A Case in Motion: AUUG Marries Wearable iPhone, Software, Cloud in Gestures

The next innovations in music and sound may come somewhere between fashion and instrument, between hardware, software, and service. The AUUG Motion Synth represents one idea of how to do that. In terms of hardware, it’s just aluminum – albeit aluminum in a rather clever configuration. Worn on your wrist, it solves the problem of how to gesture with an iPhone or iPod touch without … well, without dropping it. There isn’t any additional sensor; it simply uses the sensing already in the device. Then again, with Apple’s iPhone 5S, that may be what you want, and the presence of …

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Google Glass Ensemble: Viola Composition Made in Glass Videos

Alexander Chen is turning into Google’s resident composer. In his latest experiment, he uses the controversial-but-buzzed-about Google Glass wearable tech as a video source for making music. Layering together a series of loops of his solo viola playing, he weaves a contemplative, modal composition. It’s a sort of overdubbed chamber ensemble in video. (The spare, parallel writing is to me reminiscent of a Copland string quartet.) There’s nothing here that couldn’t be done with a head-mounted camera, but perhaps that’s the lesson. In our camera sensor-filled lives, a big part of the design statement Glass makes is the vision of …

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Cut From a Different Cloth: Threads and Circuits at MusicMakers Hacklab CTM [Video, Gallery, Pt. 2]

So much is possible when we just open up the materials of musical invention to a range of people – and those materials can be cloth, circuits, acoustic, electronic, light, sound. I was reminded of that yet again last week, thanks to an amazing group of artists, developers, facilitators, and organizers. I’m still recovering – in a good way – from five days last week filled with people sewing and soldering, wearable interfaces and constructed projection-mapped kinetic sculptures and new digital instruments. Native Instruments and Ableton took us inside their development process – and provided hardware, pretzels, pastries, and Club-Mate. …

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Electronic Body Music: Organ Alpha a Sonic Installation That Makes You Into Sound

In an extended fancy on the sounds inside the body “Organ Alpha” is a kind of responsive musical instrument that transforms human input into surround-sound audio. Your body speaks, it listens, and it answers. Sensors watch for movement inside a virtual stomach, as stethoscopes dangle, inviting input. Watch for the kid’s reaction in the video. The project is the work of Israeli-born, UK-based media artist Avi Ashkenazi and Scottish textile designer Marion Lean, for their MA at Goldsmiths. I think it’s worth posting as part of an ongoing series of works that use biological interaction as the basis for music, …

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A Monster Frankenstein Controller, with Fur Keys and Borg-Like Eyepiece, Built by Julie Covello

Photo by Nina Mouritzen; courtesy Julie Covello/Shakey. In an explosion of color, buttons, keys, velcro, and fur, and coupled with a cyborg-chic eyepiece, the VoltAxe is controllerism gone Mad Max, a post-acocalyptic keytar bred from salvaged parts. And if you want to make a unique construction of your own, creator Julie Covello – aka New York’s DJ Shakey – is willing to tell all her secrets, as well as why this was important to her music. In modeling (the basement hobby variety, not the skinny fashionista one), “kitbashing” is the act of combining bits of multiple kits to produce one …

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Teenage Engineering: Opbox Sensors and Shoes, OP-1 Drums and MIDI Sync

Stockholm-based design technistas and boutique synth shop Teenage Engineering have evidently worked out how to keep busy and brighten those dark Swedish winters. They showed up in Southern California this week with a slew of new stuff to show off. And while mention of their OP-1 synth may elicit controversy in comment threads online, their booths are crowd pleasers. In contrast to the buttoned-up, business-like atmosphere of a lot of tech vendors at NAMM, TE’s whimsical science lab seems to spill out onto the show floor, and – along with more analog-tilted booths Big City and Analog Haven – attracted …

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Beatboxing, Crowd-funded Wearable Open Source Beatjazz: Onyx’s Transformation Continues

When we last saw Onyx Ashanti, he was speaking of a grand vision to remake himself into a music-performing Tron. Now, the elements of that vision are coming together, with a crowd-sourced funding campaign that ends today, Friday. Update: Apparently after seeing this story, IndieGogo extended the funding deadline for five days, with the new deadline Thursday, December 1. I knew Onyx back when he was playing more conventional wind controllers. Now, that fingering arrangement is freed from the virtual wind instrument, handheld and movable through space. Because of the plans to open source everything he’s making, you might yourself …

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Grabbing Invisible Sounds with Magical Gloves: Open Gestures, But with Sound and Feel Feedback

You might imagine sound in space, or dream up gestures that traverse unexplored sonic territory. But actually building it is another matter. Kinect – following a long line of computer vision applications and spatial sensors – lets movement and gestures produce sound. The challenge of such instruments has long been that learning to play them is tough without tactile feedback. Thereminists learn their instrument through a the extremely-precise sensing of their instrument and sonic feedback. In AHNE (Audio-Haptic Navigation Environment), sonic feedback is essential, but so, too, is feel. Haptic vibration lets you know as you approach sounds — essential, …

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In Videos, Face Control and Prostheses Make the Craziest Sounds

You may have already seen FaceOSC, free software that eases the use of facial tracking from a computer camera for use as a controller, here with music software (top). Synthtopia picked up the story in July, featuring artist and engineer Kyle McDonald. But one FreeKa Tet has done his own implementation (second from top), and while the video is a bit grainy, he sounds wonderfully terrifying, as if his face is trying to slip out of The Matrix. Sometimes, I’m rendered entirely silent (no, really, it happens), and it’s best to let videos speak for themselves. So here, after the …

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Brazilian Rhythms Meet Wireless, Wearable Drums in an Artist-Engineer Collaboration

Music made by machines need not turn its back on traditional musical skill – least of all when you literally strap the machines on the back of a master musician. In a fusion of Brazilian tradition and modern wireless, wearable sensor technology, Kyle McDonald shares with us a project that makes drums into an interactive suit. Kyle has plenty to say, including all the details on how to do this in case it inspires a project of your own, so I’ll let him take it away: The project is a wireless drum suit that I built with Lucas Werthein for …

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