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Expo Morphs Analogue Music to Digital
Sound Gallery spreads technology in South West England
William Pollard (will789)     Print Article 
Published 2009-04-05 10:36 (KST)   
The Analogue to Digital Music Expo mixed training workshops with demonstrations, a form of trade show with live performance. Held on the March 21 at the Phoenix Arts Centre in Exeter UK this developed from a new studio and local musicians working on projects through Sound Gallery. The studio is part of a network as production is now possible at home or in various locations using personal computers. The audience welcomed the Prize Draw, a closing ceremony to distribute software and hardware extensions.

The emphasis was on professional music production and it seemed to me that Apple equipment was widely used. The Media Centre at the Phoenix is almost entirely based on Macs though many of the people who visit use windows at home and there is interest in Linux and open source. The Sundown demo party in Budleigh Salterton includes some music however created and the Adventures in Technology event in Bristol also includes sound. There is more about Sundown and Adventures in Technology later in this story.

Sound Gallery explain on their Web site that they plan
"to establish national and international links with the music industry ..... and make this an annual event that will put Exeter on the map as a leading host for music technology and innovation. This event will give the opportunity to everyone involved in music-making in the South West to come and try out all the latest music technology. This will also be the first time anyone in the UK will have the opportunity to try equipment that was showcased at the NAMM show in the US in January 2009 which only allows access to traders and not the general public."
M Audio showed Digidesign's Pro Tools 8, along with USB Midi keyboards and pro studio monitor ranges, along with the Axiom Pro keyboard with built-in control for Pro Tools, Logic, Reason, Cubase and many other plugins and software applications.

Yamaha presented the Tenori-On, a unique 16 x 16 LED button matrix performance controller with a stunning visual display. The display is used to program the sound sequence and then responds to the sound as played. This can then be modified so there is a continuous loop of interaction. A video on YouTube shows what Marc '01' was able to do with this. Additional samples were added. The visuals were made in just one take.

During an evening performance an acoustic set by Dan Crisp had a screen backdrop with images from the day. The Tenori-On appears but this may not be in response to the sounds. However the potential is there for "visual music" to be programmed and this will develop on future occasions. The Voodoo Lounge performances were part of the Vibraphonic festival and showed how digital technology can extend performance. Kat Marsh started with an acoustic approach and then extended to use a range of devices, some looping her voice from early in the song.

Kat Marsh
©2009 Will Pollard
During the day there were demonstrations by Craig Blundell on Roland drums and Sonor drums by Robert Brian. Brian was mostly analogue and so complemented Blundell, so digital he had sampled the DJ and was able to do a dance set that took revenge on the drum machine.

Craig Blundell
©2009 Will Pollard
Adventures in Technology is a Bristol event covering all aspects of computing. Judder showed the software used during dance mixes. There was also more restful music on the Theramin. There is no official ban on mainstream equipment but the approach is experimental while also celebrating antique equipment. At an earlier event there was an explanation of the demoscene and the "Old School" approach based on computers such as the Commodore 64, the Amiga and Atari. The demoscene combines sound and vision and there may be interest in commercial products such as the Yamaha Tenori-On. Graphics can be viewed as "visual music" and there need not be limits on how the combination works out.

Shevek at an Adventure in Technology
©2009 Will Pollard
The next major demoscene party is Breakpoint at Bingen am Rhein, Germany. Music competitions are in three sections, streaming, "oldschool" executable on any platform with a CPU that has "a 16 bit or smaller data bus (C64, Amiga 500 [yes, 68000 is 16bit], VIC20, Atari XL, NES,...)", or "newschool" executable where the rules include that you must deliver proof the executable works on real hardware. So an Apple Mac with Apple software may be allowed.

The Analogue to Digital Music Expo has demonstrated an audience for professional technology. But I think the impact will be greater as it connects with a wider context.

Another suggestion is that there is a future for new chips that recreate old chips. Software can recreate the effect of an old amplifier but how to continue the chip tune as older hardware ceases to function?

There is more video on YouTube tagged "A2D09". Next year the tag will be "A2D10".
©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter William Pollard

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