Make Music with Cubes and Jars

near near future continues to bring fascinating alternative music controllers to our attention. This week they cover two objects that generate sound, cubes and jars: loopqoob builds further on the idea of playing with blocks, with cubes linked to computer algorithmic music / synthesis for people without the motor skills to play instruments. Piano Cubes is the oddest arpeggiator ever: it's jars filled with syrup, equipped with a mercury tilt sensor! If you've got your own odd controller or have seen one, drop me a line.

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Sequencing with Architecture: Instant City

First colored blocks, now city blocks: Swiss-based collective Rosen & Spademan has constructed a "music building game table" for creating modular compositions with transparent blocks, converting improvised architecture into sound. (thanks, near near future) Their biggest goal, they say: getting people to grab the objects and play. You can explore this and other projects on their site. My favorite digital music term comes from their 'soundlounge' project: coach coaching. Coach-based musicians of the world, unite!

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Sequencing Sound with Colored Objects

The musical installation art / alternative instrument madness continues! Toke Oliver Barters of the UK has created a color scanner that, when linked to a computer, produces sequences of sound from colored objects placed on it. The glass disc rotates, so melodies can be formed simply by adjusting placement of the colored objects; the PowerBook responds with a changed soundscape. More info at radarstation and Toke's site. (Another great tip from interactive art blog near near future)

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Recycling Alternatives: Build an Audio Igloo

Wondering what to do with all that useless audio gear? Try building a big igloo out of it in a church, "a new home: a habitat for listeners of avant-garde music." There's everything from old speakers to turntables in there. Neat. But creator Benoît Maubrey's description of the sounds from these retired pieces of gear starts to get creepy, as he describes "a chorus of electroacoustic souls whispering their last prayer. We are allowed to enter this room, our body-resistance brings warmth into this media confessional, the sounds change around us – or is it our imagination?" Okay, officially time …

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Mac-Powered Punching Bag for DJs [Updated]

Sure, DJs could opt for products like Final Scratch that provide a traditional turntable interface for the computer, but why not . . . a punching bag? Version 2.0 of Max/MSP-powered SoundSlam lets you punch to trigger audio and even has a virtual trainer that coaches you as you go. Add a floor mat you can dance on, and you've got the ingredients for a great interactive party. While you can't buy this at your local music store, you can at least check out Disc-o-Slam's Web site. [via networked_performance] Updated: Creator Roman Kirschner writes us from Köln, Germany with the …

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Unlikely Sound Equipment I: Drum Machine Made of Eggs

Breakfast: delicious. Drum machines: not so much. Until now. With contact mics hooked up to eggs (the kind that comes from birds, with various breeds represented), Los Angeles-based artists k.cain and b.crabtree have built an audio installation that's (insert egg pun here). A Mac LC sits behind the scenes doing the dirty work with custom circuitry and software. As far as I know, the first and only egg-based drum machine. [via]

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GuitarBot: Robotic Guitar Instrument

Weird Music Gadget Week Continues! Engadget and the New York Times are chatting about the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots' GuitarBot, so I thought I'd add my take. GuitarBot is perhaps best described in sound as an automated, electrified shamisen; it has a very Japanese sound and shudders and shakes fabulously as it plays. Half guitar, half robot, half psuedo-Japanese instrument — three halves, what's not to love? GuitarBot is MIDI-controlled, so composers who have written for it (like my friend Joshua Fried) have tended to create a MIDI sequence or Max patch to perform. How does something like …

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