November 25, 2012
Now If Only Someone Could Invent A Mechanical Lead Singer...
by Chris Randall
Due to my recent (and ongoing) fascination with electronic music via electromechanical means, this video piqued my interest. (Or "peaked," maybe, since this is, after all, the internet.) While the music in the video is, both objectively and subjectively, atrocious (apparently it is a Muse song? Not a fan...) the concept itself, which should be readily apparent, is not.
The MechBass is essentially four bass strings with servo-driven plectrums and dampers, and a fretting mechanism controlled by stepper motors, the whole thing driven by an ATMega328 doing MIDI-to-'bot conversion. Many technical details at this Hack-A-Day page, but I think you get the general idea. Obviously, throwing a bunch of motors around the string would create a ridiculous amount of magnetic interference, and he got around that by using some permutation of the LightWave infra-red pickups (not sure if he made his own, or just parted out a stock LightWave pickup.)
Anyhow, cool idea. A hybrid electro-rock band could totally get away with using this on stage; in fact, it would be pretty slick. (Although perhaps a bit gimmicky in the short run.) I should mention that bass is the instrument I am best at playing, and I'm fully aware that there is no possible way a rig like this could even begin to approach reproducing what is a surprisingly complicated and dynamic instrument. But it's pretty neat. And it looks cool. Other than player pianos, what other easily controllable electro-mechanical drunk band member replacements are out there?