Posted in Uncategorized on January 1, 2010 by lindahurd

The Eigenharp is a ridiculously expensive, interesting new instrument developed by Eigenlabs in Devon, UK. There is the Alpha, which costs £3,950 and the Pico, priced at £349.

From BoingBoing.net:

The Eigenharp, a crazy, science fiction instrument from Eigenlabs, comes on two forms, the “Alpha” (“Our professional level instrument allows the musician to play and improvise using a limitless range of sounds with virtuoso skill. It has 120 playing keys, 12 percussion keys, two strip controllers and a breath pipe. Available in a variety of custom finishes.”) and the “Pico” (“It’s ideal as a solo instrument or for playing in a band. With 18 playing keys and 4 mode keys, a strip controller and breath pipe, the smaller Pico has the majority of the playing features of the Eigenharp Alpha. It plays an unlimited range of sounds and is available in two finishes.”). Check out the stunning performance of the Bond theme.

Eigenharp Alpha

It’s a cool instrument, but is it really >$6000 cool?

Musical Tesla Coils

Posted in Instruments with tags , , , , , on December 5, 2009 by lindahurd

Last year at Maker Faire in Austin after seeing some intense battlebot action, I got to witness huge tesla coils playing music.  It made me think about how cool it would be if a band incorporated Tesla coils into a live show.  So after some googling, i found this:


It’s hard to see exactly what’s going on in that video, but here you can see that this guy is wearing chainmail and standing in between the tesla coils:

I think my favorite Tesla coil song is the Dr. Who theme.

Student Orchestra Performs Music with iPhones

Posted in Instruments with tags , on December 5, 2009 by lindahurd

This is a cool article from Wired about a class at the University of Michigan where computer science students get to create their own musical instruments for the iPhone. “One student’s instrument uses the iPhone’s video-savvy screen and microphone to synesthetically work the relationship between color and sound. Another student is exploring what the iPhone can do with feedback and distortion.”

From the article:

“What’s interesting is we blend the whole process,” Essl said in a phone interview with Wired.com. “We start from nothing. We teach the programming of iPhones for multimedia stuff, and then we teach students to build their own instruments.”

“We don’t stop there,” he continued. “We don’t just see this as an engineering exercise. We want to do the whole process where we start from nothing, and then we go to performance next week in a live concert, where people can come and listen to the outcome of what students have learned in the course.”

The advantage of digital music can be seen in instruments as far back as the electric guitar: the flexibility to manipulate bits of code to create different sounds, superseding the limitations of a traditional analog instrument. Naturally, technological advancement keeps raising electronic sound to new heights. In recent years, musicians have been experimenting with gadgets ranging from laptops to high-tech cellos, and from cellphones to bent circuits.”


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 4, 2009 by lindahurd

Yesterday  I was programming for about 24 hours straight in the UT business school’s computer lab when I realized I had forgotten to charge my iPod.  Then I realized that I couldn’t use Pandora in the computer lab.  I was really disappointed until I remembered Musicovery.  I used it a few times a couple of years ago, but not much since then.  Last night I became fairly familiar with it as I programmed into the wee hours of the morning

Everyone’s heard of Pandora, but what about Musicovery?  Musicovery defines itself as “interactive webRadio.”  It allows you to listen to a music channel based on your mood, specified genre(s), and a specified time period.  You pick something in between four different moods: Energetic, calm, positive, and dark.  Then you pick a genre and a time period.  I find it a little difficult to find a balance that includes songs and artists that I like.  But once I find that sweet spot, it’s really cool.

I also find the genres to be a bit off sometimes.  For example, I selected “folk” and chose 2000s as the time period, and Musicovery pulled up some music that I wouldn’t really consider folk.  While I was expecting to hear music similar to artists such as Jose Gonzalez, it instead played songs from artists like John Mayer.   I guess I can see how some of John Mayer’s music could be categorized as folk, but it specifically had “Your Body is a Wonderland” in the Folk genre.  I always thought John Mayer was classified as Pop music.

The coolest feature is the “Discovery” button.  It plays music from lesser known artists, and I like to use Musicovery as a tool for finding new music that I might like.  Overall, Musicovery is a great free music listening service.  You can pay a premium for more features, but lets hope that the basic features remain free of charge.


Last.fm Interview

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 1, 2009 by lindahurd

Here is an interesting interview with Last.fm on Cnet UK.

I use last.fm, but I’m not entirely aware of all of the features they offer.  I have my iTunes hooked up to “scrobble” my music plays, and I sometimes log on to see the data that last.fm has collected about my music listening habits.  What’s really amazing is the amount of data that is going through Last.fm.  Apparently 2750,000 years of music have been scrobbled on Last.fm. That’s pretty amazing.

From the interview:
How much data passes through Last.fm?
“One number that’s pretty cool is relevant to our recent Xbox launch. In our first week of use, 120 million minutes of music were streamed.

“One thing that’s even more popular than our radio-streaming service is scrobbling — the process of sending the name of the track you’re listening to to Last.fm’s servers. You can scrobble from over 200 different online music services and desktop clients, such as iTunes, Winamp, Hype Machine, etc.

“During peak hours, we get more than 800 scrobbles per second which translates to about 43 million scrobbles per day. Since 2003, which is when we invented scrobbling, we’ve broken 35 billion scrobbles. That translates to about 275,000 years of  scrobbled music.”

Virgin Media’s Filesharing Tracking System

Posted in copyright with tags , , , on November 29, 2009 by lindahurd

This is an interesting article about Virgin Media’s trial of its new filesharing monitoring system.  It says that right now they are using this technology merely to gather information about the amount of copyright infringing filesharing that’s occuring in the UK, and that the data they collect will be anonymous.  It may be anonymous right now, but what does the future hold for this monitoring system?  Will the British government eventually use it to prosecute copyright infringers?

From the article:

“To begin with at least, Virgin Media’s implementation will focus on music sharing. The ISP is preparing a legal download service in partnership with Universal, the largest of the four major record labels, which it hopes will be the “carrot” to Lord Mandelson’s “stick” of technical measures against those who persistently infringe copyright.

“Understanding how consumer behaviour is changing will be an important requirement of Virgin Media’s upcoming music offering and, should they become law, the Government’s legislative proposals will also require measurement of the level of copyright infringement on ISPs’ networks,” said Jon James, Virgin Media’s executive director of broadband.”


Anamanaguchi: Awesome 8-bit Music

Posted in Musicians with tags , , , , on November 28, 2009 by lindahurd

You’ve probably (hopefully) heard 8-bit music, or chiptunes, even you aren’t aware of what it’s called.

From Wikipedia:

8-bit refers to a style of electronic music inspired (and performed) by the sound of old computer consoles from the 8 bit era of video games. This music will often reflect sounds from technology that is seen as primitive or “outdated” such as the Game Boy and home made synthesizers.”


I recently read an interview on createdigitalmusic.com from the band Anamanaguchi.  Anamanaguchi makes ridiculously awesome chiptune music from a hacked NES.


From Createdigitalmusic.com:

Vijith: How do you do write these sequences?

Pete: It’s a [DOS] program called Nerdtracker 2 that apparently writes music in the language that the NES can understand. It’s a really home-brewed program. It was made in 1998 by a bunch of Swedish dudes, and it never got out of beta, and it’s prone to crashing, and it has all these terrible bugs in it, half the features don’t work.

And the decision to mix it with guitars?

Pete: I started messing around with it and sending songs back and forth with a friend of mine, and in the beginning, the music I wrote kind of sounded “videogamey,” but as I continued writing, my actual musical influence kind of started to get in there. And at that point, it made a lot of sense to put it as an instrument in a full live band setting, with guitars and drums and that sort of thing. Right before going to NYU, literally NYU move-in day, I released the Power Supply EP through 8bitpeoples, which I had recorded totally by myself at my house except for one track which we recorded with James. All I had was a shitty mic and a shitty guitar and a shitty amp and just recorded what I knew, without any kind of formal training.


Do you write using a guitar or a Nintendo?

Pete: It’s a mixture of both. Certain songs, I’ll get the idea as a melody in my head. The music is pretty melodic, so it’s pretty transferable from instrument to instrument. Anything I write on guitar I can put on the Nintendo, and anything I write on the Nintendo I can usually play on guitar – unless it’s way too fast, which it usually is.

Recently, I’ve been getting more into making sounds on the Nintendo that can’t be reproduced by instruments, doing stuff that only the sound chip can do. But more or less I like to create a skeleton of the song on the NES. Ary, on the Game Boy, makes some absolutely ridiculous stuff that’s really fucking weird, like, really just straight-up the weirdest music I’ve ever heard. And the way he does it is not so much thinking musically, but technically. When I came into the 8-bit world, I was definitely the opposite. Any time there’s electronic music, you have people who are thinking technically, and usually that’s music that I’m not very interested in, because it’s kind of cold, usually. I came into the 8 bit world with a very musical background, being in bands growing up and stuff, as opposed to a programming background. But recently I’ve been getting really into making strange sounds on the Nintendo that, like, “Whoa, I didn’t know you could do that with that sound chip.” At the same time, I’m mixing that with that simple pop sensibility.

What I usually like to do is to harmonize everything. Why not? You have two square channels. What else are they going to do but harmonize each other?”

Another interview with Anamanaguchi from Geektro: