monkeysandsynthesizers

Synths Versus Real Primates: So Easy, a Monkey Can Play Them? A Zoo Finds Out

Synths meet monkeys. Photo: Andreas Tilliander. Composer and Swedish dance music maestro Håkan Libdo has been a constant source of experimentation. But his latest project yields zoo-like new adventurousness. Six species of monkeys are equipped with synthesizers to test the question of whether playing a synth is really playing music – or if it’s so simple, a monkey can do it. Describing the project, there’s a bit of a defense of the complexity of the instrument: “You just press a button and out comes music, right?” Well… you do press buttons, twist knobs and faders, but there are endless ways …

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I Dream of Wires Documentary: Carl Craig, Canada, and Modular’s Beauty and Agony [Video]

Like the modulars themselves, an upcoming documentary on these analog synth beasts has been lurking behind closed doors. But that won’t be the case for long. “I Dream of Wires,” the crowd-funded documentary that probes artists’ fascination with making music by connecting patch cords, will see a public showcase at Montreal’s MUTEK Festival. This and an upcoming film release, atop a big get-together in New York, could make this a proper summer of modular. In anticipation of their showcase, MUTEK has released two significant excerpts from the film. One talks to Carl Craig, Detroit techno legend, top. Craig describes how …

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Sculpting Sound with Maja Ratkje [Film]

The worlds of sound open to us as musicians seem limitless, endlessly unfolding in variety and possibility. So, even in a series of impressionistic moments from an upcoming film, it’s a delight to see composer Maja Ratkje play with sound. The Norwegian musician and vocalist, an improviser frequent collaborator with artists like Jaap Blonk, is seen making wild sounds with her voice, experimenting with found sounds from field recordings and music boxes, and playing, too, with electronics and technology. There’s perhaps not much more to say about this other than to let the experience of exploring sound in music wash …

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gamemusicbundle

A Massive Bundle of Game Music, the Magical Machinarium Score, and the Quiet Indie Music Revolution

As musical old-timers repeatedly sing the sad song of the supposed demise of the full-length album, a funny thing has happened. Lovers of games have taken up a growing passion for game music, and in particular the indie score for indie games. Independent game publishing and independent music composition – from truly unsigned, unknown artists – go hand in hand. Indeed, the download and purchase charts on Bandcamp are often dominated by game scores. Fueled by word-of-mouth, these go viral in enthusiast communities largely ignored by either music or game reportage. Far from the big-budget blockbuster war game, these scores …

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richardselfportrait

Richard Lainhart, Prolific Composer and Artist, Dies at 58; Links to His Work

Richard plays Handmade Music in 2007; full video at bottom. I’m saddened to learn of the death of Richard Lainhart, the New York-based composer and artist who has been inseparable from the experimental electronic scene for many years. I knew Richard to be a gentle and imaginative soul, an inventive technologist, someone capable of dreaming up endless soundscapes and auditory worlds. He was also a great contributor to the CDM community, including playing one of the early installments of Handmade Music at Etsy Labs in Brooklyn. (Photo above; full video at bottom.) I think it’s fitting to illustrate Richard with …

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dimensions_screens

Dimensions, iOS App Powered by Pd and Hans Zimmer, is Sound-Augmented Reality Game: Behind the Scenes

Graphics are good. Graphics are shiny. But when it comes to reality-bending, emotionally-immersive, perception-shifting power, look to sound and music. At least that’s the feeling you could get after playing Dimensions. Following their reactive music tools and Inception dream states for iOS, RjDj have turned their mind-altering sonics to gameplay. As with previous releases, these tools are powered by the open source visual development environment Pure Data. Pd engineering wizardry here meetings the compositional and sound design prowess of Hans Zimmer. You can see a bit of how the musical world works in the teaser video above, and the music …

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No-Input Pärt: ‘Fratres,’ Played on a Mixer, is Eerily Beautiful

Arvo Pärt’s music is always spare and gorgeous, inspired by Medieval counterpoint and voicings, and you’d expect it to be such on any instruments. But here, you get something truly unique: a transcription of the composer’s ‘Fratres,’ normally played on string quartet, on a mixer. The no-input performance uses exclusively tuned audio feedback to generate sound, creating an almost vocal quality to ringing timbres generates entirely in the mixer. Details: Camera : Jimmy Hayes Console : Christian Carrière Research residency, Summer 2011 OBORO, Montreal, Canada oboro.net/ Console : Allen&Heath GL2400-40 Thanks to Claus Frostell of Erikson Pro, who lent me …

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Music as Gameplay: Johann Sebastian Joust, Played With Only Sound and Gesture

Think back to playing a simply childhood game like Musical Chairs. The actual gameplay depends only on auditory clues – something you take for granted as a kid, but something apparently lost on game engineers who insist exclusively on advanced 3D rendering engines for visuals. And because you get your body involved, the game becomes dynamic. That musical cue isn’t just off in the background: in the dizzying run around the chairs, the soundtrack can become the singular focus of your brain, an urgent score to the — DIVE, got the chair! As the scene around game experimentation grows richer, …

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Milton Babbitt Passes; Composer Had Place in Origins of Electronic Music, Musical Revolutions

Hindsight normally gives perspective to history, but in the case of the 20th Century, even looking back, it’s hard to fathom the sheer magnitude of change in human thought and technology. Composers faced the twin revolutions of electronic sound — recorded, synthesized, and eventually computerized — and new systems for organizing pitch and rhythm from the early European avant garde to access to every world music culture. One figure at the center of the academic reinvention of American music was Milton Babbitt, the experimental innovator who passed away over the weekend at the age of 94. Obituaries inevitably brought up …

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Interview: Jon Hopkins Talks Live, Studio Process, Habit, Instinct

Jon Hopkins performs live at the ICA. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Matt Biddulph. Classically trained as a pianist, musician and producer Jon Hopkins has one of the richest resumes in electronic music. He’s a frequent collaborator with Brian Eno, wand has worked with artists like Coldplay (who featured his music on their last album), Tunng, David Holmes, and Imogen Heap. He worked with director Peter Jackson, and has a sci-fi score on the way. He also has a rich set of solo releases. And we’ve seen him here recently with remix swaps with Four Tet and contributions to Eno’s upcoming Warp record. …

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