Photo (CC-BY) Kevin Wong.

A free app makes a TI graphing calculator make music

“I’m the operator with my pocket calculator.” No — like, actually. HoustonTracker 2 runs on the TI-82/83/83+/84+ Texas Instruments graphing pocket calculators – the kind you probably had to buy for your high school math class. And it doesn’t just make the calculator into a sequencer. All the sounds come straight out of the calculator itself, thanks to some gorgeous-sounding 1-bit noises. (Who needs those 15 or so extra bits, anyway? This is beautiful.) What do I mean? Just watch:

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What it means that the MeeBlip synth is open source hardware

The MeeBlip synthesizer project is about to reach five years old. I feel this collaboration with engineer James Grahame has been one of the most important to me and to CDM. We haven’t talked so much about its open source side, though – and it’s time. In five years, we’ve sold thousands of synths – most of them ready-to-play. The MeeBlip isn’t a board and some bag of parts, and it isn’t a kit. You don’t need a soldering iron; after our very first batch, you don’t even need a screwdriver. The MeeBlip is an instrument you can use right …

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Get physical modeling sonic powers, free, in Max starter kit

There is a powerful world of sound exploration in your hands. But sometimes the hardest part is just starting. So the quiet launch of a site called Maxology is very good news. It’s evidently a place to go for tutorials and projects and more. And right now, you can grab a bunch of free and open source objects for physical modeling, built for Max 7 and Max for Live. That opens a window into a world of realistic and impossible sounds, built on algorithms that mimic the way instruments work physically and acoustically.

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Ninja Jamm Android-07a-Play Matrix mixed clip and drill

Ninja Tune’s remix, creation app on Android after 300k iOS downloads

Before Ableton Live, before VJ apps, the AV act Coldcut were already making their own software for remixed audiovisual performance. Now, with the Ninja Tune label they founded, Matt Black is still championing the notion of performance that goes beyond pressing play. I’ve never seen anyone pick up Ninja Jamm and not immediately fall in love with it. It’s just a tremendous amount of fun working with the built-in effects and quick access to bits and pieces of music. The likes of Amon Tobin, Bonobo, and Roots Manuva are there, with a variety of genres. There’s also Loopmasters sound content, …

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An ‘Interspecies’ Music Interface Combines a Mask, Bacteria

Organum Vivum – a interspecies interface from Paul Seidler on Vimeo. Your next digital interface might be grown, not made. Organam Vivum drops the usual combinations of knobs and hard surfaces and wires for something organic – an “interspecies” interface. The sensors are grown from bacteria, formed into alien-looking, futuristic materials and a mask. The bio-interfacing project began as a collaboration between Aliisa Talja (who has a background in industrial design) with Paul Seidler at the CDM-hosted MusicMakers Hacklab at CTM Festival earlier this year. Not only are the materials literally organic, but in touching and breathing into these delicate …

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This 3D Oscilloscope Drawing Music Might Make Your Brain Fall Out

You’ve seen oscilloscopes. You’ve heard sounds. You’ve seen oscilloscopes make visual representations of those sounds. You’ve maybe seen oscilloscopes used to make drawings while making sounds. And of course you’ve seen 3D models. But you probably haven’t seen oscilloscopes used to draw 3D models that make sounds while the sounds match the oscilloscopes in a 3D sound visual extravaganza … which then becomes an entire album with software that goes with the album so you can also use the oscilloscopes to draw 3D models to make sounds. Say what? Okay, let’s put it another way. Imagine an Etch-a-Sketch and a …

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libpdtutorial

Watch These Videos and Make Musical iOS Apps with Pd, Free

The challenge in making tools, as in making anything else, is really the making. It’s one thing for an idea to exist in your head, another to really get down to construction. And very often great engineering means testing, means building the idea and then refining it. So prototyping is everything. That could explain the increased passion for hacking. Whereas big development efforts are a morass of meetings, or traditional prototyping could mean elaborate distractions from testing what we really works, “hacks” work to get something usable more quickly. And that means testing the usability of an idea happens faster. …

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Here’s Why the New Version of the Free Ardour 4 DAW is Great

It’s easy to make an argument to any cash-strapped producer that a free DAW is good news. And it’s easy to convince a free and open source software advocate that a free-as-in-freedom DAW is a good thing. But that’s not enough. If we’re going to talk about software, let’s make sure it’s worth using. Ardour, the free and open source DAW, has always been powerful. But it hasn’t always been seamless to use – especially outside of Linux. Ardour 1 and Ardour 2 were incredible feats of engineering, and some people used them to make music, but let’s be honest …

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Add a Physical Knob to Your Max Patch with Arduino: Video Tutorials

Patching on a computer involves plugging something into something else virtually. In this video tutorial, you can extend that by adding a physical knob to control your custom creations, for Max/MSP (and Max for Live). It’s just a quick tip, but I know this gets asked a lot. (Greetings, students – happy spring semester to you!) And there’s something really fun about seeing a knob in the real world controlling something. Bonus points for using a toilet paper roll as a custom “housing.” It’s also nice seeing this accomplished in the all-new Max 7. And this is just the start, …

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AudioKit

Free AudioKit Lets iOS, Mac Developers Code Synths and Sound

AudioKit is a promising-looking new open source tool set for coding synthesizers, music, and sound on Apple platforms (though it could certainly be ported to other places if you have the time). The draw: you get not only a robust library but loads of examples and tests, too, for a variety of applications, in both Objective-C and Apple’s new Swift language. And it’s free. The contributors will look familiar – and the core engine comes from community contributions around that most enduring of synthesis tools, Csound. (For those worried about obsolescence and the pace of technology, Csound has its roots …

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