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Music

“Game-powered machine learning” could make searching for music online easier

When it comes to online music, we really are spoilt for choice. So spoilt it can make uncovering new music to match our tastes or finding a track when we don’t know the artist or song title, a hit and miss affair. Engineers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), have developed a new approach called “game-powered machine learning” that they claim is just as accurate as other methods, but is cheaper and has the potential to let users search every song on the web using a text search.Read More

Review

digiZoid releases Zo 2 personal subwoofer, we go hands-on

Almost two years ago I reported being very impressed by the sound sculpturing capabilities of the Zo Personal Subwoofer. digiZoid has now released version 2, and brought some significant upgrades to the pocket-friendly headphone amp. With so many quality dedicated digital music players (the Cowon C2 or the Colorfly C4, for instance) and high end smartphones already offering pretty decent audio reproduction, is it worth laying out extra cash for sonic enhancement technology that sits between device and earphones? I've been giving a review unit a good testing over the last week or so in an attempt to answer that very question.Read More

Calling all Deadheads - Jerry Garcia guitars head for the auction block

This year would have been the 70th birthday of Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, had not a heart attack ended his life at the age of 53. Last year, one of the great man's guitars – his Lucky 13 – was auctioned on eBay for charity, and next month memorabilia from the influential player's life will go under the hammer at Bonhams San Francisco on the anniversary of the band's famous 1977 Cornell show. Among original and rare works by Garcia, Deadheads will also find no less than three of his guitars – including the very Takamine acoustic seen on the cover of his Ragged But Right album, released almost 23 years after it was recorded. Read More

Magnetovore Magnetic Cello about to go into limited production

It's taken almost three years and has seen a number of prototype revisions, but David Levi's Magnetic Cello is finally getting ready for its first production run. Looking like a minimalist version of the acoustic instrument on which it is based, the instrument features a single resistive ribbon on the neck to alter the pitch of a note and a huge, visible coil at the bridge end. Instead of a horsehair bow, the player uses a magnetic rod to induce a voltage in the coil, which is then transformed into a frequency and fed through to the unit's voltage-controlled amplifier. The bow has a small switch at the thumb position which allows the player to select virtual strings.Read More

Tupac Shakur resurrected as ultra-realistic "hologram" for live performance

Last Sunday, attendees of the 2012 Coachella music festival were shocked when infamous rapper, Tupac Shakur, took the stage in the form of a hologram to give a live performance - quite a feat, considering the man has been dead for over 15 years. Fans gawked and cheered as the incredibly realistic-looking hologram moved around the stage, called out to the audience, and even performed a song alongside his old friend, Snoop Dogg, before disappearing in a burst of light. The impressive show has already caught the imaginations of many music lovers, and it's all thanks to the work of AV Concepts and effects studio, Digital Domain, who worked together to bring the deceased rapper back to life.Read More

Star Wars barrel organ constructed from Lego

Having grown up on the original Star Wars trilogy, it is hard to describe the excitement I felt as I sat in a darkened theater as a man in my 30’s and that familiar theme blasted out signaling the start of the The Phantom Menace. Of course, it was all downhill from there, but John Williams’ iconic score can still raise the old heartbeat a notch or two. While not capable of pumping out a version quite as stirring as that performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, a team has constructed a barrel organ out of Lego that plays the Star Wars theme.Read More

LED learning sleeves for the guitar

Guitar tablature is a powerful form of musical notation, where learners are shown where to place a finger on the neck of an instrument, and in what order. Such things as timing, note duration and playing force are not given, so unless a student knows or has access to a recorded version of the song being learned, the result may be somewhat different from what the composer intended. Usefully, such missing elements can be included in software like Guitar Pro to show users exactly how a song should be played. Two projects have now appeared on crowd-funding portal Kickstarter that take this idea and put it directly onto the guitar, so that learners won't need to keep switching views from screen to instrument. Tabber and the LED Sleeve guide players to the correct finger positions via LED lights on the neck.Read More

Vibrating stool puts drummers in touch with their bottom end

The thunderous punch of a bass drum is the time-honored foundation on which all of rock 'n' roll is built. That thud that hits you in the chest and moves your whole body … it taps into a deep and primal place in our subconscious. But while the crowd is enjoying the power of the bass drum amplified through huge sub-woofers, the poor drummer himself is usually hearing a poxy, paper-thin, bassless pop from a tiny onstage foldback speaker. Trying desperately to feel the bass, they often turn the onstage monitors up to ear-splitting volumes, but you just can't get that kind of low end out of small speakers. Enter the BC2 (formerly known as the BumChum) from Britain's Porter and Davies - a simple two-part system that takes the bass drum signal and literally shakes the drummer's butt with it through a vibrating stool. Read More

Items from the estate of Les Paul head for charity auction block

Mention the name Les Paul, and most people will think of Gibson's famous guitar and not the extraordinary person after which it was named. To mark what would have been the 97th birthday of the accomplished guitarist and visionary inventor born Lester Polsfuss in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1915, Julien's Auctions will host an auction of some of Les Paul's personal estate. All proceeds from the sale will go to the Les Paul Foundation, a charity that encourages young people to pursue their curiosity and innovation about music, sound and engineering.Read More

Vocaloid keyboard lets your fingers do the talking - or singing

Growing out a of a research project led by Kenmochi Hideki at Spain’s Pompeu Fabra University in 2000, Yamaha’s Vocaloid is a singing synthesizer that lets those with a voice like Roseanne Barr after a big night out synthesize more pleasing vocals by inputting lyrics and melody. While the current commercial version of Vocaloid 3 requires these inputs to be prepared on a PC prior to a performance, Yamaha has now developed a Vocaloid keyboard prototype that lets users input lyrics and melody and generate a singing voice in real time.Read More

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