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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A Delicate Web in White Lasers: Robert Henke’s ‘Fragile Territories’

Mastery of technology need not be an end in itself, a showcase for mechanical sophistication. It can mean finding the point at which you push a medium to be its most expressive. And I suppose that’s why so many can admire the ongoing work of musician and media artist Robert Henke. The lasers in ‘Fragile Territories’ are not the crude, awkward beams you probably know from kitschy planetarium shows. Instead, they form a spidery lace so exquisite, you could imagine them as being part of something crackling with organic life – or the workings of a fanciful undersea electro-luminescent metropolis. …

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A Delicate Web in White Lasers: Robert Henke's 'Fragile Territories'

Mastery of technology need not be an end in itself, a showcase for mechanical sophistication. It can mean finding the point at which you push a medium to be its most expressive. And I suppose that’s why so many can admire the ongoing work of musician and media artist Robert Henke. The lasers in ‘Fragile Territories’ are not the crude, awkward beams you probably know from kitschy planetarium shows. Instead, they form a spidery lace so exquisite, you could imagine them as being part of something crackling with organic life – or the workings of a fanciful undersea electro-luminescent metropolis. …

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Mark Fell investigates nanostructures and dancing particles. A visual reveals some of those Brownian Motion-produced forms. Photo courtesy Mark Fell.

Nanomusic: Mark Fell Turns to Neuroscience and High-Power Microscopes for Particle Music

Making new sounds means doing more than just making new sounds. Artist/composer Mark Fell (also known as half of SND) dives directly into the thorny question of form. And when he looks for new forms, he literally looks. The visually-trained artist speaks about making “non-representational” music in the same way an abstract artist might. (No surprise that arresting imagery invariably accompanies his work.) And in his latest creation, he looks even further, collaborating with a neuroscientist to peer at tiny particles through a high-power optical microscope. The result is alien music, constructed from the dance of those nanostructures. The work …

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Brian Eno Back to Ambient Roots, in iPad App with Peter Chilvers, Upcoming Album

Brian Eno’s influence on music, particularly music termed “ambient,” is such that it might itself blend into the background. But make no mistake, work like Music for Films and Music for Airports has left an indelible impression on the sound of a lot of music, and moreover in how we think about sound and structure. A newly-announced album on Warp promises to return to the long-form, expansive compositional ideas of those works, in a 75-minute opus called LUX. (More on that at bottom, though we can’t hear it yet.) But perhaps it’s even more appropriate to look at Eno’s work …

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Generative Design Book Coming in English; Watch a Full-Length Talk on Generative Techniques

Generative Gestaltung from Benedikt Groß on Vimeo. “Generative design,” as a concept, describes design that goes beyond the direct hands of the creator, to the work that can emerge from rules and systems in organic fashion, in productions that require computer code – and with it, mathematic thought – to realize the realms of imagination. It’s also the title of perhaps my favorite book on creative coding, a gorgeous tome that explores design concepts clearly and simply in the language Processing. That book, Generative Gestaltung, was available initially in German, then translated to French, but at last is available to …

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csGrain Gets Granular Goodness on iPad 2/3; Vanguard of Multi-Platform Csound Renaissance

Technology may be about the next Big New Thing, but as with music making in general, making music with tech is for many of us a lifetime vocation. So, it’s welcome news to find that time-tested tools, maturing over decades rather than months, are enjoying greater use than ever before. We saw Pure Data (Pd) attracting new interest as the embeddable libpd version allows use in a range of development environments and mobile platforms. Now, it’s about to be Csound’s turn. Of course, before we get to that, if you’ve got an iPad 2 or “3” (aka “the new iPad”), …

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Making Digital One-of-a-Kind: Inside Icarus’ Generative Album in 1000 Variations

Even the artwork changes. This is my personal copy – #148. Digital: disposable, identical, infinitely reproducible. Recordings: static, unchanging. Or … are they? Icarus’ Fake Fish Distribution (FFD), a self-described “album in 1000 variations,” generates a one-of-a-kind download for each purchaser. Generative, parametric software takes the composition, by London-based musicians-slash-software engineers Ollie Bown and Sam Britton, and tailors the output so that each file is distinct. If you’re the 437th purchaser of the limited-run of 1000, in other words, you get a composition that is different from 436 before you and 438 after you. The process breaks two commonly-understood notions …

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Entire Musical Compositions Made from Just One Line of Code are Glitchy but Musical

You know you’re in for something different with an article that contains this line: “as 256 bytes is becoming the new 4K, there has been ever more need to play decent music in the 256-byte size class. ” In just a single line of code, Finnish artist and coder countercomplex, working with other contributors, is creating “bitwise creations in a pre-apocalyptic world.” What’s stunning is to listen to the results, even if you have trouble following the code – the results are complex and organic, glitchy but with compositional direction, as though the machine itself had learned to compose in …

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Graffiti Analysis, And Other Meetings of Motion and Sculpture

Barcelona-based artist Evan Roth does beautiful translating motion into three-dimensional, sculptural forms, among his other digital works. In “Graffiti Analysis,” 2010 (video just posted), he algorithmically averages motion capture data from fifteen local tag artists to produce projected motion revealing the process and a squiggly sculpture seen here. Graffiti Analysis, Barcelona, 2010 ABS Thermoplastic 31cm x 20cm x 35cm Barcelona 2010 evan-roth.com http://evan-roth.com/ http://evan-roth.com/work/graffiti-analysis-barcelona-2010/ Related works by the same artist:

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