How might the Brexit impact music?

As in other industries, the UK referendum to leave Europe has sent shockwaves through the music community. My friends at Das Filter, a superb German-language online magazine about music and culture, wanted to respond. And so they invited a number of us to talk last week. I’ve found myself awkwardly running my mouth about UK politics, which, quite frankly, is not something I am in any way qualified to do, in the way that I would be able to talk about things on the American side. So, British friends – accept my advance apologies, please, and I’m keen to hear …

Graham Dunning; photo by Julien Kerduff.

This month, a far-reaching convergence of ideas in music

What will the next wave of invention in music technology look like? Will it follow a narrow course of iteration – a new interface, a new synthesis technique? Or will the next leaps come from networks of ideas, from what happens when different disciplines and cultures collide, when music technology turns to the broader matters of how music is made and how it impacts people? I rather believe in the latter. And that could be why Berlin is the place where so often people gather to work out the next big thing. There’s no single music research center, no formal …

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Free sounds are a window into space exploration on Earth

The world’s spaceflight programs generate astounding piles of images. But sight is just sense through which we can understand and imagine space exploration. And the medium of sound has been comparatively under-used. That’s starting to change. Recently, both NASA and the European Space Agency announced new archives of sounds were being made public and Creative Commons licensing. The licensing on these sounds means that you can not only listen, but also remix, sample, and share those sounds. This could be just the beginning. In November, I visited ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, Netherlands as part …

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Get a free sampled drum kit made in a spacecraft test facility

Last November, I went armed with some LOM label microphones to the Netherlands to find out what sounds you could discover in a space research facility. That exploration produced a lot of sounds, and one way to play with them was to transform them into percussion. Now you can download the drum kit I made for your own use, or to create your own instruments.


Welcome the Perseid meteor shower with songs about space

The Perseid meteor shower arrives on the 13th of August – this Thursday. So, let’s celebrate with some music and sound. First, a quick refresher: what is a meteor shower? It’s what happens when the Earth passes through the debris trail left by a comet. (Ah ha! See, just now you were sitting at your desk, and may have forgotten that you’re traveling at hyper-fast speeds on a rock hurtling through the vastness of the cosmos. Oh, yes.) We hit the Perseids every August, but this year is special in that you’ll only have to contend with urban light pollution …


7 Ways SONAR+D is Asking Bigger Questions About Music Tech

Lineup Sónar+D 2015 from Sónar on Vimeo. There’s nothing inherently wrong with asking the same questions repeatedly. Cyclical inquiries are necessary in any practice. And over time, you refine answers. But this year’s SONAR+D program promises something different. SONAR+D is the younger, digital discourse alongside Barcelona’s massive electronic music festival. SONAR itself deserves a lot of credit for helping create the template a lot of digital music and media festivals follow today. And as that has since blurred into a parade of headliners, SONAR+D added a lot of dimension. There were good talks, hacklabs, workshops, and a showcase of makers. …

Photo (CC-BY) Gastón Gaiduk.

Behringer Just Bought TC, TC Helicon, Tannoy

The music and sound industry is increasingly about big-league consolidation. InMusic – the company behind Akai and M-Audio – is growing. Long-standing Japanese titan Yamaha has snapped up Line6. Gibson now includes everything from Tascam to the website Harmony Central to consumer gear branded Philips. (And yes, throw out whatever you think you know about Gibson from the 90s – this has nothing to do with that.) Now, count the giant MUSIC Group – the parent of Behringer, with Uli Behringer as its chief – among the big sharks on the acquisition market. MUSIC Group announced today it has acquired …


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 …


Hack Biology, Body, and Music: Open Call for MusicMakers Hacklab

For the past two winters, CDM has joined with Berlin’s CTM Festival to invite musical participants to grow beyond themselves. Working in freshly-composed collaborations, they’ve built new performances in a matter of days, then presented them to the world – as of last year, in a public, live show. This year, they will work even more deeply inside themselves, finding the interfaces between body and music, biology and sound. And that means we’re inviting everyone from choreographers to neuroscientists to apply, as much as musicians and code makers. Playing with the CTM theme of “Un Tune,” the project will this …


Google Now On The Record With Anti-Indie Negotiating Tactics

As Beats, Spotify, and others earn praise from indies, Google is looking like music’s biggest new villain. According to independent labels, Google is ignoring their collective negotiating groups, offering poor terms in comparison to what they offer majors, and then threatening to block artists and labels from YouTube if they don’t accept those disadvantaged license deals on the company’s new service. And a Google executive today all but publicly confirmed the threats to the press. You might expect that Google would want to burnish its image in light of an upcoming paid streaming service (think Google clone of Spotify, possibly), …