Unlikely Sound Equipment II: Synth-in-a-rock

I get these kind of requests all the time. "Peter, thanks for the helpful coverage on the USB MIDI controllers, but when will someone finally release audio hardware I can really use, like a concrete block that plays algorithmic music for 30 years?" Yes, folks: it's a piece of concrete. With a DSP chip inside. That can randomly generate algorithmic music for 30 years (after which, it dies . . . unless it's robot soul goes insane thinking about its own mortality, a la Blade Runner). Good news for DIY types, though: the Boston-based DSP collective that created this is …

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Unlikely Sound Equipment I: Drum Machine Made of Eggs

Breakfast: delicious. Drum machines: not so much. Until now. With contact mics hooked up to eggs (the kind that comes from birds, with various breeds represented), Los Angeles-based artists k.cain and b.crabtree have built an audio installation that's (insert egg pun here). A Mac LC sits behind the scenes doing the dirty work with custom circuitry and software. As far as I know, the first and only egg-based drum machine. [via]

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In-Time Tempo Tracking: New Mac Release (Mac/Win)

InTime Tempo Tracking software provides a flexible metronome that keeps time with your MIDI performance. Play fluidly with legato, and InTime syncs to your playing, for accurate transcriptions of real performances or to create flexible backing tracks that follow you. Sounds nifty, if it works; Windows users today got a 1.2 update while Mac OS X users got their first Mac release. Compatibility: Mac/PC Cost: US$159

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Mac-Powered Punching Bag for DJs [Updated]

Sure, DJs could opt for products like Final Scratch that provide a traditional turntable interface for the computer, but why not . . . a punching bag? Version 2.0 of Max/MSP-powered SoundSlam lets you punch to trigger audio and even has a virtual trainer that coaches you as you go. Add a floor mat you can dance on, and you've got the ingredients for a great interactive party. While you can't buy this at your local music store, you can at least check out Disc-o-Slam's Web site. [via networked_performance] Updated: Creator Roman Kirschner writes us from Köln, Germany with the …

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Alesis Keyboards: Want a joystick, 3D air controller, or synth with that?

Keyboards are getting to be a lot of fun, on the cheap. The latest mini-keyboards from Alesis feature X-Y joysticks, audio I/O, and the psuedo-photo-theremin Axys dome (wave your hands in the air above the dome!). That I knew — but I hadn't checked prices to realize how cheap these things are. Alesis appears to have the best 25-key deals. Alesis Photon 25 is a USB/MIDI controller with joystick and 12 knobs; street $130 Alesis Photon X25 has the theremin-style controller dome, 12 360-degree knobs, 10 buttons, full-size pitch and mod wheels (nice ones like the Ion's!), 24-bit balanced stereo …

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Pyrophone: Flaming Sound Organ Powered by Propane

Robotic guitars are cool, but you know what you really want: a propane-powered flame organ. Yes, as it turns out, enormous plumes of fire can produce pitched and unpitched sound. (Hint: it's loud.) This is a digital music site, mind you, so of course I've selected Eric Singer's Pyrophone, which can be MIDI controlled; Max/MSP is the app of choice and was adapted into a musical game of Simon, on a large, pyrotechnic scale. Sure, the instrument isn't exactly "street legal" and I believe the Madagascar Institute (motto: 'fear is never boring') got in a bit of trouble with the …

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[UPDATED] Warped Speak & Spell Sounds: Now in PC, Mac Software Form!

Have fond memories of Speak & Spells? Wish you could completely warp them, then turn them into a musical instrument? Too circuitry-challenged to circuit bend your own, and already got too many weird gadgets in your mobile music bag? (I know you've been buying everything mentioned on this site, so I understand.) Now you can download a Mac, Windows, or Flash version of the Speak & Roil, and play with original Speak & Spell sounds — or their horribly violated warped versions — from the comfort of your iBook. What? You think software is for poseurs? Roil Noise has plenty …

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GuitarBot: Robotic Guitar Instrument

Weird Music Gadget Week Continues! Engadget and the New York Times are chatting about the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots' GuitarBot, so I thought I'd add my take. GuitarBot is perhaps best described in sound as an automated, electrified shamisen; it has a very Japanese sound and shudders and shakes fabulously as it plays. Half guitar, half robot, half psuedo-Japanese instrument — three halves, what's not to love? GuitarBot is MIDI-controlled, so composers who have written for it (like my friend Joshua Fried) have tended to create a MIDI sequence or Max patch to perform. How does something like …

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Elsewhere on the Web: Win Battery 2 from Samplepoolz

Normally I wouldn't pass this sort of information on, but German site Samplepoolz is CDM's favorite site for news and reviews on samples — so why not subscribe to their newsletter for a chance to win Native Instruments' Battery 2.0 drum sampler for your Mac or PC? (Of course, now if you all do, I've made your odds worse, but . . . ah, well.) If you're into sampled content, this is the most comprehensive site I've seen.

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Cult of Mac Book Launch Party; Andrew Andrew, iPod DJs

Last night at APT, a cosy upscale lounge in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, Wired.com threw a bash for Leander Kahney's new book The Cult of Mac, DJed by the mysterious ultra-geeks Andrew Andrew. "We're the laziest DJs in New York," said Andrew (or was it Andrew?) as he turned over the duo's two fully-loaded iPods and cross-fader to the partygoers: take a number, DJ for seven minutes. (Or longer, in the case of an editor of Sync Magazine who couldn't get anyone to tag in.) [ Read more for details and photos; click to enlarge photos ]

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