A kid and parent playing with a Benjolin

At this exhibition, the future of music is weird

We have seen the future. And it’s strange – in a good way. Bizarre Sound Creatures was an exhibition late last month held in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, accompanied by workshops and performances. The theme wasn’t just new instrument design and music making, but imagining a future world with peculiar evolutionary twists. These are musical objects with odd appendages and surprising interfaces. Let’s take a look.

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Minimoog controller reminds us hardware, software go hand in hand

What’s an ‘app’? For years, it was an uphill battle just getting people to recognize the ability of computers to generate sounds. When Native Instruments was founded in Berlin in 1996, their name was a clue to where they imagined the future going. Propellerhead’s release of ReBirth in 1997 began a concerted effort by the Stockholm-based company to campaign for in-the-box emulations of gear – and their partner Steinberg would shortly thereafter push ReWire and its own VST. Now, it’s not so much the app as the map – the physical control given to software. Whatever analog versus digital debates …

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The Saw Bench is a 100€ Analog Synth; Here’s What Its Creators Say

The list of inexpensive electronic instruments you can have for a little bit of change continues to grow. The Saw Bench, now on Kickstarter, is a 100% analog monosynth. You get one voice, one oscillator with modulation, in a box with some hands-on control via knobs and MIDI input (for notes and control). It’s so nice, and so cheap, that I had to go talk to its creators to find out the whole story. And that lead to a nice chap from the Netherlands by the way of Pieter van der Meer. I was especially confused about the price – …

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Squeezebox of the Future: Playing the Striso [Video]

It’s a beautiful, sunny day in London. A velveteen grassy green field calls out under pure blue skies and lazy clouds. And… you can’t see your laptop in the glare, you’re out of battery, and your music studio is underground. Not only will you be miserable, you’ll be playing alone. So, kudos to Striso, the Italian-dubbed (but Dutch-built) squeezebox, evolved digitally. And it’s an electronic instrument that you can still don to serenade your friends in a picnic. Looking a lot like a free-reed instrument such as the bandoneon or concertina (or, yes, accordion), it’s in fact a purely digital …

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Full Immersion in Audio, as Artists Explore 4DSOUND in a Spatial Grid [Ableton, Max, Lemur]

New sound experiences demand not only new content, but new terrain – architectural audio, spaces that can take on new meanings. And that’s why 4DSOUND in Amsterdam is such a compelling canvas. 4DSOUND is a unique installation, 256 square meters (2700+ square feet) of floor, divided into an equal grid. On that grid, columns house 48 omnidirectional speakers, as nine sub-speakers rumble beneath the floor. The result is a sonic bath, a three-dimensional audio environment. Ableton Live (with Max for Live) and Liine’s Lemur iPad app work with that system to finely position sound in the new space that’s created. …

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Photo courtesy the artist.

One Laser + Hourglass + Circuits = Crazy Gijs Noise Generator

Now, here’s the way to do an analog noise generator oscillator: use grains of sand. As falling sand interrupts the flow of a laser to a light-sensitive sensor (a photodetector), the circuit produces random oscillations of sound. It’s the latest brilliant creation of mad Dutch scientist Gijs Gieskes, the industrial designer-turned-musician whose inventions often center on some physical and mechanical apparatus. Just for good measure, the project is mounted to a clear frame so it can be fit to a Eurorack modular setup. You can try building this yourself; as with all of Gijs’ projects, the circuit is freely available …

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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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