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Archive for October 2012


Of Beatjazz Pilots and vortexualization

Beatjazz "controllers" for everyone!!  ok, maybe not.  actually about 6 people total, so far.  but that may change soon.

so far, i have delivered 3 systems in varying states of operational ability.  the first 2 were delivered earlier in the year and were functional in a very basic way but took way too much non-specific software to make them work.  lots of vsts and sample collections. phillip with controller this was a big inspiration for digging into pd and building a complete system from the ground up, which has been my sole focus for a few months now.  so it was nice to have "something" that i would consider to be an embryonic version of the eventual beatjazz system,( which is what i am currently playing) to give to one of my contributors who came to berlin to replace a few broken plastic parts and some software/firmware upgrades.  THAT was surreal!  to see someone take out a beatjazz controller that isnt mine, and put it on and play it!  !?!?  it was nt a concert or anything but he had become acquainted with the controls and the and the modes.  i was very impressed. 

IMG_1021A friend of mine has taken up the task of purchasing his own printer and has printed enough parts for 3 full systems!  all in white abs plastic which should look sick with the LEDs in it.  SANY0039he has gotten really good at it too with attention to detail like bolt lengths and even choosing brass parts over the stainless steel that i chose.  and he can even build the circuit boards!  which arent hard or anything but still, it is amazingly cool that he supports the project to this degree!! SANY0043

before i headed to London for 3 shows at the 3d print show, I completed the hardware for a system that was going to the first contributor of my last campaign. DSC_3354 DSC_3369he lives in the UK so i figured itd be nice to just meet up and give it to him in person.  it was really cool to meet him and spend the afternoon with him and his wife and their friend, configuring sensors and tweaking software.  that aspect isnt finshed but we got it together well enough that i felt comfortable handing the system over to him.  very cool afternoon. DSC_3383

that particular lovely afternoon almost didnt happen.  as i stated, i was in london to perform for a fashion show of 3d printed stuff.  i flew into Gatwick airport and at the border told them i was in the UK to play a show but apparently there was confusion over the documentation i needed to have (it is called a certificate of sponsorship, for those who want to know) but didnt so i spent 10 hours in a room with no windows, being told periodically that i was being sent back to berlin, as if that was a bad thing(!?)  i stopped caring one way or the other, i just wanted out of that little room, but eventually, everything was sorted (the fault was bad wording on the government website) and i proceeded into the UK.

the 3D Printshow was an expo of all thing 3d printing.  many of the cool inovations you may have seen in 3d printing in the last few months were represented there.  I got a chance to meet some real superstars of the 3d printing world.  it was awesome, but i was there to perform with my system in a fashion show of various 3d printed artistic expressions.  i had not seen many 3d printed fashions before this show.  i was really impressed with teh intricacy and beauty of some of the works on display so i wanted to represent!

for the first show, all of my equipment was just off stage and i was to go out, play for 10 minutes are come back, but there was a variable that i knew about but didnt properly prepare for; radio interference.  i have been battling with it for months.  it seems that when a large convergence of smartphones are in my immediate vicinity, my low latency radio range drops to a meter or two, as opposed to 20+"low latency" meters otherwise.  i have dubbed the phenomena a "hipster forcefield".  and it was in full effect that night.  in addition, there was a mist machine that allowed visual to be projected in midair but arduinos dont like mist machines...who knew?!  and in spectacular and in hindsight, predictable manner, my system freaked out, the graphics were blinking....all that shit.  and i had to scurry off stage in silence and self loathing.  i was not happy.

me at printshowfor the second show, we strapped all my shit to a table and walked the whole rig out onstage, JUST to make sure and it was cool.  i was happy.  for the 3rd and final show i was cautious but confident.  we did everything the same, i was building it up over a nice groove i had in my head.  i was tweaking filters, dropping beats, just getting ready to ride into the groove with a fury reserv....(the stage manager taps me on the shoulder while i am onstage) "No one can hear you..." (scurries offstage...) i had, in my overconfidence, not turned up the volume. everyone had a laugh, i turn it up and played and exited the stage.  it was fun as was the show and its organizers.  im glad I got in to be able to do it.



I have been working on my resampling channel for about a month(which from now on shall be refered to a the "vortex") i had a vague idea of being able to twist my sound in a dynamic manner with controls that were properly controllable.  i have had some success with it.  a month ago i introduced a pitch shifter but it had no gestural prameterization attached so it changed the pitch but did so i a manner that could be called questionably musical and it was unstable.  so i decided to go more granular and control pitch from the granular timestretch patch rather than a seperate pitch patch.  the first outing was at a show i had on thursday here in berlin, which now that i have an integrated file recorder that records everything i play, was recorded and posted online. for the first time in a long time, i could not predict what the next transform would result in and it was exciting.

from this session i could see more clearly what neeeded to happen next; the creation of sonic elements that took advantage of the eccentricities of granular timestretching, namely the ability to retain its tonal and harmonic qualities or to at least understand how the process could produce new tonalties. so i createed a few and for the ReTune party on saturday night, it all came together in a brief ripping set that felt GREAT! i wasnt trapped within one tempo or one key.  both were freeely malleable and more controllable that i would have imagined. 

SANY0044so now, i gotta throw some sick sounds at this new blender.  i have been designing some morphing constructs that should make the timestretching phase less gimmicky and more integral.  going so far as to dsign the sounds "within" the timestretch buffer to get more predictable outcome qualities. ANNNND, I'm gonna be ready to rock that shit this friday at mindpirates.  me, JR and Loganic are doing our first (of many i hope) outting together, so i gotta make sure i got my algorithms on lock to be in the company of these professors of groove.  the feet dont care if its live or record so i gotta handle my biz to be in these gentlemens company.  it is my sincere hope that i can freak some sounds, shift everything over to linux AND possibly transition to wifi trancievers, which "should" fix my interference problems (or not...i have no idea) . so i gotta get back to work.  holla...


Details on the new Head Prosthesis and Backlit Lounge Reboot

spideyshotooooh yeah, its on!

a hump has been overcome in the last month or so.  i cant pinpoint the exact moment; maybe it was when the looper stopped crashing or when I modularized the the system components but it feel like i am working within an environment now rather than creating it.  this is making life so much more enjoyable.

I have recently resumed designing stuff.  most of that has been on contributor perks (more on that in a sec).  but about a week or so ago, i jumped into redesigning my own headset.  the primary headset is fine but i wanted to be able to monitor from my heaphones again. 

i used to have the exact same sennheiser HD25's integrated into my helmet.  I've had them for about 10 years and they are the best headphones i have ever owned. loud, comfortable and durable. so i decided that i would rig up a way to mount them to the headset.  i also figured that the inevitable headband that would be neccessary to hold them up, now that the headset was no longer hanging on my ears, could also house my old in-ear monitor beltpack guts in a new shell that would sit at the top-back of my head.  the HD25s are special because the connector to the headphones have detachable cables which i made short so they can be plugged into the belt pack input or into a cable extender plugged into my sound card. 

DSCF6421i figured that since i was designing shit, i may as well design some goggles as well. if you look at many of my older videos, you will see i have a thing for headgear, goggles and sunglasses.  they make me feel safe.  with this beatjazz system, it has been hard to wear sunglasses and i resorted to swim goggles for a while but i got bored of that look so i stopped wearing them.  this seemed to be a great opportunity to design some that are made for the purpose of being integrated fold away eyewear as well as allowing me to start experimenting with integrating my heads up display system.  I tried to design them to have character but too not influece the perception of the sound too much.  i wanted them to be part of a singular aesthetic.

the result is BLISS.  not only can i hear the music properly now, webcam-toy-photo2but the headphones feel luxurious.  the added headstrap balances the the design.  it is everything i wanted in a helmet, without the helmet, or rather, it is what i would have wanted had i known i could do it.

A big consideration was for the design to still feel very human.  most of the face and the eyebrows are still visible so emotion can still be conveyed.  the perfect placement of the goggles, headphones, and mouthpiece combined with the latest updates to the software, make it feel like a prosthesis.  like i AM the sound.  that if i wasnt in this construct, this sound wouldnt exist.  it is even more intimate than before.  like the music itself instructed me to build it a body.  wierd shit man. 

Backlit Lounge

11-29-06_backlitSFafter the test of the pitchshifter a couple of weeks ago, and the new prosthesis last week, i knew it was FINALY time to take this beast out for more more frequent test flights so i decided that last weekend was a goodtime to wipe the dust off the backlit lounge concpet party i used to do in San Francisco a few years ago.  the party, then, was an open laptop musician party where people would sign up on myspace (!?!) and come down and play a set, network and genrally chill.  But now i Live in Berlin.  and now the world is open source software, 3d printers, facebook and wireless networked gestural musical thingies, so it will be more "fractal" than the original concept.  but the first one was only posted 3 days before and Alesh One was nice enough to offer up his "tiniest art house in berlin" for me to do wierd shit on saturday nights.

Lots of people showed up for such a small space. I brought my sound system from home. i think the relaxed-ness of the format might have threw some folks a curve ball.  Backlit lounge isnt a club night.  its an experiment night for artists.  and even if no other artists show up to participate (although a 3 cats did show up and we jammed a bit), i will spent the time refining my beats, grooves, sounds, or whatever.   and so it was saturday night.  i got to take the system thru its paces.  i was happy with the new errors that popped up. the old ones were gone.  i feel optimistic about the progress that will happen over the winter in this space (every saturday from 8pm til an undefined point in the morning)

Crowdfunding campaign progress

IMG_0014I went to the Lysergic studio last week.  these are the cats that are printing the tshirts for contributors.  i got to take a few pics of them screen printing Loganics amazing artwork onto tshirts.  they are true artists!  the tshirt came out wonderfully detailed and high quality, all the way down to the handsewn labels with my logo on them.



i decided against DVDs at all for this campaign.  they were a pain in the ass the last time so i am using flashdrives.  this is the design for the flash drive holder which also happens to be a pendant.  thats right. biodegrable plastic bling! IMG_0008 i've actually been rocking this one lately.  so now the main issues are putting 3 notebooks worth of scans into the ubuntu distro that everyone will get.  i figured that it would be easier and cooler than just a flashdrive full of patches and pictures.  its not hard to assemble, just tedious, but it is coming along and it will be SICK when it is done.  i cant wait to get it out to those contributors!


Check out the profile that Sparkfun did on my project for their site.  they are really cool and supportive guys that i met last year at the maker faire in NYC.  they were in Berlin last November for a conference i was presenting at and did a whole film/interview thing with me so they could put together an awesome profile for their site, since i get the vast majority of my parts from them.  it is really interesting to see all of this footage from that time.  a year seems so long ago, but that is the world we live in now, i guess.  check it out.

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