Soundplane – multitouch wooden controller

The Soundplane from Madrona Labs is one of the prettiest electronic controllers I’ve ever seen. It might just be a superficial thing , just looking at the Soundplane it’s beautifully simple and made from one of my favourite materials, wood.

There are a few things missing from electronic instruments which can make them less satisfying than traditional instruments. The first is resonance  Resonance is one of my favourite musical phenomenons  I could get lost in it for days. And, as I have quite a deep voice, sometimes I am even able to excite the resonant frequencies of small rooms. This can make for a strange moment when I veer off mid sentence to sing a note. Read more

Presentation from MusTechFest

Here’s my presentation from the MusTechFest conference which was on in London last April. It was one of the scarier talks I’ve  had to do and I can’t bring myself to watch more than a minute of it least I curl up into a ball of cringe, but here it is.

Daily Rituals – how artists work

Daily RitualsDaily Rituals is a book about the working habits of creative people, from artists and composers to philosophers and scientists. How and when they work, and how they get from a blank sheet to a finished piece. I initially came across it when it was a blog, Daily Routines. As I do creative work I was really interested in how other people create their work and browsed through the blog for a while. It was really interesting, but found it kind of disjointed and difficult to digest. It also hadn’t been updated for a while, so I copied it into my RSS reader to catch anything new posted. A while after that Mason Currey, the author, posted that he was releasing the content of the blog as a book, I jumped at the chance to get it.

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Drumtop v1.0 – physical sampler

Man, I love novel ways to make music, particularly if that music also happens to sound good. A while ago I came across just such a little project, the Drumtop v1.0 by Akito van Troyer. The Drumtop is an instrument with 8 speaker and transducer pairs that allow you to program sounds from anything you can fit on a speaker. It uses the speakers to create sound in an unconventional way, simply by moving up and down to cause whatever is on top to shake.

It’s a really simple idea, but I’m particularly impressed by the way that you interact with the instrument. By pressing down on the speaker the movement is sensed by the transducer underneath. When you press down a number of times to create a pattern it is recorded. The speaker then moves in this pattern causing whatever is on top of it to make a sound. By placing different objects on top of the speakers and sequencing different patterns with them you could create lots of interesting combinations. Read more

MusicTechFest 2013 – My experience

I’m just back from presenting at MusicTechFest. It was my first chance to talk to people outside Ireland about In Your Own Time and  was a pretty daunting and exhilerating experience. But I loved every minute of it. As well as presenting about my work I was also able to take it some of the other talks. Chat to people and immerse myself in the festival. I’m now very taken with MusicTechFest, it’s an excellent event.

In my day to day life I like meeting with entrepreneurs. Talking with them and hearing what motivates them can be a really energising experience. They’re always really interesting people, full of energy, optimism and a ‘Lets do it!’ attitude. But there’s always a difference what we’re ultimately interested in. What you get at MusicTechFest is that same kind of enthusiasm, passion and excitement singularly focused on music. Read more

In Your Own Time at MusicTechFest

I’ve been following Andrew Dubber on Twitter for a while. He’s a pretty prolific social media user with lots of interesting ideas about everything but I’m mostly interested in his writings on the music industry. To cut a long story short I saw that he is heading to MusicTechFest in London this month. I had a look at the website and immediately got super jealous. There’s going to be an amazing lineup at the festival from lots of different aspects of the music technology. I spent a while drooling over the website and playing with their html sequencer, but then had to get on with my life and put it out of my mind. A few days ago though I got an email asking me if I’d like to give a talk about In Your Own TimeI was over the moon!

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copying machine music by Xerophonics

copying machine music is an album of music created from the sounds of photocopying machines. Each track was created from the recorded sounds of different copier machines and wonderfully arranged as electroacoustic music. It is a really interesting concept album, one which is likely to inspire feelings of nostalgia into anyone who as every had to use a photocopier.

Created by Dr. Stefan Helmreich aka Xerophonics, listen to two of the fourteen tracks below.

Arduino: the Documentary

Arduino: The Documentary is a film giving some background on the Arduino boards, which have opened up technology for everyone. The film also looks at  the wider open source hardware movements and talks about the kinds of effects projects like the Arduino is having on the way people learn about and interact with technology. One of the interviewees makes a very good point in the documentary that although there is now more technology than ever before there is also less understanding about how it works. The Arduino is one of the stars in the open source technology movement and it’s been allowing groups like artists and students to get hands one with their technical lives. Thanks to Javier Laguna Inzolia for the heads up about this documentary.

Disclosure: I have no affiliation with this product or service, I just think it’s epic!

The Creative Coding Podcast

I’ve been listening to this podcast for about a year now. I first got into it when I started learning Processing, as they had some great interviews with code artists and digital creatives like Daniel Shiffman, Ben Fry and Golan Levin, who are heavily involved in the Processing community. The two hosts, Seb Lee-Delise and Iain Lobb, are very entertaining and there’s some great chat about being a creative programmer and discussion of the ins-and-outs of freelancing. The interviewees are always really interesting people doing interesting things, normally people at the top of their game in their field and I’ve found myself being exposed to lots of different, interesting projects through the show. It’s probably not for the non-coders, but definitely worth a listen if you’re interested in doing creative things with code. Here’s a show they did with the artist Kyle McDonald about being investigated by the Secret Service for an art work in an Apple store, as a taster.