From a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, Endless Synthy Sonic Variations: Free Ableton Pack

At this time of year, we come together, hearts aglow, and celebrate the simple pleasure of how much fun field recording and sampling can be in sound design. Or something like that. If you want a broader or more religious message, I’m sure you’ll find no shortage elsewhere. Having successfully weathered Armageddon (whew!), our friend AfroDJMac is back with a set of Ableton Live synths sampled from a Charlie Brown Christmas tree snowglobe. And as in the classic television Charlie Brown show, a single branch becomes a lush, full tree with some love. No, really: this is a perfect demonstration …


The Listening Tree: A Holiday Tree Whose Colored Lights Respond to Sound

Wintertree from Limbic Media on Vimeo. Winter: it’s dark. So, it’s no coincidence that holiday traditions from Christian to Jewish to Pagan to … uh, New Year’s … celebrate light. And it’s fun watching in this video the delight as colored lights respond to sound – not in the endlessly-playing annoying-Christmas-tune way, but in the “you can sing to a tree and it’ll light up” way. Limbic Media writes CDM with this project they did in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) commissioned Limbic Media to design an audio reactive tree for the holiday season using …


Kinect Hacking, Now in Next-Level Halloween Decorations

Kinect Ghosts from Ben Guerrette on Vimeo. Just how significant is the impact of Kinect and computer vision? Enough so that trick-or-treating kids might get to play a video game by waving their hands in front of someone’s garage. Which part of “we’re living in the future” did you not get, precisely? Ben Guerrette writes CDM: Here’s a short video of a Kinect project I put together for the Halloween Trick or Treaters. I turned my garage into a giant video game. Well, kind of. I just projected in it. It’s a simple “get the ghost” game where up to …


Halloween: Amateur Moog Theremin Videos Are Cute, Silly, Trippy

The rest of the year, we work hard to convince people that the Theremin is a beautiful, lyrical instrument, able to play Classical music and with a quality not unlike a crystal-clear human soprano, and not in any way necessarily connected with aliens or b-grade sci-fi movies or, most of all, Halloween. Yet, oddly, those traits that scared people away from the Theremin (boo!) are these days allowing them to approach it – Classical-level mastery to come later. So, perhaps it makes sense that Moog Music this year made glow-in-the-dark instruments and a video contest for Halloween. And, anyway — …


Diablo: New Machinedrum [Travis Stewart] Halloween Single [Free Listening]

Machinedrum, aka Travis Stewart, has a track that fulfills all the needs of a Halloween special one-time single download release: 1. Your butt will move around in a shaking fashion. 2. It will make you smile. 3. There’s some wolf-howling action. (Good for your inner canine, even after this holiday season passes.) 4. There’s a guy shouting about El Diablo. (Always good.) Get it. It’s free. You’ll probably be on a new mailing list. (boo!) Hope we talk to Travis more about some of his new music; stay tuned. But – this track is now on repeat. PS – …


Happy Halloween, From Bleepy Monster Electronics Everywhere [Time Warp Gallery]

Let’s do the Time Warp again. As far as synthesizers making spooky sounds are concerned, I’m pleased to party every day like it’s Halloween. (After all, what is the point of music electronics if not to scare small children, animals, and… adults?) But I want to take us back to 2007, when our friends at Bleep Labs produced this great series of limited-edition Halloween mods to their fantastic Thingamagoop. It’s an excuse to just point you to Bleep Labs’ site – they remain one of the world’s great vendors for genuinely-fun sonic electronics for everyone. They’re gadgets you can use …


Holiday for Your Ears: Tailored’s Brilliant Xmas Mega-Mix, Free to Stream and Download

The weather outside is frightful, but the hi-fi is so delightful. Let it snow. Photo (CC-BY) Junichiro AOYAMA, Kyoto. From Berlin’s Melissa Taylor and Tailored Communication, for my money, just about the best publicist for electronic music out there, we get one epic playlist. If you’re lucky enough to get one holiday or another (Christmas? Boxing Day?) in the next few days, fire up this terrific playlist. You get a full range, from some favorites of mine in 2011 like best-of-toppers Sepalcure, Ghostly’s Mark E, mainstay Thomas Fehlmann, Four Tet, and many more. It’s exceptional quality stuff, perfect to settle …


Listening: A Punky, Darkwave, Ice Level Game Austrian Christmas Album from Ireland; Laila Dub Christmas

Christmas in Cork, at – where else – McDonald’s. Photo (CC-BY-SA) jf1234. If you can find a spot in the rotation with your Mannheim Steamroller collection for something a bit different, CDM reader Leigh Walsh of Cork, Ireland sends in her work. She describes it as “punky gothy electronic … for Christmas,” with any proceeds benefiting Autism research. The single sounds crazy, but for me, things get good with the game world-like, shimmering “Secret Inside the Ice Level” and “Melody for the Sewn Princess” tracks. I can find myself mentally wandering an 8-bit ice cave level right now… Austrian Christmas …


It’s Good to Be Mannheim Steamroller: Egyptian Artefacts, Wolves, and a Cape to Wear in the Studio – WSJ

Image: Jason Hickey. As Christmas revelers head out for last-minute shopping in the last surge of pre-holiday capitalism, they might catch over piped music the ouvre of one Mannheim Steamroller. For all the electronic artists we might imagine as representing the genre, this guy has sold one heck of a lot of Christmas records, in a strange brew of hyper-active electrified timbres and New Age. How many records? Well, enough that he is able to, from his Omaha home, raise wolves. Not yet fully grown, they require a full-time trainer (they now respond to commands in German), walks up to …


Angry Birds in Christmas Lights, and a Green Message for Lighting

There is a time of year when the short days, hours of travel (this time over some 8000 km in the air), and holiday season make me want to post silly, insubstantial things. This is one of those posts. But, let me make some attempt at profundity: 1. Microcontrollers have put interactive lighting in the hands of even the festive home decorator. It’s true. (the rig here is “two computers and 10 Light-o-rama 16 channel controllers”) 2. Consider, ye who make mobile designs, the profound cultural impact these things have. Once reserved for blockbuster movies, and before that the spoken …