Melodies in Triangles: Christopher Willits on Playing Grids of Push [Tutorial Video]

You can think about melodies and harmonies in geometric shapes. In fact, instrumentalists playing piano keys or guitar frets have already been doing that for some time. What’s happening with grid controllers like Push – among other alternatives – is that it’s now easy to rearrange melodic setups to see and play these relationships in new ways. Musician Christopher Willits has started a series of videos called CREATE (hmmm… like that name somehow), through the creative community platform Overlap. Willits tells CDM, “I really love this instrument. I’m excited to work with it more and become really comfortable. Like any …


808 Patterns, Visualized in Posters, Connect Graphic to Rhythmic

Designing a piece of gear, an interface, is a musical exercise much as is sketching a written score. It’s particularly apparent in the simple but descriptive “x0x” grid of the step sequencer on the Roland TR-808. Graphic designer Rob Ricketts has made some beautiful, arresting posters that simply provide those patterns. Apologies if you’ve seen these already, but several people sent them into me and I saw them making the rounds, and they’re worth spotting. Now, next: a monome poster? Or what visualization might next be clearest? Program Your 808 (4 poster series, 2011) A series of informative posters detailing …


Bassnectar on Beat Structure, EDM, and Dubstep, Illustrated: Hearing Rhythm

How do you hear? What do you hear? Coming to agreement about something rooted in perception is by definition a doomed exercise. But that means the best thing to do is not so much to agree as to talk about the music – about what you hear – and not just the labels. Amidst glib online comments and the micro-fragmentation of genre, it’s hard to get anyone to give you a straight answer about just what’s going on in electronic dance music. That’s ironic – because, at its essence, it’s pretty straightforward. The situation has gotten worse: as “dubstep,” the …


Pythagoras, Upcoming iPad App, Recasts Frets to Make them More Harmonic

To celebrate what in the US we call 3.14 or PI day, today I’m offering stories that deal with mathematics and circles. First up, an app named for the great philosopher who is credited – even if perhaps ahistorically so – with finding that ratio and ratios in harmonies. Technology has long introduced innovations that make playing easier for specialists and non-specialists alike. Just ask anyone who plays an instrument like the guitar – frets, and the simplified notation that went with it, go back centuries as a means of allowing more people to make music. Developer Rob Fielding wants …


SoundPrism – Colorful, Playable iPad App – and Organizing Tones and Harmony Visually

The iPad may be the catalyst, but look beyond the platform, and you’ll see a reinvigorated examination of how to think about musical interfaces. If you’re looking to relax and make some musical noises on your iPad, check out the videos above. It isn’t actually necessary to fully understand the design work behind the interface to play and make music. But if you are interested in reflecting on the way design issues impact musical expression, and you’re a bit of a music theory nerd, read on. Using an array of rectangles arranged in a harmonically useful way, and color coding …