Posted in communication and networking, engineering, music

IT Pros get musical

From Underwire blog:

DJs used to be party-rocking vinyl jockeys with massive record collections, cobbling together careers in hip-hop and electronica through a steady diet of gigs and tours. But in the new millennium, especially in the digital paradise of the San Francisco Bay Area, they’ve already got jobs as IT help-deskers and are building their careers as laptop DJs by night.

The Bay Area is dominated by people in technology, and the number of DJs here is ridiculously high,” software developer Alan Cannistraro explains in Meridith Levinson’s cool article on the trend for CIO. “We sit in front of computers all day. We love it, but we all need creative outlets. DJing is a geekier creative outlet.”

It was an inevitable evolution. After all, turntables and high-fidelity sound systems birthed DJ culture back in the late ’70s, when artists like Grandmaster Flash were literally building their art from the technological scrap heap.

Now budding DJs, especially those who work in the IT biz, don’t even have to build turntables. They can just use their laptops, software like Serato Scratch Live or Traktor Scratch (Flash’s favorite) and whatever sound-system they have lying around to rig up a house party in a quick minute. Instant turntablism.

Read the full article at Underwire.

Posted in biology, communication and networking, music

Brain orchestra

A team in Prague has figured out a way for people to creat music using just their mind.

From the BBC:

“Musicians use their brain waves to play computer-generated notes while led by an ’emotional conductor.’ The graphs of those brain waves are projected onto one of two large screens above the orchestra. The performers launch sounds or affect their frequencies using EEG systems that measure their brain activity.

“Two of the performers were given a task to watch a screen in front of them, with flashing rows and columns of letters, and told to look for a particular letter. When they see it, 300 thousandths of a second later a signal appears in the EEG, causing a note to play.”

You should definitely check out the video of this “performance.” The conductor is really funny and completely over the top, but I guess they all are. It’s not great music or anything, and it’s a little weird to see people staring at epileptic-seizure inducing flashing lights and creating music out of it, but this sort of thing you almost have to see to believe.

This is also a huge step in communicating with stroke victims or others who are awake and aware but can’t communicate effectively.

Posted in communication and networking, music

Mozart – American Idol style!

Taken directly from Reuters: “The video-sharing website YouTube will take classical music out of pricey concert halls and bring it to the masses by holding an online competition where the public chooses musicians to play at Carnegie Hall.” (read full article).

At first I wondered who would sit through hours of classical music auditions. But then I remembered the whole renaissance of Opera that happened a few years ago, where youthful metal heads and techno rats would sit along side retired, stately folk and enjoy the drama, so why not instruemental performances? We’re willing to watch a guy beatbox the tune of Sesame Street on a flute.

Posted in communication and networking, education, electronic imaging and displays, engineering, Illumination, museum, music, Optics

The Sound of Light

*Cue ” The Hills are Alive”*

I don’t normally paste product announcements disguised as news stories into my blog, but a) I’m feeling lazy, and b) it’s an interesting enough story that I think it’s worth it. And besides, c) I edited it for  brevity and newsiness, so I’m not that lazy (although I couldn’t do much to un-Germanize the translation without completely re-writing the story)! Behold:

MAZeT and JENOPTIK are partners in the project “Luce. The Sound of Colors”

With JENCOLOR color sensors, Jena-based companies are  delivering the innovative and unique technology which will make the project possible with previously unknown color impressions.

Dr. Fred Grunert, managing director of MAZeT GmbH, and Dr. Michael Mertin, Chairman of the Executive Board at JENOPTIK AG, signed the sponsorship contract for the project “Luce. The Sound of Colors” recently. MAZeT and Jenoptik are the main sponsors of the concerts and the associated installation in the Jena Volkshaus building.

“Luce. The Sound of Colors” unites science, business and art in a unique way. The light-space installation is being designed by the renowned Stuttgart artist rosalie. An exhibition accompanying the project and on the work of rosalie will be open to visitors from mid-December in the JENOPTIK AG gallery opposite the Volkshaus.

MAZeT GmbH is supplying the technological basis for the project, thus making possible the realization of Alexander Scriabin’s almost 100-year-old vision of linking music with colors in his Prometheus Symphony. Due to insufficient technical means, suitable color effects could not be fully realized during his lifetime (1872-1915).

The color sensors developed by MAZeT and manufactured by Jenoptik make possible a previously unattainable homogeneity and brilliance of the freely-composed play of color with light-emitting diodes to the music of Scriabin, Igor Stravinsky and Georg Friedrich Haas. The musical works will be translated, programmed and recorded into a color composition by the artist rosalie parallel to the music. The Jena color sensor technology guarantees that every color which belongs to a particular tone is always perceived in the same way – regardless of the brightness of the surroundings.

“MAZeT’s sponsorship of the Luce project should impart the beauty and emotionality of technology and awaken interest among young people in a technology-oriented training”, says Dr. Fred Grunert, managing director of MAZeT GmbH.

JENCOLOR color sensors recognize and measure properties of surface colors of active light sources. The color sensitivity of the sensors corresponds to that of the human eye.

In illumination applications, LEDs in combination with optics and sensor technology take on completely new dimensions. Color, brightness and light distribution prove to be seemingly boundless. Among others, the systems will be used in innovative lighting systems which can automatically adjust themselves to brightness conditions. On large illuminated panels, a high uniformity of brightness and light color is attained via the technology.

In the future, airplanes from renowned manufacturers will thus be fitted with modules for LED illumination systems.

Posted in communication and networking, museum, music

Preserving sound

Denny McAlpine in Scotland has a passion for antique instruments, particularly playing them. But since so many of them are in disrepair or can barely stand on their own four feet, he has been working to electronically capture the true sounds of harpsichords and pianos and catalogue them so that musicians today are able to play pieces as they would have sound 100s of years ago. Here is the BBC story, which goes into wonderful detail about the different challenges McAlpine came across when trying to capture the sounds, and how he overcame them.