soundmachines_1

Like a Wheel Within a Wheel: Beautiful Optical Turntables Generate Spinning Rhythms

Music is deeply tied up with motion; seeing that in a machine is somehow satisfying. Soundmachines, from the enigmatically-titled Berlin studio TheProduct*, is an interactive physical installation made from optical turntables. By moving the “tone arm” – really in this case an optical sensor attached to an extended mount – you can change rhythms and sound sweeps. We’ve naturally seen many visualizations, tangible and digital, that make loops into wheels. But it’s worth noting the particular connection to a kinetic experiment by The Books’ Nick Zammuto from the film earlier this week. In fact, my one criticism of this piece …

READ MORE →

Listening: Paul Croker’s Sampled Vinyl MPC Collage, PublicSpacesLab

Photo (CC-BY) Hryck. / Todd. Barcelona-based, Los Angeles-edited PublicSpacesLab is an example of what a netlabel can be. Instead of just another dumping ground for sounds, it feels like a well-curated cafe, pairing regular but thoughtful releases with reflections on music making. Everything is Creative Commons-licensed, free music, from a variety of artists spanning geographies and genres. If you’re in the mood for reading, recent thought pieces from the editor cover a range of topics: Expansion, the lesser known dynamics tool (Amen, brother) The demise of an indie radio station in LA (with some harsh words for the town – …

READ MORE →

Turntable-Based, Kinetic Sound Sculptures and Instruments

Works For Turntable from Stephen Cornford on Vimeo. Digital sound, and electronic sound in general, can become abstract. In fact, sound itself can be abstract. So there’s something beautiful about rendering sound as something kinetic, mechanical, and physical. Watch the hypnotic works by Stephen Cornford, top; as the video progresses, the pieces deepen in subtlety. (Thanks to Richard Devine for spotting this one.) Cornford isn’t the only artist finding new sonic frontiers in the turntable. From a recent event in San Francisco sponsored by our friends at MAKE Magazine, artist Walter Kitundu talks about his own fascination with the turntable …

READ MORE →

As the Turntable Turns: Digital Vinyl Survives, Real Technics 1200 Dies (Or Not)

Rick Harrison. The legal wrangling over patents and who owns digital vinyl technology continues. The latest development: the court has dismissed N2IT’s claim against M-Audio, as covered by djtechtools. Before you strike this as a victory in the M-Audio column, it’s possible the parties settled out of court. Based on my limited legal background, I tend to agree with Ean Golden at djtechtools: this does seem to diminish the likelihood of N2IT successfully pursuing a new case against Serato. (In the Netherlands, it’s not possible to buy Serato, because there is would violate Dutch patent law, in the country in …

READ MORE →

A Gramophone that Plays the Earth Instead of Vinyl, and a Sonic iPhone Epidemic

Images courtesy Olle Cornéer. Used by permission. If you think culture has become too disconnected from the Earth, “Harvest” and the Terrafon instrument surely count as a shock to the system. A traditional ensemble picks up an enormous tone arm and transducer and, through back-breaking labor, drag it across arable fields. It’s part sound art and performance, part agriculture. But it certainly counts as a gramophone – it’s just a really big one that reads the grooves of the earth. Beat juggling with two of these I’m guessing is largely out of the question. One half of the artistic creative …

READ MORE →

Vinyl + Ableton: Ms. Pinky and Max for Live Working Now

Photo (CC) Brendan Dawes. It’s round, it’s mechanically-resistant, it’s tangible, it supports multi-touch and gestures. Yep – it’s the turntable, and outdoing it would mean reinventing the wheel, literally. And so it is that more than a few Ableton fans have wondered how they might work vinyl into their software axe of choice. Ableton and digital vinyl vendor Serato have announced they’re doing “something,” and then announced at the beginning of October that an announcement would be announced on January 14, 2010 at NAMM. Oh, and they said it will “unleash your creativity,” which sounds good. (It’s better than, say, …

READ MORE →

Turntablism in the Digital Age: DJ Jungleboy with Stanton SCS.3d; Open Scratch Scripting

Want to reignite interest in DJs who actually use their hands and fingers to slice up and juggle sounds? A cavalcade of “laptopists” is the ticket. Suddenly, at least in some corners, people are again interested in turntablism. It’s nice to see how a controller can integrate digital loop and cue points with a setup that still focuses on scratching. And Stanton’s SCS.3d turns out to be scriptable in the open source DJ software Mixxx. As some live PA musicians revert to a “push play” mentality, DJs can keep it interesting.

READ MORE →

More from Mutek: Tech and Gear Spottings, Ecology and the Planet

Liz and Peter Dines continue to send dispatches from the epic MUTEK festival in Montreal. Stay tuned to our events.createdigitalmusic.com page for the latest. Among the new reports: various Reaktor spottings among artists, insane turntable abuse, and even a discussion of how arts events can reduce their impact on the planet. (Oddly enough, that last panel evidently included Dan Seligman, with whom I worked at the Sierra Club on international trade and human rights issues in another life of mine.) Check out the ongoing MUTEK coverage while we wait for Liz and Peter to finish off their stack of interviews …

READ MORE →

Digital DJ Controllers: A Hybrid Numark Turntable, Stanton Sans Vinyl

Since this week has become Unplanned Unofficial Vinyl Week, I might as well keep going. Vinyl with printed timecode is just one path. Here are two examples (one recent, one upcoming) of products that have found other means of connecting digital sound to the turntable. If a product like Traktor Scratch or Serato Scratch Live represent the maturation of the integrated vinyl + hardware + software solution, these two tools virtualize the turntable experience in other ways. And they demonstrate just how much control technology can change in music, turntable or no. The Numark X2, above, as pointed out by …

READ MORE →

Ghetto-Fabulous Digital Vinyl: Make a Mouse Into a Turntable

Scratching with a mouse just doesn’t feel right. One solution, as in FinalScratch and other products, is to print timecode onto the vinyl. But then there’s the direct approach: strap that mouse right onto your turntable and hit the club! That’s just what the DIY-oriented community of users of terminatorX have done. terminatorX is a fully open-source scratch synth on Linux, with support for files like OGG, MP3, and WAV, and even (recently) Linux’s open stereo plug-in format, LADSPA. terminatorX lacks fancy features like support for timecode-printed vinyl, so users take a more literal approach to melding mouse and turntable. …

READ MORE →