Music created by $30,000 worth of Nikon SLRs

Benjamin Von Wong had a thought: what if he could turn a bevy of SLRs into sweet, sweet music? With the help of Nikon Professional Services (NPS) and composer Andrew Kesler, an estimated $30,000 worth of camera gear was used to create this song. Spotted by photography blog PetaPixel, 14 cameras went into the making of the "Nikon Symphony" across most of the Nikon range, from the D4 through to the D5200.

Sounds were created by playing with various functions of the camera. From Live View switching on and off to the mirror flipping up and down, … Read more

Video Game Orchestra: Castlevania at the symphony

While most classical concert halls deliver the best of Mozart, Beethoven, or Bach, the Boston-based Video Game Orchestra plays tunes from the annals of beloved franchises such as Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, Castlevania, and others.

The eclectic musical group -- which weaves a Mannheim Steamroller-esque synthesis of classical music and a rock -- played to a packed house yesterday at the Boston Symphony Hall and completed a major milestone on Kickstarter by generating $40,000 in donations to launch an album recorded from the performance. … Read more

Lowrider symphony: Hot hopping-car orchestra performs

Take a lowrider car club. Add a couple of artists. Throw in some wireless audio technology. Do some choreography. Practice for four months. Roll it all out in a parking lot in Albuquerque, N.M. Congratulations, you've just created a lowrider symphony.

Officially called "Symphony 505," a reference to one of New Mexico's two area codes, the performance piece took place during ISEA2012 Albuquerque: Machine Wilderness, a collection of art, science, and technology events with an international conference.

I caught the event on a warm New Mexico Sunday evening. It was equal parts baffling and fascinating. The cars moved about the parking lot, sometimes following each other, sometimes making their own purposeful paths. … Read more

IBM offers Lotus with extra widgets

IBM on Friday announced a new version of its Lotus Symphony office suite, with extra features aimed at Microsoft Office users, as part of the "ferocious competition" the company says it is in with Microsoft. At the same time, the company said it is phasing out Microsoft Office internally wherever possible.

"Users can easily drag and drop widgets directly into Lotus Symphony, distinguishing it from static office productivity tools such as Microsoft Word," said IBM in a statement. "This drag-and-drop feature also makes Symphony stand out from other Microsoft Office alternatives, simplifying the use and … Read more

A virtual path to Carnegie Hall

At New York City's world-renowned Carnegie Hall, the music of the ages was played with a modern twist this week.

In a first-of-its-kind concert, famed American conductor Michael Tilson Thomas offered a new answer to the old humorous question: "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?"

"Upload, upload, upload" is Thomas' response.

The YouTube Symphony Orchestra originated with the click of a mouse.

In December, 3,000 hopefuls began posting auditions online. YouTube surfers helped determine which 96 musicians would make the final cut.

Among those selected were Owain Williams, a tympanist studying at London'… Read more

What's better? Live or recorded music?

There are a million ways to experience music, but for the purpose of this blog let's just break it down to two categories: live and recorded.

I don't know about you, but if I get to hear live music more than twice a month, that's pretty good. Sure, I can look back and remember some great concerts in my life, like the Rolling Stones at Madison Square Garden in 1969, Miles Davis in a tiny club in Greenwich Village in the early '70s, and Stevie Ray Vaughan in the '80s. The Pixies in the '90s were definitely a high point.

I recently attended a concert with the Chelsea Symphony at St. Paul's Church in Manhattan. Sitting in the top balcony, the sound was simply awesome; I've never heard anything close to that sound reproduced by even the very best high-end audio systems. The orchestra certainly didn't need amplification; it was definitely loud enough. Not quite rock concert loud, but the Chelsea Symphony's eight percussionists can make a strong impression.

Better yet, the sound never hurt my ears. But the orchestra was far more viscerally dynamic than any rock band, and the sound of strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion filling the acoustic space of the church was a thrill I won't soon forget. That is, you don't so much hear the sound of each instrument, you hear it filling the church. The sound of the entire orchestra floated, like a cloud, above the pews. The sound was beyond what I've ever experienced from an orchestra in a large concert hall.

In those and other experiences, the music connection was stronger than it could ever be from recordings, but for the most part I actually prefer recorded music. First and most obviously because it's a repeatable pleasure I can have any time I want it. Next, recorded music is, after all, perfected and approved by the artist(s)--live music is subject to the vagaries of chance.

Recorded music's production can't necessarily be duplicated in concert. Depending on where you sit, and how good or bad the sound system is, live music is a crap shoot. With a decent hi-fi at home, you can get better sound than most live gigs. Oh, and you can play it at exactly the volume you want.

"Live" recordings fall between the two extremes, and if the band's up for it, may be the best of live and recorded. … Read more

The symphony of solar science

If outer space had sound, what would it be?

If you're composer Nolan Gasser, it would be a mixture of high-pitched violins, crashing cymbals, and low-pitched trombones. To him, outer space is a symphony of melody and solar science intertwined. In his new composition, "Cosmic Reflections," Gasser plans to prove it.

"I can hear parts of it in my mind," he said. "One of the things I know I want to do is...write a theme that will permeate throughout the entire work that will somehow be a 'universal theme.' How I'm going … Read more

IBM to take Lotus Symphony apps 'Beyond Office'

IBM this week quietly updated its Lotus Symphony desktop applications with a feature that hints at its broader strategy to use the Web and standards to up-end Microsoft's massive Office business.

Introduced last September, Lotus Symphony is a free suite of applications based on OpenOffice, an open-source alternative to Office. The fourth beta of Symphony, due for release next week, will add a module that will let IBM and other software companies add extensions to these applications.

Under a strategy called "Beyond Office," IBM is developing several technologies to make Symphony an extensible development platform for business … Read more

IBM updates free Symphony suite

IBM is releasing an update today to its free Lotus Symphony productivity suite, which remains in beta testing.

The three desktop applications, Documents, Spreadsheets and Presentations, are counterparts to Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The latest iteration of Symphony is supposed to be faster than its predecessor, which debuted less than two months ago.

The package is one of several low-cost or free alternatives to Microsoft Office. Unlike products such as ThinkFree, Zoho and Google Docs & Spreadsheets, there is no online component to Symphony.

Like its close competitor, the $79 Sun StarOffice, Symphony works on Windows and Linux computers … Read more

Office of the future?

For most everyone working in the U.S. corporate world, Microsoft Office is a must: Outlook for e-mail/calendar; Word for word processing; Excel for spreadsheets; and PowerPoint for presentations. The 2007 release has been covered extensively on CNET Reviews.

However, a recent rise in free office suites has given end users much more choice in productivity software than they've had in many years. Just two weeks ago, IBM announced a free version of Lotus Symphony. Though it's still in beta release, the freeware includes serviceable word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software, all of which support Microsoft Office … Read more