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A call for emotion in musical inventions, at Berlin hacklab

Moving beyond stale means of framing questions about musical interface or technological invention, we’ve got a serious case of the feels. For this year’s installment of the MusicMakers Hacklab we host with CTM Festival in Berlin, we look to the role of emotion in music and performance. And that means we’re calling on not just coders or engineers, not just musicians, and performers, but psychologists and neuroscientists and more, too. The MusicMakers Hacklab I was lucky enough to found has now been running with multiple hosts and multiple countries, bringing together artists and makers of all stripes to experiment with …

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Micro-ritmos turns bacteria and machine learning into spatialized sound

In the patterns generated by bacterial cells, Micro-ritmos discovers a new music and light. From the Mexican team of Paloma López, Leslie García, and Emmanuel Anguiano (aka Interspecifics), we get yet another marvel of open source musical interface with biological matter. Micro-ritmos from LessNullVoid on Vimeo. The raw cellular matter itself is Geobacter, an anaerobic bacteria found in sediment. And in a spectacular and unintentional irony, this particular family of bacteria was first discovered in the riverbed of the Potomac in Washington, D.C. You heard that right: if you decided to literally drain the swamp in the nation’s capital, this …

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Watch an orchestra of floppy and hard drives play Star Wars

The Internet has seen obsolete disk drives play tunes from Star Wars before – but not like this. Hacker Paweł Zadrożniak of Poland has outdone himself with a maximalist rendition of John Williams’ iconic music. Just how big is it?

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Latest microphones unlock an unheard world

Microphones already expand what we can hear. New devices can sonify an unheard world even beyond sound. We covered the use of sound as a way of conveying gravitational waves, waves that – while not sound – are far easier for both scientists and lay people alike to grasp when translated to the audible spectrum. And we’ve already seen a world of microphones and devices by Jonáš Gruska, whose LOM label shares both the electronics and music made with them. Well, now Jonáš is back with a new generation of devices. Here’s what they are and how their results sound.

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Axoloti board makes sound box the size of a game controller

Hot on the heels of our write-up of a board that makes any hardware you can imagine, here’s a mod that takes all that power and fits it in a handheld space with hands-on controls.

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20 oscillators in 20 minutes is action sports, comic gold

It’s an edge-of-your-seat race against the 555. Our friend Darsha Hewitt went up in front of one of the world’s nerdiest crowds: the Chaos Computer Club’s Chaos Communication Congress gathering in Germany. Whereas some people guzzle bubbly and lean in for kisses and watch balls drop at the turn of a new year, the legendary geekfest involves a marathon of hard-core hacking and discussion, political and provocative. And Darsha didn’t make it easy for herself. She set out to build twenty analog oscillator circuits in just twenty minutes. Maybe that’s not so hard if no one’s watching, but try doing it under watchful eyes, …

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This hack lets you add the MIDI control KORG forgot

It’s not enough just to gripe about something not being good enough, to tally a criticism of a product in the “cons” side of a review. Intrepid musician-hackers are going and just changing it themselves. Karg, the Heidelberg-based musician (with an ‘a’), is a fan of Korg, the manufacturer (with an ‘o’). And presumably when he bought the Kaossilator Pro+ and its touch pad access to tones. But he ran into frustration when he couldn’t quite get his finger on precise pitches and rhythms. So, he hacked the hardware to add the functionality he wanted.

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Call for participants: a Hacklab to change perspectives, in Belgium

In the past weeks, I’ve had the good fortune to talk to astronauts and aeronautical engineers, to artists in residence in space centers (with ESA) and aboard “vomet comet” airplane microgravity experiments (in Russia). A common theme has emerged. Just as images from space once transformed our perception, the next frontier is sound. From spatial sound to works responding to spaceflight, drones, and aeronautics, there’s a chance to change the way we hear and imagine. And so, after we start February at Berlin’s CTM Festival imagining future rituals, we’ll move later in the month to Leuven, Belgium to explore the heard place. You’re …

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DU-QVJ is a handmade pendant that makes glitchy visuals

Record releases are old and tired. So are jewelry. Let’s solve this: with a wearable 8-bit necklace and pendant that takes audio input and turns it into weird visualizations – of course. DU-QVJ is a collaboration between Detroit Underground, the fantastic tastefully strange label, with Russian engineer Alexander Zolotov. Add a tiny battery, plug in audio input via one minijack, and optionally add headphones on the other end. In between, the object makes gorgeously lo-fi grungy imagery on its 128×64 monochrome OLED display. Forget Apple Watch or even Pebble: here’s the wearable you want. It looks like what Lieutenant Worf …

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DIY synth legend Ray Wilson needs help in cancer fight

He’s one of the most prolific people in DIY synths – but now he faces crippling healthcare bills. Help Ray Wilson’s family help their Dad fight back.

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