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 …


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, …


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 …


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, …


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 …

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 …


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 …


Pd, Everywhere: Free libpd Gets a New Site, New Book on Making Mobile Music Apps

Pure Data (Pd) is already a free, convenient tool for making synths, effects, and sequencers and other musical generators. But imagine stripping away all the things that tie it to a platform – UI, specific hardware support – so it will run just about anywhere, on anything, in any context. That’s what libpd, a free, embeddable, open source (BSD) tool for making interactive music, does. Coders can take their favorite language and their favorite platform, and just plug in the power of Pd. They don’t even have to know almost anything about Pd – they can let an intrepid Pd …


FRACT, 3D Adventure Game Played with Synths and Sequencers: Myst Meets Music Making

FRACT is a curious combination of music studio and puzzle game, merging elements of games like Myst with the sorts of synths and pattern editors you’d expect somewhere like Ableton Live. You have to make sounds and melodies to solve puzzles; by the end of the game, say the creators, you’re even producing original music. The work of a small student team out of Montreal, FRACT looks like it has all the makings of an underground indie hit – at least for music nerds. As the creators describe it: FRACT is a first person adventure game for Windows & Mac …


rePatcher: Make Your Computer a Real Modular, with Knobs and Cords; Pd and Max Right Now

For the last few decades, generally speaking, we’ve had computers, and we’ve had physical, modular, analog gear. Computers are endlessly patchable, but not using physical cords. Modulars use physical cords, but they lack the flexibility (and affordability) of a computer. Now, US$25 and an Arduino can change that. rePatcher is a simple, tangible modular interface for computers. It could work with any software, but right out of the gate it already works with two popular (virtual) patching environments, Max/MSP and the free and open source Pure Data (Pd). You use physical patch cords to make connections, and those connections are …