Watch a Short Film on the Play Between Musicians and Instruments, Design and Technology

From Rush to the classical clarinet to rethinking the keyboard interface, a lovely new film by Michael Shane explores the relationship between music and technology, and the philosophy behind new musical inventions. Two New York-based characters figure prominently in that investigation. There’s Martin Yee, the drum tech, who talks about humans and drums. (Sadly, we don’t get into the question of acoustic technology – that’s something I hope to cover in upcoming reports, both in transforming and augmenting the drum kit, and re-designing the acoustic piano.) Then, there’s the ubiquitous keyboardist Jordan Rudess, whom I think puts on one of …

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littlebitswide

littleBits Synth Kit Will Add USB Audio, CV, and MIDI; See Snap-Together Modular Live in NYC

littleBits has already won over some synth enthusiasts with snap-together modules you can combine via magnets, and a collaboration with KORG. But until now, the open source gizmos have been largely a world unto themselves. You could route audio in and out, but that’s it; any expansion was dependent on buying more littleBits modules. Over the course of this year, that will change. Already, there’s a US$36 Arduino module, opening up custom-coded functionality and computer connectivity. And by the end of the year, littleBits will add three modules that make the Synth Kit into more of a synth (or controller, …

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COMMAND LINE INTERFACE!!!

Watch BT Reveal Sound Design Tricks with Free, Geeky CDP – Then Learn it Yourself

From the mysterious underworld of 80s sound software, it’s a library of free sound transformation tools so cool you’ll happily head to the command line to run them – no real-time preview to be found. No, seriously. Even if the fanciest you get is changing a preset in Logic, you want to hear about this. Self-professed addict of sound geekery BT took to a packed room at New York’s Cielo to tell an assembled group of aspiring producers why they should embrace the Terminal. His video is a fantastic introduction to the tool. Dubbed Composers Desktop Project – after the …

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Plaid’s Tether is an Interactive Web Song You Can Remix – Music, or Code

Now that your Web browser can do what music creation software can do, presenting a song can be more than just giving people a play button. And allowing people to “remix” your music might mean sounds and software alike. First, there was Jono Brandel’s terrific Patatap with Lullatone. Press keys on your keyboard, and a warm, Lullatone-inspired sample machine delights with brightly-colored abstract objects and sounds, a sort of custom browser beat box. Patatap went viral, perhaps because it brought musical wonder to the carousel of distracting tabs on the Web. Now, Jono Brandel (of the Google Creative Lab, with …

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Live from the Moog Factory, Watch Erika, Teengirl Fantasy, and Survive

CDM here in the Moog Factory, downtown Asheville, North Carolina. I don’t care whether you’re a Boiler Room fan or hater – this one is special. Erika is here from Detroit with her circular sequencer and loads of gear. The wild and wooly Survive are new to me but they’re doing lovely stuff and have a synth museum worth of keyboard racks – fantastic. And in town from New York, hailing from Oberlin, Ohio, are Teengirl Fantasy. It’s already a great lineup, but novel for a second reason – Moog will keep assembling stuff in the factory as they play. …

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Before Computers, the Godfather of House Made Remixes with Razor Blades: Frankie Knuckles, RIP

The picture of old-school DJing is someone hauling around a crate of records. Frankie Knuckles, the house pioneer, was playing The Warehouse in Chicago and touring with reels of tapes. Remixing was something done with a razor blade. The saddening news has arrived that “godfather of house” Frankie Knuckles has died at the age of 59. His friend and collaborator David Morales shared the news via Twitter late Tuesday. (See Ben Rogerson’s report in MusicRadar, which comments a bit on the origins of Jamie Principle’s Your Love.) The man most associated with Chicago house music actually was born in the …

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Brian Eno, portrait by Ralf Schmerberg.

Watch Artists Talk The Meaning of Life, Musically Speaking, In Free Feature Film [RBMA]

Forget for a moment that Red Bull Music Academy has for a decade and a half assembled some of the world’s greatest-known artists to dish out inspiration. Forget that that’s Brian Eno’s mug staring back at you with cool, blue eyes. Forget that music “careers” can span from finding ranking in Forbes to scraping together extra tips at a bar to own a synth, with a gulf in between that can make people question the value of their work. If you’re reading this, it means that you probably have made music your life. You build music and maybe you build …

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Molding Sound with Flesh: Biophysical Muscle Music Keeps Evolving

Ominous | Incarnated sound sculpture (Xth Sense) from Marco Donnarumma on Vimeo. For all the interfaces that involve turning knobs or waving your hands in the air, artist Marco Donnarumma wanted to go deeper. His work pulses with his flesh, listening deep inside muscles for every slight impulse. And in Marco’s hands, it seems the air itself can be molded into sound – not with ethereal hand flapping, but as though the ether itself is made of dense clay. It’s been nearly two years since we spoke with Marco about his work, and the wwirord he coined for this kind …

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Learn VDMX in Your Skivvies: Online Tutorial on Powerful OS X VJ Tool

There’s nothing like the comfort of your own home. The comfy feel of underwear instead of annoying … clothes. The absence of … other people in the same room. Yes, if you’ve ever dreamt of learning the lovely semi-modular, powerful VJ tool VDMX, now you don’t need to wait until experts in the tool come to your part of the world. You don’t even need clothes. (Though, maybe you’re chilly. You can totally wear clothes, too.) Vidvox’s own David Lublin will be presenting a workshop for video artists ready to get deep into VDMX. You can hear from this core …

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A USB MIDI Controller, Designed Like a Mixer, from Dubspot + Livid: DS1 [Q&A]

We’ve got grids, more grids, and disco grids. We’ve got fake platters and big, whirling plates. We’ve got iPads and things you wave around in the air. But as controllers have embraced digital design, the number of controllers that have the logical layout of a mixer has, remarkably, diminished. And what really don’t have much of is a controller that’s truly DAW-agnostic. Integration is great, but you need hardware for people who don’t believe in One Tool as religion. It’s taken New York-based learning center Dubspot to reignite that idea, in a controller collaboration with Dave Cross and Livid Instruments. …

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