instruments

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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

 

 



Design Music

San Francisco-Based Company Builds Guitars From Recycled Skateboard Decks

July 28, 2015

Kate Sierzputowski

Prisma-Skateboard-Guitar

Nick Pourfard is 22-year-old artist, musician, and skateboarder currently combing his multiple talents into one package: guitars built from reclaimed skateboard decks. The San Francisco-based industrial design student taught himself woodworking to tackle the project which he branded as Prisma Guitars. Each instrument is 100% handmade and composed of skateboards that have been used or broken.

Recently, Pourfard had the honor of building a piece for Steve Harris of Iron Maiden. Pourfard explains, “I took every detail of his playing style and aesthetic into consideration. The bass has an off-white painted alder back with skate top featuring colors as close to West Ham as possible. I laser cut a custom mirror pickguard and bound the whole body in black and white to pay homage to his classic original bass.”

You can donate your own used or broken skateboards to Pourfard before they make their way into a landfill here. (via fubiz)

Working-010

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Tracing

Prisma-006-Front

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Guitar-003-Body

 

 



Music

Musician Guilhem Desq Gives an Electrifying Hurdy Gurdy Performance

December 16, 2014

Christopher Jobson

On a list of things I most anticipated sitting down to cover on Colossal today, the hurdy gurdy probably wasn’t in the top thousand topics, but then I stumbled onto this video and had to share it. The piece is called Omen, written and performed by Guilhem Desq, who uses an electrified version of the hurdy gurdy along with sampling to create a surprisingly contemporary composition. The first two minutes are more traditional (?) sounding, but around the 2:00 mark things get amazing. If you’re unfamiliar with this obscure instrument, here’s a little background:

The hurdy gurdy is a stringed instrument that produces sound by a crank-turned, rosined wheel rubbing against the strings. The wheel functions much like a violin bow, and single notes played on the instrument sound similar to those of a violin. Melodies are played on a keyboard that presses tangents—small wedges, typically made of wood—against one or more of the strings to change their pitch. Like most other acoustic stringed instruments, it has a sound board to make the vibration of the strings audible.

If you just can’t get enough hurdy gurdy, you can listen to more of Desq’s music on his YouTube channel, and there’s also a great TED talk by Caroline Philips, Hurdy Gurdy for Beginners. (via Colossal Submissions)

 

 



Design Music

A New Acoustic Instrument That Creates Sounds like a Digital Synthesizer

November 4, 2014

Christopher Jobson

hero

The Yaybahar is a new acoustic instrument designed by Istanbul-based musician Görkem Şen that emits music right out of a retro sci-fi movie, a remarkable feat considering there isn’t a bit of electricity involved. The Yaybahar can be played in a variety of different ways using mallets or with a bow, relying on a combination of two drum-like membranes, long springs, and a tall fretted neck to create music. Like any instrument, it’s capable of producing sounds that run the gamut from “beautiful music” to “noise.” Give it a listen! (via The Creators Project)

Update: Here’s a video (in Turkish) of Şen giving a TEDx talk earlier this year where he plays a similar bow and spring-type instrument. (thnx, JR!)

 

 



Music

High-Speed Strings: Video Trickery Creates Wobbly Slow Motion Effect

December 1, 2013

Christopher Jobson

bass

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)

 

 



Design History Music

Polish Concert Pianist Builds a ‘Viola Organista’ Based on a 500-Year-Old Leonardo Da Vinci Sketch

November 18, 2013

Christopher Jobson

organ

Viola Organista built by Slawomir Zubrzycki

davinci

Codex Atlanticus by Leonardo Da Vinci, (page 93r)

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.