Serious play. Photo courtesy the artist.

Hypnotic LEGO Automata: Technic Machines Make Music

Play House from Alex Allmont on Vimeo. “Play House” — get it? Playing with LEGOs seems to have an ongoing intuitive connection to musicians, to composition and musical play. So, of course, after we commented on the LEGO Maschine controller hack at MIDI Hack at Stockholm last weekend, several of you reminded us of this recent piece by Alex Allmont. (Now, in fairness, the Maschine hack was put together in well under 24 hours – sometimes work takes time. But I find it nice to see them together.) What’s especially beautiful about Play House is that musical mechanisms and robotic …

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cube

A Big Ass MIDI Cube with Hakan Lidbo, Live at MIDI Hack Stockholm [Video, Code]

It’s a big-ass MIDI cube. Okay, sometimes the name kind of sums up all of it. But among various wonders at MIDI Hack Day here in Stockholm this weekend, “developer/designer/entrepreneur” Per-Olov Jernberg has teamed up with artist HÃ¥kan Lidbo to bring a giant, inflatable green cube into the offices of Spotify and transform is into a musical instrument. This is what I would have at my birthday parties if I could go back in time. Or, really, now. And you can, too, because code in Processing is already available. Good, clean fun – with oversized musical instruments, a recent fascination …

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Apply This Weekend to Hack Music Creation in Stockholm for 24 Hours, Free

MIDI: it’s not just a protocol. It’s a state of mind. It’s the interconnectedness of all things musical. Or, at least, it is at MIDI HACK next month in Stockholm. A 24-hour hackathon will delve deep into musical creation. It’s not just mucking about with code, either: there will be performances and talks, artists and makers, all to feed your ideas. And whereas past hack days have often focused on Web programmers and music consumption (music what?), this is different. If you’re a singer, or you want to rip a MIDI controller into shreds, or wire up a banana, this …

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A Surround Sound System You Can Carry Like an Umbrella, ‘Anywhere’

Music is transformed by context, by instrumentation and space and setting. With amplified music, thinking about content alone isn’t enough. Visualists now work with projection mapping and lighting constructions and lasers and the like. It seems electronic musicians as a scene may benefit from thinking more about speakers. We saw recently 4DSOUND, an immersive architectural installation. But that requires carrying around columns. Here’s a multichannel system you can tote along with you, like an umbrella. The results look like a prop from a post-apocalyptic Terry Gilliam movie; it’s sound as object. pseudo multichannel personal autonomous sound installation with 10 panning …

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Play a Great-Sounding Theremin in Your Web Browser: Distraction of the Day

If you want an explanation for why you’d want to build sophisticated audio into the Web, maybe it’s just because you don’t like fun. Fun is what you get out of this Web Audio Theremin toy, the work of one Luke Phillips of Femur Design. The web audio theremin is a touch friendly & responsive audio synthesizer built in javascript using the Web Audio API with HTML5 canvas. As the user interacts with the screen synthesized sounds are generated in the style of a moog theremin and the canvas displays a visual representation of the audio. “Theremin” is a loose …

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Dancer to Score to Animation: Coding, Decoding, and Recoding in a Choreography Lab

When it comes to dance technology, it isn’t enough to team dazzling engineers with dancers. Making digital technology meaningful to those steeped in the craft of dance means artists getting their hands dirty. Dance has a history in experimental exploration, from Merce Cunningham’s pioneering work with the LifeForms software (directly in his choreography) to digital dance hybrids created by the likes of Troika Ranch (Dawn Stoppiello/Mark Coniglio). The Motion Bank and Frankfurt, Germany could be the scene for dance tech’s next act. Choreographer William Forsythe launched a four-year project in Frankfurt am Main to collect data using Microsoft’s Kinect. The …

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VDMX Adds Wondrous Shader Features – And a Spec For Adding Them to Visual Tools

They’re a recent addition to popular OS X live visual app VDMX. But now is the perfect time to talk about the magic of shaders, generally. Standard “fragment shaders” are capable of performing feats of visual wonder as both generators and effects, using geometry and pixels. Written in GLSL, they are portable to any OpenGL-compliant graphics card, which now includes a range of modern hardware on both mobile and desktop devices. And since they run on the GPU, they do all of this magic on optimized hardware – without straining your CPU. Despite Apple’s reputation for being proprietary, they’ve been …

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A Tangled Sculpture of Lightbulbs, Stage to Elaborate Synchronized AV Performance

In a tree-like cluster of wooden branches, 60 electronically-fired lightbulbs glow in tightly-choreographed pulses along with music. The light sculpture becomes the setting for a kind of AV dance theater, forming an otherworldly environment for narrative movement. “A Man Named Zero” is the work of Nocte and a team in the UK of performers, pairing DJ with lightbulb accompaniment. Nocte realized the project in the creative coding tool Cinder (C++), which provides both the lightbulb control and slick-looking wireframe visual interface. Interestingly, the audio analysis isn’t just a straight FFT. Instead, using the open LibXtract library, the software “extracts” audio …

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From Song to 3D Model to Augmented App: Visualizing Oneohtrix Point Never

One reason to use code, and the constellation of open source creative coding libraries, is the ability to express ideas across media. HoloDecks is a beautiful experiment in doing just that. The work translates invisible sound to three-dimensional form, and combines visualization in the physical and virtual domains. HoloDecks goes through multiple phases of expression, built entirely in the multi-platform, free and open source OpenFrameworks. Analysis of the song. First, there is a spectral analysis of the selected tune – in this example, it’s “Zebra,” by Oneohtrix Point Never. Virtual three-dimensional visualization. Next, the spectral data is plotted in a …

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TightLight: Automatic 3D Mapping for Anything [TouchDesigner + Arduino]

TightLight: Automatic 3D Projection Mapping Method from Grady Sain on Vimeo. It seems like visual software is only just working out how to talk to an external display, how to recognize that it needs to be distinct from your computer display. And yet, we seem on the vanguard of a generation of tools able to seamlessly, automatically warp visuals to any set of surfaces. Instant projection mapping is nearly here, hopefully about to let you grumble to newcomer visualists about “you kids” and “how we did it in the old days.” (And when that happens, you better make sure you …

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