Sometimes, images and video can say far more than words, and it’s best to stand back rather than ramble on. (Cough, ahem.)

From Björk this year has come two visions of how to make new instruments. The Biophilia software for iOS is an interactive rendition of the album. As apps, you have the curious separation of tracks into individual application icons, available as separate purchases or a bundle. But the effect is one we’ve traced for a while: the music becomes non-linear and interactive, blurring the line between recording as reproduction and dynamic instruments that can transform what you hear. Most notably, it also comes, via an update, with MIDI as observed by Synthtopia. MIDI allows you to then radically transform the output of what you get, and I agree that this is probably the first “album with MIDI output.” (The deeper question: are other sequencers in some sense someone else’s musical/compositional creation?)

In the Gameleste gamelan-celeste hybrid, you also have MIDI, here controlling an otherwise entirely acoustic instrument. (Create Acoustic Music!) Starting with a conventional celeste, the original instrument was “hacked” with hand-built bronze bars made by UK cymbalsmith Matt Nolan, then constructed into the finished instrument with MIDI by Icelandic organ builder Björgvin Tòmasson.

Videos via

The videos themselves to me represent the spectrum of possible choice in instrument design on a whole number of levels – MIDI even being one fascinating such level.

Biophilia software [iTunes link]

Excellent reading –
Extended behind-the-scenes look at the release with Damian Taylor at Sonic Scoop

  • Jamsire Ernoir


  • oootini

    "The deeper question: are other sequencers in some sense someone else’s musical/compositional creation?"

    I've pondered this of late and to a certain extent i think they are. One recent monome arc app called electric dharma wheels (by the inimitable stretta) goes a long way towards bearing this out. amazing app.

  • I've been considering purchasing the Biophilia apps, but does anyone have experience with this: If you purchase the song apps, do you get the song as well as a standalone audio file (MP3, AAC, whatever) or do you have to purchase the album separately to listen to it "normally?"

  • Brian Tuley

    An album with midi output!  The remix folks are going to love it!  Very innovative indeed.

  • pat

    The poor guy has to make an instrument in a month because her ladyship Queen Bjork has made the request!

  • Seppe

    I'm also interested in the question asked by Richard. Do you get the audio files when you buy the apps?

  • gamelan is one of traditional music instrument in my country? is it right? its cool

  • jimmie

    I've bought a couple of songs and I don't have separate audio files as far as I know.

    Midi aside, I think this is a new approach to music. While many songs are not exactly my cup of tea, I so admire her being actually artist — rethink what music is in this digital age and bring some answer.

  • trwizzo

    A Bjork with midi output. #amirite?