instruments

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Craft Design Music

Classic Compositions Performed on a Miniature Paper Piano by Aliaksei Zholner

May 22, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Aliaksei Zholner (previously) is known for making fully functioning models from cardboard and paper. His latest piece is a miniature 18-key piano that is tuned to play popular and classical pieces such as Fryderyk Chopin’s Polonez b-moll, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Für Elise, and Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer. The “strings” of the piano are created from paper strips connected to a tension mechanism similar to a guitar and struck by hammers made from paper and cardboard. The black cardboard body is branded with Zholner’s name above the keys in the style of popular piano makers such as Bösendorfer and Bechstein. A more detailed explanation of the construction (in Russian) is available on the Only Paper forum, and you can view more of his paper demonstrations on his Youtube channel.

 

 



Design Music

Wintergatan Declares the Conveyor Belt Complete on its Epic Marble Machine X

April 30, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

A new video released by the ambitious Wintergatan band of folktronica musicians/inventors (previously) shows the latest developments in their ongoing Marble Machine project. The video above documents the successful completion of the Marble Conveyor Belt, which uses ratchets and pistons to move dozens of marbles around and through the Marble Machine. Martin Molin, who is a member of the band and the inventor of the Marble Machine, demonstrates how the movement of marbles is in time to—and can even create—beats and rhythms in Wintergatan’s music. We’ll leave the technical details to the professionals, but imagine a pinball machine meets an oversized music box.

In-depth notations on the band’s YouTube channel explain the specifications of the conveyor belt’s functionality. Wintergatan’s loyal following on YouTube and Patreon, which follows these intricacies at every turn, has helped support the complex and long-running invention process. Once the full Marble Machine X is complete, Wintergatan will embark on a world tour performing music with the finished musical machine.

You can find free scores as well as records and merch in the Wintergatan online store. Stay up to date with the Marble Machine’s progress on Instagram.

 

 



Design Music

Twenty Instruments Reconstructed to Play Through the Keys of a Vintage Piano

January 30, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

We’ve all tinkered around on a keyboard that, when a button is pushed or settings tweaked, gives us a chance to play the sound of a flute or drum. When the Ukrainian band Brunettes Shoot Blondes purchased a vintage, albeit broken, grand piano they decided to recreate this concept in analog form. The group secured twenty instruments to the inside of the piano and its sides so they could effectively play each as they pressed certain keys. The creation was developed as a way to perform their new song “Houston” live, rather than having an entire band as back-up like they might in the recording studio. Keys connect to drums, tambourines, cymbals, and castanets while additional mechanical devices play stringed instruments like the cello and two violins. You can view more of the band’s performances on Instagram and Youtube. (via Laughing Squid)

 

 



Design Music

The Apprehension Engine: An Instrument Designed to Play the Music of Nightmares

June 26, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

Movie composer Mark Korven wanted to craft the perfect sounds for horror movies, but the instruments he needed didn’t exist, and he was tired of using the same digital samples. To produce the original effects needed for evoking breathtaking moments of suspension, he teamed up with guitar maker Tony Duggan-Smith to craft an original instrument that would better aid in manufacturing fear. The Apprehension Engine is that tool, a mechanism built with several bowed metal rulers, spring reverbs, a few long metal rods, and other attachments that allow for spooky interludes and effects.

“A normal instrument, you are playing it and expecting it to have a sound that is pleasing,” said Korven to Great Big Story, “but with an instrument like this, the goal is to produce sounds, that in this case, are disturbing.”

The Apprehension Engine expresses the emotions that cannot be expressed in other ways, triggering fear with intense sonic methods. You can listen to more music by the machine tuned to provoke horror in the video below. (via Great Big Story)

 

 



Design Music

Haunting Music Created With Two New Instruments

July 4, 2016

Christopher Jobson

Remember the insane marble machine instrument that took the internet by storm a few months ago? The designer, Martin Molin of Wintergatan, just built two new instruments and recorded a video where he uses both to perform an original composition titled All Was Well. The first is a rather complex take on a traditional music box that uses punched paper-tape to control individual notes, and the second is something he calls a Modulin. The Modulin sounds a lot like an electronic theremin but seems to have an interface like a stringed instrument. Molin has also started releasing additional videos that explain how he built the music box. (via Digg)

 

 



Design Music

Projected Figures of Humans and Animals Play the Keyboard Through Dancing Footsteps

June 2, 2016

Kate Sierzputowski

piano-1

DancingKeyBoard_01

Andante” was created by MIT’s Tangible Media Group as a way to promote an understanding of the way that music is rooted in the body, an experience that transcends more than just the ears. The group, led by Professor Hiroshi Ishii, gives physical form to abstract digital information, providing delightful visuals to more complicated processes.

In the animated experiment, human and animal characters were programmed to stroll along the keys of a keyboard, playing notes as they walk or dance from one key to the next. Despite the simplicity of the characters’ movements it is quite entrancing to watch each step, especially when a pianist begins to play a duet with one of the small figures. See the full visualization of the “Andante” in the video below! (via Booooooom)

DancingKeyBoard_03

piano-2

 

 



Music Photography

Photographer Stephen Orlando Captures the Movement of Musicians Through Light Painting

July 29, 2015

Kate Sierzputowski

Bach Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude

Bach Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude

Photographer Stephen Orlando (previously) captures the nearly imperceptible movement one makes when quickly sliding a bow along strings, the senses typically drawn to the sounds rather than appearance of the instrument being played. By using carefully placed LED lights and a long exposure Orlando can track these movements through space, following arms and bows with light trails that extend out from the body and instrument. These bright ghostly marks are captured through his photographic technique and not altered with Photoshop, making their distinct patterns all the more spectacular.

The Ontario-based artist was inspired by the lighting painter Gjon Mili, who also experimented with violins in 1952. Orlando explains:

A relative motion between the performer and camera must exist for the light trails to move through the frame. I found it easier to move the camera instead of the performer. The LEDs are programmed to change color to convey a sense of time. The progression of time is from left to right in the viola and violin photos and from top to bottom in the cello photos. Each photo is a single exposure and the light trails have not been manipulated in post processing.

You can see more of Orlando’s lit rainbow pieces on his Instagram and Facebook.

Viola III

Viola III

Violin I

Violin I

Seitz Concerto No. 2, 3rd Movement

Seitz Concerto No. 2, 3rd Movement

Viola - Bach Cello Suite No. 1 - Three Bowings

Viola – Bach Cello Suite No. 1 – Three Bowings