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Watch: McRorie, Legend of Wearable Music Instruments, Still Rocking

The one-man band from the future, McRorie, is still going, it seems. Unbeknownst to us, the artist – real name, Stuart McRorie Tait – revealed a new live electronic show reel at the beginning of the year. See top: he’s still tapping his shoes for drums and beating his chest for toms, but he’s swapped out Starr Labs for his original, more conventional keyboards. The kilts are gone, sadly, but there’s an acid-distorted VJ mix in the background. And if the mood is right, lightning bolts apparently shoot from his crotch. MIDI keyboards strapped to the body have perhaps become …

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Me the Machine: Imogen Heap Navigates Music, Music Video with Her Gloves

Watching Imogen Heap dance her way through cyber visuals and glowing-LED percussion, it’s easy to forget that you’re not watching a special effect. What was once a hypothetical, speculative scenario in sci-fi is now just what Imogen is doing with gloves and sensors. At the same time, the lineage to artists like Pamela Z or Laurie Anderson is clear, too. Now the question is, what’s next? “Me the Machine” debuted in a performance on her gloves. The music really is one that she can play with wearable tech. The music video just adds visualization to that performance – and, in …

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Roger Linn’s Linnstrument Could Finally Make Grids Expressive for Music [Hands On]

Roger Linn is largely to blame for the fact that so many instruments have grids of pads on them. He was the first to use custom touch-sensitive drum pads on drum machines as we now know them, and the rectangular arrays of pads – first on the Linn9000, but particularly on Akai’s break-out hit, the 4×4 MPC60 – became an iconic and popular interface. But now, he has a design that might change the way you think about grids. The problem is, input methods for digital instruments are still famously limited. Our computers themselves can produce astounding ranges of sound, …

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A Robotic Machine Worn on the Arm Turns Tattoos into Music

Symbols in on paper can be realized as music, so why not turn a tattoo on your arm into a musical score? That’s what artist Dmitry Morozov (“vtol”), Moscow-based media artist and musician, has done with “reading my body.” It does more than transform his body markings into sounds. He mounts a machine on his arm, as sensors scan the image from a stepper-motor driven path along rails. The strange robotic machine makes him a kind of cyborg photo scanner optical synth. And the results sound like a delicate solo on a violin, playing a lullaby to baby puppies. Kidding. …

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Molding Sound with Flesh: Biophysical Muscle Music Keeps Evolving

Ominous | Incarnated sound sculpture (Xth Sense) from Marco Donnarumma on Vimeo. For all the interfaces that involve turning knobs or waving your hands in the air, artist Marco Donnarumma wanted to go deeper. His work pulses with his flesh, listening deep inside muscles for every slight impulse. And in Marco’s hands, it seems the air itself can be molded into sound – not with ethereal hand flapping, but as though the ether itself is made of dense clay. It’s been nearly two years since we spoke with Marco about his work, and the wwirord he coined for this kind …

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A DIY Multitouch Music Controller, monome-Style, Built From Scratch [Instructables, Arduino]

Complete with color LED display and interactive sensing, this clever DIY project from Amanda Ghassaei is the real deal: a multitouch table used for music, constructed from scratch. And step-by-step instructions on Instructables mean that you can try the same idea yourself. The 8×8 matrix and the notion of independent light-up LEDs, along with some of the firmware, come from the monome project (and the open arduinome clone). But here, that idea is extended to seamless touch sensing, measured by infrared. Multitouch Music Controller from Amanda Ghassaei on Vimeo.

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Cyborg Beatboxer AV: Gloves, Heartbeat, Gesture Merge in Wild Performance

Humanelectro + “∑(SIGMA)” from Ryo Fujimoto on Vimeo. Once, you might see strange sensors or generated graphics as a kind of novelty, used for their foreign, futuristic quality. Now, a generation immersed in such tech exploits these tools because it’s second nature. That’s the message of the creators behind a fantastic trans-media beatbox performance starring Japan’s Ryo Fujimoto. And while you’ve seen each clever gimmick on its own, here they try ticking all the boxes at once. Musical gloves dripping in wires with flex sensors – check. Muscle sensors – check. Glowing-blue heart-rate sensor behind the ear – check. LEAP …

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Wave Your Hands: 3-Axis Gesture Control in New Hot Hand USB Wireless

We’ve been seeing wave-your-hands-in-the-air gestural controls for music since the early part of the last century – thank you, Leon Theremin. But one of the more wholehearted efforts to make it useful has come from the makers of Hot Hand. Initially they peddled the idea to guitarists and bass players, who were already accustomed to adding additional expression to their hand via whammy bars and the like. The Hot Hand USB is the latest iteration, and now hopes to woo computer DJs and producers. The draw: plug-it-in, driver-free control of anything via MIDI, wirelessly. Whereas these sorts of things are …

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Drumactica Augments Percussion with Gestures, Ice Cube Trays; Here’s How it Was Done

Bacon and eggs on a drum snare? Hands-through-the-air gestural control with Leap Motion? Water pianos in ice trays and a hacked Makey Makey, all talking to Ableton Live? Drumactica has a little bit of everything. London-based percussionist Dr. Enrico Bertelli shares with us how he “augmented” percussion for his latest project – with all the details – for a guest post on CDM. Just make sure to give due respect to John Cage.) -Ed. Drumactica 2.0 is a solo, augmented percussion set up, created for Hack the Barbican, London. The piece is about the creative bond between the desire to …

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Multi-Touch with Your Current Keyboard, And How Expressive, Crowd-Funded Keys Stack Up

Augmenting keyboards with additional expression is a tradition that goes back nearly a century. Inventors have tried keys that bend and wiggle, add-ons from pulleys to ribbons, wheels and pressure sensors, and more – anything to extend the piano and organ beyond their on/off playing methods. But now, the Web has accelerated the ability to communicate and develop these ideas. Crowd-funded invention is becoming widespread. And that means we’ve actually seen several polyphonic touch expression schemes this year. Rather than just presenting papers at conferences, instrumental experimenters are going to musicians and trying to fund real products. American-born, London-based composer, …

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