Photokina 2014 highlights

Instrument

Technology start-up ROLI recently revealed the Seaboard GRAND, a piano-style keyboard that...

It's said that an instrument is only as good as the musician playing it, but it never hurts to give musicians a little help creating unique sounds. That's why technology start-up ROLI recently unveiled a new type of instrument that blends the form of a standard piano with the electronic customization of a digital controller. The company's Seaboard GRAND is a keyboard that features flexible keys that allow the player to adjust each note in real-time.  Read More

Ready for your next adventure, the Alpaca Guitar

While Bob Wiley's Ministar and the Apache Series from Vox are certainly travel-friendly guitars, they're not exactly adventure-proof. Chris Duncan's Alpaca Guitar, on the other hand, is precisely that. Described as a great sounding, go everywhere instrument, it's lightweight, durable and weather- and water-resistant.  Read More

Jon Jones & Sons and Antiquity Music have debuted an intriguing vintage-looking new instru...

As Jon Jones was regulating his hurdy gurdy back in 2001, he began toying with the idea of creating a mechanically-bowed instrument with a full-scale chromatic keyboard. He went on to build two working models before hooking up with Antiquity Music's founder Mitchell Manger to work on improving the design. After a few more revisions, a stunning pre-production Wheelharp was premiered at the Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim (CA) last week.  Read More

The MJ v01 MIDI Controller Jacket conceals a variety of sensors that sync to iOS and Andro...

As technology becomes more integrated into our lives, it's reaching a point where the only fodder left for electronic enhancement will be the clothes on our backs. For design group Machina, that notion represents a world of possibilities for how we interact with each other and even create art. The team of anonymous designers recently developed the MJ v01 MIDI Controller jacket, which conceals a variety of sensors that sync to iOS and Android devices to produce electronic music through the wearer's movements.  Read More

A retrospective of the best weird and wonderful instruments of 2012

Should you find yourself thinking about supergroups, you'll likely center on the famous names that make up the bands and not the instruments they use. Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, for example, rather than the double-necked Gibson EDS-1275, or Cream's Jack Bruce instead of his Gibson EB-3, or Brad Wilk of Audioslave/RATM and not the custom Gretsch drumkits he uses. Being as much fans of the tech behind the hits as the talented folks who create them, we've grouped together a super collection of favorite music-making gadgets from the past year.  Read More

Artiphon has released the first teaser images of its forthcoming INSTRUMENT 1 pro-level mu...

There is no doubt that smartphone- and tablet-based apps have had a huge impact on music creation. While there seems to be plenty of plastic devices that extend functionality and creativity beyond the touchscreen (from the toy-like Fingerist to the iTar), if you yearn for wood then you're options are a little less abundant. After spending two years in development, the first images of Artiphon's intriguing, hardwood-bodied INSTRUMENT 1 for iPhone have been released ahead of a product launch in early 2013.  Read More

BeetBox as a finished musical instrument, with root vegetables you can touch to play (Phot...

Musical instruments come in many shapes and sizes, but BeetBox must be one of the strangest. It may exist more to be a play on words than anything else, but it also proves that with the right equipment and a little engineering knowledge, anything can be turned into an instrument ... including, as is the case here, root vegetables.  Read More

Mexican artist Pedro Reyes's Imagine project transformed weapons into musical instruments

Decommissioned weapons are usually destroyed, but a Mexican artist decided to do something more creative and life-affirming with a stockpile given to him. Earlier this year, Pedro Reyes recycled 6,700 confiscated guns into musical instruments for a project called Imagine. Revolvers, shotguns and machine guns previously used to kill became 50 wind, percussion and string instruments. They are currently on display at the Istanbul Design Biennal as part of Adhocracy exhibit.  Read More

Jamboxx is a harmonica-like breath-driven digital instrument that can be played and contro...

Digital wind controllers like the Morrison Digital Trumpet give players the power to go beyond mere instrument clones and make virtually any instrument or sound available to the musician. More recently, Ashanti's Beatjazz Hands combined breath, pressure and motion sensors to bring gestures into the equation and free him from the confines of a computer screen. The problem in using such systems for folks with limited cognitive abilities or physical disability is that they can't effectively be used hands-free. A skiing accident in the 1980s left Dave Whalen a quadriplegic, and his burning desire to continue making music has led to the development of Jamboxx, a harmonica-like digital instrument that can be played and controlled using just the head.  Read More

Professor Zenghu Chang with his ultrashort laser pulse apparatus

Since first invented, the effort to make lasers that can produce shorter and more powerful pulses of light has been a very active one. One driving force is that if you want to take a picture of something occurring very rapidly, you need a very short pulse of light to prevent the image from blurring. The first ruby laser produced microsecond pulses of light, but more recently femtosecond optical pulses a billion times shorter have become common. Still shorter pulses belong to the attosecond regime - the regime wherein a University of Central Florida research team is creating optical pulses sufficiently brief to stop quantum mechanics in its tracks.  Read More

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