Meara O’Reilly, Sound Artist


Cool Tools Show 049: Meara O'Reilly

Meara O’Reilly is a sound artist and educator, most recently in residence at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. She is co-creator of the Rhythm Necklace app, a musical sequencer that uses two-dimensional geometry to create rhythms. Her collaboration with Snibbe Interactive on sound-based cymatic concert visuals for Björk’s Biophilia album was included in the world tour.

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Show Notes:

OP-1 Portable Synthesizer ($849)
“I have to say that the OP-1 is one of the best new instruments that’s out there. I found it to be simultaneously complex and accessible. … Essentially, it doesn’t sacrifice complexity but it has great design constraints that allow you to make something right away. … It’s not a full octave and the keys are not full size. … There’s all these buttons on it that, at first don’t make any sense and they sort of just have numbers or whimsical little designs on them and when you press them, all of a sudden there’s this advanced functionality.”

Sketch ($99)
“It’s kind of now my go-to design tool because it’s such a focused piece of software, in terms of, it was focused specifically on what I was trying to do, which was basically prototype how something would look on a iOS device and be able to immediately export things and put them in code and put them in action, as opposed to having to do lots of, jumping through lots of hoops to export stuff. … It’s definitely great as just a basic graphic design tool … whether it’s doing a mock-up for a web page or just making a poster or a flyer or something. It does everything that Illustrator does on the basic level.”

Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers ($30)
“This is a really great book by Dennis DeSantis … I love it because it fills a gap that’s often left between personal creativity and highly technical software manuals. It kind of pays a bit of an homage to Brian Eno and his oblique strategies and that you can almost pick up anywhere when you’re feeling stuck and looking for a new approach or idea. There’s sort of just different sections that you can flip through. The format is set up as a collection of kind of problems and then solutions and it covers everything from basic music theory to different ways to beat procrastination, so it’s both practical and kind of philosophical in a way.”

Oblique Strategies
“[Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies] is a really favorite cool tool of mine, which is originally a deck of analog playing cards, basically, that had one short instruction on each card and you would shuffle the cards and pick one at random and when you were stuck, you would do what it said and some of those instructions were like, ignore the middle or pretend you’re a robot or something to force you to take kind of a radical oblique angle on the problem. Oftentimes, the solution it suggested wouldn’t work but it would prod something else that would.” — KK

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Motorized Bicycle Kit with 36 Spoke Drive Ring ($659)
I’ve been living in San Francisco for the last three years with all the hills. Whenever there’s been a day that’s kind of rainy out or cold, it makes me get on my bicycle because I know that I will have an assist. … I was able to just to attach this to my mountain bike and it’s a one-time purchase essentially. You don’t have to keep replacing batteries, which are expensive over time. … The engine is tiny and it costs about two dollars to fill up, at most. It’s really cost effective once you have it and it’s also incredibly efficient.”

-- Claudia Lamar 04/4/16