[Imogen Heap] is well-known for performing with DIY and cobbled-together instruments, and now she’s teaming up with another famous DIY instrument musician for a world tour. That’s the cool part, now here’s the awesome part: they want to take your DIY musical instrument on tour for a scrapyard symphony.
Both [Imogen] and [Leafcutter] are semi-regular Hackaday features, with [Leafcutter] building hydrophones and [Imogen] doing some crazy stuff turning gestures into music. They’re both known for their strange and esoteric sounds that sends Rolling Stone writers scrambling for a thesaurus, and now they want your disused or discarded music machines to use live on their world tour.
The team is looking for video submissions of any musical creatures you’d like to send around the world. The only real guideline on what they’re looking for is, ‘the weirder the better’, with an apparent slight emphasis on physical machines over the purely electronic.
Last summer we got to have a little chat with [Aaron Taylor] about his automated Gamelan orchestra, Gamelatron. The robotic orchestra features a large collection of Indonesian gongs, metallophones, xylophones and cymbals actuated using simple pull solenoids attached to mallets. Gamelatron’s custom controller activates the various 24V solenoids using MIDI, the whole thing is essentially a gigantic MIDI instrument that can be played by whatever sequencing device you so please.
[Aaron] has a variety of ways to pump MIDI into the controller including the “Padma Bhuwana”, a wooden box with 16 arcade buttons wired to an Arduino. The Arduino can either activate sequences on a computer running Ableton live or the MIDI sequence can be pumped directly out of the Arduino for a computer free interactive installation. [Aaron] also plugs his Akai MPD32 to the computer for live shows or he can just let the laptop do all the work for non-interactive installations.
The really interesting thing about having 170 or so simply actuated instruments is the ability to spread them out and fill every facet of a space. A great example of this was the Temple of Transition at Burning man 2011 where the gongs and what not else would span multiple floors. Here is a recent Wired magazine video published where [Aaron] gives a quick overview of the setup, or if you are too impatient for the ads check out a few videos of Gamelatron in at burning man and PEX summer festival after the jump. We also included [Aaron]’s kickstarter video which has a few more details on the setup (as well as irrelevant stuff about the kickstarter project that has since expired). With all the crazy midi instrument hacks we get around here it is not stretch of the imagination to see this has lots of interactive potential.
[Richie Brown] created an electric mannequin leg maraca. The leg is filled with little bits of plastic, metal, and wood. Hook it up to a looping pedal, add a piezo disc mic, and you’ve got an unusual instrument with a lot of potential. [Brown] has other projects that encourage interaction and invite curiosity, from disembodied mannequin parts to repurposed piano keyboards. The creations come attached with contact mics that pick up noises as people touch, poke, and play around with them.