This brief clip demonstrates what happens when you film an upright bass while synchronizing the vibration of the strings with the frame rate of the camera. The resulting video makes it appear as though the musician is playing in slow motion when the video is actually playing at normal speed, not unlike the effect of a strobe light. (via Devour)
Update: According to Create Digital Music this phenomenon might have more to do with how a digital cameras capture an image by scanning images quickly from top to bottom. (thnx, Clepsydrae)
Buried in the pages of Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous 15th century notebooks, amongst the sketches of flying machines, parachutes, diving suits, and armored tanks, was a curious idea for a musical instrument that merged the harpsichord and cello. The Italian Renaissance polymath referred to it as the viola organista. The general idea for the instrument was to correlate keyboard fingerwork with the sustained sound of a stringed instrument, but among the dozens of ideas pursued by the gifted artist and inventor, this was one he never explored further. Nearly 100 years would pass before an organist in Nuremberg would build the first functional bowed keyboard instrument, and many others would try throughout history to realize Da Vinci’s vision with various levels of success.
Now, after an estimated 5,000 hours of work over three years and nearly $10,000 invested in the project, Polish concert pianist Slawomir Zubrzycki has unveiled his own version of the viola organista. Not only is the new instrument gorgeous, it’s fully functional and Zubrzycki demonstrated it in public for the first time at the 5th International Royal Krakow Piano Festival a few weeks ago. Above is a video of that performance where you can hear how beautiful the strange instrument sounds. Via the Hindustan Times:
The flat bed of its interior is lined with golden spruce. Sixty-one gleaming steel strings run across it, similar to the inside of a baby grand. Each one is connected to the keyboard complete with smaller black keys for sharp and flat notes. But unlike a piano, it has no hammered dulcimers.Instead, there are four spinning wheels wrapped in horse tail hair, like violin bows. To turn them, Zubrzycki pumps a peddle below the keyboard connected to a crankshaft.
As he tinkles the keys, they press the strings down onto the wheels emitting rich, sonorous tones reminiscent of a cello, an organ and even an accordion. The effect is a sound that da Vinci dreamt of, but never heard; there are no historical records suggesting he or anyone else of his time built the instrument he designed.
Here’s an additional interview with Zubrzycki, where you can see the instrument up close (click the “CC” icon for English captions):
You can learn more about Zubrzycki and the history of the viola organista over at the History Blog.
As part of his ongoing effort to transform weapons into musical instruments, artist Pedro Reyes (previously) constructed a fully mechanized orchestra. Titled Disarm, the collection of eight new instruments were built through a collaboration with several musicians and Cocolab, a media studio in Mexico City.
The team acquired a variety of rifles, pistols, and shotguns seized from drug cartels by the Mexican army and used them to build the musical devices that are controlled by computers and can be pre-programmed to play music. In the video above the Creator’s Project recently sat down with Reyes to learn more about how he “transforms negative instincts into creative instincts.” It’s well worth a watch to see the instruments in use.
You can see more photos of Disarm over at Lisson Gallery in London where it debuted earlier this year. Additionally, many of the Disarm instruments will be at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh starting October 5, 2013 and the artist is also giving a talk on October 1st.
Armed with a pair of humble wooden chopsticks, a .74 cent plastic comb, and a few other minor modifications, Canadian musician James Hill can convert his ukulele into a ridiculous beat machine. Hill mimics a wide range of rhythmic genres from techno to hip hop in this brief clip shot at a sold-out 2011 show at Don Quixote’s International Music Hall in Felton, California. There’s a lot of build-up and preparation, the music starts around 3:45. (via Devour)
Google Creative Director Alexander Chen (who previously turned NYC transit data into music) recently sat down with his viola and a pair of Google Glass specs to record snippets of video and audio which he then looped and edited to create this miniature orchestra. While the video editing was done externally to Glass, the perspective lends itself nicely to the viola and there’s something sort of life-affirming about the music and snippets of life recorded just beyond the instrument. Beautiful music, well done. (via explore)
Cateura, Paraguay is a small city that has grown atop a massive dump. It is regarded as one of the poorest slums in Latin America, a village where people live among a sea of garbage. Incredibly, the landfill itself is the primary form of subsistence for many residents, who pick through waste for items that can be used or sold. Prospects for most of the children born in Cateura is bleak as gangs and drugs await many of them. But then one day, something amazing happened.
A garbage picker named Nicolás Gómez (known as “Cola”) found a piece of trash that resembled a violin and brought it to musician Favio Chávez. Using other objects collected from the dump, the pair constructed a functional violin in a place where a real violin is worth more a house. Using items gleaned completely from the dump, the pair then built a cello, a flute, a drum, and suddenly had a wild idea: could a children’s orchestra be born in one of the most depressed areas in the world? As you can guess, the answer was yes.
Now a group of filmmakers, producers, and photographers are trying to tell the story of the orchestra through a documentary titled Landfill Harmonic. The orchestra seems poised to offer many of the children opportunities outside of the slum— they are already planning a multi-city tour around the U.S. The movie is currently being funded on Kickstarter and just passed the halfway mark today. Watch the video above and you can learn more over on their Facebook. Backed!
As part of his latest project Imagine, Mexico City based artist Pedro Reyes acquired some 6,700 weapons that were scheduled to be buried (as is customary in mass weapon disposals) and instead collaborated with six musicians to create 50 working instruments as part of a statement regarding increased gun violence in Mexico. The numerous firearms were cut down, welded and formed into a variety of string, wind, and percussion instruments over a period of two weeks last month. Via his blog Reyes says:
It’s difficult to explain but the transformation was more than physical. It’s important to consider that many lives were taken with these weapons; as if a sort of exorcism was taking place the music expelled the demons they held, as well as being a requiem for lives lost. [...] This is also a call to action, since we cannot stop the violence only at the place where the weapons are being used, but also where they are made. There is a disparity between visible and invisible violence. The nearly 80,000 deaths by gun-shot that have occurred in Mexico in the last 6 years, or the school shootings in the US are the visible side of violence. The invisible side is that one of gun trade-shows, neglecting assault rifle bans, and shareholder profit from public companies. This is a large industry of death and suffering for which no cultural rejection is expressed.Guns continue to be depicted as something sexy both in Hollywood and in videogames; there may be actors who won’t smoke on the screen, but there has not been one who would reject the role of a trigger-happy hero.
Surprisingly this is not the artists first project involving the reuse of guns. Back in 2008 he was provided with 1,527 destroyed weapons which he melted down to build shovels to plant 1,527 trees as part of his Palas por Pistolas project. If you liked this also check out the work of Al Farrow. (via my amp goes to 11)
Musician and sound artist Diego Stocco (previously here and here) is known for his unique multi-track music videos that combine sounds sampled from common objects and modified instruments. In his latest video Custom Built Orchestra Stocco endeavored to create nearly a dozen custom instruments, some completely from scratch and others from instruments he acquired with structural defects that he then altered to create new musical devices. The result is pretty amazing. See the full details of the project over on Behance.