monkeysandsynthesizers

Synths Versus Real Primates: So Easy, a Monkey Can Play Them? A Zoo Finds Out

Synths meet monkeys. Photo: Andreas Tilliander. Composer and Swedish dance music maestro Håkan Libdo has been a constant source of experimentation. But his latest project yields zoo-like new adventurousness. Six species of monkeys are equipped with synthesizers to test the question of whether playing a synth is really playing music – or if it’s so simple, a monkey can do it. Describing the project, there’s a bit of a defense of the complexity of the instrument: “You just press a button and out comes music, right?” Well… you do press buttons, twist knobs and faders, but there are endless ways …

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Visual Music: My God, It’s Full of Dots – Yayoi Kusama Meets Musical Design

Tenori-On and iPad apps, hardware designs and visual creations: set against the beautifully-generative mind of Japanese/New York artist Yayoi Kusama, the flurries of dots and circles and patterns in musical interfaces take on a richer meaning. This video, from a workshop hosted at the Tate Modern alongside an exhibition of Kusama’s work, needs little introduction. Instead, the dizzying cuts of geometric abstraction, the array of visual ideas for musical interface begin to take on the same personality of her expansive creations. The galaxies produced out of the minds of musicians somehow overlap with this iconic artist. I hadn’t really made …

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ns10m

808, SP1200, MPC, NS-10 Reborn in Miniature as Beautifully-Detailed, Tiny USB Drives [Gallery]

File these designs under “do want.” Some of your favorite gear is rendered in miniature: Roland’s TR-808, E-MU’s SP-1200 sampler, Akai’s MPC 2000XL, and (coming soon) even the Yamaha NS-10 near-field monitors. It occurs to me that someday soon, such tiny things might even work in some form as functioning music equipment. For now, you’ll have to settle for tiny classic gear that contains an 8 GB flash drive – enough to carry especially-precious samples or demos or backups. The drives are US$39.99, but contain extraordinary levels of detail and use Toshiba flash memory (not something overly generic). They work …

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networkawesome

Network Awesome Electronic Music Week: Way More Electronic Music Videos Than You Can Handle

Quit your job, leave your loved ones, stock up on food, and get ready to destroy your life with videos from YouTube. Network Awesome, a kind of curatorial “TV” network full of free online videos, has been assembling the best documentaries dealing with electronic music online, with hours and hours and hours of things that could basically keep you from, ironically, reading this site for the rest of the week if you like. This isn’t just some random assortment, either. There are thoughtful assortments and surprise discoveries, including a celebrity-chosen set of some pretty far-out live shows pulled by Jan …

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notorious-siri

iPhone’s Siri Plays a Real Grand Piano, Raps with Notorious B.I.G.

Music lovers are hacking Apple’s Siri voice recognition technology. By connecting to some of the “intelligence” of the cloud, these tools can make your phone rap or send music files to a player piano for instant musical playback. First up: Yamaha’s piano taking requests, thanks to music grabbed online. A Yamaha rep explains: Yamaha consultant Craig Knudsen demonstrates a unique implementation of Apple’s incredible Airplay technology in an exciting new way. Here’s how it works: Take a standard MIDI songfile and convert it to an audio file (while maintaining the MIDI data). The songfile is then sent wirelessly via WiFi …

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Yamaha’s iPad Tenori-On Videos Emerge

On the road from futuristic instrumental concept to real-world product, the Yamaha Tenori-On as shipped lacked some of the functionality its creator, gifted media artist Toshio Iwai, originally imagined. Notably, wireless networking, which promised social music-making with other devices, was gone, replaced with a more-limited MIDI connector. Now, in a surprisingly literal translation from the hardware to iPad, it appears the Tenori-On has added that feature – but lost some of its charm. An iOS developer notes to me that pitches don’t sound when you tap the screen, only when they are played in the sequence. That fundamentally changes the …

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cp35

A Free Sampled Yamaha CP-35 Saves You From Lifting; Handmade Albums Lift You Up

Yamaha’s CP-35 may fall short of being a classic, but it is capable of some pleasant, dreamy sounds. That is, if you can actually lift it. Impossibly heavy and cumbersome, here’s a job for sampling if ever there was one. A free Ableton Live rack gives you convenient access to the instruments and live effects. I should note, by the way, that Ableton Live is not a prerequisite to using the samples AfroDjMac, aka Brian, aka Nairb Funk, aka the guy who’s been giving us the gift of tons of free Ableton Live stuff, talks to CDM. He shares some …

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Favorite Synths Emulated in the Browser, Monotron to Minimoog; A Chat with the Developer

The beauty of modeling an instrument is that it involves ideas – taking a design from one context and translating it to another. With software, we’re able to put sound-making things everywhere, from obscure game consoles to a tab in your web browser that can distract you with music instead of Facebook updates. In the process of moving those ideas from place to place, we discover things. Just ask Shannon Smith. He’s been on a great tear emulating favorite synthesizers in free toys for the browser. Through the power of the Internet, the New Zealand-born, California-based developer heard from Japan-based …

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mox8

Yamaha’s MOX: Recession-Friendly, More Portable MOTIF Keyboards; Computer Workflows

While Roland this week is pushing their JP-80 and celebrating a 30-year milestone (the Jupiter-8), Yamaha has a different tack. They’re talking about the 10-year anniversary of the MOTIF workstation line, and introducing a version that’s actually easier to lift and afford. That could be friendly to the current economic tough times. But with all that people love their software synths, can Yamaha make a compelling case to the computer user, too? I put Yamaha on the spot to answer that. First, here are the specs: MOTIF XS sounds, with 1,217 voices and 355 MB of waveforms. (Okay, that’s nothing …

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One Man Band Watch: Gestures, TouchOSC, Pure Data, Breath Control, Oh, My

Every so often, I’m reminded of a simple fact: the greatest machine on the planet remains the human machine. So, yes, it may seem strange to one of the uninitiated to imagine strapping an iPhone to your wrist. And yes, musicianship in the digital age is partly about triggering, not just playing (though Onyx can really blow on his Akai wind controller.) But the bottom line is, the precision of movement and the genius of human musical creativity wins out. However unusual the technological solution, it can still tap into that power. In the video above, our friend Onyx Ashanti …

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