slapchop

Slap Your Laptop: Open Source Tool Lets You Play MacBook By Hitting It

Come on – you know that occasionally you want technology to respond when you slap it. As my sister watched an episode of the television show Quantum Leap, I thoroughly enjoyed watch Dean Stockwell’s character Al give his pocket computer, looking for all the world like a 7″ tablet, little helpful smacks. SmackTop does that for music. Yes, we hear, ad infinitum, the complaint that laptop musicians simply stare inertly at blue glowing laptops as if checking their email. Now they get to put a little skin in the game, literally. And a version 0.3 update makes this humorous novelty …

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cosmod

Snapshots of Artists, Ableton Live in Performance: Cosmo D on Cello, Erin Barra with Voice + Keys

Cosmo D, in for a demonstration of cello with Ableton. The computer as bandmate is nothing new. It’s just more stable, more powerful, and friendlier than it has been ever before — and that, coupled with growing familiarity, has been making it more commonplace with artists. So just how are artists working with computers onstage when they also play instruments and sing? Recent guests at New York’s Ableton Live user group have been demonstrating their own techniques for playing Live, live. They work with loops, recording, sampling, live effects, synths – all the things you’d expect – but find ways …

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1024architecture

With Neon Guitars and Immersive Projection, 1024 Architecture Become Audiovisual Rock Band

Euphorie live at the Elektra Festival. Photo courtesy Elektra. When a brainy, abstract audiovisual act can elicit some laughs and cheers, you know something is going right. Euphorie, the live music and projection act by Fran├žois Wunschel, Fernando Favier, and stage designer Pier Schneider of the collectives 1024 Architecture and EXYZT, isn’t brand new. But in the cavernous, packed Usine C at Montreal’s Elektra Festival earlier this month, it surely shone. Inside that booming rehabilitated factory, sound and video elements seemed to just click, the happy result of months of development, practice, and iteration meeting a highly appreciative crowd. Projectors …

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hmusic1

Visions of Bleeps and Beats: Images and Video from Handmade Music

“Handmade music” has now been taken up by groups in cities around the world, without any central organization. It’s an open celebration of experimentation in music making and sound. Here, we get a look at the event series we’ve been running here in New York that helped spawn those others. Part of what I like about playing live is that it is unpredictable. We get to get together and try things, play wildly divergent styles of music, and explore ideas for what to play, all with a friendly group of people. So, here – thanks to the lovely videography of …

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mbpfamily

FireWire800, ExpressCard Survive MacBook Pro Revision, So You Can Relax; Thunderbolt Audio Hardware Coming

Photo courtesy of Apple. Those of you in the market for a new MacBook Pro are no doubt already tuned into the product news. So let’s talk about what isn’t changed on the new MacBook line, because it’s a good thing. You still get FireWire 800 ports on all models, including the entry-level 13″ machine. ExpressCard is still standard on the 17″ MacBook Pro. Your dongles for video adapters still work. I’m researching implications for audio of the new Thunderbolt connection. My guess is it’s a little too early to say; 10 GBps storage sounds fantastic, but it’s far beyond …

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mbpside

With Mobility Rising, MacBooks Looming, Don’t Assume Optical Discs for Distribution

Endangered species? Maybe. Worth double-checking you can do online distribution, if you haven’t already? Definitely. Photo (CC-BY) Adam Jackson. Memo to music software developers, artists and labels distributing music, and anyone else who uses optical drives: stop assuming they’ll always be there, because they won’t. Talking points: Netbooks and tablets already lack optical drives. With more mobile devices, they’re unlikely to be alone. Next up: laptops. Many laptops over the years have put optical drives in removable drive bays or shipped as external options to shed weight and bulk. HP Envy models recently came with external drives. And now, it’s …

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Black Friday Deals: NI Half Off, Rain Computers, and Gorgeous $150 TMA Headphones

Photo (CC-BY) Lululemon. (Bonus points if you spotted their logo, yoga fans, though “ohm” works well for us, too!) Black Friday, named originally for the day on which retailers typically broke even for the first time in the year (think black ink), has become a holiday for sales in the US. I’ve seen a handful of deals even in our world of music making tech; here are a few of the best. Native Instruments has a sale through Monday that cuts prices in half on individual Komplete instruments and effects. Note that this is just for a la carte additions; …

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New MacBook Air: Light, But Core 2 Duo, NVIDIA Graphics

Image Courtesy of Apple. Any time Apple unveils a new product, someone is likely wondering if it’s a viable choice for music. The answer on the new MacBook Air is probably yes – though for music production, even at a $999 price, you may want to sacrifice a little bit of weight for the specs on the non-Air MacBook line. Here’s a quick look: Core 2 Duo architecture. While running at slower clock speeds, this is a more efficient CPU choice for audio. (Don’t let the clock fool you, in other words – there’s a fair bit of power here.) …

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How to Install ReBirth in Linux, Get a Free Rack of Beat Machines

I just picked up a $280 Asus netbook and installed Ubuntu on it. ReBirth seemed a perfect addition; its compact-sized UI, lightweight processing and memory requirements, and simple functions are the ideal companion to a netbook. And, thanks to Propellerhead, it also happens to be free. If you stick with Windows, just download and go. On Linux, though, you have to give the installer some help to see the install disc. (Why install Linux? I’m finding Ubuntu is just fine for battery life, and I wanted to take advantage of the OS’ optimizations for netbooks and its flexibility for the …

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Symphony I/O: Next-Gen Apogee High-end I/O, Works with Any Mac DAW Via USB

Looking for all the world like a high-end audiophile stereo radio receiver as much as pro audio equipment, the shiny, new Symphony I/O has arrived from Apogee. It’s a top-of-the-range audio interface designed for low latency, high-quality digital-to-analog conversion, and quality clocking, as well as flexible input and output, coming from a company known in the category. With Pro Tools HD support, it’s also a rival to Avid’s own audio interfaces, while also working with all major Mac DAWs – even Ableton Live. You’re talking an investment of a few grand here, depending on configuration, so this isn’t likely to …

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