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cheyenne_h on 12/25/2014 at 08:00AM

Radio Free Culture #29: Get Your Shovels Ready! A Tour of with Aaron Wolf

"Transmitters-5" by Adam Bowie. 2011. CC BY-NC-SA via flickr.

WFMU and the Free Music Archive are proud to present a new season of Radio Free Culture, a weekly podcast exploring issues at the intersection of digital culture and the arts. 

In this episode, Cheyenne Hohman, RFC host and current Director of the FMA, spoke with Aaron Wolf about, a new crowdfunding platform for freely-licensed software and creative works, as well as some background on Aaron's thoughts on copyright in the digital age

They are asking for contributions at through the end of 2014.

Check out the podcast here, or subscribe to the podcast here (via iTunes).

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jason on 01/30/2013 at 10:15AM

Beatjazz: Onyx Ashanti's 3D-Printed Interface To Create Music From Movement, Now Open Source

Originally a jazz saxophone player, Onyx Ashanti cut his teeth in the 90s rave scene where he imagined how sax-like gestures might control the sound of drum 'n' bass music. Following through on this idea, he harnessed the potential of new open source technology to design his own instrument, the "Beatjazz" system, which is also the term he uses to describe his distinct style of music.

Beatjazz is an open framework for improvisation. The two tracks below are from Recursive Artifact II:Nomadic Summer 2010recorded as Onyx Ashanti road-tested his ever-evolving system and experimented with new techniques. The recordings themselves make for a fantastic listen, but it's the performance that takes Beatjazz to the next level.

The Beatjazz controller includes two hand units and a mouthpiece. The mouthpiece senses breath pressure to instantiate notes, using a lip sensor for added expression. The hand units each have a joystick, four pressure-sensitive buttons, a switch to change modes (i.e. from 'record' to 'loop'), and accelerometers to measure x-y coordinates. Three wifi-equipped Arduinos transmit all of this controller information to a computer running Puredata patches that turn these zeroes and ones into sweet Beatjazz music.

Onyx Ashanti is continually refining his Beatjazz system. For example, the prototype's controllers were made out of cardboard, while the latest iteration is almost entirely 3D-printed. Now you can play a role in the evolution of Beatjazz because Controller v1.0 is officially released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license via MakerBot's Thingiverse. The same CC BY-NC-SA license covers the tracks below.

Onyx Ashanti has many more releases available at, where you can keep tabs on his latest innovations. 

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jessevdoom on 11/26/2012 at 12:00AM

Can Open Source Technology Save Music? — by Jesse von Doom & Maggie Vail of CASH Music

CashWe are now more than a decade into the technological revolution that turned the music industry upside down. Initially, it felt like there was so much possibility, that the internet might be the great democratizer, that it could empower artists to take more control over their careers, and ultimately allow them to see more of a percentage of income from their music. There have been some success stories, but it seems the vast majority of artists today are struggling even more, making less money yet paying more middlemen. 

Recently musicians have begun to be more open about discussing their shrinking percentages in this music industry food chain. There’s been articles in the past few months about major indie artists that are unable to pay for their own health insurance, bands frustrated with payments they receive via streaming services, and apparently now Cat Power is even facing bankruptcy.  When artists are willing to publicly talk about money it means that things are definitely taking a turn for the worse.  

People often like to talk about disruption when discussing the music industry but the initial disruption was the easy part, think of it like screaming fire in a crowded theater, it’s actually putting something together after that chaos that is the difficult and interesting work. Every few years we see a different solution touted as the answer. First it was mp3 downloads, then it was internet radio, and now that the cloud is here it’s streaming on demand. This sort of technological determinism is market driven and frankly isn’t necessarily what most artists need or even want.

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