When Milliner, Musician Collaborate, You Get This Crazy Music Hat

It looks like what you’d want to wear if you were invited to a dinner party … with Sun Ra and his Arkestra. It lights up and responds as though you’re about to guest star on a Japanese TV show about a trans-dimensional space princess. But then… it starts making music. And the wild whimsy of the Chromehatic turns into a sultry set piece for a pitch-perfect performance by vocalist FEMME, celebrated London-based performer/producer. As for the headpiece itself, it launches a line entitled SENSEries, pairing milliner/couture designer Jodie Cartman (whose work has shown up on the brow of Morcheeba …


I Played the Oval Digital Hand Pan, And It’s Amazing

Making a futuristic new music instrument requires more than just the spark of a clever idea. It needs resources, funding, input from musicians, and other ingredients, in perfect balance. Those dimensions can offer cold, hard reality, but met properly, they can also offer opportunity. And that’s part of what made Barcelona’s SONAR+D such a compelling place to be last week. Tucked into the packed SONAR festival was a convergence of the engineering, musical inspiration, and business knowhow required to make musical inventions. The Oval, superstar of a pavilion hosted by Kickstarter, was the highlight for me. We saw it in …


Duet for Singer and Jet Plane: A Soviet Airliner as Instrument

Watch as a Yakovlev Yak-42 jetliner* was transformed last month into a giant percussion instrument, allowing a unique duet between vocalist (our friend Jekka) and machines. As part of last month’s Polytech Festival in Moscow, the performance is one of a number of international collaborations taking place around the museum’s art programs. A small army of teenagers got to participate in getting the whole thing working – learning about sound, sensing, and physical computing in the process. The last time we caught up with the Playtronica collective, they were engaging kids in science and electronics through the power of vegetables. …


Watch a Hacklab Merge Science and Live Music Technology: MusicMakers

Documentary MusicMakers Hacklab at CTM Festival 2015 from CDM on Vimeo. With computers and electricity or without it, musical performance has the potential to be expressive, powerful, immediate. Making music live in front of an audience demands spontaneous commitment. What technology can allow us to is to wire up that potential to other fields in new ways. And that was the feeling that began 2015 for us, working in the collaborative MusicMakers Hacklab at CTM Festival in Berlin. Neuroscientists met specialists in breathing met instrumentalists. Think the lightning bolt in the laboratory: it’s alive.


Tour the Wild, Modular Robotic Percussion of Bastl Instruments

Think of it as the real world interface for your Eurorack modular. The boys from Brno have been busy. After a range of desktop modules (one that continues to grow), they’ve quietly put together a complete modular system this year. With a bunch of new gear announced at the beginning of the year, you might have thought they were getting some much-deserved rest. Not so. Among other introductions this week, they have unveiled three modules that work with motors, and one that takes sensor inputs. Together, these can let your modular make stuff happen in the physical world. And they …


MIDI Makes an Augmented Harp Performance Like None You’ve Heard

The harp: it’s big. It’s temperamental. It’s pretty much associated with an established set of music. And when you hear “MIDI harp,” you’re typically in store for something kind of cheesy involving laser beams. Not this time, though: this is an actual harp, augmented with MIDI into a pretty wacky one-off one-person instrument. Time for Throwback Thursday, because I hadn’t seen this before even though it’s rather old. But, maybe unearthing it in this fashion will inspire Arnaud Roy to make something new (or share what he’s been up to lately). The project is the “HarpJamX” – a conventional acoustic …


The Future of Music in Skin and Molecules, Now in Berlin

The music technology industry continues to pump out things with knobs, and things that sound like the 1970s – sometimes, literally so. And we love them for it. But if you feel dizzy after all this tumbling backwards in time, let us take you on a ride back into the future. It’s the reason we’re in Berlin and not Anaheim this week, and I think you’ll enjoy it. A lot. CDM joins again with CTM Festival to explore the possibilities for music’s future in an intensive laboratory of creation, featuring speakers, on-the-spot hacking and experimentation, and finally a live performance …


Bugs Make Music, Lured by Light, in Music and Art Project

That’s not a bug; it’s a feature. Wayward insects become the source of eerie, ambient music in a new work by British-born, Baix Penedes (Spain)-based artist Dickon Stone. Each insect lured by the glow of his light-up sculpture in turn triggers musical elements. Over the course of five years, he’s shaped that process into a strangely-lovely, otherworldly soundscape and formed a two-track EP, which you can preview here. (Five years, huh? Well, that’s proof that even with swarms of insects helping you shape the music, you can wind up obsessing over finishing. But the results are worth it!) Dickon sends …


Now, Everything in the Real World Can Be Modular – Candles to Plants to Lava Lamps to Motors

You know that saying about everything looking like a nail when all you’ve got is a hammer? Well, someone got a little carried away dreaming of wires, and it seems they’ve now a module that can begin to see all kinds of objects and substances as control voltage. We’ve seen a new collections of modules and tools. And it turns everything in the world into a modular synthesizer input and output. We already knew the strange and wonderful Czech team of Bastl Instruments (of Standuino fame) were up to some weird science. It just got a whole lot weirder. Sure, …


Connect Your Brain to Synthesizers, with Desktop and Modular Creations for Brainwaves

Oh, sure, you can convert MIDI and clock and DIN and control voltage. But how about brainwaves? How about jacking your noggin straight into your synths and controlling synthesizers only with your mind? It’s not quite like The Matrix, yet, if that’s what you’re imagining. But some crafty Italian inventors/experimental musicians have already whipped up a working prototype of hardware that interfaces brainwave-sensing headsets to synthesisers via analog signal and MIDI. And tomorrow, the 26th of July, they’re putting their heads where their money is, premiering the whole system in a live performance. The boxes are designed to work with …