In Berlin, Mixing Learning with Hacking and Jamming, All With Free DIY Tools

CDM and yours truly team up with Berlin arts collective Mindpirates next week for a learning event we hope will be a little different than most. The idea behind the gathering is to combine learning in some new ways. The evenings begin with more traditional instruction, as I cover, step-by-step, how you’d assemble beat machines, instruments, effects, and video mixers using free software (Pure Data and Processing). But, we’ll go a little further, opening up sessions to hacking and jamming, finally using the event space at Mindpirates to try out ideas on the PA and projectors. By the last night, …

READ MORE →

Mapping, Further: At Mapping Festival, Artists Blend Musical and Visual Form [Video Round-up]

Mapping: it’s kind of everything. It’s the projected image mapped to the surface. It’s pixels mapped to lights. It’s the control layout you use on your iPad and your fader box mapped to parameters in visual output. It’s the translation of music to lights. It’s the range of color on the filter. You’re constantly mapping one thing to another. And of course, the community of people who read this site are generally somehow undertaking the difficult task of mapping across media, as you map visual performance to music. So, it’s fitting that “mapping” at Mapping Festival is about more than …

READ MORE →

Fractals, Bots, Nodes, and Patternists: Onyx Ashanti’s Cyborg Music Meets the Ensemble [Guest Post]

Get ready: from one more-than-human musical cyborg, a robotic horde of beatjazz artists. Onyx Ashanti isn’t satisfied just augmenting his own body and musical expression with 3D-printed, sensor-laden prostheses. He’s extending that solo performance with bots that crawl around and gesture for feedback, then – inspired by the organic beauty of fractal geometry – is binding together performers with his system in a networked system of nodes. Just don’t call it a jam session. Call them patternists. If this sounds crazy, it is: crazy in just the way we like. But amidst this hyper-futuristic vision of performance, Onyx also writes …

READ MORE →

Make a Pd Patch, Run it on Android, iOS, Right Away: Two Free Solutions

Now that tablets and phones have the computational power our main studio machines did just a few short years ago, there’s every reason to look to these gizmos for music. For a person patching in Pure Data (Pd), the free graphical sound environment, it means you can liberate the stuff you’re making from your computer and put it on something portable. If you don’t mind firing up Eclipse or Xcode, you can make your own music apps with libpd, the embeddable version of Pd developed by Peter Brinkmann and others. But, if you don’t want to write a line of …

READ MORE →

Mudit is an Inexpensive, Open Source Gestural Loop Performer [Pd + Arduino]

Knowledge on how to build dazzling new interfaces for music is spreading. And because musical performance depends on sharing knowledge and practice, that could have a transformative effect. Literally as I’m walking out the door to leave for a showcase of gestural performance in Berlin, I get a chance to look at this team from Argentina. They’re purposely giving away the plans for their open source live performance instrument, built in turn with open source hardware (Arduino) and software (free graphical development environment Pd).

READ MORE →
Get involved in the development of the open source WretchUp app for mobiles. With iOS funded, the next goal is extra features - and Android support.

Last Chance to Support Mouse on Mars’ WretchUp App, Help Make Extra iOS Features, Android Support

We’re in the final hours of the crowd funding campaign for Mouse on Mars’ handheld effects instrument, WretchUp. We’ve been really amazed at the level of support – we quickly reached our funding goal for the iOS app’s budget. But now we’re pushing in the final hours for just a bit more funding. It’ll allow us to do a dedicated port to the Android platform, if we can reach $7000 or more. And we’ll have additional budget for adding extra functionality beyond our current plans (something we’ll be discussing with backers as we work). indiegogo.com/appwow We’re really excited about the …

READ MORE →
momstudio1

Wow… Mouse on Mars, Charting New Sonic Worlds in Two New Releases [Listen]

It’s a good time to be following this duo: Mouse on Mars seem to have entered a period of explosive creativity. And so it’s doubly a pleasure to be working with them now. As I hear younger artists complaining that they feel confined in musical expression, here are artists unafraid to explore strange, wonderful sonic worlds. What’s special about two new releases is that, while they still represent a tremendous amount of effort and labor, they’re also more spontaneous. As the press announcement that went out with WOW noted, the five-year project that was Parastrophics now gives way to music …

READ MORE →
The man who fell to Earth: Onyx Ashanti's open source hardware/software rig goes beyond computer and acoustic interfaces, alike, in a cyborg-style, enhanced human performance rig. Photo Zin Chiang, at CDM's recent Open Source Music showcase at Retune, Berlin.

Way Out From Behind The Laptop: Onyx Ashanti’s Beatjazz-Augmented Body Keeps Mutating

Onyx Ashanti can wail on a computer with no computer in sight, jamming on a virtual horn that has vanished into his cyborg-like live rig. Mouthpiece and head-mounted prosthesis replace what might have been a virtual reality helmet – or sax reed. Sensors in his hands provide more expression. But this isn’t just some flash and theater, while a laptop dutifully plays back loops. It’s really an interface to performance, both surfing samples and providing live solo lines improvised in real-time, in mid-air. For a sense of what I mean, check out the party hosted by Berlin’s Mindpirates, at an …

READ MORE →
Augmented cyborg performance by Onxy Ashanti, built with free tools and with freely-shared hardware, in the hopes of accelerating the rest of the musical human race. Photo courtesy the artist.

Sharing Music’s Source Code: Event Pairs Performances with Code, Patches, Schematics

At the Metropolitan Opera in New York, high in the rafters, there’s a set of unusually-cheap seats called the Score Desk section. There, in addition to the seating, panels of wood are oversized enough to accommodate full-orchestral scores. While leaning over the railing to see the performance (the section is not for those with fear of heights), studying composers, conductors, and musicians can pour over the details of Debussy’s orchestrations or Verdi’s prosody. Now, the line between tool, instrument, and composition is blurred, whether we’re talking dance music or experimental sounds. So, in a new event we’re kicking off in …

READ MORE →
Dan Deacon, in action - and judging by that array of gear oddities, one of us. Photo (CC-BY) Joshua Rothhaas.

Dan Deacon Makes Phones Into Instruments and a Live Light Show [iOS, Android, Dev Interview]

Cigarette lighters in the air may have given way to smartphones – but it’s hardly fitting at a concert to watch everyone checking their SMS inbox. In a new twist, Dan Deacon concerts use all that computational power in people’s pockets to make these devices part of the show, refocusing fans on the music. The work of Wham City Apps and developer Keith Lea, the Dan Deacon app synchronizes sound and light to make a sea of phones into objects of wonderment rather than business machines or Facebook hubs. Away from the show, the app doubles as a musical instrument. …

READ MORE →