[PlanetCCRMA] Stanford students invent new music

Florin Andrei florin at andrei.myip.org
Mon Apr 7 22:12:50 PDT 2008

Oh look, CCRMA was on Google News tonight:


PALO ALTO, CA (KGO) -- On Wednesday, three Stanford students were 
selected to appear at an international music conference in Italy, the 
8th annual conference, "New Interfaces for Musical Expression", will be 
held in Italy June 5-7.

The trio have developed a new kind of instrument that makes playing 
notes as easy as playing with blocks. Stacking blocks to make music; 
Deceptively simple, but a lot of hard work for these grad students.

"Yes!" they agree. "Yes it was!"

  They're part of a famed program at Stanford called the Center for 
Computer Research in Music and Acoustics -- at the forefront of the boom 
in music-making for the non-musician.

As evidence of the boom, grad student Hayden Bursk cites "Garage Band, 
things like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. They have just brought the idea 
of making music and composing and recording into everyone's home."

Bursk and his colleagues Steinunn Arnardottir and Nick Bryan call their 
shiny black box Cubeats - for making beats with cubes. Dropping one cube 
gives you a kick bass, two cubs a snare, and three a high hat. The beat 
is kept from left to right, across the board. And it's not just for 
drums. It's 3-dimensional.

"The second row could have your base sounds," Hayden Bursk explains, 
"here you could have a piano line, and on the third you could have some 
vocal sounds."

They're careful to point out that they don't aim to put the professional 
recording engineer out of business.

"...as though their experience is useless," says music science major 
Steinunn Arnardottir. "Not at all. It's just about making it accessible 
to more people."

As an example, Nick Bryan tells the story of a little drummer boy. "We 
had a young kid come in. He was 10 years old, and he just started 
putting cubes on the rod. He played drums, actually. And he goes, 'Man, 
I could never do that on my drum set!' And, for us, I think that was 
really gratifying."

Bursk sums it up: "So kids now will grow up to know that making music is 
going to be with either videogame systems or cellphones, or with 
computers, as opposed to people who grew up a long time ago believing 
you had to be in a studio with a tape machine."


Florin Andrei


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