Video link

The crazy gimmicks are fun, but what drives people to build or customize their own musical creations is ultimately the desire to make music. Etsy.com dispatched a lovely videographer to cover the most recent Handmade Music night, co-organized with us CDMers and Make Magazine. Check out the video for a glimpse of the broad range of work people are making, from instruments practical to zany, game systems to hacked commercial controllers to open source hardware to DIY creations.

My favorite quote comes from Brian Crabtree, co-creator of Monome, about what it’s all about:

“I think it shows people that, even when it’s a weird, abstract device, you can train yourself to become musical with almost anything.”

Featured in the video: Gian Pablo Villami and his scratch-built FireWire drive synth, Moldover and his hacked-up ReMOTE SL, Brian and Kelli and their Monome, Jay Smith of Livid and his Viditar, Peter Swimm and his Game Park Linux-based game system, and more.

This Thursday, we’ll be back in Brooklyn, so don’t be shy: stop by, and bring projects (finished or otherwise) if you want to share.

Video comes to us by way of DIY community Etsy’s new online magazine, The Storque:

Etsy Labs and Create Digital Music Night: Revisited [Details on the last event]
Handmade Music Night Has Returned! [Details on the next event; remember to rsvp@etsy.com]

The Etsy community offers lots of other great ideas and inspiration. You’ll see that, as we predicted, live DJs can help fuel long DIY sessions, and while it’s completely unrelated to music, I found the tour of Lotta Jansdotter’s home studio really eye-opening. As music lovers, we’re all looking for ways of fitting what we love into our life, whether it’s as a day job or in the evening hours. It’s great to see people making their passions work.

Speaking of creative passions, the image below comes from Etsian and digital artist John W. Golden.

Boom box by John W. Golden

  • http://indiedanceparty.com DJ McManus

    "The crazy gimmicks are fun, but what drives people to build or customize their own musical creations is ultimately the desire to make music."

    I think the desire to build custom instruments and gimmicks is the reason and end in itself. The music is debatable.

    The reactable, lemur, tenori-on, wii controller, and all the rest that have dominated blogs like this haven't produced anything beyong being gimmicks and custom instruments.

    The thing with all of these is that the "music" is never able to stand on its own.

    Leave those kids' toys alone.

    If someone can combine and MPC and a Monome then you might have something.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, combining the functionality of an MPC with the Monome shouldn't be hard at all … you're talking basically a controller with some buttons on it (minus velocity sensitivity, but more buttons, and some MPC uses don't need velocity sensitivity anyway). And the Wii controller is basically another take on the KAOSS Pad — i.e., an expressive controller to be used with other things.

    I said the "desire" to make music. And what comes out is music. How good is absolutely debatable, with any instrument. So what happens once the tools are in people's hands is sort of out of my control. I think you ought to pick and choose. If you practice enough — which is Brian's point — you could get good on any of them, or anything else you like. If you'd rather use a keyboard or traditional drum pad controller (I know there are times when I would rather), do that!

  • http://www.myspace.com/djnewmiracle Newmiracle

    "The thing with all of these is that the “music” is never able to stand on its own.

    Leave those kids’ toys alone."

    I feel like this is a bit of a shabby attitude, especially if you consider people are using interfaces that are brand new. What do you think the first song on a stringed instrument sounded like? Even if people are trying to make a full song with the damn thing, it's still going to be a tech demo.

    It's all about the innovation, and perhaps someone will find a way to use it. Maybe exclusively, or maybe just as a novelty in a larger setting. But thats not a bad thing, it's a good thing. More options are better, and if you don't want to use them you don't have to. Stop being such a buzzard about it.

    Also, I believe Daft Punk have been using a Lemur for their current tour, so…yeah.

  • http://indiedanceparty.com DJ McManus

    The gadgets are still just about the gadgets.

    Talking about the gadgets is still just about talking about the gadgets.

    I'm not knocking it. Just saying it is what it is.

    Maybe Peter was right. It's about the desire to make music. That doesn't mean the music … rather, the desire to make music. The focus is on you, the tool you're using, and the act of making music.

    Scratching records isn't just about the scratch sound / music. It's about the whole experience. The whole package.

    The thing is though that with scratching records there was a whole revolution with the sounds and well … music. It wasn't like if you practice real hard you can almost do what you can do with a synth.

    The new music will be made by advances in software, not hardware. Software will offer virtuosity and extra dimensions of skill which will lead the way to new musical expressions and sounds. Or not?