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How the Millennium Falcon Got Its Hyperdrive Malfunction Sound

Old pipes? A vintage airplane? Mechanical equipment? Ben Burtt, Hollywood’s master sound designer, is remarkable for his economy and resourcefulness. That’s evident in this charming video in which he demonstrates how he evoked breaking machinery to realize the sound of the Millenium Falcon… not going into hyperdrive. The cinematic challenge is significant. It’s a bit joke, a running gag, but it has to simultaneously build tension in the film. And like the rest of Star Wars, the future is evoked by the past. (It is, after all, a galaxy long ago – and to impact audiences, couldn’t in fact be …

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A Sci-Fi Band and Music Made from Ozone Data: Elektron Drum Machine, Sax Sonification

In a new touring piece by an electrified audiovisual band, the musical score is data. Space F!ght, off to tour London on Sunday, are a multi-media ensemble inspired by the greatest writers in science fiction. But science fact is the source of their latest piece, as they collaborate with the Stockholm Environment Institute and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies to turn ozone data into the materials of their performance. That data has a message, as ozone levels directly impact human health. See the video at the top for a look at how the whole system works. Dr. Radek Rudnicki, …

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The Music of 2071, As Imagined in 1964: Fischinger Lumigraph to Lumichord

Finishing research for a talk at Genève’s Mapping Festival, I came across this gem from comments on Create Digital Motion. It’s the innovative Lumigraph, an interactive light experiment by visionary film and animation pioneer Oskar Fischinger. The sci-fi film looked ahead to what the music of 2071 might be like, in 1964’s The Time Travelers. To their credit, goofy love lounge aside, the reuse of Fischinger’s abstract light project isn’t far off from music in 2013. (And, hey, whatever puts you in the mood.) Fischinger, for his part, almost certainly wasn’t thrilled with the use of his creation in this …

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The Star Trek Studio: DIY Dragon MIDI Touchscreens Control Cubase

Touchscreens are often compared to the ground-breaking – if imaginary – designs of Star Trek: The Next Generation. But Brazilian Paulo Egidio Silva must be a real Trekker. His elaborate touchscreen panel configuration really looks like the LCARS computer system simulated on the TV show. Of course, that isn’t to say this isn’t a practical system. By making extensive use of the MIDI SDK for Cubase, the Dragon MIDI rig controls every element of a Cubase session, from mixing to routing to adjusting plug-in parameters. It actually has three elements: 1. A multi-screen touchscreen for selecting mix and send settings …

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Essential Keyboard Technique: Sun Ra

Keyboard Magazine, I have a challenge for you: I think this solo desperately wants a Keyboard transcription. You know, “Play like Sun Ra.” It may require a larger insert, but maybe it could be sponsored by Yamaha or something. Okay, granted, Earthlings might argue that this sounds chaotic, but on Sun Ra’s native planet Jupiter, this actually borders on the pedestrian. It’s pretty conventional 83-fingered hyperlocramixydixylycradidian mode, transposed here to what is apparently a Yamaha YC-30. Sun Ra even makes a nod to the fact that the Jupiterians’ torso typically rotates at increasing speed during live performances, as an especially …

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Making of the Doctor Who Theme, Ca. 1980

Via Chip Collection comes a charming documentary on the production of the 1980 remake of the classic Doctor Who TV theme, by BBC composer Peter Howell. You have to enjoy seeing the Yamaha CS-80 and ARP Odyssey in action. It’s also striking to me how accessible these keyboards made their synth parameters, in contrast to the vast majority of modern synths — either hardware or software. You could really just dial up sounds. (Getting it perfect on multi-track tape, though, took 5 1/2 weeks, though they amusingly have Mr. Howell mime playing along with the polished end take.) Giving all …

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