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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » 2017 » January » 25

Volnovod is a robot sculpture that uses wire to make sound visually

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Wed 25 Jan 2017 11:00 pm

Muscovite sound artist slash mad scientist vtol (aka Dmitry Morozov) has been at it yet again. This time, inspiration struck when his iPod earbuds tangled. (Good thing he hadn’t upgraded to wireless!) And the result was a new visual interface for music, embodied as kinetic sculpture.

Volnovod, sounding for all the world like a long lost Soviet lunar probe (or, um, sounding like “waveguide” if you happen to speak Russian), is an installation / controller / instrument built on the idea. And it comes from the artist just as he’s fresh off a rich Berlin exhibition full of ingenious inventions.

The basic idea is deceptively simple: two motors twist a bit of wire, and a camera uses the image of that white edge against a black background to determine a control. That could feed, in fact, anything – fundamentally this is just a controller – but molding wave shapes is an obvious and elegant first step.

This iteration works with Pure Data and Max/MSP, and can send control signal via OSC or MIDI.

Here’s Dima on what he’s done – and how it can shift to either performance or installation modes (based on degree of automation):

I’ve came up with the idea of this device during a long flight, when my iPod earbuds (the standard white ones) got caught up yet again. The wires of this manufacturer are covered with special rubber that grants the earbuds a unique feature: they do not fracture or bend; they just intertwine endlessly, which prolongs their lifespan and prevents contact damage. Therefore, in a typical coincidence, my wire intertwined many times and I noticed that it resembled a complex multidimensional wave. The concept of the machine came across my mind at once: a machine that would deliberately intertwine this kind of wire in different ways, then a camera would digitize it and a special algorithm would transform the result in a parametric graph controlling different parameters of sound synthesis.
The device ‘Volnovod’ is a result. I think of this device as a hybrid machine, which combines a kinetic sound sculpture and a unique controller/tool. It bases on the concept of some small phenomenon being adapted, raised and automatized. Thus, a very peculiar for me combination of a tangible wave and depending on it soundwaves worked out.
The device operates in automatic mode, semi-automatic mode or manual mode. Two stepper motors constantly turn and intertwine the wire, moulding different types of waves. Motors operate in accordance with the random numbers-based program and randomly change the direction. Still they rotate within the preset number of steps range to prevent the wire from over-intertwining. The camera shoots a wire in front of a black background, which makes possible to achieve the highest picture contrast. Nine wave pictures are saved. Later they can be updated in automatic mode or refiled manually in semi-automatic mode or manual mode. These nine shots then morph into graphic tables with resolution of 270 x 240 points. The tables are the base to control sound synthesis options. The program can generate parameters in any suitable format: MIDI, OSC, CV. It allows to use it freely as within the system as with external devices. Graphs reading can be written down automatically or manually, with different velocity in many directions. The wave form can also put to use as a harmonic oscillator wave (akin to wavetable synthesis).


– pure data
– max/smp


– stepper motors
– 2 channel sound system
– arduino uno
– lcd monitor
– iPhone / iPod headphones wire



While the basic mechanism is simple, this is also a beautiful reflection of a long tradition in visual music – one that centers in particular around Russia.

I’ve been fortunate to get to discover some of that history, partly thanks to vtol – and now, with Moscow’s Sila Sveta and ZKM in Karlsruhe, in fact, we’re continuing our look at history as part of the finissage of a show on European art, 1945-1968.

You can also look to the tradition of devices like Xenakis’ deeply influential UPIC system, which made similar connections between visual annotation and sound.

But what’s exciting about thinking in this way is, once you begin connecting visual to sound, any visual form can be a generative compositional structure for music – and visa versa. It’s genuinely limitless.


The post Volnovod is a robot sculpture that uses wire to make sound visually appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Ajit Pai Named New FCC Chair, Appoints Temporary Head of Media Bureau and Speaks to Commission Staff

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Wed 25 Jan 2017 6:13 pm

This week, the appointment of Commissioner Ajit Pai as Chairman of the FCC became official.  Since his appointment on Monday, he has released a list of acting bureau chiefs at the FCC (here), including naming Michelle Carey, a long-time FCC employee, as Acting Chief of the Media Bureau upon the departure of Bill Lake who held that position through Chairman Wheeler’s administration.  Chairman Pai also addressed the Commission staff, among other things talking about how much he loves working at the FCC and how important the staff is in accomplishing changes in regulations at the Commission (the speech is available here).

What can broadcasters expect from Chairman Pai?  We’ll be summarizing some of the issues now facing the Commission in the next few days.  But in the past, Commissioner Pai has been a big advocate of AM improvement, even moderating panels at NAB and other conventions to discuss ways to resolve AM issues.  He also has spoken out against restrictive ownership rules (a review of which are likely to be on the agenda shortly, see our articles here and here), and against many of the nitty-gritty regulations that broadcasters face – most recently about the noncommercial ownership reporting rules for Biennial Ownership Reports (see our post here).  So we are likely in for a deregulatory ride – how far and how fast remain to be seen.  Look for our upcoming posts on specific issues that may be on the table for the FCC.

SoundExchange Issues Audit Notices for Many Different Digital Music Services

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Wed 25 Jan 2017 6:12 pm

Each year, we write about SoundExchange issuing notices of their intent to audit various digital music services to review their royalty reporting and payment.  This year is no different, with Federal Register notices recently being issued to audit certain companies in various services, including satellite radio, webcasters, broadcasters who stream, and business establishment services.  We wrote more generally about the music royalty audits here.  Be prepared, as you never know which services SoundExchange will choose to audit, and when they do, they can look at your records for the last three year.

While notices of these audits are public, the results are not.  So all we know is that a number of services will have to deal with SoundExchange’s auditors, who under CRB rules must be Certified Public Accountants.  If the audit does not find any major issues, SoundExchange pays for the auditor’s costs.  If there is a discrepancy where the service has underpaid by 10% or more, the service pays.  So be prepared!

Brian Eno – 10 of the best

Delivered... Jude Rogers | Scene | Wed 25 Jan 2017 11:38 am

From feather-boa twirling Roxy Music art rocker to ambient byword, Eno has had a career full of fantastic music, most of it pioneering

Related: Brian Eno: ‘We’ve been in decline for 40 years – Trump is a chance to rethink'

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The first timers in 2016 – RadioandMusic.com

Delivered... "Indian Electronic Music" - Google News | Scene | Wed 25 Jan 2017 11:11 am


The first timers in 2016
Called Boiler Room X Budweiser's What's Brewing In , the 12-city series made a pit stop in Mumbai for performances from Indian electronic music producers like Sandunes, _RHL, Oceantied, and topped it off with the headlining act of the night – Actress.

and more »

Roland does subscription plug-ins and cloud rendering

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 25 Jan 2017 10:34 am

Perhaps the most unexpected product news this month is Roland’s unveiling of RolandCloud. It’s a subscription service from the hardware maker, the biggest component of which is providing access to a range of software plug-ins.

Roland, while one of biggest names ever in hardware and synthesizers, is still a relative newcomer to software. But their PLUG-OUT line has steadily built up to library of a few instruments. That includes modeled remakes of classic synths (SH-101, PROMARS, SH-2, SYSTEM-100) and one new synth (SYSTEM-1).

Those instruments – and two just-announced new ones – are the first additions to the subscription service. Roland tells CDM that all their software instruments will support 32-bit and 64-bit VST, Apple’s Audio Units, and “a broad range of OS versions and digital audio workstations.”

The instrument range looks nice enough. It appears that if you just want the instruments, you can pay US$19.95/month – the current “beta” subscription rate. A “cloud” subscription is $29.95/mo, and something called “Storm” for $39.95/mo. (Visitors to the NAMM show got a free month.)

But, are they good enough to spend $240 a year (or more) on a Roland subscription rather than spend that money a la carte on other software instruments of your choice? That’s the big question, and might explain Roland’s “soft launch” approach. The beta is paid, and available only to residents of the United States. Roland says they’ll offer up more software and services – and more countries – over time.

If you do live in the USA, and you didn’t get access yet, Roland says you can text the word “RolandCloud” to 33233 – or visit https://www.rolandcloud.com/EarlyAccess


The new instruments may make or break the idea. There’s the ANTHOLOGY 1987 soft synth, which appears to be a recreation of the D-50. And, hey – that sounds like a good idea, as the 1987 digital synth is one of the sources of some of the best-known patches in Roland’s back catalog. (For some absurd reason, Roland dances around referring to the D-50 by name. That’s common when releasing a recreation of someone else’s product and avoiding trademark disputes, but … weird when it’s Roland. But, whatever – 1987 Roland sounds it is.)

The “ANTHOLOGY” series would appear to promise more of the same. That seems to suggest JV series sounds or, say, a 727 drum machine might make future appearances.


And there’s the TERA series, starting with a TERA concert grand, with sampled sounds and convolution reverb.

The subscription plug-in model isn’t specific to Roland, though it seems – whatever Adobe may or may not be doing for graphic artists – musicians aren’t all rushing to adopt this kind of pricing yet.

I think its biggest competition may actually be from Roland itself. Buy a piece of hardware, and there’s a clear sense of lasting value. Part of what makes Roland appealing as a maker is just that. Look at the recent success of the AIRA and Boutique line – people enjoy having physical gear, machines independent from computers, and tangible controls.

But if the subscription model makes sense, Roland is adopting an approach to cloud rendering that is likely to be simply baffling.

There are some clues to this in the product copy for the existing products. For instance, the TERA promises “ultra-deep sampling,” whatever that is, but also spec’s its samples as 48kHz stereo VBR (variable bit rate) .OGG files. That’s a lossy format, and not what you’d normally use for a piano.

Roland also is unveiling something called RAINLINK. I went through some massively circular conversations about what this is. As near as I can figure, Roland’s idea is to send high-resolution performance data in its own format for cloud rendering. Then, a server can spit out a higher-quality version of a performance than your local computer’s storage and computation could handle itself.

In other words, “RolandCloud” is meant partly as a way of linking local plug-ins to cloud services. And it seems they’ll charge extra for the privilege.

Buzzword-compliant as that may be, of course, it raises a question of who this is for. If you have run out of processing power locally, it probably wasn’t running something like a piano. Even devices like $200 ChromeBooks now have pretty decent CPU horsepower – and Roland is supporting plug-in formats like VST and AU, not Web instruments or mobile apps.

I’m going to walk away from this one, at least having (mostly, I think) parsed what Roland was trying to say.

It’s interesting to watch Roland try ideas like PLUG-OUT and RolandCloud. But meanwhile, I think it’s their hardware that really has us hooked.

The post Roland does subscription plug-ins and cloud rendering appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

McCartney, techno and the Spanish civil war – what keeps UK music venues alive?

Delivered... David Hillier | Scene | Wed 25 Jan 2017 8:00 am

All this week, clubs and stages are hosting special gigs for Independent venue week. Here, the people who run some of the best small venues in Britain describe what keeps them special

The supposed demise of grassroots music venues is nothing new; in recent years, some of the best British venues have been at the behest of a developer’s boot or councillor’s thumb. Whether it’s the Cockpit in Leeds, the Kazimier in Liverpool or Madame JoJo’s in London, these beloved places have been mourned by all those who attended shows there.

Fortunately, despite the doom that inevitably follows each closure, there’s still a thriving independent scene where the stars of tomorrow learn their trade; whether it’s in front a packed student crowd , or one man and his tinnitus-ridden dog. And, of course, it’s not just about the music. Each of these venues is a creative incubator and part of that great money spinner we call the British night-time economy; generator of £66bn a year in revenue and employer of 8% of the population.

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Memorizing the Tristan Chord

Delivered... Samson Young | Scene | Wed 25 Jan 2017 7:00 am

«月底食曬副薪家 / End of a month I ate all of my salary»: The opening video of the money section within our Seismographic Sounds exhibition shows Alex Yiu singing these Cantonese words over the pitch contour that leads up to and immediately follows the famous Tristan chord from the opening of Richard Wagner's opera Tristan and Isolde. It is part of the art project Memorizing the Tristan Chord (Institute of Fictional Ethnomusicology) by Hong Kong-based artist and composer Samson Young. The project was set to commemorate the 200th birthday of Richard Wagner in 2013. Read a background article on the project here.

Fig. 1: Specimen 002, Alex Yiu.

A Constant Source of Anxiety for College Students

The Tristan chord from the opening of Tristan und Isolde is possibly one of the best known moments in the history of opera (fig. 2). I remember, fondly, how a mere few notes were thoroughly discussed, dissected, and mystified in music history seminars. Volumes have been written about the chord’s unusual harmonic features, and its significance in the trajectory of western classical music; but the sensual and poetic aspects of the composer’s bold gesture – the sonic materiality of the Tristan chord as heard – continue to elude descriptions.

Fig. 2: The tristan chord.

The chord is also a constant source of anxiety for college music students. It frequently appears in undergraduate music analysis examinations. As any conscientious student from Hong Kong would tell you, one way to internalize an aural phenomenon is to make up a Cantonese phrase that replicates the pitch contour of the aural phenomenon in question. This method is effective for a range of academic pursuits, from foreign language pronunciation and musical passage memorization, to mathematical equation recitation.

Fig. 3: A page from the English vocabularies section of the Tung Shing.

Speaking English Through Nonsensical Phrases

Cantonese is a perfect vehicle for such an endeavor. It contains a total of nine tonal inflections, providing the possibility of nuanced mapping between the invented phrase and the object to be memorized (see a wiki article on Cantonese phonology here; incidentally, speakers of tone languages such as Cantonese are more likely to possess perfect pitch). The Tung Shing (literally the «all-knowing-book») is an ancient divination guide and almanac that is widely read in the Canton area of southern China. The Hong Kong version of the Tung Shing typically includes a section on English vocabularies (fig. 3). Here, the pronunciations of English words are indicated in the form of random combinations of Cantonese characters, which are entirely detached from the meanings of the words that they refer to. For instance «hotel» is «hou de» (literally «good & dad»), and «ballroom» is «bo lam» (literally «wave & forest», or a «forest of balls».) This is how my grandmother, and many other from the working class of her generation, learned to «converse» in broken English without necessarily understanding the semantic meaning of the words they speak. Signs dissolve into sonic objects, pure forms, mere utterances. Over time, some of these nonsensical phrases would take on the meaning of the English word that they point to through wide-spread usage, and eventually replace the original Chinese characters that signify the thing in question.

Memorizing the Tristan Chord (Institute of Fictional Ethnomusicology) was commissioned by the Goethe Institut in Hong Kong to commemorate the 200th birthday of Richard Wagner. The project started in the fall of 2012 and concluded in April 2013. Through an open call, I recruited Cantonese speakers from Hong Kong to invent Cantonese phrases that would map perfectly onto the pitch contour that leads up to and immediately follows the Tristan chord (the majority of partipants were able to accomplish this, but some were, for the lack of a better word, tone-deaf). Participants came from all walks of life: from avid opera lovers, to music novices. Participants were asked to sing the Cantonese phrase several times with the piano. I also asked them to describe the chord to me by focusing on the musical and sonic features alone. All interviews were conducted at the McAulay Studio of the Hong Kong Arts Centre (fig. 4). The process was documented on video.

Fig. 4: Interviewing one of the participants.

Ohrwurm: 30624700

Participants were asked to sing their invented Cantonese phrase several times in front of the camera. Prior to this, each would have spent around 10 minutes repeating the phrase silently to themselves, to ensure that the characters’ intonations follow the pitch contour of the passage. I imagine that what I’d accomplished, through this process, was the infliction of ear worms onto the participants, a forceful marriage of music and nonsensical and/or previously related words. Those who participated in the project will never hear Tristan und Isolde the same way again. One of the participants (Patrick Lo) reacted very strongly to this. He simply refused to go through with the process. He considered the Tristan chord and the operatic experience that it represents to be sacred. To him, marrying the passage with unrelated words would be an unimaginable act of corruption.

Fig. 5: George Lam’s «A Life of Numbers».

Musical «corruption» in the form of ear worm-planting is difficult to undo. There is a distinguished tradition of Canto-pop covers of classical music, and one of the best known and most interesting examples was George Lam’s «A Life of Numbers» (fig. 5), which was in turn an adaptation of The Toy’s 1965 epic «A Lover’s Concerto». The lyrics from «A Life of Numbers» are consisted almost entirely of random strings of numbers. Canto-pop covers of classical tunes, which erupted into the popular lexicon in the 1980s, was my initial point of entry into the world of classical music. To this date, I am still unable to hear the theme from Bach’s «Minuet in G major» without silently counting «3-0624700» in my head.

The Politics and Poetics of Dissonance

The texts that the participants came up with fall loosely into four categories: (1) auto-biographical statements, (2) haiku-like poetic expressions, (3) responses to the scenario of the interview itself, (4) lists of things. Phrases from categories 1 and 3 were often surprisingly personal and borderline Freudian. Participants brought their preoccupations into the process. Singing sessions turn into confessions of repressed desires. Participant Albert Poon was clearly responding to the political climate au currant in Hong Kong:

No more arguments
– Albert Poon

Several prominent Hong Kong political figures were referred to, including the last governor of colonial Hong Kong Chris Pattern, and the recently-deceased democratic fraction spiritual leader Szeto Wah:

Fat Pang (Chris Pattern)
Go Downstairs
Oh it’s raining
– Kenneth Kam

Uncle Wah (Szeto Wah)
Honeydew melon
How are you
– Corvus Kwok

Singing is an activity that is severely repressed. We silent our «libidinous pulse of singing». Karaoke is a sanctioned and socially acceptable form of release, a means of «restoring the musical power of the voice that has been lost» (Hosokawa & Mitsul 1998, 18). I conducted all the interviews in a small theatre that is two stories below ground. I had the feeling that I was hosting secret penance services in an underground karaoke. The open call specified that no musical training is expected of the participants, still many felt the need to confess, at length, their lack of musical knowledge. Some were embarrassed about the fact that they knew nothing of Richard Wagner or Tristan und Isolde. I sat behind the camera and listened. I make no eye contact with the participants once the video shooting had begun. The lens and the microphone served as buffers between me and the songs, as screens in a temporary confessional.

A number of participants composed deeply religious texts. Wing Sze Ng’s (fig. 8) chosen texts are not explicitly religious, but they are reminiscent of the sort of language that is often used in Cantonese versions of hymns:

My only wish
In the heart
Singing silently
– Wing Sze Ng

Castle Cheng’s interview left a strong impression. «Abandon-The flesh-For eternal life», he uttered, with a severe and understated expression. I could not have composed a more appropriate poetic exposition for Tristan und Isolde. Participant Paco Chung’s Cantonese phrase reads like a haiku: «Strange-Dream-Do not acquaint»; local curator of contemporary art Jeff Leung sung, with humour and a sense of great urgency, «Approaching-Approaching-Wife is approaching!» And finally, let’s close with Alex Yiu, the Seismographic Sounds contribution:

Alex Yiu is a young composer and a friend. He was one of the first participants I’d interviewed for the project. His lyrics for the Tristan chord passage literally translates to «I ate all of my salary at the end of a month». In Cantonese, instead of saying «spending» one’s earning, we say «eating through» one’s savings or earnings, which to me is very interesting as this feels like a relic of a less prosperous time when putting food to mouth was one’s primarily concern. And food was, in fact, the most popular topics of musing in this project – followed by politics and religion.

End of a month
I ate
All of my salary
– Alex Yiu

This essay has first been published on the project’s page. See all videos here.

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