Monday, July 19, 2010

Reaktor 5.5 UI Critique

As I mentioned recently Reaktor 5.5 has been issued in a beta version for current owners. This is largely a refresh of the design, but there are also some improvements under the hood. In this article I will critique the interface and its usability issues. My goal is to help drive Reaktor development towards creating the ultimate tool for audio synthesis and processing.

While some bit-heads may be more interested in new modules, macros and processing features (such as an FFT engine, MIDI piano roll, etc.) I agree with Native Instruments that what is first and foremost required is to improve the interface of the product. Working in Reaktor for many hours at a time, one realises the inefficiencies. Version 5.5 seems an attempt at making the product look prettier -- which is not a bad thing. But more important is to make Reaktor easier to learn and use. I believe what we see so far is only a small step along the way to usability heaven.
Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mystery Recording For World Listening Day

remnantsToday, 18 July, is the birthday of the Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer, who was pivotal in expanding our understanding of the soundscape in all its forms. As such, today is World Listening Day, in honour of which I present for you one simple sound from my daily life. I've added this to a new album on Go directly to Remnants and have a listen! Can you tell what it is? (Answers in the comments.)

Since Schafer published his book Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World a new awareness of sound ecology has developed. Today there are many individuals and organisations around the world dedicated to the "simple" act of listening, among them the World Soundscape Project and the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology. Thousands of sound artists and phonographers, like myself, work to encourage active listening in a world dominated by the visual.
Friday, July 16, 2010

New Reaktor in Free Beta

Reaktor 5.5Rarely am I as happy to see a software release as the new Reaktor 5.5 Beta version. Reaktor is a complete modular synthesis and audio processing workstation and has been the mainstay of my work for some time. Released in April 2005, Reaktor 5 has become rather long in the tooth. Now, anyone who owns that current version is entitled to become a beta tester for 5.5. Not only that, this version will be a free update once it is out of testing.

And we only had to wait five years!
Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Suite for Limerick" Performed in Brighton

If you are in Brighton this weekend (16-18 July) you have a chance to hear my visual score being performed as part of the Soundwaves Festival, three days of "cutting-edge new-music, sound-art, and participatory experiences that will intrigue and inspire!" "Suite for Limerick (Lines in the Sky)" is in six movements for an arbitrary number of performers. The score is derived from photos I took of aerial wires above the streets and alleys of Limerick. I have omitted any written instructions to the players, since I believe it is easy enough to find ways of interpreting the shapes, colours and intersections of same.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Perspective Distortion, Sensor Size And Portraiture

I cannot recall how many photography forum postings I have read entitled "which lens should I use for portraits?" Here I will clear up some of the terminology and misconceptions that arise, especially those due to the use of digital cameras for this task.

The first thing I'll get out of the way is that any lens can be used for a portrait. It all depends on what you want to show: head crop, head and shoulders, full body, group portrait, environmental portrait (where you show the person in context), quirky perspective, etc. But for the rest of the article I'll limit discussion to classic head and shoulder portraiture, where you want to flatter your subject without excessive need for post-processing. The most important concept to understand here is perspective distortion.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Susannah Kelly's Blog

My wife, Susannah, is becoming more active on her blog, so I thought I'd point you in her direction. She's a singer and songwriter primarily, but has also been successful as an actor and dipped into performance art, poetry, visual art and dance. (It's obvious why I love her!)

She's going to use her site to write about some of her collaborative music projects. Her last post refers to the music composition site CC Mixter, where she has already had her voice used in three remixes. I am sure this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Subscribe to the RSS feed and keep up to date with her song-writing and music as it progresses.

Addendum: Oops, it looks like she has taken down the site.
Thursday, July 01, 2010

"Twelve Minutes on Catherine Street" online from Portugal

site viewI am pleased to announce that my piece "Twelve Minutes on Catherine Street" is being broadcast on the net as part of RadiaLx, an international radio art festival based in Lisboa, Portugal. Activities will be taking place 1-3 July at various locations across the city, including the Lumiar Cité gallery and the gardens of the Goethe-Institut.

RadiaLx will be broadcasting three days of radio art on Rádio Zero, available at 99.0MHz in Lisbon and also streamed worldwide over their website. According to the press release, this "comprises site-specific projects, streams from all over the world and live shows, as well as broadcasts of the most contemporary and inventive radio art works."