Archives for December 2008

NIME

Since it's highly unlikely I'd be able to go I wonder if anyone would like to demonstrate Elysium at the 9th International New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) conference in Pittsburgh June 4th-6th 2009?

They are interested in:

  • Novel controllers and interfaces for musical expression
  • Novel controllers for collaborative performance
  • Novel musical instruments
  • Computational methods of composition
  • Augmented/hyper instruments
  • Interfaces for dance and physical expression
  • Interactive Game Music
  • Robotic Music
  • Interactive sound and multimedia installations
  • Interactive sonification
  • Sensor and actuator technologies
  • Haptic and force feedback devices
  • Interface protocols and data formats
  • Gesture and music
  • Perceptual & cognitive issues
  • Interactivity design and software tools
  • Musical mapping strategies
  • Performance analysis and machine learning
  • Performance rendering and generative algorithms
  • Experiences with novel interfaces in education and entertainment
  • Experiences with novel interfaces in live performance and composition
  • Surveys of past work and stimulating ideas for future research
  • Historical studies in twentieth-century instrument design
  • Reports on student projects in the framework of NIME related courses
  • Artistic, cultural, and social impact of NIME technology
  • Gesture measurement
  • Enabling music networks
  • Bio-music

Which is a pretty wild and exciting bunch of stuff. Definitely sounds like the place to be if you're interested in the leading edge of music production. I would think Giles Archaeopteryx should also be of interest to people there.

30/12/2008 09:54 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Crash database

When an application on Mac OS X crashes then, unless the author has taken special precautions, a crash report dialog will prompt the user to send a crash report to Apple. The idea, I presume, is that the crash reports - in aggregate - help Apple to identify weak areas in OS X. To the best of my knowledge there is no mechanism to help pass these crash reports on to the author of the application that crashed.

There have been a number of solutions suggested that duplicate and/or replace the Apple supplied functionality so that crash reports can be forwarded to the author instead. For example Smart Crash Reports can be integrated into an application and will then forward the crash reports to the author as well as Apple. This is a fine answer for those few applications that implement it. But what about the rest?

I was just thinking it might be nice to have a site where you could upload crash reports from any application. Those reports would sit, online, against the application and be browsable by anyone with an interest. Although I don't rule out the possibility I have never seen a crash report contain any personal information or anything you might not want to share with the public. The only remotely personal information I've seen is the application path which might include your local username. That path information could be stripped before the report is sent. I don't think anyone should be worried about crash reports being public but, if you were, I guess you just wouldn't opt-in.

The reports would then be open to any developer to inspect but, in particular, the developer of said application could look at them and maybe see them as a resource or an encouragement to fix certain problems. Others could maybe look at the data, in aggregate, to identify common patterns of problems not apparent from the crash reports of a single application. Who knows what useful info might be lurking undiscovered.

I think this should be possible with a simple scripted application. Crash reports get automatically written as .crash files to:

~/Library/Logs/Crash Reporter

all that would be required would be some application to sit in the background and periodically forward new crash reports to the online service. The report files contain enough information to identify the application being reported on including it's version. This would let the service create an indexed database of different application crashes.

Each application could have it's own feed. I could imagine an author subscribing to the feed for their application(s) to get semi-realtime crash reports.

It seems to me that having information about applications going wrong out in the open could be a good thing. And a low-tech solution based on periodically uploading crash reports to a web service wouldn't be hard to bootstrap and wouldn't require any custom framework code or modification of existing applications.

So, I'm wondering, does this idea make sense? Would it be useful? Has it done before? Maybe it's daft... If you've an opinion, let me know.

27/12/2008 20:03 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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A little of both

MMI writes (paraphrasing):

In the life of the home recordist, there are many temptations. But here's my New Year's Resolution. Learn to use the things I have better.

I've acquired quite a lot of software gear pretty quickly. If I just look at the synths I have available to me right now:

  • Massive
  • FM8
  • Absynth
  • Pro-53
  • Reaktor
  • Omnisphere
  • ESFM1
  • ES E
  • ES M
  • ES P
  • ES1
  • ES2
  • Sculpture

and that's not even getting into instruments, samplers, effects, loops, sequencers, sample libraries... it's overwhelming. If this whole music thing had been planned, rather than an explosion of interest, I would just have bought Logic and spent a year learning it and the various instruments and effects you get with it.

But I'm not much of a one for planning and I am easily swayed by new toys so I don't expect I will put an absolute moratorium on adding stuff. But I am becoming more critical about what I add, and why, as the idea for some musical projects comes into clearer focus.

But I think MMI's right (and his suggestions rock: SFLogicNinja is awesome!) it's a good idea to temper the desire for new and exciting things with spending the time to get value from what you have already. To that end I hope soon to get started learning Reaktor and Kontakt. Oh and I still have to find time to work on Elysium.

This hobby is turning into hard work :)

20/12/2008 12:08 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Putting on the shirt

So, at this point, I think it's fair to call myself a musician. A bad one or, at least, a very inexperienced one, but an aspiring one. I got a couple of questions about the stuff I'm using so I've made a page about my music and gear.

19/12/2008 00:11 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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The conquest of fear lies in the moment of its acceptance.

John Gruber quoting John Siracusa:

There are many words that characterize Apple under the second reign of Steve Jobs: resurgent, exciting, innovative, successful. I'd add one more to that list: fearless.

I agree, but with a subtle difference. It's not that Steve Jobs is fearless, but rather that he's afraid of not changing. Where other CEOs can't bring themselves to do something different, Jobs can't bring himself to keep doing the same thing.

I'd agree that I think Steve Jobs has a distaste for standing still. And certain he is, if not fearless, bold.

If you listen to his Stanford Address, as I often have, you get a clear message about about how he views the world. Having faced down death what is important to him is "Do I really want to do this today?" That's quite a potent motivator for change. I wonder how many CEO's of major companies ever really ask this of themselves?

I suspect that his brush with death put his fears into the kind of perspective that makes them a tool; He is motivated to ask the question in a meaningful way.

I keep watching that address in the hope that it won't take a brush with death to gain some of that perspective. I think impending death works quicker though.

18/12/2008 09:17 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Long night ahead

Well I'm down to a little over 10 hours left and seriously flagging. It's not just that making the music is hard (which it is) but I'm also struggling for inspiration. One of the limitations of the challenge is no pre-prepared material. I spent some time this morning brainstorming "themes" that might help guide me but I couldn't come up with anything interesting that I was able to translate into musical guidance on this sort of timescale. Also I don't come with a bit stock of "musical phrases" in my musicians DNA.

I've got about 14 minutes of music layed down and if I'm not really happy with it I expect that none of us doing this challenge will be. Each to our own aptitude the challenge is more about pushing through and coming up with something than it is about a polished finished product.

Despite my intermittent feelings of helplessness I have learned quite a bit from this experience. And I still have more than a third of it to go. The third where we move into night and then come out into light.

Okay on to Track 6.

06/12/2008 23:38 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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The clock is running

I feel a certain nervous sensation now that the clock is running. 23:56:50... and what am I going to do? I'm now thinking about what 24 minutes of music actually means. Should I do one epic Elysium session? So far my longest is a little over 2 minutes... I think 12x as long would be a stretch.

I'm most inclined to think in terms of 6x 4 minute long tracks. But I'd like to find some theme that would link them together and give them a progression. Hrmmm...

06/12/2008 09:22 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Tomorrow will be a long day

So, I'm not entirely sure what time I will start the clock ticking but, tomorrow, and for 24 hours, I will be taking part in the Alonetone.com 24 minutes in 24 hours challenge:

Write, record, mix and upload 24 minutes of music in 24 hours without any planning or preparation. If you make music you are welcome to join us (yes you) on December 6th or 13th.

I started making music barely 2 months ago. I have a bunch of excellent synths, a rather unique sequencer, a smattering of music theory and no clue what I am doing. But I won't let that stop me.

And, if you like making music, it's not too late for you to join in. Even if you can't take part tomorrow there is a second round on the 13th.

Tomorrow may be a long day, but it's also going to be a full one. This is going to be fun :)

05/12/2008 22:22 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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I used to think that the day would never come

When I started thinking about writing Elysium back in, I think July or August, I never actually imagined I'd finish it. I was pretty certain that, like 90% of the hobby projects before it, it would wither and die somewhere short of a release.

It is therefore with as much surprise as pleasure that I announce that Elysium 0.8.2 is released to the world!

It isn't finished, there are bugs, missing featured, badly implemented features, all the usual disclaimers can & should apply. Yet it's good enough. I've had a lot of fun building it and playing with it and I hope you will too.

Looking forward to hearing what you do with it.

03/12/2008 23:34 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Elysium enters new territory

So with Laurent's help it looks like the major MacRuby issues are out of the way and Elysium will be going into public beta pretty soon, maybe even tomorrow. The only things left are to finish the first draft of the Getting Started guide and maybe an intro screencast (with speech this time!)

In the meantime Elysium is now driving hardware to make some cool sounds. In this case Giles MicroKorg synth. MIDI ftw.

Seems like people are having fun with it and doing some interesting stuff :)

03/12/2008 00:23 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Now this is very cool

MMI from alonetone has posted about his first experience messing about with Elysium:

First I played with Elysium and built layer one and trying out various sounds. I'm still learning here and have no plan but eventually a cyclical pattern emerges. So I move on to create a simpler pattern on layer two (sending the MIDI to channel 2), again auditioning sounds and other playing around. Lastly I create a third layer that just alternates 2 notes on a pad sound.

He's using Ableton Live (where I would use Logic) and he has more of a process around his experimentation that I have, in fact I've learned something useful reading this.

The best part is he's using something I've created to make something that sounds pretty cool and had some fun into the bargain. This is everything I hoped for :)

Follow the link to the post to listen to the track he's made.

02/12/2008 11:11 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

It doesn't feel good to suck at something you love

Just read a post by Merlin Mann, "Photography, and the Tolerance for Courageous Sucking" and if you replace references to 'taking photographs' with 'making music' it sums up, much more eloquently than I could, how I feel right now.

As I've started shooting photos more often, I've picked up on some interesting patterns: habits, if you like. And, as I struggle to absorb the insane physics of capturing light with some glass and a black box, I accept upfront that the improvements to my actual photos will be slow, incremental, and, largely undetectable to anybody but me -- a fact that's never more painfully clear than when I swoon over the work of the more talented friends who inspire me (Heather, Ryan and Chris each come to mind here).

I have nice tools: Logic Pro, Komplete, Kore, Omnisphere, Elysium, and so on and I can make some cool noises (indeed it's hard not to spend hours browsing the various sample library's and just wondering at the lovely patches they contain) but my efforts to make actual music still feel very weak to me.

Eloy (alloy from IRC) is now on alonetone and even his unfinished pieces are just so good. I struggle not to feel disheartened sometimes. The road seems so long and, looking back, I seem to have come so short a distance whilst the horizon stretches out, seemingly to infinity, before me.

That should be a good thing but when I am mired in my own criticism it seems hard to recapture the enthusiasm and excitement that took me onto this path in the first place. But Merlin offers hope:

But, being instantly great at this couldn't be further from the point. Although I started taking photos to become a better photographer, I keep taking them because I've learned to love the process. And, luckily, at least as far as I can tell, dedication to the process can't help but make you a better photographer - or a better whatever, for that matter.

I'm not quite where he is. He seems to have found a path and a process he is happy and I have not. But reading about his experience gives me renewed hope that I will find my groove if I just keep plugging away, learning, failing. My "Shoe" is surely just around the corner ;-)

02/12/2008 10:17 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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