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Beyond Traditional Instruments, a Status Report from the SoundLab

There’s nothing more personal than creative expression. And so experimenting with how you make music is more than just novelty: it’s a way to understand the fundamentals of how we relate to machines. And thinking outside the normal avenues means the ability to reach new people, as SoundLab is doing with audiences with learning disabilities. Ashley Elsdon joins us to give us the latest of how the project is going. A little while ago, CDM kindly posted a piece on our SoundLab project, which aims to help people with learning disabilities make music and collaborate in music creation. That was …

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An Entire Building in Stockholm Just Became a Game Board

Not satisfied with producing hundreds of records and working with a litany of famous names, sound artist / composer / musician Håkan Lidbo several times a year embarks on some novel experiment in sound and interactivity. In the latest, he’s worked with smart lightbulbs from Philips to transform an entire building in Stockholm into your very own personal game board. They’re calling it the world’s biggest Master Mind game, and who are we to argue? The idea is, windows become pixels, and you play online to try to guess the color code of your opponent, in a game of wits.

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Don’t Miss Five of the Most Futuristic Music and Audio Hacks: Pictures from SF

Put some of the best brains in music and sound together in a room. Give them a deadline. Tell them to invent the future as quickly as they can. What results is crazy, from better ways of teaching music production to composing inside Minecraft to strapping displays on your wrist to simulate the Apple Watch before anyone’s even able to get one. So, we sent one of the smartest brains we know to find the best stuff – that’ll be Gina Collecchia, engineer, technologist, and data scientist as well as writer/musician, the kind of person who studies acoustics in Peru …

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Watch Adriano Make Surprising Objects, Laser Beams into Triggers for Wild Music

Now that anything can become an instrument, musicianship can become the practice of finding the spirit in the unexpected. It’s what Matt Moldover championed in the notion of controllerism, what years of DIYers have made evident. It’s not just a matter of finding a novelty or two. It’s really taking those novelties and making them a creative force. Adriano Clemente, the Italian-born, Brooklyn-based artist (aka Capcom), is a shining light of just that sort of imagination. Regular CDM readers will see some familiar techniques. There’s a laser harp, a circuit-bent toy, mic transducers making objects into triggers, a Numark Orbit …

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Music That’s All Human Body and Objects, No Instruments: Biotronica with Ain TheMachine [Interview]

Music is all around us, yadda, yadda – we hear these aphorisms all the time, but to most, making music is still about the classical idea of instruments. Not so for this Madrid-based artist, who has transformed his body and all the objects around him into an instrument. The results are mad and magical – and CDM’s Matt Earp talked to the artist to find out just how he put this all together, and what it has to do with music like flamenco. There’s a noisy, lively spot for co-working in Neukölln, Berlin called Agora – a space full of …

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Bugs Make Music, Lured by Light, in Music and Art Project

That’s not a bug; it’s a feature. Wayward insects become the source of eerie, ambient music in a new work by British-born, Baix Penedes (Spain)-based artist Dickon Stone. Each insect lured by the glow of his light-up sculpture in turn triggers musical elements. Over the course of five years, he’s shaped that process into a strangely-lovely, otherworldly soundscape and formed a two-track EP, which you can preview here. (Five years, huh? Well, that’s proof that even with swarms of insects helping you shape the music, you can wind up obsessing over finishing. But the results are worth it!) Dickon sends …

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Eat a Cucumber! A Musical Playground Gets Kids Hooked on Veggies, Music, and Electronics

Quick, we need kids to be able to express their feelings, they really ought to learn more about electronics, and – more veg. Definitely need to eat more vegetables. You know what we have to do. Let’s combine all that. Moscow-based collective/project Playtronica has gone wild with the Makey Makey “invention kit,” and built a whole range of projects around interfacing electronics to vegetables and other creative inputs. They have hands-on workstations for kids that look like your Farmers’ Market was taken over by Leon Theremin. Kids are making rhythms, recording sounds, making songs. And in a CDM-exclusive premiere, we …

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Now, Everything in the Real World Can Be Modular – Candles to Plants to Lava Lamps to Motors

You know that saying about everything looking like a nail when all you’ve got is a hammer? Well, someone got a little carried away dreaming of wires, and it seems they’ve now a module that can begin to see all kinds of objects and substances as control voltage. We’ve seen a new collections of modules and tools. And it turns everything in the world into a modular synthesizer input and output. We already knew the strange and wonderful Czech team of Bastl Instruments (of Standuino fame) were up to some weird science. It just got a whole lot weirder. Sure, …

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Spinning Optical Drum Buddy and the Wild DIY Punk World of Quintron and Miss Pussycat

Deep in the Ninth Word of New Orleans lies the workbench and studio of one Mr. Quintron, the inventor-organist who has applied his DIY mad-scientist sonic production to a unique flavor of insistent punk. Mr. Quintron was this week in my home neighborhood in Berlin, accompanied by his wife Miss Pussycat – maraca player (maracaist?), vocalist, and puppeteer behind Flossie and the Unicorns. There was a puppet show. It was about cake – demon cake. There was the debut of a new inflatable puppet. Shirts came off. Sounds were made. It was hot. It was loud. Just as these puppets …

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A Solar-Powered, Outdoor DJ Booth and Interactive Dance Floor for Public Playgrounds

Swingsets? Basketball courts? Dutch interactive design firm Yalp imagines populating futuristic public playgrounds with DJ decks and dance floors, for today’s teens. First, there’s the Fono DJ booth. It’s an outdoor public DJ booth, steel-cased with 14 light-up touch panels. Add a couple of phones, and kids can stream their own music, using the touch panels to control the settings. (In case you’re afraid your neighborhood is about to turn into a teen Ibiza, the makers emphasize that they let the installer choose maximum volume levels and times when the system shuts down.) Then, in case you want to dance …

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