Future musical instruments

By Sergio González | 11:02


Few other things define better a culture than its music but the instruments used to play it are one of those. Flamenco couldn’t be understood without a Spanish guitar as well as rock would have never been born if Rickenbackers -the first electric guitars- had not been developed in California in 1931.

Going to folk music concerts -true ones, not tourism set-ups- is one of the best things when traveling the world but our modern society is creating a global village kind of folklore that is not only defined by Internet mobility, co-opetition or the conquer of space but also by the most futuristic musical instruments and the music -sometimes hard to identify as such- they perform.

We are creating these new musical instruments faster than new iPhone versions and they will shape our future music and entertainment in ways we still just can imagine. In 2002, we saw Al Pacino create Simone, a secret virtual show business star, in the film S1mOne. In one of the scenes, Simone gives a live concert and Al Pacino goes through a hard time using cameras and lighting to convince the audience she’s real. If you watched Super Bowl’s halftime show, you surely remember three Beyonces singing at the same time and the amazing light effects of her performance. Get used to this level of awesomeness.

Among the tons of new music devices that can be found in the market, e-versions of traditional instruments are becoming more and more futuristic and less like their elder siblings. British violin player Vanessa Mae already seduced the world in the 90’s with her designer e-violin and the electronic sound output of her classical music covers though kids still find it hard to convince their music teachers to let them play Bach electronically.

The second level of future music instruments is taken by true electronic music instruments. They have been under development since the 60’s but the ‘digital lifting’ have left them unrecognizable and cooler than ever. If you want to keep it retro, check out this list of ’10 Cool Electronic Music Instruments under $100′ by synthtopia.com -after Polaroids and 90’s videos games it’s supposed to be next big hipster stuff. If futuristic it must be, have a look at Eigenharp, a $15 million project by Eigenlabs. It features more than 120 keys in a velocity sensitive matrix that allows endless tones, percussion buttons, LED lights and its own built-in software compatible with both Windows and Mac. It’s so flexible that one sole player can reproduce a whole range of different instruments. The coolest one-man band ever.

Future music head towards integration at all levels and ‘hydraulophone’ matches water into a sort of keyboard with holes instead of keys. Water streams come out of a large pipe full of holes and as the player covers them, music emerges from the waters in a musical poem. Hydraulophones can be found in many versions, from low-budget DIY ones to magnificent hand-crafted creations, both perfect to amaze audiences and have a great time.

Tenori-on, future music instruments according to Yamaha

At the top of them all, we find music instruments that look anything but what they’re supposed to be, like Tenori-on. It’s a 16×16 LED grid built in touchable screen that plays music as the player taps the lights randomly or in pre-set sequences. This Yamaha creation features built-in speakers and button to let you adjust bpm or sound frequency.

But we can go further and look at electroencephalophone. If you read it slowly you’ll understand by heart what it is about but if you don’t feel like you should know that turns your brain waves into sound or music, depending on what you’re thinking. It has tons of applications as it can be played in any environment and will allow hearing-impaired people to listen to music.

And if you just love to keep it simple, get yourself an Ocarina app for your iPhone, cool and brilliant.

 photo credit: bm.iphone


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