From libraries to circuits to hacks to instructions, a lot of you are sharing the stuff you make. We’re using Ableton Loop to bring some of you together.

Ableton’s Loop festival/conference/summit is now more than just a get-together for Ableton users. It’s become a kind of international music happening. And so lots of interesting folks are gathering here in Berlin later this week.

That’s just a tiny, tiny fraction of the people reading this, though. Now, if only we could get more of you here, sort of virtually.

With that in mind, I’m going to do an open call for any kind of project you’d like to share. I’ll survey these and keep tabs on them here in CDM. And for those of us who are gathering in Berlin Sunday, we can share in person and get back to all of you through the power of the Internet.

By “open,” I mean anything that has some kind of permissive license for copying and modification, or that’s totally free. It could be a project for making contact mics or documenting how to make field recordings, too – not just software and hardware. And it doesn’t have to be Ableton-related, either – I do expect a good mix of people already at this event.

Of course, with open source tools, this is really important. Just making something open source doesn’t necessarily get people to collaborate on it. So if you want to invite users, testers, collaborators, and other feedback, you need to make connections.

Here’s the notion, as described on the Loop site:

A get-together to exchange, discover, and collaborate on open and handmade hardware and software.

Sometimes, realising the sounds in your imagination means making or modding your own tools and instruments.This meetup is a chance for us to share these inventions, born of necessity, with each other. CDM editor Peter Kirn talks about how to use open licensing to allow collaboration and learning, and takes a look at some of the more interesting creations in today’s global music community. Then, he’ll hand the floor over to you. Pack your own handmade gear, custom code, patches or hacks if you’ve got them, and be ready to play with others.

Open Tools Meetup [Ableton Loop; Sunday, 11-13:00 Maker Zone]

And if you want to submit your project for that get-together (or later coverage on CDM), fire away here! I’m curious what you’re working on.

After all, CDM is what it is – and arguably Ableton Live, too – because of people getting started with creative controllers, hacks, and new ways of making and playing music. It’s time to check in on the state of that landscape, and the stuff you’re most passionate about.

(and yeah, if you sent something lately and I ignored it, please don’t be shy about nagging me now! Only so many hours in the day…)

For added inspiration: Let’s remember those who came before. Grandmaster Flash, pictured here, showing some DIY futurism. Via the wonderful Leah Buechley.

  • My project isn’t in solid enough of a shape to share through the survey. Will still share thoughts about it here, just in case.

    My key project in this space (let’s call it “SynthBreath”) is for a custom-made, expressive, responsive wind-controlled digital musicking system.
    Got dispersed pieces of documentation, but not really a link to share about my eventual build.

    Part of it is hardware, using either (or both) fully-DIY solutions (say, a pressure transducer plugged to a VCF) and adaptations on existing devices (hacking a Yamaha WX-11, for instance). The Raspberry Pi is at the centre of it but it could work through other means, including micro:bit, BeagleBone Black, and Arduino. My soldering skills are close to non-existent, but the project does require some circuit-making, if not circuit-bending.
    Software also matters quite a bit and revolves around things like Sonic Pi, Pure Data, SuperCollider, ChucK, LV2 plugins, and maybe VCV Rack. Apart from some work on sound design, the software is meant to be used to do something between generative music and jamming. Things like automatic harmonization and “call and response” are important to me.
    Live coding is part of it, especially given the way Sonic Pi has evolved. But it’s not about typing commands on a laptop. After all, code comes in many forms.
    Portability is essential for me and mobile tools have been a great help. Yet this project is unlikely to use existing mobile platforms in the usual sense. Leveraging sensors on an old smartphone can fit my purpose. But this project is quite distinct from, say, my iOS musicking.
    Given my background in ethnomusicology, it’s key for this system to allow for microtuning, polyrhythms, and irregular timing (my research has been on hunters’ music from Mali). But it’s also about going beyond notes, samples, or loops as distinct events and into something closer to contour, movement, melisma, phrasing. A crude way to describe Chinese music, for instance, is that it’s about “how you get to the note” as opposed to the note itself. In some cases, there isn’t really an envelope. From the MIDI protocol to step sequencers and piano rolls, we’ve lost track of some of these other approaches to music. Part of the modular world can bring in some of these freer ways to approach sound. But even those tend to receive a lot of influence from the 20th Century as a new kind of “Common Practice Period”.
    Excerpts and recordings coming from this system are to be in Creative Commons and the code is to be shared using a permissive license (undecided as to which one). The system’s design is also meant to be shared openly, without restriction.
    In terms of help, got a long list of wishes, but been too afraid to ask. Soldering help will be needed at some point. But much of what could improve the project comes from simple interactions with people open to hear about it. Would be much easier to complete such a project in a Fab Lab, given many features of the Fab Lab Charter.

    Phew! Ok, this is very far from what you want, Peter. But it feels good to share it. Again, one never knows where it can lead.

    • Dubby Labby

      If you need some help with soldering maybe I can help. Coding is not my best skill by far but hardware hacking things is my actual job lol

  • Dubby Labby

    I have some projects ATM and others buried in time but not sure about how (or which) could fit in the call…

  • robot_mixeur

    Would be nice to include Axoloti. Maybe someone involved in the project is in Berlin coming Sunday?