Tag Archives: music


Created by Batuhan Bozkurt, Otomata is a cellular automata music sequencer.
The sequencer consists of a two dimensional grid. Each row and column correspond to a musical note, with the first row and first column representing the same note, the and so forth. By clicking on cell, the user places a cursor at that location which travels in one of the four directions. When the cursor hits the end of the row or column, the associated musical note plays, and the cursor reverses direction. Cursors can also change direction if they collide with each other.

I made two songs Otomata. The above pictured song is boring but symmetric. I like a later song I made more because it features a reoccurring motif while the cellular automata “improvises” over the top.

Otomata reminds me two other projects. The grid of moving squares reminds me of a Monome. I love the abstractness of the Monome interface, but I have no way to really justify purchasing one of these, but they look awesome.

The other thing Otomata recalls is Stephan Wolfram’s A New Kind of Music. (This “new kind of music” is apparently crappy 1980s MIDI, but I digress.) As you might have guessed, Stevie set his cellular automata rules up trigger MIDI events, giving equally predictable atrocious results.

Sony’s PS-F9 (1983)

Sony announced the discontinuation of the Walkman. Like Christopher Hickey of Salon, I was surprised that they were still making them. Of course the world is not developed economies, so there is/was a market for them.

Throughout Hickey’s article, he linked to Walkman Central to highlight different models. It’s a site cultivated with the love and obsession that makes the Internet proud. Poking around I came a cross the PS-F9, portable phonograph. Ultimately impractical, it was only made in 1983. It featured next and previous song controls, and of course the exposed record and vertical orientation.

I’d love to have one of these, and put it next to a Teac X-2000R, but the only vinyl records I own are a possibly scratched “Ghostbusters” soundtrack and a sealed copy of R.E.M.’s “Monster”. Borrowing albums from my parents isn’t really an option, because with the notable exceptions of James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James,”, and “The Johnny Cash Show“, I’d be left with Englebert Humperdinck, the symphonic Beatles, and a “Teach Yourself Polish” album sans workbook. Well that’s not entirely true, there is “Tom Jones Sings She’s a Lady”, but it is quite a sad collection.

Blind Date Swingers Club

Blind Date Swingers Club is a rotating club event in Berlin, that sounds very cool, and very reproducible. Everyone brings a mix tape (well, CD) of music, along with a note and contact information inside the jewel case. The music is left with the DJ. At the end of the night, everyone takes a CD that someone else made.

I love how this is a really simple idea that encourages the discovery of new people and new music. I’d love for a Bay Area version of this.


Just a reminder, Maker Faire is this weekend at the San Mateo Fairgrounds. 10 am to 8 pm, Saturday. 10 am to 6 pm Sunday. $20 adult, $10 student (with valid id), $5 kids.

Schedule is packed. I’d recommend Trisian Shone, and the Raygun Gothic Spaceship, which just looks amazing.

I doubt I’m going to make it this year. Instead, I’ll be attending the SF Fine Art Fair.

Author and Punisher

Tristan Shone is a one man doom metal band performing under the name “Author and Punisher.” His twist? He makes his own instruments. Things like throttles that control bass frequencies and sliders that control drums. He calls them “drone and dub machines.”

After the jump is an interview with Tristan, complete with performances, from Ground Control Magazine. Make talked about him last year as well.

Musically, it’s odd. There’s no getting around that. That’s not to say that it’s bad. I listen to some odd stuff. Personally, I find it kind of calming. It’s music to listen to in the dark late at night, and just wash over you. It’s not for everyone though.

If you’d like to see a performance, he’s performing at Makerfaire this year.

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Golden Shield Music

The Great Firewall of China (officially known as “Golden Shield“) is lovely creation that tries to maintain a “harmonious” Internet experience. When I was in Beijing, I I noticed that it used a combination of DNS filtering (tibet.net, the official website of the Tibetan Government In Exile, does not resolve), and packet filtering on keywords. (“The connection has been reset.”). Tor got around it easily, but that may or may not be the case today. Like every other attempt to stamp out “undesirable” content, the ways to avoid detection were well known. How often they’re actually employed, is another question.

So what use is the Great Firewall beyond being an somewhat effective tool of oppression? Marco Donnarumma has the answer. He uses it to make music. The IP addresses of the twelve “most screened” websites, are fed into a MIDI synthesizer. A single note is transformed by four voices based on the four bytes of the IP address. The notes are ordered by the number of pages blocked on each site.

Via Unknown 8bit.

This One is On Us

First there were bootleg concert recordings, now there are bootleg concert videos. This One is on Us is a fan project to crowdsourced concert films from the last Nine Inch Nails tour. I never would have thought this was possible, but with the advent of small highdef video recorders, it was inevitable. I downloaded “The Gift,” and it’s good. It’s as good as any other concert video I’ve seen.

And it’s NIN. Yay.

Trailer after the jump.
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Yuri’s Night 2010

Tickets are on sale for this year’s Yuri’s Night. April 9 (“Multiverse Education Day”) and 10 (Festival Day; noon to midnight) at NASA Ames / Moffett Field’s Hangar 211. (Alas, not Hanger One.)

Yuri’s Night uses Yuri Gagarin’s first (and only) flight into space, as an excuse to listen to music and look at art. Read WiRED’s 2007 coverage for a flavor. Beyond the music (headliners are: The Black Keys, Common, Les Claypool, and N.E.R.D.), the Flaming Lotus Girls will be there with the sculpture The Serpent Mother, and Alan Rorie will be displaying the Raygun Gothic Rocketship.

Amen Brother

If you’re like me, you probably never heard of the “Amen Break,” but you have heard it. It’s inescapable, as this documentary points out. While the origins and the spread of the “Amen Break” is interesting, what really sets this apart, is the turn it takes around the 13 minute mark. The narrator, Nate Harrison, examines the legal situation surrounding the “Amen Break,” since it has become quite a lucrative six seconds of audio.

The other thing struck me about this video was the simple visual of the turning record. Watching it evokes thoughts of The Replacements’ “Bastards of Young” video.

Football Hero

Make highlights Phil Clandillon and Steve Milbourne of Sony Music UK, latest project Football Hero. (Behind the scenes video after the jump.) Football Hero is a a copy of the open source clone of Guitar Hero, Frets on Fire, and series of pressure sensors. Soccer players kick balls against the sensors in time with the music.

Yeah, it’s a viral video to promote Kasabian’s new single, but this is pretty cool.

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