Watch a Tank Make Sound, as Nik Nowak Makes Weapons, Vehicles for Music

In a world of machine weapons, construction equipment waging destruction, mechanized warfare and economic mayhem, maybe giant sound machines are a friendlier alternative. Nik Novak certainly has a way of giving sound physical being. And ironically, if some of his creations might appear to assault the senses, his own sensibilities came from the frightening experience of sonic trauma. He recasts that assault in machines, but also finds ways of working with sound that get past the damage to his hearing. And far from places of fear, the club – and studio – are refuge. (Or, okay, if that description doesn’t …

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The Player Piano with Drums and Gunshots: An Oddity of the Silent Film Era [Videos]

If you want wild, futuristic, and inventive, some of the craziest inventions come from the past. The Photoplayer makes today’s music tech look positively dull. Joe Rinaudo has made a business of bringing back antiques, but his 1926 Photoplayer may top the list. Built to add dynamic soundtracks for silent films, the machine is an ingenious contrivance for live music generation. First, it has the ability to run “two decks” – that is, by having two rolls instead of one, you can queue up the next roll while the other is playing. (Okay, so it sort of invented DJing.) Second, …

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Archimedes, by Daedelus: Sheer Poetry of Robotic Moving Mirrors

ARCHIMEDES Teaser from Jack Whiteley on Vimeo. You’ve seen live shows with projection, and more projection, and LED walls, and LED walls with projection. “Archimedes” is something different. An array of robotic mirrors, looking for all the world like some attachment for the International Space Station, moves in a choreographed ballet behind the artist. With bright projectors aiming at the mirrors, the result is a brilliantly-shining geometric dance of illumination. The work of Emmanuel Biard and David Leonard in conjunction with Daedelus, the machine itself is almost a performance – and then it comes alive in a blast of light …

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The Machine-Augmented Luthier: Robots Helping Make Guitars at Plek Technology

We focus primarily on new machines and technology that make music directly, but of course, these tools make instruments that make music, too. Having seen an image of a guitar string vibrating from German firm Plek A+D Gitarrentechnologie earlier this week, reader Brian Turley observes that the work that company is doing is impressive. We’re not necessarily talking mass-manufactured, machine-made guitars, either. The device in this case augments more traditional techniques, and can be put in the hands of an expert luthier. Plek’s technique scans guitar necks in multiple dimensions, creates a virtual fretboard in which you can adjust frets, …

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Off Topic: A Motorcycle, a Film, and the Sound of Machines

“Off the phovea” thinking describes, using the eye as a metaphor, focusing on a problem by reflecting on what’s not at the center of that problem. On this rainy Sunday, that’s how I’m starting my day, so I thought I would share. This film about motorcycle maker Shinya Kimura fits here, even off-topic, for two reasons: 1. The sound editing to me is extraordinary. Sound design and recording quality are important, but in this film, directed by Henrik Hansen, each gesture of the sound mix is likewise deliberate and meticulously paced. There’s a reason some of the best editors are …

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