styharp2

Matthew Herbert’s One Pig, On Tour, and the Making of a Sty Harp

Composing the sounds of an animal’s life cycle and ultimate consumption into a musical portrait, Matthew Herbert’s “One Pig” is in turns grotesque and sentimental, rock and opera. I expected squeamishness and vegetarian conversions when I saw it on tour, but instead, the crowd eagerly devoured the creature at the end. (Make of that what you will.) One Pig is in Manchester, UK tonight before continuing to Brighton and Portugal. As my own incurable appetite is for musical instruments, for me a highlight of the show is Scotland-based, American artist Yann Seznec’s Sty Harp. (See also our coverage of his …

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AlphaSphere, Spherical Music Controller, Becomes A Messe Favorite; Keyboard Mag Video Hands-on

Music trade shows are typically full of sensible and useful instruments. They may not always represent something revolutionary, but people find homes for them in their musical lives. Of course, the world’s fair futurist in us may want something really different. It was a real treat to get my hands on the AlphaSphere, a UK-engineered alternative instrument that maps pitch across touch-sensitive surfaces arrayed in a sphere. It’s what a lot of people were talking about at Messe when people asked “what’s cool?”, as friends rounded up friends to march them over to the booth. (It’s Hall 5.1, stand C27 …

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With Just One Contact Mic, Any Surface Magically Becomes a Gestural Instrument

Look around the room you’re in. Drum your fingers against some of the objects around you. Now imagine that you could turn those touches into any imaginable sound – and all you’d need to play them is a single contact mic. And we’re not talking just simplistic sounds – think expressive, responsive transformation of the world around you, all with just that one mic, thanks to clever gestural recognition. Bruno Zamborlin has made that idea a reality, with hold-onto-your-chair results. It’s not available yet for public consumption, but it’s coming. Bruno explains to CDM:

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Eigenharp Pico Playing for Babies, in a Pico Music Box

From comments on the Eigenharp round-up, I think this is simply beautiful. I also think it will be the video to which I link people whenever comments get out of hand. (Heck, I may refer myself.) “Music to soothe the savage commenter?” Back to the music: First entry to the Eigenharp ALPHA competition. A small piece created on the TENORI-ON, from my new show Ti-To-Tis – Dance and Music for Babys. (babies from 0 to 3 years listen to live acoustic and electronic music, “dance” with two dancers and “play” with an actor/ puppetier, all around a magic clock; Ti-To-Tis …

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geertrogerdavid

A New Instrument, in Practice: Eigenharp Players Build a New Musical Tradition (Videos)

A look at the keys of a new instrument, now embraced as such by a community of players. Alpha image (CC-BY) Ross Elliott. Amidst the general-purpose computing platforms (laptop, iPad), and latest iterations of the conventional synthesizer (keyboard, knobs), the quest to build something genuinely specific, self-contained, and unique drives on. These creations are strange breeds, evolutionary singularities that aim to embody something the more generic instruments of our age lack: personality and soul. They’re the kind of object you might want to practice for years, to treat in their digital, “post-mechanical” form the way you would a violin or …

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In An Explosion of Keys, a DIY Isomorphic Instrument

Alternative key layouts have popped up in commercial hardware and now iPad apps and such, but there’s nothing like trying to build something to grasp how it works. An intrepid group of makers who call themselves Louisville Soundbuilders are working now to clone the C-Thru Music AXiS-64. The goal: their own, original instrument that uses the isomorphic array of keys the AXiS does, which by organizing notes by harmonic interval makes complex melodies and harmonies much simpler than on traditional fretted instruments and keyboards. You can see results in the video. (It doesn’t make sound until the very end. This …

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linnstrument_hex

3D Touch Linnstrument, an Update: New Features for Roger Linn’s 3D Note Expression Controller

The latest iteration; image courtesy Roger Linn Designs. Moving beyond touching a screen as two-dimensional plane, Roger Linn’s concept music controller, the Linnstrument, adds tactile response and expression. Roger calls it “3D Note Expression,” but in lay terms, it means pushing harder on the controller makes it respond differently, as you’d expect from a physical instrument. Roger this week posts an update on how his development is going and what he imagines – good timing, as this week we also saw another design on the same lines, the Soundplane. The sensing methods are different, enough so that I can easily …

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soundplane_blanks

A Glimpse of the Soundplane Controller, Innovative Tactile Multi-Touch, in the Lab; Call to Action

Alder Soundplane prototype with blanks of reclaimed redwood and Doug Fir. Photo by Randy Jones; used by permission. On tablets, on displays, multi-touch control these days is calibrated largely as a software interface – more Starship Enterprise panel than violin. As such, it works well for production tools and exploring compositional ideas. But it falls far short of being an instrument: even on the much-hyped iPad, touch timing and sensitivity is too imprecise, and the absence of tactile feedback and real, kinetic resistance makes you feel like an operator rather than a musician. Several projects in experimental instrument research seek …

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gibsonrobotguitar

More Digital Guitar Reflections: What a MIDI Guitar Can Do; Conservatism, Adoption, and Innovation

A robot guitar may not injure a human guitarist, or, through inaction, allow a human guitarist to come to harm. A robot guitar must obey any orders and tunings given to it by human guitarists, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. All human and robot guitarists must enjoy guitar hardware, so long as such gear lust does not conflict with the First or Second Law. Gibson’s Robot Guitar – speaking of recent guitar innovations. Science and art alike demand inquisitive exploration and experimentation. So, it’s encouraging that a discussion of the future of the digital guitar …

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gibsontuning

Auto-Tune for Guitars Doesn’t Have to be Like Auto-Tune for Vocals; The Digital Guitar Future?

Auto-Tuning a guitar is coming, say Antares. But if that seems frightening, it may be worth a closer look. Photo of the (classic) guitar (CC-BY) John W. Tuggle. A new tool could be for the expressive, not just the lazy. That’s the read of Auto-Tune for guitar, and it makes me excited to see what people will do with it. It could be the advent of the true digital guitar. Antares teased their efforts to bring Auto-Tune technology to guitars earlier this month, having gotten as far as working proof-of concept. (See Harmony Central’s exclusive video above, and Axetopia, Synthtopia.) …

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