Note from the Editor: Music for Dance, Music and Movement

“Dance music” is a term that has lately become maligned all over again. And the press is often fond of deriding the music of machines, as if drum machines and computers are sentient alien technology that climbed out of the smoldering remains of a wrecked UFO rather than the handiwork of someone’s imagination. For me, though, these two materials – movement and machines – are the reason I do what I care about this field, exploring new sounds in a way that is human and gestural, whether the music is in an experimental concert at 8p or a party in …

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Responsive Kinect Dancing Goes Hip-Hop [Video, Tips]

Body mapping and dance/visual fusions are still explored only in fits and starts, compared to the extent of live music and visual performance in other media. So, it’s encouraging to see this latest experiment from dancer Christian Mio Loclair. Working with Microsoft’s Kinect, the slowly-undulating tendrils of visuals behind him create visual counterpoint for headstands and hip-hop dance techniques. Far from running up against latency, here there’s a sense of visuals that answer the moves with a slow sigh, creating a kind of living architectural space behind him. The tools: ofxOpenNI and ofxCV work with OpenFrameworks to analyze imagery from …

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Nonstop from Iceland, the perfect soundtracks to your winter. Photo (CC-BY) James Cridland.

Cool Yule: Iceland’s Bedroom Community Spins Wintry, Eclectic Releases [Listen]

It’s easy to be bleak about new music releases, the vast quantities of new work spreading before you in their sameness like a blizzard – plenty of particles, but all a white wash. When feelings like that hit you – or the depressed mood that might strike during midwinter in the far reaches of the Northern Hemisphere – there’s a solution. You can warm yourself with good friends in intimate surroundings. And that’s what Iceland’s Bedroom Community collective and label are all about. This group has literally assembled a group of close friends for “intimate” musical connections. Getting in on …

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Augmented Dance, in New Daito Manabe Music Video for Nosaj Thing

Dancers become canvases for animated geometries, spawning abstract flurries of shapes and particles above them, in the computer vision-driven choreography in Nosaj Thing’s new video “Eclipse/Blue.” The dance seems perfectly calibrated to Nosaj Thing’s dreamy, polished production and the delicate vocals of Kazu Makino (Blonde Redhead). This is not Kinect – it just isn’t fast enough. Daito Manabe uses the Point Grey cameras, which operate at higher speeds. To me, oddly, some of the most beautiful moments come toward the end as the dancers become darkened silhouettes. To their credit, Daito Manabe and creators directly acknowledge the work that inspired …

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If Your Body Were a Moog: Experimental Voyager Sounds + Contemporary Dance Portraits

six short stories about… from Vlaicu Golcea on Vimeo. The ubiquity of the classic subtractive synthesizer could make you think that its sounds are limited to familiar sounds. But it simply ain’t so. Part of why I think these designs endure is that it remains possible to coax new musical gestures, to voyage through new timbres. And so, with a small dose of Reaktor, Romanian composer/musician Vlaicu Golcea coaxes beautiful and surprising sounds from the Moog Voyager. In a strangely synesthetic experience, these sounds match perfectly the choreography. I’m often a fan of creating musical spaces that don’t touch each …

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Stories Come to Life, as the Human Element Meets Projection Mapping

Projection mapping live performance art – The Alchemy of Light by a dandypunk from a dandypunk on Vimeo. “The Alchemy of Light” makes projection mapping more than a sculptural, light-painting illusion. It allows the digital motion image to interact with the performer. And the human performer is a big part of what makes this work. The project comes from performance artist by the name of “a dandypunk” (Joel Sebastian), and the Cirque du Soleil-veteran performer makes his movement as dazzling as the projected imagery. The work is in turns fanciful and poignant, and the dance of imagery and the dance …

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Dance and Photography Combine Beautifully in Music Video for The Mast

Plenty of music videos resort to the “just shoot a dancer, dancing about” formula. But a video by Haale Gafori for The Mast proves simply transcendent. High-speed photography captures every percussive twitch of the dancer, who explodes clouds of particles (flour?) against a void-like black. It’s elegantly shot and edited, finally interpersing shots that project photography against the dancer’s body for a textural counterpart. No special effects here: this is simply brilliant motion photography perfectly tuned to music. The people who deserve the credit: Music by The Mast (Matt Kilmer and Haale Gafori). Directed and designed by Haale Gafori. Director …

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Google Maps, Brought to Life, as Human Movement Occupies Digital Space

As ubiquitous in our lives as the digital landscape of sites like Google Maps can be, they’re in some sense private space. They strip our world of human beings (or freeze them in strange, invasive shots taken by roving vans), and put that space in the exclusive hands of private publishers. (Or, at least, one beginning with the letter “g.”) That has helped the groundswell of interest in OpenStreetMaps as an alternative. But looking deeper, we’re reminded of our role in physical and imagined space and what mapping itself can mean. A film by Roel Wouters takes a creative approach …

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Dancing in Point Clouds: unnamed soundsculpture, Making Of, and Human Element [Kinect]

Like an animated equivalent of the Transporter on Star Trek, depth-sensing cameras and custom code can transform the human body into 22,000 points, then back again into something our mind again imagines as flesh and alive, even in abstraction. In “unnamed soundsculpture,” by Cedric Kiefer (onformative) and Daniel Franke (wearechopchop), the body takes on a new meaning in movement, a cloud of points, choreographed. The making-of video itself tells a kind of story: first seeing choreographer/dancer Laura Keil and her ability to animate her own, human body live, then seeing that dance as data in three dimensions, rendered via a …

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kinectarui

From Beautiful Ambient Modern Dance to Dubstep, Gestures to Music in Kinect (Download the Tool)

It started as some compelling demos or proof of concept, but it’s plenty real now: the tools for translating movement, gesture, and dance from the body to interactive music march forward. Empowered by Microsoft’s Kinect and an artist-friendly toolchain, even a single, clever developer can do a lot. Sound designer, music producer, and Max/MSP developer Chris Vik of Melbourne has been one of those busy early pioneers, with an incredible tool called Kinectar. So, the tech is cool and shiny and impressive: what about the actual music? And, even more importantly, what if all the hand waving and moving about …

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