Eat a Cucumber! A Musical Playground Gets Kids Hooked on Veggies, Music, and Electronics

Quick, we need kids to be able to express their feelings, they really ought to learn more about electronics, and – more veg. Definitely need to eat more vegetables. You know what we have to do. Let’s combine all that. Moscow-based collective/project Playtronica has gone wild with the Makey Makey “invention kit,” and built a whole range of projects around interfacing electronics to vegetables and other creative inputs. They have hands-on workstations for kids that look like your Farmers’ Market was taken over by Leon Theremin. Kids are making rhythms, recording sounds, making songs. And in a CDM-exclusive premiere, we …

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Now, Everything in the Real World Can Be Modular – Candles to Plants to Lava Lamps to Motors

You know that saying about everything looking like a nail when all you’ve got is a hammer? Well, someone got a little carried away dreaming of wires, and it seems they’ve now a module that can begin to see all kinds of objects and substances as control voltage. We’ve seen a new collections of modules and tools. And it turns everything in the world into a modular synthesizer input and output. We already knew the strange and wonderful Czech team of Bastl Instruments (of Standuino fame) were up to some weird science. It just got a whole lot weirder. Sure, …

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Spinning Optical Drum Buddy and the Wild DIY Punk World of Quintron and Miss Pussycat

Deep in the Ninth Word of New Orleans lies the workbench and studio of one Mr. Quintron, the inventor-organist who has applied his DIY mad-scientist sonic production to a unique flavor of insistent punk. Mr. Quintron was this week in my home neighborhood in Berlin, accompanied by his wife Miss Pussycat – maraca player (maracaist?), vocalist, and puppeteer behind Flossie and the Unicorns. There was a puppet show. It was about cake – demon cake. There was the debut of a new inflatable puppet. Shirts came off. Sounds were made. It was hot. It was loud. Just as these puppets …

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Watch KORG’s littleBits Transformed into Badass Keytar

Right in the manual, KORG suggests that you might turn their magnetic modular system, the littleBits Synth Kit, into a keytar. But this is a sort of “attach all the modules to a bit of wood” affair. Meanwhile, in Japan… Pantograph is an art/design agency and animation house (site link – Japanese only). And when they got their hands on the Synth Kit, they did it up properly. Think beautiful, multi-colored cases, proper playable ergonomics – and a blinking light-up KORG logo. The results are enchanting: If you want one of your own and you’re passing through Tokyo (superfans, buy …

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There’s an Unofficial Eurorack Version of MeeBlip anode

You can’t buy it – it’s a one-of-a-kind model – but someone was enough in love with the sound of MeeBlip anode that they built their own modular version.

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Squeezebox of the Future: Playing the Striso [Video]

It’s a beautiful, sunny day in London. A velveteen grassy green field calls out under pure blue skies and lazy clouds. And… you can’t see your laptop in the glare, you’re out of battery, and your music studio is underground. Not only will you be miserable, you’ll be playing alone. So, kudos to Striso, the Italian-dubbed (but Dutch-built) squeezebox, evolved digitally. And it’s an electronic instrument that you can still don to serenade your friends in a picnic. Looking a lot like a free-reed instrument such as the bandoneon or concertina (or, yes, accordion), it’s in fact a purely digital …

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Serious play. Photo courtesy the artist.

Hypnotic LEGO Automata: Technic Machines Make Music

Play House from Alex Allmont on Vimeo. “Play House” — get it? Playing with LEGOs seems to have an ongoing intuitive connection to musicians, to composition and musical play. So, of course, after we commented on the LEGO Maschine controller hack at MIDI Hack at Stockholm last weekend, several of you reminded us of this recent piece by Alex Allmont. (Now, in fairness, the Maschine hack was put together in well under 24 hours – sometimes work takes time. But I find it nice to see them together.) What’s especially beautiful about Play House is that musical mechanisms and robotic …

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MIDI-Controlled Necktie Lights Up As You Play, with Internet-Enabled LEDs

As the consumer electronics industry struggles to work out what people want in wearable technology, the people are speaking. We want – no, need – neckwear that lights up in sync to music as we play. Clearly. Well, anyway, that’s what Hector Urtubia – aka Mr Book – is doing in his latest hack. It’s a proof of concept, but it’s good, nerdy fun. And it uses mesh networking and conductive thread. The ingredients: Pinoccio (yes, spelled without the ‘h’), an Internet-connected, compact, Arduino-compatible board. You can even access this board over the Web, so think Internet of Things here. …

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Moog Werkstatt: Listen to its Creator Make Sounds; Why It Could Bring Moog Back to Modular

The newest Moog Music synth is in the hands of a select few. Werkstatt means, effectively, “workshop” in German. And so, Moog Music at Moogfest this year unveiled a synth you can’t buy anywhere but in a workshop. (Not to be confused with the one you might be able to buy, but can’t afford! Start on those lottery tickets!) Available exclusively to Moogfest Engineer VIP Package purchasers, Werkstatt was more than just a fun piece of gear. Designer/engineer Steve Dunnington of Moog Music, creator of the instrument, led participants in soldering and assembling the synth, then into exploring the world …

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MusicMakers Hacklab: Next Stop, Tijuana; Attend or Just Listen

From Germany to Mexico – the next location to host a collaborative laboratory of musical invention will be in Tijuana. One of the participants in our MusicMakers Hacklab in Berlin at CTM Festival has decided to take that inspiration with her, and mount her own event in northern Mexico. You can join, too, if you live in Tijuana or can get yourself there. What’s compelling to me is that the mission will blend some of the oldest, most retro tech with new applications and new ideas – see description below. If you can’t get to Mexico, though, we can finish …

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