Nintendo, Interactive Artists — Whither the Stylus?

Convincing people to embrace new control methods is hard. Just ask Nintendo. Sure, here at CDM we talk about making music with a graphic tablet input, sock puppets — you love that. But the gaming market is conservative; many still don't get the inclusion of a stylus on the Nintendo DS. And that, friends, has made Nintendo go completely insane and turn into high-art interactive artists: Exhibit A: touchingisgood.com — Nintendo is making arty films about why hand input is a good idea, and for a while was even giving away surplus disembodied mannequin hands so you could completely freak …

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Tabletop, Block-Based Music Making: The List

There's been an explosion of so-called "tangible interfaces" for music: the basic scenario is, there's a table, possibly with projections, and little blocks or objects or projected thingies you can play around with and move to produce sound. (Tangible = something physical you can move or touch, as opposed to an interface that's intangible, like the filter routing in Apple Logic's Ultrabeat, which was designed by aliens who would rather use mental telepathy for control.) Lately, there have been nearly weekly introductions of slight variations on this theme, so many that if you've been reading interactive tech blog near near …

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Electroplankton: Underwater Musical Game for Nintendo DS

The Nintendo DS is already a model for thinking creatively about handheld interaction, but a game slated for Japanese release called Electroplankton looks to be the most creative yet. It's hard to say exactly what it is — maybe just as confusing even if you do read Japanese — but it appears to be an underwater musical game that finally expands beyond the old 'Simon' model employed by games like Dance Dance Revolution. Against an ever-present calm backdrop of rising bubbles drifts an imagined landscape of imagined, smiling single-celled organisms and protozoa, generating cheery, modal aleatoric music, as bouncing objects …

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100 km/h Spinning Speaker

Yes, it's an award-winning piece of interactive installation art, but we're keyboardists here: it's also the world's largest, fastest, most terrifying Leslie rotary cabinet. Spatial Sounds scans the space for visitors, then spins up to 100 km/h in a circle, varying speed and direction. Understatement from the artist: "Closer investigation would be tempting fate, with the rotating arm swinging so powerfully round . . . You can feel the displacement of air as the speaker whizzes past you, and you had better step back, out of reach." Indeed. The effect is apparently a bit more subtle than just a spinning …

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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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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 II: Synth-in-a-rock

I get these kind of requests all the time. "Peter, thanks for the helpful coverage on the USB MIDI controllers, but when will someone finally release audio hardware I can really use, like a concrete block that plays algorithmic music for 30 years?" Yes, folks: it's a piece of concrete. With a DSP chip inside. That can randomly generate algorithmic music for 30 years (after which, it dies . . . unless it's robot soul goes insane thinking about its own mortality, a la Blade Runner). Good news for DIY types, though: the Boston-based DSP collective that created this is …

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Pyrophone: Flaming Sound Organ Powered by Propane

Robotic guitars are cool, but you know what you really want: a propane-powered flame organ. Yes, as it turns out, enormous plumes of fire can produce pitched and unpitched sound. (Hint: it's loud.) This is a digital music site, mind you, so of course I've selected Eric Singer's Pyrophone, which can be MIDI controlled; Max/MSP is the app of choice and was adapted into a musical game of Simon, on a large, pyrotechnic scale. Sure, the instrument isn't exactly "street legal" and I believe the Madagascar Institute (motto: 'fear is never boring') got in a bit of trouble with the …

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