Greensboro, NC-based art music band Invisible are indiscriminate about technology – in a good way. Plastic cups, keyboards, typewriters, machines controlled by robotics, if it’s in the trash or at a thrift store, it has a place in the band. Sequences are executed in physical, radial player instruments, without a controlling computer anywhere in site. As voicemail tapes get sampled and typewriters tap lines of absurdist lyrics as each typed letter plays a piano note, something magical happens. Perhaps it’s that, novelty aside, somehow these sound-making objects come together for a reason – the machines assemble in the way the band does. And then a chair is a marimba.

The Rhythm 1001 takes “tangible” to a whole new level — everything sequenced is mechanical, triggering found objects. The video above features the sequencer at Charlottesville, Virginia’s Second Street Gallery. (Gents, if you ever visit Brooklyn…) Thanks to Evan Hill for the tip.

Is it “Digital Music”? I think it is very deeply so, perhaps because the objects get treated as discrete musical events (read: percussion).

Incidentally, guys, I agree with a lot of things you’re saying about the use of computers for music, but HAL here tell me he won’t let me fr

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  • Onyxmizer

    Any good recordings of these guys?

  • kevin

    >> Is it “Digital Music”? I think it is very deeply so, perhaps because the objects get treated as discrete musical events (read: percussion).

    while digital and discrete are not synonymous and i don't personally think this falls in the category of digital music, i think it's incredibly pertinent and on topic for this sort of forum.

    perhaps creating digital music really isn't just about digital music after all?

  • rhowaldt

    is an analog synth digital? is an electric guitar digital? is an MPC digital? when does the analog end and the digital begin? in the end it's all about the music.

  • Right, but I skipped over some bits… the sequences are encoded as discrete information and then transmitted electronically. So, fairly digital. But, yes, it's all about the music – just happens to be an interesting way to think about music. (so is analog voltage)

  • There's hands-on science museum that my kids like to go to, where they have all the pulleys and gears and patch cables and stuff out for people to play with (and hopefully learn something too). I have as much fun as the kids when we go.

    This shares a similar energy to that, in that there's something pulled back with all the fundamentals hanging out for you to play with.

    Super creative man … way cool (digital or not)

  • license

    I'm glad there are people making music in this way, though I never would or could. of course the process here is at least as important as the music. it would be fun to see them.

  • rhowaldt

    i;m thinking of building that typewriter-piano digitally… anyone have a good idea of how it would be starting with such a thing? i have to work with free software and stuff… i know i could do it with soundplant but that would mean loading seperate samples in soundplant every single time. i would want to make something that i can use to assign all the keys on the keyboard to midi, maybe also even stuff like velocity by pushing two keys at once or something.

  • that was excellent. there are some real gems…that typewriter being projected while it triggers a piano is just brilliant. those answering machine tapes are priceless, too.

    i've been doing some reading on "post digital" and it applies to things like this…where the digital world is going to expand beyond the screens and speakers we currently observe it on.

  • Jaime Munarriz

    Thanks for my daily bit of musical wonder.

  • james

    "… how someone without a degree in music can be musical …"

    as someone with a degree in music (and sound recording) i would say that my experience shows that the most musical people are those without degrees.

    when studying music you become too focused, you loose the fun, the gut feeling, the spontaneity …

  • simon

    to rhowaldt:

    There are heaps of free computer keyboard-to-midi software around the interwebs, for example

    Virtual MIDI Keyboard, by Granucon.

    or Bome's Mouse Keyboard, which Peter talked about some months ago. (It doesn't need the mouse, it works with the keyboard too)

    You would then connect the keyboard to your sequencer with MIDI Yoke and use text software projected on a screen at the same time :

    MIDI Yoke:

  • @james: indeed, ha! Yeah, I suspect a few of us with (yipes) even higher degrees got a chuckle out of that line.

    I'm not chucking my laptop yet, especially because I don't live in North Carolina and don't own a car. (although it would be fascinating to do a setup like theirs that can fit in a *backpack*, without the use of a computer…)

  • nonstatic

    the artist Trimpin pioneered this concept 15 years ago. i saw him do a performance in 1994 which was 100% acoustic music controlled by robotics. he even had it setup in surround! no speakers or amps whatsoever, totally amazing.

  • Yeah, Trimpin's work is fantastic.

  • Michael Una

    Love that big circular pegboard sequencer. Outta sight!

  • rhowaldt

    @simon: thank you. i have and know bome's mousekeyboard and also have midiyoke installed already, so that's no problem. however, i think with the mousekeyboard not all computer-keyboard keys are mapped, so i would have keypresses that don't make any sound. maybe that's good, for intervals or something like that. anyway, i'm now looking into programming this with PureData.. never used it before so time to learn.

  • Mike S

    concept over content

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  • ok

  • it is me. right