Century of Sound: 100 Years After Russolo’s “The Art of Noises”

Today, the 11th of March, is the one hundredth anniversary of “The Art of Noises,” the seminal letter written by Italian Futurist painter Luigi Russolo. That letter became a manifesto for what was then a radical document, suggesting a new approach to sound and music. In it, Russolo cautioned that “the art of noises must not be limited to a mere imitative reproduction.” The Futurists’ efforts were tragically followed by not one but two world wars, making some of their lust for violence take on a different meaning. For instance, from the 1913 letter: 1 2 3 4 5 seconds …

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What Does it Mean to Be an Electronic Instrument?

The electronic music analog to visual media’s question “is it art?” is clear. “Is it really a musical instrument?” Ableton will this week officially launch its Push hardware with Live 9; we’ll have an online exclusive review alongside that release. I know that the company is fond of calling it an “instrument.” For a profile by the German-language magazine De:Bug, Ableton CEO Gerhard Behles even posed with a double bass, the Push set up alongside. The message was clear: Ableton wants you to think of Push as an instrument. We’ll revisit that question regarding Push, but this isn’t only important …

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Mudit is an Inexpensive, Open Source Gestural Loop Performer [Pd + Arduino]

Knowledge on how to build dazzling new interfaces for music is spreading. And because musical performance depends on sharing knowledge and practice, that could have a transformative effect. Literally as I’m walking out the door to leave for a showcase of gestural performance in Berlin, I get a chance to look at this team from Argentina. They’re purposely giving away the plans for their open source live performance instrument, built in turn with open source hardware (Arduino) and software (free graphical development environment Pd).

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wablet

Make a New Sound: Scanned Synthesis on Wablet for iPad Features Utterly Mad Meshes

It’s a good sign when you need to invent a new verb to describe using a music tool. And so, get ready for some wabbling. Feel like there aren’t any new synthesis techniques? Scanned synthesis is a reasonable example. Fundamentally, it involves wavetable synthesis – producing new sounds by playing back recorded wavetable content – but navigates those sounds by “scanning” through pitch and timbre independently at slow speeds. By doing so, it simulates slow vibrations in the real world, and it leans heavily on the way human physical control and hearing work. The technique was developed by Bill Verplank …

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Concept: Rubik’s Cube as Interactive Electronic Music Tool Interface [Video]

MusixCube from Stefan Horak on Vimeo. It’s just a concept, but it’s an excellent one: the classic Rubik’s Cube here is transformed into a tangible music interface. Grid squares light up as icons, colored feedback animates sounds, and twisting the blocks around provides access to interface options and even parameter control. Someone. Make this happen. From Kiel, Germany (north of Hamburg) and artist/student Hauke Scholz. Hauke, let’s do this for real. A tool for producing electronic music, based on the interaction of the Rubik’s Cube, B.A. Thesis project at Muthesius Academy Of Fine Arts And Design by Hauke Scholz Video …

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spatium

Sound in Space, Visually: Spatium Are Free, Open Source Spatialization Tools

Human perception is capable of astounding feats of sensitivity in localizing sound – it is very likely an evolutionary trait. Yet musicians rarely tread beyond simple stereo, perhaps because it’s tough to be creative in space without something that’s visual and intuitive, something that looks like what you’re hearing. Spatium is an extraordinary set of tools for sound spatialization, built in [graphical patching language] Max/MSP and [creative code environment] Processing. It’s free and open source, a set of modules anyone can use to manipulate sound in space or as the basis of their own tools. Portugese artist and developer Rui …

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insideorganalpha

Electronic Body Music: Organ Alpha a Sonic Installation That Makes You Into Sound

In an extended fancy on the sounds inside the body “Organ Alpha” is a kind of responsive musical instrument that transforms human input into surround-sound audio. Your body speaks, it listens, and it answers. Sensors watch for movement inside a virtual stomach, as stethoscopes dangle, inviting input. Watch for the kid’s reaction in the video. The project is the work of Israeli-born, UK-based media artist Avi Ashkenazi and Scottish textile designer Marion Lean, for their MA at Goldsmiths. I think it’s worth posting as part of an ongoing series of works that use biological interaction as the basis for music, …

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In Drifting Circles, Ambient Patterns Off the Grid: Sona on iPad, a New Take on Simon

Sona iPad App ECAL/Ruslan Gaynutdinov from ECAL on Vimeo. Like animated graphic scores, software interface is becoming a palette for musical experimentation. Sona is latest, beautiful combination of interface design, musical composition and visualization, and ambient instrument. You’ve seen works like this before, naturally, but this one – recalling the off-the-grid patterns of ambient master Brian Eno – is especially nicely executed. It also illustrates a point: this kind of work is now routinely done as a student project, but then distributed to the world, not only confined to thesis reports or conferences. This also goes a long way to …

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Tunes, in Drops of Color: Design Project Mixes Minimal Notes with Audible Hues

Perhaps it’s the sense of detachment that comes from long hours spent staring at screens, peering into pixels and abstraction. But whatever the reason, when experimenting with design and music, creators seem increasingly drawn to simple, physical interaction. Somewhere in the mysterious play between senses, between seen color and unseen sound, they look for intuitive relationships. Designers Hideaki Matsui and Momo Miyazaki send in the latest adventure in induced synesthesia. Students at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, they use a camera to connect color to sound. audible color from Momo Miyazaki on Vimeo. Full description:

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Visual Music: SketchSynth Lets You Draw an Interface with Marker and Paper, A Brief Drawn-Music History

Today, I’m in London doing a hands-on workshop on visual metaphors for music, and covering various topics filed under “synesthesia” at Music Tech Fest. It seems appropriate, with the subject matter on the brain, to revisit the topic of visuals and music in a series of posts. When you make hardware, with knobs and faders, you’re constrained by physical space – the amount of room on a circuit board, the radius of a knob cap, the size of your fingers. But before you get there, the first step is to sketch an idea. Imagine if you could do that with …

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