Music of the Spheres, Player Roll Style: Astro Cantus iPhone App Plays the Universe

In the latest take on sonifying data in musical form, iPhone app Astro Cantus plots star data from the universe as musical notes. It turns the the sphere of heavens above the Earth into a massive piano roll. Co-founding developer Rocky Alvey, according to the creators, dismantled a music box as a kid, and that music box notion (yet again) is a big part of the concept here. What’s notable is that the app’s sonification does indeed represent not only the stars themselves but some of the data – spectra of the stars are translated into pitch. And there are …


Music Box Creations, with a Pd Score Made from Dance

In a twist on generating music from dance, artist and coder João Pais sends us Pd-generated scores, transformed into twinkling sounds by music boxes. As it happens, the music boxes are the same featured in Friday’s story on Ritornell. The piece is RISS, a “performative installation/concert” produced outdoors in Berlin, with a 30-meter score generated by Pd from movement. João describes his work: “The patch was simple, it analysed the sounds, and made a score using data structures. then I printed the score, and spent lots of hours puncturing all the holes.” The video documents those sounds, in a project …


Punched-Hole Tunes: Ritornell’s Musicbox Business Cards, as Delicate and Magical as the Music

Experimenting with twinkling timbres made both by acoustic and electronic means, the music of Ritornell (the duo of composer Dr. Richard Eigner and pianist Roman Gerold, Austria) is effortlessly expressive and spontaneous. Little wonder that that spirit could translate even to a small object. Designer Katharina Hölzl made business cards into both a signature identity for Ritornell and a physical manifestation of how they play their music. They’re not just a physical gimmick, though: audiences get to participate with music making in the production of live, performative loops. (Sadly, no site for Katharina – you just have to get hold …


Music, Like Clockwork: Modular Music Boxes with Rotating Wheels, Inspired by monome

Working with music in software means thinking a bit like a music box maker, using sequences to create note and rhythm machines. Nick Rothwell sends a project in which he literally engages the mechanical music box, with rotating electro-magnetic discs and a set of digital devices that recall their 19th-century predecessors. The designs are modular, interconnecting with one another into a little music box ensemble. And in another sign of the influence of the design of the monome, they explicitly nod to that hardware and its community as an aesthetic cue. (I have to admit, though, I’m more envious of …