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The world of PMCs – Linnstrument

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Wired introduces the world of PMCs (polyphonic multi-dimensional controllers) as ‘revolutionary’ MIDI machines that

can sense finger movement in three dimensions simultaneously—in addition to controlling volume, a musician can also change a note’s pitch and timbre in real time.

The article details the Linnstrument; others cited include the Roli Seaboard, the Haken Continuum, the Eigenharp and Madrona Soundplane.

Fifty years from now, the 1970s to 2015 will be regarded as a strange period in history when people played musical sounds with secretarial input devices: on-off buttons, switches, sliders, and knobs. Controlling numbers by pressing keys. That’s a horrible interface. – Roger Linn

Over at Youtube you can check out what Roger had to say at NAMM 2015, and this well-played Linnstrument using a classic guitar patch.

Raspberry Pi 2 now available

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4 32-bit ARMv7 Cortex-A7 cores … 3 to 6 times faster! And 1G of RAM.
That’s about all that needs to be said … except that, yep, still $35.

Oh yeah … one more thing: “Raspberry Pi 2 runs the full range of GNU/Linux distros including Canonical’s Snappy Ubuntu Core – the new spin of this popular Linux distro that has been deliberately shrunk by Canonical to work in SoC in IoT.”

Now what reason don’t you have to go forth and Csound???

Axoloti, a digital audio platform for makers

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Recently seen at the CCC conference in Hamburg is Johannes Taelman’s OPEN Axoloti project (link to 30-minute CCC video.) (Synthtopia link)

It’s built around the Axoloti Core (DSP and microcontroller) hardware. The Core is configured using Axoloti Patcher, a modular audio environment written in Java and works on Windows, OSX and Linux. Similar to Pure Data and MAX, Patcher output runs on the standalone Core’s micro. The CORE also handles MIDI I/O.

Taelman’s IndieGogo campaign has already reached its goal two weeks early, so it’s on!

Axoloti website, (with links to already-completed projects), Github site, YTube playlist

The “electronic guitar” question

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The other day I was thinking about the difference between “electric” and “electronic” instruments (would Spock play analog?) and began wondering about what’s happened in guitar world. I ad-hoc decided that an “electronic guitar” would not use magnetic pickup magic, but would actually sense and analyze string motion and send that digital information to the (nominally 6) built-in oscillators.

Having decided that, I asked around and learned about the existence of a chintzy but fun Casio MIDI controller, model DG-20 made in the mid-80s. Then I turned to the web. I soon came across Troubador Tech’s MIDI guitar roster which led to his (?) Casio MIDI guitar page. It does not include the DG-20, which was a bit of a toy (manual here), but does point to the top-of-the-line 1987 model PG-380 (which cost $1500 1987 dollars). Five years after the first MIDI synth.

Casio PG-380 (1987)

The PG and (cheaper) MG-series derive the pitch information from a magnetic hex pickup next to the bridge. Both put out MIDI pitch, velocity and program change data…. More to the point, The PG- electronics include a built-in, monotimbral, playback-only synthesizer using VZ technology, with 64 preset sounds in internal ROM and take a RAM card.

Doesn’t quite fit my definition of “electronic guitar” but may come as close as anything has. (No? Comment!) I mean: is it really ‘guitar’ without the overtones of slide, bends, the pluck-attack?  Maybe Germans could succeed at digitizing string motion, since US geeks are preoccupied with OpenSSL (and Italian and English CPU boards) and Japan seems stuck in cleanup mode.

I’ll keep ruminating on the question and post the results here.
Does the SynthAxe count? There are only 100 in the world.


Grant Muller was asked to repair a 380, his description of the innards includes some pictures.

Wikipedia: Guitar synthesizer.

VID: Make Noise modules demo

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Getting behind on where modular’s going? Tony Rolando at his Asheville, NC synth module workshop demos his handicraft.

CDM has more on Make Noise – and also on the always-startling question of Richard Devine‘s up to.
Make Noise at Sonic State
Make Noise website

Raspberry Pi Review & Setup Guide

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There’s been a lot of attention around the $35 Raspberry Pi computer board. This is the first how-to review I’ve seen. When I find more, I’ll add it below.

Raspberry Pi Review & Initial How-To Setup Guide – TechSpot Reviews.

Update Aug. 1 2012: Android 4.0 is being ported to the Pi.
Update Aug. 3 2012: Adafruit has released a Linux distro for the Pi.

Our distro is based on “Wheezy” but comes with hardware SPI, I2C, one wire, and WiFi support for our wifi adapters. It also has some things to make overall hacking easier such sshd on startup (with key generation on first boot) and Bonjour….

Update Sep. 4, 2012: Yes, es muss sein: the Raspberry Pi Synthesizer Blog (hardware buffs check out The Minterface) … PLUS … Create Digital Music’s article
Raspberry Pi, Your Next $25 Computer Synth? First Hacks Appearing has a lot more links to explore, AND a Pi Synth video!!

Update Nov. 6, 2012: RISC OS has been ported to the RPi. While old (1987) it’s far simpler and smaller (the cooperative multitasking core system fits inside 6MB) and has been updated by volunteers. It’s written for the BBC Micro, so there are tons of programs available (including BASIC). Download free ZIP here… or it can be bought pre-loaded on an SD card. (Related RPi forum post)

Update Mar. 1, 2013: 10 Raspberry Pi creations that show how amazing the tiny PC can be.
The Raspberry Pi: One year since launch, one million sold.
A dozen things to do with a Raspberry Pi.
HTG Guide to getting started with RasPi.

Update Mar. 18, 2013: Slashdot RasPi review and comments. Comments includes optional sources, difficulties, and much more.

Update Apr. 2, 2013: Here’s an example of an automated MIDI and light controller project: RasPi sends MIDI data to the TiMidity file  sequencer and to GPIO-controlled Xmas lights: Raspberry Pi Lights: how to sync Christmas lights to midi audio.
Too complex? Here’s video of a setup that plays MIDI without an operating system. Yes: that means this RPi is generating the sound as well. Author-shared software.
Here’s Silicon Stuff‘s simple hardware/settings needed to get MIDI into and out of the RPi’s UART. SS also points us to a ttymidi program that “allows external serial devices to interface with ALSA MIDI applications.” Oops! no excuses now!

Update Apr. 8, 2013: Computer Vision blog has added a bunch of posts about  using Linux to configure the Raspi lately. E.g. moving user Home directory off SD to a hard drive.

Update May 21, 2013: A $35 RasPi media center.

(Original posted- May 6 2012)

VID: 24 light-sensitive resistors => Arduino => any software

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This is an interface that has 24 light sensitive resistors. It is built with Arduino and 3 multiplexers. In these examples it sends data to Max/MSP and controls sound, but can send data to any software (Processing, Reaktor, SuperCollider, Junxion etc) that talks to Arduino. So this is like having 24 light dependent faders, you can do whatever you like with the data. These are just two simple examples, but I’m going to make more patches in Max, possibilities are endless.

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