These piano breakthroughs changed music forever

Yesterday was Piano Day – a day recently christened by composer/pianist Nils Frahm in order to celebrate that ubiquitous keyboard instrument. (It’s held on the eighty-eighth day of the year.) There are concerts, marathons, project, releases – and unlike Record Store Day, this event won’t clog the ability to produce piano music. With that day […]

Spinning Optical Drum Buddy and the Wild DIY Punk World of Quintron and Miss Pussycat

Deep in the Ninth Word of New Orleans lies the workbench and studio of one Mr. Quintron, the inventor-organist who has applied his DIY mad-scientist sonic production to a unique flavor of insistent punk. Mr. Quintron was this week in my home neighborhood in Berlin, accompanied by his wife Miss Pussycat – maraca player (maracaist?), […]

Watch Mechanical Techno, Dance Music Made Organic, Physical by Graham Dunning

Even in hardware, the repetitive patterning of dance music remains invisible to the eye. Sure, you might get a blinking light here and there, but otherwise, the process is virtual, whether the sound process is analog or digital. Graham Dunning’s Mechanical Techno project is different. Every pattern is made physical and tangible, every machine rhythm […]

Light Into Tones, in an Optoelectronic Hurdy-Gurdy With Rotating Wheels [Video, Images]

This isn’t like any Hurdy-Gurdy you’ve seen or heard before. Derek Holzer’s optoelectronic Tonewheels Hurdy-Gurdy is a combination of mechanical, optical, and electronic elements, part sculpture and part instrument. It recalls vintage mechanical and optical instruments, but with a sound that is decidedly modern and strange. In the translation, something wonderful happens: this becomes a […]

Create (Really) Analog Music: Music Video Made on Historic Edison Wax Cylinder

The miracle of recording is somehow no less extraordinary in this digital age – the ability to capture sound, the revolution that transformed music making worldwide, for better and for worse. In fact, if anything, the abundance of digital music is causing some people to rediscover the recording techniques that preceded it. Andy Deitrich of […]

Mechanical Motion: Drawing with Turntables, Phasing with Film Projectors

Speaking of mechanical motion and machine drawing, in the work of Robert Howsare, vintage equipment becomes part kinetic sculpture, part machine artist. In “Drawing Apparatus,” two turntables become a generative geometric drawing machine, Spirograph-style. (See some really lovely-looking renders by this machine on the artwork project page. Via Today and Tomorrow, hat tip to portable.tv […]

PocoPoco, Kinetic Music Control Gone Whac-a-Mole, and Our Tactile Future

PocoPoco is a delightful, fanciful device that takes music control into the realm of kinetic sculpture. Normally, the relationship of music controller is primarily about the operator making physical actions. With PocoPoco, the hardware itself moves. The essential musical structure is familiar: it’s the grid of light-up buttons, with strong similarity to the ongoing interaction […]

Half-Minute Theater: Pavel Pogudin, Gypsies, Cutout Characters, Mechanical Ballet

It’d be silly to write a long post about an (extremely) short film, so I’ll just say this. Sometimes, I open my inbox, and I see an email that says nothing other than this: Hello! Just want to show some gypsy motion graphics Thanks! — Best, Pavel I won’t make any further introduction. Gypsy motion […]

Exquisite Sonic Sculptures, Made with Motors and Cardboard

Granular synthesis, as described by Iannis Xenakis, imagined sound as constructed from elementary elements. In the work of Zimoun, elementary sonic grains are physical. An undulating wall of cardboard rubs surfaces against one another to form a chorus of sound. Cotton balls roll against boxes in throaty clouds of sound. Wires wriggle like some sort […]

Circles and Euclidean Rhythms: Off the Grid, a Few Music Makers That Go Round and Round

Loopseque on the iPad. Courtesy the developer. We continue our 3.14 celebration with a round-up of circular logic. There’s no reason apart from the printed score to assume music has to be divided into grids laid on rectangles. Even the “piano roll” as a concept began as just that – a roll. Cycles the world […]