“This new media stuff is great, but it’s like it’s never developed very far. It’s like it’s technology for its own sake. How do you make music?”

How many times have you heard that? One of the major causes of the “technology for its own sake syndrome” is simple: smart people are spending so much time reinventing the wheel, duplicating other people’s work, that no one gets to the stage of refinement — only early development.

Sonicforms: future DIY interfaces go open source

That’s why it’s especially good news to see things like the new Sonicforms project from our friend Chris O’Shea. Chris is doing what others have done — solving the technical problems of creating interactive “table” interfaces, on which tangible objects can be used for sound production and composition. But he’s doing something many others don’t: he’s sharing everything he’s learning, and (just as importantly) encouraging others to do the same. Sonicforms will involve:

  • a central repository for learning about building interfaces and sharing experiences

  • tools and strategies for building interfaces, including open source code for free development environments like Pd and Modeling

  • an actual physical installation to which others can submit content

  • Why it matters

    Keep in mind, modern electronic music would never have come to fruition without simple, DIY projects and shared plans. Bob Moog would never have gotten into synthesis design without building Theremins in his basement. (and, incidentally, making money on the built product) In fact, usually private sector and public sector projects feed off one another in technology.

    Chris’ project is, in his words “not finished by a long way”, but we’ll be watching! And, of course, I’ll do whatever I can to help serve as an additional resource here at CDM. Good luck, man! (We’d all better get experimenting, coding, and patching, too!)