Watch as a Yakovlev Yak-42 jetliner* was transformed last month into a giant percussion instrument, allowing a unique duet between vocalist (our friend Jekka) and machines.

As part of last month’s Polytech Festival in Moscow, the performance is one of a number of international collaborations taking place around the museum’s art programs. A small army of teenagers got to participate in getting the whole thing working – learning about sound, sensing, and physical computing in the process.

The last time we caught up with the Playtronica collective, they were engaging kids in science and electronics through the power of vegetables. Now they’ve upgraded from cucumbers to enormous jets.

Powering all of this is technology from a different capital city – London and Mogees, the “play anything” sensor-to-music interface. Now, interestingly, Mogee already has its own instrumental sounds; I’m curious how this might be applied to more flexible sound-making and triggering interfaces. But for now, it’s a lot of fun – touching the plane triggers sound. Ableton Live does the heavy lifting, hosting the plug-in and sounds and backing.

And what’s nice to me is that Jekka’s song (catchy pop, already) is earnest and intimate, coasting along atop a bed of delicate chimes, making the aircraft more ethereal than industrial.

polytechpano

yak

Polytechnic Museum is near the jet and rocket thanks to their temporary home on a former fairground just out of the center of the city. I know all about that as I was there just after the festival as part of an unrelated event.
https://polymus.ru/eng/

More details:

For the first time in history on May 24th the Yak-42 airplane was played as an instrument during a performance with Jekka, SKVT and Playtronica team with the help of the Mogees technology.

Mogees – is a novel technology that turns physical objects into unique music instruments by converting the vibrations that we make when we touch them into sound on the fly.
http://mogees.co.uk

Playtronica – is an interactive music platform and constantly changing playground for children and adults. Playtronica teaches self expression through sounds and rhythms and to create DIY music instruments.
http://www.playtronica.ru

SKVT is a community of active young people who are determined to accomplish the boldest and most interesting projects with the Polytech museum as its base.
https://polymus.ru/ru/education/skvt/

Jekka is a Moscow-based singer-songwriter and producer
soundcloud.com/jekka

Music and lyrics – Jekka
Music production for Mogees – Conor Barry
Camera and edit – Evgeniy Todich

mogee_yak

Thanks for this!

Got other ideas like this – other examples, or other places to go with this? Let us know!

* I’m such a dumb Westerner I thought at first it was a Tupolev Tu-134. Ha! Amateur! Man, vtol is going to pretend he never met me.

  • misho

    I don’t really get how the plane fits into this piece. If the piezos are simply triggering pre-programmed samples and synths, what’s the point of having them attached to a plane rather than any other ol’ surface?

    • aziz

      Ditto. i dont get it either aside that its some hipster agenda

      • The Hidden Hipster Agenda is coming for you — to convince you that playing an entire full-sized airliner is fun. Don’t listen!

        • Chris Bartholomew

          The Cable-Knit Cabal!

          But, yes, I was thinking something more along Stockhausen’s Helicopter Quartet…. I think the mogee technology is great, but all the music I hear that’s used them just sounds like a mic being tapped and processed with ableton’s resonator. Not inherently a bad thing, but doesn’t quite do justice to the source.

          • Probably a new story on Mogees is in order – maybe even with comparisons to other ways to use mics.

            Basically, their concept is to use the mic input as an exciter with physical modeling. That to me is really interesting, but it does also mean that you filter out some of the actual sound from the microphone. So this is a big challenge – like, if you wanted more of the sound of the jet here, you might use a different approach.

      • gunboat_d

        what, did a hipster break your heart? this is CDM; head over to Music Radar if you want another 10 Best Delay VST Slideshow.

        • bodo

          you stood me up that one time….

    • I haven’t worked with the Mogees before specifically… it seems to me that using some combination of audio and trigger would become interesting.

      At the same time, being able to work with an entire jetliner as the trigger – that’s a pretty good point. (I mean, like I said, adding audio would be great — but you sort of answered your own question, no?)

      • Heya, guy from the video here – so the Mogees software uses physical modelling where the exciter is the input from the mic, and the resonator is emulated in software – so what you’re hearing in the video is the sound of the mic from the plane being pushed through this virtual physical model (the drum sounds were backing tracks).

        We will have more info about Mogees super soon as we prepare for our release!

        • Yeah, it does raise an interesting question, though – maybe Mogees aren’t suited for the task, but if you were to find some way to mix more “plane” sounds into this. (That’d require mics in different places, as some of these surfaces aren’t terribly resonant… Hey, there is always that rocket that’s next to the jet, though… 😉 )

          • aziz

            @Conor – It is a physical model of …?
            @Peter- Empirically how different would a track set up with mogees on a plane, rocket, empty box, whathaveyous have sounded
            -where and what are the ‘plane’ sounds
            As a piece of performance art it surely ‘works’ but the usage of technology maybe a bit lacking/offmark

  • misho

    I don’t really get how the plane fits into this piece. If the piezos are simply triggering pre-programmed samples and synths, what’s the point of having them attached to a plane rather than any other ol’ surface?

    • aziz

      Ditto. i dont get it either aside that its some hipster agenda

      • The Hidden Hipster Agenda is coming for you — to convince you that playing an entire full-sized airliner is fun. Don’t listen!

        • Chris Bartholomew

          The Cable-Knit Cabal!

          But, yes, I was thinking something more along Stockhausen’s Helicopter Quartet…. I think the mogee technology is great, but all the music I hear that’s used them just sounds like a mic being tapped and processed with ableton’s resonator. Not inherently a bad thing, but doesn’t quite do justice to the source.

          • Probably a new story on Mogees is in order – maybe even with comparisons to other ways to use mics.

            Basically, their concept is to use the mic input as an exciter with physical modeling. That to me is really interesting, but it does also mean that you filter out some of the actual sound from the microphone. So this is a big challenge – like, if you wanted more of the sound of the jet here, you might use a different approach.

      • gunboat_d

        what, did a hipster break your heart? this is CDM; head over to Music Radar if you want another 10 Best Delay VST Slideshow.

        • bodo

          you stood me up that one time….

    • I haven’t worked with the Mogees before specifically… it seems to me that using some combination of audio and trigger would become interesting.

      At the same time, being able to work with an entire jetliner as the trigger – that’s a pretty good point. (I mean, like I said, adding audio would be great — but you sort of answered your own question, no?)

      • Heya, guy from the video here – so the Mogees software uses physical modelling where the exciter is the input from the mic, and the resonator is emulated in software – so what you’re hearing in the video is the sound of the mic from the plane being pushed through this virtual physical model (the drum sounds were backing tracks).

        We will have more info about Mogees super soon as we prepare for our release!

        • Yeah, it does raise an interesting question, though – maybe Mogees aren’t suited for the task, but if you were to find some way to mix more “plane” sounds into this. (That’d require mics in different places, as some of these surfaces aren’t terribly resonant… Hey, there is always that rocket that’s next to the jet, though… 😉 )

          • aziz

            @Conor – It is a physical model of …?
            @Peter- Empirically how different would a track set up with mogees on a plane, rocket, empty box, whathaveyous have sounded
            -where and what are the ‘plane’ sounds
            As a piece of performance art it surely ‘works’ but the usage of technology maybe a bit lacking/offmark

  • READYdot

    Marusha!

  • READYdot

    Marusha!

  • gunboat_d

    this is excessive. AND I LOVE IT!

  • gunboat_d

    this is excessive. AND I LOVE IT!

  • ja

    I wonder what it would have sounded like the plane crashed. Perhaps because I find this particular piece or conception a bit boring.

  • ja

    I wonder what it would have sounded like the plane crashed. Perhaps because I find this particular piece or conception a bit boring.

  • Enrico

    They went to such an extreme length to get permission to work with a plane, but didn’t even bother to get a singer who could pitch the right notes. Melodyne next time?
    The setup is great, the result is, meh…what’s the point, if the actual airplane could substituted by anything else?

  • Enrico

    They went to such an extreme length to get permission to work with a plane, but didn’t even bother to get a singer who could pitch the right notes. Melodyne next time?
    The setup is great, the result is, meh…what’s the point, if the actual airplane could substituted by anything else?

  • klown

    what is the point of art?!!?!

  • klown

    what is the point of art?!!?!

  • dvorkinista

    A personal anecdote… When I was 4 years old my parents took me to this plane, at this exhibition. I was so terrified that it would take off. The memory is still haunting me.

  • dvorkinista

    A personal anecdote… When I was 4 years old my parents took me to this plane, at this exhibition. I was so terrified that it would take off. The memory is still haunting me.