Music Tech Fest 2012

The first Music Tech Fest, run by Ravensbourne College and Stromatolite in London gathered sound gurus, hackers and musicians together to make, talk and play. From synth legend and 3D sound designer Martyn Ware (The Human League, BEF, Heaven 17) to the dance demon that is Coldcut/Ninja Tune’s Matt Black, and new app designers, minds were well and truly expanded, if not blown! There’s even a free Synaesthesia app.

The Alphasphere

If you’re in London and a panicked voice from a white phone box asks you for help escaping, blame Martyn Ware and Illustrious, the company he founded with fellow synth legend Vince Clarke. Martyn revealed some of his 2012 projects which include the BT ArtBox box project and a 3D Millennium Bridge Soundscape.

Matt Black from Ninja Tune and Coldcut demo’d his new NinjaJamm app. He gave it to the Music Tech Fest hack camp to play with, then gave the rest of us a preview, followed by a jamm session. He’s very clear that it’s a new instrument.

Matt’s keeping the finer details under wraps until the official launch, but we can reveal it has a groovy intuitive interface, is great fun, and you can remix your favourite artists as well as do your own thing. Matt’s dub version of Toddla T was incredible!

Lightsabers and music? Well yes! The hackers at the hack camp produced an amazing range of hacks. The sabers became synth controllers and went down a storm. There was an iPhone Marimba you could play by banging a chair, and a shoot-em-up game with beautiful but deadly waveforms.

One piece of kit that really caught our ear and eye was Adam John Williams’ 不格好5K - Bukkakō 5000, a bass with added sensors that sounded like Muse without the need for any pedals. And there were many more delights.

Circuit-bending fiends did a max-mash on a Casio, and Daniel Jones’ Twitter Feed Sonifier (music made from Twitter streams) was surprisingly beautiful and wowed the crowd.

There were new instrument and app demos including the huggable, tweakable, electronic Alphasphere. Plus plenty of music biz insights from PRS, lawyers Lewis Silkin, and a demo of Cuesongs. Cuesongs was co-founded by Peter Gabriel and is designed to make music licensing easy as well as give artists more of a say. No to cigarette advertisers? No problem.

It was a triumph for Ravensbourne, in their beautiful building, and all anyone could talk about was the next one!