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 →

Fun with Turntables: Liberating the Decks By Dancing, Loading Hacks as Records

Here’s a way to change the relationship of dancer and deck: instead of the record “triggering” dancers, the dancers move the record. In “Autistic Turntable,” movement from onlookers gradually moves the platter. The work debuted earlier this year in the Nósomosòn exhibition at Normal at the Universidade da Coruña, España. It’s just one experiment in turntable re-engineering from artist, open source advocate, and electronic composer Servando Barreiro. In BInaer Platten, he modifies the mechanical turntable to instead read binary-encoded records with other audiovisual media. Seen at this year’s Transmediale 12, Servando’s work was some of the most practical to respond …

READ MORE →
jellybeans

Android, High-Performance Audio in 4.1, and What it Means – Plus libpd Goodness, Today

It’s called “Jelly Bean.” But a 4.1 version of Android might also be called, at last, a version of Android musicians will find tasty. (Those last versions were a bit more of the disgusting variety from Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans; this is a bit more Jelly Belly.) Photo (CC-BY-SA) Hermann Kaser. Android devices may, at last, get the kind of sound performance that makes music and audio apps satisfying to use. We’ve suffered through generations of the OS and hardware that were quite the opposite. But material, measurable changes to software, combined with more rigorous standards for hardware makers, …

READ MORE →

Visual Music: SketchSynth Lets You Draw an Interface with Marker and Paper, A Brief Drawn-Music History

Today, I’m in London doing a hands-on workshop on visual metaphors for music, and covering various topics filed under “synesthesia” at Music Tech Fest. It seems appropriate, with the subject matter on the brain, to revisit the topic of visuals and music in a series of posts. When you make hardware, with knobs and faders, you’re constrained by physical space – the amount of room on a circuit board, the radius of a knob cap, the size of your fingers. But before you get there, the first step is to sketch an idea. Imagine if you could do that with …

READ MORE →
beagleboard

Music, to Go: The Mobile Music Computer Revolution, BeagleBoard Workshop and Software

Something like this could be the guts of your next digital musical instrument – and it might even mean leaving your laptop at home for the next gig. Photo (CC-BY) Koen Kooi. Mobile computing has already had an enormous impact on music making. A modern phone or tablet (and yes, most often, these come from Apple) is capable of out-performing a lot of dedicated hardware and easily runs the synths and workstations that required state-of-the-art desktops just a decade or so ago. But what if this same computing power – low-energy, low-cost chips – could be in other music gear, …

READ MORE →
bang

Patch Your Own Music Creations, Free: Pd-extended Arrives, Far More Usable

Pure Data is a wonder: a free and open source environment for creating your own musical and multimedia creations with graphical programming, from Miller Puckette, the original creator of Max. You can produce everything from interactive sequencers and drum machines to synths to video performance tools by connecting patch cables visually, and you can run on virtually any platform, from BeagleBoards and Rasberry Pi to Mac, Windows, and Linux desktop. Via libpd, you can target other development languages and environments, embed engines in games, or work with Android and iOS. What hasn’t been so wonderful, of course, is Pd’s graphical …

READ MORE →
Hypo Chrysos live at Trendelenburg AV Festival, Gijon, Spain, December 2011.

From Your Body to Music: Interview with Biophysical Xth Sense Interface Creator

What you’re watching in the video above doesn’t involve cameras or motion sensors. It’s the kind of brain-to-machine, body-to-interaction interface most of us associate with science fiction. And while the technology has made the occasional appearance in unusual, niche commercial applications, it’s poised now to blow wide open for music – open as in free and open source. Erasing the boundary between contracting a muscle in the bio-physical realm and producing electronic sound in the virtual realm is what Xth Sense is all about. Capturing biological data is all the rage these days, seen primarily in commercial form in products …

READ MORE →
iphones

How to Make a Music App for iOS, Free, with libpd: Exclusive Book Excerpt

What will you do with this blank slate? Photo (CC-BY) Yutaka Tsutano. Apple yesterday described their iPad as “this magical pane of glass that can become anything you want it to be.” So – how about making mobile devices into what you want it to be? With the help of author Peter Brinkmann and publisher O’Reilly, we’d like to give you a taste of Peter’s new book, Making Musical Apps: Real-time audio synthesis on Android and iOS. Imagining that a lot of you are especially curious about iOS, we’ll include the chapter on how to get started with development. It …

READ MORE →