25C3 -

25th Chaos Communication Congress
Nothing to hide

Day Day 2 (2008-12-28)
Room Saal 2
Start time 18:30
Duration 01:00
ID 2843
Event type lecture
Track Making
Language used for presentation en

Algorithmic Music in a Box

Doing music with microcontrollers

Small devices like microcontrollers, coupled to a few buttons, knobs, encoders and LEDs, allow for a host of interesting and creative musical applications. Solder a few bits together, program a few lines, and you can build a deep device to support your musical exploration. This lecture will show you quickly how the hardware and code works, and then focus on a few interesting applications: controllers, sequencers, sound generators. The workshop will allow you to build your own crazy ideas.

If you look at "real" instruments, their principle is very simple most of the time: press a key, get a sound. Pluck a string, get a sound. This simple principle is also what makes their complexity. Every aspect of the interaction with these instruments has been explored. Modern music making software on the other hand often displays thousands of different features, which in the end often works against the musician by blurring his focus.

Some of the most sought after electronic devices are from the 80ies, and feature pretty simple (by today's standards) controlling units and interfaces. Instead of focusing on the "next big thing", like touchscreens, new sensors and technologies, building musical instruments with limited resources allows the musician to go "deep", to think about interaction in a very conscious way. Devices like the monome or the tenori on, featuring just buttons and leds, are following this direction.

Devices like these are pretty easy to build at home, and then can be built robustly enough to find their way into live performances and daily studio use. This event's lecture is about the overall design of devices I built, and shows how the different hardware elements work (microcontroller, buttons, knobs, displays), and then focuses on the flexible ways you can use these simple elements to build interesting instruments. The workshop will then allow participants to create their own instrument based on a simple hardware platform and to take it home with them.