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This is What High-End Audio Can Do Now: New Trio of Thunderbolt Boxes from MOTU

You’d be forgiven for missing it in the blur of press releases and trade show hand-outs – and, let’s face it, most musicians are too focused on music to pay much mind. But slowly, steadily, audio interfaces have been getting a lot better. Talk to the people who make them, and they can tell you what’s happened even in terms of individual components. Next, they’re about to get smarter and more networked. And so that means it is worth paying attention today as industry heavyweight MOTU unveils a trio of new audio interfaces, compatible with Thunderbolt 1 and 2 and …

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PixelPusher to Make Networked Syphon Displays from LEDs, Easily, in Crowd-funded Project

LEDs are poised to revolutionize displays, but that future isn’t “evenly distributed” yet. And that’s why some emerging projects are so intriguing. Think instant displays, addressable from any computer – including with Syphon. Just plug Ethernet on one end, into strings of these: That’s the idea behind PixelPusher, a project currently on Kickstarter. Development appears complete; they’re using crowd funding to support doing a run of a thousand of these, made in California. The notion is networked lighting arrays you can address from a computer, using Syphon or free apps they’ve built with Processing. (For anyone who uses Processing, this …

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Fractals, Bots, Nodes, and Patternists: Onyx Ashanti’s Cyborg Music Meets the Ensemble [Guest Post]

Get ready: from one more-than-human musical cyborg, a robotic horde of beatjazz artists. Onyx Ashanti isn’t satisfied just augmenting his own body and musical expression with 3D-printed, sensor-laden prostheses. He’s extending that solo performance with bots that crawl around and gesture for feedback, then – inspired by the organic beauty of fractal geometry – is binding together performers with his system in a networked system of nodes. Just don’t call it a jam session. Call them patternists. If this sounds crazy, it is: crazy in just the way we like. But amidst this hyper-futuristic vision of performance, Onyx also writes …

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Augmented cyborg performance by Onxy Ashanti, built with free tools and with freely-shared hardware, in the hopes of accelerating the rest of the musical human race. Photo courtesy the artist.

Sharing Music’s Source Code: Event Pairs Performances with Code, Patches, Schematics

At the Metropolitan Opera in New York, high in the rafters, there’s a set of unusually-cheap seats called the Score Desk section. There, in addition to the seating, panels of wood are oversized enough to accommodate full-orchestral scores. While leaning over the railing to see the performance (the section is not for those with fear of heights), studying composers, conductors, and musicians can pour over the details of Debussy’s orchestrations or Verdi’s prosody. Now, the line between tool, instrument, and composition is blurred, whether we’re talking dance music or experimental sounds. So, in a new event we’re kicking off in …

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Networked Video: With a Sweet Arsenal of Tools, One VJ Telecommutes

The open source Syphon has liberated textures and video streams from individual apps. No longer is the app a silo. The next frontier: liberate video from the whole computer. There’s a suggestive post from our friend Jason Scott Furr on his blog: Telecommuting the mix: VDMX, Syphon, CamTwist, and Skype The “telecommuting” bit? He was able to tap into a video performance remotely by sending a stream over Skype. The ingredients are compelling: CamTwist itself is worth some further inquiry. It’s a “broadcast switcher” inside your Mac, effectively. It works with built-in effects or custom Quartz Composer creations, switches between …

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Plink: Play Music with Strangers, In Your Browser; and the Webby Music Goodness Continues

It starts as just another toy to play around with in a few minutes of distraction in your Web browser – as if the Web were short on distraction. But then, something amazing can happen. Like a musical Turing Test, you start to get a feeling for what’s happening on the other side. Someone’s stream of colored dots starts to jam with your stream of colored dots. You get a little rhythm, a little interplay going. And instead of being a barrier, the fact that you’re looking at simple animations and made-up names and playing a pretty little tune with …

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Sociable Music Gadgets: Networked Android + Arduino Sequencer in a “Hack of Concept”

Yesterday, we saw a bit of the idea of making mobile gadgets more sociable with each other. The idea is, through network/wireless and cabled connectivity, you extend possibilities for expression, control, and collaboration with yourself and others. It’s the same thing that makes a recording studio useful: tools work together to let people work together to create music. It’s absolutely not a new idea; the engineering question is just making it work well on new platforms. On iOS, we’re already seeing some of this: apart from MIDI connectivity, developer like KORG have even tried using wireless features intended largely for …

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First Hands-on with Nintendo 3DS Suggests it's Beautiful, Hackable, Connected

Hey, remember this guy? It’s the Nintendo DS, and before shiny iPhones and iPads and Androids stole everyone’s heart away, Nintendo’s handhelds first demonstrated the musical, visual appeal of mobile among hackers and artists. Now, the 3DS could well win some of that spotlight back, perhaps surprisingly so. Our friend Dave Dri has gotten a rare hands-on with the new 3DS system. Games? Uh… sure. But with a beautiful, glasses-free 3D screen and lots of geek-friendly features, that might only be the beginning. Dave is already asking some of the questions handheld musicians and visualists might want to know. He …

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First Hands-on with Nintendo 3DS Suggests it’s Beautiful, Hackable, Connected

Hey, remember this guy? It’s the Nintendo DS, and before shiny iPhones and iPads and Androids stole everyone’s heart away, Nintendo’s handhelds first demonstrated the musical, visual appeal of mobile among hackers and artists. Now, the 3DS could well win some of that spotlight back, perhaps surprisingly so. Our friend Dave Dri has gotten a rare hands-on with the new 3DS system. Games? Uh… sure. But with a beautiful, glasses-free 3D screen and lots of geek-friendly features, that might only be the beginning. Dave is already asking some of the questions handheld musicians and visualists might want to know. He …

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Looking Beyond MIDI, What’s the Best Way to Represent Musical Notes Digitally?

Speaking in Hamburg to a terrific group of assembled locals from a variety of design backgrounds. And yes, this is the other part of my life behind me. I just seem to generally skip the years 1700-1985. Go figure. The history of music and the history of music notation are closely intertwined. Now, digital languages for communicating musical ideas between devices, users, and software, and storing and reproducing those ideas, take on the role notation alone once did. Notation has always been more than just a way of telling musicians what to do. (Any composer will quickly tell you as …

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