The GCE-2 by Mouse & the Billionaire is just one creation at this month’s Handmade Music, many from readers.

What’s new in the world of music technological creations? It’s stunning how much people are creating in their private workshops and bedrooms. I’m pleased to have the chance to share it virtually here, and Thursday night in person in New York City.

We’re proud that Handmade Music returns to Brooklyn’s 3rd Ward this Thursday, presented by with, Make, and and sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon. (Free beer.) It’s a party, a science fair of music tech and instruments, a show-and-tell, and a noise-making jam, for musicians, tech lovers, and the musi-curious.

Free (+ free beer while it lasts)
Thursday, January 15
7:30-10:30pm (drop by for as long as you’d like)
3rd Ward, Brooklyn NY
Facebook event page event page
RSVP to handmade (at) 3rdward (dot) com — walk-ups welcome, but it helps us to know how many folks are coming!
Directions to the Space

If you’re in town, you’ll want to be there. For everyone else, we’re working on getting lots of documentation for you of the projects, so stay tuned. (We’ll have to have an all-global virtual Handmade Music Night soon!)

Here’s a look at the projects. It’s a bit like having an all-DIY, oddball music tech trade show – eat your heart out, NAMM show! (Warning: one slightly not-safe-for-work clip of a mannequin getting felt up.)

Dueling Gestural Interfaces

GCe2 // GestureSynth from Mouse & the Billionaire on Vimeo.

We have not one but two fascinating takes on gestural objects as music controllers. Brian Kerr is bringing his research into new dynamic interfaces for music, drawing upon an academic background in industrial design, as M Bethancourt brings the Gesture-Controller Exploration 2 (GCE-2).

Mouse & the Billionaire (M Bethancourt): GCE-2

M Bethancourt has created a really gorgeous object, so I’m eager to see it in action. Check out the site for research, presentations, ideas for use, and more. And clearly we have to get Mouse & the Billionaire and Brian Kerr together – they’re working on similar lines, so they’ll either learn from each other or break out into a big gestural music battle. (or, ideally, both!)

The Gesture-Controller Exploration is an ongoing study in innovative musical controllers that explores the relationship between movement, physical space and musical performance. The most recent incarnation is the GCE-2 (Gesture-Controller Exploration 2). Dipping, swinging, swaying, tilting, and turning the The GCE-2 sends signals to the computer, informing its sound-making functions. This allows for a more satisfying performance experience, leveraging the power of the computer and helping the electronic musician to use physical means to create and manipulate digital electronic sounds in new and interesting ways.


Brian Kerr: Dynamic Musical Interfaces

Prototype Video 1 from Brian Kerr on Vimeo.
Prototype Video 2 from Brian Kerr on Vimeo.

My blog link:

Vimeo link:

I’m currently completing my industrial design masters thesis at Pratt Institute. My working thesis title is, Dynamic Musical Interfaces. I’ve started to document my first prototype, which is a wireless gestural controller for Max/MSP. One of my main goals with this project is to create an physically expressive performance device for computer music that is engaging for both the performer as well as the audience.

I love that Brian’s design was able to make use of a 3D printer, because I believe someday these will be as commonplace as the Canon multifunction sitting on my desk. Brian writes:

I worked in the parametric 3D CAD program, SolidWorks to design the exterior casing of my controller. After it was built in with this software environment, I converted the file into an STL format and printed it out with a 3D printer. The bottom of the controller has a potentiometer joining the half sphere with the upper section. To stabilize this connection, I built a pair of channels into each of the parts and inserted little plastic ball bearings for support (I’ll add photos of this later).

Mannequin Parts as Instruments

Richie Brown says he’ll have to see how much he can carry with him on the train from New Jersey, but he’s got a stockpile of wonderful technology oddities he’s created. He writes:

I’ve recently come into possession of several mannequin parts which I have used to house several electronic musical instruments. This marries two of my favorite things: surreal humor and blippy bloopy sounds. One project is the Torso Theremin. It is made from a circuit bent cassette tape recorder. I’ve included a video link here:

Another is a Leg Maraca as seen in this included video:

I am also working with graphite’s electrical conductivity and resistance value to make drawings that can be played like instruments.

Wearable Leather-and-Snakeskin Controllers and Other Goodies

Rucyl is already a favorite on this site for her terrific creations, like this over-the-shoulder, wearable (if not so animal rights-friendly) snakeskin-and-leather MIDI controller. I believe she’s bringing this along,

See previously: Sexy Computer Nerd: Rucyl Mills’ Wearable, Over-the-Shoulder MIDI Controller

And her new site:

She’s also working with King Britt, one of my favorite musical peoples, among other collaborations. She writes: “I’ll be releasing a new album in a few months on my own label, as well as some upcoming collaborations with  Xaphryn Follicle, King Britt, DJ Kiva, and Sarah White. I’m also working on an even smaller version of the elektro-07.”


Prepared NES

You’ve heard of prepared piano. Notendo, aka Jeff Donaldson, will be in with his prepared Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) for a bit of blippy goodness, explaining how it all works.

notendo @

Premiere of Music Coverage from Make:TV

Maker Channel 101 Screambody, Laser Harp, Cupcake Cars, TV-B-Gone from make magazine on Vimeo.

Phil Torrone of Make Magazine will be on-hand to talk about how the Make community is adopting TV – both old-school (PBS) and new-school (online). We’ll have screenings of some of the music projects from the Make:TV show that premiered this month. Bring popcorn!

And More

Walk-ins of unusual creations are encouraged. The Make crew usually bring some of their stuff in. Machine+1 has promised “An atmospheric guitar and synth deluge- in the fashion of live looping- using custom, handmade footswitch controllers triggering software.”

There’s usually some surprise I didn’t expect. You really are encouraged to bring out stuff you’re working on, even if it’s not yet awesome / functional. Hopefully we can do some of this sharing and learning increasingly online, as well.

  • lematt

    being a regular reader of cdm, i'm quite amazed by the amount of DIY and handmade musical gadgets. one thing is certain, do it yourself culture is NOT PRESENT in france, i think it's a shame.

  • DIY culture isn't present in France, really?

    It still sounds like there's wonderful work going on at IRCAM, and really all of us are indebted to IRCAM's legacy when it comes to things like this.

    But other people in France, please do feel free to prove lematt wrong! And I'd say anything we can to help promote work around the world, I'm game…

  • Not that I'm making a mannequin based project or anything, honest but can anyone tell me what the sensors on Richie Browns nipples are?

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  • Well, I'm french and just starting building an arduinome. But it's true that there are not a lot of exhibition, fairs, DiY workshop… That's a shame and I hope to participate myself into changing this in the near future…

    The revolution is on its way !

  • Well, I'd love to come to France and do a party there… working on a tour of the continent some time this year, maybe summer.

    I can, uh, demonstrate my complete lack of knowledge of the French language. (Which really does make me sad, that!)

  • the US doesn't manufacture anything anymore. American's inner DIY soul is coming out to fill the void.

  • hi guys… always nice info here…

    anyone can help me with an idea, what the font of writing:"handmade music" could be called, so i can find it or similar on the web?

    thx in advance

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  • hi guys… always nice info here…

    anyone can help me with an idea, what the font of writing:”handmade music” could be called, so i can find it or similar on the web?

    thx in advance

  • jdat

    For the people commenting on the DIY scene in France it's very much an underground thing.

    This relates to any and all "scenes" pretty much.

    Basic components are hard to find, and if you do find them locally hey tends to be super expensive. These things are changing in this day and age thanks to the internet but still…it's not so much that people aren't do it yourselfers ( if that's even a word ) when it comes to say home improvement; but if "creativity" and "experimentation" come into play that's a whole different game.

    DIY is something that also comes from the culture.

    for the person asking about the Handmade music font name I don't believe there is such a "font". It looks hand written to me (look at the variations between the As).

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