Lunchbeat is a 1-bit Groovebox You Can Make Yourself

Friends bragging lately about the quality of the sound of their drum machines? Tell them you can make sounds lower fidelity than they can. LUNCHBEAT is a 1-bit groovebox, making impossibly-dirty digital sounds, with a built-in step sequencer. While we await a proper DIY kit, it’s an ideal learning project: it’s nice and simple, has a low part count, everything you need as far as specs is available free to create your own, and it’s a good way to work out the basics of digital sound and sequencing. And, really, if you need more than one bit to make music, …

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Wonders of DIY Synths: A New PreenFM, a Polyphonic Oberheim Clone

It’s a new golden age for synth lovers, past meeting the future and so on. At least, we have a stunning number of wonderful toys. And the DIY community is coming up with a number of particularly special creations. Take the terrific open source PreenFM, an original, 6-operator FM synth that’s entirely open source hardware (code and schematics). On Sunday, we learned what creator Xavier Hosxe has in store for the new model:

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Star-Studded Music DIY Projects, with Make Magazine’s Maker Camp

Musical instruments remain some of the best ways to learn about the wonders of electronics, physics, and more. Our friends at Make are showing that off with a week of DIY projects at what they’re calling Maker Camp 2013. Staged in Google+ Hangouts, so anyone can participate. Friday’s guests include some of our favorite electronic musicians: Zöe Keating and (CDM 2013 MusicMakers participant) Imogen Heap. Here’s how it works: morning North American time, you see projects and materials, then watch a video hangout to get extra tips and communication. There’s another project for the weekend. Next up: later today is …

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Bhoreal: RGB Grid as Open Source Hardware – Kit or Ready-Made, Wired or Wireless

We are Bhoreal from MID New Media Design on Vimeo. Grids are suddenly everywhere – in music control, but also in visuals and art. And they’re lighting up in RGB. But Bhoreal promises to do some things other grids aren’t. Whereas the monome is a truly beautiful, handmade and rare object, its rarity – by design – means it’s hard to get. And readily-available commercial products aren’t open source, and while they fit certain needs elegantly, they’re designed to stick to those needs rather than allow easy modification. Bhoreal is this kind of blank-slate, do-anything colored grid you can turn …

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When Plants Jam with Synths: Leslie Garcia’s Open Project Lets Plants Talk with Sound

Pulsu(m) Plantae _ project presentation from LessNullVoid on Vimeo. You may have seen a plant used as a musical instrument before, by measuring capacitance across the leafy life form and turning it into a touch sensor. This is something different: it’s letting the plant itself express communication through sound, using biofeedback to turn the living systems on the plant into something audible. It is a synth jam, made by a plant, that tells you something about what the plant is sensing about the world around it. From Tijuana, México, media artist and musician Leslie Garcia shares the latest iteration of …

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Interface an Arduino with Ableton: Light-Controlled Dubstep Wobble Bass

Over the years, we’ve seen all kinds of far-out interfaces for music. But where do you begin if you want to just get started? Interfacing a simple sensor with your music software is a decent place to begin. Nick Latocha, aka myredhotcar, uses Max/MSP to connect Ableton to the output of a photodetector (a resistive sensor that is sensitive to changes in light). Yes, in this example, the result isn’t so different from turning a knob, but that’s the point: starting with something basic like this is the best way to learn. The result: move your hand around, and change …

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If I Only Had a Brain: Livid Builder Brain v2 Could Be Heart of Your Next DIY Project

If you’re dreaming of creating your own controller from scratch, there are certain basic elements you’ll need – and a strong case for reusing, not reinventing, the wheel. There are a range of products out there that cater to you DIYers; Livid’s Builder line is certainly one of the most comprehensive. It’s a line of hardware accessories that help you piece together MIDI controllers with all the requisite knobs and buttons and sensors you might like, and its brain just got an upgrade. The soul of any controller is the electronics and microcontroller that read all of those inputs and …

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Tom's FM radio-sequencing module project, in all its glory.

Music Thing: A Radio Sequencer, How to Get Into DIY Synth Modules, How to Have Fun

Lured by the siren song of modular synthesis and DIY electronics, but not sure how to navigate the piles of requisite knowledge – or uncertain what the trip down this rabbit hole might have in store? For years, Tom Whitwell’s Music Thing was a beloved daily read, as that site and this one were among the early blog-format destinations for music tech. Tom moved on – something about a major day-gig at a paper called The Times, perhaps named after the font? – but that makes us all the more delighted to get a dispatch from him. In this guest …

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meebook2

MeeBlip Synth in a Cookbook, MeeBlip with Lemur, MeeBlip micro In Stock

There are times when something happens that reminds you why you make the sacrifices to do what you do. A real highlight of 2011 for me was Gwydion ap Dafydd appearing with the MeeBlip, our open source synthesizer, baked into a cookbook. I knew Gwydion had gotten creative in making a housing for his MeeBlip kit, and I knew that it was a book. But then, he opened it up to reveal the MeeBlip’s controls popping out of a cookbook page, with I/O ports conveniently located on the side, and even the ability to remove the panel to get at …

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multi-Monochord

Rock Robots: PAM Can Seriously Shred, Open Source MARIE Could Do Even More

The first law of musical robotics: rock hard. We’ve seen plenty of robotic musical experiments, but finding a robot that can seriously shred is another matter altogether. Meet the robotic string instrument, Poly-tangent, Automatic (multi-) Monochord – let’s just call her PAM. Built by Expressive Machines Musical Instruments, a group of University of Virginia PhD students and composers, PAM is capable of creating raucous musical performances like the one above, by composer and EMMI member Steven Kemper. Musical robotics is cool, but it also hasn’t evolved much technologically in fifty years. It’s gotten cheaper and more accessible, but the fundamental …

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