Several prestigious groups of musicians have donated their sound libraries to One Laptop per Child (OLPC), a non-profit organization focused on providing educational tools to help children in developing countries “learn learning.” The XO laptop’s unique user interface and applications enable children to create and share music, drawings, video, personal diaries and other things they make online with family and friends worldwide.
Leading musicians, colleges and companies making their sound libraries freely available on the XO laptop are: The Berklee College of Music in Boston, Berklee Music Synthesis alumni – including electronic music superstar BT, the international Csound Developer community, M-Audio and Digidesign (parts of Avid Technology, Inc.), and the Open Path Music group.
I want thank Dr. Richard Boulanger for all the time and effort he put into collecting and assembling such a vast and wonderful resource.
Here are my donated samples in three different sampling rates: baby talk plus eurorack, serge and csound synth sounds
I spent my spare time last week developing two audio-based activity prototypes for the OLPC: Step and Funny Talk. The whole process was surprisingly quick and easy. I attribute this to Victor Lazzarini’s Csound Sugar GUI toolkit. I do a lot of Csound programming, but I’ve never actually done any GUI work for it. Using the toolkit was as simple as defining widgets and mapping them in Csound.
Step is the first activitiy I’m developing for the XO. It’s a straight forward eight note step sequencer with synth notes, snare and kick parts. So far, I’ve probably put in about 8 hours on this. Once a user has a pattern they like, they can render the loop to an audio file, which can then be loaded in other activities. It still needs a lot of work, especially the synth engine. Though you can still take a listen if you would like: StepDemo1.mp3.
This is my favorite of the two, as my inspiration for this activity comes from my childhood memories of the Yamaha VSS-30 keyboard. My friends and I used to spend hours playing with that keyboard. Often in a very juvenile manner. I figured if we had such a great time playing with our voices, then perhaps the target audience of the OLPC will as well. Here is “the sound of my voice” being processed with Funny Talk: FunnyTalkDemo1.mp3.
Since friday, I’ve been learning the ins and outs of my XO computer. I finally got to a point this morning where I can start writing csound-based activities for it.
Using the csndsugui toolkit, I slapped together a primitive step-sequencer in about five hours. It features: An 8-step pitch slider array, two oscillators for notes, AD envelope for amplitude, tempo control, volume control, 8-step kick row and an 8-step snare row. So while it might not do much at the moment, I can certainly see myself fixing it up to a point where it’ll be a fun musical toy in the near future. I’ll post a pic in a few days, once it shapes up a bit.
Last night, I coincidentally stumbled across the development blog for TamTam, “a suite of three applications / activities developed for the $100 laptop.” [source] The program is implemented using Python and PyGTK, and utilizes Csound as its synthesis engine. The TamTam GUI appears to be very user-friendly, and reminds me of a simplified version of Max/MSP combined with a midi sequencer.
The OLCP is, among other things, a musical instrument. The fact that this musical instrument is going to make its way into the hands of children spanning dozens of cultures fascinates me to no end.
As a side note, I can’t help but think of the NAVI computer in Serial Experiments Lain. I look forward to the day OLPC laptops become commercially available, so that I may get my hands on one.