Getting Ready for “Play Ball!”, Arc Gallery

“Play Ball!” at Arc Gallery and Studios is a multimedia show about women’s passion for baseball bringing together artists Amanda Chaudhary, Mido Lee and Priscilla Otani. The installation was a true collaboration brought together our respective talents in physical object making, electronics, software, sound, and photography.

One of the more challenging aspects was the interactive sound installation, which was to be installed a series of columns representing the bases on a standard baseball diamond. Four sound sets were composed based on field recordings made at Bay Area games and installed on an Arduino-based system for playback. The electronics included the Arduino itself, a Wave Shield from Adafruit for sound playback, and several motion sensors.

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The sensors and main electronics package were installed in spheres made from baseball scorecards.

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Programming the devices, installing them into the physical space, and then testing and debugging was an incremental, iterative, and at times grueling process. But through repeated efforts and understanding the interaction of sensors, wiring, and our software code we ultimately made it work.

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[Photos by Priscilla Otani]

Within the final installation, viewers can explore the bases and the surrounding life-size images representing the diversity of women at baseball games. As viewers pass by individual bases, different sounds will be triggered, creating an immersive sound, space, and visual experience.

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“Play Ball!” opens at Arc Gallery and Studios on Friday, April 3. In keeping with the theme, traditional stadium fare (including hot dogs and peanuts) will be served.

CatSynth: The App! now available for Android

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We at CatSynth are happy to announce that CatSynth: TheApp! is now available for Android. You can get your copy on the Google Play Store.

It has all the same features as the initial release of iOS, including an Android-optimized reader and manager for the blog, and of course a couple of Mystery Synths 🙂

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So please download, leave us a good review, and share with your friends. But most of all, just have fun with it.


Get it on Google Play

CatSynth: The App! is live in the App Store

IMG_3592We at CatSynth are excited to announce the release of CatSynth: The App! for all iThingies (iPhone, iPad and iPod touch). It is available in the App Store now!

CatSynth : The App! brings you the odd world of cats, synthesizers, music, art and more in a beautiful interface optimized for your handheld device or tablet. New articles are added quite often, so we hope you come back frequently to check them out. And you can always make new and unusual music with the included Mystery Synths!

It should work on all devices running iOS 7.1 or later. Please check it out, maybe leave us a nice review, but most of all just enjoy it. And for our friends on the Android platform, don’t worry, we should be releasing the app for Android quite soon 🙂

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A Personal Remembrance of David Wessel

wessel_at_slab_0I was very shocked and saddened to hear that David Wessel, Director of the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT), passed away suddenly on October 13. There have been quite a few thoughtful and strong tributes written in the past few days. Mine is more focused on our personal connection and his influences on my work and interests.

When I came to CNMAT in the mid 1990s, David Wessel was already well established in our small but growing community of academic music with computers. He had already made major influences in the field including timbre spaces and software for real-time musical performance. His focus, both in his own work, and those whom he guided, was on expressive musical performance. Through his introduction, I began working on research that included both of these influences. Along with Adrian Freed, Matt Wright, and others, we embarked are a run of successful research projects and publications, several of which remain influential.

As part of my thesis work, he and I did a version of his groundbreaking piece Antony, which features hundreds of moving partials in frequency space using my OSW software. I am hoping to resurrect the software for that in the coming weeks, but until now this video gives a sense of what this piece is about.

I did also have a chance to work on musical composition and performance at CNMAT. I was quite influenced and inspired by Wessel’s work with controllers and real-time synthesis, especially in ways that preserved the physical embodiment of performance – physical gestures mapped intuitively to musical sounds and ideas, rather than sitting behind a laptop. Although my music and performance style has evolved in very different directions since then, the principle of physical gestures guiding technology for music that he championed has remained a core part of my electronic music.

We got to attend many conferences together, including several years of the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC), where he was always ready to include me and others in social gatherings with colleagues from all over the world – he seemed to know everyone in the field. The beer, wine, and spirits often flowed freely, as did the conversation, veering from personal to deeply intellectual ideas in mathematics or psychology. This picture below was taken in Barcelona in 2005, and also includes Roberto Morales and Clarence Barlow.

David Wessel, Roberto Morales, Clarence Barlow

In addition to attending these conferences, he continued to support my participation in musical and research activities and remain a part of the community, most notably sponsoring me for a prestigious Regents’ Lecturer spot in 2011. He had joined the faculty and advisory board of Berkeley’s ParLab for research in advanced parallel computing, and part of the appointment was to give talks and work with students there, but he also made sure that it included the chance to give a solo concert at CNMAT. I still recall the glowing and generous introduction he made for me at the start of the evening. Indeed I was deeply touched by it. I had the chance to return the favor early this year when I introduced him for a panel at the Bone Flute to Auto Tune conference at Berkeley. It was the last time I saw and spoke with him in person.

The entire community around CNMAT and the greater community he touched have been mourning the passing of David Wessel, as well as celebrating is personal, artistic and technological influences. There will be events to remember and celebrate his life over the next month, and I hope to be there for some of them.

CatSynth video: CatStretch by Max for Cats

By Max for Cats, via matrixynth:

“Available here: http://sonicbloom.net/en/packs/max-fo…
Noland is a unique Synthesizer with individually automatable XY-control.Noland lets you store custom XY automations and colour schemes as Presets.
NolandFX is a old-school harmoniser effect, also part of this pack.
Max for Cats crafts Software Instruments, Effects, MIDI devices, Sound Design and Samples for Ableton Live.”

I am Max user for some projects, but still haven’t taken the plunge into Max for Live. Time to do so? (and not just because of the cats)

Android App Addicts

aaa-logo-220I don’t usually talk about stuff I do for my day job here, but when I do it’s because it’s particularly interesting or amusing for this audience. I recently appeared on the popular podcast Android App Addicts first as an interviewee and then as a guest commentator for a few episodes. Basically, it’s three guys who casually talk about Android apps, bring a few each episode to share and discuss. The conversation is at a the level of the geek user rather than deeply technical.  I appear in episodes 210-213 if you want to check it out. In episodes 211 and 213, I do share some cat-related apps, as well as a synth app in 212 🙂

The hosts, Steve Cherubino, Steve McLaughlin, and Eric Arduini were very open and welcoming, and I would like the thank them for having me.  It was a lot of fun, though I do hate the sound of my own voice.  It also reminds me of the challenges of speaking extemporaneously – in music I can do that with ease, but not as much with speech.

One day when I have free time (?) I would like to restart a CatSynth podcast, basically starting where I left off with the World of Wonder on San Francisco Community Radio but taking it in less strictly musical directions.

CatSynth video: Max MSP Cat Synths

By Joel Rich on YouTube.

The sounds around 2 minutes in do sound a bit like a cat 🙂

CatSynth pic: Otava with Roland and NI Synths

From Jeff Donovick via our Facebook page.

The photo features the cat Otava sitting on the command chair in front of a Roland A80 keyboard controller.  The controller is connected to Native Instruments Reaktor with RAZOR and SKANNER synths.

CatSynth Video: The Tiger Synth Demo

Via HGFSynthesizer on YouTube, via matrixsynth.

The Tiger Synth VSTi some sound examples are single patches performed skillfully by Dimitri Schkoda plus some shorter ones by HGF
Only one patch used with each example showing you can have a wide variety of sound from fairly straight to really complex ones. with the enhanced realtime control options this is a real performance synth suiting many needs.
have fun
HG

The video has a retro movie sort of feel, does it not?

RIP Dennis M Ritchie

Last week we lost Dennis M. Ritchie, whose work influenced much of what we do with computers today both as users and software developers.

From the New York Times obituary:

In the late 1960s and early ’70s, working at Bell Labs, Mr. Ritchie made a pair of lasting contributions to computer science. He was the principal designer of the C programming language and co-developer of the Unix operating system, working closely with Ken Thompson, his longtime Bell Labs collaborator…

It was only a week earlier that we were marking the passing of Steve Jobs and noting the contributions he made to Apple via NeXT. The operating system of NeXT which became Apple’s Mac OSX are Unix systems. Similarly, the much of the heavy computer programming from large-scale servers to iPhones is done with C and its descendents C++ and Objective C.

“The tools that Dennis built — and their direct descendants — run pretty much everything today,” said Brian Kernighan, a computer scientist at Princeton University who worked with Mr. Ritchie at Bell Labs.

A great many of us who studied computer science and practiced computer programming have the classic text that Kernighan and Ritchie co-wrote, The C Programming Language, known affectionately as authoritatively as “K&R”.

C is at hits heart a “systems programming language.” It’s a small language, structured in the imperative programming style of Algol and PASCAL, but the individual functions and operations are close to the machine language, simple bit-shift, arithmetic and memory location (pointer) operations. As such, it is very unforgiving compared to some of its predecessors, but it was efficient and simple and has enough expressive power to build operating systems like Unix, scientific computing, and the inner works of most software applications through the object-oriented successors, C++ and Objective C. Much of my software work has centered around these descendent languages, but when it comes to doing actual computation, it’s still C.

“C is not a big language — it’s clean, simple, elegant,” Mr. Kernighan said. “It lets you get close to the machine, without getting tied up in the machine.

Higher-level languages, like the PHP used to build this site, are ultimately implemented as C and C++ programs. So both this website and the device you are using to read it are products of Dennis Ritchie’s work.