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.


Tour the Wild, Modular Robotic Percussion of Bastl Instruments

Think of it as the real world interface for your Eurorack modular. The boys from Brno have been busy. After a range of desktop modules (one that continues to grow), they’ve quietly put together a complete modular system this year. With a bunch of new gear announced at the beginning of the year, you might have thought they were getting some much-deserved rest. Not so. Among other introductions this week, they have unveiled three modules that work with motors, and one that takes sensor inputs. Together, these can let your modular make stuff happen in the physical world. And they …


Watch a Mechanical Drum Machine That Uses Wheels and Magnets [Video]

Drum Machine – XOXX Composer from Axel Bluhme on Vimeo. Can you design a drum machine that does more than simply hide its workings inside an invisible box? XOXX Composer does just that. A project by Axel Bluhme, it turns the inner functions of sampling, looping, and sequencing, into tangible, kinetic, sculptural form. Wheels turn. Magnets trigger sounds. And in what looks like the love child of a 606 and a player piano, you get a mechanical take on patterned sound. Full description: A drum machine that is fun and easy to use This project started with a curiosity to …


Add a Physical Knob to Your Max Patch with Arduino: Video Tutorials

Patching on a computer involves plugging something into something else virtually. In this video tutorial, you can extend that by adding a physical knob to control your custom creations, for Max/MSP (and Max for Live). It’s just a quick tip, but I know this gets asked a lot. (Greetings, students – happy spring semester to you!) And there’s something really fun about seeing a knob in the real world controlling something. Bonus points for using a toilet paper roll as a custom “housing.” It’s also nice seeing this accomplished in the all-new Max 7. And this is just the start, …


MIDI Makes an Augmented Harp Performance Like None You’ve Heard

The harp: it’s big. It’s temperamental. It’s pretty much associated with an established set of music. And when you hear “MIDI harp,” you’re typically in store for something kind of cheesy involving laser beams. Not this time, though: this is an actual harp, augmented with MIDI into a pretty wacky one-off one-person instrument. Time for Throwback Thursday, because I hadn’t seen this before even though it’s rather old. But, maybe unearthing it in this fashion will inspire Arnaud Roy to make something new (or share what he’s been up to lately). The project is the “HarpJamX” – a conventional acoustic …


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 …


The Future of Music in Skin and Molecules, Now in Berlin

The music technology industry continues to pump out things with knobs, and things that sound like the 1970s – sometimes, literally so. And we love them for it. But if you feel dizzy after all this tumbling backwards in time, let us take you on a ride back into the future. It’s the reason we’re in Berlin and not Anaheim this week, and I think you’ll enjoy it. A lot. CDM joins again with CTM Festival to explore the possibilities for music’s future in an intensive laboratory of creation, featuring speakers, on-the-spot hacking and experimentation, and finally a live performance …


Watch a Flying Drone Play a Drum Machine

What happens when you cross drones with music? Well – some seriously complex routings, for one. Stay with us: A touch-sensitive quadcopter that sends information to a Linux machine running ROS–the Robot Operating System–that then sends information over a network to a macbook running Ableton Live 9 and Max. Somewhere in this chain, the information is translated to MIDI and fed into an Ableton Live drum rack. The performance is being visualized using WaveDNA Liquid Rhythm. The upshot: shove around your hovering drone, and as it tries to right itself, it controls music. It’s a droning, hovering … beatmaker. Because, …


This Record Sleeve Turns Into a Wireless Touch DJ Controller: DJ Qbert and Novalia

As the CD jewel box and compact cassette case and digital download have failed to inspire, the record sleeve has endured. Now, the LP album jacket isn’t just besting those formats in the physical realm. It’s proving it can outdo them in the age of digital and mobile, too. Digital controls can be printed directly onto the surface of the packaging, via simple conductive technology, then interface with machines over wireless connections. DJ Qbert went to fans early last year to crowd-fund the release of EXTRATERRESTRIA – to the tune of six-figures. The project was all-ecompassing: “preorder” funders would put …