A few years back, we learned about musician and artist Andy Thurlow’s collection of unique musical instruments, known as The Anarchestra. Documentarian Daniel Wolverton of Special Head returns to visit with Andy and check out some of the strange and wonderful noise makers he’s built in the past few years.
Artiphon’s Orba is a unique instrument that is sort of the musical equivalent of a fidget spinner. It combines a synthesizer, looper, and MIDI controller all in one, and is small enough to hold in the palm of your hand. It’s great for tinkering around with all kinds of sounds whether you’re bored or working on your next great composition.
Expressive E’s keyboard gives musicians an incredible amount of expressiveness, with each key capturing subtle movements that influence pitch, loudness, and many other attributes. It works in concert with a robust sound engine by Haken Audio to produce amazingly warm and enveloping sounds. It also works as a MIDI controller.
Are you a singer? Zoom’s foot pedal gadget offers up a ton of useful performance features, including a variety of vocal effects, from tweaking octaves, to adding harmonies, to pitch correction, to reverb, chorus, and a formant pedal for adjusting vocal texture, It’s also got a built-in looper for up to 3:30 of recording.
With its twangy mouth sounds, Jew’s harp (aka “jaw harp”) is one of the stranger instruments out there. For the most part, it’s an instrument that’s played by one musician at a time, but this ensemble of 30 or so harp players in Russia occasionally gets together to perform as a group, and the layered sound they make is wild.
Go on a fascinating journey through Zildjian’s Norwell, MA factory, home of the world’s most sought after cymbals. Watch as metal castings are flattened, trimmed, hammered, milled, and gradually worked into the ideal shape for producing the perfect sound. We love that they didn’t cover up the factory sounds with music.
Like a real harmonica, Lekholm’s musical tech senses its player’s breathing both in and out, but it outputs those modulations as MIDI signals for controlling synthesizers. The example performance is Cole Porter’s You’d Be So Nice to Come Home to, using a Yamaha VL70-m acoustic sound module.
Device Orchestra previously amused audiences with music played on credit card terminals. Now, they’ve figured out a way to make electric toothbrushes into musical instruments. Sit back and enjoy a buzzy rendition of Jean Sibelius’ Finlandia Hymn, a popular composition in the nation the band calls home.
From the looks of things, musician, and instrument designer Wintergatan has nearly completed the build of his long-in-progress follow up to his original marble machine. After showing us the amazing marble elevator, he’s ready to play some percussion with the intricate contraption.
Roli’s nifty portable keyboard is designed to help anyone learn to play piano. It features light-up RGB, pressure sensitive keys with 92% of the travel of an actual grand piano and can connect to other Lumi keyboards and Roli blocks. It works with a companion mobile app for learning.
You’d think that a violin could only sound like a violin, but OddViolin proves that wrong by making his sound like a flute, harmonica, cello, and even bagpipes. Previously, he convinced the string instrument to sound like animals and make various sound effects.
A droolworthy tool for any musician’s arsenal, Headrush’s looper pedal on steroids features a 7″ touchscreen UI, an onboard mixer and effects, and up to 9 hours of internal recording time. It offers numerous inputs and outputs, and comes pre-loaded with 300 percussion loops.
Axe Heaven creates handmade 1/4-scale (~10″ tall) replicas of acoustic and electric guitars. Their Fender collection is officially licensed and includes replicas of famous musicians’ axes. They also make drum sets and amps. They accept small batch custom orders.
Ukrainian band Brunettes Shoot Blondes found an old, broken down grand piano, and decided to partially gut it, filling its innards with a variety of analog instruments, mechanically connected to its keys. The resulting sound on their track Houston is remarkably rich and full.
Developed with the help of Fishman, Fender’s American Acoustasonic Telecaster is a modern take on the acoustic-electric guitar. It has a thin and hollow body, a curated selection of acoustic and electric voices, and a tuned sound hole. The downside? It will go for $2,000.
Composer William Zeitler demonstrates a strange and wonderful musical instrument. The glass armonica was invented by Benjamin Franklin back in 1761, and is a spinning series of custom-blown wine glasses, each of which plays a different musical note based on its size.
Maxwell Custom Guitars is making a radical and stunning take on the acoustic guitar. The Infinitum gets its name from its unorthodox body, which is shaped like the infinity symbol and trades the regular circular sound hole for two vents on the sides of the body.
LEGO Ideas contributor Sleepy Cow created this 2,798 piece model of a grand piano which features 25 working keys, complete with strings, pedals, and dampers. It doesn’t actually play music, but it’s still a mechanical marvel. If you’d like to see it produced, vote here.
A look inside the McPherson Guitars‘ factory, where talented artisans use a mix of high tech materials and traditional finishing techniques to create lightweight, durable, and visually striking musical instruments. The Carbon Series guitars range in price from $2999 to $3299.
Jamstik’s new smart guitars offer portability for both pros and newbies. The Jamstik7 is perfect for beginners – it has 7 frets and works with Jamstik’s educational apps. The Jamstik12 is a 12-fret smart guitar with low latency, palm mute sensing and MIDI compatibility.
A hilariously absurd video from Grieg Johnson which provides instruction on how to play an “ancient, elegant” musical instrument. But it’s not just the Shenanigan that’s of interest – it’s the fake Scandanavian-ish tongue that the narrator speaks in that really makes the video.