and ) : C

Monday, November 27, 2006

What's Dangermouse playing? Conclusive proof at last!

So, after this post (and this thread) most people were pretty much agreed that Dangermouse from Gnarls Barkley was playing a Yamaha SHS-10 keytar, but I couldn't really get my head around it. Now, thanks to an Anonymous watcher of MTV Germany, I can. Clever synth placement, Danger!

Dude tapes drum triggers to clothes. Actually sounds OK!

Here's Chris Mandra, who - like many of us - thought 'I'm really good at drumming on my leg. I should, like, connect that to a drum machine and a max/MSP looping patch and some footpedals'. Only he actually did it, and it sounds OK, doesn't it? (via Adam Baer)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Drummer seeks SERIOUS band

Jim writes: "As the saying goes, 'I saw this and thought of you...' I was doing a SSL Dealer event in Sweden this week. Whilst idly looking over the "musician's board", I saw this. "Drummer seeks serious band". How serious do the others have to be?" Thanks Jim, and sorry for all those mean things I said about you...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Nintendo DS hacked into cool wireless MIDI controller

UPDATE: Here is the download.
This is what German hacker/student/musician Tob, who created the cool NitroTracker old-school tracker app for the DS has been working on: Software to turn put easy-to-use MIDI into the Nintendo DS using WiFi. Previously, you've had to use hardware. The DS obviously sucks as a keyboard, but is great as a little X-Y controller like a Kaoss Pad, and presumably there's no reason why he can't build a simple XOX drum programmer, a little Lemur clone, or even a virtual Monome. Tob is still developing the software - as you can see from the video, it's in a pretty early stage - but it will be released ASAP. And even if you don't have a DS, stick with this video long enough to hear the guy playing 'We Will Rock You' though the onboard sounds... (via the wonderful Robot Porn blog, which is currently building a MIDI Keytar. Thanks Philip)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

How to find out if you're tone deaf

Here is a quick flash test to see if you're tone deaf or not - you listen to a series of musical phrases in pairs, and have to decide if they're different or the same.
It was created by Jake Mandell, who is a true renaissance man. Originally a producer of some repute, he also worked for Native Instruments in Berlin, helping to develop Reaktor and Absynth. Now he's at Medical School, specialising in Neurology. (Full bio here). The Tone Deaf Test is "purposefully made very hard, so excellent musicians rarely score above 80% correct". This is clearly true, because I'm certainly not an excellent musician, and I got 83.3%. How about you? (Thanks, Stefan)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Eight fantastic old-school hip hop videos

Arvind writes from Sweden: "In response to the posting named "Booooooom! When loudpeakers catch fire" I'd like to present to you a music video from the enthusiast sub-genre of high school girl hip hop dealing with the joy of oversized car audio systems: 1) L'Trimm - Cars that go boom. Plenty of speakermounting action, flattops and even a little easter egg for the geeks at 1:32 - might that be a TR-505?" Thanks Arvind, here are a few more bleached out, pastel coloured old-school delights:
2) Schooly D: I don't like Rock'n'Roll
3) Digital Underground: The Humpty Dance
4) UTFO: Wanna Rock
5) Whodini: Rock you Again
6) Steinski & Mass Media: We'll be Right Back
7) Ultramagnetic MCs: Traveling At The Speed Of Thought
8) Rock Steady Crew: Uprock. Got more? Put them in the comments.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Lasse Gjertsen, superstar video editor

Here's 'Amateur' the wonderful new video from Lasse Gjertsen, who makes music by editing video - his previous clip, Hyperactive was seen half a million times, and attracted a host of imitators and spoofs, like Supershitty Beatbox, these guys, this guy, this fellow from Portugal and this dude, who isn't really so good. With 'Amateur', Lasse has really taken it to Da Next Level. (Thanks to everyone who sent this in - and also everyone who wrote about the Air Guitar Shirt)

UPDATE: Here is a (rather clickly) guitar version of the same thing. Anyone know where Michel Gondry's 'Drumb and Drumber' short film is on the web? He's here playing the small child drum kit...

Friday, November 10, 2006

eBay of the Day: SynthAxe Midi Guitar

eBay item #260050128118 is a SynthAxe - the ludicrous £10,000 midi guitar that every 80s twiddler had to play - which I wrote about here. I've never seen one for sale before, and certainly not an especially vile red one... Yours for $4,800, pool table not included.

Music Thing Shop is open. Breakages must be paid for.

So, the MT Shop is now open at At the moment there are only a few items and probably a load of mistakes and things that don't work. Have a look and let me know what you think. More to come over the next few weeks. No 'Stairway' and no 'Jump', please.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Christmas starts early, when Santa is rocking the Pro-5

Sabastian writes: "I was browsing through a Musician's Friend catalog, looking at cheesy christmas greeting cards. It's a lot of Santa jammin' on his tele and kittens playing violins but then I spotted Santa rocking out on a Prophet-5. He's also wearing a tie dyed shirt over a tie dyed background, it's pretty ridiculous." Wait, if you look closely at the picture, is that Santa's pink belly hanging out from under a cropped tie-dyed shirt? Festive. Anyway, if you're smoking meth right now, you can
Buy a pack

using my new affiliate link (the Music Thing shop is imminent, BTW - thanks for all your help).

What's Danger Mouse playing?

I went to see Gnarls Barkley in London at the weekend, and spent most of the gig wondering about the litte red keyboard that Danger Mouse had balanced on top of his Wurli. To my amazement, this thread at Vintage Synth Explorer has so far failed to find an answer (beyond 'maybe a USB QWERTY keyboard'). Any ideas? [Pic via khawarz]
UPDATE: We have a winner! (It's a Yamaha SHS-10 keytar!)

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

When Minimoogs cost £375

Is there a word for the intense feelings of longing, sadness and discombobulation that I get when I look at this collection of old second-hand ads from Future Music, c. 1988? (via Dr Ben and Matrix)

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

How to: Turn a bowl of water into an $8 audio controller

Sebastian Tomczak is an Australian musician/programmer/video game hacker. This video shows how he turned a laser pointer, a bowl of water, a solar panel and (I'm guessing) a Max/MSP patch into a (nearly) musical instrument. He's developed the concept into the Toriton Plus, with five lasers. It's beautiful, although I get nervous seeing that bowl of water next to a laptop... (Thanks, Steven)

Awesome bike-mounted soundsystem in India

Anonymous writes: "My friend just got back from India, where she attended a wedding and saw some amazing home-grown mobile sound systems and bands." Here is the scene above, with the dude under the umbrella rocking what looks like a Roland SPD-20, and here is an incredible bike-mounted sound system. I think the two shots show parts of the same huge carnival float. MT has a few readers in India (70 visits in the last week) - please send pics if you have this kind of thing on your doorstep...

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Idle speculation: Moog Big Phatty on the way?

As the nights draw in, it's time for some idle speculation (and poor-quality photoshop work) about new product launches at NAMM in two months' time. I doubt we'll see it this year, but my hunch (and it is just a hunch) is that Moog are developing a polyphonic synth based on the technology in the Little Phatty. Why? Shortly after the Voyager was released, Bob Moog said 'We could build one...But we're not going to'. Back then, he was working with the Voyager - a fantastically expensive hand-built machine. Now, with the Little Phatty, I think everything is in place for a realistically-priced poly synth.

What do the different parts of a synth cost? Look at Dave Smith Instruments: An Evolver Rack (four voices and a very minimal interface) costs $1,349. A PEK (four voices, a 5 octave keyboard, tonnes of rotary encoder knobs, wooden ends, an awful lot of blue LEDs and a big steel box) costs $1,050 more at $2,399. So, keyboard and interface costs just over $1,000.
What about voices? Voices for the small-run, very boutique, all analogue, all discreet, Studio Electronics Omega 8 seem to cost $350 each (Two voices = $2,299, Four voices = $2,999).

If we assume Phatty voice cards cost the same, it would be possible to build 8 of them into a PEK-quality keyboard for $3,850, just $400 more than the top-of-the-line Moog Voyager. Four voices would be $2,450 - cheaper than the Alesis Andromeda (which admittedly has 16 all-analogue voices.)
Is this what Moog are working on? I don't know, but it would be cool if they were. Would you buy a Big Phatty?


Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Guy is pretty good at playing his drum machine

Here is a clip of someone who calls himself "the Amazing David "Fingers" Haynes" drumming on an old and very battered Alesis HR-16B drum machine (triggering sounds from a Yamaha DTExpress). It's not quite this, but I love battered old plastic gear.

Dude builds most awesome fuzzbox in the world ever

Will you just look at this! 15 knobs, 16 switches, five classic fuzz circuits (including Fuzz Face, Big Muff Pi, Colorsound Tonebender), wooden panels and FIVE VU METERS! It's a thing of hideous beauty built by Dano, aka Beavis Audio Research, and there are rough instructions to build your own here. Be sure to check out the rest of the Beavis Audio site, for loads more projects, including DIY tube amps and rackmounting $10 Danelectro 'Fab' pedals.