Carrying her musical life on her back - in more ways than one. Zoe Keating, by Nadya Lev for Coilhouse. Photo courtesy the artist.

Zoe Keating, Cellist Who Exposed Her Musical Finances, Talks Music Making, Distribution [Interview]

She shocked the music business by revealing she wasn’t making money on Spotify – then shocked them again by revealing she was making money on our own. Now, CDM’s Matt Earp talks to cellist Zoe Keating about surviving as a creative musician, and keeping the music coming. Hint: “exposure” is not necessarily the key to survival. -Ed. Zoe Keating is an avant-garde cellist, a Canadian transplant to San Francisco who now lives on its far outskirts. Her sound slips back and forth between the classical and electronic worlds, conjuring sylvan images and dusty warehouses with equal clarity. Two self-released full-lengths, …

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Nature, Through a Window: Moon, Fire, Water, in Light and Engravings, by Craig Dorety

Realizing the materiality of Earth and the Moon in new forms, artist Craig Dorety is rendering natural forms in light and engravings. For the Moon, he turns to carving techniques to mirror new data about the lunar surface – and, thanks to an SF Awesome Grant, he’s got some spare change to upgrade his CNC router. It’s a beautiful example of how art can make use of data, bringing together disciplines. (Okay, there isn’t any motion here to speak of, but the relevance of the 3D imaging technology here is clear and inspiring.) Lunar Topography Carvings http://craigdorety.com/lunar_topo.html Geeking out for …

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gTar, Digital Guitar that Scales from Easy Mode Up; Now Does Ableton Control, Too

Music games like Guitar Hero introduced the notion of musical instruments that scale digitally to the masses. By the time Harmonix introduced the latest version of Rock Band, complete with MIDI controllers, you are able to go from something that’s a toy to simply playing the instrument in a conventional way. The idea of scalability isn’t even new in instrument design – from capos to an instrument like the Autoharp to the very invention of frets, instrument builders have always designed instruments in ways to make them easier to play. In a digital/software realm, though, the plasticity of an instrument …

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Music for Plants, Music by Plants, in Two Eco-Themed Album Releases [Listen, Galleries]

These green things, for once, are the stars, in Data Garden Quartet. From the installation version in Philadelphia. All Data Garden photos courtesy the artists. “On lead synthesizer, a philodendron …” (And the crowd goes wild…) Vegetation may not be the first association you have when thinking of electronic music. But two new albums, each released via Bandcamp, celebrate biological life of the green, leafy variety. One is a benefit compilation, with proceeds going to help trees and music inspired by that green goodness. The other uses plants as “performers,” generating its form from plant life in an installation and …

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SF’s Robotspeak, Music Geek Heaven – And Elsewhere On Earth? [Video, Survey]

There are a few spots in the world that are active hotspots for music tech geekery, and in San Francisco, it’s definitely all about Robotspeak. CNET’s Donald Bell – known to some of us back in the day as terrific IDM producer Chachi Jones – visits the store that once employed him. (This gives me extra-happy memories, because years ago I was fortunate enough to play an A/V set at Robotspeak alongside Donald and Daedalus.) Donald explains more of why Robotspeak is cool on a CNET blog post: Robotspeak: An electronic musician’s toy store All of this gives me an …

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United Arab Emirates Architecture Brought to Life with Light; Behind-the-Scenes Details

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Projections from Obscura Digital on Vimeo. Illuminating the facades of United Arab Emirates mosque and historical architecture with extraordinary imagery, Obscura Digital transformed these structures with visuals both decorative and cultural. It’s a visually-rich celebration of Arabic and Emirati culture, and one of the developers – absurdly-prolific artist and geek virtuoso Barry Threw – walks us through some of the details of how it was produced, all using TouchDesigner software. The mosque, top: In celebration of UAE National Day 2011 Projection and design by Obscura Digital 44 projectors with a combined brightness of 840,000 lumens were …

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In Videos, a Battle of Controllers and Live Electronic Performance

In a competitive show of virtuosity, artists at an event in San Francisco over the summer battled to show that live electronic and laptop performance can be physical. It’s dance music that makes the artist sweat, and not just the audience. Hosted by the new Controllerism.com blog with San Francisco’s LoveTech and Slayer’s Club communities, the West Coast Championship Controller battle saw some fierce competition from some top names in live laptop music. The events itself was back on June 25, but this week, full video documentation has become available, so those of us who couldn’t be there can get …

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New Instruments That Matter: Four Examples, Live in SF, Really Do Move Music Forward

Richard Lainhart mans the Haken Continuum at an early installment of our Handmade Music series, back in 2007. Meanwhile, in 2011: among many options, four digital instruments challenge you to practice – really – with expressions that are deep and satisfying. Is there anything genuinely new in digital instruments? Isn’t it just a load of repeated novelty, without the ability to actually make useful musical noises? Hasn’t the technology just gotten in the way of the music? Isn’t … (sigh) .. all you see … all you get … (repeat ad infinitum) Even among technologist futurists, skepticism about the iterative …

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This Week at the Game Developer Conference, San Francisco, Push the Button

What can you do with this? Game designers and artists find out this week at GDC. (Pictured: my own submission, up close.) Why should Create Digital Music and Create Digital Motion (and, well, their editor) go to a game conference? This year, in particular, the annual gathering of game developers in San Francisco means a real convergence of gaming culture and digital music and motion, of ideas about how interactivity can work (and the challenges of making interaction design creative), of generative and adaptive music and new cultures of digital media. Aside from that, of course, there’s no particular reason. …

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Call for Works: One-Button Game Objects

Push the button: Kokoromi’s Gamma game challenge, which we saw earlier this week, challenges game designers to build an entire gameplay mechanic around a single button. What can be done with a single hardware object – a self-contained, one-button invention? We’re looking for creations that answer that question, inspired by games (and encompassing hardware games and hacks), but also extending into interactive art and musical and visual instruments. I’m putting this on the CDMs partly because I’d love to see these sorts of objects from visualists. We have upcoming hackday events in New York, Amsterdam, and San Francisco which could …

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