An Instrument That Plays Along With You


The crew over at Teague Labs was talking about musical instruments and how digital music creation seems to get bogged down under user interfaces littered with increasing numbers of buttons, knobs, and sliders. They decided to build a musical device that has its own musical inclinations and personality, while also allowing for two-way interaction with the user.

The resulting creation is Muze, a simple musical instrument with only a single user input. Muze has been programmed with a palette of notes that it can combine and remix into a nearly infinite number of musical combinations. Muze is perfectly happy composing on its own, and will create music that evolves over time, if left alone long enough.

As with all musicians, not every tune is a hit, so Muze can be gently nudged away from cacophonous melodies with a simple twist of a knob. Each of the device’s knobs represent a blend of functions, which are used to influence Muze when placed on the board. The interaction does not send Muze flying into a completely different direction, rather it tells Muze to shake things up a little bit, much like you would ask your guitarist to pick up the tempo during a jam session.

It’s a neat little instrument, and we can imagine it would be a big hit with kids and adults alike. Keep reading to see a video demonstration of Muze in action.

[vimeo w=470]

16 thoughts on “An Instrument That Plays Along With You

  1. All they need to do is add some LEDs that change color based on the music that’s being output, give it a fancy case, and BAM, this holiday season’s top selling gadget.

  2. still either a lot of wires or a black magic box. If you cannot see how the music is being made, I think you enjoy it less.
    As for the title: it suggests something quite differently than what it really is; I saw no one playing along with this thingy.

  3. The article on the Teague Labs site says they wanted to keep Muze from becoming a “knob laden techno-fest of an instrument,” which is why it has only a single knob. However, their solution is that it really is controlled by 6-8 color coded knobs, only one of which you can stick in their magic knob controller gizmo.

    This is progress?

    I think they need to admit that the reason devices have multiple knobs is that you want to be able to tweaks parameters easily. Having to put in one color coded knob after another to tweak params is a ridiculously complicated interface. What’s easier? Looking at 6 knobs, each of which has a label for its function, or trying to remember what color knob controls what function?

    Technology for the sake of technology doesn’t help anyone.

  4. People complain a lot about the projects/articles posted on here. While i admit not all of them are “hacks” I still learn something from every post, and thats what I come here for.

    Thanks HAD,great post.

  5. @FredP You are comparing it too heavily to a traditional instrument. Given that the device is capable of not only generating music patterns, but evolving them as well, the only control that you really might need dedicated is tempo.

    Though I can see your point, the goal of the device is not for it to really be an instrument, but more of an autonomous companion. A player piano that can legitimately play and create rhythms on it’s own. Even if you could control all of the parameters at one time, does it really matter that much when the adjustments are treated as suggestions and not hard limits?

  6. I love this. There are many synth / sequencer desings around, but most of them miss the ‘instant fun’ factor of this.

    I’d prefer more than one control, rather than the setup they have. But that’s the glory of open source design; I don’t have to stick to what they give me. I can easily modify the design and build what I want.

  7. Beautifully melodic! I really liked the variations it came up with.

    Looking forward to the next generation, where it has more chords and rhythm patterns, but I agree with Tel: you could sell this. I bet lots of new parents would have this booping away in the baby’s room to keep that growing brain stimulated.

    Also it could make a good Simon game.

    Try to have a few thousand ready for Christmas! Cheers.

  8. Ok so we get a few of these together, set up a way for them to communicate a rhythm, wired or wireless, then give each one a different sound. Something like drums for one, same but an octave lower for another etc…
    Pow instant band.

  9. I see this becoming a big thing at clubs, like Wii-jaying did (using Wii remotes to control Abelton live and such).

    The sounds are quite soothing and as Ollie said, very Zelda like.

    I’d love to see this run with more instruments and an LCD screen so you know what settings are in use, so you can dial them in later.

    Or sold as a kid’s toy. My wife and I would love one of those!

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.