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?


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Nov.25.2012 @ 9:49 AM
Re Muse -- no accounting for taste. I don't mind Muse that much, as Radiohead-lite bands go.

Re the project: It's cool, but really want you want is one of those MIDI grand pianos. Try selling the wife on that. Didn't Moog make some crazy device that sits on the keyboard?

Nov.25.2012 @ 10:06 AM
captured by robots replaces them al!
link []

Nov.25.2012 @ 10:11 AM
Chris Randall
Moog Pianobar. But that goes in the other direction. It's a piano keyboard -> MIDI sensor. I wouldn't mind one of the Yamaha MIDI upright grands, specifically the MPX1Z. (That's the one that Richard James uses for the piano stuff on Drukqs, etc. If I recall correctly, he has two of them.) I could easily talk the wife in to it; where gear is concerned, she is very understanding, and in fact is usually more gung-ho about me buying new shit than I am.


Nov.25.2012 @ 10:15 AM
they're gonna skip the mechanical lead singers and just go for the hologram like the tupac thing... or all the J-pop

Nov.25.2012 @ 10:38 AM
I understand the Furby is back in production, so the lead singer is covered.

Nov.25.2012 @ 10:47 AM
there's a cool pitchfork tv video of dan deacon recording bromst with a player piano, and exceeding the note resolution of the system, so having to multitrack so the solenoids can keep up

Nov.25.2012 @ 10:56 AM
i know you're not a fan of Pat Metheny but, he has kind of explored this fairly extensively:
link []

regardless of what you think of the music, he has invested in some interesting, and musical, machines...

Nov.25.2012 @ 12:06 PM
I'm with boobs.

Nov.25.2012 @ 12:28 PM
I'm not a fan of Pat Metheny (I don't know anything about him, but still...) but I wanted to see that tour. As usual, laziness prevailed.


Nov.25.2012 @ 2:30 PM
MR808 - mechanical recreation of an 808 -
link []

There's also the wacky mohawk robot drummer, but not as precise as the bass.

I like this guy's DIY approach - link []

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