Max/MSP v PureData - 1 
Max/MSP and Pure Data (PD)

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mobile sound on a portable device 
I'm refining my search for a technical approach to creating a portable satellite sounding instrument for Sun Run Sun. I'm looking for a flexible open source solution that has possibilities for future changes and developments, both in terms of hardware and software.

I've had mixed responses ranging from "oh yes that's simple" to "you don't want to do that". I was surprised to find a number of negative responses from 'experts', that I'm being unrealistic to look for custom built hardware of such a small scale and expect good quality stereo sound. I don't think this is true at all, so I find it a strange reaction, maybe stemming from a fear of hardware tinkering? Another reaction is to point me to mobile phones and PDA's with a built in GPS. But this introduces fundamental compromises both on a technical and conceptual level - I don't need any of the complexity of these devices (screen, keyboard, network/phone connectivity, software).

I'm going along the lines of a small processor running Linux and PDa, (a version of Pure Data (often used for electronic music)) parsing the data from the GPS (all NMEA data, not just calculated longitude and latitude) for use as the sound generator. One of the requirements is that I can access and program this sound myself, and I prefer to use Max/MSP or PD for this. I'm pretty excited by Gumstix: tiny computers, motherboards and expansion boards, one of which includes a GPS module, the size of a stick of chewing gum, 20mm x 80mm. This could provide just the solution in terms of size, platform, performance and flexibility for future use.

But more work is needed to find the optimal solution.....

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STEIM's orientation... 
participating in STEIM's (Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music) orientation workshop in Amsterdam, I'm introduced to their software LiSa for live sampling and processing of sound and JunXion to map controller information from all sorts of input devices to varying sound parameters. It means that I compose, control and improvise on the fly, using sounds that i have stored, record or capture, transforming them into new sounds. And I can gesturally control these sounds in multiple ways including assigning and shaping processes. Which is fantastic because it's flexible and fast.

the draw-backs (arguably) are: it only runs on a mac, works with sound samples not synthesis, is built around the low resolution of midi, and it's not open-source... all side-effects of the fact it's been developed by one programmer over many years for one specific performer.

but then my respect for STEIM lies in it's openness to many forms of instrument and music making, without imposing aesthetics or software choices on the many musicians and artists who become involved in one way or another. so what's the extent of 'open' and 'open-source'?

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sun running 
One integrated portable unit with GPS receiver and sound processor small enough to carry. With this small, light, cheap, durable, strong - the audience can take it out for walks, the percussionist version can walk carrying a loud speaker while playing. (Adapted with a phone card and network it could report back to a central space - but maybe this is against the idea of specific location "I'm here now".) So the time will be spent on developing small portable well designed hardware that runs the GPS and turns this data directly into sound that can be listened to on headphones. What sounds should I use this time? The ring modulations and clicks and white noise?

I am starting to look for a hardware developer/engineer who can design and build this in collaboration with me, and likewise the software needs to be simply developed and open source. Software is sound generation and processing, GPS data parsed to be useful for the sound, bluetooth, storage of data.

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