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Turn a Rock Band Keytar Into a Mellotron, And More Standalone Instruments

Lurking in the bargain bins of game shops is a surprisingly well-built keyboard. The Rock Band “keytar” controller may have been made for games, but the keybed is solid, the thing is light, and it can run on batteries. So why not turn it into a standalone instrument? That’s what Jamie Robertson has done with his, and he shows you how. The magic here is something he calls the WAV Trigger. Without naming any names, while there are a lot of cool Arduino shields and the like out there, a lot of them are pretty functionally limited. They’re cool to …

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korgkeytar

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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Flame-Throwing Keytar; Players, Not Instruments, Are Cool

Not just any keytar: this one shoots fire. And you can make music by punching the dummy on the right in the crotch. No, really. Photo: Jeremy Mullis. As a follow-up to my controversial defense of the keytar attempt to get people to stop complaining in comments that they can’t buy a keytar and excuse to needle Roland again. This is CDM reader Billy Hunt. The bright spot in the upper right hand of the screen is fire — a fireball launched from his keytar. Billy modded his Roland AX-7 for wireless MIDI control (okay, logical, practical choice there) and …

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Keytar Komeback: You Don’t Love It Until It’s Gone, An Open Letter to Roland

Find a friendly leprechaun, and you might get a deal on a Roland AX-7 keytar like this, which is apparently now ridiculously hot. Just don’t go to your Guitar Center, because Roland thought you didn’t them any more. Photo: Bombardier, via Flickr. I love you, Roland. I really do. But it has to be said: You’re completely clueless when it comes to the coolest things you’ve ever made. And if an ordinary keyboard with a silly guitar-style body and shoulder strap can be cool, I’m not sure I can even blame you. You just have to listen to the people. …

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Reader Reviews Roland Handsonic HPD-10 Hand Percussion Controller; Tokyo Festival Report

Velocipede, our friend and inside man in Takarazuka, Japan, has been writing up a storm on the CDM forums, from providing hands-on impressions of Roland’s hand percussion pad to reporting back from Tokyo’s Music Instrument Festival. Not just for digital bongos: Roland’s hand controller could be just what you need for expressively playing software instruments. The HPD-10 hand percussion controller by Roland could be a terrific controller for synths and clips, from its traditional purpose (drums) to lots of other applications: My main interest in getting the unit, though, is as a midi control over softsynths. Its 10 pads can …

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Another Bizarre Music Keyboard: Riday T-91

Some people will go to great lengths just to avoid playing scales on a traditional piano-style keyboard. Rick Riday’s apparently Riday T-91 keyboard is immortalized this week on the Matrixsynth blog (via flickr). There’s a discussion of the keyboard there in comments: apparently the keyboard layout is isometric, like the Samchillian and Thummer covered earlier this year. (Note, too, the link to a free QWERTY utility for Windows for trying out your own keyboard layouts.) The effect is a little bit like a peculiar organ adapted for marching band, or a Gothic alt-keytar, but is that a trackball in the …

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Best of the Rest: Baby Synth Lovers, Keytar Swords, Synth Holiday Cheer

If I ran a giant blogging empire like Weblogsinc or Gawker, I’d have to pimp my other sites right now, like “Here’s the hottest news from the Facial Tissues Blog” or something. I’m glad I don’t have such an empire, because instead we can waste productivity looking at this great stuff: Tiny Tot Synth Lovers: More from the start ’em young department: Synth recommendations at 18 months [Music thing], and circuit bending at age 6 [Get LoFi] . . . previously on CDM: 3 year-old DJs, child keyboard prodigy I Want My Synth TV: Theremin videos [Theremin World], BBC Alchemists …

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Keytar Lives: Roland’s AX-7

If you thought the “keytar” went out with other 80s fads like legwarmers, think again. Roland not only still makes keytars, they’ve actually upgraded the tech. It seems some keyboardists still don’t want to be exiled behind a wall of keyboards while the guitarists get all the babes. “Just strap it on and you’re front-of-stage with the band,” says Roland. (At least, I HOPE they’re talking about the keytar.) The modern Roland AX-7 has a General MIDI/GS soundbank (I love the 90s, too!), 45-note keyboard, touch controller, expression bar, and — here’s the nifty part — infrared “D Beam” sensors …

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