On Apple Watch, Sound Design Translates into Haptic Feel

You already know sound is something you feel, physically – you know this from the sensation in your head on headphones, from your gut as a PA produces big bass, from the bodily experience of thunderstorms or the siren on an ambulance. But we may soon live in a world where increasingly the role of sound design is wrapped up in interaction – where those sounds can produce physical sensations and haptic interactions. And whether or not the Apple Watch is used by musicians and DJs with new apps, it could add to possibilities for sound designers. Wired has a …


Watch a Mechanical Drum Machine That Uses Wheels and Magnets [Video]

Drum Machine – XOXX Composer from Axel Bluhme on Vimeo. Can you design a drum machine that does more than simply hide its workings inside an invisible box? XOXX Composer does just that. A project by Axel Bluhme, it turns the inner functions of sampling, looping, and sequencing, into tangible, kinetic, sculptural form. Wheels turn. Magnets trigger sounds. And in what looks like the love child of a 606 and a player piano, you get a mechanical take on patterned sound. Full description: A drum machine that is fun and easy to use This project started with a curiosity to …


Watch 16 Rubik’s Cubes Turn Into a Visual Music Sequencer

The future happens gradually — and then by the time you’re sequencing a Web browser using Rubik’s Cubes, you might barely notice. But Sweden’s most inventive producer is back yet again with his latest novelty, this time turning one of the world’s best-selling toys (hundreds of millions of units) into a usable sequencer. Håkan Lidbo (concept and sound design) teams up with Per-Olov Jernberg (programming & visual design) and Romeo Brahasteanu (game board). The clever conceit here is to swap black for one of the colors, thus creating a foreground and background. Make a 4×4 grid of these cubes of …


A Toe-Tapping, Dancing 3D-Printed Robot Plays Music

Making Music With Poppy from Pierre Rouanet on Vimeo. It can “learn” to tap its toe and bob its head. And then it can make sounds as you move its arms. It’s a robotic interface for music – a bit like playing with a very smart toy doll. To show off its interactive/interfacing abilities, the team behind Poppy used music. Poppy is a robot that can be produced with a 3D printer. All the hardware and software are fully open source. The idea – fused with cash from the EU’s European Research Council for funding science and creativity – is …

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ROLI, Makers of Seaboard Instrument, Just Bought The Leading C++ Audio Framework

Here’s some important news that might impact you – even though you may never have heard of either the instrument maker or know anything about code libraries. Bear with us. But an experimental instrument builder and design shop just acquired the most popular framework used by audio developers, a set of free and open source gems. The film explaining the announcement: First, there’s ROLI. Now, to most of us in the music world, ROLI are the Dalston, London firm that make an alternative keyboard called the Seaboard – a sort of newer cousin to the Haken Continuum Fingerboard that uses …

The impressive, futuristic physical form of the 4DSOUND system. Photo: George Schroll.

Spatial Sound, in Play: Watch What Hackers Did in One Weekend with 4DSOUND

You can’t really hear the results of the Spatial Audio Hacklab sitting at your computer – by definition, you had to be there to take in the experience of sounds projected in space. But you’ll probably feel the enthusiasm and imagination of its participants. And that’s why it’s a pleasure to share the video documentation, produced for 4DSOUND by a team from FIBER – the Dutch audiovisual events and art platform – at Amsterdam Dance Event last month. In unleashing a diverse group of artist-experimenters on 4DSOUND’s unique speaker installation, we got a chance to create a sonic playground, a …


Beyond Traditional Instruments, a Status Report from the SoundLab

There’s nothing more personal than creative expression. And so experimenting with how you make music is more than just novelty: it’s a way to understand the fundamentals of how we relate to machines. And thinking outside the normal avenues means the ability to reach new people, as SoundLab is doing with audiences with learning disabilities. Ashley Elsdon joins us to give us the latest of how the project is going. A little while ago, CDM kindly posted a piece on our SoundLab project, which aims to help people with learning disabilities make music and collaborate in music creation. That was …


An Entire Building in Stockholm Just Became a Game Board

Not satisfied with producing hundreds of records and working with a litany of famous names, sound artist / composer / musician Håkan Lidbo several times a year embarks on some novel experiment in sound and interactivity. In the latest, he’s worked with smart lightbulbs from Philips to transform an entire building in Stockholm into your very own personal game board. They’re calling it the world’s biggest Master Mind game, and who are we to argue? The idea is, windows become pixels, and you play online to try to guess the color code of your opponent, in a game of wits.


How Gestures and Ableton Live Can Make Anyone a Conductor of Mendelssohn [Behind the Scenes]

Digital music can go way beyond just playback. But if performers and DJs can remix and remake today’s music, why should music from past centuries be static? An interactive team collaborating on the newly reopened Museum im Mendelssohn-Haus wanted to bring those same powers to average listeners. Now, of course, there’s no substitute for a real orchestra. But renting orchestral musicians and a hall is an epic expense, and the first thing most of those players will do when an average person gets in front of them and tries to conduct is, well – get angry. (They may do that …


A Solar-Powered, Outdoor DJ Booth and Interactive Dance Floor for Public Playgrounds

Swingsets? Basketball courts? Dutch interactive design firm Yalp imagines populating futuristic public playgrounds with DJ decks and dance floors, for today’s teens. First, there’s the Fono DJ booth. It’s an outdoor public DJ booth, steel-cased with 14 light-up touch panels. Add a couple of phones, and kids can stream their own music, using the touch panels to control the settings. (In case you’re afraid your neighborhood is about to turn into a teen Ibiza, the makers emphasize that they let the installer choose maximum volume levels and times when the system shuts down.) Then, in case you want to dance …