These Students Put Out Fires with The Power of Bass

The next time you’re facing a life-threatening fire in, say, your kitchen, you may simply shout, “where’s the drop?” George Mason University engineering seniors Seth Robertson and Viet Tran have made a fire extinguisher that works entirely using sound. If you haven’t seen it making the social media rounds yet, of course, it’s worth posting here. Not only is it absurdly cool to watch, but it’s the latest reminder that music, sound engineering, and science can go hand in hand. That is, music is made of sound, and the study of sound overlaps with engineering and physics. In fact, this …


Now littleBits Modules Play with MIDI, USB, CV: Videos

littleBits’ Synth Kit began as a lot of fun. Snap together small bare boards connected by custom magnets, and you can create basic synthesizers, or mix and match more exotic littleBits modules light light sensors. No soldering or cable connections are required. But while you could use various littleBits components, your options were comparatively limited as far as connecting to other gear. That changes today with the release of new modules for MIDI, USB, and analog Control Voltage (CV), ranging $35-40 each. There are three modules, each made in collaboration with KORG: You can also buy a US$139.95 “Synth Pro …


A New Book from Ableton Wants to Help You Make Music

Imagine if the Eno/Schmidt Oblique Strategies, a music theory book, and an Ableton quick-start manual all got caught in a transporter accident with a bunch of different music producers.* That seems to be what you get with Making Music: A Book of Creative Strategies. In one sense, the aim is to be none of these things. It’s not a manual. It’s not a template for music making. It doesn’t, apparently, rely much on musical theory in the traditional sense. But, then, if you know the man behind it – Dennis DeSantis, a classical percussion virtuoso and composer turned documentation czar …


A Toe-Tapping, Dancing 3D-Printed Robot Plays Music

Making Music With Poppy from Pierre Rouanet on Vimeo. It can “learn” to tap its toe and bob its head. And then it can make sounds as you move its arms. It’s a robotic interface for music – a bit like playing with a very smart toy doll. To show off its interactive/interfacing abilities, the team behind Poppy used music. Poppy is a robot that can be produced with a 3D printer. All the hardware and software are fully open source. The idea – fused with cash from the EU’s European Research Council for funding science and creativity – is …


Mods Make The Moog’s Werkstatt Synth More Educational, More Fun

It began as an exclusive for a limited-edition workshop. But it’s turned into more. Moog’s Werkstatt synth is a lovely little analog synthesizer in its own right. But, driven by its educational mission, it’s also become a means of learning electronics. This is a synth you want to hot-rod.


Eat a Cucumber! A Musical Playground Gets Kids Hooked on Veggies, Music, and Electronics

Quick, we need kids to be able to express their feelings, they really ought to learn more about electronics, and – more veg. Definitely need to eat more vegetables. You know what we have to do. Let’s combine all that. Moscow-based collective/project Playtronica has gone wild with the Makey Makey “invention kit,” and built a whole range of projects around interfacing electronics to vegetables and other creative inputs. They have hands-on workstations for kids that look like your Farmers’ Market was taken over by Leon Theremin. Kids are making rhythms, recording sounds, making songs. And in a CDM-exclusive premiere, we …


Watch BT Reveal Sound Design Tricks with Free, Geeky CDP – Then Learn it Yourself

From the mysterious underworld of 80s sound software, it’s a library of free sound transformation tools so cool you’ll happily head to the command line to run them – no real-time preview to be found. No, seriously. Even if the fanciest you get is changing a preset in Logic, you want to hear about this. Self-professed addict of sound geekery BT took to a packed room at New York’s Cielo to tell an assembled group of aspiring producers why they should embrace the Terminal. His video is a fantastic introduction to the tool. Dubbed Composers Desktop Project – after the …


Through a Musician’s Eyes: Google Glass as Musical Teaching Tool

Google Glass meets … French Horn? Wearable camera technology could offer a new window into centuries of Classical Music tradition. That could happen not only via Google Glass but other online and camera tech, too. Sarah Willis, French Horn player, is using Glass as a way to bring young people closer to the Classical experience. And Willis is allowing people to see the point of view of an experienced artist in a symphony, watching conductors, and (depending on instruments and playing technique) the instrument itself. Sarah spoke to Berlin’s NEXT Conference yesterday, a tech conference. I spoke there, as well, …


Rouge: The Power of TouchDesigner, Made Ready and Reusable for Live Performance [Free]

The beauty of open-ended, modular environments is the ability to create exactly what you need from the ground up, each time. The problem with open-ended, modular environments is the need to create exactly what you need from the ground up, each time. And that has left some readers of this site utterly baffled when opening the graphical environment TouchDesigner we mention so often. Media artist Mary Franck got tired of creating new modules and mappings for each performance, and wanted to produce a framework that allowed her to create custom shows without having to reinvent the wheel. What she has …


Massive Veg Attack: Makey Makey + Fruits, Vegetables = Music

Pianos made of apples are becoming, suddenly, commonplace. Photo (CC-BY) Pete Prodoehl. Call it a massive attack of fruits and veg. Simple circuits have long been able to make use of sensors in real-world stuff like apples or JELL-O. But Make Makey deserves special credit for making interfacing those circuits with a computer silly-simple. (The project grew out of research at MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten; to get a small sense of how much is involved in getting an idea like this off the ground successfully, check out the incredible list of men and women who contributed on the about …