This is (video above) perhaps the most abstract way of playing sounds…ever. Yes, we’ve heard Hard Drive music and Obsolete technology bands, but [DJ Sures] brings us the first ever, spark plug instrument.
Much like Velcro and Teflon, the musical spark plug is claimed to be an accident. After testing energy use vs. spark power with his flare stack ignition controller, [DJ Sures] noticed that different frequencies could be produced. It was only a matter of reprogramming before death metal Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is heard. Now he just needs to refine it a bit and build a full stereo cabinet.
This instrument caught our eye. It is a Laser device that looked like it could do midi input of some type. We played a little bit, but really weren’t too impressed. You know why? We’ve seen better.
[James] – Way to be hackers.
[Moldover] decided to change up the way CDs are packaged for his album release. Yes, you still get a CD with some pretty sweet music, but the case can also play sounds. He custom printed a circuit board containing some LEDs, buttons, photoresistors, and what looks to be a piezo transducer which all combine to produce a strange whine like noise. But with the included headphone jack, he shows it can be used to produce some very interesting music – reminds us of circuit bending.
The Irregular Incurve is a robotic instrument built by [Xiaoyang Feng] as part of his ITP thesis work. It’s a MIDI instrument with an array of 12 strung bows mounted to a curved shower rod. The end of each bow has a tuning key. The strings are each picked using independently mounted arms. One servo controls the downward motion of the pick while the other controls the rotation of the shaft. A damper is also attached to each arm. The string vibrations are transferred to a spruce soundbox under the bridge. Below you can see a video of Gizmodo playing with it at the ITP show. Check out [Xiaoyang]’s Flickr set for images of the build process plus some early videos of the mechanism.
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This guitar bot is part of the Legue of Electronic Musical Urban Robots, or LEMUR. As you can see in the video, it has 4 strings, each mounted on it’s own unit. The pitch is controlled by a sliding bridge, while the strings are plucked by a series of picks mounted to motor. The sliding bridge is quite fast, being able to shift 2 whole octaves in a quarter of a second. The final effect is quite nice, we would listen even if we weren’t watching a robot work. This is the kind of thing we should expect to see at the Guthman Musical Instrument Competition.
[via Hacked Gadgets]
[Noah] tipped us off to his work with Physically Engaged Electronic Instruments. He is building instruments, that while being electronic, require physical action to drive them. In the video after the break, you can see an example, in the form of a polka. The part that they’re holding (print head?) is attached to a generator which powers the instrument. The effect makes the instrument much more like a traditional stringed instrument that must be strummed. We can easily also imagine an interface similar to a concertina or accordion being functional. There are schematics available on his site in the research reports section, but you’ll have to dig through a pdf or two to find them. We would love to see a breakdown of the instruments and their components in a more accessible form.
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Ok, we know you’re going to get mad, there’s virtually no information on the technical side. But the music was so pleasant, and that’s rare. There’s an interview with Felix, the creator, where he discusses his goals and ideas behind the project. We prefer just to sit and watch though. If you want to make something similar, there were some technical details on a mechanical drum recently.