Cambridge, MA

Invent Music: John Zorn Workshop

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Sound of Touch

The Sound of Touch has been making the exhibition rounds lately. Here are the venues that have seen the Sound of Touch in the past few months:

- Permanent exhibition at the MIT Media Lab (ongoing)
- Siggraph 2007, Emerging Technologies (August 2007)
- MIT course 21M.065 Introduction to Musical Composition (12/3/2007)
- COLLISIONtwelve, art+technology show, Stata Center, MIT (December 2007)

The notes paper was also accepted to the CHI'08 conference in Florence, Italy! Go SOT!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Audiopint is going to the Maker Faire!

We're taking the Audiopint to the Maker Faire, May 19-20th in San Mateo, CA. The Maker Faire is a giant DIY expo that will draw creative and crafty builders from all over the world. If you're in CA that weekend, come by and say hello, and learn how to make your own Audiopint! More info about the Maker Faire [here], and more information about Audiopint [here].

The inventmusic team going to the Maker Faire will be myself, Ben Vigoda and David Bouchard.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Inventmusic Jam Session, Wednesday evening 4/18/2007

[PDF of this poster - please post!]

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sonami, Ryan, and Inventmusic: in concert April 21st, 2007 at Killian Hall (MIT)

Along with Susanna Bolle from Non-Event, I'm organizing a concert involving Laetitia Sonami and Joel Ryan. It will be an evening of live experimental music on the evening of April 21st., at Killian Hall (MIT). From the flyer:


A Concert of Innovative Electro-Instrumental Performance from STEIM and Beyond

You can download the pdf flyer [here]. Some members of the Inventmusic experimental music group (including myself) will be opening the show with a performance on the PureJoy and other novel instruments. I'm really looking forward to this exciting evening of new music performance!


Erik Nugent, on slide-whistle AND PureJoy

This is amazing! At a certain point, you have to pay really close attention to figure out which sounds are coming from Erik's slide whistle directly, and which are stored and manipulated samples on the PureJoy..

Recorded at the MIT Stata center, in rehearsal for the April 21st concert at Killian Hall (described in another blog post)..


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

PureJoy-JamiOki + AudioPint Installation in Stata

The InventMusic interactive music kiosk is up and running this week in MIT's Stata Center! Our intrepid team of inventor/developers accomplished an incredible push to make this idea into reality. New features this time around include a raft of new JamiOki games, various background "metronome" loops for certain games, a generation-2 AudioPint powering the audio interaction, and full foot-pad control over game selection and pacing. A few more photos can be found here.

In addition to my own wooden-case mods and pure data interaction design, this effort depended on the game-design creativity of Ben Vigoda and Joe Rothermich and the killer application development chops of Shawn Hershey. Good job everyone!

The interaction will be available in the Stata Center main lobby (near Main St. and Vassar), today 3/21 through Friday 3/23. Come over and have a jam session!

This installation is funded (in part) by the Council for the Arts at MIT. We also thank Student Life Programs for their generous contribution. Finally, we thank VIA and the rest of the consortia sponsors of the MIT Media Lab.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Preparing for MIT Stata Center PureJoy / JamiOki opening

We were asked to install PureJoy+AudioPint and JamiOki in the MIT Stata Center for a week-long installation this month. The installation will be in the main lobby near Main St. and Vassar St., so it will be quite literally the first thing that visitors entering this famous building will see. It's an exciting venue to show these projects, and will give us a chance to observe a large number of people interacting with them.

I went over to Stata today to prepare the case (click here for a few photos). We will install in a large rolling wooden box with a frosted screen in the upper half, suitable for rear-projection. The setup will support four players, with a gamepad and headset microphone for each. The PureJoy functionality will let them sample, loop, and manipulate their own voice, and JamiOki will suggest structure for improvised group jams. Here are some pictures of the space that the installation will occupy.

The installation will be up and running for public use as follows:
dates: Monday 3/19 - Friday 3/23
times: 10AM-10PM (except Tuesday 3/20, when it will close at 5:30PM)

If you're in the area, do come over and give it a try!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Invent Music on the radio :: 88.1 fm WMBR, Friday March 16th at 8PM

Dear AudioPint / PureJoy fans - I'll be performing live with the AudioPint and PureJoy this Friday evening, March 16 on MIT's Boston-area radio station WMBR (88.1fm) at 8PM.

The show is hosted by my good friend and sometimes musical-collaborator Jacob Eisenstein, and his co-conspirator Lily. You can find the Friday WMBR schedule here. Future archived recordings will show up on this page. The radio show is called cargo cult radio.

Tune in this Friday - it will be rocking, experimental and brain-stretching!

UPDATE: My photos from the radio show can be found here. And if you'd like to hear the archived recording from the show, it's here. (note that the recording starts with the last few minutes of the previous show, that had a fairly cantankerous caller on the air - that's not Cargo Cult Radio)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Noise is Signal

Last night at MITERS (the MIT Electronic Research Society), I showed off the new-and-improved AudioPint! The event was called "Noise is Signal :: Invention Show+Tell", and it featured a bunch of the usual MITERS / East Campus / Senior House suspects from MIT. Lots of fun, good energy, and free pizza for everyone. Other presenters included Yael Macguire, showing how (with the help of RFID) he can read minds, and Alex Hornstein explaining how he's on the verge of achieving remote-control neon tetras (these are a type of pet fish).

The video is from my presentation of the AudioPint + the PureJoy expressive sampler / looper / manipulation interface. For my pictures of the event, click here.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

AudioPint Workshop @ the Media Lab!

Two weeks ago, Ben, David Bouchard and I organized an AudioPint workshop at the Media Lab. The goal : for everyone to build their own AudioPint, and as a nice side effect, we get to expand our tribe of musical technologists!

We gathered at 10am on a Saturday morning, and I handed out the motherboards and power supplies that VIA has donated to the AudioPint cause. Everyone had brought a rugged box to house their 'Pint, memory for the internal computer, and some brought USB audio gear. We immediately got to work, figuring out how it would all fit inside the box. Some spent the day down in the workshop drilling holes and jig-sawing their housing, while others hacked on the linux distribution, so that it would boot cleanly from a USB pen drive. By the end of the day, we had worked out most of the technical difficulties, and AudioPints were just about ready!

photos from the AudioPint workshop can be found here

We'll be doing some AudioPint office hours over the next few weeks so that everyone can finish up their 'Pints. Then, on to some pure data patching! (to visit the AudioPint webpage, click here.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Library Music @ the MIT Music Library

Less than a week after getting back from Las Vegas, AudioPint PureJoy and Jamioki were set up as an interactive installation in the MIT Music Library as a part of the "Library Music" show curated by Tod Machover. Here's the MIT News Office's article about the show, and here's another, from an Italian website.

We'll put up audio and video from this installation as soon as we wrangle it into a more manageable form. Stay tuned!

Media Attention since CES

Some press folks that I talked to at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas have posted content online about the AudioPint / PureJoy demo. Here they are:

PureJoy Project Makes Everyone Musical - from Emru Townsend's blog on PCWorld.

AudioPint PureJoy MIT Media Lab Crazy Cool - an interview with Nikki Inderlied that I did for I4U news. Here's a YouTube version of the same interview, in case you have any trouble viewing the first one..

MIT Media Lab: New Music Performance Technology - an interview with Russ Johnson representing Lunch@Piero's, the organizers of our venue


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

PureJoy and AudioPint at CES

This week I took a setup with four PureJoys and the development AudioPint system to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show. My trip was sponsored by VIA, the Taiwanese company that makes the small motherboards that run the AudioPint. We were all set up at an off-site location just across the street from the main Las Vegas convention center, and received a healthy flow of press in two 2.5-hour sessions on Monday and Tuesday. Due to the commercial nature of CES, the most common question that I got was "so what are you selling?" I think that my response of "nothing, at the moment" caught people off-guard, and was a breath of fresh air to many. Lots of visitors saw the potential for fun, collaborative jamming that the system offers, and many tried it out. (one guy said "this is so cool, I'd totally buy this! let me know when it's on the market") It was a successful trip overall, for several reasons:

1) The four-person AudioPint became more ruggedized and travel-worthy. I did learn, however, how HEAVY the thing is, and that next time I take it anywhere it must have its own wheels, or at least a skateboard strapped underneath.
2) I got some total newbies to play around with the system, and observed their reactions
3) I had 5 hours over 2 days where all I did was play with the system, which increased my own chops on the system
4) I got to experience Las Vegas - a first for me.

Las Vegas is an interesting place. I don't think I could spend too much time here without sinking into utter despair, since more than anywhere else I've ever been Vegas is designed to extract as much money from visitors as it can, every minute. But for just a couple of days, it provides for nonstop entertainment. Maybe I'll be back for next year's CES, though with a much lighter PureJoy/AudioPint/Jamioki rig!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Principles of Electronic Music Controllers, Autumn 2006: Final Projects

This past autumn I was TA-ing with Joe Paradiso for his class, Principles of Electronic Music Controllers. The class explored historical and technological issues in electronic music controllers. We focused on the devices that have pushed the technological boundaries of musical interaction, analyzing their physical affordances, their mappings from gesture to sound, and their use in performance. Each student in the class completed a final project, and you can read all about them here. We had a continuous virtual piano keyboard, an augmented glass harmonica, a fabric-based tangible instrument, and many other great ones. I've also put up an album in Flickr with the photos that I took during the presentations, here.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Ben's Sustain Guitar

Here's our hero, Ben Vigoda, demonstrating his invention to the world.

With a little gypsy jazz on the side.

Go baby, go.

(You can see more sustain guitar videos and information at

Friday, September 29, 2006

New Videos of AudioPint / PureJoy / Jamioki

The Invent Music band at SIGGRAPH2006. The music in this video was improvised in real time from beginning to end in real time with direction by the Jamioki system. Everyone was playing Dave's PureJoys for instruments, but I included some footage from people playing their acoustic instruments earlier in the show.

Ben and Dave, jamming on PureJoys

Ben, jamming on a PureJoy
We're excited to present some new video footage of the AudioPint / PureJoy / Jamioki system in action. This is footage from our performance at SIGGRAPH 2006, as well as footage from rehearsals and development. Enjoy, and please send us any feedback, comments, questions, etc..

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Build Day Update: September 23, 2006

The EMI/InventMusic crew had a successful build day last Saturday at the MIT Media Lab. Some of the highlights from the day included a demo of the AudioPint and Purejoy for Gypsy-Jazz virtuoso Stephane Wrembel. Stephane also play-tested Ben's Sustain Guitar, giving some interesting feedback about how he would use it if he had one. Dave finished laying out the circuit board for his Stream-O-Plex, a 4-channel capacitive sensing system with musical applications that will be unveiled in a few months. Joe Rothermich started down the road of building the looping pedal of the future by getting the Kraft Dancepad working in windows, and later in the weekend adapted the pad to work with the PureJoy software! The day concluded with a short PureJoy jam session, featuring Ben and Dave. See the video embedded in this post for some clips from their jam, and more of Ben rocking out here.

Friday, September 01, 2006

the ped-o-tron electronic music instrument

Here's a quick, fun, Friday afternoon project to get you in the inventmusic mood for the coming weekend. I received a free dance dance revolution (DDR) pad in the mail today from Kraft, as a part of a promotion they are running. It turns out that the pad is - electronically speaking - a USB joystick, so it was easy to connect it to pure-data and throw together a musical mapping for it in software. Watch the video to the right to see me attempt to hop out a recognizable melody on my new instrument.

I mapped each pad to a note from the C major scale, and the [select] pad in the upper left corner switches between sine wave and sawtooth wave output. Very basic, but good enough to try it out and realize that this instrument has the potential to get a person in shape by the time they reach even a intermediate skill level!

I also created a brief tutorial on how I built the instrument, here - and another video, showing the sawtooth-wave output is here.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ben, on the Tritare

Ben is too modest to blog this himself, but he was recently asked to weigh in on a neat new acoustic instrument, the Tritare. Built by by mathematicians Samuel Gaudet and Claude Gauthier of the University of Moncton in New Brunswick, the Tritare is a guitar-like instrument with 3-segment string networks that produce non-harmonically related overtimes, producing a richer sound than a traditional stringed instrument.

Vigoda had the following to say: "Given that so much music experimentation these days is done with computers, the tritare may be one of the last new instruments to be invented relying entirely on novel physics without incorporating any computational element."

One of the last, eh? Well, not if our very own Erik Nugent has anything to say about it! (but yes, much of our group's work does involve a computational component) To read the full article, click here.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Easy Button Musical Interface

For the Mandala performance at SIGGRAPH 2006 we needed to create footswitches so that each musician could communicate with the Mandala program. For example, when sheet music needs to be scrolled a musician hits a footswitch button to tell the computer. Other possible uses are voting on song changes, input devices to control DSP effects, etc.

To make them cheaply and simply, we hacked eight Easy Buttons from Staples. The buttons were connected via guitar cables (or cheap custom equivalents) to a hacked apart USB keyboard. The keyboard's circuit board was put into a project box, mapped out, and then soldered to 1/4" jacks. Easy Buttons were plugged into the box which was plugged into a computer using USB. The application on the computer read-in button presses as if they were keys on a keyboard being pressed and processed the input as desired.

An tutorial was created to show how these were made.

- Joe