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Thursday, July 22, 2010

6 Futuristic Musical Instruments

NAMM shows have become big disappointments because you never see anything new anymore, but that doesn't mean that no new instruments are being developed. While you can read this article to see more than just these six futuristic instruments, these are the ones that caught my eye.

The K-Bow tries to enhance string instruments by embedding sensors in their bows. By measuring its movement, the innovative bow can detect how far it is from the bridge, how much it’s being tilted, the amount of hair tension, and the speed and directions of its movement. String players can now trigger and control effects like echo or reverbs just from their bow action.

Reactable is a synthesizer that acts like a game with up to four players interacting. The modular synthesizer is a digital table-top that manipulates sound by having users drag and rotate different physical blocks.

With Beat Bearing, users can compose different rhythms by picking up bearings and placing them into different slots, making for a more engaging and intuitive music-making experience (or so they say).

The Tenori-On is a device that attempts to merge the experience of playing music and drawing pictures. The futuristic musical instrument features a 16×16 matrix LED grid surrounded by an aluminum frame. Users can play sounds and create loops by pressing the LEDs for a certain duration. The Tenori-On can also join in on synchronized sessions with others who have a device, thereby becoming a collaborative song-writing experience.

With the Continuum Keyboard, musicians can slide their fingers up and down to digitally “pluck” the instrument. Depending on the performer’s playing technique, the device is said to accurately resemble the sound of an acoustic instrument. The Continuum Keyboard can also track 16 fingers simultaneously (you just have to either grow six more, or a new six-fingered hand).

The Double-Slided Controller looks like an electronic trombone. It incorporates two hand controllers embedded with sensors and two slides. The user manipulates the sound by arm and hand movements. An on-board computer chip programmed with music software generates complex sounds from the device.

Let's see how many of these actually catch on.

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R-L-A-George said...


Strange, I've always said: "Techno music, often paints a picture."

Don D said...

I want to play each and every one of these things.

I did have the opportunity to play -- or more accurately, play with -- a Theramin a few years ago. I can't imagine the time and effort one would need to put into mastering that thing. Then again, I feel the same way about a pedal steel. (But at least the pedal steel sounds pretty sweet when you figure it out).

Unknown said...

This is really cool. I love this idea of future instruments. I doubt that any of these will come to pass because I feel that technology is moving in a different direction. I do think that musical instruments in San Francisco CA are still the best ever.


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