Generative Ambient Event Bots, Free in Ableton + Max for Live

Composing with rules instead of playing notes directly, composer Richard Garrett has built a series of generative, algorithmic, ambient note makers and processors in Ableton Live and the Max for Live add-on. (And yes, user-generated content continues to be a rationale for why many people would purchase Max for Live in addition to Live itself.) With loads of useful controls for duration, start, and voicing – and the ability to feed events into anything you like – the results in your own work could sound very different than what you see hear. But whatever your musical aspirations, you can check …

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launchpad

A Live Mashup Video Goes Viral, with Ableton + Launchpad; What Have We Learned?

It’s easy to forget that some of the simple joys of electronic music are foreign to many lay people. Odds are, if you read this site, you’re an intelligent and well-informed digital musician. (I don’t mean to stroke my own ego, either; because so many of you are intelligent and well-informed digital musicians, you send a whole lot of the information my way that makes this site even possible.) But for all the extensive discussion, a lot of what digital musicians seek to do in their performance is simple: they want to make their work expressive and performative, and convey …

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Music with Your Face: Artist Kyle McDonald Talks Face-Tracking Music-making with FaceOSC

Music making with your face? It’s just the latest novel way of manipulating your computer with movement, thanks to a revived interest in camera-based interaction spurred by Microsoft’s Kinect and hackers making it work, and other computer vision libraries. One original work: FaceOSC, which uses custom tracking code and a standard computer webcam (no additional hardware required) and free code to send control information for applications like live music performance. Kyle McDonald may have already wowed you with his face-tracking wizardry, but it’s easy to want to know more. Sure, it’s cool, but, um, what is it for? How do …

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hadron

From Granular to Free Hadron Particle Synth; Plug-in, Max for Live, and Csound (Plus, Music!)

If you aren’t quite ready to delve into the mysteries of granular synthesis and code, a colorful interface guides you through playing in Ableton Live. Granular synthesis… you’ve heard it before. Famously articulated by experimental composer Xenakis, the process of slicing up sound into tiny bits and reassembling it has produced everything from lovely (or terrifying) synthesized sonorities to the underlying time stretching algorithms in popular music software. But with all the tools competing for your granular synthesis time (one seems to pop up every few seconds on the prolific Facebook page of sound designer Richard Devine), the Hadron Particle …

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wtpa

Designing Music, in an Art:21 Interview with Electronic Instrument Creator Todd Bailey

He’s built an open-source, retro-tinged 8-bit sampler, “Where’s the Party At?” (I’m been building the second generation now, so expect a review by early August.) He’s had electronic instrument designs on shelves at the retail chain Target and on the walls of the Whitney Art Museum in New York. He just completed a set of luxury chandeliers, when he wasn’t making waves in the circuit bending scene. Todd Bailey is the kind of Renaissance artist at the center of the new DIY scene. There was a time when engineers and artists were separate groups, and big laboratories worked how to …

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In a Free Album, Community-Shared monome Samples Shine (Video and WINE Tips)

From the intrepid grid-playing monome producers comes a whole bundle of goodness: a free album, and along with it, a nice video that illustrates what’s happening on some of the tracks, some reflections on how 15-second samples can bind together a community of music makers, and even, as a bonus, some tips on running Windows software in Linux under WINE. (Whew!) Via Joshua Saddler, who illustrates his music creation techniques in the video at top, we learn of the monome Community Remix Project album, available as a free download via Bandcamp. (Full track lineup embedded below.) MCRPv10: MCRP​-​RP, by monome …

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Digital Fireworks: A Very Audiovisual 4th of July from Nalepa + Johnny de Kam

For a very different aesthetic take on the United States’ Independence Day celebrations, here’s electronic producer Steve Nalepa joining visualist superstar Johnny de Kam for a collaboration. I find it makes for some nice, chilled-out Monday, July 4 inspiration, wherever you are – no marching-band bombast required. Nalepa has been sharing his Ableton skills with the Dubspot school, online and off, and Johnny de Kam, if you don’t know his work, is one of the leading visualists on the planet, a skilled craftsman of motion and live visual performance, as well as a founder of visual software maker Vidvox. See, …

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140 dB: Short Film Meditates on the Power of Sound

Speaking of sound design, here’s a nice weekend diversion for you: “140 dB” is an experimental short film, combining sonic acrobatics with digitally-synthesized motion spectacle, that meditates on the “interaction between sound and physical bodies. The main idea is to show how sound can change objects form and structure including human mental state.” Thanks to the flexibility and media-agnosticism of the computer, all the work – art direction, animation, and sound design – come from one person, Tadas Svilainis. It’s a tantalizing teaser; I’d love to see the idea expanded. Tadas, you’re one multi-talented maker. Of course, as for the …

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The Sound of Speed: Inside the Award-Winning Sound Effects for Chrome Speed Tests

What does speed sound like? Sound designer and electronic musician Joseph Fraioli, aka jafbox, was charged with giving a campaign just that feeling. The spot, directed by Aaron Duffy and promoting Google’s Chrome with some clever tricks and photography, has been a huge award winner in sound design because of just how masterfully he pulled off the job. First, the accolades: winner of the 2011 cannes lion bronze award for sound design winner of the 2011 clio gold award for sound design winner of the 2011 one show silver award for sound design d&ad 2011 in book nomination for sound …

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derrickmay

Future Shock: The Emergence of Detroit Techno, Told by Wax Poetics

Derrick May in the Michigan Theatre parking garage, 1988. Photos by Bart Everly. Reproduced courtesy Wax Poetics. In the words of Yogi Berra, the future ain’t what it used to be. Drawing from futurist philosophy and the machine aesthetic of bands like Kraftwerk, the moment at which techno comes into the world is a seminal birth in the creation of the age in which we live. Its creative energy is focused a the nexus of technology and music, set against the impoverished landscape of Detroit as America’s industrial urban centers implode. And while we’ve lost the people who could tell …

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