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Watch Holly Herndon Talk About Giving Laptops a Voice

American artist Holly Herndon has built an extraordinary musical performance idiom in her live sets and records. She blends deep rhythms with ethereal vocals, interweaving electronic and processed and human sounds with unusual fluidity. Her vocal chords are beautifully present, as are her own custom-made Max patch sound designs. But she can also draw the computer’s electrical vocal chords, harnessing, Nikola Tesla-style, the unseen electro-static and mechanical life of her computer itself. This is not laptop music meant to make the computer invisible. This is laptop music that recognizes that our strange metal devices have become new instruments, machines that …

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Here’s How Clever Hacks Turned Sushi Into a Music Sequencer, with Just Blaze and Tokimonsta

If you’ve ever ordered sushi from one of those rotating belts, you’ll love this musical hack that takes it to an entirely new place. For Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) Tokyo, Native Instruments engineers teamed up with Just Blaze and Tokimonsta to turn a sushi restaurant into a live electronic remix instrument. And these aren’t tricks – slick as the music video at top my appear. They really did use a combination of cameras and software to make colored plates into a working interface for music. RBMA produced a video that shows some of what’s going on behind the scenes, …

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korgkeytar

Watch KORG’s littleBits Transformed into Badass Keytar

Right in the manual, KORG suggests that you might turn their magnetic modular system, the littleBits Synth Kit, into a keytar. But this is a sort of “attach all the modules to a bit of wood” affair. Meanwhile, in Japan… Pantograph is an art/design agency and animation house (site link – Japanese only). And when they got their hands on the Synth Kit, they did it up properly. Think beautiful, multi-colored cases, proper playable ergonomics – and a blinking light-up KORG logo. The results are enchanting: If you want one of your own and you’re passing through Tokyo (superfans, buy …

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Roland Could Make AIRA Sync Box; New Directions at Company

AIRA, the lineup that now includes a bassline/sequencer, drum machine, synth, and vocal processor, has in just a few months changed the way a lot of people think about Roland. At Musikmesse in Frankfurt, it was clear that it represents a new direction for Roland, too. The AIRA lineup was displayed separately from the usual Roland booth on the main floor of hall 5 (devoted to pianos), upstairs in hall 5.1 alongside electronic and DJ products (“remix”). And there, crowds gathered to watch pounding dance performances. Those first four AIRA units are just the beginning. Roland has created an entirely …

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The Best-Sounding Brass Instrument Tech Makes No Sound At All: Yamaha’s Latest Silent Brass

One thing you mostly can’t do with brass instruments is play them listening through … headphones. And that’s a big deal when you’re practicing, of course. There just hasn’t been a good way to do it without bothering other people. Enter Yamaha. (Yes, it’s no big surprise that a country associated with tiny, closely-adjacent apartments and actually making walls out of paper would find advances in practice technology again and again.) Yamaha’s SILENT Brass system, devised for French Horn, trombone, flugelhorn, and trumpet, isn’t new. But the latest evolution may bring it to a wider audience. The idea is this: …

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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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Korg M01D is a Crazy-Awesome New Synth for the Nintendo 3DS; Listen to CT+X Kill It

Nobuyoshi Sano is kind of a mad genius. The writer behind some of the scores for Ridge Racer and Tekken, the talented musician has also turned out some of our favorite mobile music apps, as founder of Japanese dev house Detune. He built the somewhat-ridiculous iYM2151 workstation on iPad, but is best known for the Korg iMS-20. And now, he’s got something new. Japan has already gotten a taste of M01D, the classic Korg M1 remade and rethought for the Nintendo 3DS. But only a select few have been in the know outside Japan. That changes now. I just got …

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luanna

In a Swirl of Particles, luanna Uses Gestures to Touch Samples [iPad]

luanna is a beautiful new application out of Tokyo-based visual/sound collective Phontwerp_. Amidst a wave of audiovisual iPad toys, luanna is notable for its elegance, connecting swirling flurries of particles with gestures for manipulation. I imagine I’m not alone when I say I have various sample manipulation patches lying around, many in Pd, lacking visualization, and wonder what I might use in place of a knob or fader to manipulate them. In the case of luanna, these developers find one way of “touching” the sound. As the developers put it:

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iPhones, Pencils: Hand-Drawn Music Interactions, Tokyo Subway Mobile Jam

Musicians have long made pictures to represent musical ideas, share those ideas, and allow others to participate. Before computers, we created scores. Now, we can create interfaces, too. Of course, just because you’re using a digital interface doesn’t mean the pencil as prototyping tool has to go anywhere. It’s the quickest way to sketch out an idea. And if your hand is steady, it just might become a lovely, personal interface. OtoBlock by Tsubasa Naruse is a hand-drawn music sequencer. The basic interface is nothing new, dropping blocks into sequence to make sounds, but the charm is the rough edges …

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Tenori-On Worldwide Launch Dates Announced for April

Photo: Gary Kibler for CDM. At long last, the Yamaha Tenori-On, the unusual sampling/sequencing instrument bestrewn in light-up buttons, is getting its worldwide release. And it’s going to be an amazing party. Launch cities: Frankfurt and Berlin, Germany Paris, France Montreal, Quebec New York, NY San Francisco, CA (most appropriately) Tokyo, Japan The tour kicks of in Frankfurt first on March 12, then hits the other towns April 8 – 25, finishing where the Tenori-On was born: Tokyo. Launch artists:

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