7 Ways SONAR+D is Asking Bigger Questions About Music Tech

Lineup Sónar+D 2015 from Sónar on Vimeo. There’s nothing inherently wrong with asking the same questions repeatedly. Cyclical inquiries are necessary in any practice. And over time, you refine answers. But this year’s SONAR+D program promises something different. SONAR+D is the younger, digital discourse alongside Barcelona’s massive electronic music festival. SONAR itself deserves a lot of credit for helping create the template a lot of digital music and media festivals follow today. And as that has since blurred into a parade of headliners, SONAR+D added a lot of dimension. There were good talks, hacklabs, workshops, and a showcase of makers. …


Teaser: The Joy of Music with Light, From Russia and Beyond

::vtol:: “luminescence” workshop from ::vtol:: on Vimeo. Artists are, in endless cycles, rediscovering techniques that might otherwise have been discarded. And that includes performance concepts in the audiovisual realm. I’m this week in Moscow as a guest of the Polytechnic Museum (specifically their Polytech.Science.Art program. There is, I think, no more historically apt place on Earth to explore the connection between sound and image than the land of Scriabin, Kandinsky, Ballets Russes, and constructivist art, this epicenter of the audiovisual revolution. What you probably don’t know so well is audiovisual experimentation from the later Soviet period, and that was partly …


Watch a Hacklab Merge Science and Live Music Technology: MusicMakers

Documentary MusicMakers Hacklab at CTM Festival 2015 from CDM on Vimeo. With computers and electricity or without it, musical performance has the potential to be expressive, powerful, immediate. Making music live in front of an audience demands spontaneous commitment. What technology can allow us to is to wire up that potential to other fields in new ways. And that was the feeling that began 2015 for us, working in the collaborative MusicMakers Hacklab at CTM Festival in Berlin. Neuroscientists met specialists in breathing met instrumentalists. Think the lightning bolt in the laboratory: it’s alive.


The Joy of Little Boxes, and Lovely Music by Recue x Jolea

From small boxes, big sound, and enormous fun… Something has happened in the evolution of electronic music production. What was once so often a slow process has become a jam, what was carefully orchestrated on screens finds itself embodied in gear. And small and affordable “toys” can often deliver the greatest “switch-on-and-play” satisfaction. Helsinki’s Recue and Jolea first found their way to their album by playing live, so it’s fitting we start with a live set from them. Their fusion is beat-driven, left-field pop – settling into moody, experimental grooves with effortless hooks over top. It’s melancholy surfaces with sparkling …


Now littleBits Modules Play with MIDI, USB, CV: Videos

littleBits’ Synth Kit began as a lot of fun. Snap together small bare boards connected by custom magnets, and you can create basic synthesizers, or mix and match more exotic littleBits modules light light sensors. No soldering or cable connections are required. But while you could use various littleBits components, your options were comparatively limited as far as connecting to other gear. That changes today with the release of new modules for MIDI, USB, and analog Control Voltage (CV), ranging $35-40 each. There are three modules, each made in collaboration with KORG: You can also buy a US$139.95 “Synth Pro …


Hands On MeeBlip anode, with Robert Lippok (raster noton) [Video]

When we designed MeeBlip anode, we tried to do more with less: make every knob and switch meaningful and musical. Composer/musician and artist Robert Lippok invited us into his studio as he tried out those controls. Robert is really thoughtful about his approach to sound and control in my experience working with him, and so it was nice to get his feedback on our instrument. (If you don’t know Robert’s music, he is a Berlin native, a long-time member of the label raster noton, and a former member of the band To Rococo Rot.) One by one, he demonstrates how …


Watch a Dreamy, Groovy Reverie Played Live on Desktop Synths

Jeremy Blake (aka Jeremy Leaird-Koch) is the kind of omni-dimensional talent who that seems tailored for the age of Web media. Yes, he’s an electronic musician, but … have a listen to his SoundCloud, and you’ll find the common thread is craft more than genre. And yes, he’s also a video editor, who’s also making imaginative and dazzling visuals. Let’s instead just wander into his studio, virtually speaking, and let him play for us on a nice, assembled gathering of custom hardware. And drifting off on this chillout groove is a nice way to take a pause in your day…


A Toe-Tapping, Dancing 3D-Printed Robot Plays Music

Making Music With Poppy from Pierre Rouanet on Vimeo. It can “learn” to tap its toe and bob its head. And then it can make sounds as you move its arms. It’s a robotic interface for music – a bit like playing with a very smart toy doll. To show off its interactive/interfacing abilities, the team behind Poppy used music. Poppy is a robot that can be produced with a 3D printer. All the hardware and software are fully open source. The idea – fused with cash from the EU’s European Research Council for funding science and creativity – is …


Put a Radio in Your Modular: Music Thing Radio Music

Once upon a time, musicians made music from the sound content pouring invisibly, inaudibly from the air. The likes of John Cage and Kalrheinz Stockhausen turned the radio into stochastic source and instrument, a means of making music in the now. And now, you can, too, in the latest Eurorack module. Whether you want a modular or not, this is one module you definitely don’t need. You don’t need to act out Cage-ian fantasies and turn your local hit FM station greatest tracks of the 80s and 90s into an experimental noise performance. Nor do you really need to understand …


MeeBlip anode Adds Edgy Wavetables; Here’s How They Sound

We have reached a wonderful place. It’s a world where we no longer treat digital and analog as simplistically better or worse, but as techniques, as colors, a spectrum of tools for exploring sound. Or to put it another way, we now make wild noises however we want. And that’s very much how I feel about the direction we’ve gone with MeeBlip anode, combining digital waveforms with analog filtering, which is why I’m keen to share it here on CDM and not just via the MeeBlip site. The new 2.0 firmware comes with a selection of 16 wavetables, covering a …