Photo: Udo Siegfriedt / CTM Festival.

Listen to John Chowning tell how he invented FM synthesis

To this day, it’s a synthesis method capable of producing wonderfully otherworldly sounds. And now as its applications on cell phones and cheap PC audio fade into distant memory, FM synthesis is left as one of the great achievements of musical invention, full stop – let alone being a key milestone of 20th century technology. So perhaps it’s time to revisit its significance.

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ted

From Beethoven to Kinect, linking music to our bodies

“Gesture” is a term that gets tossed about regularly in modern interaction design. But to me, the word is most deeply associated with classical music – and the gestures that first brought me to music, the piano. In this video for TED@BCG, I got to talk about that and why I think it can inform design through today’s newest interfaces. In rapid-fire form, obviously more could be said about this.

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loopsite

Ableton Does an Event: Loop to be “Summit for Music Makers”

They moved from one flagship software product to adding one piece of flagship hardware. Now there’s a flagship event, too. It’s called “Loop,” and it will be held 30 October – 1 November in Ableton’s headquarter city of Berlin. It’s clearly in part a summit for the Ableton Live community. But just as their recent book covered the creative process rather than Live per se, the event is pitched a convergence of creativity and technology generally. It’s not just talks or demos, either. The event organizers are combining hands-on workshops and invites educators. There’s also a collaboration with CTM Festival …

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rachelarmstrong

The Future of Music in Skin and Molecules, Now in Berlin

The music technology industry continues to pump out things with knobs, and things that sound like the 1970s – sometimes, literally so. And we love them for it. But if you feel dizzy after all this tumbling backwards in time, let us take you on a ride back into the future. It’s the reason we’re in Berlin and not Anaheim this week, and I think you’ll enjoy it. A lot. CDM joins again with CTM Festival to explore the possibilities for music’s future in an intensive laboratory of creation, featuring speakers, on-the-spot hacking and experimentation, and finally a live performance …

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How Music Can Predict the Human/Machine Future [re:publica Talk, Video]

This week, at Germany’s re:publica conference – an event linking offline and online worlds – I addressed the question of how musical inventions can help predict the way we use tools. I started all the way back tens of thousands of years ago with the first known (likely) musical instrument. From there, I looked at how the requirements of musical interfaces – in time and usability – can inform all kinds of design problems. And I also suggested that musicians don’t lag in innovation as much as people might expect. I thought about whether I wanted to post this as …

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Swedish dance music maker Hakan Lidbo keeps producing musical ideas that are thought-provoking and outright mad. And danceable, too. Photo: Bengt Alm.

57 Producers Make One House Track: Hakan Lidbo’s World Record Record, Meaningful Dance Music

You’ll sometimes hear people complain that there are too many producers in the world. Fine. Let’s have them collaborate on finishing tracks, en masse. With that many cooks in the kitchen, though, you’ll want one master chef in charge of the result. So it’s good news that Swedish production guru Håkan Lidbo takes the helm of a record-attempting crowd-produced record. Producers: 57 (including Mr. Lidbo). The goal: set a Guinness Book Of Records world record. Oh, and make sure you can still dance to the result. Beating the number of samples is out of the question. We already heard Johannes …

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circleversusrectangle

Reflecting on Design and Music Software for Tablets; NXNE Toronto Talk

Pictured: Loopseque, in final form (top) and sketched on paper (bottom). Images courtesy the developers; visit them on Flickr. Saturday afternoon in Toronto, I’m giving a talk to the North by Northeast festival on music software and tablets. I’ll explain a bit about what tablets are about, and some of the software that’s out there on the landscape (principally, of course, on the iPad). But I hope to emphasize a deeper issue: how you design software for the tablet, and what’s unique about this convergence of form factor and touch interface. I mean this generically for a reason: on CDM, …

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David Byrne on Venue, Architecture, and Music, But What’s Next?

David Byrne discusses at TED the influence of architecture and venue on musical activity. (I saw him give an extended version of the same talk, with discussion, at New York’s Center for Architecture.) It’s a question that’s especially relevant to electronic music, I think, as digital music has been a big confused about its venue, sometimes living in unfriendly dance clubs, and sometimes being homeless. The natural question, the one Byrne doesn’t ask, is what venues might be next? What if artists took an active role in creating the architecture in which they perform? I have plenty I could say …

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