Design & Tech Roundup: Inventive New Tools for Making Music
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It's been a big year for music on Kickstarter. We've seen projects from trailblazing artists like De La Soul and TLC, an album of music just for cats, and the introduction of Artiphon's versatile Instrument 1 which was named one of TIME Magazine's Best Inventions of 2015. Here's the latest batch of inventive music-making tools that expand creative possibilities for adventurous musicians because, as Brian Eno said, "you can't really imagine music without technology."
An acoustic guitar may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about digital music, but ACPAD seamlessly adds a range of controls for guitarists looking to enhance their picking and strumming with electronic sounds. After years of performing with custom-modified instruments, Berlin-based musician Robin Sukroso invented this streamlined device to make his hybrid playing style accessible to more musicians. From programming drum beats to triggering digital effects and recording software, ACPAD adds the flexibility of MIDI control to a traditional instrument. Folktronica fans take note!
Guitarists looking to coax new sounds out of their instruments have a decidedly lower-tech option in the Guitar Triller. This handheld accessory designed for striking strings offers options beyond picks or fingers for playing stringed instruments. The resulting sounds range from delicate hammered dulcimer-like tones to rapid-fire heavy metal shredding. Sometimes simple tools can do surprising things.
Best known as the Beatles' sonic laboratory, Abbey Road Studios has been a hub of musical innovation for more than eighty years — so it's fitting that they're now supporting the development of new music technology through their RED incubator program. Their first project is Titan Reality's PULSE* controller, a sophisticated 3D sensing platform that uses gesture and object recognition to create a wide range of virtual playing techniques and sounds. You can hit it like a drum, scratch it like a turntable, or sweep your hand over it like a harp. Any requests for "While My Spatial Sensor Gently Weeps"?
Embracing technology in music isn't always about being ahead of one's time. The Obscura Chiptune Synthesizer from repeat creators Arcano Systems looks backwards to the 8-bit sounds of vintage video game systems like the Nintendo, C64, and Amiga. Its MIDI jack makes it easy to control, and its Arduino-based circuit design makes it customizable for those inclined towards hardware hacking. Perfect for that opera you're writing about Donkey Kong.
We're looking forward to hearing music made with these new instruments. To check out more projects that offer sonic adventures, head over to the Sound section of our Technology category.