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Tag Archives: Instruments

Moog Theremini is a Thermin For The Rest Of Us


If you’ve ever heard a Theremin, you might’ve become intrigued by this otherworldly instrument. Used for decades as the eerie instrument in countless movies, as well as being popular with psychedelic rock bands of the 70’s, the Theremin is intriguing but also hard to play. The Moog Theremini Professional Theremin on the other hand tries to simplify the experience so that even amateurs can have a hope to, well, not suck.

First, it’s got a powerful sound engine derived from Moogs award winning synthesizer: Animoog. Second, and this is a first for Theremins, the Theremini has assistive pitch quantization, which allows you to adjust the instrument’s level of playing difficulty. At the maximum position, the Theremini will play every note in a selected scale perfectly, making it impossible to play a wrong note. As this control is decreased, more expressive control of pitch and vibrato becomes possible. The Theremini is a dream to play, a marvel to compose with, and a work of art to look upon.

This particular instrument is far from being a toy, since it is produced by the groundbreaking Moog Music company and costs $300. If you’ve got an experimental music inclination, this could be your chance to experiment with what many consider to be the very first electric instrument ever created.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Technabob ]

DrumPants Are Exactly What They Seem To Be


You’re looking at a set of flexible, velcro-attached strips with three touch sensitive zones. Each one of these zones can be assigned one of 100+ sounds so that you end up with a 6-instrument percussion set right on your thighs (or any other body part you feel like using). The strips are connected to a control box, which in turn connects either to an external speaker with wires, or (with the upgraded version of the kit) through Bluetooth 4.0 to your smartphone for added functionality. DrumPants are slim and unobtrusive and will allow you to jam pretty much anywhere, without having to lug real instruments around. Anyone that’s ever tapped a rhythm out on a steering wheel, or a table or any other surface will likely have thought about how cool it would be if those taps made “real” sounds. Well, yeah… now you can. $99 will buy you the basic kit, and $129 the upgraded kit with Bluetooth. It’s on Kickstarter so don’t expect immediate delivery, but the project is fully funded.


[ Project Page ] VIA [ TheAwesomer ]

DJ Station For Kids – One Turntable And A Roll Up Mat

The Children's DJ Station (Image courtesy Hammacher Schlemmer)
By Andrew Liszewski

And you thought the fine art of DJ’ing was only something that could be mastered by under-manicured cats. Following up on the surprisingly popular Cat Scratch Turntable is a version designed for the other creature that’s prone to destroying your home. Kids. Instead of being made from just cardboard, though, this one’s got actual electronic-y bits inside that lets your hooligans live out their DJ fantasies without tearing up your prized vinyl collection.

The roll out mat’s got a central faux turntable that makes scratching-like sound effects, so you can forget any notion you had of importing your own samples. It is just a toy after all. The touch sensitive mat also features drum pads that trigger tom-tom, snare and cymbal sound effects, “nearly two octaves of piano keys” across the bottom with different musical styles, and rhythm buttons that provide the background beats needed to really drive parents crazy. Kids can even connect an MP3 player for music to accompany their creations, while a headset mic lets them really get the crowd pumped at your next family gathering. $49.95 available from Hammacher Schlemmer.

[ The Children’s DJ Station ]

Forte Table Stylishly Turns Your Casio Keyboard Into A Baby Grand

Forte Table (Images courtesy 45 Kilo)
By Andrew Liszewski

Just because you don’t have the cash to spring for a Steinway grand piano in your living room, doesn’t mean you still can’t feel like you’re playing at Carnegie Hall while tickling the ivories—err, plastic—keys on your Casio keyboard. 45 Kilo designed this Forte table which is styled after a large, classical piano—but with modern accents. Like the web of welded steel rods underneath providing support and the effect of the piano’s strings falling out the bottom. But of course there are no strings. Just an angled work area (complete with power strip) where you can place an electronic keyboard, drum machine, synthesizer or just your laptop. It’s a pity it doesn’t come with a matching bench. But since the Forte doesn’t actually seem to be available for sale, I guess it doesn’t really matter.

[ Forte Table ] VIA [ Fancy ]

Tascam iXZ Mic & Instrument Interface For iOS Devices

Tascam iXZ (Image courtesy Tascam)
By Andrew Liszewski

What I like best about Tascam’s iOS device-friendly audio adapter is that it works with pretty much any application that lets you record, sample, or monitor a live audio feed. A single, balanced XLR input lets you plug in professional grade mics, audio equipment or instruments, and a set of AA batteries even lets you feed phantom power to a condenser mic as needed. A simple dial lets you adjust the input levels, and a 1/8-inch headphone jack on the back lets you monitor sound coming from your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. Pricing and availability are still TBA though.

[ Tascam iZX ] VIA [ Fareastgizmos ]

Print Your Own d-touch Sequencer And Drum Machine

d-touch Sequencer And Drum Machine (Image courtesy
By Andrew Liszewski

According to Fatboy Slim, everybody needs a 303, but since they’re no longer manufactured and hard to come by, not everyone can find or afford a Roland TB-303 sequencer. There are software-based alternatives, but who doesn’t prefer the hands-on approach when it comes to making music? Researchers at the University of Southampton certainly do, so they created the d-touch sequencer and drum machine which can be simply printed and easily assembled at home.

You’ll still need access to a PC to download, install and run the Audio d-touch software suite, and a mountable webcam so the apps can see your paper timeline laid out. But even someone with basic origami skills can assemble the ‘sample’ cubes, and even if you have no musical capabilities whatsoever, you’ll be creating fresh beats in no time.

d-touch Sequencer And Drum Machine (Image courtesy

At this point the Audio d-touch software is robust enough to let you import samples as WAV files, or record and assign your own sounds or audio bits to a specific cube. And even though you have to register and the software requires an occasional internet connection to send usage reports back to the researchers, the d-touch system is completely free! And technically, even recyclable, once you realize you will never be any real competition for Mr. Slim.

[ d-touch Printable Sequencer And Drum Machine ] VIA [ Gizmag ]

TableDrum App Turns Your Incessant Finger Drumming Into Actual Drum Sounds

TableDrum App (Images courtesy iTunes App Store)
By Andrew Liszewski

I’m a notorious finger drummer. Particularly when I find something to drum on that produces a really good sound. So my sympathies to my friends and loved ones because this new TableDrum app basically makes any surface sound like a professional drum kit. If your goal is becoming a drummer by taking drum lessons, then this app will get you one step closer to this becoming a reality. To be more specific, the app works like a drum pad but instead of tapping the screen to trigger samples, it uses the microphone to listen for taps from your fingers. It’s smart enough to distinguish between 4 different sounds too. So the sound of your finger tapping the dinner table could be used to trigger a high hat sound, while the clink of your fork on your glass could trigger a kick drum sound.

It’s quite easy to use, and ‘teaching’ the application what sounds trigger what samples is as easy as tapping away for a few seconds while it listens and learns. The video they’ve included on their website does a great job at showing just how well it works.

I’ve been playing with the app for the past half hour and am pretty impressed with it. I mean it’s not perfect, but it does a more than adequate job to justify its current sale price of $0.99 on the iTunes App Store. Regularly it’s $3.99 which is a little high given additional drum kit sounds are only provided as an in-app purchase. But if you’re the type who likes to whip out a new app that will impress your friends, you’ve found this week’s fodder.

[ TableDrum ] VIA [ Gizmag ]

Ion Audio Piano Apprentice Ditches The Teacher

Ion Audio Piano Apprentice (Image courtesy Ion Audio)
By Andrew Liszewski

It’s not going to instill as much discipline when it comes practising as having an actual person teaching you to play, but Ion Audio’s new Piano Apprentice will at least let you learn at your own pace. It features a 25 note keyboard with touch-sensitive keys that light up showing you exactly which ones you should be playing. And if that’s not enough to get you tickling the ivories like a concert pianist, the Piano Apprentice has an accompanying free app for your iPad, which docks just above the keyboard, showing you how and where you should be placing your hands. For portability it can be powered by 4 x AA batteries or an optional AC adapter, and it should be available sometime in September for ~$100.

[ Ion Audio Piano Apprentice ] VIA [ Chip Chick ]

The Most Elaborate (And Most Likely Only) Pipe Organ Desk You’re Going To Find

The Pipe Organ Desk (Images courtesy Kagen Schaefer)
By Andrew Liszewski

LEGO and wood seem to be the preferred mediums for artists who like to incorporate a technical side into their works. And in this case Kagen Schaefer has chosen wood (his preferred medium) to build this incredibly elaborate Pipe Organ Desk. In fact it’s made entirely from wood, including carved wooden screws, and represents more than 3 years of work. And besides being able to play a single octave by pushing in the various drawers, the desk can also be ‘programmed’ so that when a specific sequence of notes is played, a secret compartment will pop open.

When you push in a drawer on the desk the air is directed to one of the organ pipes at the front of the desk, sounding a note. Some of the air is also directed into a pneumatic logic board. The logic board within the desk actually keeps track of the notes played. When it picks up the correct tune it unlocks a very special secret compartment. The logic board, can be reprogrammed to pick up any tune, so at any time the song may be changed to a new tune. It is powered entirely by air, and it is made entirely from solid wood.

I’d also like to point out that the programmable logic board is also completely made of wood. There are no electronics of any kind here. And it probably goes without saying that the desk isn’t available for sale, unless you’re willing to write out a lot of zeros on a check.

(I wish there was a video of it being played too, but I can’t find one.)

[ Kagen Schaefer – The Pipe Organ Desk ] VIA [ UberReview ]