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Silk is a giant string instrument that makes Bitcoin into music

::vtol:: silk from ::vtol:: on Vimeo. Welcome to the Internet of Sounds. The latest from our friend vtol, aka prolific Moscow-based sound artist Dmitry Morozov, is an installation of tall, spindly metal towers strung with wire. Standing at two meters, motorized fingers pull on diagonal strings – five of them, for the dollar, Yuan, Euro, Canadian dollar, and Ruble. The tune, though, is all about data. As Bitcoin and Litecoin cryptocurrencies fluctuate in value against the more traditional currencies, the imagined monetary values generate new melodies and rhythms. Recalling both the controversial recent silk road and its historical analog, these …

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A Dreamy Video, Remix with Loscil, and Other Christina Vantzou Gems

You know that feeling, on a hot day, of someone running an ice cube down the back of your neck? Or perhaps, going deeper, the dream of plunging into a frozen lake? That visceral, primeval emotion, that chill that prickles the hairs on your head – that might start to describe the eerily-lovely wonderlands of Christina Vantzou. Brussels-base artist Vantzou was the visual imagination behind The Dead Texan (with Stars of the Lid’s Adam Wiltzie), releasing an epic audiovisual masterpiece that paired cinematic ambience with video realizations. Vantzou has continued as a composer, with two records on Kranky Records (easy …

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In Living Rooms, Homes, Beautiful Music as a Ritual: Olafur Arnalds; Matthew Flook; Free

For centuries, music was something made in a living room, made at home. It was a brief fluke of the 20th Century that music came out of a heroic process in a hidden-away studio. But if the gold-plated, magical record is threatened, some artists are trying to bring the daily ritual of home music making back. Ólafur Arnalds and Matthew Flook are each making gorgeous, cinematic-ambient tracks, and each have made projects that involve doing so on a regular basis in their homes. Let’s listen. Arnalds has been making some of the finest scores anywhere, and now has earned the …

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How an “Acoustic Synth” Wants to Change The Way You Think About Guitars [Videos]

It’s been a long time since we had a new hit like the electric guitar. Amidst the wonderful explosion of innovations in electronic instruments – digital and analog – the sound possibilities of acoustic and electro-acoustic instruments seem to have gone largely dormant. This is the guitar that hopes to change that. In fact, its creators don’t even call it a guitar, preferring instead “Acoustic Synthesizer.” Asheville, North Carolina’s Paul Vo, he of the Moog Guitar and Moog Lap Steel, wants to give guitarists unprecedented control over the timbres they play, both experimental and traditional, vastly expanding the range of …

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Follow Friday: Musical Twitter Feeds You Read – and an Alternative Approach

Twitter has been (rightfully, in many cases) maligned as a distraction, but at times the “microblog” can keep us connected in smaller bits of time, not larger. People read while something is rendering, when they feel a bit lonely or distracted to begin with (a bit like taking work to a virtual coffee shop), while they’re in line at the grocery looking at their phone. And for the bedroom- and studio-based music maker, Twitter reveals something of what the future might be like. Twitter itself can sometimes prove too unstructured to be useful, but that one service aside, it demonstrates …

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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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Laser Cello Played by Musician and Animator Helene Berg

Helene Berg is a cellist. She’s also an animator, video artist/filmmaker, and does yoga and water-aerobics. So when she plays cello, it’s fitting she might play more than just any old cello. Enter the lasercello, an augmented rendition of the traditional instrument designed by Jonas Ericsson of the Stockholm design agency No Picnic. Documentation is scant, but Helene writes us with this video to give you an idea: I think it beats having just a laser harp. Her links: www.helene-berg.com www.myspace.com/heleneberg

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Cakewalk’s New $50 Studio Instruments: Keys, Drum, Bass, String With Slick Interfaces

Finding exotic software instruments is rarely a challenge. A lot of users stumble more quickly when it comes to the basics. Cakewalk has unveiled a new set of soft synths called Cakewalk Studio Instruments, and a number of things about it are immediately interesting: It’s dirt cheap. US$49.99 for the whole package. It focuses on a few basics. There are four modules: Drum Set, Bass Guitar, Electric Piano, or String Section. It’s available via mass-market outlets. Music tech stuff only trickles into the mass market, as a rule. Cakewalk says you’ll be able to pick this thing up at Apple, …

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Tower of One-String Guitars: Now That’s Reinvention!

I’ve been confused by a feature Gibson is touting on its new Digital Guitar: the ability to route each individual string to a separate surround speaker. Sounds a little like a nightmare surround mix to me. Leave it to the work of an interactive artist to “reinvent the guitar” in the reverse direction: who needs individual string pickups, when you can get six guitarists and give each one a one-string guitar. Then, have them climb atop a giant tower, get a percussionist to trigger drum samples at its base, and load the whole thing into a complex Max/MSP/Jitter and Ableton …

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More Digital String Installation Things!

Régine of Near Near Future has some more interactive strings, along the lines of last week’s laser harp: Interactive strings (Cellists out there are probably wondering why the idea of “interactive strings” is new. Well, clearly you don’t und. . . um . . . okay, you’ve got me.) Anyway, this stuff is big business. Artist David Small got a gig here in NYC with cosmetics giant L’oreal; his poetry harp triggers billowing poetry. As for the op_era, I’m at a loss. First, it claims to be four-dimensional. (Okay, it exists in time I suppose — so does a Calder …

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