pianola

Playing the City: An Eindhoven Pianola Makes Urban Landscape into Music

Digital or analog, the essence of recording and production is the act of representing. One thing becomes another; one medium stores information about another. That representation can also be physical, tangible, and visible. In a sculptural pianola, Akko Goldenbeld turns the Dutch city of Eindhoven into a pianola roll, so that the landscape of buildings and streets acts as a physical musical score. I think it raises some questions about whether translating the one into the other obscures the experience of a city rather than clarifies it, but that would discount the act of watching it: with the visual connected …

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Exquisite Sonic Sculptures, Made with Motors and Cardboard

Granular synthesis, as described by Iannis Xenakis, imagined sound as constructed from elementary elements. In the work of Zimoun, elementary sonic grains are physical. An undulating wall of cardboard rubs surfaces against one another to form a chorus of sound. Cotton balls roll against boxes in throaty clouds of sound. Wires wriggle like some sort of insect antennae. Below, the newest video of his work, in which cardboard petals form an animated wall of rustling noise. The results, powered by simple DC motors in kinetic musical action, recall some kind of natural, organic colony. Assembled in structures sculptural and architectural, …

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Handmade Music NY 8/29: Meet the Musical Inventors, Pong to Dodecahedrons

Handmade Music is a community get-together, Science Fair, noise-making happening, and party for people making things that make music. We return to NYC on Sunday, August 29 at 7p. Our new Manhattan home is Culturefix, a new electronics boutique, gallery, and tapas bar on the Lower East Side. This month, we welcome a classically-trained guitar duo using their instruments to play games, an original string-modeling instrument, a sonic dodecahedron sculpture (really), artists using game chips, and more. Last-minute creations are always welcome. If you’re in New York, we definitely hope to see you Sunday night. And wherever you are, it’s …

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Turntable-Based, Kinetic Sound Sculptures and Instruments

Works For Turntable from Stephen Cornford on Vimeo. Digital sound, and electronic sound in general, can become abstract. In fact, sound itself can be abstract. So there’s something beautiful about rendering sound as something kinetic, mechanical, and physical. Watch the hypnotic works by Stephen Cornford, top; as the video progresses, the pieces deepen in subtlety. (Thanks to Richard Devine for spotting this one.) Cornford isn’t the only artist finding new sonic frontiers in the turntable. From a recent event in San Francisco sponsored by our friends at MAKE Magazine, artist Walter Kitundu talks about his own fascination with the turntable …

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Lights and Music: The Harmonic Center of the Universe

The Harmonic Center of the Universe from Jesse Stiles on Vimeo. This beautiful, meditative installation of choreographed lights and sound, by way of Rucyl and Saturn Never Sleeps, is the creation of Chris Harvey, Olivia Robinson, & Jesse Stiles. The Harmonic Center of the Universe evidently narrowly escaped destruction last year during a thunderstorm, but perhaps Art is as much repair as it is creation. Artist Jesse Stiles specializes in such light shows. There’s a clear connection to the polytropes of Iannis Xenakis, with its own cascades of choreographed light – a reminder that lights can still have a place, …

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Virtual Radios Made from Paper, RFID

Digital technology has transformed the listening experience. But there’s little in the way of physical artifacts of that act, and a diminished sense of humanized relationships to an individual being at the other end. From modern radio to Internet-streamed playlists, our listening world is DJed by automated robots in streams that flow through generic, mass-market speakers. The object and the content lack the design intention that imbued, for instance, the gorgeous radio sets of the early 20th Century and the personalities that narrated the programming. Armed with a lasercutter, designer Matt Brown has a novel concept for how to redesign …

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Beautiful Sonic Sculptures from Portugal, and Announcing Handmade Music Porto

Sonoridades Líquidas [Liquid Sounds] from Rui Penha on Vimeo. Wonderful work in sculpting sound into beautiful handmade electronic-acoustical instruments is pouring out of Portugal. Now we get to see more of that work – and if you are in Portugal, you can share in person at a new event. The Handmade Music project and community has found its second home – Porto, Portugal, at the massive Casa da Música! The first event will be held Tuesday, July 21. (Full announcement, English/Português). De hardware a software feito em casa até circuit bending, kits personalizados ou instrumentos acústicos originais, todos estão convidados …

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Gijs’ Servo Sequencer, Opto-Mechanical Music, Events in Breda + Eindhoven

The Servo Sequencer with its hypnotic-looking optical disc. Photo courtesy Gijs Gieskes. Artists Gijs Gieskes’ sequencers are almost like physical, mechanical software, an expression of musical structure in object form. As such, even as they make strange sounds, they become musical sculpture. His latest Servo Sequencer combines optical and mechanical process, as frequency circles spin on a turntable and tone arms float above them. The Servo Sequencer is built for exhibition use – meaning, yes, he’s brave enough to let you play with this contraption. Sequence the arms using buttons, then adjust the volume mix and placement of each arm …

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Nodal: Generative Music Software for Mac (Free for Non-Commercial Use)

If you’re interested in generative and algorithmic music – music that evolves organically rather than being pre-composed in start-to-finish linear fashion – you won’t want to miss this site. Nodal is a free (for non-commercial use) app for developing generative musical systems and transmitting MIDI. You’ll need a Mac (PowerPC/Intel) to run the software, but even if you’re on Windows or Linux, you’ll find a number of interesting research papers on the site. vinayk writes: The program is called Nodal – osx only, BEAUTIFUL interface, and FREE, it does a bit more sophisticated things but I basically plugged the output …

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Video: Violin vs. Robot Guitar, With Mari Kimura and GuitarBot

Mari Kimura is an experimental string player extraordinaire, regularly venturing to the edge of what’s possible at the meeting of acoustic and electronic technology. GuitarBot is a “guitar”-playing robot (perhaps more reminiscent of a shamisen), an invention of Eric Singer, founder of the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots. The two meet above in a lovely video – not new, but well worth watching any old time, as reminded to us by Richard Swelling’s Etherbomb blog. Mari writes in comments on YouTube: HI, Mari here. For those wondering what’s happening: Behind the white box, there is a Mac and an …

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