BeetBox Lets You Play Root Vegetables; Latest Handmade Raspberry Pi Coolness

Bored by buttons and pads? Want something a bit more organice? BeetBox turns root vegetables into interactive percussion instruments, finally answering the question of “how can I work musical controllers into my five a day?” BeetBox is a simple instrument that allows users to play drum beats by touching actual beets. It is powered by a Raspberry Pi with a capacitive touch sensor and an audio amplifier in a handmade wooden enclosure. The project is the work of Scott Garner: Interactive > BeetBox Okay, maybe it’s not the most practical idea ever, but it is good fun. And that poplar …

"Look, [darling significant other], it'll even be totally at home in our modern decor!" Photos courtesy the artist.

Flying Saucer UFO Controller, Ultrasonic MIDI Instrument; Coming as Kit [Arduino]

The desire to be a little different in a band might drive someone to choose a custom guitar, or maybe, you know, change their hair. For some, it drives them to build a giant flying saucer they can play like an instrument by waving their hands. No, MIDI controller, don’t destroy Earth. Klaatu barada nikto. That’s the case with Helsinki-born artist Tommi Koskinen, now doing this as part of an MA thesis in the Media Lab of Aalto University. Another strange gestural controller? Yes. But this flying saucer might just land a bit closer to home. This is just the …


Hands-on: Spacey Futuristic Beat Control, as Konkreet Performer for iPad Meets Reaktor

Connecting Reaktor 5.8 with Konkreet Performer from Konkreet Labs on Vimeo. Mapping control from one place (like an iPad) to another (Reaktor) is tough to describe, but easy to see. Watch as strange, spacey geometries control futuristic generative sounds and beats, and it all starts to make sense. And so, this hands-on video is a brilliant example of why we get excited about new control methods, here in the form of better OSC support in Reaktor 5.8. Konkreet Labs’ Konkreet Performer is an ideal candidate, eschewing traditional MIDI knobs for interfaces that delight and challenge the user. And it’s little …


Mudit is an Inexpensive, Open Source Gestural Loop Performer [Pd + Arduino]

Knowledge on how to build dazzling new interfaces for music is spreading. And because musical performance depends on sharing knowledge and practice, that could have a transformative effect. Literally as I’m walking out the door to leave for a showcase of gestural performance in Berlin, I get a chance to look at this team from Argentina. They’re purposely giving away the plans for their open source live performance instrument, built in turn with open source hardware (Arduino) and software (free graphical development environment Pd).


New Instruments with Electricity: Kalimba + Ring Mod, Continuum + Kyma [Videos]

Combining even a couple of pieces of equipment can yield a kind of new, hybrid instrument. Our friend Chris Stack shares the latest in his fantastic series, that haven for exploring strange, new sounds, seeking out new life and new electronic civilizations. Above: “Kevin Spears explores new soundscapes playing his kalimba through a Moog MF-102 Ring Modulator.” Below, featuring Sally Sparks: “A quick look at the Haken Continuum and Kyma sound engine.” Enjoy, and have a great weekend, y’all.


Full-Body Music, Live: AV Kinect Performance, Complete with Beer Bottle [Video]

ETHNO TEKH | live at Enig’matik Vibrations [Melb,Aus] 2012 from Ethno Tekh on Vimeo. You’ve seen impressive tech demos and promo videos with Kinect, perhaps. But here’s a real, live performance with a crowd. (Best moment: an audience member walking in front of the camera. Breaking the flow like that oddly makes the show feel more real.) Ethno Tekh is a dubsteppy AV performance with a flow of beats and images. Now, we’ve heard all the criticisms of Kinect as musical controller – its fairly high latency and broad gestures mean it can’t quite compete with acoustic instruments or more …


Reactable as Artist Instrument: On Mobile, Live, and Tangible presenta Carles L√≥pez-Reactable from Milivingroom on Vimeo. Can the Reactable be artistically meaningful, as well as technologically impressive? New performances, and new releases – interactive “label” releases for your iPad/iPhone and updated hardware for those of you wanting to try the whole experience yourself – might just answer that question. Listen to designers of futuristic musical devices talk about what they hope to create, and a common theme recurs again and again. They want to make musical instruments – something you’d practice, something for which there would be virtuosos and performances that would knock your socks off. It’s tough …


Endeavour’s Evo, Touch-Sensitive Keyboard, Reimagined, Now From EUR499 [Gallery, Videos]

Endeavour’s evo keyboard closely resembles a conventional music keyboard controller. But its piano-style keys and high-performance internals are custom engineered from the ground up for additional expression. High-speed connections mean lower latency than is possible with MIDI, and touch- and pressure-sensitive keys allow additional ways of adding to a performance, all in an aluminum case hand-built in Germany. I was impressed playing the keyboard at Musikmesse earlier this year, but cost put this innovative instrument out of reach of many would-be experimenters. Now, as the product matures, pricing is coming down to Earth. A 24-key version – perhaps just fine, …


Reinventing the Wheel: Engineering arc2, Digital Instrument from monome Creator [Gallery, Interview]

Engineering a production instrument is a kind of study in compromise. For mass-produced musical instruments, it’s a fusion of practicality and economics, made affordable by a mass-market supply chain. What makes the monome creations special isn’t just that they look beautiful; the art isn’t aesthetic only. They are uncommonly uncompromising. They’re designed in such a way that tells a story about materials, one that weaves connections between suppliers – many of them local suppliers – and focuses the experience of the device on the interface. They have the kind of obsessive attention to detail associated with the finest acoustic musical …


Ableton Posts Nearly Hour-Long Live 9 and Push Preview Event from Berlin

Can’t get enough Live 9 information? In cased you missed it, here’s a nearly hour-long presentation. It’s notable for Ableton founder and CEO Gerhard Behles talking about what matters in an instrument, then “discovering” that Push fits in a backpack, for Dennis DeSantis doing a beautiful job of showing what really musical workflow looks like, and Jesse Terry brave enough to do a live set on hardware that’s only just been finished. I say this partly because I have to do presentations, too, and – it’s not easy. I think they do a good job of sharing their ideas honestly …