Musical Machines, Piano-Playing Typewriters, Plastic Cups, and Invisible’s Physical Music

Greensboro, NC-based art music band Invisible are indiscriminate about technology – in a good way. Plastic cups, keyboards, typewriters, machines controlled by robotics, if it’s in the trash or at a thrift store, it has a place in the band. Sequences are executed in physical, radial player instruments, without a controlling computer anywhere in site. As voicemail tapes get sampled and typewriters tap lines of absurdist lyrics as each typed letter plays a piano note, something magical happens. Perhaps it’s that, novelty aside, somehow these sound-making objects come together for a reason – the machines assemble in the way the …

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Ableton Live Sound Design with Field Recordings: 3 Video Tutorials, 3 Downloads

Working with sound is, for many of us, the experience that attracted us to working with computers. Field recordings can be the best way to get close to sound – you’re attached to sounds you’ve found in the real world, you’ve experienced and collected, even if you transform them into something very different in production. Nick Maxwell of the excellent Nick’s Tutorials Ableton Live production site shares some free explorations with us, complete with downloads you can reverse-engineer the instruments and play with the topics the video cover. You can also use these in your own work, royalty-free. I really …

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Music Tech History Day: Inside BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and Delia’s Lampshade

The UK electronic music scene lost its pioneer Tristram Cary this week, so it’s the perfect time to look back again at the marvels of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Low-budget but long-running Doctor Who is unlikely to be remembered for breaking new ground in, say, fancy props, sets, or visual effects (though they did plenty with what they had). But when it comes to sound and music, the BBC’s DIY approach to sound, ranging from Who to "serious" classical music (even my composition teacher Thea Musgrave worked there) remains significant today. The BBC is again offering a look inside the …

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Weekend Inspiration: Coke Bottle as Tribal Percussion, and the Future of Adaptive Music

Troels Folmann is one of our favorite composers at CDM. The fact that he’s a game composer both incidental and essential — it’s not that he’s scoring a Tomb Raider title that matters, it’s that game composition requires a new, fluid way of thinking about form, and Dr. Folmann (he did a dissertation topic on the subject) is up to the challenge. Digging through recent entries on Troels’ blog is definitely a source of weekend inspiration. I’m fond of found samples, but I tend to record sound making things around the house up close with a mobile recorder for a …

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Video: Found Music at the Bottom of the World

Got some time on your hands? Wine glasses, stuff to knock? Camera? Happen to be deep in the Southern Hemisphere at the British Antarctic Survey’s Rothera Research Station and your fellow scientists have a winter film festival on? Scientists Rob Webster (music) and Jim Elliot (video) found themselves in that situation, and came up with this rather beautiful creation: (No need to adjust your set: that opening is silent, as I expect the Rothera Research Station is sometimes.) It’s all another reminder that musical ideas are all around you, wherever you may be — and sometimes it’s very good to …

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