Google Glass Adds Music, Young Guru Manages to (Kind Of, Maybe) Make It Seem Cool

Categories: Tech

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Young Guru, pulling these off better than most people, which really isn't saying much.

Remember when Shazam seemed kind of cool? Shazam is no longer cool. You know what's cool? Sitting alone in a Mexican restaurant and demanding, out loud, that your Star Trek-inspired eyewear identify the song that the restaurant is currently playing on the radio. Without ever having to lift a finger!

At least, that's what this video almost had us thinking for a minute. To illustrate the new music features that Google Glass will be rolling out over the next couple of weeks to its beta-testing "Explorers" -- including hands-free access to Google Play, streaming and downloading, the aforementioned restaurant song-finder, headphones and more -- the company turned to DJ/producer/cool person Young Guru, who mixed 10 out of Jay-Z's 11 albums and and who is currently an artist-in-residence at USC.

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Crazy Tech Lets You Make Musical Instruments out of Paper

Categories: Tech

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Yep: a musical instrument fashioned out of paper.
What was your first musical instrument? A recorder? A cheap guitar? The family piano? Well, what if it was a simple piece of paper?

That's the promise of a prototype kit from Italian startup MusicInk. Using the kit's conductive ink, you first paint lines on a piece of paper using one of the supplied stencils, which come in the shape of a trumpet, a guitar, piano keys, or other instruments. Then you attach the paper via cable to a magical electronic box, which runs off an app (for an explanation of the box/app magic, see WIRED's detailed report on this). Courtesy of some programming and electronic whiz-bangery, the painted paper becomes an instrument that triggers sounds recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.


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MusicInk, tech

The Scariest Song You'll Hear Today Is This Brain Having a Seizure

Categories: Tech, WTF

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Listen to this...
This is really freaky. Stanford scientists Josef Parvizi and Chris Chafe took the electric signals of a brain experiencing a convulsive seizure and converted them into tones that fall within the range of the human voice. The result is terrifying -- a kind of ghostly lazer-bass ambience, or a theremin with way too much vibrato, or a haunting howl sample stuck on repeat. The idea here is to create a kind of brain-stethoscope that could help scientists understand what's happening to a person in real-time. Until then, they've found a new way to make completely unnerving music. What does this sound like to you?


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Welcome to the Age of the Google Glass Music Video. Now We See How Pathetic Crowds Are.

Categories: Tech

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That's you out there [grimace].
Used to be there were iPhone music videos. Then there were GoPro music videos. Now we are entering the age of the Google Glass music video, where performers shoot from their own perspective while wearing the G company's infamous nerd goggles.

Oakland's own Wallpaper was the first to do it back in July, with a Google Glass-enabled live video for "Last Call" taken at Warped tour in Phoenix. The clip has an amazing immediacy to it -- you see Ricky Reed's arms waving in front of the shot, and can hear when he sings and when he doesn't. You feel like you're onstage with him, which is thrilling.


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SF Music Tech Summit: Digital Possibilities Abound, But "Good" Music Is Still Required

Categories: Tech

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The SF MusicTech Summit, which drew more than 1,000 people to the Hotel Kabuki in Japantown on Tuesday for its 14th event, has become a hub for entrepreneurs, artists, and music industry folks who have -- or want -- a say in how the broken music industry could or should redefine itself.

The event has an air of high-minded enthusiasm, and Tuesday was no exception: people exchanged elevator pitches and spoke passionately about digital concerts, the transcendent power of large-scale art at large outdoor music festivals, and how things like descriptive metadata and online social music platforms can greatly benefit musicians.


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Mickey Hart Is Playing His Brain as a Musical Instrument and it Sounds Weeeiiirrddd

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Mickey Hart and the brain machine.
So how's this for trippy: Mickey Hart, former drummer for legendary cranium-rearrangers the Grateful Dead, is now actually playing the arrangement of his cranium. Mostly as a light show, but partly as a musical instrument.

Hart, who turned 70 yesterday, has teamed up with a professor from UCSF to make a brain-cap thing that captures the activity of his noodle's neurons and translates it into a light show. With sound. You can see his brain light up in different colors on a big screen, and noise comes out of this contraption, although it's not terribly musical. Hart's live performances rely on more conventional instruments like guitars and drums to enter the realm of Actual Music. The "brain noises," as NPR explains, aren't really brain noises anyway -- just musical notes randomly assigned to different brain waves. But maybe this is comforting? Dunno about you, but when we're thinking, we generally do not notice the clicks and pops our brain makes, much less whether they land in the key of B flat.


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Hella Hack Oakland Brings Overnight Tech Development to the Other Side of the Bay

Categories: Events, Tech

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Don't get complacent, San Francisco -- your younger cousin across the Bay is on your trail. Especially when that trail is music technology: Later this month, major Oakland music-tech firms Pandora and Gracenote (which maintains digital song information, among other things) are hosting Hella Hack Oakland, where up to 150 coders, music nerds, and other visionary types will gather to design and build what their hosts hope will be the next big thing in music technology. [Insert obligatory complaint about the overuse of the word "hack" here, and ... okay, we're over it.]


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Apple To Launch iTunes Radio Service Nobody Needs Next Month

Categories: Tech

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Apple will launch iTunes Radio next month. Will anyone care?
Between Pandora, Rdio, Spotify, Nokia, Google, and who-knows-how-many others (Beats!), the streaming Internet radio market is not exactly empty. But that of course isn't stopping industry behemoth Apple from jumping into the fray with its own iTunes Radio service -- which, according to AdAge, will be available in the U.S. sometime next month.

Just what will be so special about Apple's service? Let us know when you figure it out. The early specs are as follows: 200 Apple-curated stations, with personalized options based on your taste or your existing iTunes library. Listening will be free, with audio ads running every 15 minutes and a video ad every hour. Those who purchase iTunes Match, Apple's cloud-storage music service, can listen without ads.


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Pandora Gets Into the Game of Premiering New, Unreleased Music

Categories: Tech

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Every time Pandora launches another feature or fee, bloggers read the tea leaves and find another harbinger of doom. Things looked exceptionally dire in late February, when the Oakland music startup decided to cap free mobile listening at 40 hours a month, and charge 99 cents thereafter. Cynics took it as a sign that the famously unprofitable company — which had finally managed to figure out a viable revenue model for its desktop service — couldn't accommodate the shift into mobile. Even Pandora CEO Tim Westergren seemed a little crestfallen, blaming the new fee on escalating per-track royalty rates in a company blog post.


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Pandora

Headphones for DJs and Fans of DJs: These Sound Better Than Beats By Dre

Categories: Tech

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The AIAIAI TMA-1
Last year, we lamented the role Beats By Dre headphones have played in popularizing a sound profile that's top-heavy with low end. One reader left a comment that we'd ignored a specific headphone, the AIAIAI TMA-1, that he felt is "used by DJs behind the turntables and on BART." This got us thinking about a great contradiction, the audiophile basshead, and the growing numbers of headphones tuned to satisfy more discerning DJs, electronic producers, and club music lovers.

DJs have always had headphones; they've had good headphones, even. Many brands -- including Pioneer, Denon, Sony, Audio-Technica, and Sennheiser -- have more than competent DJ-centric entries in their lineups. A lot of models, however, have concentrated primarily on portability, durability, and isolation, and were voiced to be used primarily at gigs. In most DJ headphones, a personal subwoofer-like sensation emphasizes the rhythm, while the highs are rolled off to reduce listening fatigue when competing with the house system's volume. Now, however, electronic dance music isn't relegated to clubs, so the new breed of headphones offers some physical flare without as much woefully unbalanced sonic embellishment. Here's a selection of sets that will tighten up playback whether you're enjoying the latest Fabric mix on your commute, producing a track, or immolating a crowd with bass.


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