Sometimes, images and video can say far more than words, and it’s best to stand back rather than ramble on. (Cough, ahem.)

From Björk this year has come two visions of how to make new instruments. The Biophilia software for iOS is an interactive rendition of the album. As apps, you have the curious separation of tracks into individual application icons, available as separate purchases or a bundle. But the effect is one we’ve traced for a while: the music becomes non-linear and interactive, blurring the line between recording as reproduction and dynamic instruments that can transform what you hear. Most notably, it also comes, via an update, with MIDI as observed by Synthtopia. MIDI allows you to then radically transform the output of what you get, and I agree that this is probably the first “album with MIDI output.” (The deeper question: are other sequencers in some sense someone else’s musical/compositional creation?)

In the Gameleste gamelan-celeste hybrid, you also have MIDI, here controlling an otherwise entirely acoustic instrument. (Create Acoustic Music!) Starting with a conventional celeste, the original instrument was “hacked” with hand-built bronze bars made by UK cymbalsmith Matt Nolan, then constructed into the finished instrument with MIDI by Icelandic organ builder Björgvin Tòmasson.

Videos via

The videos themselves to me represent the spectrum of possible choice in instrument design on a whole number of levels – MIDI even being one fascinating such level.

Biophilia software [iTunes link]

Excellent reading –
Extended behind-the-scenes look at the release with Damian Taylor at Sonic Scoop