3D printing can not only replicate existing forms - it can produce new ones. The Atom Guitar, from Odd Guitars. Courtesy the manufacturer.

Six 3D-Printed Musical Instruments, and What 3D Printing Could Do for Musicians

3D printing has quickly risen to buzzword, from a technology initially of interest primarily to hobbyists to one that is catching mainstream business and consumer attention. But the actual substance continues to catch up with potential and expectations. Here are six examples of musical instruments that have taken on 3D printing as a challenge. They may not yet compete entirely with wood and other conventional materials. But they do actually play music, and by pushing against the limitations of the technology, they both reveal what’s possible and refine printing’s usefulness. Arvid Jense, Create Digital Music’s summer intern and himself both …

READ MORE →

Credit Cards, Turned Into Musical Instruments, Sound Pretty Freaking Amazing [Video]

What sort of musical instruments can you make out of plastic credit cards? You might imagine results are limited. But with some clever use of mics, and brilliantly-simple application of time-tested ideas ranging from single-string monochords to music boxes, the results are eminently, wondrously sonorous. And the project benefits greatly from having some compositional intent behind it; the music is focused and makes those credit cards expressive. The project was a promotion for local Austrian banks, but they’re just as effective as promotions for making your own, unique instruments. Vienna-based composer Dr. Richard Eigner describes the project and the team …

READ MORE →
listeners2

A Handmade Children’s Book, a 7″ Vinyl Record, and Tangible, Handmade Music

In the midst of all this talk of intangible digital intellectual property and arcane licensing and Internet policy, there’s something comforting about thinking of music and art as something you make with your hands and give to someone. It was a discussion of that – even in the context of technology – that first led me to the discussion of “Handmade Music.” (Tip of the hat to my friend, Etsy’s Matt Stinchcomb, with whom this discussion has crossed the Atlantic from Brooklyn to Berlin.) Via Cool Hunting, here’s an old-fashioned way of making a music object. The music is on …

READ MORE →
ritornell_card1

Punched-Hole Tunes: Ritornell’s Musicbox Business Cards, as Delicate and Magical as the Music

Experimenting with twinkling timbres made both by acoustic and electronic means, the music of Ritornell (the duo of composer Dr. Richard Eigner and pianist Roman Gerold, Austria) is effortlessly expressive and spontaneous. Little wonder that that spirit could translate even to a small object. Designer Katharina Hölzl made business cards into both a signature identity for Ritornell and a physical manifestation of how they play their music. They’re not just a physical gimmick, though: audiences get to participate with music making in the production of live, performative loops. (Sadly, no site for Katharina – you just have to get hold …

READ MORE →

Two Visions of Instruments from Björk: An App with MIDI, a Gamelan-Celeste with MIDI

Sometimes, images and video can say far more than words, and it’s best to stand back rather than ramble on. (Cough, ahem.) From Björk this year has come two visions of how to make new instruments. The Biophilia software for iOS is an interactive rendition of the album. As apps, you have the curious separation of tracks into individual application icons, available as separate purchases or a bundle. But the effect is one we’ve traced for a while: the music becomes non-linear and interactive, blurring the line between recording as reproduction and dynamic instruments that can transform what you hear. …

READ MORE →
amstelriver

Musical Ideas into Musical Invention: Handmade Music at Amsterdam’s STEIM, Video, Open Call

Idyllic Amsterdam’s Amstel River, steps away from STEIM, makes nice inspiration. (Cross-processed film photo, which looks more like it feels being there.) In late September, CDM travels to Amsterdam and the legendary STEIM, a hub for research and experimentation in electro-acoustic music. The Patterns + Pleasure Festival will explore live electronic music practice and more, from controllerist laptop musicians like Edison and Moldover to the likes of sculpture-trained artist Nina Boes working with drawing and video instruments. The afternoon of September 28, we’ll have an open celebration of DIY electronic music culture with a special installment of Handmade Music. If …

READ MORE →
cosmod

Snapshots of Artists, Ableton Live in Performance: Cosmo D on Cello, Erin Barra with Voice + Keys

Cosmo D, in for a demonstration of cello with Ableton. The computer as bandmate is nothing new. It’s just more stable, more powerful, and friendlier than it has been ever before — and that, coupled with growing familiarity, has been making it more commonplace with artists. So just how are artists working with computers onstage when they also play instruments and sing? Recent guests at New York’s Ableton Live user group have been demonstrating their own techniques for playing Live, live. They work with loops, recording, sampling, live effects, synths – all the things you’d expect – but find ways …

READ MORE →
plekstation_1

The Machine-Augmented Luthier: Robots Helping Make Guitars at Plek Technology

We focus primarily on new machines and technology that make music directly, but of course, these tools make instruments that make music, too. Having seen an image of a guitar string vibrating from German firm Plek A+D Gitarrentechnologie earlier this week, reader Brian Turley observes that the work that company is doing is impressive. We’re not necessarily talking mass-manufactured, machine-made guitars, either. The device in this case augments more traditional techniques, and can be put in the hands of an expert luthier. Plek’s technique scans guitar necks in multiple dimensions, creates a virtual fretboard in which you can adjust frets, …

READ MORE →

Fun with Waves, As Videos Reveal Guitar String Movement – and iPhone Shutters

At bottom, a strobe and high-speed camera accurately represent the way in which a string is moving. At top, a video taken with an iPhone camera distorts your sense of how the string is moving by capturing instead images of standing waves, caused by the rolling shutter on the device. The video isn’t wrong – it’s just showing you beautiful visualizations of standing waves that make visible how the shutter works on the camera more than they do how the guitar works. Full disclosure: I love waves. Analog, digital, acoustic, we’re talking vibrations in sound (and other substances, as well …

READ MORE →

A Kinetic Sonic Organ Sculpture, Made with Cans

In the latest example of kinetic, sound-producing sculpture, an Arduino-controlled organ of moving cans makes eerie, beautiful descending noises. Jakub Koźniewski, a member of the panGenerator collective, sends in details of that group’s work, sponsored in this case by the stuff in the cans: Kinetic audiovisual installation for burn displayed during burn Selector Festival 2011 Movement of the cans is controlled by 9 independent servos connected to the Arduino board while the sound is purely analogue – air pumped by 9 ordinary mattress pumps blows into the “whistles” at the top of plexiglass pipes. Tone is modulated by the current …

READ MORE →