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Archive for November 2011

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Printing in three dimensions

ahhhhh...that's better.  starting to chill a little.  The campaign was extended for  a few more days on account of the increase in media attention towards the end, but my personal spam campaign is over.  it was a lot of work to get all that info in there, but its there, and there are 3 more days for it to marinate.  all in all, i am very happy with the progress and looking forward to where it goes from here.


One great thing that has come from the campaign so far is the acquisition (ordered though not shipped yet) of a 3d printer called a reprap.  just in case you don't know what 3d printing is, its a manufacturing process by which 3d computer aided designs (CAD) are printed using a machine that prints those designs in a process similar to inkjet printing where instead of ink, it lays down extruded melted plastic.  where it differs is that as  well as an "x" and a "y" axis, there is also a "z" axis, up and down, so the plastic is built up in layers until the piece is realized. you can create some amazingly intricate structures with this technique.  even creating a classic whistle, WITH  the little ball printed in side it!

3d printers have been around for decades, but they were very expensive to acquire or make use of.  but in the last few year, there has been a movement to create cheap easy 3d printing for the masses.  this is where Adrian Bowyers comes in.  An engineer and educator at the University of Bath, his goal with his  reprap concept and subsequent invention was to emulate a bio-memetic process whereby the printer itself is able to reproduce 50+% of itself which allows a reprap owner to print one for a friend, because, make no mistake, when your friends see it, they will want one.  and to do this at a price point that would make people actually want to.


I can see this thing being everywhere in the next 12-18 months.   At the MAKER Faire in NYC in September, there were reprap variations EVERYWHERE!! Dozens of them!  this is a technology whose time has come.  It is even being debated, "mp3-threat-circa-1999" stylee by the US congress (for whatever that means these days).  


I was lucky that a friend pointed me to their indiegogo crowdfunding campaign  http://www.indiegogo.com/RepRapPro-Huxley-3D-Printer-Kits?a=63894&i=addr which has about 2 1/2 days left in it.  seeing as it is Adrian Bowyers own campaign, that this is MUCH cheaper and more complete than any reprap kits i have seen thus far, even including a roll of plastic filament to start with, AND they ship before christmas, I could not pass it up.  its just too good!


what does this mean to the project?! hahahaha, this is going to result in the most surreal design trajectories you can imagine. first off, prototypes from now on will be of a commercial quality.  solid, light and defined.  unfortunately, this is probably going to impede my evolutionary trajectory of using clay and cardboard, but sacrifices have to be made for progress;-)   The things i make at home will be as good or better than anything i would seek to have produced in china or some other manufacturing center.  in the short term, this means that the parts on the controller, such as joystick heads, backplate, key ridges, internal shock mounting and palm adjustment, will be of a VERY high quality and very durable.  this is as exciting to me as pure data; one process creates something that lives in the computer and a similar process produces integrated real world counterparts.  the mind boggles at the possiblities! in the long term, I would like to look at possibly adapting this technology to producing a wide array of things using a wide array of input materials.  I have no shortage of potential uses for this tech.

Ok, I gotta get back to the sound design work.  l8r.

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3 day Extension!

the plot thickens.  this morning, the project got picked up by www.Createdigitalmusic.com and traffic went up and people were talking about it, so indiegogo granted the campaign a 3 day extension so it goes thru the weekend!  this is very good news, as CDM is very respected.  maybe this will take it over the edge. fingers crossed.

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The Futures of the Beatjazz System Project: fund now! today is the last day!

There are a few hours left to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign to build the most amazing live music performance system ever. we've gotten about 30% of the way there and I know lots of things can happen in 19 hours! I'm sure that we can push it closer to the goal in that time.

In the last 70 days, so many people have contributed their time and energy and patronage to helping make this concept a reality! in this time a new form of synthesis contol, gestural synthesis, was born! variations on the concept have seen the emergence of the beatBOX controller concept that would allow vocalists and beatboxers to benefit from gestural control of their voices. interest from therapists who see the potential for this interface to allow physically disabled people to create music. the creation and refinement of a "terminator-vision" like system for musical data visualization. it has been a wild rollercoaster ride of momentum.

At the current amount, as i stated from the beginning, i factored the costs of fullfilling the perks into their requested amount so I would, if no other contributions came in, be able to create everyone’s perks (thank you so much for believing in the concept), but beyond purchasing the 3d printer, there will be very little left to create the beatjazz system. for instance, the optics for the helmet (shown here) cost $1500 by themselves, BEFORE, i start buying all of the parts to connect them to the inbuilt computer, and thats just the helmet. the other items such as the performance clothing, the busking pod, the video tutorial series, the throat mic system...will be realized, just not in the time frame i set aside for this project (december to march)

What will happen? all contributors will get DOPE perks!! the controllers will blow your minds! those that get one will find that they will easily be able to control their favorite software, such as reaktor, ableton and/or FL Studio-all of which i have used with the system- as well as having my custom gestural synthesis suite, designed and built in Pure data so you can tweak and change the system to suit your needs, artistically. and everyone will be trying to cop the t-shirt from those that went for beatjazz supporter perk. the controllers will be updated and i will begin to work with plastics using the reprap 3d printer i plan to purchase. 3d printing will allow some creative autonomy. Hopefully I can acquire a faster used computer so that i can give the loaner computer back to my friend. I will continue to work on the system and refine the software for gestural synthesis so that it may grow. i will use the second monitor that a friend gave me, as a stand in for the projector and heads up display. I have commited myself to making this system a reality so I will continue to seek a means of making it happen.

 

BUT, With full funding, I will begin by acquiring the tools neccessary to fullfill the perks before i begin on the main heart of the project, and set about the task of creating the controllers for the contributors and compiling art work and notes for the beatjazz pack and the beatjazz supporter pack. once everyone has their perks and are happy with them, I will begin the video tutorial concept by asking these first "beatjazzers what they want to know, and creating a video series for these requests. also at this time, I will be deep into working on the helmet system whose computer and optics systems ($2500 just for those two parts, not including shipping)will allow me to superimpose performance data on what i see. once this works, somewhat, i will enlist Loganic to help with creating clothing concepts that will be turned into a new type of athletic stage wear. also around this time, i will start assembling the busking "Pod". in this future, I would have 2-3 months of body training by this point, to alllow for ever more expressive gestural narration and I would be preparing a "workshop" version of the system as an introduction to beatjazz, for kids and adults. with full funding, the project will range from beatbox vocal gestural interfacing and control, prosthetic musical interfaces for disabled musicians and a dozen other potential trajectories!

I dont know what else I can say. I've laid it all out. This is the beatjazz system crowdfunding campaign. Help me create the most amazing live music performance system ever. And thank you for allowing me to spam you for 2 1/2 months.

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Beatjazz and busking: 1 day left to contribute!!

Tomorrow is the last day of the campaign to build the most amazing live music performance system ever.  I Hope I have communicated the many facets of this system to you over the last 69 days.  the journey, for me at least, has been one of....let's call it intensity.  from designing and implementing the gestural synthesis design concepts to finally creating a final mold design for the beatjazz controllers, much has been done creating even more to do.  I still hope to be able to achieve the stated goal of $25,000 to create this system to its best imagined implementation ($25,000 isnt that much to create a new artform).  you are what will make it happen.  head over and be part of the quest.


this type of journey isnt new to me.  the "place" is new; the internet, but the journey and techniques are not.  in the real world, we call it busking, sometimes referred to as street performing.  this is where an artist will present their art to the public and either solicit donations or offer some artistic artifact for sale.  I have been a "busker" for over 20 years.  why?  invaluable practice, networking, relaxation being social and making an ok living when neccessary.  But also the  fact that people and markets and scenes are fickle. most times, in my observations, even when artists acquire some sliver of fame, the market cycles them out of the public conciousness at which point, the re-adaptation can lead to them leaving music altogether.  buskers dont deal with this cycle so you can focus on refining your thing, for its own cycle.


another reason is that when doing a multidisciplinary evolving artform such as beatjazz, rehearsal is not sufficient for creating something that will be presented in performance.  the only way to evolve from performance to performance is to have a place to play for people, but with no expectation from them on what you play.  with busking most of the time you can stop, edits sounds, play around with ideas in a way that is a mix between performance and practice so that when shows where people are expecting something, you can concetrate on that without having to stress too much because you've had all these semi-paid sessions (if you are good, lucky, or ideally, both)  to play around with ideas.


img015 so when i imagined the beatjazz system, i also imagined how i would busk with it.  how could i busk with surround sound and projected visuals?  i got a lot of inspiration from the princeton laptop orchestra speaker design with a small high quality speaker on each of 4 sides with a downward facing subwoofer for bass.  at the top on a camera telescope, there will be a tiny laser projector to projects visuals on to the ground or a nearby wall.  this will be fed from a small linux based tiny pc.  the projector will serve as its monitor and it will also house the system synths so the entire system is enclosed inside it. 


It will serve the dual purpose of being a system to busk on the street with while also providing sound reinforcement for small venues and even surround sound monitoring onstage.  in that way, beatjazz will be able to exist in multiple musical modalities.  from streets to club, to concert stage.  this aspect of the system is the reason that i have not widely released my book, "the 21st century musicians guide to busking"; i want this system to reimagine busking as a gateway to the artists digital world.  so that when you go to a new town, you would, hypothetically, find a pitch(performance location) and play for a bit to pull people who resonate  toward your art and your digital self which includes social networks, mailing lists, etc, that would not otherwise know you exist.  there, those people can be introduced to your whole "thing" and potentially become part of your network.  but I'll save it for the book.  suffice it to say that this busking "pod" is a significant aspect of what beatjazz is and where it is going.


I am going to eat some turkey and then tomorrow i will write summary thingy for the campaign.  as always, go by the campaign page and check it out and share it and all that.  I feel positive that full funding is possible and with that many other things are also possible.  later.  happy holidays.

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Local vocalists step up to the plate and rinse the BeatBOX controller!!

Well the countdown clock on my campaign page is now measuring time in hours rather than days, with last check being at 56 hours. I probably wont sleep much til its over. There is so much to do! its inching towards the goal but its not there yet. to create this system will require every penny of the goal of this campaign and i really hope that you can see that i am serious about that goal. to create this system will take patronage from people like you. please take a moment to check out the perks on offer over at www.indiegogo.com/beatjazzsystem

I wanted to give one more example of the diversity potential of the system by enlisting a couple of local vocalists who kindly agreed to come by my flat and sing on the system. Nico Sommer, Berlin-based guitarist with the rock group Jordi Kuragari, contacted me after i posted on Facebook for vocalist guinea pigs to come with the singer-stylee. I was also honored to have one Karla Stereochemistry to answer the call and be willing to have herself filmed with the alien instrumentation. Their patience was worthy of award because when they showed up to the crib, i was deep into a trouble shooting session of trying to figure out why pure data would not load. 2 1/2 hours!!! ONLY to discover after Karla had had to leave that i, in my all knowing wisdom, had decided it useful to set my firewall to block everything...lovely, if not a bit embarrassing, but at least the system eventually worked and Nico and i were able to get a vibe going.

Afterward, I decided to check and see if Karla was still cool with trying the system out and thankfully she was! In fact, it worked out better because i stopped by her flat and got a chance to check out some of her artistic endeavors in addition to her vibing with the controller. fun (and great pumpkin soup!) was had by all. Thank you!

With both of thes artists i got a chance to see how well this type of interface could be utilized by singers who want to control their own effects and levels in a form factor that is only as attention grabbing as you would like it to be. Nico and Karla seemed to grasp the basics of the system quickly but i now see that a decent user manual and tutorial videos will be of prime importance (another thing to be funded by this campaign). Again, thank you to Nico and Karla!!

If you are in Kreuzberg next Wednesday (Nov 30), Jordi Kuragari will be rocking out at Junction bar (Gneisenaustrasse 18) from 9pm. I'll definitely be there not least of which because its a 5 minute walk from my flat!

And if you dig artists who create ART...not just music, but ART, check out Karla and some of her many layered projects. a very interesting woman with a very interesting take on life. and the "Archive box" project really has to be investigated to grasp the levels of interaction woven into it.

All right... Ive got 2 more blog posts to write for this campaign. one about the importance of the busking system and one wrap up that will put it all into perspective (if its not already). I hope that somehow i am enticing you to help fund this project. if you can't support with money, please send this link personally to any/all persons, or organizations that you think would be interested in funding such a project, BY Friday! Thank you, in advance.

Ok, back to work...

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Interview with the Illustrator. Artist/DJ, Loganic.

Last night, I dropped by the studio of one Christopher Logan, A.K.A. Loganic, to acquire my fix of his awesome talents.  in addition to being a gifted visual artist, whose work is growing in scope and exposure, he is also a very popular DJ whose selections constantly have people trainspotting his records.  where the two converge is an oscillation between DJ sets with a painters aesthetic for layering and abstraction and paintings with the motions, intensity and space of a great piece of music.  for one artist to be a master of both is awe inspiring to behold, not to mention being able to know him!  Loganic is a deep cat.

 

Here he explains his process for the design and we get to witness a bit of his process.  I can tell you, to watch this being birthed on paper through successive layers of pencil, marker and white out (!?!) was amazing.

 

This will be included in the beatjazz supporter pack which will also include

  • A Beatjazz mix CD-you can select any tracks from any of my posted collections at music.onyx-ashanti.com and I will create a custom DJ mix just for you and give you a shout out in the mix as well!
  • a 3d printed beatjazz keychain that i will print from my own secret lab
  • The Beatjazz system Loganic designed T-shirt in various colors and sizes.
  • The poster will incorporate a high resolution print of the design that will be printed on the T-shirts so you can appreciate the fine details.
  • the Loganic designed stencil set

 

From the very beginning of the first campaign, I have depended on Loganics vast artistic knowledge to realize the things i see in my head.  he some how manages, from my ramblings and my exceptionally unsophisticated drawings, to create something of beauty and precision so it was obvious that he would be the cat to create the t-shirt and the poster for the campaign. You can check out some of his work at www.loganiclife.blog.com

 

Love Life And The Fugitive by Loganic

There are 4 more days to help make this system a reality!  later today a few local singers friends will be dropping thru to take the beatbox controller through its paces and i will have that video posted tomorrow.  Head over to www.indiegogo.com/beatjazzsystem and check out the perks!  we are getting there but there is still such a long way to go and so little time.  head over to the page and pick out a perk that suits you.  you will be really glad that you helped make this a reality!

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The final sprint to the finish line; 5 days left and whats in store!

5 days left to fund of the quest to build the most amazing live music performance system ever!!  oooh....now it gets exciting!!  We've got approximately 5 days (Friday nov 25th) to raise the rest of the money necessary to start down the audacious path of creating a new music performance infrastructure; instrument/interface, sound/synthesis paradigm, performance concept, busking concept and performance clothing concept.  a complete bottom up remix of electronic music culture!  Iknow...Iknow, "bombastic" all that, but that's where we are going.  if you’re gonna aim…aim high!

  • IMG_0278 So during this last week, as i attempt to get you as excited as me about this project and its potential variations we will;

  • -Have a chat with and check out the art of my illustrator and friend , Loganic, and his views on art and some of the wonderful ideas he is looking into for the campaign contributor T-shirt and stencil set.

  • -We will check out some new illustrations of the busking system and why this part of the concept is so important to the overall project.

  • -We will look at the performance clothing concept; a mix of stage wear and athletic gear that will be the part of the instruement of presentation that makes no sound on its own but will enable longer, more comfortable performances.

  • -A few local vocal artist have been gracious enough to drop by and play around with the beatbox controller as a gestural vocal effects processor with potential for not just live performance, but intimate studio vocal control as well. 

  • -We will look at the concept for the upcoming beatjazz network that will be the primary repository for tutorials, video and community around beatjazz.  it will also become the home of all of the open source software once its exclusive run in this months MAKE magazine has concluded.

  • -And finally, we will, look at some of the "bigger picture" ways in which these concepts can interact with the wider world, from musical interfaces for the disabled to DIY augmented reality.

So stay tuned and as always, if you are now convinced that you would like to see "how deep the rabbit hole goes..." and be part of making these ideas reality, head over to www.indiegogo.com/beatjazzsystem and check out the perks.  if there is some perk that you would like to see on the list, let me know, and I'm sure i can probably add it.

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Uli Maier explains carbon fiber and how it will be utilized in the beatjazz controllers

Carbon fiber, carbon fiber, CARBON FIBER!  You would think i have some kind of obsession with this high tech, super cool, lightwieght, durable, uber material...You'd be right.  For years, it just seemed like the coolest material that actually exists.  of course, its being pushed aside by youngsters like graphene (mmmmmm....graphene) but we wont start seeing that on ebay for another few years (or if you subscribe to the law of accelerating returns, a few months), so until then, carbon fiber, in my eyes, is about as cool as it gets.

IMG_0393 from the beginning of the first campaign, the plan was always to realize the final design in carbon fiber.  I have played enough gigs to know that durable is a neccessity when playing "normal" live shows, but the kind of playing i want to foster-full contact, on the dance floor, sonic face off immersion-it is vital.  currently, for example, the type of "liquid" glowstick style motions i want to do are not possible because i am still playing a prototype made of cardboard that, while very very strong, is still susceptible to damage if knocked against my arm or other objects too often.  so i am very happy to have gotten the design to the point where i can finally start working on casting molds!

as such, i took the clay models over to Uli's Underground Lair to get his opinion and and get him to give a little breakdown of exactly what this material is, what the process is for working with it and how that process will apply to beatjazz controllers.  exciting stuff explained by a guy who knows his shit.  I am honored by the profound amount of input from this cat over the last year.


f35helmet-3 my next post will be on Monday as i now have to spend the next two days preparing for my first performance in Warsaw Poland at Urban Garden, Friday night.  I am REAALLY preparing to make a good first impression there. then, I will be presenting the case for freelance artists at an incubator in the Wedding area of Berlin Saturday night from 7pm-10pm.  so there is much to do but i wanted to leave you with something to chew on for the next few days because as of Friday the 18th, there is only one more week to be part of funding what i hope to be the beginning of a whole range of concepts that will stem from this system ranging from actual musical prosthetics for disabled musicians (i want to say more on this but its a bit too soon to comment) to workshops that combine technology and motion for teaching kids the fundamentals of programming, but in a different way.  so much to do in so many ways!  let make it happen!  see you monday.

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Will Light takes the beatBOX CTRLR through its paces.

With little over a week to go to fund the beatjazz system project, I wanted to let you see someone other than myself, taking the beatbox controller through its paces.  this is a first for me.  I have never let anyone play with my controllers, primarily because it takes a bit longer than a conversation (ok..a lot) to explain its expansive functionality but the beatBOX controller is designed to be easy to learn and use yet powerfully enabling. 

will light For this demo, I called up Will Light.  he's a newly expatriated Berliner with chops that range from DSP programming to turntablism to, here, beatboxing.  he was gracious enough to give me a few minutes to record him playing with the controller.  the whole interaction from beginning to end, took approximately 20 minutes.  but in that time, he was able to get to grips with the looping functionality and some of the gestures like volume (like turning a large volume knob), filters (tilting the hand back) and delay tempo (a rhythmic flick of the wrist).

i found it interesting that the pull towards improvisation is very strong once an interface enables it.  by the end of our session he had become fascinated with creating feedback drones with the looper and volume controls, while adding texture by bringing in varying amounts of each effect.  i never thought of this usage.  color me impressed.

from this session i can see that i will need to add ridges around each FSR to "funnel" each finger towards its intended placement.  i also see that the adjustable palm anchor will be invaluable for various sized hands.    so much useful data from one twenty minute visit!  expect more demos this week, before the end of the campaign on nov 25th.

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BeatBOX controller demonstration

The campaign will end in exactly 2 weeks from today so i will spend much of this time impressing upon you the many facets of the beatjazz system, software and hardware. If you would like to support this project, the most direct way is to grab one of the perks on offer. I hope to add a few more categories between now and the end of the campaign and if there is something that you would like to recieve as a perk for funding this campaign, drop me a line, and I'm sure i can work to accomodate your request. if you cant donate funds, please pass these posts on to people who you think may be interested in what we're trying to do. anything we can do to make this project happen is what i would like to see happen.

todays facet is the beatBOX controller. i realized early in the first crowdfunding campaign that the hand units themselves had the potential to be powerful gestural control units in their own right. something that would allow the vocalist/beatboxer to remain free to move around and emote on stage while having intimate control of the processing of their own voice, using gestures. this system has already started benefiting from the gestural synthesis grid i created last month, by allow full arrays of fx to be controlled in an organic fashion without footpedals or beltpacks, with over 100m of effective range to wander around the venue.

the beatBOX controller is the exact same as the hand units for the beatjazz controller. the software is where the primary differences lie. instead of playing notes with the "keys", the artist will use them to trigger effects and modify them in realtime. the fx are capable of holding their settings, depending on key pressure, so you can modify multiple effect simultaneously yet individually. the top joystick activates and controls the looper functions, volume and vocoder and the bottom joystick controlls looper position and fx placement. as you can see from the video, the options are many.

the beatBOX controller is one of the perks in my crowdfunding campaign that i am using to create the beatjazz system and the beginnings of the beatjazz universe. My hope is to raise the money neccessary to fully realize this goal. these units will be baddass, BELIEVE! the ones i am making for this campaign will be carbon fiber but i am investigating making a slightly less expensive version that will be 3d printed with the 3d printer that i will be acquiring soon. if this is something you'd be interested in, LET ME KNOW. dont wait til after the campaign to tell me that "now" you want one because i am a fulltime artist who is taking these few months to do this campaign and build these units so i can create the REALLY crazy system. so if you are interested and have suggestions, let me know now and maybe i can add your request within the next remaining 2 weeks.

i have 2 other configurations that you will probably find funny, a tabla/drumpad-controller and a gestural DJ control system. the DJ system is merely for shits and giggles so i can use the controller when i do little bar gigs where i just DJ and get drunk but the tabla/drumpad config as well as the beatBOX config will be incorporated into my primary performance system as well as be released to contributors. i consider them to be interesting emergency modes in the case of one part of the controller network dying, say, the mic or mouth interface, i can still play "drums", etc.

aight..things ta do. later.

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