Tom's FM radio-sequencing module project, in all its glory.

Music Thing: A Radio Sequencer, How to Get Into DIY Synth Modules, How to Have Fun

Lured by the siren song of modular synthesis and DIY electronics, but not sure how to navigate the piles of requisite knowledge – or uncertain what the trip down this rabbit hole might have in store? For years, Tom Whitwell’s Music Thing was a beloved daily read, as that site and this one were among the early blog-format destinations for music tech. Tom moved on – something about a major day-gig at a paper called The Times, perhaps named after the font? – but that makes us all the more delighted to get a dispatch from him. In this guest …

READ MORE →

Choppertone, Wooden Ableton Jazz Controller, and Folk Music of the 21st Century: Video

“Folk music of the 21st Century” – radio broadcaster, jazz aficionado, and jazz-based Ableton Live instrumentalist / remix artist Nick Francis really sums up what this whole site is about. As he chops up jazz greats in Ableton, his mash-up music chops are as much musical analysis as they are performance. He walks through his controller moves in a pedagogical way, highlighting the meat of the jazz legends he puts into play. It’s a kind of digital transcription, transcribing re-imagined for Ableton’s colored blocks in place of. Of course, you’ll only be able to reflect on this once you can …

READ MORE →
juanatkins

Coming Home: America and the UK, Dance Resurgence, Insanely Great Flying Lotus and Stones Throw

Techno originator Juan Atkins. Now, dance music may finally be coming home properly to stay. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Adrien Mogenet. Any one of us, myself included, may break at any moment into armchair analysis of the music scene. But it’s worth asking an expert. Taste-setting, deeply influential DJs Pete Tong and Gilles Peterson of BBC Radio 1 recently stopped by National Public Radio’s thoughtful music program, All Songs Considered. Joining the American hosts, the BBC stars play favorite tracks and weigh in on the connections in electronica and club music in the US and the UK. The timing was appropriate: with …

READ MORE →
retroradio

Turn Your Generative Radio On: Live Stream Made from Pure Data Patches

Radio from the past, meet radio from the future. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Nic McPhee. Tired of top 40 hits? Pooped on podcasts? Sapped on streams? What if your radio could generative music that was never-before — and never-again — heard, all from dynamic, algorithmic software? PatchWork Radio does that with Pd patches. It’s not a new idea, but the radio station here, at least, is modular – not just one patch but any number of patches can be transformed into radio, thanks to some Python scripting. Creator David Guy John notes: I’ve recently just started up an internet radio station using …

READ MORE →

Music’s Future is Cloudy, But Maybe Not So Different; Human Size Matters

The radio, sound-playing object. For all the world has changed, music playing is not so radically different when you think of objects and applications. Photo (CC-BY) get directly down. Same as it ever was: With talk of the cloud, streams, special proprietary devices that pipe vendor-specific sounds to particular home stereos, intelligent, always-on access to entire music collections, tablets and set-top boxes and … all of that … it can be tough to look into the future of music and audio. I spent the last weekend at Project Bar-B-Q, a mind-bending retreat of audio tech industry sages and engineers, on …

READ MORE →

CBC Dumps Creative Commons; Non-Commercial Licensing to Blame?

I’m able to use this particular image as CDM is itself under a Share Alike license. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Andy Melton. I have no problem with copyrighting music. So I’ll be blunt: my ongoing impression of Creative Commons licensing is that you should either choose a license that allows for commercial use, or opt for traditional copyright and licensing. The popular “non-commercial” restriction is problematic. It does too little to prevent exploitation, and too much to prevent exactly the kind of use that’s the reason you’d choose CC in the first place. That’s not an effective compromise; it’s more like a …

READ MORE →

Mary Anne Hobbs Leaving BBC Radio 1, Marking End of an Era

Performing live at SONAR, courtesy the artist. Mary Anne Hobbs has announced that she is leaving BBC Radio 1 after fourteen years to pursue other work. It’s a changing of the guard at one of the world’s major musical beacons. In her tenure as a DJ for the Beeb, Hobbs famously helped fuel the explosive rise of the dubstep genre. Notably, she also became a champion of many American artists, shining a light on artists like Flying Lotus. (Leave it to the British to appreciate the significance of American popular music more than Americans – ask The Beatles.) And on …

READ MORE →

Weekend Question: Where Do You Get Your Electronic Music Radio Fix Online?

Photo (CC) Ian Hayhurst. It’s oft-repeated conventional wisdom: the Internet democratizes access to music, opening up the possibility of hearing anything by anyone from anywhere. But just added more choices doesn’t necessarily help you connect with music that’s meaningful. In my inbox today, here’s this deceptively-simple question from Mike Mogensen: “Do you know any good Internet radio stations that stream electronic music? I’d like to expand my sonic horizon a bit and get some inspiration.” I expect there could be quite a lot of answers there, especially since “electronic” music could mean any range of work from experimental to techno. …

READ MORE →

The Sonic Manipulator: Bizarre Wearable Musical Inventions, Stolen from Space Aliens?

It may be 2009, but you can still play electronic music as though you’re an invading alien visitor from the future. Just ask The Sonic Manipulator, an electronic musical performer and inventor, alias Claude Woodward. His musical creations range from warped radios to instruments derived from turntable scratches and Theremins. And then there are some instruments that seem to be sonic weapons. (Apologies to recent protesters in Pittsburgh.) CDM reader Andrew Cordani caught Claude at the UK’s British Invention Show. Claude is apparently a Perth, Australia transplant, by way of Cambridge, though Andrew writes that he “has been known to …

READ MORE →

Music Hackday Goodies: Robot-Driven Radio, Free Chordal Synth, Lyrics by Decade, More

The Music Bore – Video 2 from Nicholas Humfrey on Vimeo. “I’m sorry, Dave, I can’t allow you to listen to Coldplay.” What would radio be like if playlists were not only robotic, but had robot DJs pulling information from the Interwebs dynamically? That’s the question asked by the winning team at London’s Music Hackday last weekend, which created an epic mashup of data sources to produce a voice-synthesized IRC chatbot that researches and plays music for you. Music Bore Music Bore was just one of a number of projects developed in the weekend of musical hacking, some for listening, …

READ MORE →