The Man-Robot with an iMac Head, and Handmade Music Amsterdam

The Body, The Circuit, The Computer and The Voice: robot cowboy from STEIM Amsterdam on Vimeo. If you want to look for some of the roots of live electronic musical performance, STEIM is one place to start. Founded in 1969 by a group of Dutch composers (Misha Mengelberg, Louis Andriessen, Peter Schat, Dick Raaymakers, Jan van Vlijmen, Reinbert de Leeuw, and Konrad Boehmer), and led by the late “founding father” Michel Waisvisz, it has remained an important hub for inventing music technologies. It was one of the first places that gave an indication that these kind of experiments could extend …

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Building a Hybrid Man / Machine Orchestra, Pt. 1: Ajay Kapur and Michael Darling

The Machine Orchestra explodes the idea of a laptop orchestra, building a full-blown machine ensemble of the future. We turn to guest writer Jordan, a member of the ensemble, to look behind the scenes in a couple of articles. Rejoin us for part two later this week. -Ed. Welcome to the world of Dr. Ajay Kapur and Michael Darling, the two California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) professors behind a novel laptop powered ensemble, the KarmetiK Machine Orchestra. Inspired by the work of visionary laptop ensemble pioneers and long-time friends Dan Trueman, Perry Cook (PLORk) and Ge Wang (SLOrk), Kapur …

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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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Amanda Ervin’s Sound Circuits, Handmade Music Brooklyn 9/17 + Open Call

Amanda Ervin makes elegant noise-making apparatuses from simple circuits, and is able to share that process with her students (see her classes among 3rd Ward’s Circuits lineup). She’s going to show off some of her latest creations at the open showcase of Handmade Music Brooklyn, our monthly party + science fair + musical performance + ruckus. (More details soon on Handmade Music events that are springing up worldwide, thanks to the hard work and creativity of the DIY music community!) What really impresses me about these projects is that Amanda has made both the project and the curriculum – that …

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Beautiful, Orgasmic Animation of Robots, Modular Synthesis

Voltage from Bam Studio on Vimeo. Oh, sure, it’s all fun and games until your modular robots have a little too much fun and your rig erupts into a fireball. But then, modular synthesis fans – you understand, nonetheless. William Paiva sends us his work as one of the animators and writes: Hi everybody. I’m a reader of both Create Digital Music and Create Digital Motion, and I’ve just uploaded to Vimeo and to YouTube a short animation film about robots and synths. I think you might like it. Reards. And you have crazy, crazy dreams, man. Brilliant work. Here’s …

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More Hackday Goodies, with a Beer Bottle Percussion Machine

Electronics and code and whatnot are great fun, but a lot of people want to know, how can they add actual, physical motion to a project? I’ve rounded up the last few odds and ends from the London Music Hackday organized in the offices of The Guardian, and came across Alistair MacDonald and Mr. Duck’s Percussion Machine, which uses Arduino with servos to strike beer bottles. Here’s the perspective of the non-techie on the affair from the newspaper’s music blog: Beats and geeks at Music Hack Day Of course, I’ve heard from at least a couple of people that for …

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Musical Machines, Piano-Playing Typewriters, Plastic Cups, and Invisible’s Physical Music

Greensboro, NC-based art music band Invisible are indiscriminate about technology – in a good way. Plastic cups, keyboards, typewriters, machines controlled by robotics, if it’s in the trash or at a thrift store, it has a place in the band. Sequences are executed in physical, radial player instruments, without a controlling computer anywhere in site. As voicemail tapes get sampled and typewriters tap lines of absurdist lyrics as each typed letter plays a piano note, something magical happens. Perhaps it’s that, novelty aside, somehow these sound-making objects come together for a reason – the machines assemble in the way the …

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Handmade (and Handheld) Music in Brooklyn, Plus Online Stream, Thursday

The Gamelatron at the Chelsea Museaum Teaser Handmade Music hits Brooklyn again Thursday night with a terrific lineup: Robotic gamelan instruments with the Gamelatron, created by Zemi17 and the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots (LEMUR) – check the video above! Rescued PDAs and iPods making music, with the Linux-powered ReWare project (which even allows you to run Pd on an old iPod), by Hans-Christoph Steiner – expect a box full of handhelds making noise Gestural Android handheld music, as I demonstrate the possibilities of the Google Android platform and G1 phone for OSC The Arduino-based Hard/Soft synth, designed by …

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Dan Deacon in the Studio, Player Piano, MIDI, and Playing the Impossible

The player piano has come, oddly, full circle. Peer into the editing pane of a music sequencer, and what you see is an abstracted virtual player piano. The editing views are even dubbed “Piano Roll” views (sometimes officially so). The MIDI protocol by which most music devices and apps communicate is itself a kind of port of the piano roll’s paradigm to a digital implementation, with fixed pitch and durations spanning time in an endless loop. So it’s fitting that Dan Deacon is busy in the studio, feeding a player piano with MIDI and computers in order to make it …

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