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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.

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A Toe-Tapping, Dancing 3D-Printed Robot Plays Music

Making Music With Poppy from Pierre Rouanet on Vimeo. It can “learn” to tap its toe and bob its head. And then it can make sounds as you move its arms. It’s a robotic interface for music – a bit like playing with a very smart toy doll. To show off its interactive/interfacing abilities, the team behind Poppy used music. Poppy is a robot that can be produced with a 3D printer. All the hardware and software are fully open source. The idea – fused with cash from the EU’s European Research Council for funding science and creativity – is …

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Rocking Out with Sponges and a Houseplant, and Other Handmade and Circuit-Bent Wonders [Videos]

Kraft test drummie & Robert Plant from NormanBates on Vimeo. Sorry, keys and switches and buttons: it’s all about sponges now. Using metal sponges, a houseplant (Swedish Ivy, to be specific), and a circuit-bent toy, Cristian Martínez and companion perform whimsically-wonderful music. And, of course, it’s dubbed Kraft Test Dummy and Robert Plant. Cristian, aka Norman Bates, a sonic artist and musician based in Argentina, explains to CDM: It’s a circuit bend that originally was some portable-radio type toy with 4 buttons, with drum sounds. I changed the button contacts to metal sponges and car antennas, all tied together with …

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Tangible Music: The Reactable and Interactive Instrument Design, in Videos

Dig into humanity’s past, and alongside the earliest tools, you’ll find some of the earliest instruments. Designing objects for expression seems to be an essential part of civilization. Martin Kaltenbrunner, a co-designer of the Reactable tangible music interface, is also a professor in Interface Culture at the Linz University of Arts in Austria. There, in the land of Mozart and Haydn, he works with students to explore what interface design is. So, when I got to spend some time with Martin in New York in September, I was interested in more than just the flashy coolness of the Reactable, the …

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In Sand and Pixels, Playing with Worlds Virtual and Tangible; Built with Kinect

We’ve seen fairly impressive work involving people waving their arms around at cameras, but at the end of the day, you still have people … waving their arms around at cameras. In a refreshingly different take, the world of the game Mimicry is the “ultimate sandbox game” – set in a literal sandbox. Participants manipulate piles of real sand, as Kinect-powered cameras track their work and project imagery onto the sand from a rendered analog version of the same world. The player mimics the virtual, the virtual mimics the player, and the stuff of each fuse in a real/virtual hybrid …

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A Game of Checkers Becomes a Step Sequencer, Ableton Live Controller

Checkerboard Step Sequencer V2 from Josh Silverman on Vimeo. Shall we play a game? Have your checkers chops ready, because Josh Silverman’s Checkerboard Step Sequencer, a tangible interface for music, will test both your game mettle and your grooves. Built with the open source coding tool OpenFrameworks and Ableton Live as sound source, the checkerboard fuses computer vision technology and … well, some beats. This video should make obvious the relationship between the position of the checkers pieces and the noises they represent and trigger. It’s still a work in progress, but for now I won’t subject you to the …

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d-touch, Free Tangible Interfaces, and a Walnut Drum Machine

Software doesn’t have to mean virtualizing everything and letting go of physical objects. On the contrary, it can create all sots of imaginative, new ways of mapping musical ideas to the physical world. And that’s how we wind up with a walnut drum sequencer. There’s something about virtual drum machines and snacks. We’ve seen bubblegum and Skittles, beer bottle caps, soda bottles, and now walnuts. Don’t stop now: someone has to do Cheetos, even if it means dealing with orange stuff all over your fingers. That said, it’s not walnuts that make d-touch an important project. Built by Enrico Costanza …

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Tangible Interface Hackday: Music with Soda Bottles, Floor Toms, More

Fritzcrate Project / lusidLearn Early Demo from Michael Schieben on Vimeo. Knobs and faders can be rigid. Fancy multitouch devices can be expensive. But for the cost of a webcam and some spare materials, you can build computer interfaces with objects around the house, thanks to the power of open source software. In just one day, a group of artists in the CDM community, from Austria and Germany to New York to Australia, got quite a lot working with tangible interfaces. At top, Michael Schieben and Christophe Stoll experimented with using soda bottles to control software like Future Audio Workshop’s …

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Full Body, No-Controller, No-Tag 3D Motion Tracking: Microsoft’s Project Natal for Xbox 360

Anyone for a game of Harmonix Mime Hero, with the Marcel Marceau expansion pack? We’ve seen simple computer vision applications, “augmented reality” systems and object tracking schemes that use specially-printed tags, 3D tracking using IR emitters, and specialized motion detection sensors (most notably Nintendo’s Wii). But the holy grail, of course, is getting tracking without any of that stuff. That’s the idea behind the widely-anticipated release today of Microsoft’s Project Natal for Xbox 360. What’s different about the new tracking systems that makes them work better? In short, a z axis. By detecting depth from the camera, you can track …

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