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Electrical engineering student David Levi is about to embark on the first production run o...

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

The new full-octave wrist-mounted finger piano

We've all drummed our fingers when impatient or bored, but the arrival of a wrist-mounted finger "piano" from Japan could change all that in a snap. It looks more like an EKG for your hand than a musical instrument but comes with a full octave of range - one note for each finger and three on the wrist unit.  Read More

The DUBE is a specially-constructed wooden box that serves as a percussive musical instrum...

If you’re getting weary of trying to wrap your head around things like smartphones that answer questions, self-driving cars or microscopic machines, perhaps this might be more to your liking ... a wooden box. Well OK, the DUBE isn’t just a wooden box. It’s actually a percussive musical instrument, that caught our eyes and ears last week at NAMM.  Read More

Mogees turns any hard surface into a playable musical interface (Photo: Bruno Zamborlin)

Mogees is great news for all the air guitarists out there. This tiny device, built by Bruno Zamborlin for his Arts and Computational Technologies PhD project, offers a whole new way of expressing yourself musically, even if you don’t have the slightest idea how to play an instrument. Mogees, or a “Mosaicing Gestural Surface," is based on a simple contact microphone that turns any hard surface into a musical interface for triggering audio samples. What sets Mogees apart from other interfaces of this kind is that different types of touch stimuli generate different output. Simple gestures like scratching, rubbing or tapping can produce a surprising array of sounds worthy of a serious experimental music set up.  Read More

Australian musician, cTrix, turned a 1970's game console into a handheld instrument dubbed...

Taking an old computer or game console and modifying it for music isn't very new; it's even spawned its own style of music called "chiptunes." But most artists that do this end up standing behind a table while they perform, since that gear can take up quite a bit of room. So, like the keyboard player who looked at the guitarist and said, "Hey! I want to do that!" one musician has created a handheld musical instrument out of a 1970's game console. Australian chiptune artist, cTrix, crafted together an Atari 2600, some custom software, and various musical modifiers to build a standalone instrument that he calls the "gAtari 2600."  Read More

It's been a good year for musical instrument innovation - we take a quick look back at som...

The closing of the year is a great time to reflect on recent events. Regular readers will already know that musical instrument development is a bit of a passion of mine, and 2011 has been a great year for innovation. Join me, if you will, for a quick retrospective look at some of the tech we've been treated to during the last 12 months, ending with a recent take on an old classic - the Crap-o-Caster.  Read More

Both sides of the 1396 Richard II horary quadrant

You just never know what you've got in the shed. This horary quadrant was found in a bag of old pipe fittings in a shed on a farm in Queensland, Australia, forty years ago. Last year the owner of the quadrant was surfing the internet and came across this article where he recognised not just the same tool, but the same stag-coronet insignia that was on his quadrant (he thought it was an astrolabe) signified it was made for King Richard II (of England). He subsequently contacted the British Museum, which identified the item sitting on his desk for the last forty years as a 1396 horary quadrant. It will be auctioned next month and is expected to fetch between GBP150,000 and GBP200,000.  Read More

Starr Labs is developing a new iPad dock that uses the power and versatility of Apple's ta...

The phenomenal success of music-related mobile apps has forced many of us old timers to have a good rethink about the way we make music in the 21st Century. For many musicians - including The Gorillaz and Bjork - Apple's iPad is taking center stage in the production of modern music. Digital instrument innovator Harvey Starr is also looking at the iconic tablet as a way of giving more people the chance to experience the power of Starr Labs' custom-built electronic guitars at a fraction of the cost. Pairing the iPad with his company's button-based electronic guitar fingerboard, Starr is developing a new hybrid monster called the iTar.  Read More

The Soundplane Model A computer music controller has a touch-sensitive walnut playing surf...

Even though touch-sensitive digital music interfaces like Roger Linn's LinnStrument offer users access to whole new worlds of sonic expression, there's still something very appealing about the feel of real wood beneath the fingers. The Soundplane Model A throws cold plastic playing surfaces out the window and presents players with 150 walnut keys incorporating patent-pending continuous capacitive sensing technology, for a computer music controller with the feel of an acoustic instrument.  Read More

Danielle Wilde has created what she calls the most undignified musical instrument ever - w...

We've seen a number of weird and wonderful musical creations here at Gizmag but we have to agree with the creator of the hipDisk when she describes it as possibly the most undignified musical instrument ever. This strange interactive sonic system is made up of a pancake tutu-like disk at the hip and another above the waist which cause a sound to be generated when the two disks meet at specific points around the edge. In order to get to those points and create simple monophonic tunes or melodies, the wearer has to twist, turn, bend or stretch so that the two conductive contact points meet.  Read More

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