80s Roland engineers never imagined ... this. Welcome to the age of the Real. Photo: Jürgen Lösel.

A Robotic, Physical 808 Machine Advances Weird Science of Music, Tech Alike

So, you’re really hot stuff now that you’ve got a vintage Roland TR-808, huh? Ready to have your pride taken down a few notches? If you haven’t seen it, have a look at this. The MR-808 is a “real-world” replica of the Roland sounds. And when people throw around buzzwords like “post-digital” to try to describe the spirit of the age in which we live, this is what they’re trying to get at. In some sense, this creation is a tribute to the 808’s minimalism and essential design. And this is still a creation of the digital realm. The robots …

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Concept: Rubik’s Cube as Interactive Electronic Music Tool Interface [Video]

MusixCube from Stefan Horak on Vimeo. It’s just a concept, but it’s an excellent one: the classic Rubik’s Cube here is transformed into a tangible music interface. Grid squares light up as icons, colored feedback animates sounds, and twisting the blocks around provides access to interface options and even parameter control. Someone. Make this happen. From Kiel, Germany (north of Hamburg) and artist/student Hauke Scholz. Hauke, let’s do this for real. A tool for producing electronic music, based on the interaction of the Rubik’s Cube, B.A. Thesis project at Muthesius Academy Of Fine Arts And Design by Hauke Scholz Video …

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Reactable as Artist Instrument: On Mobile, Live, and Tangible

Milivingroom.com presenta Carles López-Reactable from Milivingroom on Vimeo. Can the Reactable be artistically meaningful, as well as technologically impressive? New performances, and new releases – interactive “label” releases for your iPad/iPhone and updated hardware for those of you wanting to try the whole experience yourself – might just answer that question. Listen to designers of futuristic musical devices talk about what they hope to create, and a common theme recurs again and again. They want to make musical instruments – something you’d practice, something for which there would be virtuosos and performances that would knock your socks off. It’s tough …

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If a Computer Were a Chanting Monk: Crazy Live Sounds from Kyma + Gametrak

If a computer could throat-sing, meditating on numbers, it might sound something like this. Electro-acoustic composer Jeffrey Stolet is Professor of Music and Director of the Intermedia Music Technology at the University of Oregon, but “sonic shamanism” might apply as well. Mysterious sounds emerge from his laptop as he tugs and pulls on a controller, as if extracting sounds from within. (The hardware in question is a Gametrak game controller – a toy game device that has become an affordable 3D music input. Apparently some 300,000 units were sold by 2006, but the controller never caught on as a mainstream …

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Lego Mindstorm Robotics, One Kitchen, One Psycho Barbie: Bonaparte Music Video

BONAPARTE – 40°42’48.46 N 73°58’18.38 by JUL & MAT from JUL & MAT on Vimeo. Out of the screen, into your kitchen: digital tech can become magically alive when grown-up robotics meet child-like play. And it’s not trickery: this LEGO-powered robotic installation really is playing the parts of this song by Bonaparte. Peter Cocteau already showed the world that LEGO’s Mindstorms platform can become a fantastic drum machine, in his brilliant NXT-606. Now he’s back, with a robotic installation that “performs” the music video for German rock/electronic artist Bonaparte. Teaming up with Cocteau and French directing team Jul & Mat, …

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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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Radio in an Online Age, Made Tangible: Skube Are Smart, Last.fm + Spotify Speakers

Computers give you sophisticated ways of connecting to online music. But do you ever miss that physical object of the radio? Or wish that a speaker could be just as smart when, with a sigh of relief, you’ve pressed the laptop lid shut? Skube is a design experiment from Copenhagen focused on making portable devices more connected and communal sharing easier. They’re speakers that you might consider members of the Internet of Things, using Arduino and Xbee wireless networking to make the device mobile while piping sounds from Spotify and Last.fm. Here’s some demo footage of the speakers in action: …

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Thrift is Knowledge: A Radio from a Tube Map, Navigating Sound and Design with Yuri Suzuki

Designers in Residence 2012: Yuri Suzuki from Design Museum on Vimeo. Amidst an onslaught of disposable, impossible-to-repair electronics and waste, the best weapon to fight back can be know-how. That’s the message in a beautiful short film that paints a portrait of sound artist and designer Yuri Suzuki, a resident of London’s Design Museum. (Via our friends at Engadget DE) In this case, Yuri navigates the maze of an electronics PCB quite literally, mapping out a functioning radio on the schematic of the London Underground. But he also speaks poetically about why understanding the inner function of electronics is so …

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Holding Geometry in Your Hand: Matthew Shlian, 3D in Paper, for Ghostly International

Ghostly International presents Matthew Shlian from Ghostly International on Vimeo. Computers, those devices Steve Jobs once described as “bicycles for the mind,” have transformed our minds and imaginations. Many of us now embrace geometry and three dimensions and generative form thanks to our wonderful machines. But, sometimes, it’s worth stepping away from the screen. It lets us understand with our hands working away at a problem using something more than a mouse, to “see” with our fingers and not just our mind and eyes. Matthew Shlian, in a new collaboration with US label Ghostly International, potently describes that feeling. He …

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Insane Colors, Touch, Knobs: Ander’s Crazy Custom Live Controller, and Some New Music

What if software could leap off the screen, transforming into physical form? Ander’s custom controller for live performance looks like just that. An epic array of candy-colored buttons, with a dizzying arrangement of knobs atop it, it’s the opposite of what many live performances these days can be. Rather than a spectacle that distracts from the live performance, it is a spectacle that embodies the performance – not only Ander’s physical gestures, but the way he conceives his music. By making all of his set touchable – even though that involves a lot of advance preparation – the performance it …

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