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Blog archive for October 2007

Music Technology days in Oslo

October 10, 2007

I am participating at Musikkteknologidagene at Norges musikkhøgskole today and tomorrow. Various participants from research and educational institutions as well as art organizations meet to present and discuss the current state concerning education research and practice for music technology in Norway.

Below some stray notes from presentations and discussions today.

It all started with a laptop concert. More details at Alexander’s blog.

Jøran Rudi director at NoTAM

Jøran presented an analysis of what the world looks like from their perspective at the moment. According to him NoTAM is changing from being a site for production to become a center of competency. We think very much along the same line concerning BEK.

Alexander Refsum Jensenius

Interesting presentation. At the end he pojnted at some books and resources worth chekking out:

– Leman (2007): Embodied Music Cognition and Mediation
– Miranda &amp Wanderley (2006): New Digital Music Instruments

Kjetil F. Hansen

Kjetil again pointed to SMC: Sound and Music Computing an European initiative to finding a common platform for edacation in the field. Other links worth checking:
Cost Action SID: Sonic Interaction Design – ICO 601

Anders Vinjar freelance composer

Anders talked about the kind of music education he missed as a student in particular emphasizing the need for also learning general programming skills. Anders belong to a hybrid art practice integrating artistic creativity and technical development of custom solutions not unlike how I myself work and think or forming part of the philosophy behind Piksel.

Studios at NMH.

Next Mads Claesson gave a guided tour of the new and impressive facilities for work on music and technology at Musikkhøgskolen. Their solution in three compatible studios set up in a similar fashion is mainly based on state of the art commercial solutions for hardware software and audio formats (stereo and ITU 5:1 surround). I think that it might have been a useful addition for them to set up a lo-fi chaotic and anarchistic hacking lab offering an alternative DIY and media-critical approach.


October 12, 2007

October 11 2007

Claire Pentecost: 773-383-9771
Gregory Sholette: 212-865-3076
Edmund Cardoni: 716-854-1694
Igor Vamos: 917-209-3282
Lucia Sommer: 716-359-3061
Dianne Raeke Ferrell: 412-352-2704

Scientist’s Wife and Daughter Comment on Case

Buffalo NY – Today in Federal District Court Dr. Robert Ferrell
Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate
School of Public Health under tremendous pressure pled guilty to
lesser charges rather than facing a prolonged trial for federal
charges of “mail fraud” and “wire fraud” in a surreal post-PATRIOT
Act legal case that has attracted worldwide attention.

“From the beginning this has been a persecution not a prosecution.
Although I have not seen the final agreement the initial versions
contained incorrect and irrelevant information " said Dr. Dianne
Raeke Ferrell Dr. Ferrell’s wife and an Associate Professor of
Special Education and Clinical Services at Indiana University of
Pennsylvania. “Bob is a 27 year survivor of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
which has reoccurred numerous times. He has also had malignant
melanoma. Since this whole nightmare began Bob has had two minor
strokes and a major stroke which required months of rehabilitation.”

Dr. Ferrell added that her husband was indicted just as he was
preparing to undergo a painful and dangerous autologous stem cell
transplant the second in 7 years.

The Ferrells’ daughter Gentry Chandler Ferrell added: “Our family
has struggled with an intense uncertainty about physical emotional
and financial health for a long time. Agreeing to a plea deal is a
small way for dad to try to eliminate one of those uncertainties and
hold on a little longer to the career he worked so hard to develop…
Sadly while institutions merely are tarnished from needless
litigation individuals are torn apart. I remain unable to wrap my
mind around the absurdity of the government’s pursuit of this case
and I am saddened that it has been dragged out to the point where my
dad opted to settle from pure exhaustion.” (To read Gentry Ferrell’s
full statement please visit:

Dr. Ferrell’s colleague Dr. Steven Kurtz founder of the
internationally acclaimed art and theater group Critical Art
Ensemble was illegally detained and accused of “bioterrorism” by the
U.S. government in 2004 stemming from his acquisition from Dr.
Ferrell of harmless bacteria used in several of Critical Art
Ensemble’s educational art projects. After a costly investigation
lasting several months and failing to provide any evidence of
“bioterrorism " the Department of Justice instead brought charges of
“mail fraud” and “wire fraud” against Kurtz and Ferrell. Under the
USA PATRIOT Act the maximum penalty for these charges has increased
from 5 years to 20.000 (For more information about the case please see
“Background to the Case” below or


The government is vigorously attempting to prosecute two defendants
in a case where no one has been injured and no one has been
defrauded. The materials found in Dr. Kurtz’s house were obtained
legally and used safely by the artist. After three and a half years
of investigation and prosecution the case still revolves around
$256 worth of common science research materials that were used in
art works by a highly visible and respected group of artists. These
art works were commissioned and hosted by cultural institutions
worldwide where they had been safely displayed in museums and
galleries with absolutely no risk to the public.

The Government has consistently framed this case as an issue of
public safety but the materials used by Critical Art Ensemble are
widely available can be purchased by anyone from High School science
supply catalogues and are regularly mailed.


“The government’s prosecution is an ill-conceived and misguided
attack on the scientific and artistic communities " said Dr. Richard
Gronostajski Professor of Biochemistry at SUNY Buffalo where
Professor Kurtz also teaches. “It could have a chilling effect on
future scientific research collaborations and harm teaching efforts
and interactions between scientists educators and artists.”

“It’s deeply alarming that the government could pressure someone of
Dr. Ferrell’s stature into agreeing to something like this. The case
threatens all Americans’ Constitutionally guaranteed right to
question the actions of their government " said Igor Vamos Professor
of Integrated Electronic Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


The plea bargain agreement comes at a time of overwhelming public
support for the two defendants. A film about the case Strange
Culture – directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson and featuring Tilda
Swinton (Chronicles of Narnia Michael Clayton) Thomas Jay Ryan
(Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and Peter Coyote (E.T. Erin
Brockovich) – has drawn widespread critical praise and public
interest with screenings in dozens of U.S. cities after its
selection to open both the 2007 Human Rights Watch International Film
Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival documentary
section. An October 1 screening of the film at the Museum of Modern
Art in New York City drew a crowd of 400 who stayed for an hour
afterward for a discussion with Professor Kurtz director Hershman
Leeson and actress Tilda Swinton. Special benefit screenings of the
film in numerous cities have raised thousands of dollars to offset
the two defendants’ escalating legal costs.


The legal nightmare of renowned scientist Dr. Robert Ferrell and
artist and professor Dr. Steven Kurtz began in May 2004.000 Professor
Kurtz and his late wife Hope were founding members of the
internationally exhibited art and theater collective Critical Art
Ensemble. Over the past decade cultural institutions worldwide have
commissioned and hosted Critical Art Ensemble’s participatory theater
projects that help the general public understand biotechnology and
the many issues surrounding it. In May 2004 the Kurtzes were
preparing a project examining genetically modified agriculture for
the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art when Hope Kurtz died of
heart failure. Detectives who responded to Professor Kurtz’s 911 call
deemed the couple’s art suspicious and called the FBI. Within hours
the artist was illegally detained as a suspected “bioterrorist” as
dozens of federal agents in Hazmat suits sifted through his work and
impounded his computers manuscripts books his cat and even his
wife’s body.


The government has pursued this case relentlessly for three and a
half years spending enormous amounts of public resources. Most
significantly the legal battle has exhausted the financial
emotional and physical resources of Ferrell and Kurtz as well as
their families and supporters. The professional and personal lives of
both defendants have suffered tremendously. A trial date has not yet
been established.

For more information about the case including extensive
documentation please visit

Research on ambisonics in Trondheim

October 13, 2007

Always nice when you get to learn from somebody abroad what is going on in your own country…

Nils Peters of McGill mailed me a few days ago to introduce me to Peter Svensson at Department of Electronics and Telecommunications Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

His research areas of interest include electroacoustic reverberation enhancement The MLS technique for impulse response measurements auralization and audio over IP Networks. In June this year he hosted a workshop on 3D audio.

He has also developed ambitools a set of tools for real-time higher order Ambisonics encoding/decoding with a graphical user interface. The applications use JACK
for audio input/output. Ambitools supports supports up to 15th order Ambisonics for 2D surround and up to 4th order for 3D.

Another good reason to try to get to Trondheim for the upcoming Trondheim Matchmaking.

Open-ssource web editing

October 14, 2007

I recently asked for recommendations for open-source web development software at the Piksel list. below is a wind up of replies.

There are several WYSIWYG editors available. Kompzer and NvU are different branches of the same development project. Kompozer seems to be the easiest to use at the moment. Tutorials for them can be found here:

Amaya is the W3C’s WYSIWYG webpage editor. Browsing features are seamlessly integrated with the editing and remote access features in a uniform environment. This follows the original vision of the Web as a space for collaboration and not just a one-way publishing medium.

Bluefish is a powerful editor targeted towards programmers and webdesigners with many options to write websites scripts and programming code. Bluefish supports many programming and markup languages and it focuses on editing dynamic and interactive websites. On mac OSX Bluefish requires X11 and Fink.

Quanta Plus is a highly stable and feature rich web development environment. The vision with Quanta has always been to start with the best architectural foundations design for efficient and natural use and enable maximal user extensibility. Quanta is based on KDE so this means it is network transparent from any dialog or project.

For simple projects Mozilla Composer might be an option. There is also a web developer extension for Firefox. Or you could make web pages in OpenOffice.

One reply indicated that open-source solutions might still have some way to go: Websites are my paid day job and after trying and trying for a year I had to give in and admit that there isn’t anything that compares in the oss world if you want productivity. Bluefish is the only editor I can live with longer then half an hour. vim drives me crazy.

Another reply suggested that WordPress might be a better way to go for artists: Stop hacking html files and get a wordpress install. For around twenty dollars you can get a hosted blog with your own choice of domain name.

And finally CMS software like Typo3 or a href=“”>CMS Made Simple which might be the right tool or not for your specific task. They are good for collaborative work on a website with or without defined roles.

What goes around comes surround

October 14, 2007

Wendy Carlos has been writing up on her experience and thoughts working on surround sound here.

Grundig audiorama reintroduced

October 14, 2007


Marking its 100 year anniversary Grundig is re-introducing the Audiorama 360-degree audio field producing “sound spheres” early 2008.000 Apart from looking great they would also be intriguing to use with DBAP.

Børre Sæthre keep your hands of these are mine!


More cool speakers can be found here.

5 day Max workshop

October 16, 2007

I’m currently doing a five day workshop at BEK offering an introduction to Max MSP and Jitter. This is day two. Below are two excersises I have given them to work on until tomorrow. As far as possible I try creating examples that are relevant in a music and arts context. So there’s no how to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit this week.

1) A sample-based keyboard instrument.

Create a simple instruments with two or more separate voices connected to separate keys on the keyboard. Each key when triggered should cause a sound file to play until the key is released again.

Try two different approaches concerning the sound played back:

a) The sound is constantly looping but gain (0 or 1) is controlled using the keyboard.

b) The sound starts playing from the beginning of the file every time the key is pressed. If the sound plays all the way through it stoops even if the user keep pressing the key.

The latter is a software-based emulation of the Mellotron a tape-based sampling instrument used on a number of recordings in the 60s and 70s:


A) Try combining the “key” and “keyup” objects so that you don’t have to press the keys several times to start and stop audio the way we did today.

B) Implement a fade in and out and the beginning and end of the sounds. Try making it so that the user can decide how long fade in and fade out they want.

2) Emulating Brian Eno: Music for Airports 2/1:

Create a layered textural composition in a similar fashion to Music for Airports 2/1 by triggering a number of sound files at regular intervals. Leave a bit of silence in between each time a sound file triggers and make sure that the interval at which the sound file is triggered is independent for each layer.

Developing MaxMSP externals in Objective C

October 16, 2007

As outlined in a series of posts at the Electrotap blog lately the first one dated September 27 2007 Tim Place has been creating a framework for development of MaxMSP externals using Objective-C. Having managed to do so he has decided to move straight from the C++ based 0.200 version of ttblue the library underpinning TapTools and many Jamoma externals to v.0.4 using Objective-C.

Having looked at the ttblue source code for a while planning to integrate my tl.objects externals in ttblue the code using Objective-C appeared invitingly coder-friendly. Yesterday I sat down in the evening to give it a go. In a few hours time I had ported the code for one of the Butterworth filters. With a bit of additional tweaking by Tim it is now apparently compiling and running. At the time being the Objective-C compiling is depending on the not yet released Max 5 so I can’t test for myself.

The way I see it this opens up for three very interesting potentials:

1) New externals are a lot easier to create than previous comparable to making pseudo-externals in Java to run inside the mxj/mxj~ externals.

2) HeaderDoc is used to create HTML documentation from the code aiding the documentation of the externals.

3) Most importantly the number of audio channels to be filtered can now be defined using an argument. I am dreaming that this might be the first step towards being able to introduce multicable signals in MSP.

Working class skills

October 26, 2007

Marsdal påpeker hvor opptatt dagens arbeiderklasse er av skills. Særlig med det manuelle arbeidets tilbakegang har symbolverdien av håndverksmessige ferdigheter steget. Å vise at man fortsatt kan noe er blitt ekstra viktig.

(Rough translation: Marsdal (in a book trying to decode the popularity of the right wing populist political party Fremskrittspartiet) points to the obsession with skills among the working class. As manual work disappear the symbolic value of craftsman skills increase. The ability to document skills and abilities has become increasingly important.)

The above quote is from a review in Morgenbladet today of a book on the Norwegian band Turboneger. I’m not necessarily subscribing to this claim (How are skills definied? Do we at all have a working class in Norway in 2007?) but I find such statements interesting to contemplate.

Tripple-booting MacBook Pro

October 28, 2007

Over the last six or seven months I have as a side project worked to set up my MacBook Pro with triple boot Mac OSX Windows XP and Ubuntu following these instructions.

The project stranded for quite a while due to problems with the keyboard not responding in Grub a problem reported by many others attempting at the same. Yesterday I did the Mac Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.2 and that seemed to do the trick. The keyboard appears to work reliable now.

So I have now upgraded to Ubuntu 7.100 (“Gutsy Gibbon”) and installed Ubuntu Studio on top of that. The only problem remaining to solve is how to get wireless to work with Ubuntu Studio running on the realtime kernel. I also need to be able to get Ubuntu to work with an external firewire sound card but MOTU seems awful at supporting Linux drivers so I might have to get something else than the Motu828 and MOTU 828mkII cards I am currently using.

What do I want to use all of this for? The primary uses for Windows will be in order to develop test and compile Jamoma and Jamoma externals for Windows. In addition I am occasionally using the Aurora plug-ins with Adobe Audition for acoustics testing and research.

Ubuntu will be used for general research in particular into anything Piksel-related as well as trying to get WONDER working so that I can start experimenting with wave field synthesis.