ffdartwork148

Making Digital One-of-a-Kind: Inside Icarus’ Generative Album in 1000 Variations

Even the artwork changes. This is my personal copy – #148. Digital: disposable, identical, infinitely reproducible. Recordings: static, unchanging. Or … are they? Icarus’ Fake Fish Distribution (FFD), a self-described “album in 1000 variations,” generates a one-of-a-kind download for each purchaser. Generative, parametric software takes the composition, by London-based musicians-slash-software engineers Ollie Bown and Sam Britton, and tailors the output so that each file is distinct. If you’re the 437th purchaser of the limited-run of 1000, in other words, you get a composition that is different from 436 before you and 438 after you. The process breaks two commonly-understood notions …

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Adding Dimension to Cinema's Future: A Hypercubist Manifesto, and 3D Aesthetics

The futurists are on the side of 3D, even with silly-looking glasses and 19th-century stereoscopy, while luddites rail against it just because they don’t know any better? Think again. A good, long look at Super Mario Brothers might just change the way you think about time in media – seriously. The advent of photography and cinema brought with them revolutionary ideas about the nature of time, connected to ideas spanning the gamut from narrative to science. So what’s the next big idea in aesthetics and thought? Gabriel Shalom, reaching CDM via Twitter, takes up that question in spectacular fashion in …

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Adding Dimension to Cinema’s Future: A Hypercubist Manifesto, and 3D Aesthetics

The futurists are on the side of 3D, even with silly-looking glasses and 19th-century stereoscopy, while luddites rail against it just because they don’t know any better? Think again. A good, long look at Super Mario Brothers might just change the way you think about time in media – seriously. The advent of photography and cinema brought with them revolutionary ideas about the nature of time, connected to ideas spanning the gamut from narrative to science. So what’s the next big idea in aesthetics and thought? Gabriel Shalom, reaching CDM via Twitter, takes up that question in spectacular fashion in …

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Modeling Analog in a Digital Age: A Conversation with Universal Audio’s Chief Scientist; Gallery

A vintage Studer tape machine lies in the workshop of Universal Audio. How do you translate that analog logic to digital form? And what does it tell us about what analog technology (or recording in general) means? Let’s ask a scientist. Behind the scenes photos courtesy Marsha Vdovin. Comfort and creativity – the mystery of what makes certain vintage gear so appealing remains. There are few people closer to the meeting place of digital and analog, reason and sentiment, than Dr. David Berners. He’s the chief scientist for Universal Audio, responsible for modeling in digital software form the characteristics of …

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Be a Music Geek Ninja with Electronic Music Programming in Pd: New Book

Okay, it looks a little scary, but just think of that as an added way of convincing your friends you’re a total badass. You may have heard about Pure Data (Pd), the open-source cousin to Max/MSP and a powerful tool for visual programming or “patching” music and multimedia. Pd has even appeared in the iPhone app RjDj and creating generative music for EA’s hit game Spore. But actually learning how to use the thing? Or learning some of the more advanced possible techniques in sound synthesis and processing? That’s another matter.

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Can Rhythmic Analysis Demonstrate the Use of Robotic Beats?

Photo (CC) Nigel Appleton. News may filter through Boing Boing, Slashdot, and Reddit – and certainly, this story already has. But oddly, I learned of this item when I happened to meet up with the blog item’s author in Somerville, Massachusetts. He has digital analysis he believes may prove that a track was recorded to a click track. Paul Lamere is a developer at Echo Nest, a brainy think-tank of music geeks developing new ways of processing musical metadata in the cloud. Whereas services like Last.fm focus mainly on content and community, Echo Nest’s API wants to make the computers …

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Next Stop, Dublin: DEAF Fest – Talks on Sound, BBC, Synths

Digging into sound: Mark Pilkington‘s photograph of the Daphne Oram archive from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The BBC legacy is just one part of an event on Saturday as we talk about the history and future of electronic sound. I’ve had some amazing meetings here in Berlin, with plenty to share with you over the coming weeks and months. I’m now headed to Dublin tomorrow for the amazing-looking DEAF festival. If you’re in or near Dublin, you may want to just clear the next few days for live music lineups, parties, film screenings, gallery events, and generally a dream lineup …

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MySong: Your Own Virtual, Tone-Deaf Accompanist

Microsoft Research has done some amazing work; it doesn’t always move me to tears, but there’s some fantastic stuff that deserves real recognition. And MySong is … well, technologically impressive, if musically painful. It’s a sort of collision between AutoTune and Band-in-a-Box: it recognizes a melody as input, then harmonizes that melody. The vocal input goes well, and illustrates the number of different inputs beyond the mouse you can expect in The Future. Here’s the problem: harmony is extraordinarily difficult to model on a computer because of the number of variables, the amount that’s driven by instinct and art. And …

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MIDI Jacks, Radio Shack, Economic Theory, and Invisible Hands

What is the sound of an invisible hand playing a MIDI controller? Yes, in the latest evidence that the Interwebs really are Douglas Adams’ imagined Infinite Improbability Drive, a conversation from CDM’s humble forums about the economics of Radio Shack and MIDI jacks has led to a blog response from a non-musician defending the true legacy of Adam Smith. I’m serious. I’m not just, you know, dumbing down CDM and pandering to the economist audience to pick up cute economist girls. The blogger also feels our forum poster say “dude” too much. Like, whatever. Don’t have a cow, man. It …

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