Products of Interest
ArKaos Visualizer Video Enhancement Software for MP3 Players
The Belgian company ArKaos has released its Visualizer program, designed to add visual and video effects to the playback of MP3 files on computer. The free software is intended to be integrated with mainstream MP3 software such as SoundJam (for Macintosh) and WinAMP (for Windows). When the software is placed in the Visual Plugins folder of the MP3 program, it should launch when a soundfile is opened.
The Visualizer comes with 60 real-time effects created with the proprietary video sampler. These files contain static visuals, video loops, Flash animations, real-time effects, and optional MIDI information. The program is designed to analyze the audio data and synchronize the visual data with the primary beat pattern of the music. A new visual experience will be generated for each music selection. It is also possible to edit the program by adjusting the sensitivity rating, beat/effect ratio, and the default beats-per-minute (a feature designed for incorporating the visual presentation with more complex or non-beat-oriented music.
The ArKaos website will provide new visual files for free download. It is also possible to create your own .kos (visual) files using the company's ArKaos 2.0 creation software. This is available in three forms: the free version (which includes full functionality but displays the company banner across the screen of any visuals that are created); the VMP version, which allows static images to be edited and assigned to effects and sequences; and the VJ version, which adds the ability to incorporate QuickTime video loops. A Software Developer's Kit (SDK) version of the creation program is also available, enabling users to create their own visual effects to be added to the existing array.
Benchmark Media Systems 24-bit 96 kHz Analog-to-Digital Multi-Channel Converters
As more and more studios move toward the creation of multi-channel digital audio, a need has developed for high-quality converters to incorporate analog recorded sound into the production. Benchmark Media Systems has released a pair of high-quality analog-to-digital converters: the AD2404-96, handling four channels, and the AD2408-96, handling eight.
The analog connectors are balanced XLR, while the digital connectors offer AES/EBU, AES3id (BNC), and S/PDIF. The four-channel unit is able to output at both 24-bit and 16-bit rates, allowing for a back-up recording to be run right off the converter. The proprietary phase-locked-loop (PLL) circuitry attenuates jitter (50 dB for frequencies above 50 Hz), reducing the intrinsic clock jitter to less than 9 pico-seconds and eliminating sidebands. The converters can operate with word lengths of 16-, 20-, or 24-bits, with selectable t probability density function (TPDF) or noise-shaped re-dithering available for the lower rates. The sample rate can be set at 44.1, 48, 88.2, or 96 kHz, along with a varispeed mode. The converters exhibit a Total Harmonic Distortion (THD+N) rating of -110 dB (at -1 dB Full-Scale), with a dynamic range (broadband) of 117 dB. Line Noise is given as 143 dB below full scale on all channels.
The AD2404-96 and AD2408-96 are listed at US$ 2,795 and US$ 4,995, respectively. Contact Benchmark Media Systems, Inc., 5925 Court Street Road, Syracuse, New York 13206-1707, USA; telephone (800) 262-4675 or (315) 437-6300; fax (315) 437-8119; electronic mail email@example.com; World Wide Web www.benchmarkmedia.com.
100p Software Sampler Application for Windows Platforms
Makoto Yoshihara has developed a free, computer-based sampler application for manipulating sounds and recording the results. 100p, for Windows platforms only, requires a minimum of 32 MB of RAM, and sample length is limited only by available memory. Six samples can be loaded into the program, in either AIFF or Sound Designer II formats. Each sound is represented on the computer screen as a small ball, which is launched by clicking on it with the mouse. The balls move freely around the screen, divided into a region for pitch and another for panning in a stereo space. The sounds can be "trapped" and turned off or on, and can be dragged around to "scrub" the sound. The relative amplitudes of the sounds can be adjusted in the console window, with an overall volume control provided as a safeguard against amplitude saturation. A session/performance can be recorded and saved as an AIFF file which could then be exported to editing or processing programs.
Sabine Breitsameter has created a website devoted to audio art and "horspiel," which she maintains through the auspices of SüdWestRundfunk (SWR), in Germany. The website is presented in both German and English, and contains information and links in seven categories: Audio Links of the Month; Acoustic Interactivity; Audio Online Art Projects; Experimental Radio On-Demand; Audio Archives; Radio Stations Live Online; and Introductions and Background Info.
The AudioHyperspace website is located at www.swr2.de/hoerspiel/audiohyperspace/index.html. Ms. Breitsameter, who seeks interesting additions with the aim of building the Audio Art community, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Antares Audio Technologies Microphone Modeler
Antares Audio Technologies has been one of the leaders in developing sophisticated plug-ins for digital audio workstations designed to emulate analog audio equipment. The Microphone Modeler is based on a proprietary Spectral Shaping Tool (SST), and comes supplied with data for a wide range of microphones, from classic models to the newer ones. The user dials in the microphone being used for the recording, and the one that is to be emulated (see Figure 1). The Antares website contains additions to the set of emulation data that can be downloaded on an ongoing basis. Additional effects such as proximity and wind screens can also be controlled, and options contained in the original microphones, such as low cut filters, can also be activated in the plug-in.
The Microphone Modeler, which has been on the market for some time, is available in TDM and MAS versions, with upcoming VST and PC DirectX formats announced. In an interesting switch from prevailing trends, Antares has now released a stand-alone version of the Microphone Modeler, the AMM-1.
The Microphone Modeler is listed at various prices, depending on the plug-in type: DirectX--US$ 229; MAS, RTAS, VST--US$ 329; TDM--US$ 529. The AMM-1 rack-mount device is priced at US$ 995.97. Contact Antares Audio Technologies, 464 Monterey Avenue, 2nd Floor, Los Gatos, California 95030, USA; telephone (888) 332-2636 or (408) 399-0008; fax (408) 399-0036; electronic mail email@example.com; World Wide Web www.antarestech.com.
Avalon AD2022 Dual Channel Class A Microphone Preamplifier
Avalon Design is well known for its line of quality preamplifiers, compressors, and equalizers. The company has announced the release of a new, Class A design preamplifier (see Figure 2). An important feature of this two-channel device is the selectable impedance control, enabling the user to optimize the circuitry for particular microphones and cables. The AD2022 also comes equipped with two line inputs (high-impedance rating), variable-passive high-pass filters, and both balanced and unbalanced outputs. Two discrete, high-voltage signal amplifiers are utilized for each channel, enabling the unit to carry a headroom of up to 36 dB before overloading. The frequency response (from -3 dB) is said to reach from 1 Hz to 120 kHz. Sealed silver relays minimize signal invasion.
The AD2022 is priced at US$ 3,000. Contact Avalon Design, P.O. Box 5976, San Clemente, California 92673, USA; telephone (949) 492-2000; fax (949) 492-4284; firstname.lastname@example.org; World Wide Web www.avalondesign.com.
Big Briar MoogerFooger CP-251 Control Processor
Bob Moog, one of the pioneers of electronic music engineering, is riding the wave of resurgent interest in "classic" analog synthesizers. Recently, he has released a line of compact effects units (foot pedals) called MoogerFoogers. These include a lowpass filter, ring modulator, phaser, and a limited edition analog delay. The newest enhancement to this family of analog processors is the CP-251 Control Processor. This unit is designed to combine incoming signals, modify them by means of control signals, [End Page 102] and re-distribute the resulting signals (see Figure 3).
The control unit can combine up to four control voltages, including two coming from expression pedals. Outputs can be inverted, attenuated, and offset. A Lag Processor can shape the rise and fall of the incoming signals, and a four-way multiplier can direct an input signal to three other destinations. The CD-251 comes with a low-frequency oscillator (LFO), a noise generator (for either audio or control signals), and a sample-and-hold unit which uses one signal (normalized to be the LFO) to control the sampling rate affecting the input signal (normalized to be the noise generator). A second output provides a smoothed version of the output of the sampled signal.
The CP-251 is available in a 110V model for use in North America for US$ 299; the 220V model is listed for US$ 314. Contact Big Briar, Inc., 554-C Riverside Drive, Asheville, North Carolina 28801, USA; telephone (800) 948-1990 or (828) 251-0090; fax (828) 254-6233; electronic mail email@example.com; World Wide Web www.bigbriar.com.
CDCM Computer Music Series, Volume 30: Music from California Institute of the Arts
The Consortium to Distribute Computer Music (CDCM) has announced Volume 30 in its Computer Music Series. This latest disc is entitled Transmigration Music, and is a collection of compositions from the Center for Experiments in Art, Information, and Technology (CEAIT) at the California Institute of the Arts.
The CD contains music by David Behrman, David Rosenboom, Barry Schrader, Morton Subotnick, and Mark Trayle. There is an emphasis on live performance as integrated with real-time computer systems. Performers include Sam Ashley, Thomas Buckner, Teri DeSario, Kolbeinn Einarsson, Jason Kaneshiro, Joan La Barbara, Fawntice McCain, Jeff McIlwain, Roxanne Merryfield, Sean Rooney, David Rosenboom, Mark Trayle, Nyoman Went, and I Nyoman Wenten. The unifying theme of the release is the consideration of "the moment when an idea, a sound, a practice, passes from one time and place to another." CEAIT was founded in 1988.
Click'N Burn Pro CD Recording Software
Stomp, Inc., has joined the ranks of companies offering easy-to-use software for creating CDs and CDRs. Many desktop computers and home entertainment components are now being bundled with CD-burners. The software bundled with them is often inadequate for creating standard "Red Book" audio discs. Click'N Burn is an inexpensive but relatively powerful program that is designed to provide better tools and increased flexibility (see Figure 4).
This package, which is bundled with the CD Stomper software and stamping unit for creating and attaching labels to the finished discs, is intended for Windows computers with a minimum processor speed of 166 MHz (Pentium) and 32 MB RAM (64 MB RAM for running multiple jobs). Click'N Burn enables audio files to be burned directly from WAV, WMA, or MP3 files. Data files can be combined in multiple sessions with audio files on the same disc. In addition, VideoCD is supported, with files able to be burned to disc from MPEG-1 video sources. The Warp Drive facility supports writing to four burners at once, and is able to direct different tasks to each burner.
Click'N Burn is being offered at US$ 59.99. Contact Stomp, Inc., 1012 Brioso Drive, Suite 105, Costa Mesa, California 92627, USA; telephone (949) 250-6771; fax (949) 250-6775; electronic mail firstname.lastname@example.org; World Wide Web www.clicknburn.com. [End Page 103]
Igor Engraver 1.0 Light Freeware Notation Software
NoteHeads has announced the release of a free version of its powerful notation software, Igor Engraver. The 1.0 Light edition of the software will contain much of the functionality of the full program. Attractive features include the intelligent transcription of MIDI files, simultaneous entry of different parameters (pitches, articulation, dynamics), proprietary playback (What You See Is What You Hear), integrated microtonal notation, and much more.
The company has also unveiled its Music Shop, a website for the posting and sale of sheet music. When produced using the Igor software, scores can be exported to the companion NoteHeads Reader format. The Reader is available for free, and users may then purchase, unlock, listen to, and download any music posted to Music Shop (www.noteheads.com/musicshop/shop.html).
MIT Media Lab's Brain Opera Takes Up Residence in Vienna
Conceived by Tod Machover, of the MIT Media Lab, the Brain Opera is a large-scale, interactive music project. It was presented as part of the 1996 Lincoln Center Festival in New York City and has traveled to various locations around the world in the period since then. It has now been installed at the Haus Der Musik in Vienna as part of an innovative complex of music-making including the Vienna Philharmonic.
The Brain Opera consists of a series of "rooms," or activities, designed to lead the participant into the experience of music using all the tools of modern technology. A collection of Hyperinstruments, housed in the Mind Forest, can be explored and performed. In the Future Music Blender, sounds can be chosen and blended into the evolving music that forms the Brain Opera. The Tweaking Kiosks provide tools for modifying selected sounds before mixing them into the existing material. The Sensor Chair, perhaps the ultimate Hyperinstrument, provides another opportunity to create music and to shape the existing material.
Further information is available from Haus Der Musik (houseofmusic.at/english/index_en.htm) or from MIT Media Lab (brainop.media.mit.edu).
NoteAbility Pro Notation Software for NeXT OpenStep and Mac OS X
NoteAbility Pro is a music notation package developed by Keith Hamel of Opus 1 Music. The software combines musical intelligence and graphical flexibility (see Figure 5). It has been available for the OpenStep platform and has also been released in a version optimized for the Mac OS X. The program features a set of standard and extended music images (graphic versions can be placed anywhere on the score), a variety of entry methods including QuickScrawl (gesture recognition with an on-screen pen), practically unlimited score/image sizes, number of staves, musical complexity, etc., tools for modifying image attributes and score layout, extensive import/export options, and playback options including MIDI, DSP (OpenStep), or QuickTime (Mac OS X). [End Page 104]
Perhaps most interesting is NoteAbility's tools for on-screen adjustment of all aspects of the score layout, including beat positions, margins, staves, lyrics, and so on. For composers writing music in a contemporary style, the ease with which staves can be added or hidden for each system or page should be an attractive feature. In addition, groups of notes can be beamed in any fashion, including over the barline, with a simple select-and-beam function. Graphic images can be inserted into text boxes (or anywhere), and there is a function to enable Max messages to be encoded right into the score (anchored by beat numbers). There is a large set of editing tools, including the ability to paste selections into other NoteAbility documents or other applications (as TIFF, MIDI, EPS, or Score files). A score can also be saved directly in PDF format (Mac OS X), and can export Max qlist or explode data to that program, running in the background.
NoteAbility Pro is available for US$ 225. The program is packaged with Opus 1 Music's Scriabin font. Contact Opus 1 Music, Inc., Hillcrest R.P.O., P.O. Box 74049, Vancouver, British Columbia V5C 5C8, Canada; telephone/fax (604) 321-1107; electronic mail email@example.com; World Wide Web debussy.music.ubc.ca/~opus1/NoteAbility/NAwelcome.html.
NSA Song Player 1.10 Software for Learning the Guitar
NSA Software has released an updated version of its Song Player software. Chords and melodies are played back while the guitar tablature is shown on the computer screen (see Figure 6). Available only for computers running Windows, the program contains a large database of scales and chords, enabling the user to see, hear, and imitate these building blocks as a way of learning to play the guitar. Playback speed can be varied, and progressions or songs can be easily transposed. This software may also be useful for composers wanting to check the playability of their guitar parts.
NSA Song Player is available in a fully-functional trial version for free; the program itself sells for US$ 19.95. Contact Derek Stottlemyer, 1818 Jackson Avenue, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103, USA; telephone (248) 646-4633; fax (248) 646-4655; electronic mail firstname.lastname@example.org; World Wide Web www.guitar-learning.com.
KlangForschung 98, Symposium zur elektronischen Musik
The Proceedings of KlangForschung 98, Symposium zur elektronischen Musik has been published by Pfau Verlag (1999, ISBN 3-89727-086-2). The editors are Jörg Stelkens and Hans G. Tillmann, and the book is written in German. The contributors, all participants in the 1998 gathering in Munich, include: Mr. Stelkens, Mr. Tillmann, Hansjörg Wicha, Stefan Fricke, Elena Ungeheuer, Hans Ulrich Humpert, Klarenz Barlow, Ludger Brümmer, Christoph Kemper, Harmut R. Pfitzinger, Barbara Barthelmes, Ulrich Müller, Sabine Schäfer, Golo Föllmer, Werner Jauk, Miriam Stumpfe, Walter Siegfried, and Wolfgang Heiniger.
The KlangForschung symposia are held annually and are organized by Mr. Stelkens. The publication of the 1999 Proceedings has been announced. That year's event focused on the theme of "Artificial and Artistic Algorithms." The KlangForschung 2000 Symposium, held in Munich in October, focused on "Critique and Perspective on Media Art." For further information contact [End Page 105] KlangForschung, Adlzreiterstrasse 14, 80337 Munich, Germany; electronic mail email@example.com; World Wide Web www.stelkens.de/bs/klforsch98/ or www.stelkens.de/bs/klforsch99/.
IRCAM OpenMusic Visual Programming Language
OpenMusic is a visual programming language based on CommonLisp (CL) developed at Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM). OpenMusic is an icon-oriented environment, using the various drag-and-drop tools of graphic editors (see Figure 7). Built-in visual control structures are designed to interface with command-line Lisp utilities as well as the CommonLisp Object System (CLOS). Existing CL code can easily be integrated into OpenMusic applications.
OpenMusic projects are specialized sets of classes and methods written in Lisp. The Basic Project provides the general-purpose programming kernel, while the Music Project contains specific functions applicable to music composition. OpenMusic is for the moment available only for Macintosh computers containing the Digitool MCL compiler. New versions for UNIX/Linux environments are to be made available as well.
IRCAM is distributing the OpenMusic source code under the GNU General Public License. Contact IRCAM, 1, Place Igor Stravinsky, Paris F-75004, France; World Wide Web www.ircam.fr or ftp.ircam.fr/pub/IRCAM/equipes/repmus/openmusic/.
Presence II from Canadian Electroacoustic Community/Productions électro Productions
Productions électro Productions, an off-shoot of the Canadian Electroacoustic Community (CEC), released its first self-funded collection of electroacoustic music in 1997. The success of that production has led to a second release, Presence II. This double CD contains the music of 32 composers from 13 countries. Compositions range in duration from 37 sec to 12 min 36 sec, and date from anywhere between 1981 and 1999. As one would expect, there are a wide range of styles and tendencies represented on this set.
To order or for further information, contact CEC/PeP, RF 310, Music Department, Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke West, Montreal, Quebec H4B 1R6, Canada; fax (514) 848-2808; electronic mail firstname.lastname@example.org; World Wide Web cec.concordia.ca/CD/Presence_II/Presence_II.html.
Sounds and Visions of the South Compact Disc Release
The Sounds and Visions of the South compact disc is a unique production, a collaboration between the National University of Lanus in Argentina and the National University [End Page 106] of La Serena in Chile. This disc, one of a number of releases of music by Latin-American composers, includes music by Argentinians Enrique Belloc, Raúl Minsburg, Daniel Schachter, and Luis María Serra, and Chileans José Miguel Fernández, Mario Mora, and Mario Arenas Navarrete. The CD was launched at the Festival "Sonoimagenes 2000."
For further information, contact Raúl Minsburg (electronic mail email@example.com), Daniel Schachter (electronic mail firstname.lastname@example.org), or Susana Espinosa (electronic mail email@example.com).
Symbolic Sound Kyma 5.0 Update
The Kyma/Capybara computer music system from Carla Scaletti and Kurt Hebel of Symbolic Sound is well known to Computer Music Journal readers. The powerful outboard signal processors and flexible software provide an attractive alternative to more commercially-oriented packages (such as Digidesign ProTools or Creamware Scope) for composers, performers, and sound designers.
The latest update to Kyma, the software environment, includes a large, extensible sound library. These sounds can be modified, as can the process by which the sounds have been treated. In addition, virtual control surfaces can be designed graphically, and be made multi-level, extending the controller possibilities both for creation and performance (see Figure 8). Support has been added for the CM Automation Motor Mix controller, and an ASIO driver enables audio from other audio software to be routed through Kyma to the Capybara processors/converters.
Other improvements to Kyma include a timeline window for graphically mixing soundfiles, and a drag-and-drop function that enables effects to be dropped automatically onto audio tracks. A list of presets for each sound or effect in the included library provides direct access to allowable modifications or controls. The Capybara hardware can provide up to eight channels of audio output, so improved graphic features for producing multi-channel panning and distribution have been added to Kyma 5.0.
The package of Kyma 5.0 with the base Capybara 320 hardware is listed at US$ 3,300. For further information, contact Symbolic Sound Corporation, P.O. Box 2549, Champaign, Illinois 61825-2549, USA; telephone (217) 355-6273; fax (217) 355-6562; electronic mail info-kyma@SymbolicSound.com; World Wide Web www.symbolicsound.com.
Ticker Metronome Tool for Windows Computers and Pocket PC Devices
Given the temporal complexities of a whole range of contemporary music, performers (and composers) have often found themselves in need of synchronization devices that go beyond the simple beat-keeping function of a traditional metronome. The Ticker Metronome Tool provides a suite of useful functions that should go some way to fill that need and perhaps give rise to new possibilities.
The Simple Metronome tool provides a tempo using a flasher at the top of the display screen, a display of the metronome marking (MM, beats per minute), and an audible beep. The sound can be muted as the program is running by clicking on an on-screen button. Where applicable, the screen will also display [End Page 107] the Italian term for tempo. The Find Tempo tool will analyze incoming data to determine the basic tempo of a passage being performed. The Advanced Metronome expands these features to enable manipulation of a number of additional aspects of tempo. Given any division of time, Ticker will give the MM, with its sensitivity ranging from one beat per minute to one one-hundredth of a second. In addition, tempi can be subdivided or superdivided, the divisions being sounded at a different pitch. Thus, metric modulations can be determined and heard, along with complex 'tuplet divisions.
Ticker is optimized for use with the Pocket PC, though it will run on desktop Windows machines as well (Windows 2000/ME/NT4/98/95). The hand-held version includes two additional features. The Glossary contains approximately 200 common musical terms and abbreviations. The Pitch Tool is designed to provide a tuning note (A, 440 Hz), but also allows the user to hear a wide range of pitches and scales played back.
Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage by Albert Glinsky
The theremin, a classic electronic instrument, has gained attention in recent years through the commitment of Robert Moog to making the instrument available once again, and through the successful release of Steven Martin's film, Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey. In the story of the inventor, Leon Theremin, one of the most persistent questions has been what happened to him when he suddenly disappeared from New York in 1938 without a trace, only to re-surface some 50 years later back in the Soviet Union.
Albert Glinsky has attempted to answer this question, and many others, in this first biography of the flamboyant Russian inventor (see Figure 9). As implied in the title, Mr. Theremin seems to have been involved in espionage activities for the Soviets, though the tale is far from straightforward.
Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage is published by University of Illinois Press: ISBN 0-252-02582, 464 pages, US$ 34.95. Contact University of Illinois Press, 1325 South Oak Street, Champaign, Illinois 61820-6903, USA; telephone (217) 333-0950; fax (217) 244-8082; electronic mail firstname.lastname@example.org; World Wide Web www.press.uillinois.edu/.