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

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

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!

Brendan O’Driscoll from Soundwave

Earlier in the year I went to Music 3.0 a week long seminar on the future of the music industry. The week was a barrage of talks  from interesting people doing interesting things and one of the talks that really struck me was given by Brendan O’Driscoll and Craig Watson. They were speaking about their company Soundwave, which is  creating a way to find out, in real-time, what songs people are listening to. I got in touch with Brendan to find out more.


Brendan O'Driscoll from SoundwaveHow did Soundwave get started?
I started Soundwave with my cousin Aidan Sliney in November of last year. We applied for Launch Pad 4 with a completely different idea in July and got some really good feedback that was very motivating. We sat down and said ʻwe didnʼt get in this time but weʼre going to learn from this, take all the lessons, all the pointers and the comments and apply it to a brand new idea.ʼ So we just started brainstorming ideas. Read more


I watched this documentary a while ago and it was really inspiring/terrifying look at being a creative in the digital age. It’s a really great watch with some interesting interviews with creatives from lots of different industries. Well worth a look!

Music 3.0 – the future of the music industry

A fortnight ago I attended a series of talks called Music 3.0–a project to bring people together to imagine the future of the music industry and then to find ways to make it happen. I came across Music 3.0 on a tweet from a friend asking if anyone had heard about it. Information about the project was interesting but vague. You were coming to figure out the future of the music industry and see what could be done about it but there was nothing more specific than that. I was intrigued. The comparative lack of information only added to my interest in the week and I filled out the comprehensive application for and sent it off. I got a reply a week later. Success! I had been accepted.

The week centered around talks from loads of different speakers from a wide array of backgrounds talking about the three bywords of the week Innovation, Disruption and Technology. The energy for each of the speakers was immense. It was pretty much the hottest week in Ireland this year and we were all inside listening rapturously to these people as they poured out there stories. It was an amasing collection of people doing amasing things, most of them unconnected to the music industry but all embodying innovative disruption ideals. Read more

Pure Data Mini Conference

The second annual Pure Data Mini Conference took place a little over a week ago and I was lucky enough to have been invited back to present again this year. The conference took place over two days with six presentation the first day, a concert that night and two workshops the second day. I was speaking the first day about my ongoing work with Mobile Music, talking about the prototype app that I’ve put together and some of my ideas about composing for smartphone. All the audio programming for the app is created using the libpd library which allows Pd to be run on smartphones, which was my connection to the conference. Read more

What is mobile music? – Mobile Music #5

While writing a post about the difference between mobile music and locative music I realised that I hadn’t defined what I meant by mobile music. I’ve been discussing different examples of what I’ve been calling mobile music but hadn’t been explicit about what this meant. I started thinking about it a bit and realised that I need to give a definition to avoid ambiguity.

Mobile Music is an ambiguous term. Do I mean music to move to or music that is mobile, like a marching band, or music for mobile phones? There are lots of ways the phrase could be interpreted. I did a quick search of mobile music which turned up a the Wikipedia Mobile Music entry. This describes mobile music as music streamed and listened to on mobile devices. This is not what I’ve been writing about, I looked to the top of the page and noticed “This article is about music on mobile devices, for the musical form see aleatoric music.” I clicked the link. Read more