Sound, Excitement, Time to Do Something

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Sound, Excitement, Time to Do Something

Apr 29, 2007

Chris Jones

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Hi, everyone. I'm Chris, and I'm likely going to be talking about whatever I'm psyched about at the moment. It's going to be all over the map.

Today's topic: music. Specifically, interesting music tools I've seen pop up around the internets in the past few years.

I really enjoy playing with sound environments like Pure Data and sequencers like Renoise. They're excellent for experimentation and for generating interesting sounds and beats. Still, writing music with a computer is sort of a pain in the ass. I wish I could quickly bang my ideas out in real time, but a QWERTY keyboard and a mouse aren't specialized for the task. Real instruments are limiting in their own ways, but at least when your hands go on them, sound comes out.

A few years ago, I saw the first project that really blew my mind when it came to composing music quickly with a computer. It was Audiopad. Using a projector and some pucks, those smart kids at the MIT Media Lab (where all neato things are born, it seems) built a music mixing/composing system (think turntables) based on software, but was extremely tactile. Here's a video of Audiopad in use. Holy moly, right?

Last year, some bright folks in Barcelona showed everyone Reactable. It's essentially Audiopad evolved. If Audiopad's best analog is a set of turntables, Reactable is a synthesizer/sampler instrument. Here are some demos.

Then I began seeing projects like Noah Vawter's Ambient Addition and hearing groups like PLork (Princeton Laptop Orchestra). Here's an interview on WBUR's Here and Now with the leaders of PLOrk. So many cool projects! I can't help but get really excited to do my own thing.

So! You should expect something sound-related from us. I have a couple ideas rattling around in my head, and with the resources I have here, it's time to get cracking. I can't guarantee that it'll make very much sense or be particularly useful, but it'll certainly be interesting.

Oh, and I heartily recommend listening to this show (mp3).

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