Computational creativity and the future of AI

Percussion

The Raijin drum kit prototype from the Yamaha Motor Company Design Center

Engineers and designers from the Yamaha Corporation and the Yamaha Motor Company have changed places for a rather special project called Ah A May (that's Yamaha backwards). Musical instrument creators have been tasked with producing motorcycle and bicycle prototypes, while folks from the motorcycle design house were let loose on a pair of percussion instruments. Let's have a look at the latter.  Read More

Gizmag's pick of the top five music gear innovations of 2014

It's been another strong year for instrument innovation, making the task of choosing a top five quite a challenge. Though many excellent examples of envelope pushing have popped up on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo during 2014, including the Hammer Jammer and Aalberg's Ekko and Aero, we allowed those to fall gracefully to the cutting room floor in favor of tech that's available now. Join Gizmag as we take a look back at some of the top groove gadgets of the last 12 months.  Read More

The BeatBuddy with its footswitch (Photo: Paul Ridden/Gizmag)

When musician David Packouz couldn't find a stomp-based drum machine that didn't sound, well, like a drum machine or one that could provide fills, changes and accent hits on the fly, he set about designing and building his own. He took his BeatBuddy project to Indiegogo in December 2013 and it went on to raise more than four times its funding goal by the close of the crowdfunding campaign. The first post-crowdfunding production run started shipping at the end of August and Gizmag was offered a system for review. But with my attention focused elsewhere during September (namely the IFA and Photokina trade shows), I had to hold off until mid-October to start spending some quality time with this nifty drummer-in-a-box pedal. And it was definitely worth the wait.  Read More

Stephen Henderson playing a new Ruach Music Live Series cajon

The percussive sound of folks sitting atop a caj√≥n de embalaje and banging out a rhythm has accompanied traditional music for years. Many, many years. Often called a drumkit in a box, many of today's examples come with built-in snare sounds, bass drum pedal attachments and all manner of jingle-jangle accessories, but the basic instrument remains true to its Peruvian ancestors. Teenage cajon maker Stephen Henderson has designed and built a new series of wooden boxes with a 5-way snare lock mechanism and integrated kick pedal.  Read More

The Hammer Jammer installed on an electric guitar

With what's got to be one of the shortest campaign pitches on Kickstarter, Ken McCaw is putting second production run hopes for his Hammer Jammer percussive guitar attachment in the hands of players. Described as essentially turning the guitar into a new instrument, the fretting hand is still used to form chord shapes or single-note runs. But players tap, stroke or bash the big raised "buttons" at the picking end, causing soft or hard hammers to sound the strings.  Read More

Spark is a shaker that produces kinetic energy to power lights and charge mobiles in rural...

In 15 years as a percussionist with British electronica band Faithless, Sudha Kheterpal has spent countless nights energetically bashing away on cymbals, snares and high-hats. This has inspired her to wonder how the power of music could be extended beyond the flailing arms and shaking hips in the crowd. She has now teamed up with designers and engineers to develop Spark, a shaker that harnesses kinetic energy with the aim of bringing power to the developing world.  Read More

The Rhythm Wolf analog drum machine and bass synth from Akai

Solo musicians looking to generate their own backing tracks or DJs wanting to lay down some beats can seek out software solutions, but those who really want to get their hands dirty may prefer to opt for rhythm machines like the recently-announced Electron Rytm or Roland's Aira TB-3. Such things can prove expensive choices though, which makes Akai's vintage-inspired Rhythm Wolf analog drum machine and bass synth with built-in sequencing quite a compelling piece of kit. And yes, it comes with a sonic howl feature.  Read More

Jason Barnes and Professor Gil Weinberg demonstrate the robotic prosthesis

In 2012, Jason Barnes lost the lower part of his right arm after being electrocuted. Though he could have pursued his dream of becoming a professional drummer using only his remaining limb (like Def Leppard's Rick Allen, for example), he decided to build his own stick-wielding prosthesis. The attachment certainly allowed him to make some noise, but it wasn't flexible enough to give the speed or bounce control he was looking for. Now, thanks to the work of Georgia Tech's Professor Gil Weinberg, Barnes is preparing for a gig later this month where a novel robot drumming prosthetic arm will help him pound out precision rhythms with a live band.  Read More

The Beatbuddy guitar pedal drum machine from David Packouz

Though noodling is a whole lot of fun, and fingertip calluses certainly need regular workouts, there are times when it would be good to have your very own John Bonham or Mitch Mitchell to provide a rock-steady beat. Playing along to backing tracks or engaging the help of loopers, drum machines or rhythm boxes can work to some degree, but there's little or no room for improvisation or creativity unless you take your hands away from the guitar to mix things up a bit. Billed as the first guitar pedal drum machine, the Beatbuddy from David Packouz puts control of the beat at your feet, leaving your hands free to get on with some serious shredding.  Read More

Roland's most versatile and powerful HandSonic digital hand percussion instrument to date,...

Through many of us may kitchen-top-finger-tap or office-desk-thumb-drum out of impatience or boredom, folks like Jeremy Ellis and Wilhelm Grahsl have turned it into an impressive art form, with a little help from some digital friends. The latest version of the latter's hand percussion weapon of choice has now been released, the Roland HandSonic HPD-20.  Read More

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