surprisingly good especially with the right context of fx and amplification.” I find kalimbas beautiful and delicate to begin with. Throw in some faux fur and Korg KAOSS Pad effects, and they take on a whole new life: Other designs add all-new functionality, like the Sampimer, a “self-sampling” thumb piano with integrated 20-second voice …

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Kitten Does Electro 101; Where are the Synth Pooches?

Pictures of cats and blogging are a cliche — but that cliche happens to be true. And it extends down the long tail (ahem, so to speak) to our little niches. Yes, there really is a blog dedicated to pictures of cats and synths. Not weirded out yet? Via Matrixsynth earlier this month (and evidently not an April Fool’s joke), someone has made a tatoo. Very … uh, meta. Good grief; the cats have already started making tutorials: Assembling electronic beats, starring Convoy — a slide show So, my question is, where are the synth and computer music dogs? Dachshunds …

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Happy Easter (Belated), Soft Synth Style

In cased you missed it on the CDMu Flickr pool, our friend Marco Raaphorst spent his Easter decorating eggs in soft synth land. Gather the kids around — it’s egg painting in the UI editor, followed by an egg hunt in Reaktor!

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