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On Toys, Music and Visuals, and Code: Thicket’s Creators Talk iOS Artmaking

What could audiovisual art made for tablets look like? Some dismiss the results as “toys.” The creators of Thicket embrace that very role. Thicket, the product of electronic A/V artists Morgan Packard and Joshue Ott, is intended as a kind of immersive distraction, filling the screen of an Apple handheld or iPad with clouds of abstract color and ambient sound. Free of controls or widgets, playing with Thicket is a bit like sticking your hand into a mist, more gently responsive than overtly interactive. It’s also lovely, and – for the moment – free. As an experiment, Josh and Morgan …

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Preview: ReacTable Mobile Arrives for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch

ReacTable Mobile has arrived for iOS mobile devices – even handhelds – bringing the visual, modular sound-making environment to the masses. Apart from building your own interactive musical table, the only way to get ReacTable’s software previously was to spend some EUR9700 – and get on a waiting list. Now, any Apple mobile device will do the trick. The ReacTable certainly is intuitive and fun, and I imagine this could appeal to people new to music performance, as well as satisfying some long-time ReacTable fans. There’s also sample import, so you can really use this in your own performances and …

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The Most From Free Software: Book Review, Getting Things Made, Un-Procrastination

Is it time to get a round tuit? Photo (CC-BY-ND) Denise Mattox. For this book review, we welcome guest writer Andy Farnell, who himself has a terrific book on interactive sound design and free modular patching environment Pure Data, entitled Designing Sound. It began as a review of a book on using free software – but it could be, more than that, a chance to fight procrastination. And while this runs the gamut, including graphics and design and not just sound, that could be even more relevant to those of us who need to delve into those other areas for …

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MetaSynth 5 is Here: Graphical Sound-as-Painting Tool, Overhauled

A refresh for an old friend. Click through for full-sized image. MetaSynth has long been something special, a rare tool beloved by sound designers and fans of unusual software for music. The creation of software designer Eric Wenger, creator of the 3D modeling tool Bryce, expressed his unique vision of how computer design could work for sound with interfaces to make synthesis, filtering, and effects more graphical. At the same time, you’d be forgiven for forgetting MetaSynth, as the independently-developed, Mac-only application has been out of the headlines a long time. Imagine my surprise to see Edward Spiegel’s announcement today …

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Music Sequencing as Bicycle Wheels, Rubik’s Cubes at Fest in Argentina

Performance with Cubie from sadmb on Vimeo. Music sequencing as a Rubik’s Cube-style game, or hypnotic, kinetic rotating wheels – your piano roll won’t know what hit it. New musical art is set to be performed in Argentina, but you can download both tools, free. Computer interfaces for music date back decades now, but with ingrained notions of hardware sound sequencers, linear media like tape, and hundreds of years of notation in staves and bars, old habits can be hard to kick. Yet it seems that suddenly, a younger generation of audiovisual composers is exploding notions of how musical interface …

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Auditorium: Free Flash Music Game Creates Music with Streams of Particles

Auditorium is a fascinating free Flash game that turns interactive music arrangement into a series of puzzles. The center of the game is what the creators call “flow” – a visual stream of particles that can be directed to audio “containers” to create sound. The user places circles with icons signifying direction in the stream to redirect the particles where desired. As the stream hits the containers, it produces musical patterns. The results aren’t entirely open-ended – that is, there is a fairly fun puzzle game here, in that you can only “clear” a level by directing the flow of …

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Video as Instrument: The Fairlight CMI’s Visualist Sibling, the Fairlight CVI

The Fairlight CMI, the ground-breaking digital synth created by Australians Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie, is well known for its contribution to music. Think names like Peter Gabriel, Hans Zimmer, David Bowie, Herbie Hancock, Kate Bush, Bono, and … hang on, I’ll stop before this becomes a very long list. With tablet input and sophisticated sampling capabilities, the CMI holds up reasonably well against even modern tech, even if it cost as much as a luxury car. (See Keyboard Magazine‘s 2006 write-up.) But less known is the CMI’s influential visual sibling, the CVI — Computer Video Instrument. Introduced to the …

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Live 3D Visualization of Music: Brooklyn Workshop for Interactive Quartz Composer, Mac Visuals

Free tools like Quartz Composer (Mac) and Processing (cross-platform) now make it possible to run visuals and music on the same computer. Accelerated on the 3D graphics card in your machine (or integrated graphics on the new MacBooks), you can run live visuals without taxing your CPU, and use MIDI and/or audio signal to translate sound and music into interactive animation. Translation: you jam, eye candy runs in the background. On the Mac, you can even easily assemble whole sets of songs using Rax with Quartz Composer visualizations, as seen here previously. I’ll be teaching a workshop on some of …

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Watch Poeme Electronique, Landmark 1958 Animation and Electronic Score

Architecture mixed with electronics mixed with animation — we think nothing of mixing these elements now. In 1958, as Poème Electronique was unleashed on the Brussels World’s Fair, it was still experimental. The animation/installation/composition was the collaborative creation of legendary modernist architect Le Corbusier, his assistant Iannis Xenakis, who would later come to be known as a ground-breaking experimental composer, and composer Edgard Varèse. Varèse is certainly one of us: part of the reason he went into a compositional drought for many years was he was frustrated by the limitations of acoustic sound, and longed for the electronic labs we …

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