The Swedish roboticist who dubbed herself “queen of s***ty robots” has made a musical instrument out of chattering teeth. But that’s just the start – the toolkit she used has been used on all kinds of new musical inventions.
Yes, you can watch Simone Luna Louise Söderlund Giertz (actual full name) use teeth as robotic instrument. It badly makes me want to add more acoustic resonance or – getting really crazy, a contact mic. But it is a clever idea. (Reminds me of early entries to MusicMakers / Handmade Music, even, back when we were in Brooklyn with the early offices of Etsy and Make. One guy broke his leg, so made an instrument out of crutches. This sort of thing.)
The machine making this happen is a device that makes musical robotics more accessible – and vastly improves rapid prototyping – at low cost. That’ll be the fiendishly clever dadamachines Automat, the creation of engineer and musician Johannes Lohbihler of Berlin.
If for some reason you didn’t know that project, it launched back in 2017:
But it hasn’t been standing still, either.
Berghain resident Barker has been using it to reimagine plate reverb and produce new percussion:
One of my favorite things ever in this vein has to be this robotic glockenspiel spinning on a turntable. You… might not want to watch this if you’re prone to motion sickness at the moment. To me, though, it’s a dizzying delight – the Disneyland Teacups for music nerds.
Now, part of what makes a lot of these sorts of tools somewhat unmusical – or at least restricted – is that they tend to just bang things at a fixed velocity. That works for a while, but tires the ear fairly quickly. So, that makes it worth mentioning an improvement quietly made to the Automat, which is the ability to configure velocity. Here’s Johannes explaining how to use it:
More wonderful Automat creations:
— and still more:
Check out the full project. Might be just the thing to get you through the next lockdown (hmmm… looks around the house at what might be … hit-able) …