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Volnovod is a robot sculpture that uses wire to make sound visually

Muscovite sound artist slash mad scientist vtol (aka Dmitry Morozov) has been at it yet again. This time, inspiration struck when his iPod earbuds tangled. (Good thing he hadn’t upgraded to wireless!) And the result was a new visual interface for music, embodied as kinetic sculpture. Volnovod, sounding for all the world like a long lost Soviet lunar probe (or, um, sounding like “waveguide” if you happen to speak Russian), is an installation / controller / instrument built on the idea. And it comes from the artist just as he’s fresh off a rich Berlin exhibition full of ingenious inventions. …

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New tools for free sound powerhouse Pd make it worth a new look

Pure Data, the free and open source cousin of Max, can still learn some new tricks. And that’s important – because there’s nothing that does quite what it does, with a free, visual desktop interface, permissive license, and embeddable and mobile versions integrated with other software, free and commercial alike. A community of some of its most dedicated developers and artists met late last year in the NYC area. What transpired offers a glimpse of how this twenty-year-old program might enter a new chapter – and some nice tools you can use right now. To walk us through, attendee Max …

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FEEDBOXES are autonomous sound toys that play along with you

We live in an age when we can jam along with machines as well as with humans. And maybe it’s about time that they fed us some clever grooves instead of, you know, fake news and stuff. Our friend Krzysztof Cybulski of Warsaw, PL’s panGenerator shares his FEEDBOXES. They’re “autonomous” sound objects, capable of responding to audio inputs with perpetually-transforming responses. It’s all thanks to elegant use of feedback loops – meaning you can toy with these techniques yourself. Now that’s a better kind of echo chamber. It also makes use of the awesome, free PdDroidParty by Chris Mccormick, which …

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Free jazz – how to use Ableton Link sync with Pure Data patches

Effortless wireless sync everywhere has arrived with free software, too, thanks to Ableton’s new open source SDK. And it’s incredibly easy – enough so that anyone with even rudimentary patching skills will probably want to try this out. Pure Data, the free and open source cousin of Max/MSP, looks ugly but does great stuff. And it’s worth checking out even if you use Max, because Pd is lightweight and runs on any platform – including Linux, Raspberry Pi, iOS, Android, and inside other software (like game engines). Now that it supports Link, you can make patches that run anywhere and …

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Watch Myriam Bleau’s beautiful work with glass and discs

The beautiful thing about performance life in the post-digital age is that it opens up what musical practice itself can be. It means an AV artist might draw as much on the tradition of painting or sculpture as on music. It might blur the boundaries in such a way that it’s hard to say which medium you’re looking at at all. SONAR and MUTEK as festivals have grown in their brand to present AV work, but to me they’re at their best in those particular magical moments when you feel as if the performer has invented their own medium. By …

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There’s a new way to make your iPhone run any Pd patch, free

You’ve got an instrument or effect running in Pure Data, for free, on your computer. (If you don’t know how to do that, more in a moment.) Leave the computer at home. Play that sound creation on your iPhone (or iPad). The implementation of Pd on iOS and Android started its life with RjDj. But PdParty (and PdDroidParty before it) have gone steadily further. Now you can almost treat the graphical patching environment Pd on the computer as your development environment – patch away on your computer, then duplicate that patch complete with UI on your phone. It also means …

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Get some inspiration in the magic of field recording

Field recording isn’t just an empty exercise. It can change how you think. Just listen to Chris Watson, who records nature for a living: “Listening in a positive way – that is, actively taking the decision to focus on certain things and reject others … stimulates my thought process. It makes me think more laterally about problem solving. It makes me think in a different way.”

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The next prank call you get could come from this crazy synth

::vtol:: prankophone from ::vtol:: on Vimeo. If you pick up the phone and instead of a robocall or someone pocket dialing you, you get what sounds like a synthesizer that’s lost its mind, blame the Prankophone. Since we’re going to cover the latest from Ableton and Korg and so on in detail, we practically need a column for the quirky, prolific inventions of one vtol, aka Dmitry Morozov. Call it the Internet of Insane Things. (IoIT?)

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Here’s how the Organelle can replace a computer with Pd

This is, very probably, the sign of things to come. With ARM boards becoming ever-more cheap, accessible, powerful, and efficient, the same technology that is transforming phones, laptops, tablets, and other categories can just as easily be the foundation of a musical instrument. And one “computer” in your life might not look like a conventional desktop or laptop. So, we were both unsurprised and delighted to see a box emerge over the weekend looking like a quirky Pocket Piano, but providing lots of stuff useful to people interested in taking the world of synths and effects from Pd out of …

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Critter & Guitari’s new music box turns into anything, with Pd

What makes something a “computer”? In practical terms, the definition is getting steadily blurrier when it comes to music. With computation sipping power, generating less heat, and costing far less than before, that “computer” may find itself in places other than a big folding metal typewriter with a spendy display and a picture of a bitten fruit on the back. But the power of the computer – the ability to turn a magic box into the instrument or effect of your desiring – that stays. And that’s something that’s beginning to remake musical objects.

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