STEIM at Music and Bits – update: video by Thomas Werff and a report by Stan Wijnans

STEIM’s Frank Baldé presented STEIM at the Music and Bits conference.

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Impression of the ‘Music and Bits’ event (03/10/09) by Stan Wijnans

I attended the ‘Music and Bits’ event to catch up with new inventions and the contemporary culture amongst the guys involved in technical developments for the digital music field. The lectures, demonstrations and workshops took place on the two highest floors of Felix Meritis and were divided over several halls. The morning was mostly spent with networking and demonstrations amongst which were several given by people who also gave lectures at the conference track in the afternoon. Unfortunately the ‘Hack workshop’ had to be postponed due to problems with the WiFi connection.

STEIM

The day kicked off with a demonstration by STEIM’s Frank Baldé playing the infamous ‘Crackle Box’ developed by Michel Waisvisz (STEIM). Hereafter he showed the operation of the WII Nunchunck as a sound controller using the software ‘JunXion’ (STEIM) to play and influence digital sounds (see video). He shortly explained the easy setup of these tools and notified that some instrument learning is needed to avoid playing ‘pling-plong’. Frank demonstrated playing a piano sound, using the Quicktime synthesizer by changing pitch, and influencing sample playback in the Apple music program ‘Garageband’ manipulating pitch, volume and filtering by rhythmically moving, pushing and throwing his hands holding the sensors in the air.
The demo turned out to be quite special on the day as it was one of the few that incorporated a performative element in the presentation.

‘Music and Bits’

The highly attended ‘Music and Bits’ event was mainly concentrated on making databases generated by online music services and website development. There was however another hardware interface demonstrated by Joris Zaalberg called ‘Jukebugs’, his final master project at the department of Industrial Design of Eindhoven University of Technology. ‘Jukebugs’ is a white 8-legged sound player that is sensitive to light and motion. Once the user has programmed a playlist of favourite music songs, the order is controlled by daylight by means of the ‘Jukebugs’ device.

To deepen my knowledge about this event I started to read some comments made by people who were invited as guests at the conference. Brian Whitman (lecture), who founded the company ‘Echo Nest’ with Tristan Jehan, made the following comment: ‘Thousands of resourceful creative people are throwing away most notions of what “music” and “discovery” means to really collectively figure out what is next in our world, and we are helping them’ (http://notes.variogr.am/post/224231253/highlights-of-last-week-at-music-and-bits. The people at ‘Echo Nest’ develop applications that are powered by ‘a musical brain’, having years of research experience at UC Berkeley, Columbia and the MIT. Well, help I needed indeed when I scribbled down some terms in my notebook that flew over the counter during the conference day: ‘Apps’, ‘Api’, ‘Scrobbler’, ‘Sound as Ecosystem’, ‘widget’. Hmm, I thought I was well-informed and up-to-date with reading blogs like ‘Twitter’, ‘Facebook’, ‘Hyves’ and so on, but it’s proved again that every field has its own language …

During ‘Music and Bits, I have brightened up my brain with the App (filename extension for applications) and API (Application Programming interface) presentations by Vodafone (sponsor of the day) who encouraged people to discuss the possibility of commercializing their code developments (for example Java or HTML) for PDAs, RjDj who promote the idea of ‘music as software’ and demonstrated an API that makes it possible to manipulate sounds by an iPhone, or social music/librarian websites such as the ones developed by Last.fm, IMEEM, Muxtape, Soundcloud, Cloudspeakers, Twones. On these websites the user is able to compile and share their own music libraries and receive, send & distribute music in a more user-friendly way than in websites such as ‘Facebook’ or ‘YouSendit’. Hypem highlighted the fact that this should all be packed in a well considered website design to optimize the communicating of your message over the web.

There is a good report of the conference track in the afternoon by Elena Tiis on: http://networkcultures.org/wpmu/weblog/2009/10/25/music-and-bits-conference-report/

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From the Music and Bits website:
Music and Bits is an event that is all about new developments in the online world of music. Together with the Amsterdam Dance Event and Music Hack Day we are organizing a second edition of this event which will be held on the 21st of October in the Felix Meritis in Amsterdam. We’ve got people from The Hype Machine, SoundCloud, LastFM, MuxTape, The Echo Nest, RjDj, STEIM and others joining us.

There are still some seats open for developers, (soft- & hardware) hackers and circuit benders to participate. In the Hack-track of the event there will be api-presentations, hardware-demo’s and more.

If you are interested in this track or in other parts of the program, please visit musicandbits.com for more information and registration. The event is free of costs and there will be several nice prizes to win. However, if you want to be part of the event, it is required to register prior to the event.

Hope to see you there on the 21st of October!

Date: Wednesday, Oct 21, 2009
Venue: Felix Meritis, Keizersgracht 324, 1016 EZ Amsterdam
More information: http://musicandbits.com/program/

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