Stepping Through Music, Interactively: Drum Kits and Monomes Navigate Notes

Left to right, beginning to end, the same in a loop — there’s no reason music has to work this way once you’ve got a computer. But if you associate generative or algorithmic music with some sort of magical black box machine you switch on, an automaton spitting out notes while you sip tea and stroke your beard, think again. Here are two examples that use interactive structures as a way to make music more live, not less. One is the latest creation from the ingenious mind of monome creator Brian Crabtree (who, perhaps unexpectedly, seems to have redirected the …

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Dodecahedronists, Unite: An Audiovisual Controller, Gestures and Polyhedra, Open Hardware

I love this controller, but I think we should keep it Platonic. Solid. Sorry, geometry humor. See, the controller in question is constructed as a convex regular polyhedron, such that all its faces are themselves congruent regular polygons meeting at each vertex, and … uh, never mind. Above, a stunningly gorgeous video from Polish media art group panGenerator, with some lovely chiming music following by the evidently-now-requisite dubstep demo. (Tip all of us could use, guys and gals – makeup. Styling. Now, they just need some post-production so you can’t see the IR sensors or the wires.) Hedoco, also based …

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Put a Hex on You: New Game, Crazy Music Sequencer with Hexagons

Hexagons are the new squares. After years of square grids, music is discovering the hexagon in a big way. Hexagonal lattices have advantages of their own, in terms of how efficiently they pack space and the way adjacent sides align. Don’t believe your local mathematician? Ask your local bee. What’s interesting is that, as musicians experiment with interfaces and structures, they may wind up with either a wild, experimental music synthesizer, or a fun game. On the game side, at top, we have a trailer for the upcoming “Fractal.” It appears to match the productivity-annihilating addictiveness of puzzle games with …

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Wild Musical Inventions from Berlin Hackday

Nodes of musical events, arrayed onto virtual tracks, in Jakob Penca’s iLoveAcid sequencer. Take a weekend, and make something: that’s the challenge behind the Music Hack Day, which joins a growing phenomenon of events built around collective creation. (CDM held its own tangible interface hackday online, which I definitely hope to follow up soon!) Initiated by Dave Haynes of music sharing service Soundcloud, the Hack Day has already hit London. Many of the events were Web app-based and focused on consumption rather than creation of music, but we also saw a chordal synth plug-in and beer bottle percussion instrument. The …

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Mac OS X 10.6: Quartz Composer 4.0 Hands-On Review, New Features

Ed.: Many of Snow Leopard’s improvements – new, under-the-hood enhancements for 64-bit and multithreading – don’t impact visual creation right away. But significant changes to Quartz Composer could be the most useful, most immediate reasons to look at the latest version of Apple’s OS. Resident Mac guru Anton Marini looks at those changes for CDM. Quartz Composer, the interactive visual tool included free with the Mac development tools, has intrigued visual creators since its release in Mac OS X 10.4. (Some VJs even used its pre-Apple predecessor, Pixelshox. But it’s been the slow maturation of this tool, which uses “nodal” …

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Blender: 2.5 Gets Real-Time, Slick Interface; Video Texture Tutorial

Blender 2.5, – Got flexible? from Pablo Vazquez on Vimeo. In case the last post didn’t give you enough Blender goodness, here’s more for your pleasure. Version 2.5 is coming of the open source 3D suite that’s also a nodal compositing engine and a video editor and a real-time game engine — basically, a visual operating system in which you can make just about anything. 3D software in general hasn’t been gifted with especially slick interfaces. But 2.5 changes that: check out the elegant pop-up menus and Spotlight-style menu searching. Every little detail can be Python scripted, which sounds geeky …

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Blender Game Engine Developing Fast; Nokia Control

Blender, the free and open source 3D modeling tool that’s also a real-time game engine, promises real-time visual performance possibilities, and is even a video editing tool, continues its march toward the long-promised, insanely powerful 2.5 milestone. (“Point five” doesn’t really begin to cover it.) 2.49 is now stable. And boy does it have a heck of a lot going on. There’s nodal texture editing, multiple streams of video playback in the Game Engine (making this especially appealing to visualists), 3D painting, real-time dome rendering in case you’ve got a planetarium gig, faster Game Engine performance, Bullet physics improvements for …

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Jasuto Modular Synth for iPhone, Mac + Windows VST: Build Your Own Instruments

Jasuto envelope example from Jasuto on Vimeo. Imagine friendly creation of custom synths and sounds by dragging visual nodes. Now imagine you can do that on a mobile device and your computer – and eventually combine the two. That’s the vision of Jasuto, and while it’s not quite there yet, it’s incredibly promising. The laws of combinatorics predict that, on a regular basis, you’ll see countless soft synths that are slight variations of one another. With the iPhone/iPod touch gold rush in full swing, we’re starting to see the pattern repeat itself, just as it did in Windows and Mac …

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Blender Video Editing: Yep, Your Free 3D Powerhouse is an Editor, Too

Life is short. You find yourself having to absorb the work techniques of a lot of different software. And some of those divisions — between vector and pixels, 3D and 2D, motion and stills — look increasingly old-fashioned. Since the early 90s, we’ve seen a succession of software try to bridge those gaps. But for the first time, there’s an open-source entrant that promises to bring just about everything involving 3D and motion, minus audio, into a single tool. That means the ability to run on any OS, and a greater sense of a community that can hack the app …

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A Mutating Drum Step Sequencer, New MIDI Library for Processing

The creator of the wonderful glitchDS, repeaterDS, and cellDS Nintendo homebrew music apps has turned his sights to the free and open coding-for-artists desktop tool Processing. The result: a drum machine that mutates and morphs in wonderful ways via a command-line interface. (I almost put the command line bit in the headline, but while I actually adore command lines, I think the more interesting part of it is the way it mutates its patterns in lovely ways. No boring endless step sequence repeat here.) The tool is called Quotile, and since it is built in Processing and the code is …

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