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luanna is a beautiful new application out of Tokyo-based visual/sound collective Phontwerp_. Amidst a wave of audiovisual iPad toys, luanna is notable for its elegance, connecting swirling flurries of particles with gestures for manipulation. I imagine I’m not alone when I say I have various sample manipulation patches lying around, many in Pd, lacking visualization, and wonder what I might use in place of a knob or fader to manipulate them. In the case of luanna, these developers find one way of “touching” the sound.


As the developers put it:

luanna is an audio-visual application designed for the iPad
that allows you to create and control music through the manipulation of moving images.

The luanna app has been designed to be visually simple and intuitive, whilst retaining a set of rich and comprehensive functions. Through hand gestures you can touch, tap and manipulate the image, as if you were touching the sound. The image changes dynamically with your hand movements, engaging you with the iPad’s environment.

The interface is multi-modal, with gestures activating different modes. This allows you to select samples, play in reverse, swap different playback options, mute, and add a rhythm track or crashing noises. It’s sort of half-instrument, half-generative.

Phontwerp_ themselves are an interesting shop, descibed as a “unit” that will “create tangible/intangible products all related to sound.” Cleverly naming each as chord symbols, ∆7, -7, add9, and +5 handle sound art, merch, music performance / composition / sound design, and code, respectively. That nexus of four dimensions sounds a familiar one for our age.

Sadly, this particular creation is one of a growing number of applications that skips over the first-generation iPad and its lower-powered processor and less-ample RAM. Given Apple can make some hefty apps run on that hardware, though, I hope that if independent developers find success supporting the later models, they back-port some of their apps.

See the tutorial for more (including a reminder that Apple’s multitasking gestures are a no-no).

US$16.99 on the App Store. (Interested to see the higher price, as price points have been low for this sort of app – but I wonder if going higher will eventually be a trend, given that some of the audiovisual stuff we love has a more limited audience!)

Readers request Audio Copy and sample import right away. I think sample import, at least, could easily justify a higher price, by making this a more flexible tool.

Find it on our own directory, CDM Apps:
http://apps.createdigitalmusic.com/apps/luanna

http://phontwerp.jp/luanna/

Very similar in its approach is the wonderful Thicket, well worth considering:
http://apps.createdigitalmusic.com/apps/thicket

See our recent, extensive profile of that application’s development:
Thicket for iOS Thickens; Artists Describe the Growth of an Audiovisual Playground

See also, in a similar vein, Julien Bayle’s recent release US$4.99 Digital Collisions:

http://julienbayle.net/2012/04/07/digital-collisions-1-1-new-features/

http://apps.createdigitalmusic.com/apps/digital-collisions-hd

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Building on the original Midi Fighter, a 4×4 array of arcade push-buttons, the Midi Fighter 3D adds interactive, light-up color feedback and gyroscope-powered motion sensing. The work of electronic music site DJ Tech Tools, it’s an impressive-looking piece of work. But if you’re not interested in the “3D” sensing, don’t overlook the clever color feedback and bank shifting, which could prove as much of a draw.

The Midi Fighter 3D, announced today, will ship in April at US$249. There are now orders yet, but there is a preorder list.

DJ Tech Tools is pushing the 3D orientation functionality. In a good way, it mirrors a bit of the branding and design we see from Nintendo (well, at least that “3D” moniker). If you don’t mind moving your controller around as you play, it looks like it can do some impressive things. Dan White of DJTT explains how it works to CDM:

The 3D uses a gyroscope and a compass to track the position of the controller in space. The gyroscope tracks relative position (meaning angling the controller towards any of its sides), and the compass tracks rotation along the same plane that the controller is on (think turning the controller like a steering wheel).

While the sensing may not appeal to everybody, the big advantage here is integrating continuous control of parameters (which buttons obviously lack), in a way that’s integrated into the design and gestural.

A wrist-strap will be available, and designed in such a way that you can access all the controls, including even those on the side.

At $249, though, fans of the original could easily justify the purchase based solely on the new light-up, assignable color indicators on the buttons. Apart from looking cool, they promise to make elaborate control setups possible, with the aid of bank controls and lots of customization in the software. You get four banks of controls via the top, but there are also six nicely-integrated triggers on the side which can be used for whatever you like. That could give you more banks, effect kill switches, or some other function you haven’t thought of yet. The fimware can send up to 68 unique Control Change messages and 70 button messages, so presumably DJTT is betting – as they have with their other product line – on lots of preset ideas for different performance rigs and styles.

All of this communication happens via MIDI, so using it with your favorite software is a cinch.

Specs:

  • Included configuration software
  • Customizable RGB arcade buttons: 4 x 4 button array, with individually-addressable light-up RGB feedback on each button
  • Four banks, six side buttons
  • 3D motion tracking of five movements

It’s hard not to notice the cable in the images. DJ Tech Tools tells us that’s their own DJTT USB cable, which will be bundled with the hardware and also available separately. They say it’s a “high-quality” USB cable – I’m guessing the main test is whether it can stand up to moving the hardware around, since it isn’t wireless. Having right-angle USB cables is hugely useful in tight corners, though; Hosa was showing off something like that at NAMM and I’m happy to replace my USB collection with them.

Also worth noting: DJTT says they’re applying for a patent on the five-way motion control tracking method they’ve developed. (I find the patent process to be pricey and arcane, personally, but I’ll be interested to see how it goes for them!)

$249 seems to me a really good deal for this gear, but if you liked the brute-force simplicity of the original controller – and its greater customization options – the Classic remains available, starting at US$119.99.

More details:
Introducing the Midi Fighter 3D [DJ Tech Tools]

Images courtesy DJ Tech Tools. And yes, we’ve got high-res images, so click for big, gear-pr0n-ny closer looks.
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Compare the complex model of what a computer can use to control sound and musical pattern in real-time to the visualization. You see knobs, you see faders that resemble mixers, you see grids, you see – bizarrely – representations of old piano rolls. The accumulated ephemera of old hardware, while useful, can be quickly overwhelmed by a complex musical creation, or visually can fail to show the musical ideas that form a larger piece. You can employ notation, derived originally from instructions for plainsong chant and scrawled for individual musicians – and quickly discover how inadequate it is for the language of sound shaping in the computer.

Or, you can enter a wild, three-dimensional world of exploded geometries, navigated with hand gestures.

Welcome to the sci fi-made-real universe of Portland-based Christian Bannister’s subcycle. Combining sophisticated, beautiful visualizations, elegant mode shifts that move from timbre to musical pattern, and two-dimensional and three-dimensional interactions, it’s a complete visualization and interface for live re-composition. A hand gesture can step from one musical section to another, or copy a pattern. Some familiar idioms are here: the grid of notes, a la piano roll, and the light-up array of buttons of the monome. But other ideas are exploded into spatial geometry, so that you can fly through a sound or make a sweeping rectangle or circle represent a filter.

Ingredients, coupling free and open source software with familiar, musician-friendly tools:

Another terrific video, which gets into generating a pattern:

Now, I could say more, but perhaps it’s best to watch the videos. Normally, when you see a demo video with 10 or 11 minutes on the timeline, you might tune out. Here, I predict you’ll be too busy trying to get your jaw off the floor to skip ahead in the timeline.

At the same time, to me this kind of visualization of music opens a very, very wide door to new audiovisual exploration. Christian’s eye-popping work is the result of countless decisions – which visualization to use, which sound to use, which interaction to devise, which combination of interfaces, of instruments – and, most importantly, what kind of music. Any one of those decisions represents a branch that could lead elsewhere. If I’m right – and I dearly hope I am – we’re seeing the first future echoes of a vast, expanding audiovisual universe yet unseen.

Previously:
Subcycle: Multitouch Sound Crunching with Gestures, 3D Waveforms

And lots more info on the blog for the project:
http://www.subcycle.org/

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