Visual Music: My God, It’s Full of Dots – Yayoi Kusama Meets Musical Design

Tenori-On and iPad apps, hardware designs and visual creations: set against the beautifully-generative mind of Japanese/New York artist Yayoi Kusama, the flurries of dots and circles and patterns in musical interfaces take on a richer meaning. This video, from a workshop hosted at the Tate Modern alongside an exhibition of Kusama’s work, needs little introduction. Instead, the dizzying cuts of geometric abstraction, the array of visual ideas for musical interface begin to take on the same personality of her expansive creations. The galaxies produced out of the minds of musicians somehow overlap with this iconic artist. I hadn’t really made …

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whacamole

PocoPoco, Kinetic Music Control Gone Whac-a-Mole, and Our Tactile Future

PocoPoco is a delightful, fanciful device that takes music control into the realm of kinetic sculpture. Normally, the relationship of music controller is primarily about the operator making physical actions. With PocoPoco, the hardware itself moves. The essential musical structure is familiar: it’s the grid of light-up buttons, with strong similarity to the ongoing interaction design of Toshio Iwai in the 90s and (Tenori-On) past decade. Even aesthetically, there are similarities – perhaps not coincidentally as this team is also Japan-based. But adding in the element of solenoid-powered cylinders popping out of the grid adds a major element of surprise. …

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Yamaha’s iPad Tenori-On Videos Emerge

On the road from futuristic instrumental concept to real-world product, the Yamaha Tenori-On as shipped lacked some of the functionality its creator, gifted media artist Toshio Iwai, originally imagined. Notably, wireless networking, which promised social music-making with other devices, was gone, replaced with a more-limited MIDI connector. Now, in a surprisingly literal translation from the hardware to iPad, it appears the Tenori-On has added that feature – but lost some of its charm. An iOS developer notes to me that pitches don’t sound when you tap the screen, only when they are played in the sequence. That fundamentally changes the …

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Notes Visualized as Beams of Color: New Work, Toshio Iwai

Clavilux 2000 – Interactive instrument for generative music visualization from Jonas Heuer on Vimeo. Think of playing musical notes for a moment, or close your eyes while fingering a piano keyboard. Odds are, some visual – however abstract – pops into your mind. Visualizing musical notes is second nature in the digital realm, once a note and an image can each be represented with numbers. Clavilux 2000 by Jonas Friedemann Heuer is one of the latest works to run with the idea. As you play notes, beams of color drift up from the keyboard. In 3D mode, those beams take …

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Lights and Music: Lo-Fi DIY Game System as Music Toy, on the Grid

Imagine an alternative universe in which simple digital handheld games evolved into sophisticated music tools. Oh, and they also made lots of really purty lights flash. Mmmmm … flashing lights. Well, that alternative universe seems to be right here. Mike Una gave us a massive dump of unusual new DIY sequencers, crafted from the ground up to rework techno into sonic objects. Some are unquestionably indebted to the analog step sequencer, but others take as much from 80s digital toys. Working with the Meggy, Jr. DIY handheld game platform – with a stunning 8×8 pixel resolution – Darius Kazemi has …

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