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Little White Box: A Look at the Ambitious Kinektron Music-Making Cube

How much music making can you pack into a space-age, sealed white box? Developers Kinektron proposed one solution last month. To examine their design direction so far, we turn to Create Digital Music’s summer intern in industrial design, Arvid Jense. Arvid is completing unique dual studies in Media Music (at the ArtEZ Conservatorium, Enschede) and BSc Industrial Design Engineering (at the University of Twente), both in the Netherlands. He’s working with us to research instrument design and musical interaction, and doing a set of studies and design experiments related to our own MeeBlip open source synthesizer. (More on Arvid and …

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Fun with Turntables: Liberating the Decks By Dancing, Loading Hacks as Records

Here’s a way to change the relationship of dancer and deck: instead of the record “triggering” dancers, the dancers move the record. In “Autistic Turntable,” movement from onlookers gradually moves the platter. The work debuted earlier this year in the Nósomosòn exhibition at Normal at the Universidade da Coruña, España. It’s just one experiment in turntable re-engineering from artist, open source advocate, and electronic composer Servando Barreiro. In BInaer Platten, he modifies the mechanical turntable to instead read binary-encoded records with other audiovisual media. Seen at this year’s Transmediale 12, Servando’s work was some of the most practical to respond …

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Interface an Arduino with Ableton: Light-Controlled Dubstep Wobble Bass

Over the years, we’ve seen all kinds of far-out interfaces for music. But where do you begin if you want to just get started? Interfacing a simple sensor with your music software is a decent place to begin. Nick Latocha, aka myredhotcar, uses Max/MSP to connect Ableton to the output of a photodetector (a resistive sensor that is sensitive to changes in light). Yes, in this example, the result isn’t so different from turning a knob, but that’s the point: starting with something basic like this is the best way to learn. The result: move your hand around, and change …

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Bio-interfacing Meets Music: Journal, Berlin Opening, and Get Started with Open Hardware Right Now

To understand the relationship between computer and musician, you have to first understand the relationship between computer and human. For many years, that interaction has primarily involved some gesture – the click of a mouse, the swipe of a finger – and an accompanying interface abstraction. But now, from phones to desktops, computers are not only data acquisition gadgets for photos and text and various hand gestures. They’re increasingly looking inward at their human masters, connecting to the biological feedback systems our bodies themselves use. And music is a perfect window into that world. It’s a big moment for bio-interfacing …

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Matthew Herbert’s One Pig, On Tour, and the Making of a Sty Harp

Composing the sounds of an animal’s life cycle and ultimate consumption into a musical portrait, Matthew Herbert’s “One Pig” is in turns grotesque and sentimental, rock and opera. I expected squeamishness and vegetarian conversions when I saw it on tour, but instead, the crowd eagerly devoured the creature at the end. (Make of that what you will.) One Pig is in Manchester, UK tonight before continuing to Brighton and Portugal. As my own incurable appetite is for musical instruments, for me a highlight of the show is Scotland-based, American artist Yann Seznec’s Sty Harp. (See also our coverage of his …

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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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Make Music with Anything: junXion Universal Send-Receive for Mac [Video Tutorial Round-up]

“So,” you say, “I’ve got a … and I want to connect it to a … to make music. How do I do that?” One strong answer to that question, if you’ve got a Mac, is junXion. Developed by the landmark audio research laboratory STEIM – a hotspot in Amsterdam that for years has been imagining new ways of making music by connecting things to other things – it got a big update recently. It takes lots of the inputs you might imagine (joysticks, mice, touchscreens, MIDI, OpenSoundControl, audio, Arduino-powered hardware and all of its sensors, and video sensing) and …

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Noisy Jelly: Gelatin Achieves Powers of Sound (And Make Your Own)

What if your musical instrument were gelatinous? Edible? “Noisy Jelly” is the latest project to imagine that scenario. Thanks to the capacitive quality of gelatin (known to us Americans by the brand name JELL-O and to some simply as “jelly”), you can mix up a set of colored instruments that jiggle when you touch them. Powered by the open hardware platform Arduino to read sensors and Max/MSP to produce sound, it’s the work of a couple of Paris-based students, Raphaël and Marianne Cauvard. Check out the terrific video featuring wide-eyed children, and specs below. What makes this more delightful is …

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Evo, Keyboard with Added Dimension of Touch-Sensing Keys, Evolves

Endeavour’s Evo Series One, which we looked at in the fall, does something different with the conventional keyboard: it adds a touch-sensitive surface to the top of the keys, allowing you to run your fingers up and down the keys for added expression. I got a chance to try the Evo today, and I’m impressed. The first feeling is strange: the keys have an action more like an electric keyboard (Rhodes, etc.), and the keys are atypically tall. But as you begin to play, it makes sense: this isn’t a piano for playing Liszt; it’s a unique, hybrid interface. The …

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Hypo Chrysos live at Trendelenburg AV Festival, Gijon, Spain, December 2011.

From Your Body to Music: Interview with Biophysical Xth Sense Interface Creator

What you’re watching in the video above doesn’t involve cameras or motion sensors. It’s the kind of brain-to-machine, body-to-interaction interface most of us associate with science fiction. And while the technology has made the occasional appearance in unusual, niche commercial applications, it’s poised now to blow wide open for music – open as in free and open source. Erasing the boundary between contracting a muscle in the bio-physical realm and producing electronic sound in the virtual realm is what Xth Sense is all about. Capturing biological data is all the rage these days, seen primarily in commercial form in products …

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