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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Wearables: CuteCircuit Turns Katy Perry into Interactive Digital Scenography; Fashion Visualists

Making Katy Perry extraterrestrial, the work of CuteCircuit. Photo by KatyPix.com Digital visual effects need not be limited to projection. CuteCircuit have been one of a select handful of designers pushing the envelope with wearables. Here, Katy Perry becomes their celebrity canvas, in what I expect will be one of the only-ever appearances of American Idol on CDM. The actual costume design, though, is fantastic. Thousands of interactive LEDs are a digital mirror to the countless sparkling Swarovski crystals that festoon the garment, with UK-based sculptor Yasemen Hussein adding her striking Baroque extraterrestrial forms. (She’s not a digital artist, but …

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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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Onyx Wants to Make Himself Into Helmeted, Wearable-Music-Tech Tron, With Your Help

A helmet and hand units make up the TRON performance system for a style of music artist Onyx Ashanti calls “beatjazz.” And he’s well on his way to making a reality. All images courtesy the artist. Onyx Ashanti is insane – in the special, essential way that makes certain brilliant musicians. An experienced busker, having crossed from the US to Berlin, he’s a rare virtuoso of wind instruments and electronic improvisation, the kind of musically-free soul who can just let loose live. But his latest project really crosses into some new territory. He’s making himself into Tron. No, really – …

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In/Out Preview: Sounds, Sights, Thoughts, and Free Protofuse Download

Rosa Menkman (NL) re-imagines her digital self; part of the visual lineup for In/Out in New York next week. What is essential or new to the craft of fabricating electronic music? Who are we, today, as digital artists? As a certain natural sameness descends on some computer-based music performance as the medium matures, artists at gatherings like next week’s In/Out Festival push out toward the fringe. And like the shifting pixels in Rosa Menkman’s imagery, these events indicate an emerging – sometimes glitchy – self-image of a scene. In/Out hits New York Friday, September 17 – Saturday, September 18. The …

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Ready-to-Play, Tuned Beer Bottles, and Other Design Experiments with Sound

From label to physical shape to the boxes they come in, these beer bottles have been reimagined for musical aims. Cheers! All images courtesy the artist, Matt Braun. What if blowing tunes on beer bottles was raised to the level of musical science? Through even the mundane medium of packaging, design can transform the everyday. DJ and designer Matt Braun of Philadelphia, collaborating with Chris Mufalli, use labels to tune the level of beer remaining in the bottle for musical results. Pitches are printed on the labels, allowing you to exactly match the liquid inside to a pitch you want, …

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Bendable, Musical Shoes for Nike, and How They Were Made

Shoes are the new turnables. Or at least that’s the conclusion you might reach after watching a new Japanese campaign for Nike’s Free Run+ running shoes. Apparently wishing to tout the bendable qualities of its new footwear, Nike enlisted sound artists to transform its product into a musical instrument. The shoes get plugged in, switched on, and mixed up, battle-style, as they sense when the shoe is flexed or moved in space. And yes, everything you see in the video is real: the shoes really are controlling digital sound live. We even have the Max patch to prove it. Lovers …

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Émilie Simon, Making Homemade Sessions in Her Apartment

Émilie Simon is a fantastically-talented artist with a unique background: her work now falls clearly into pop territory, but her lineage is just as much experimental and classical. Conservatory training gave way to time at the avant garde nerve center of Paris, IRCAM. IRCAM’s Director, Cyrille Brissot, still plays alongside her – more on his wild invention in a moment. Simon has been a big hit in France; you may know her composition from the soundtrack to March of the Penguins. But now, she’s a New Yorker, which brings us to the topic of the headline. The singer-pianist-artist released a …

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