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MICKEYPHON is a terrifying giant robot head that’s also a musical instrument

Inside the computer, music software very often looks like it always did – faux mixers and multitracks and piano rolls. But in the hands of designers, musical objects are appearing as something very different. And those iconic mouse ears seem to be … following you.

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At this exhibition, the future of music is weird

We have seen the future. And it’s strange – in a good way. Bizarre Sound Creatures was an exhibition late last month held in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, accompanied by workshops and performances. The theme wasn’t just new instrument design and music making, but imagining a future world with peculiar evolutionary twists. These are musical objects with odd appendages and surprising interfaces. Let’s take a look.

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From Beethoven to Kinect, linking music to our bodies

“Gesture” is a term that gets tossed about regularly in modern interaction design. But to me, the word is most deeply associated with classical music – and the gestures that first brought me to music, the piano. In this video for TED@BCG, I got to talk about that and why I think it can inform design through today’s newest interfaces. In rapid-fire form, obviously more could be said about this.

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An ‘Interspecies’ Music Interface Combines a Mask, Bacteria

Organum Vivum – a interspecies interface from Paul Seidler on Vimeo. Your next digital interface might be grown, not made. Organam Vivum drops the usual combinations of knobs and hard surfaces and wires for something organic – an “interspecies” interface. The sensors are grown from bacteria, formed into alien-looking, futuristic materials and a mask. The bio-interfacing project began as a collaboration between Aliisa Talja (who has a background in industrial design) with Paul Seidler at the CDM-hosted MusicMakers Hacklab at CTM Festival earlier this year. Not only are the materials literally organic, but in touching and breathing into these delicate …

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Mold Sound with Tingle, a Music Controller That Looks Like Pin Art

It looks like Pin Art or Pinscreens – those moldable frames full of pins popularized in the 80s. But the result is something that lets you dig your hands into sound and musical structures in new ways. It looks expressive and, let’s be honest, really fun. (For the research minded, there’s also a NIME report below.) From the edge of the Netherlands’ slick design scene, industrial designer and music technologist Arvid Jense joins CDM for a series of interviews with Eindhoven Music Startups. Here’s his encounter with Nupky. Eindhoven Music Startups: Nupky Rhys Duindam is a graduated Industrial Designer from …

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Watch a Hacklab Merge Science and Live Music Technology: MusicMakers

Documentary MusicMakers Hacklab at CTM Festival 2015 from CDM on Vimeo. With computers and electricity or without it, musical performance has the potential to be expressive, powerful, immediate. Making music live in front of an audience demands spontaneous commitment. What technology can allow us to is to wire up that potential to other fields in new ways. And that was the feeling that began 2015 for us, working in the collaborative MusicMakers Hacklab at CTM Festival in Berlin. Neuroscientists met specialists in breathing met instrumentalists. Think the lightning bolt in the laboratory: it’s alive.

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On Apple Watch, Sound Design Translates into Haptic Feel

You already know sound is something you feel, physically – you know this from the sensation in your head on headphones, from your gut as a PA produces big bass, from the bodily experience of thunderstorms or the siren on an ambulance. But we may soon live in a world where increasingly the role of sound design is wrapped up in interaction – where those sounds can produce physical sensations and haptic interactions. And whether or not the Apple Watch is used by musicians and DJs with new apps, it could add to possibilities for sound designers. Wired has a …

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Watch a Mechanical Drum Machine That Uses Wheels and Magnets [Video]

Drum Machine – XOXX Composer from Axel Bluhme on Vimeo. Can you design a drum machine that does more than simply hide its workings inside an invisible box? XOXX Composer does just that. A project by Axel Bluhme, it turns the inner functions of sampling, looping, and sequencing, into tangible, kinetic, sculptural form. Wheels turn. Magnets trigger sounds. And in what looks like the love child of a 606 and a player piano, you get a mechanical take on patterned sound. Full description: A drum machine that is fun and easy to use This project started with a curiosity to …

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Watch 16 Rubik’s Cubes Turn Into a Visual Music Sequencer

The future happens gradually — and then by the time you’re sequencing a Web browser using Rubik’s Cubes, you might barely notice. But Sweden’s most inventive producer is back yet again with his latest novelty, this time turning one of the world’s best-selling toys (hundreds of millions of units) into a usable sequencer. HÃ¥kan Lidbo (concept and sound design) teams up with Per-Olov Jernberg (programming & visual design) and Romeo Brahasteanu (game board). The clever conceit here is to swap black for one of the colors, thus creating a foreground and background. Make a 4×4 grid of these cubes of …

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A Toe-Tapping, Dancing 3D-Printed Robot Plays Music

Making Music With Poppy from Pierre Rouanet on Vimeo. It can “learn” to tap its toe and bob its head. And then it can make sounds as you move its arms. It’s a robotic interface for music – a bit like playing with a very smart toy doll. To show off its interactive/interfacing abilities, the team behind Poppy used music. Poppy is a robot that can be produced with a 3D printer. All the hardware and software are fully open source. The idea – fused with cash from the EU’s European Research Council for funding science and creativity – is …

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