Archive for December, 2009

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 “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. Interview

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

Here is an interesting interview with on Cnet UK.

I use, 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 has collected about my music listening habits.  What’s really amazing is the amount of data that is going through  Apparently 2750,000 years of music have been scrobbled on That’s pretty amazing.

From the interview:
How much data passes through
“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’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.”