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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The Man-Robot with an iMac Head, and Handmade Music Amsterdam

The Body, The Circuit, The Computer and The Voice: robot cowboy from STEIM Amsterdam on Vimeo. If you want to look for some of the roots of live electronic musical performance, STEIM is one place to start. Founded in 1969 by a group of Dutch composers (Misha Mengelberg, Louis Andriessen, Peter Schat, Dick Raaymakers, Jan van Vlijmen, Reinbert de Leeuw, and Konrad Boehmer), and led by the late “founding father” Michel Waisvisz, it has remained an important hub for inventing music technologies. It was one of the first places that gave an indication that these kind of experiments could extend …

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The Sonic Manipulator: Bizarre Wearable Musical Inventions, Stolen from Space Aliens?

It may be 2009, but you can still play electronic music as though you’re an invading alien visitor from the future. Just ask The Sonic Manipulator, an electronic musical performer and inventor, alias Claude Woodward. His musical creations range from warped radios to instruments derived from turntable scratches and Theremins. And then there are some instruments that seem to be sonic weapons. (Apologies to recent protesters in Pittsburgh.) CDM reader Andrew Cordani caught Claude at the UK’s British Invention Show. Claude is apparently a Perth, Australia transplant, by way of Cambridge, though Andrew writes that he “has been known to …

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Handmade Music: NYC Thursday – Wearable Sound, DIY Dance Music + MP3s

From Sarah and Lara Grant, we have a dress that makes music, with tube-like apparatus made of felt for connecting sound, modular fashion. From the raucous duo Great Tiger, we get a homebrewed arcade controller Ableton Live that mashes loops into dance music with a quick button push. Yep, it’s Handmade Music time again in New York tomorrow Thursday. If you’re anywhere in the area, come on down – and feel free to bring your own projects and/or expect some surprise technological appearances. If not, we’ve still got some MP3s, visuals, and how-to information to share. If you do make …

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Maker-Faire Music: VAMP and Glove-Controlled Vocals

Elly Jessop and VAMP at the Maker Faire from The Amazing Rolo on Vimeo. Yann Seznec aka The Amazing Rolo brings CDM his coverage of music tech at the Maker Faire in three episodes today. Continuing the tradition of computer-augmented vocal performance and interactive gloves, Elena “Elly” Jessop shows off her VAMP system at Maker Faire. Elly is a Masters student at the MIT Media Lab’s Opera of the Future research group, headed by Todd Machover. Interestingly, Elly’s background is in conventional theater, including stage and costume design and choreography. http://web.media.mit.edu/~ejessop/ VAMP stands for “Vocal Augmentation and Manipulation Prosthesis.” What’s …

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Like a DIY NAMM: Handmade Music Preview, with Gestural Gadgets, Mannequin Parts, More

The GCE-2 by Mouse & the Billionaire is just one creation at this month’s Handmade Music, many from createdigitalmusic.com readers. What’s new in the world of music technological creations? It’s stunning how much people are creating in their private workshops and bedrooms. I’m pleased to have the chance to share it virtually here, and Thursday night in person in New York City. We’re proud that Handmade Music returns to Brooklyn’s 3rd Ward this Thursday, presented by createdigitalmusic.com with XLR8R.com, Make, and Etsy.com and sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon. (Free beer.) It’s a party, a science fair of music tech and …

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Alternative Theremin: On Your Wrist, in a Mug of Tea

Neither of these items is “news,” but since I missed them, you may have, too — and because they’re so absurd and wonderful, I can’t let that happen. Some things are timeless. Via Chris Cheung’s Hong Kong’s-based Special Interest Group comes the Theremin Watch, “Modified (circuit bend) from 大人之科學 kit set.” I love the idea of a wrist-mounted Theremin. On one hand (ahem), it does mean that you can calibrate relative to your body, because it’s always strapped to your wrist. On the other, I expect that’s still something of a challenge. But it’s not so often you get wearable …

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Sexy Computer Nerd: Rucyl Mills’ Wearable, Over-the-Shoulder MIDI Controller

It’s not animal-friendly, constructed of black leather and snakeskin, but it is fashion-forward. It’s Rucyl Mills’ over-the-shoulder, wearable MIDI controller, complete with pads, knobs and faders (looking mysteriously like they were liberated from an M-Audio Trigger Finger). Rucyl describes her creation: I built the elektro-07 so I could control the sonic and visual parameters of my live performances without having to look deep into the eye of my laptop, hunched over in computer music stance. I’m still learning how to play it.. Software wise, it runs a maxMSP/Jitter patch smoothly, connected to my laptop by a long usb cable. Major …

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