Image Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

European Space Agency just gave away a bunch of space media for use

Quick — think about the planet you live on. What does Earth look like from above? Probably, some very clear imagery just popped into your head – iconic Apollo-era photography, or perhaps the more contemporary view of the planet from the orbit of the International Space Station. But our generations – ours, our parents’ and grandparents’ generations – are unique in human history. We’ve been given these images by the radical breakthrough of our species leaving Earth, via our own human spaceflight and myriad machine exploration missions. Earth imagery may well have even saved our species. The Atomic Age gave …

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What if you could touch and feel a score?

What if scores could be touched and felt instead of only read? We’ve just come from a deep, far-ranging discussion with artist Enrique Tomás, a researcher at the Interface Culture Lab in Linz. It’s part of Enrique’s residency with CTM Festival and ENCAC – European network for contemporary av creation, who also support some of our work. And it’s presented as part of another of our MusicMakers hacklabs at CTM Festival. It’s worth sharing some thoughts already. One of his more compelling illustrations of this was his PhD project, tangible scores: Credits: Enrique Tomás – PhD at Interface Culture Lab …

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This group of practitioners is imagining the future of the accordion

I can see that look in your eyes. That thirst. “Please, Peter, regale us with esoteric information about contemporary accordion playing technique.” Absolutely. Let’s do this. You see, for all the extremist ideologies social media and the Internet are amplifying, well, at least experimental accordion practitioners are finding each other, too. And maybe it’s worth listening to them. The keyboard is dominant now in electronic music, after all. And they make keyboard-based music sound different. For instance, there’s this beautiful work by Martin Lohse and Bjarke Mogensen, “Passing 1,” set to Hubble imagery: And one 2013 gathering pulled artists and …

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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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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 …

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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.

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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 …

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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. …

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