For behind the scenes pictures, stories and special contests, follow us on Facebook!

Tag Archives: Instruments

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 ]

Save Yourself Hundreds Of Dollars And Opt For Yamaha’s TENORI-ON App Instead

TNR-i (Images courtesy Yamaha)
By Andrew Liszewski

Last time I checked, Yamaha’s TENORI-ON digital sequencer was selling on their site for $699. A far cry from the device’s original $1,000+ price tag, but still way too expensive for the musically un-inclined like myself. So if you’ve already got an iPhone or an iPad, you can save yourself $679.01 and pick up Yamaha’s new TNR-i app for just $19.99. It’s a software-only version of their TENORI-ON that recreates the instrument’s 16×16 grid of glowing buttons on your touchscreen device.

And while it might not be as full-featured as the original version, TNR-i is still capable of playing back up to 16 different sounds at the same time, on up to 16 different layers. The various performance modes also appear to still be here, including using it like a standard multi-track sequencer with sounds arranged and played back horizontally, and pitch affected by their vertical location. But taking advantage of the iPhone and iPad’s online capabilities, TNR-i also one-ups the original version by letting up to 4 people connect and perform together at the same time, even if they’re not in the same location.

[ iTunes App Store – TNR-i ] VIA [ AppShopper ]

Like It Or Not, Elmo Will Be Back This Christmas, And Now With Instruments

Let's Rock Elmo (Image courtesy Hasbro)
By Andrew Liszewski

Those of you with kids are probably getting tired of trying to hunt down the latest iteration of Sesame Street’s Elmo every December. But I’m happy to report that things will be different this Christmas. Not only will you be hunting down the new ‘Let’s Rock Elmo’ toy, but also the various instruments he’s now able to interact with. Which are of course sold separately.

Out of the box Elmo’s able to rock out with his included tambourine, microphone and drums, which he’ll automatically recognize when placed in his hands. Once he’s mastered those he can move onto a guitar and even a keyboard. And since he’s so talented Elmo even has a unique song for every instrument he’s given, which you can guarantee will be stuck in your head after the first day. Kids can of course play along too using his instruments, that is if you manage to find him when he goes on sale in the Fall for $69.99.

And as an added bit of corporate trivia: Rock On Elmo is apparently the first Elmo toy to be available under the Hasbro brand who recently won the Sesame Street license from their rival Mattel, who’s represented the property for the past 15 years.

[ NYC Single Mom – Hasbro Previews New Toys for 2011 ]

Turn Your iPhone Into An Air Guitar

Air Guitar Move for iPhone (Image courtesy Colin and Ronald)
By Andrew Liszewski

In the past we’ve tried to avoid posting concept products because quite frankly, they were a tease. They were a figment of some industrial designer’s imagination, and the chances of any of them ever coming to market were slim to none. But thanks to online fundraising sites like Kickstarter, many concept products now have a fighting chance of becoming a reality.

And the latest Kickstarter project to pique our curiosity is the Air Guitar Move. It’s a combination app + hardware, in this case a motion sensing guitar pick, that lets you strum away in the air producing actual sounds with your impressive air guitar routine. Its creators, Ronald Mannak and Colin Karpfinger, have already brought other best-selling music toys and iPhone accessories to the market, but for their latest venture they’re hoping to raise $25,000 in the next 25 days.

In addition to a free play mode which lets wannabe rockstars do their thing (even using their iPhone in their other hand as a fretboard) the accompanying app will also include a Guitar Hero-like rhythm game. In fact, the Air Guitar Move hardware is being built in the same factory where GH was built, supervised by the same engineering team. So it’s certainly one of the few Kickstarter projects that really seem to have their act together. And something tells me if they don’t raise sufficient funds this way, they won’t have much difficulty finding other backers.

[ Kickstarter – Air Guitar Move for iPhone ] VIA [ Mobile Magazine ]

PianoMaestro Teaching Aid Works On Any Piano

PianoMaestro (Images courtesy ARAHI PianoMaestro)
By Andrew Liszewski

If you’re learning the piano on a budget, companies like Casio have been selling electronic keyboards with follow-along light up keys for a while now. The only downside is that when you want to move on to something ‘grander’ you no longer have that help. But that’s exactly what makes the PianoMaestro system unique. It’s a software/hardware combo that uses a long strip of LEDs that can be placed on any digital or acoustic piano, from a Casio to a Steinway & Sons.

Once you’ve got it properly aligned so that the LEDs sit atop their corresponding keys on the piano, you plug it into your PC and load up the accompanying software which turns standard MIDI files into onscreen musical notation. The software is catered towards beginners so while a piece is being played back you can not only see what keys on the piano you’re supposed to play, but you can also limit it to just one hand’s part, and slow it down until you become more comfortable and proficient at playing it. At just $169 everywhere outside Australia (where it’s just $139) it’s far cheaper than years of piano lessons from a teacher. Though it seems to be lacking the one important thing you get from someone standing over your shoulder: discipline, you can find a happy medium by getting some extra instruction online via a piano tutorial at

[ PianoMaestro ] VIA [ Gizmag ]

TunerMatic Automatic Guitar Tuner

TunerMatic Automatic Guitar Tuner (Images courtesy TunerMatic)
By Andrew Liszewski

I have no musical skills whatsoever, but I’m going to assume that the ability to tune an instrument, like a guitar, by ear is a handy skill for a musician to have. But that’s not to say that those who can’t shouldn’t be playing one. Not at all. For them gadgets like this TunerMatic exist that not only ensure their instrument is being tuned accurately, but that the process is hard to screw up.

Most guitar tuners require you to adjust the tuning peg yourself while monitoring the note being played on its display, but the TunerMatic has a built-in motor and cranking mechanism that turns the peg for you. You just pluck a string and watch as it automatically adjusts the peg to bring your guitar in tune. It’s available for $49.95 and works on electric or acoustic guitars with a built-in pickup. But using it with acoustic guitars that are lacking one requires a microphone adapter that’s an extra $12.95.

[ TunerMatic ] VIA [ The Gadgeteer ]

Pix & Stix Designed To Make Garage Band On Your iPad Feel A Little More Real

Pix & Stix (Image courtesy
By Andrew Liszewski

Because of the way the touch sensitivity on the iPad’s screen works, you can’t just thrash away on Garage Band’s drums with a regular set of sticks and expect it to work. And the fact that it’s made of glass is probably something to take into consideration too. So a Melbourne, Australia based company has created a special set of drumsticks with electroconducive rubber tips that can not only be detected by the iPad’s display, but also prevent it from being shattered. Two very important features.

And while they were creating the ‘Stix’ they also went ahead and created the ‘Pix’ which is of course a special guitar pick that features the same electroconducive rubber tip allowing you to strum away on-screen. Both are available right now for $14.95 Australian dollars which works out to about $16 US. However, it’s another one of those products where they have to reach a certain level of funding commitment before it goes into production. If the funding goal isn’t reached, full refunds will be given and the Pix & Stix will forever remain just a novel idea.

[ Pix & Stix ] VIA [ The Red Ferret Journal ]